Edifier WH950NB Headphones Review: Loaded Noise Cancelers on a Budget


Edifier WH950NB resting on a laptop

Edifier has made a name for itself in the competitive consumer audio market by serving up good sound and features at great prices. The new WH950NB wireless headphones are another solid option, offering noise canceling, plenty of features, and relatively satisfying audio quality for well under $200.

The WH950NB are Edifier’s obvious attempt at an affordable alternative to leading travel/office headphones from top brands, such as Sony’s WH-1000XM5 and Bose’s QC45. As some of the most popular and well-regarded audio devices you can buy, plenty of companies have endeavored to replicate their success, and few have cracked the code.

Not everyone wants to spend $350+ on a pair of cans, however, and Edifier’s latest are a tempting stand-in for those wallet siphoners. Starting at $180, the WH950NBs aren’t perfect, but they are decked out to be your go-to workhorse headphones, ready to take on your needs at the office, on the road, and pretty much anywhere else.

Here’s What We Like

  • Impressive features
  • Good noise canceling
  • Loaded EQ
  • Comfy and relatively stylish

And What We Don’t

  • Unintuitive controls
  • No AAC for iPhone
  • No auto-pause
  • Midrange can be cloudy

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Stylish and Comfy (If Not Quite Premium)

Edifier WH950NB in their case on a couch
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 6.65 x 3.23in (193 x 169 x 82mm)
  • Weight: 10.44oz (29g)
  • Connection: Wired 3.5mm and Bluetooth wireless connection
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.3

The WH950NBs arrive in an all-black box, within which you’ll find a compact, pill-shaped case reminiscent of offerings from Sony, Sennheiser, and other top headphone brands. Unzipping the case reveals the headphones within, their swiveled ear cups folded in on hinges for a compact, travel-ready package.

The headphones offer some style touches, including a metallic shimmer to the top of the band and coper Edifier logos. That said, while they do a relatively convincing job emulating flagship earbuds, the faux leather along the exterior of the ear cups feels particularly faux in this case.

The same goes for the leatherette that cloaks the cushy pads along the ear cups and upper headband—but cushy they most certainly are. At just under 300 grams, the headphones weigh a bit more than some of my favorites, including both the Sony WH-1000XM4 and XM5, and they don’t wrap your head in luxury like those models. Still, the extra weight is far shy of being overbearing, and I was able to wear the headphones for hours at a time without complaint.

Accessories inside the travel case include a USB-C charging cable, a 3.5mm headphone cord, and even an airplane adapter in case you’re feeling nostalgic.

A Generous Collection of Features

Close-up of the Edifier WH950NB exterior sitting in front of a laptop

At under $200, you’re losing out on some of the fancier features found in premium models. Most notable for me is the lack of any auto-pause feature when you take the headphones off. Sony’s WH-1000XM4s take things even further, offering options like Push to Talk, in which cupping an ear cup automatically pauses sound and turns on transparency mode until you pull your hand away.

I don’t see this being a major omission for most, especially since there’s plenty of playback time per charge, but automatic pausing and powering off are always appreciated.

Shoving some of those fancier options aside, the WH950NBs are still pleasantly equipped for their price point. As is the case with most modern headphones, the majority of the other extras are accessible in the Edifier Connect app (available for iPhone and Android), within which I found more bounty than I expected.

The headphones offer multiple ambient audio options, including two levels of Active Noise Canceling (ANC)—which Edifier calls Environmental Noise Canceling (ENC)—as well as Transparency Mode and a Wind Buffer option. There are also three separate sound modes, including a Gaming Mode which lowers latency to 80ms, and a Theatre Mode for virtual surround.

Edifier WH950NB main app page

Edifier WH950NB Sound Mode app page

Edifier WH950NB app settings page

When it comes to sound control, there are only two main presets: Classic and Dynamic. However, the Customization Mode is refreshingly packed, including a five-band EQ that had me brushing up on my audio engineering skills. Not only can you choose which frequency each band will target, but there’s even a Q factor control, which is designed to allow you to control just how much of the surrounding frequencies each band will affect. Talk about customization!

Similar to Puro headphones, the WH950NB will even allow you to cap audio at 85dB to protect your hearing, though I never crank the volume that loud anyway.

Perhaps the most useful feature for the modern work-from-homer is the addition of multipoint connection, which will allow you to connect the headphones to your work computer and your phone at the same time so you can jump on those Zoom calls with no delay. While it seems like this would be a natural inclusion in any top headphone option, even Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 launched without it.

Controls: Confusing but Workable

Close up of the volume buttons on the Edifier WH950NB

The biggest point of contention I’ll take with these headphones is the control section. It’s not that I mind that Edifier has gone old-school with push-button controls; while I’ve become used to the simple taps and swipes along the ear cup on Sony’s WH-1000X line, even Bose’s pricey QC45 headphones hold tight to the tried-and-true rubber buttons.

The issue for me is that Edifier has combined too many keys in one, offering a triple-key volume bar, with a multi-use key at the center, which makes the three consistently difficult to separate by touch. The raised nub on the center key feels very similar to the one on the volume up key at the top, so I found myself constantly fumbling around the bar to select the proper key.

There’s only one other button, used for ambient sound control. The obvious solution would be to add one more on the left ear cup, making for clearer separation between them. It’s still a usable system, and I got used to it over time, but it’s just not as intuitive as it could be.

Good Noise Canceling and Calling

A person wearing the edifier WH950NB headphones

Right from the jump, I was impressed by the Edifier WH950NB’s noise-canceling skills. With the default High mode engaged, I immediately found myself cut off from the world around me.

The common clues of sonic suppression all revealed themselves quickly: my dog’s incessant barking at the mail carrier sounded like he was in the backyard rather than the hallway; the keystrokes of my ceaseless typing all but vanished; and despite my wife’s best efforts, she scared the bejesus out of me when she entered my office to ask about a lunch break.

To put things on a more objective scale, I tested the headphones against the powerful Sony WH-1000XM4 using my go-to airplane drone and crowd-noise simulators through studio monitors. When A/B testing the two, it was clear the Sony pair had the edge at both ends of the spectrum. Against the airplane drone, it outdid the WH950NB both in the velocity of noise removed, and in the expanse of frequencies.

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In particular, while the Edifier pair removed an impressive amount of low-end noise, they let through a fair bit of ambient frequencies in the upper midrange. They also didn’t fair quite as well against the squeaky voices of my crowd-noise demo, though they still did a fair job. Still, the difference wasn’t notably dramatic, and in daily use the headphones were more than up to the job.

Perhaps most impressive, the WH950NBs add virtually no audible white noise with noise canceling engaged and music paused. That’s a big step forward from noise-cancelers past. Overall, while they couldn’t match the $350 Sony WH-1000XM4, they stood their ground well when put to the test.

As for call quality, while I wasn’t able to test them in high-wind conditions, I took multiple phone calls without issue on either end, including chatting under a bathroom fan.

Solid Sound Performance (With a Few Quirks)

Interior of the Edifier WH950NB headphones
  • Drivers: 40mm
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz
  • Audio Codecs: LDAC, SBC

The headline for the Edifier WH950NB’s audio performance is that it’s generally good for the money. There’s some expressiveness in the dynamics, good tonal balance, and instruments across genres are relatively well drawn and tactfully placed within the expansive soundstage.

By default, there’s some over-extension in the upper bass that can be quite fun. It tends to lend a rich and chocolatey flavor to some of my favorite bass lines. Classics like Paul’s scene-stealing bass melody in “Something in the Way” really took center stage with the WH950NB. Its timbre is well fleshed out—dusty, yet sweet. While it sometimes becomes too prominent, lowering the 100Hz tone by -2dB in the EQ tampers things well, which is something I do for most flagship pairs. It’s a bassy world out there.

Super bassheads can ramp up the lowest frequencies by swapping from the Classic mode to Dynamic. You’ll also be incurring some additional bloat down low, which, to my ears, isn’t worth the tradeoff. Again, the detailed EQ lets you simply adjust the bass to taste on your own, though it would be nice if you could use it to tweak the set presets as well.

At times, the WH950NB’s sound signature obscures some presence in the midrange, especially in the vocals. When listening on my iPhone 13 Pro, Elton’s voice on “Your Song” lost some of its snap and detail when compared to something more premium like Sony’s WH-1000XM4, and I noticed a similar effect in podcasts like “Comedy Bang Bang.” Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” also came off a little smeared when everything got going, obscuring some of the dynamics in percussion and strings.

Some of this may well be because the headphones don’t support the AAC codec for iPhone, opting only for the more basic SBC.

Switching to my Samsung Galaxy S20 and engaging the LDAC Bluetooth codec seemed to improve things. Like tuning a microscope, instruments and vocals both came into finer focus. That could make the WH950NB a better choice for Android users, or those who plug in often, as the headphones are Hi-Res certified for wired and wireless use. High resolution also accentuates the poorer quality of lo-fi streaming files, meaning you’ll want to consider using a high-resolution streamer like Tidal to appreciate this feature fully. (LDAC also can’t be used if you’re engaging multipoint audio.)

Conversely, the headphones tend to add some sharpness to the treble attack of lighter instruments, though it was never something that turned me off. Despite these quirks, there’s some good sound for your dollars here, and I experienced plenty of lovely moments in my catalog.

While I predictably prefer the luscious sound signatures in the premium cans I’ve tested, like Sony’s WH-1000XM4 and XM5—and especially Sennheiser’s Momentum 4—my ears were mostly satiated with the Edifier WH950NB. When you consider the fact that they cost as little as half the price of those other options, the sound quality is all the more satisfying.

Battery Life to Spare

Charging indicator light on the edifier WH950NB
  • Battery Play Time: 34 hours with ANC, 55 hours without ANC
  • Charging: USB-C
  • Charging Time: 1.5 hours
  • Quick Charge: 10 minutes charge for 7 hours of playback

Battery life of 30+ hours has become an expectation for most flagship headphones, but it’s nice to see that matched in something more affordable. The Edifier WH950NB lived up to their claimed 34 hours in my testing, showing over 54% in the app after over 15 hours of listening, including a 40-minute phone call. You’ll get even more with ANC off.

In either case, it’s more than most users should need, even if you forget to charge them. And if that does happen, you can get them juiced up quickly with the quick charge feature.

Should You Buy the Edifier WH950NB Headphones?

If you’re looking for a whole lot of good stuff without paying the excruciating prices today’s top flagship headphones beg, Edifier’s WH950NBs are well worth considering. They offer impressive noise-canceling for the money, a comfy fit, and solid overall performance.

The headphones also serve up a lot of the best features you’ll find in headphones that cost twice as much, including multipoint pairing (and even hearing protection), and the dedicated Edifier Connect app worked flawlessly in my testing. While they don’t quite look the premium part, their design is stylish enough for the money. They’ll perform best for those with Android devices, but they’re still a solid option for iPhone users as well.

If you’re after serious travel or work headphones without the serious price, the Edifier WH950NB are worth putting on your list.

Rating: 7/10

Here’s What We Like

  • Impressive features
  • Good noise canceling
  • Loaded EQ
  • Comfy and relatively stylish

And What We Don’t

  • Unintuitive controls
  • No AAC for iPhone
  • No auto-pause
  • Midrange can be cloudy

Original Article