Edifier NeoBuds Pro Review: $100 MUST-BUY!!
The Edifier NeoBuds Pro are the best earbuds you can get for US$100. Period.
So let’s talk design. I’m not a big fan of the case design, I’ll be honest. It’s just that the mesh of metal and plastic doesn’t really do it for me. But anyway, there’s a nice lip so you can open the lid really easily, and you get a LED indicator there that shows charging and flashes when put into pairing mode. The USB-C for charging is on the rear, which means you can sit the case down nicely when it’s charging. I think quite a few brands are putting more attention to these sort of small details nowadays, which is great.
Inside, you get the earbuds as well as a subtle, almost hidden button to activate pairing mode. Pretty simple.
As for packaging, you get a silver sleeve, with the box inside giving a nod to Edifier’s 25th anniversary. Open that up and you get to the six eartip options inside, with the seventh already installed on the earbuds themselves. Underneath, you get a nylon carrying pouch as well as a charging cable. Pretty standard. Now, Edifier is claiming these are the world’s first Hi-res certified earbuds, and I’m not 100% sure that’s true? Of course, they’re one of the first, I’m sure, but I believe Sony’s WF-1000XM4 earbuds also support LDAC, which is a hi-res codec, so yeah. I’m taking their claim with a pinch of salt, but even if they’re not the first, they’re one of the first. So good enough.
You get touch controls here, although it’s just double tap and triple tap. The good part is that Edifier allows for customisation of the taps individually, which is very nice. I have my triple taps set to volume control, while double-tap on the left earbud is for mode switching and double-tap on the right is for play/pause. Again, it’s totally customisable, so you can put whatever combination you want.
And of course, the customisation is done through the Edifier Connect app, which is pretty nice. You get a nice home page with the battery life of the individual earbuds and case, although the case battery only shows when you have the earbuds in the case with the lid open, so do take note of that. You get to choose between high noise cancellation, low noise cancellation, ambient sound and normal mode, with everything turned off. You can swipe on the main page to go to sound tuning (again with the typos in the app) and to turn Game mode on or off.
On the top right-hand corner, you get the gear icon where you can open the settings page to customise touch controls, disconnect Bluetooth, re-pair your earbuds, reset them to factory setting, increase or decrease tap sensitivity and most importantly, activate either LHDC or LDAC codecs. We’ll talk more about this later in the codec support portion, but just keep in mind that whenever you swap between codecs or even just change the bitrate, the earbuds will disconnect from the phone temporarily before reconnecting.
Anyway, it’s a bit of a pain to update the firmware of the earbuds. After you download the Edifier Connect app, it’ll prompt you to download the Edifier Magic app. Once the Edifier Magic app is installed, you’ll notice it’s all in Chinese. If you can’t read Chinese, just click on the blue button and it should begin the firmware update.
And since everything’s in Chinese, here are some quick translations to help you out. When you start the firmware update, there’s four points that the app will show you. First, they’re telling you that both the earbuds and the case needs to have more than 50% battery. Second, you’ll have to take the earbuds out of the case before beginning the update. The third warning was a bit tough because my Chinese isn’t great and I didn’t understand one of the terms, so I had to get help for this, but they’re basically telling you not to let your phone’s screen turn off, or make calls while the update is in progress. Lastly, you’re not supposed to use the earbuds or put them back into the charging case when they’re updating.
After that, the update basically starts and under the progress bar, they’re basically telling you not to exit the app or close the app. Once the update is downloaded and being transferred to the earbuds, there’s gonna be a popup saying that once the update is done, the earbuds will automatically restart and pair to your phone again, and the whole process should take around 30 seconds or so.
Once the earbuds reconnect to your phone, there’s a new popup stating the update was successful, and you can click on those maroon-ish words below to bring you back to the Edifier Connect app. Now, I’m not sure why Edifier had to make upgrading the firmware such a pain, but I’m going to have to give it a thumbs down because the whole app is in Chinese. Usually, it wouldn’t be a big deal because most of us would know how it goes and just click on whatever button to get it to work, but because of the third warning where they told me not to turn the screen off, it’s kind of a problem.
I would normally let my phone lock itself when updating firmware, and I’m sure a lot of people would too. I’m not sure if anything would really happen if you let the screen auto-lock, but since this is a review unit, I’m not keen on bricking it or whatever. So for there to not be a warning in English is a bit of an oversight on Edifier’s part. I’m not sure if it’s just my unit that results in the Chinese app, but this would be a bit of a problem for people who don’t know Chinese, I would think.
Anyway, let’s move on. You get Bluetooth 5.0 in these, which is a bit unexpected. I would have thought it would be better to go with Bluetooth 5.2, since that would be a real flagship feature, but I guess not.
Codec support is where these shine though. You get SBC, AAC, LHDC and LDAC support. Two hi-res codecs for you to choose from, and that’s why these earbuds are certified hi-res. Now, I’m lucky enough to have a phone that supports both codecs with me, but honestly LHDC support on phones is still very limited, so you’ll definitely want to check if your phone supports either. For iPhone users, sorry, you’re out of luck here. Apple only supports SBC and AAC, and I doubt they’re looking to expand support for hi-res codecs anytime soon. They might come up with their own codec, since they did include hi-res lossless music in their Apple Music subscription, but we’ll have to wait and see for that.
Anyway, this is a product that most likely will see more Android phone users buying it, rather than iPhone.
Battery life is decent, Edifier claims five hours in the earbuds with ANC on, and six hours without. We’ll talk more about ANC performance in a bit, but I’d say just reducing battery life by one hour for the level of ANC you get is really worthwhile. The case offers an additional 15 hours or 18 hours, so you get either a total of 20 hours or 24 hours depending on if you turn on ANC or not.
There’s IP54 dust and water resistance, which means they’ll hold up to sweat and light rain showers.
Moving on, the ANC is actually great. Shocking really, for its price. I did most of my testing with the high noise cancellation mode, and no, I know what you’re thinking. It doesn’t beat the Sony WF-1000XM4 in terms of ANC, but it’s really darn close. Keep in mind that the Sony is like, almost three times the price too. For US$100, these work great to cancel out noise like my fan, car noise, people talking and even my mechanical keyboard’s clacking, although I can still hear a bit of the clacks slipping in. I’m impressed though. You wouldn’t expect ANC at US$100, what more really good ANC that’s better than some premium earbuds out there?
You get three mics on each earbud, and here’s where things get a bit odd. On the Indiegogo campaign, Edifier says that out of the six microphones on the two earbuds, four are used to “direct your voice” and the remaining two are used to suppress wind noise. I went to Edifier’s website and took a look, it’s all in Chinese by the way, and technical Chinese at that, I have no idea how I did it. Anyway, the microphone portion on their website has a diagram where they label two microphones as feedforward and feedback, so yeah, they’re using a two-mic feedforward feedback system for the ANC.
But the interesting part is that they only labelled one mic out of the three as used for voice calls, so yeah. Maybe it’s just that they didn’t label another one as a mic used for voice calls, but it was just a bit confusing to me that the information there was different from the Indiegogo website.
Okay, let’s get into sound quality. These are hybrid earbuds, with one Knowles balanced armature driver and a dynamic driver. Therefore, you do get pretty punchy bass and low mids, although I’d say it could be a bit heavy and you might notice a bit of bleed on complicated tracks. The mids are on the warmer side of things, and overall, you get good clarity here and in the treble thanks to the BA driver.
Vocals are detailed and have enough air in them, although I did notice a tiny bit of sharpness when it came to female vocals. The default sound should work for most people, but if you want to fine-tune it, there’s a four-bar EQ feature in the companion app that should work nicely. Of course, all my testing was done with LHDC and LDAC, whenever I was using it with a phone that didn’t have LHDC, so your results may vary, especially if you’re listening to lower quality sources.
All that being said though, I’m very impressed with the NeoBuds Pro. Thank you guys for asking me to try these out, because for US$120, I’ll probably buy a pair and keep them as a backup for myself. They’re that good.
Content by Cheryl Tan