product reviews, android

Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

While I doubt you miss untangling wired headphones, you may miss their audio quality. Lossless Bluetooth devices are starting to surface, bringing wired quality to untethered listening. The Edifier NeoBuds S are among the first. Even with their superb audio quality, you are left expecting more.

Here’s What We Like

  • Fantastic audio quality
  • Variety of listening modes
  • Quick charge

And What We Don’t

  • Limited control customization
  • Unresponsive touch controls 
  • Inconsistent connection
  • App’s permanent banner

Snapdragon Sound: Lossless Audio

Snapdragon Audio is a major marketing point for these earbuds, so let’s discuss what that is and how it plays into your listening experience.

The Snapdragon Sound codec by Qualcomm provides lossless audio which is huge for wireless audio. When audio files are compressed, they normally lose some quality to reduce the file size. With lossless audio, the audio files are condensed, but not in a way that gets rid of any data.

When listening to lossless-compatible content, Snapdragon devices can deliver 16-bit 44.1kHz audio according to Qualcomm. That’s CD quality on a Bluetooth device! Bluetooth headphones normally lessen the quality of your audio. Snapdragon is changing that.

Overall, you’ll be experiencing clearer audio that doesn’t muddle your low or high frequencies.

Currently, there aren’t many phones that support Snapdragon Sound. This doesn’t mean you’ll have a poor audio experience with your phone, it just won’t be 100% of what the headphones are capable of delivering.

Listening Modes

In the Edifier Connect app, (available for iPhone and Android), you have the option to switch between standard mode, high ANC, low ANC, wind reduction, and ambient mode. Standard mode has your run-of-the-mill settings, so there isn’t much worth mentioning about it. On the other hand, the active noise cancellation modes absolutely deserve to be discussed.

The NeoBuds S and I took to a squeaky treadmill to put their ANC to the test. I threw them in standard mode and had my doubts as I heard the treadmill’s consistent high pitch screech. I switched over to high noise-canceling mode through the app and thought “oh great, the treadmill decides to stop shrieking now.” But it didn’t. The ANC was that good.

It is really neat to have a choice of low and high ANC since they’re both great for different purposes. I always throw on high ANC when focusing on work or when I don’t have to worry about what’s going on around me.

Low ANC is great for when you’re walking around outside. In this environment, I want the ability to hear bike bells or someone trying to get my attention. This setting allows me to block out most background noise while allowing important sounds to still be apparent.

A neat feature in the NeoBuds line is Ambient mode (commonly called Transparency mode). This allows you to hear your full surroundings and music simultaneously. The mode is great for being aware of what’s going on around you while also enjoying your playlist. If you have kids playing near you yet you want to relax for a minute, you can stay alert for trouble while listening to a calming podcast.

There is also a game mode that can be turned on to reduce the latency. There isn’t any noticeable lag which makes your gaming experience feel more reactive.

You can use any mode when on a call. Wind reduction mode takes some wind noise out of your calls, but it overall lessens the clarity of your voice and leaves other forms of background noise.

The clarity of your voice is good, not great with the other modes. It gets the job done better than some cheap earbuds, but I don’t agree with Edifier’s claims of “crystal clear calls with zero interference.” If you listen to the clips below, you’ll notice that the background is quite apparent.

Mic Test – No Background Noise

Mic Test – Background Noise

Mic Test – Wind Reduction

Touch Controls

product reviews, android

Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Successful controls often go unnoticed since they just work and don’t demand much of your attention. Unfortunately, poor controls can be all you focus on.

While you can customize settings on the NeoBuds S, they leave me wishing I could do more. I always want my earbuds to control the volume, skip songs, and play/ pause. That is no easy task with these.

There are two controls per earbud: a double-tap and a triple-tap. They are preset to change the noise canceling mode and turn on game mode in the left ear and play/pause and skip on the right.

If you want to set the volume as a control, you can only make the left earbud turn up the volume and the right turn down the volume. This is the opposite of what’s instinctual for me.

You are also restricted to go to the previous track on the left ear and the next on the right. While that makes sense if you want both of those controls on, it limits your customization ability if you only want to skip. While I would love to skip to the next track or go to the previous one, I’m not willing to dedicate two of my four inputs to those controls.

My final configuration has the left side plays/pauses on a double-tap and turns the volume up on a triple-tap. The right side skips on a double-tap and turns the volume down on a triple tap. This took a while to get used to with the volume controls not being intuitive.

While having four inputs can be enough, the restrictions of certain settings to certain sides make it overly complicated and frustrating.

Additionally, the touch controls are often unresponsive. You can adjust the sensitivity, but even at the highest setting, it misses inputs. It frequently takes three or more attempts for me to pause the music. I end up skipping songs while trying to adjust the volume and then I can’t go back to what I was listening to.

The controls often leave me not wanting to use these earbuds. Whenever possible, I use my phone for controls instead. When that isn’t an option, I fight through using the controls and end up annoyed.

Battery and Bluetooth

The battery performance is fine. When set to high ANC and 65% volume, these lasted for four and a half hours. It isn’t too far from the five and a half hours the company says you’ll get with ANC. The battery life is solid for the audio quality, but it won’t last you a standard work day.

The quick charge feature is very convenient to fill out the rest of your workday. In ten minutes of charging, you have one and a half hours of playback.

I have to say, the longer I spent using these headphones, the more frustrated I got with them. At first, the Bluetooth was fine. I could pull them out of the case and throw them in with no problems. Then they started to get finicky.

The left earbud started to disconnect, so audio would only come through the right. The fix is relatively easy after you figure it out the first time. You put the earbuds back in the case and press the center button three times. This pairs the earbuds back to each other and then enters into pairing mode. Here you have to reconnect them to your phone.

This is frustrating but doable. Unfortunately, the inconvenience doesn’t stop there. Every time this happens, all your customizations reset. The touch controls and the touch sensitivity go back to the presets.

This turns into a five-minute ordeal to get the earbuds in and playing. If this was a rarity, I would dismiss it, but it started happening every few times I turned them on.

Customization and Comfort

product reviews, android

Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Within the app, you have the ability to customize the audio profiles with gain, q factor, and frequency. These settings are mainly designed for audiophiles. The majority of people will just stick to the dynamic mode since the classic mode is pretty dull and the custom audio is not straightforward. If you’re into audio, it is enjoyable to adjust for the perfect listening experience.

A fun little personalization you can set is the color of the LED. The case incorporates an indicator light that communicates status when charging and pairing. It’s a nice feature and makes the case feel high quality.

The in-ear tips are the only method of physical customization. Almost all earbuds come with tips in different sizes, but the NeoBuds S comes with more than I’ve ever seen provided. The seven tips help you get your best fit.

The NeoBuds S sits in your ear well. They don’t move during exercise and I haven’t had them fall out once. They stay in place and you hardly feel that they are there.

Edifier App

Any customization or controls need to be set through the Edifier Connect app (available for iPhone and Android). This app is in your face. Right when you open it, it asks you to enable pop-up windows. It also plays a quick animation of edifier headphones every time you open the app. It’s fine the first few times but gets to feel a bit like an advertisement the twentieth time.

The app gets the job done for customizations and settings. You can navigate it relatively easily. Half of the app is dedicated to shopping for other Edifier products. It feels a bit forceful since you only use this app if you already own a pair of their headphones.

My biggest complaint about the app is its notification pop-ups. There is a notification banner that lets you easily toggle through listening modes, which is nice when you are using the earbuds.

My issue comes when you aren’t using the NeoBuds. On Android, there is a big banner in your notifications that just reads “Device Unconnected.” There’s also a notification icon permanently at the top of your screen. There is no way to get rid of these when the earbuds are inactive while keeping it there when they are active. You have to disable notifications altogether which gets rid of the useful version of the banner.

product reviews, android

Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Should You Buy the Edifier NeoBuds S?

It feels as though Edifier put all of its efforts into delivering the best possible audio at the expense of other functionalities. While the main consideration when purchasing any headphones is audio performance, there are plenty of other minor considerations that can impact your decision.

Here seems to be a question of what you are willing to sacrifice for top-tier audio performance.

At the $180 price point, the frustrations of poor functionality outweigh the pros of high-quality audio for me. At first, I loved these. They sound amazing and block out background noise very well. Unfortunately, the unreliability of the Bluetooth, unresponsive touch controls, and the minor annoyances of the app led me to reevaluate my feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a specific scenario where these are truly great headphones. If you are looking for earbuds to listen to music at your desk, these could be great. With your phone right next to you, you can use it to control your listening experience rather. Avoiding the earbuds’ touch controls prevents a lot of the annoyance.

With the ANC options and the Snapdragon sound coder, you will love the sound. If you are looking for great-sounding earbuds and that is all you care about, then these are perfect for you. For the rest of us out there who put functionality on our wish list, the cons may outweigh the pros.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other earbuds out there that offer a good mix of audio quality and functionality that might be right for you if you choose to pass on the NeoBuds S.

Here’s What We Like

  • Fantastic audio quality
  • Variety of listening modes
  • Quick charge

And What We Don’t

  • Limited control customization
  • Unresponsive touch controls 
  • Inconsistent connection
  • App’s permanent banner

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