Android Central Verdict
Snapdragon Sound makes the Edifier NeoBuds S stand out amongst a crowded pack. Only phone compatibility stands in the way of what are otherwise superb earbuds for playback and comfort.
Clearer audio quality
Solid ANC performance
Very comfortable fit
Snapdragon Sound support
Good app support
Middling battery life
Inconsistent touch controls
Snapdragon Sound compatibility limitations
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Edifier is one of those brands you may not know, but may come to know in time because they're doing the right things. The sheer quality and performance of its wireless earbuds has grown considerably in just the last two years, and that is evident when it comes to the NeoBuds S.
The challenge is that they can also bring some confusion, particularly when naming conventions are so similar. These are different from the NeoBuds Pro, which otherwise look the same, so deciding on the NeoBuds S is also a decision on the Pro variants as well.
Edifier NeoBuds S: Price and availability
Edifier launched the NeoBuds S in July 2022, mainly online in North America. They are more on the premium side for the brand, starting at $180. It's not uncommon to see price drops for Edifier's gear every so often, so that price may not be a stable one for too long. They come in black, though a white variant may come later.
Edifier NeoBuds S: What's good
The NeoBuds S have a stem design, but the real comfort lies with the seven different pairs of ear tips coming in the box. The colors stand in as a way to immediately differentiate the sizes from one other. By default, Edifier puts on a pair right smack in the middle of the mix, so while six pairs come in the package, a seventh comes already attached to the earbuds themselves.
That kind of variation makes it highly likely you'll find a pair that works for you. Moreover, you should be able to wear them for longer stretches without feeling any discomfort, especially when a snug fit with a tight seal delivers better audio output. That being said, if you do plan to work out with them, these earbuds only have modest IP54 protection.
They're neither big nor small. They feel like something lying in the middle, utilizing a mold Edifier has previously tested with past earbuds. The NeoBuds S do shave some girth, though are exactly the same size as the NeoBuds Pro.
Sound performance here has a lot to do with support for Snapdragon Sound and the subsequent 24bit/96kHz hi-res playback. Problem is, you won't find it in your average smartphone coming out in North America these days. That is, unless you have a compatible Xiaomi, Vivo, or Poco phone that already jumped on board.
Fortunately, I have phones from those brands, and got to gauge the combination, which is excellent when playing tunes from the right sources. If you got a compatible phone, give it a shot from Tidal HiFi or Amazon Music HD.
No need to fret if you don't have those things. Edifier included support for SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs, the latter of which is great for Android phones supporting it. By playing a range of bit rates, the NeoBuds S can not only play tunes at higher fidelity, but also with less lag, which is great for shows, movies, and gaming.
All of this culminates in admirable sound quality that can be very pleasing to your ears based on your tastes. The default sound profile tends to favor bass and treble more than the mids, but you can change that in the Edifier app, if you like.
The two standard preset sound settings, Classic and Dynamic, are good crowd-pleasers. They don't get ridiculous, and are perfectly fine for most musical genres, which is why the NeoBuds S get off to a good start. Create your own presets to tailor the sound your way, and you've got more options to choose from.
They sound clean and resonant to begin with, so you start with a solid foundation. Certainly better sound than the AirPods Pro, and very competitive when put up against similar pairs in the same price range.
It's worth noting that the NeoBuds Pro support the LHDC and LDAC hi-res codecs, but not Snapdragon Sound, nor aptX Adaptive. It's really the only difference between them, apart from any stylistic changes, like color scheme, for instance.
Adding to the sonic performance is very good active noise cancelation (ANC) to snuff out a lot of the background when listening to tunes. It helps that you can be somewhat adaptable with it, like switching between the high or low settings, as well as a wind reduction mode to cut that down outside.
Even better, the Edifier app gives you the option to place a card on your phone's notifications, where you can easily switch between the settings without diving into the app — or using the onboard touch controls — each time.
ANC does a solid job blocking out much of the background, including those droning sounds you might hear in a plane or train. It also does it without taking much away from the audio fidelity. The Ambient mode is fine for what it does, letting you hear the outside world when you need to. It's all the more important, considering the NeoBuds S don't have wear sensors to automatically pause/play when removing one of the earbuds and putting it back on again.
Phone call quality is quite good in varying circumstances. I could hold a conversation walking on the street, where my voice could come in clearly enough for those on the other end.
Edifier NeoBuds S: What's not good
As good as the NeoBuds S are, they won't last as long per charge. While Edifier rates them at up to 5.5 hours of playback with ANC on (6.5 hours with it off), the more realistic number is going to be 4.5 hours — maybe less. It all depends on volume levels, which prove to be the biggest battery drainer. The case does get you an extra three charges, so you get some backup.
Either way, those numbers aren't especially great for earbuds in this price range. Not only that, but despite a 10-minute fast charger that can deliver up to 90 minutes of playback, the case doesn't support wireless charging. You will have to plug in every time.
The onboard touch controls are also problematic. It's not that they're terrible, just inconsistent, and many of the problems stem from the very stems themselves. Edifier situated controls to a smaller surface area on each stem. While understandable to contain false positives, it inevitably forces you to feel for the area you need to touch, which in itself causes issues.
I like that Edifier offers customization for the controls in the app, including the option to turn them off, but the execution on the earbuds themselves isn't as good as it should be.
Edifier NeoBuds S: Competition
As good as the NeoBuds S come across, they're priced in the middle of a slew of wireless earbuds alternatives. The Jabra Elite 7 Active come in at the same price with more durability, better battery life, and multiple color options. The 1More Evo also stand out for their sound quality and comfort, producing an excellent combination further supported by a dependable app.
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 handle controls better, and offer some of the best ANC you can get in earbuds today. They may not be the easiest earbuds to find in the U.S., but they're out there, and worth a look.
Edifier NeoBuds S: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if...
- You want clearer sound.
- You care about fit and comfort.
- You want good ANC performance.
- You can try out Snapdragon Sound.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want longer battery life.
- You want more consistent touch controls.
- You can't try out Snapdragon Sound.
The signature feature for the NeoBuds S is Snapdragon Sound, something out of reach for a large swath of Android users in North America because the phones supporting it usually come from China these days. That may change in time, but for now, a sonic boost sits otherwise unheard by many of this side of the world.
That's not taking everything away from these earbuds when they prove themselves as solid performers anyway. They sound great from the jump, and you can go hours wearing them without feeling any discomfort. If you're down to try something different, and don't mind the inconsistent controls, you may find the NeoBuds S good sleeper hits.
The Edifier NeoBuds S bring in Snapdragon Sound courtesy of Qualcomm's latest silicon, and if you're among the lucky few to get to listen to it, your ears will thank you. If you don't, you still get great sound to enjoy, including excellent comfort for longer stretches.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.