REVIEW – Four years ago (has it been four years?), I reviewed the Edifier W860NB Bluetooth Active Noise Canceling headphone. I liked those headphones but had some reservations I’ll get into later in the review. Four years later, Edifier has released the new WH950NB headphone—and boy, did they learn some things!
What is it?
The Edifier WH950NB headphone is a successor to the W860NB model. It features many improvements while only increasing the price by 10 bucks. They are still made of high-quality plastic with a metal headband frame. Ear cups are a quite soft protein (fake) leather that helps seal out ambient noise.
Color choices are only black or white (this review). The headphone is all white (more an eggshell color than bright white) with gold accents. This color appears softer than my preferred black version, but it photographs much better for reviewing. Buttons are reduced to just two—one is a toggle that performs many functions.
The case is now a hard canvas that feels more premium than the previous case. The WH950NB headphone folds into a more compact shape for transporting. There are only 3 accessories: USB A to USB-C cord, a mini audio jack cord, and an airline headphone adapter which seems a bit retro today.
- Bluetooth: 5.3
- 40mm dynamic driver
- Codecs: LDAC, SBC
- Playtime: 34 hours (ANC On), 55 hours (ANC Off)
- USB-C charging
- Dimension: 193 x 169 x 82mm (L x W x H)
- Weight: .65 lbs
Design and features
Using the Edifier WH950NB headphone brings back memories of what I liked about the W860NB headphone. It also brings out the many improvements Edifier has made. They still feel a bit like the Bose QuietComfort phones, but the design has been improved with subtle copper accents on the black model and a more noticeable gold for the white model. They’re still mostly plastic which reduces weight and they also feel just as premium. One big improvement is that the WH950NB headphone now folds. As a result, the case is more compact. It’s also canvas-covered hard shell, rather than the cheaper-feeling faux leather case of the W860NB. Packing the case into a backpack or messenger bag is now much easier.
Edifier wisely omitted the trendy (and now silly) trackpad functions from the W860NB. The WH950NB uses more traditional buttons built into the outer right ear cup shell. One toggle button performs on/off/play/pause/answer call functions dependent on what the headphone is doing at the time. This multi-functional center is sandwiched between the volume up and down buttons—all within one oval-shaped button.
Due to its learning curve, I’m not a fan of this approach, but it’s way better than the short-lived and problematic trackpad approach on the W860NB. That’s a feature I will not miss. At first blush, it looks cool until you live with it for a while.
Below the toggle button, there is a second “M” button that switches the WH950NB between three audio modes: Active noise canceling (ANC), Ambient (letting all outside noise in), and Off. This button makes switching modes super easy. Note that there’s a slight delay between the modes as a voice prompt says which mode is now being used. I find the delay slightly irritating, but it may not be a big deal to others.
The call quality has improved a bit. People I speak with can hear me clearly although I have a bit of trouble hearing myself, even in ambient mode. So I usually move one of the ear pads off my ear to hear better. This is something that happens with other headphones also.
Edifier supplies the Edifier Connect app (iOS or Android) that lets you control more than the ear cup buttons, though it’s fairly bare-bones. There is no equalizer included beyond some presets. I tried the app once and quickly forgot about it.
The WH950NB headphone uses the new Bluetooth 5.3, which allows pairing with two devices at the same time. I can now pair with both my iPhone and iPad and easily switch between both. I like that. The WH950NB also fast pairs with Google devices. However, as an unrepentant Apple fanboy, I don’t care (sorry, Google).
Bluetooth 5.3 also has good-sounding codecs. Let’s be honest, wireless audio may not equal hard-wired audio, but audio quality is now close enough to not matter much. I quite enjoy listening to music wirelessly without wondering what I might be missing. LDAC is supported by all those non-Apple people.
Speaking of audio, I liked how the W860NB headphone sounded, but ANC noticeably degraded its music quality. I much prefer how the WH950NB sounds—it sounds the same in any mode—ANC, ambient, or off!
For days, I listened to music I like and it was fun—no matter the mode. Unless I needed absolute quiet, I would just wear them in ambient mode for hours as I worked. Whenever I came upon a song I really liked, I would crank the headphones up with no distortion ruining the sound. Only my audiologist would cringe at the volume I listen to! The WH950NB headphones never faltered.
What I like
- Much improved ANC
- Much improved Audio
- No trackpad controls!
- Only $10 more than W860NB
What I’d change
- The Connect app could do more
I love it when a company offers much-improved headphones over a previous model. The Edifier WH950NB headphone is such a headphone. It’s inexpensive enough to buy, even if you already own the W860NB. It’s that much better.
Price: $179.99 US.
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Edifier.