The most recent permutation of Edifier’s TWS series earbuds, the TWS NB, adds a couple of new features to the range and overlooks some important ones. They’re available in stores now at the not-so-shabby price of $119.99, which is great value for true-wireless earbuds that feature active noise cancellation.
Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
A Comfortable, Yet Bulky Fit
One thing has to be said for the TWS NB earbuds. Despite their somewhat chunky angular construction, they really are comfortable earbuds. The tips enter the ear easily thanks to the angled housing that forms the acoustic outlet. You are provided with two sizes to ensure the correct fit for you. The ear tips themselves are pretty malleable, so they are comfortable to wear.
In my review of Soundcore’s Liberty 2 Pros, I complained that the rigid design of the included ear wings meant they could err on the painful side. They are an arced design, so they don’t collapse at all to fit your ears. This means that the undue pressure created by holding them in place caused my ears to become fairly sore.
Edifier clearly has an understanding of how the pressure from wearing certain earbud designs can cause grief. Their ear wing design is exactly what I envisaged when I was thinking about how an arced design could be improved. Great work.
To a degree, the ear wings are collapsible, meaning they will sit within the folds of your ear more comfortably. You are also given two sizes of ear wings to customize your fit. These are helpfully stamped with “R” and “L”, indicating which earbud the wing goes on. Overall they’re comfortable in use.
The headphones are light and very secure; they coped well with my morning jog without concern that they were about to become pavement fodder. This is great news if you want to use them during activities. They can cope with exercise thanks to their IPX4 splash resistance, which is good for dealing with a bit of workout sweat. Just ensure you dry them after a workout so that moisture doesn’t damage the charging points.
The housing that sits outside the ear is a bit on the bulky side, though, and they protrude from the ear quite a lot in comparison to other true wireless earbuds. I kind of reminds me of the Tesla Cybertruck, except you’re wearing it in your ear instead of sitting inside driving it. Or a very rudimentary Millenium Falcon.
They Look Weird
Given their penchant for designing some lovely hardware (their bookshelf speakers are VERY nice indeed), I am a little confused by the lackluster appearance of the TWS NB. I have already mentioned their chunky angular construction. All of Edifier’s other wireless in-ear ‘buds follow the familiar pear-shaped design. These headphones don’t follow that form, which is presumably why the TWS NB includes the ear-wings.
As mentioned, the external housing is fairly sizeable. I’m not exactly sure why this is. At first, I suspected it is down to the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) tech that the TWS NB pack under the bonnet. But if you look at the AirPods Pro headphones, they have ANC, yet they remain sleek and sophisticated. The AirPods Pro are twice the price, though. This switch in the earbuds’ composition is a little confusing when all of Edifier’s other headphones look really nice.
The TWS NB is operated by buttons, rather than capacitive controls. These sit at the top of each earbud, making them easy to activate when you’re using the ‘phones. I’d normally bemoan how the button ruins the aesthetics of the earbuds, but as these aren’t ergonomic by any stretch of the imagination, I’ll save you the inconvenience.
The outside of the metallic-finish plastic casing features a branded oval, which carries the Edifier logo (this would have made a nice button position, Edifier) and indicator lights that notify you about what mode your headphones are in (i.e., Bluetooth pairing, voice activation, or playback).
No Volume Adjustment?!?
On to the controls, then. When I was testing the headphones, I wanted to see how the volume was controlled and whether the headphones distorted at higher volumes. Thankfully, Edifier has made my job easier by completely removing the ability to adjust the volume with the headphones.
I searched high and low for volume adjustment instructions and couldn’t find them. At first, I thought it was just an oversight in the manual, but now I realize (having searched for the instructions) that this is a common complaint with other Edifier true wireless models and, indeed, some other brands.
Other than that, the controls are easy to use and responsive. During music playback, a single click of the left or right earbud button will pause and play music. (You can use either earbud for both functions). Skipping to the previous track requires a press and hold of the left button, to skip forward the same gesture is applied to the right earbud.
Noise cancellation is controlled with a double click on either earbud. This will take you through a number of options. One double-click activates the ANC. A second double-click will activate ambient sound mode (which keeps you informed of your surroundings). A third double-click disables ANC mode.
You can answer a call with a single press of the button, and during a call the same single-click will hang up. Pressing and holding during an incoming call will decline it. If you want to activate your phone’s voice assistant, this is done with a long press, too—just not when a call is coming in.
The Edifier Connect app (available on iOS and Android) can be used to turn on ANC and Ambient Noise mode, but these can both be activated with the headphones, anyway. The app could do with more features. For example, an EQ settings function would be nice, as we all hear differently; it would really help with personalizing the TWS NB. As of right now, it’s hard to see a reason to even install it.
The charging case for the headphones is actually rather lovely. The anodized aluminum material feels nice in the hand and has a pleasant space-grey hue. The Edifier logo appears on top of the hinged lid, which has a small recess at the front to assist with opening. A strong magnet holds the lid closed. The rear of the case features the USB-C charging port and four charge-indicator lights.
Flipping the lid open reveals the recesses for the headphones. They sit under little clips to ensure the charging contacts are flush with each other at all times. The headphones fit in the case with either set of ear-tip or ear-wing installed.
With ANC on, the headphones will give you 5 hours of playback from their integrated batteries. You can glean a further 15 hours if you have a fully charged case. That’s 20 hours in total, which is pretty impressive for such an inexpensive set of headphones running ANC.
Without ANC operating, you can push 33 hours out of the headphones. I didn’t quite manage this, but I was playing music at a high volume. This gave me 26 hours once both the headphones and the case had been drained of all life.
They Sound MUCH Better Than They Look
While some of this review may seem to veer towards the negative, now we’re going to take a look at their most important feature: the sound. I’m pleased to say that, despite looking a bit like the head of a decapitated android, the TWS NB sound fantastic, especially so for the low price point. Big thumbs up.
The sound is nicely balanced. The mids punch through the well-defined bass without ever losing definition, while the bass never envelopes other sounds to make the whole experience a muddy mess. The treble, too, is clean, clear, and doesn’t have that horrible metallic resonance that is so often associated with cheaper headphones.
I noticed no dropouts when I was using the headphones next to my smartphone, which was the source of the music I was listening to. I tested them up to their 33 ft range outdoors, and there was no dropout. Likewise, the TWS NB coped well indoors, dropping out minimally when the Bluetooth signal had two walls and a floor to hurdle.
Overall, for what I would consider an inexpensive set of true wireless earbuds, they sound great and would be ideal for gym sessions or just casual use.
Good, Entry-Level, True Wireless Earbuds
Okay, so I laid into their appearance a bit. But, if you’re the kind of person that isn’t overly fussed by how things look, then the TWS NB makes a brilliant choice. Let’s face it, looks aren’t (always) everything, and they sound pretty darn neat. With a $119.99 price tag, for headphones that feature ANC, you can’t really complain.
So, yeah, if you are looking for a good entry-level pair of true wireless headphones, then I’d say there’s no harm in grabbing these. They’re just not for the aesthetics fuss-pot, which I very much am. If you’d like to shop around for some affordable options, check out why you don’t have to spend a ton to get excellent true wireless earbuds.
Here’s What We Like
- Great Sound
- ANC and Ambient Sound Modes
- Nice Case
- Good Battery Life
- Low Price Point
- IPX4 Splash Resistance
And What We Don't
- Protrude Too Far From the Ear
- Appearance Isn't Appealing
- App Needs More Features
- No Volume Controls On-Board