Edifier W800BT Review – Bright Future For Wireless Headphones

Introduction –

It’s been said a thousand times, with the infamous iPhone 7 leading charge of the 3.5mm jack genocide, that Bluetooth headphones have never been more pertinent to the audio community than now. In fact, to the dismay of many, they’ve almost become a necessity. But while Bluetooth has mostly been relegated to exclusive/premium products in the past, there are now an abundance of affordable options flooding the market. Of course, the market is fresh and not all of these products have acclimatised quite so well to the ever increasing demand for lower prices; wireless headphones have always been either incredibly compromised or out of the regular buyer’s budget. The Edifier W800BT exemplifies this segment as a Bluetooth enabled headphone with an asking price of just $30 AUD, but does it share the compromises of so many other budget Bluetooth headphones? With ample comparison to the Archeer AH07, one of the most popular budget wireless headphones on the market, Let’s find out.

*Of note, I couldn’t find the W800BT on any of Edifier’s websites so they are likely an Asia-only model. They are currently available from Edifier’s official Aliexpress store (ships internationally) for just over $30 AU or around $23 US, making them incredibly cheap for a Bluetooth headphone, especially one with an over-ear fit.

 

Disclaimer –   

I would like to thank Edifier very much for providing me with the W800BT for the purpose of review. There is no monetary incentive for a positive review and despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

About Me – Some background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases

I generally prefer a slight v-shape to my sound, but still closer to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity, but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound such as that on the X10`s. I prefer a more neutral midrange within a relatively tight tolerance, but I`m probably more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I`m not particularly treble sensitive and can tolerate large amounts without fatigue, though too much ruins the enjoyment. If I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review I will note that and describe the sound changes.

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Unboxing –

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The W800BT’s are better packaged than most budget headphones, but the experience certainly won’t convince the buyer that they have purchased anything but a budget headphones.

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Upon opening the box, the headphones slide out within a plastic tray. Below lies the manual, a 3.5mm cable and micro-usb charging cable. Of note, the 3.5mm cable has connectors that match the colour of the headphones themselves, a thoughtful touch.

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But apart from that, the headphones come with no case, pouch or other accessories. Considering the W800BT’s asking price, the setup isn’t surprising and will be completely adequate for the general user.

 

Design –

Delving into the physical build and design of the headphones and it should be no surprise that the W800BT isn’t the most lavish or solid headphone on the market. They aren’t even remotely comparable to headphones such as the Sony MDR-1A or Denon MM-400 and even some similarly priced headphones handily best the W800BT in both looks and feel.

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Edifier W855BT – W800BT

But despite the W800BT’s all plastic build, Edifier invokes some interest via concentric texturing of the outer faces, providing the impression of a metallic surface. This grants the headphones with some convincing lustre in addition to a little traction in the hand which aids daily usage. The headphones are otherwise quite streamlined with well-moulded satin housings without creak or any obvious weaknesses. They have minimal outstanding features though Edifier do offer them in white and black In addition to the red model I received for review. Subjectively I prefer the simplicity of an all-black model though the signature Edifier red has some charm in its own way and it’s great to have options.

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In terms of fitment, the W800BT gets a lot right but still manage to feel awkward on the head. But that goes for a lot of portable headphones and I would honestly struggle to find a considerably better fitting headphone around this price point. Off the bat, I am not a fan of on-ear headphones, they have simply never worked for my ears, so it was refreshing to see the W800BT’s assume an over-ear fit. And while the absence of any kind of earcup adjustment mechanism does raise concerns, in reality, the headphones actually provided quite a reliable fitment. The earcups were well angled for my ears so long as the headband was adjusted correctly and the headphones have plenty of adjustment to accommodate most head shapes and sizes.

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When wearing the headphones, the seal did feel a little off due to the somewhat stiff, plasticky earpads (a far cry from the supple memory foam units on the AH07) though they actually provided pretty decent if not particularly outstanding isolation during my testing (I still wouldn’t want to use them for public transport). They are also quite comfortable due to the presence of large cups combined with modest depth (barely contacting my outer ear) and low clamp force. Though the headband is not particularly wide, it is very soft and caused no hotspots in my usage, attributed to the headphones lightweight design. They retain stability on the head again through their incredibly light weight construction, staying put during simple commute, lying down, etc, though they are still not ideal for any kind of sport/exercise.

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When it comes to transport, the W800BT’s lack any folding mechanism nor are they particularly compact in any way even when the sliders are fully retracted. I suppose Edifier intends for them to be more of a fashion headphone, worn around the neck, but other users will notice that they occupy considerably more bag space than other portable headphones.

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So while the plastic build does vastly diminish feel in the hand compared to more solid competitors that adopt metal components and perhaps more sophisticated fitment/folding mechanisms, it does redeem the headphones when it comes to long-term comfort. I would also consider the W800BT to be quite an attractive headphone though not to the extent of being fashionable in any way and, as aforementioned, some similarly priced models such as the Archeer AH07 do impress with more solidity and metal intricacies.

 

Usage –

The W800BT is Bluetooth enabled though they don’t support apt-x (only v4.0) like some models, making them usable but not ideal for videos and movies due to their higher latency, the high-end also gets a little more crunchy over a wireless connection. The initial pairing process is simple, they use the same protocol as most other wireless headphones, operated through a single multi-function button (MFB). Holding the side mounted button for 3s powers on while holding for 5s enters pairing mode, another 3s hold turns the headphones off. Each function is accompanied by an audio cue and they aren’t ridiculously loud and obtrusive for lower level listeners.

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Wireless range and reliability were both without issue during my usage though range was definitely a little worse than Edifier’s higher end W855BT and Archeer’s AH07. The only scenario where I can imagine diminished range being an issue is usage with a TV though the headphones had no issue maintaining a connection with mine (through an adaptor). As aforementioned, audio latency wasn’t outrageous but was noticeable as with most non apt-x enabled headphones.

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During usage, the side mounted volume controls were responsive, providing plenty of adjustment when volume settings were not available on the source, again, great for TV usage. Of note, the buttons change volume irrespective of the source so as to avoid compatibility issues. The MFB/power button also functioned well to play/pause music in Foobar, Spotify and Poweramp on my Android smartphone. All buttons cease to function over a wired connection though interconnect cables with integrated remotes are easily purchased separately.

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The headphones charge via the micro usb port on the bottom of the right earcup and can be used with a wired source via the 3.5mm input port on the bottom left side. The headphones also work through a wired connection when powered off, useful if you forget to charge.

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That being said, battery life isn’t too much of an issue with a phenomenal quoted battery life figure of 35 hours, for reference, most headphones I’ve come across offer a figure under 15. With the headphones connected to my iPod Nano 7G, playing at ½ volume, I achieved around 30hrs of usage before the critical battery tone chimed, very, very impressive indeed. In more casual usage, I was easily able to achieve a week or two of daily usage before needing to top them up.

 

Sound –

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While I live in Australia, I frequently travel to Asia to visit family and friends. Edifier might not have the largest presence in the west, for instance barely half of Edifier’s speaker line-up is available in Australia, but in Asia they are considered to be one of the largest, most premium brands on offer. As someone who has experience with almost all of Edifier’s domestically available computer and bookshelf speakers, all of them having been quite pleasing in both tuning and quality, I was excited to see that Edifier had begun bringing over some of their headphones, earphones and earbuds to Australia and the US. And like their speakers, Edifier separate their headphones into multiple categories, each intended for a specific audience or use. While some head-fi users may be familiar with their more balanced, audiophile targeted headphones such as the H850, the same attention definitely hasn’t been given to Edifier’s more consumer orientated headphones such as the W800BT I have here.

 

Tonality –

Being part of Edifier’s consumer headphone line-up, the W800BT’s naturally carry quite a sculpted v-shaped sound. Despite this, the headphones possess a lot more balance than the vast majority of consumer headphones, even those that cost many times more. Bass is boosted though it is a relatively linear boost with a touch of sub-bass emphasis. I would consider the high-end to be more accentuated than the low-end, adding sparkle and aggressive detailing to its sound, though both bass and treble do sit in front of the midrange. Down low, they actually sound a lot like the Archeer AH07, also a very impressive wireless headphones at this price, though they are clearer throughout their midrange and possess a considerably more pronounced high-end. Between these two, buyers will find a very nice pair budget wireless headphones with opposing sound tuning, the AH07 being a darker, smoother listen and the W800BT bearing a brighter, clearer tonality.

Regarding bass quantity, I have seen a few impressions donning the W800BT a bass-head headphone, I personally didn’t find the bass to be quite that overwhelming though I also didn’t achieve a full seal due to the stiff earpads and lack of adjustment. I’m unsure whether Edifier have intentionally limited seal to add more air and balance out the low end (like the MRZ Tomahawk and 1More E1008) or whether I’m just an outlier in terms of fit. Regardless, I find the headphones to sound quite pleasing with this partial seal as they do become very bass dominant and thick when I forcibly apply pressure to the cups to achieve a complete seal. With that said, my sound impressions will be with this partial seal and may vary from person to person.

 

Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –

The W800BT’s actually have quite a decent soundstage on account of their aggressive, forward high-end and semi-open seal. Immediately, the amount of space stood out to me, especially depth, making the headphones sound quite open. Width was also quite impressive, just approaching that out of the head sensation. Listening to Radiohead’s OK Computer album and the synthesised effects were all appropriately atmospheric while underlying bass tones were expansive. Imaging was not so impressive with rather vague placement. Vocals did sound quite diffuse and instruments more unfocused, lacking the strong centre image and placement of dedicated wired headphones and even a lot of the better earphones around this price. Due to their clear, dynamic sound, the W800BT’s were more separated than the AH07’s and other darker headphones around this price, overall creating a very nice presentation for such a modest asking price.

 

Bass –

The low-end on the W800BT’s is full but surprisingly linear for a consumer headphone, yet alone one that costs $30. The overall quantity of the boost is also in good taste for a consumer orientated headphone, they are not nearly as muddy nor bloated as the vast majority of generic headphones but I would still consider the low end to be too excessive for more critical listeners. Sub-bass has nice extension though, like the AH07, the boosted lower bass response does mask some sub-bass extension and the W800BT’s still lack the visceral impact offered by more expensive sets. They have extra slam though to a lesser extent than the Archeer AH07 and they are considerably more balanced than Bluetooth headphones from Bauhn and Bluedio for instance. I assume this sub-bass emphasis was intended to offset the weak seal of the headphones. Mid-bass has a similar if slightly less emphasis remaining punchy without too much bloat. Upper bass has the least emphasis leaving the lower midrange sounding clearer and more neutral than most.

Bass on a whole is of the slower, looser variety, it’s a little sloppy and does get lost easily with faster tracks but those looking for kick and slam will find it here. With faster genres such as rock, the W800BT’s did have some troubles keeping up. For instance, the rapid bass drums in David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” didn’t sound as well delineated as on the Archeer AH07’s. Texture is surprisingly good considering the quality of the bass though the headphones don’t have the greatest bass resolution. The W800BT’s delivered a pleasing rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” though bass notes did lack a little definition overall. But for slower genres and films, the W800BT’s experienced less issue with weighty bass notes and moving impact with explosions and effects. So while the quality of the bass is not the greatest, being bested by the similarly priced Archeer AH07, the tuning and linearity of the W800BT’s low end are quite uncommon at this price point. Unfortunately, bass quantity is very seal dependent so those who feel that the W800BT’s have too much low-end should definitely consider loosening the clamp force a little by stretching out the headband overnight.

 

Midrange –

The W800BT’s falter a little more in their midrange. The W800BT’s have a reasonably recessed midrange on account of their v-shaped tuning though I would say that most buyers looking into these headphones would be attuned to such a sound. To compensate for this, Edifier have tuned the W800BT’s with a brighter tonal balance and boosted the clarity which grants a very clean, clear sound at the expense of sounding a little unnatural. As a result, female vocals are almost universally more prominent than male vocals and those sensitive to sibilance and high-frequencies may find the high-end on the W800BT’s a little too forward. The headphones are also lacking a little smoothness within their midrange making the whole sound aggressive and clear but also quite unrefined though many will no doubt love such tuning.

From bottom to top, male vocals sounded quite nice to my ear, not overly warm or thick as with some headphones. The lower-midrange is clear with perfectly distinguishable if ever so slightly grainy vocals. Instruments such as piano are crisp and acoustic instruments are well served by the headphone’s boosted clarity. Female vocals did sound a little thin and raspy, especially evident when listening to Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”, though I did still find this response to be more pleasing than the darker AH07 which erred more on the side of congestion. The W800BT’s have no veil to speak of and still generally work well for vocal genres. I was also curious to try the W800BT’s with some Asian genres since these products generally have a domestic target audience. Unsurprisingly, they were well suited towards Asia’s more forward mastering style that well offset Edifier’s v-shaped tuning. Listening to Rain’s “The Best Present” or Akdong Musician’s “Play” album and vocals sounded appropriately intimate and clear with great definition to vocal layering and separation with backing instruments. On the contrary, more vocally recessed songs such as those from Fleetwood Mac and Eric Clapton would no doubt have benefit from slightly more midrange balance and presence. Ultimately, the W800BT is not an audiophile headphone though the sound manages to immediately impress through the culmination of a punchy bass response and aggressive high-end. The recessed midrange redeems some attention via increased clarity and upper midrange presence, preventing veil and bass/treble domination. Vocals are flattered with nice resolution at the cost of body and smoothness, creating a glossy if somewhat unnatural response.

 

Treble –

As mentioned in the tonality section, the high-end of the W800BT is the most accentuated frequency range. They have a very crisp, forward treble response that really brings details to the fore. I feel that Edifier is perhaps attempting to imitate the high-end response offered by their bookshelf speakers such as the R1700BT and R2000DB, both of which are very detailed, aggressive speakers. However, while I can forgive Edifier’s speakers, especially since high-frequencies are the first to be attenuated with distance, the W800BT often comes across as more fatiguing due to their more intimate form factor. So despite having a preference for brighter headphones myself, I did find the W800BT to be fatiguing and occasionally over-forward during longer listening sessions.

However this is not at all uncommon with budget headphones and the W800BT’s do have nice resolution and detail retrieval. The Archeer AH07 was also a headphone with a nice high-end for a budget headphone, yet that headphone neither extends as high as the W800BT nor does it have quite the same resolution. But in return, the AH07 is never fatiguing, has more body and is also smoother. So it’s really a question of preference and I suspect just as many people will prefer the W800BT over the AH07. That being said, when compared to higher end headphones, the W800BT still glosses over a moderate amount of detail despite their boosted high-end and clarity. The high-end is also somewhat harsh and slightly thin; when listening to Radiohead’s “Creep”, the cymbals were quite splashy and even sharp during the chorus. Listening to some classical and strings, as with the upper-midrange, tended to sound grainy when compared to more refined headphones. Fans of acoustic will find prolific amounts of crispness with the W800BT’s as will fans of Pop music but those more into Rock might find the high-end too aggressive. Less critical listeners will enjoy the added detail and excitement offered by the W800BT, but I would argue that the headphones could do with a touch less high-end and a little more treble body. But considering the price of the headphones and in comparison to the Archeer AH07’s, the W800BT’s are still a nice performer, buyers simply need to be aware that it’s strong performances do come with some caveats.

 

Verdict –

If Edifier released the W800BT in a nicer housing, I have no doubt in my mind that many would pay a lot more for the sound quality on offer. But Edifier didn’t go with a premium housing, instead going with a relatively pragmatic yet incredibly cheap feeling construction. For the asking price of the W800BT, one would expect as much, but its looks and feel will never belie that $30 asking price like so many other similarly priced headphones I’ve come across; the W800BT just matches its cost in looks and feel rather than justifying it.

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But once the headphones are on your head, that lightweight construction pays off through long lasting comfort. And when it comes to sound, buyers will be delighted to hear that the W800BT’s produce a great sound for the price; especially for lovers of a brighter, perhaps more balanced sound. I’m especially impressed with their linear (not neutral) bass response and midrange clarity even if I am less enthused about their aggressive high-end. The headphones are lacking some refinement, both in sound and design, but I still prefer their cheap feel to the discomfort of an awkward on-ear design and the vast majority of headphone around this price that value form over function.

Verdict – 7/10, The W800BT isn’t the most versatile, premium headphone around, but it is also a resolving, economical Bluetooth enabled headphone that costs less than a set of Apple Earpods. Their over-ear fit and lightweight build create a comfortable fit and decent stability. They aren’t fashionable but do produce a thoroughly detailed and clear sound. The lack of apt-x, portability and fatiguing high-end are concerns (in which case, the Archeer AH07 is a nice option), though the W800BT’s compromises are some of the best judged among similar headphones.

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