Edifier TWS NB Review Earphones with Ambient Sound Mode and ANC

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The strongest feature of in-ear earphones is also its Achilles heel because in-ear earphones limit your ability to hear what's around you! Fortunately, in-ear earphones like the Edifier TWS NB earphones are getting clever with neat features such as ambient sound mode so, you can be more aware of your surroundings. On top of that, the Edifier TWS NB earphones feature ANC (active noise cancellation) and Bluetooth 5.0 aptX, which helps keep latency low when watching videos on YouTube.
The charging case that comes with the Edifier TWS NB earphones is beefy, tall looking and reminiscent of a treasure chest. The dimensions of the charging case are 8.5cm long, 2.5cm wide and 4cm tall. Weight (without the earbuds) is 62 grams. The shell of the charging case has a metal finish, while the docking area is made of plastic, including the retainer clips that secure the TWS NB earphones inside the charging case.
The docking area is not magnetized; hence the retainer clips. The TWS NB earphones sit inside the charging case at an angle and are super easy to take in and out of the charging case. Simply tilt back the earbud, lift up and out they come. When putting the earphones back in the charging case, you simply insert and push down until they clip into place.
The base of the Edifier TWS NB charging case has a continuous foam pad that runs from corner to corner. The foam pad has a thin strip of rubber surrounding the perimeter of the foam pad. The Edifier TWS NB earphones are much larger in size than most true wireless earbuds but with good reason since the TWS NB earphones pack features you typically don't get with most true wireless earphones, including "ambient sound listening" and active noise cancellation.
The Edifier TWS NB earphones have a tall and stocky body with a small nozzle neck, which is angled, providing a comfortable fit inside the ears. The earphones are entirely made of plastic. The body has a smooth matte finish, while the plastic front panel has a brushed finish that looks like metal. Each earbud weighs 8 grams.
The ring inside the front panel of the earphones is also plastic and integrates the etching of the Edifier logo and the microphone for active noise cancellation and ambient sound monitoring. The microphone for calls is located on the body of the earphone. It has good volume and does a fair job of slightly reducing background noise during a call.
The TWS NB earphones have a bulky footprint so, they protrude outwards a bit more than earbuds. That said, the earphones don't fall out of the ears, thanks to extra security provided by the add-on silicone wingtips, which anchor the earbuds in the ear. 
You can use the Edifier TWS NB earphones while exercising, although they only provide IPX4 water resistance. You probably only want to use them for light workouts. If you like running in the rain or sweat a lot, it's safer going with higher IPX rated earphones like the TWS5 earphones.
The wingtips are removable and easy to replace, thanks to the small notches and R/L markings, which help identify the right wingtip with the right earbud.
The Edifier TWS NB earphones have a wide front panel, which doesn't integrate touch control like on the TWS1 true wireless earphones. Touch controls make controlling functions much more convenient. Instead of touch controls, the Edifier TWS NB earphones feature a single physical button, which is responsive and located on the side of the earphone, rather than on the front panel.
The side location of the physical button is perfect because it prevents having to push into the earphone. The physical button controls the play/pause and skipping of tracks(next/previous) but similarly to the TWS1 earphones, volume control is not supported. The same button controls call functionality (answer/end/decline call), noise cancellation and ambient sound monitoring. Because of the extra functions, you have to get your head around them.
There is a large status led on the edge of the front panel of the earphone, which will flash blue or green when listening to audio. Green flashing indicates voice reduction (active noise cancellation) or ambient sound is enabled. Blue flashing indicates voice reduction is off. There is no way to disable the status led from the earphones. The led does come handy to ascertain which mode you are in, although you will hear a voice prompt too, telling you which mode you are in (i.e. noise cancellation or ambient sound).
The volume of the voice prompt is very faint though, so it's hard to hear it while music is playing at max volume. That said, the voice prompt isn't super loud, which would be probably more annoying. You can enable active noise cancellation, while audio is not playing which is nice. Having a different color led for the ambient mode would have probably been a good idea to differentiate it from active noise cancellation mode.
A companion mobile app - Edifier Connect - is available to download from Google Play Store and the App Store. The mobile app doesn't currently have good ratings, which is probably due to connection issues. The app disconnects sporadically, which is a pity since it works well when connected.
The Edifier Connect app lets you do things you cannot do manually from the earphones such as turning off the voice prompt, turning off the status leds and timer to shut down the earphones at a certain time.
From the Edifier Connect app, you can also remotely power off and on the earphones as well as enable noise cancellation, ambient sound mode and visually see how much battery there is left in each earbud. Speaking of battery, the Edifier TWS NB deliver 5 hours of playtime per earbud at 50% volume and with active noise cancellation turned on.
With noise cancellation turned off, battery life is 9.5 hours. Charging time for the Edifier TWS NB is 1 hour. The charging case provides an additional 22 hours of playtime and it recharges at 5V/1A USB-C input, taking 2.5 hours to fully charge.
Enabling noise cancellation doesn't negatively affect the sound signature of the audio. If anything, sound is slightly enhanced when noise cancellation is turned on. The TWS NB earphones use feed-forward active noise cancellation from AMS with a 25dB noise reduction performance.
Being feed-forward, the noise cancelling microphone does a better job at reducing higher frequencies because the microphone is located on the outside of the earphone, as opposed to inside the earphone like with feedback active noise cancellation.

The USB-C charging port is located on the rear of the charging case, on the bottom side corner, next to four tiny blue leds, which feedback the battery status.
The TWS NB earphones power on and power off automatically when taken in and out of the charging case. You can also turn them on and off manually. The Bluetooth connection process is straightforward with only one connection required. You can use the Edifier TWS NB earphones independently of each other.
The Edifier TWS NB earphones use 13mm graphene drivers, which are large considering most true wireless earbuds use 6mm drivers. In terms of volume output, it is loud, although not much louder than the TWS5 earphones, which have 6mm drivers. The overall sound quality though, it's superior with the TWS NB earphones. Tight bass with balanced mid-range and treble, which come in loud and clear.
Accessories included are spare eartips and wingtips, as well as a long unbranded USB-A to USB-C charging cable included. You can buy the Edifier TWS NB earphones on amazon. Check out the review of the Edifier TWS NB2 Pro.

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