In Which a Skeptic Becomes Converted to Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones: The Edifier W860NBs

Audio Gear Products Reviews

I’m unlikely to give up my everyday wired V-MODA headphones, but they live at my desk and only at my desk, so I end up using old earbuds when I’m consuming media alone in any other location. I find over-the-ear headphones much more comfortable than earbuds, though, so I’ve kept an eye out for some good Bluetooth headphones to use. I don’t mind wired headphones, but someday my devices will no longer have headphone jacks (alas), so I was looking to somewhat future-proof my tech.

I then discovered the Edifier W860NB Bluetooth headphones with Active Noise Cancelling. Granted, this is my first experience with noise cancelling headphones. But switching back and forth between ANC mode and normal mode had a drastic difference. ANC is very effective. I could still hear some amount of noise with ANC on, but it was significantly less, and it was quieter than with ANC off. It was the difference between a loud dishwasher and a distant noise, or a quiet dishwasher and no noise. I couldn’t even tell that the dryer was on, though as soon as I took them off, I heard it clearly. Talking was more muffled, even when it was right in front of me. I am completely converted. It’s like being in your own little room, even when you’re in the middle of a group of people. My house isn’t loud, but there is constantly some sort of noise, which can be distracting when you’re trying to work (or escape).

I’d been hesitant to try a decent pair of over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones because of the hassle of pairing and maintaining a connection, but there are definitely some advantages to the corded kind. You can move about the house (or office) without having your device on your body, and there is no cord in the way. And this model has some slick controls that eliminate most of the buttons (I’ll get into that later). The Edifier W860NB headphones also come with an AUX cable, though, so they can also be used as more conventional headphones when needed (though the fancy controls don’t function when the AUX cable is being used). So, it’s kind of like the best of both worlds.

Inside the box are the headphones, a firm-sided zippered travel case, aircraft plug, USB charging cable, 3.5mm (AUX) audio cable, and the user manual. Everything fits inside the travel case, including the manual, so there’s no excuse to lose any of the parts. That’s been another of my complaints in the past about Bluetooth/rechargeable headphones: it’s too easy to lose the charging cable and accessories.

The ear cans flip up and swivel, making it easy to store them in the case or to just make them take up less room on your desk. They’re clearly marked inside with R and L, so you don’t have to fruitlessly search for hard-to-read markings on the outside of the cans before putting them on your head. They’re also quite comfortable, easily fitting over my ears and not causing pressure spots. The cups are made of faux leather.

The Bluetooth is easy to connect to devices. You put the headphones into pairing mode by pressing and holding the “multipurpose” button (it’s the power button), waiting for the lights to flash, and then pairing with the device. I’ve connected it to my iPhone, iPad, and desktop PC with no problems. You can even connect with more than one device, easily switching between them.

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The headphones are adjustable, but I wore them on their smallest setting and they weren’t tight by any means. And my head isn’t tiny. So people with smaller-than-average heads may have a harder time getting these headphones to fit securely, and these likely wouldn’t work for any kid-sized heads you have in your house.

What’s the quality of sound like? Music and spoken word both sound as I’d expect from this kind of mid-level headphone. The audio is clear, immersive, and compares similarly to my V-MODA headphones. There is the occasional blip in playback, though, when briefly losing Bluetooth connection, I guess (even though I’m right next to my phone), so they aren’t perfect.

Edifier claims 25 hours of playback time, with 45 hours of playback time when you’re not using Active Noise Cancelling. They also claim about 800 hours of standby time (which is a little over a month for those of you who don’t want to do the math). The headphones use 40mm neodymium drivers, and they also support NFC pairing.

The touch controls, when you’re not in AUX mode, are pretty slick. You use the outside of the right ear can as a touchpad: tap twice to pause/resume, swipe up and down slowly for volume adjustment, and swipe left/right more quickly to change tracks. Other than occasionally not getting my double tap on the first try, these controls work perfectly, as advertised. I like this feature very much. So much easier than remembering which button does what.

Here are some technical specs:

  • BLUETOOTH VERSION: Bluetooth V4.1
  • IMPEDANCE: 32 Ohms
  • BATTERY CAPACITY: 1400mAh rechargeable battery
  • WORKING TIME: 35 hours
  • STANDBY TIME: about 800 hours
  • CHARGING TIME: about 3 hours

These Edifier W860NB Bluetooth headphones with ANC are now my go-to headphones for travel, watching TV solo, or when I need a versatile headphone solution. They’re comfortable and easy to use, and I’m completely converted to the noise-cancelling feature. The only problem is remembering to turn them off!

I recommend these to anyone looking for wireless headphones with ANC who has a medium-to-large-sized head.

Note: I received a sample for review purposes.

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