The true wireless earphones market these days is divided into two main camps – the budget, low-cost earphones that give you a ton of features but a somewhat mediocre sound quality (with a few exceptions), and the high-end, over-£200 market that tries to go for top-quality sound – but at a cost.
Edifier’s NeoBuds Pro are true wireless earphones that take an interesting middle ground: The audio quality is truly remarkable, the Active Noise Cancellation feels like magic (for the most part), and even the design is nice. And the cost? While not at the budget-market level, it’s still pretty impressive at around £100.
To achieve all this, however, some corners had to be cut – such as no wireless charging, and battery times that are on the low-end of what you can get these days.
So, are the NeoBuds Pro a good deal or not? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.
Quick Look – Edifier NeoBuds Pro
What are they: Mid-range True Wireless Bluetooth earphones with ANC and High-Definition sound codecs.
Value for Money
- Excellent audio quality with deep, thumping bass
- Excellent Active Noise Cancellation that works like a charm in many scenarios
- Ambient Mode also works very well
- Quick Charge – 10 Minutes for 1 hour of listening
- Battery times are on the lower end (Just 5 hours with ANC on)
- No AptX Support (LHDC is better but poorly supported)
- No wireless charging
- Limited touch controls
Features and Specs
- Driver unit: Hybrid – Dynamic Driver + Knowles Balanced Armature
- Battery Playing Time: 5 hours (6 with ANC off)
- Additional Battery Time on Case: 15 Hours (20 in total with ANC, 24 without ANC)
- Full charging time: 1 hour / 10 Minute Quick Charge (for 1 hour of use)
- Case charging port: USB-C (No Wireless Charging)
- Codecs: Bluetooth 5, AAC, LHDC, (LDAC Coming soon with a software update)
- Extra Features: IP54 Dust and Water Resistance / 3-mic based Noise cancellation for phone calls / Touch Controls / Low latency gaming mode
It’s all about the audio quality AND the Active Noise Cancellation here – the two are on par with earphones that usually cost a lot more. But you pay a price with some features – mainly the battery times, which are disappointing.
Table of Contents
Who Are The Edifier NeoBuds Pro For?
Some earphone companies try to cover the entire market range these days – and Edifier is one such company. It’s a company from China that specialises in audio products (they also make speakers and soundbars), and they have a pretty wide range of earphones.
At some point, many of the budget-level earphones start to sound the same – but NeoBuds Pro are on a different playing field. First, they’re not exactly budget-priced – they’re certainly cheaper than the “big” players like Sony or Apple, but at a suggested retail price of £110 (as of this writing) – they’re not “cheap”.
But then, they don’t sound cheap. Moreso, they don’t even sound like the top budget-friendly earphones from Edifier themselves (and other similar companies). The NeoBuds Pro sound REALLY good, much more than their pricing suggests – and even their Active Noise Cancellation is more impressive than most (though not perfect).
So should you run out and buy them? Possibly, but while Edifier did a marvellous job with the audio quality, they did skimp on some other features – there’s no wireless charging, the high-level audio codecs are problematic (more on that later), and mainly – the battery times are quite low (just 5 hours with ANC turned on).
Perhaps that’s the sacrifice you have to make, if you want top-audio-quality at this price level – but it’s something to at least take into account.
Using The Edifier NeoBuds Pro
Size and Comfort
I’m not one who usually cares about boxes and packaging of products – but Edifier really made an effort to look high-end here, and it works.
The box is shiny with a picture of the earbuds nicely embedded on the front – it all looks very high-techy (in a flashy sort of way). When you open the box, things look just as impressive – and almost over-the-top:
But the coolest (yes, that word is fitting here) part comes when you open the case – and see the glowing red light that will instantly remind you of either KITT from Knight Rider, a Battlestar Galactica Cylon, or both – depending on your age.
The earbuds themselves are moderately sized, though their stems are quite big – so they’ll definitely be seen hanging out of your ears. The buds don’t go very deep into your ears – so the passive noise cancellation isn’t as good as on other models, because there’s less of a seal.
The buds are very lightweight, however, so they never feel heavy in your ear, even after long hours of use.
In the box, you will also find a short USB-C charging cable, a carrying bag, a short version of the manual, and SIX additional “anti-bacteria” ear tips – so seven in total. It’s a crazy number, but hey, why not – no matter how weirdly shaped your ears are, you’re going to find the right fit.
The charging case is small, but not tiny – it will easily fit into a purse or a bag, and you can put it in your pocket, but it will definitely make a bit of a bulge there. The size of the case is usually a compromise you have to make for longer battery times – but this case only holds additional 15-18 hours of usage (depending on ANC usage).
The buds are IP54-rated, which means they’re resistant to both water splashes AND dust, which is a nice touch – budget earphones are usually only resistant to water, so dusty (or sandy) environments can take their toll over time.
Pairing And Controlling
Pairing the NeoBuds Pro with my phone was quite easy – when you open their case for the first time, they immediately go into pairing mode, and my phone was able to find and pair with them instantly.
Subsequent connections were also instant, and I never experienced any mid-use disconnections or Bluetooth crackles, even in more crowded areas.
You can easily switch between using both earphones or just one – if you put one back in the case, that one will stop playing – and will instantly resume playing if you take it out again.
There’s no in-ear detection though, so they won’t start and stop depending on their in-ear status – but personally, I’m not a fan of that feature, so I can’t say I missed it here.
The buttons are touch-based – there’s a small area above one of the microphones on each earbud, where you’re supposed to “tap” (and not, as Edifier emphasize, “Touch”).
The “tap” controls are far from perfect, unfortunately – even though you can control their sensitivity via the app, I still had quite a few cases where my taps didn’t register correctly, and I had to tap again.
Furthermore, for some peculiar reason, the NeoBuds Pro only work with Double-Taps and Triple-Taps. There’s no single-tap or tap-and-hold, so you’re limited to only 4 functions – double-tapping or triple-tapping on either side.
You can use the app to customise what those taps do, which is a nice touch (no pun intended) – but with only 4 combinations, I had to decide whether I wanted to be able to control the volume, or skip/rewind tracks (in addition to Play/Pause and changing Noise Cancellation modes).
Speaking about the app (it’s available for both iOS and Android), it’s quite useful – you can use it to change the noise cancellation/ambient levels, play with the EQ levels, re-assign the touch controls, and activate the high-resolution sound modes.
The app also helps you update the earphone’s firmware – so new software versions with new features can be added in the future.
Audio Quality And ANC
As mentioned, this is where the Edifier NeoBuds Pro really shine. They outperform their price level, giving you excellent audio quality (for both music and podcasts), along with truly impressive Active Noise Cancellation (and a useful Ambient/Transparent mode).
Testing things with Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, the classic rock anthem sounded fresh and powerful. The bass was distinctively rich, the relentless rhythm guitar stayed on top and the drum set was warm and prominent on all frequencies.
I can honestly say the overall sound of the NeoBuds Pro helped uplift this classic even higher.
Moving on to something a bit quieter, Natalie Cole’s Miss You Like Crazy, and again the full bass complements not only the obvious electric bass, but also the mellow keyboard work and the terrific lead vocals.
There’s good separation, though I did need to dial up the volume to fully enjoy the recording, as the output was a little on the low side.
Altogether the earbuds excelled with this ballad, providing an exciting listening experience.
All in all, if you’re into strong bass, the NeoBuds Pro deliver – big time. The bass isn’t overpowering, though, and doesn’t cover everything else – but it’s deep enough for that rumble your stomach, without having to tweak the EQ.
It’s worth mentioning that the NeoBuds Pro don’t support aptX, which is one of the more popular Bluetooth audio technologies for improved sound. Instead, they support LHDC, which is an even better high-resolution audio codec.
The problem? Very few mobile phones support LHDC (mostly some Xiaomi models), so most of you won’t be able to use LHDC, at least for now. An upcoming firmware upgrade will also add LDAC support – which is a somewhat more popular codec from Sony.
Podcasts also sound very good, with very clear sound – though, curiously, the bass disappears a bit and some of my favourite podcasters were somewhat less “commanding” than usual.
The Active Noise Cancellation is another area where the NedBuds Pro excel. Edifier says the ANC here reduces noise by up to 42dB. In real-world conditions, it worked best with low, repeating sounds – so the train’s humming all but disappeared, as did the sound of my washing machine (I haven’t even realized the washer was turned on until I took the earphones out of my ears!).
They’re also excellent outside, covering up car and bus noises. Of course, that’s either a plus or a minus – as it can actually be risky to NOT hear that car creeping up behind you.
They’re not as good with some real-world sounds, though – keyboard typing noises still managed to slip into my ears, as did the sound of water taps. It did mute speech, however – so they’re a great solution if you don’t want to hear your co-workers yapping.
The other side is the Ambient mode, which does the opposite – it amplifies noises around you. Again, this works quite well – so when I walked outside, it made car noises even louder, so I felt safer walking next to a crowded road.
It’s also useful if you’re doing the washing up while waiting for a delivery guy to ring your door…
Watching Movies with The NeoBuds Pro
With so many of us using our phones to watch movies and TV shows these days, I always make a point to test earphones for that use-case as well.
The NeoBuds Pro’s excellent sound – and the heavy bass in particular – doesn’t disappoint here as well.
They’re particularly well-suited for effects-heavy films, so when I tested them with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was completely sucked into the action thanks to the excellent audio – it almost felt like being in a movie theatre (except for the tiny screen).
There were no lip-synch or lag issues at all, even while gaming – but if you so wish, there’s a special low-latency gaming mode (that you activate via the app), for even greater accuracy.
This is probably the major area where the NeoBuds Pros affordable price takes its toll.
When fully charged, and with ANC turned on, you can use the earbuds for up to 5 hours, with 15 more hours in the case. With ANC turned off, you get 6+18 hours.
It’s not awful, and a year or two ago this would have been quite sufficient – but these days, when you can get cheaper earbuds like the EarFun Air Pro 2 that give you 30+ hours, or similarly priced earbuds like the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 that hold up to 80 hours – 5+15 is certainly on the lower end.
As for the battery status, for the earphones, you will need to check the app. For the case, that glowing red light also shows you the battery level (of the case), which is useful.
Bottom Line: Are The NeoBuds Pro For You?
With so many great budget-priced earphones available these days, it’s sometimes hard to choose – as many of them give very decent sound at very affordable prices (usually under £60).
So should you jump up and pay more than £100 for a pair that’s still hovering in the budget-level market?
If the first and foremost thing you value is the audio and music quality – and you don’t have £200-£300 to spend on the super high-level pairs – then the answer is Yes.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better-sounding earphones at a similar price level.
And yes, the price means you won’t get things like wireless charging, the battery levels are mediocre, and the touch controls are problematic – but if you don’t care about these bells and whistles, and instead want to sit down and listen to great music on the train (with the excellent ANC) – then this pair is a great choice.
Note: The earphones were supplied by the manufacturer for this review. As always, this did not influence my unbiased opinion of the product.