Edifier TWS NB2 earbuds review: Best in class

edifier tws nb2 earbuds review 1

Edifier TWS NB2

“The Edifier TWS NB2 look good, sound great, and are packed with value.”
  • Incredible value
  • Great sound quality
  • Solid ANC performance
  • Great battery life
  • Edgy, appealing design
  • Responsive touch controls
  • No charge indicator on the case
  • No wireless/quick-charging
  • Middling call quality
MSRP $100.00

Updated on 09/17/2020 by Jaron Schneider: Edifier dropped the price of the TWS NB2 earbuds by a notable degree shortly after their availability in the United States. This changed our review, including our final score. 

We did not expect Edifier to come out with the successor to the very good TWS NB earbuds so quickly. We very recently reviewed the first iteration and found quite a bit to like for their $120 price (which has recently dropped to $70, making them even more value-rich), with minor complaints like middling battery life, a bulky design, and an uninspired app.

And while I can’t say much has changed with the app, Edifier was clearly listening when it comes to the buds themselves. With an entirely new design, improved active noise cancellation, increased battery life, and even more features while dropping the price to $100, it’s clear that Edifier was listening to critics.

The Edifier TWS NB2 earbuds get everything they set out to do right and make a strong case that you shouldn’t look to spend more than $100 for a pair of excellent earbuds.

What’s in the box

Edifier has packaged the TWS NB2 earbuds with very little fanfare. My box was even a bit damaged, with the main cover sleeve unfortunately stuck to the interior box in such a way that I had to destroy it in order to get into the packaging (hence why I’m not able to share any box images with you).

Inside that main box, the buds sit ensconced in foam, with three additional eartip sizes, a USB-C charging cable, a nice little drawstring carry bag, and a tiny (like, really tiny) instruction manual above it in a slim insert. It’s simple and effective, though not particularly sustainable (this kind of foam isn’t recyclable nor compostable).

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

The total of four eartip sizes is also becoming below average, and I personally did not find an included tip that fit me just right. In contrast, buds like the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro come with nine total eartip sizes and almost every JLab set comes with at least six. It’s a minor complaint, but since it’s just inexpensive silicon we would like to see better from Edifier here.

Design

I want to point out that if Edifier decided to change the name of these buds to something other than the NB line, that would have been fine, because these buds look nothing like their predecessor. The case is wildly different, as are the shape of the buds themselves.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

Edifier did not iterate on their original design; They blew it up and started from scratch. I have to applaud the success here especially considering how quickly this second generation came to market – it’s been less than a year.

I know the “golf tee” look isn’t popular with everyone, but it does serve a purpose. Call quality tends to improve because of the better location of the microphones and it gives the buds more space for a larger battery. And if you’re going to go with the golf tee, I think Edifier did so in a way that makes them look slick.

I cannot emphasize enough how truly great I think Edifier’s design is here.

I can’t emphasize enough how great I think Edifier’s design is here. They took their original bulky, bland design and jazzed it up with an entirely new aggressive look that I totally dig. What Edifier has done is nothing hugely revolutionary, but little tweaks on popular design choices that just elevate the whole product well.

The case is pretty much as expected with its rounded polygon shape, flip-up lid, and magnetic charge points that hold the buds in place. But Edifier gave the solid package a nice finishing touch with a leatherette exterior that’s pleasant to the touch. Even the arguably totally unnecessary drawstring bag feels nice. It’s not your typical nylon, but a high-quality woven canvas material.

Annoyingly, there is no way to tell how much battery life is left in the buds or in the case without using the app (more on the app later), but even then, the app only shows you the level of charge in the buds. There is a small LED on the back near the charging port that blinks at me, but I don’t know what they’re trying to tell me. There is another small LED inside the case, but from what I can tell, all it does is tell me that the buds are locked in place and charging. Lacking an easy way to tell the remaining battery life of the case seems like a big oversight to me.

The original NB earbuds’ case has a set of LEDs that show you the remaining charge in the case. Why this wasn’t carried over to the new set is baffling.

Features

Edifier’s original TWS NBs were rather light on features, but they did bring active noise cancellation to the very affordable $120 price range. With the TWS NB2s, Edifier has added a huge list of new features and dropped the price to $100, a near-unheard-of combination of actions from any company.

First, let’s talk about active noise cancellation. The ANC in the original buds was OK, but relied entirely on a feed-forward technology, which means the buds analyzed and dampened outside sounds but couldn’t tell how good of a job they were doing of it. In the NB2s, Edifier added a second pair of microphones inside the eartips so that they can react better to sounds by hearing what is still getting through. This is called Hybrid ANC and is becoming common in higher-end earbuds that generally cost twice as much as what Edifier is asking.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

The result is noise canceling that is much improved over the original and competes very well with other Hybrid ANC systems out there, but still comes up short of the sheer sound-stopping power of the big boys like the Sony WF-1000XM3s, the Technics TWS AZ70s, the Apple AirPods Pro, or the Sennheiser Momentum 2s. But all four of those buds cost at least twice as much as the Edifier NB2 earbuds, and as such the quality of the ANC on offer for the price makes them market-leaders in their class.

Edifier also has added a proximity sensor that will pause music when you take a bud out of your ear and resume it when you put it back. It works flawlessly.

The quality of the ANC on offer for the price makes them market-leaders in their class.

The small physical buttons on the original NBs have been replaced by two touch sensors on each bud, and overall they are… fine. You can’t control volume from them and you can’t remap them to your own specifications, but they work just fine. All controls require at least a double tap which is a design choice to prevent accidental taps. A few of the touch features, however, require a long tap which isn’t actually that long, and I’ve accidentally initiated Game Mode and turned ANC on and off by accident just picking them up. You can change the sensitivity of those features though, which I did, and that problem stopped happening.

As I just mentioned, there is an included “Game Mode” that Edifier claims has extremely low latency to allow for you to react to the action on screen faster. I don’t game much using Bluetooth and these earbuds aren’t going to change that: it only reduces latency to 80 milliseconds, not nearly fast enough for high-paced action.

For what it’s worth, I did not note any kind of latency in the regular listening mode when watching videos, even videos of video game situations, so regardless of that feature being on or not, the buds are solid here.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

All these features do come at a cost though: The NB2s lose the IPX4 water/dustproof rating of their predecessor in lieu of a much less weather-sealed IP54. These aren’t sealed against dust and they only protect against light water splashing rather than the originals being fully submersible. That said, IPX4 is perfectly acceptable for most earbuds, and the Edifier TWS NB2s are no exception to that.

Edifier has an app that can be used in tandem with the NB2s and it’s… fine. It allows you to control small things like, as mentioned, the sensitivity of the touch controls, ANC, and it shows the battery life remaining in each bud. It looks nice, but has very little function. I really wish it allowed for EQ adjustments. This app was a complaint in the original NB review, and it remains unimpressive here still today.

Battery life

The NB2s improve from the originals’ 5 hours of playback time with ANC active to 8 hours per charge. In our testing, they actually lasted a little bit longer, at about 8.5 hours, with ANC active. That’s very good, and almost double what the AirPods Pro offer and equal to the $230 Sony WF-100XM3s (though the Sony’s ANC is better).

With ANC off, the original NBs were able to play for 11 hours before needing a recharge. Unfortunately, the NB2s are only rated to last 9 hours. I did get them to go about 9.5 hours in my testing, but that’s still short of the previous mark.

The noise isolation is very good, and it’s likely you won’t need ANC active and 9.5 hours is still very impressive, it’s just odd to see a regression here. Still, let’s be clear, the battery performance here is very impressive and well above average.

You can get an additional 18 hours of charge with ANC on and 23 additional hours with it off with the charging case.

Unfortunately, Edifier hasn’t said anything about a fast-charging feature on these buds. That said, you can fully charge them in a little over an hour.

Audio quality

Edifier did a very good job with their original NBs when it came to sound quality, and I am happy to report that is still the case with the NB2s. These have a surprising amount of bass. They won’t rattle your teeth, but you absolutely can hear and appreciate those lows.

Overall, the sound quality is warm and approachable. They don’t sound as good as the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro, Jabra Elite 75t, or the Sony WF-1000XM3 (three of our regular favorites for sound quality), but I do prefer the sound quality over the Apple AirPods Pro. However, the TWS TB2s are less expensive than all four of those earbuds, most by a considerable margin. These are very much among the best sounding buds you can get for the price.

I am happy to report that the mix remains balanced through the volume range. Either at a low whisper or at maximum volume, the earbuds never let any of the ranges overwhelm another.

If I had one critique, it’s that the soundstage is a bit narrow. The highs don’t reach too much (which many who are sensitive to strong treble will actually appreciate), and the lows are also largely contained. The mids are well represented, though. Together it’s more akin to listening to a band play at a house party than watching them perform at the Shoreline Amphitheater.

Again, pointing back to Edifier blowing up their original design in lieu of this one, the sound signature between the NB and NB2 is different. Not remarkably so, but you can tell. These do feel like a completely different set of earbuds, not a successor.

Call quality

As mentioned, the golf-tee shape of these buds tends to have an impact on call quality. Unfortunately, I did not find this to be the case with the Edifier TWS NB2 earbuds. They sound fine but would tend to make your voice sound increasingly distant and hard to make out the longer you speak.

You can hear the other end of the line very clearly, but they did not perform as well as I was hoping when it comes to voice transmission. They’re serviceable, but not anywhere near class-leading.

The Edifier NB2s do have an ambient mode to allow you to hear your own voice during calls, but I wish it was a bit better at it. You can hear outside sounds, but it’s not as high a volume as I would like.

Our take

Edifier rectified just about every complaint we had with the original TWS NB earbuds and went even further to add more features and improved battery life. The thing is, we seem to have gotten those improvements at the price of others.

The Edifier TWS NB2s are a bit of a head-scratcher in that way. The company seemingly decided to start from scratch on this second-generation rather than iterate the previous design. But perhaps they threw the baby out with the bathwater because the benefits we got feel less impactful thanks to the features we lost. We got touch controls, a better design, more battery life with ANC active, better ANC, and a smaller case, but they come at the cost no charge indicator on that case, middling call quality, and worse battery life without ANC active (albeit still above average).

So, rather than giving us a product we can clearly say replaces the original, instead we have two products that still give us a reason to recommend one over the other depending on your use case. Edifier isn’t just competing against all the other great options with the TWS NB2 earbuds. They’re competing against their own, older product, too.

Are there better alternatives

At $100, one standout alternative to the Edifier TWS NB2 earbuds is the Edifier TWS NB earbuds which dropped in price to $70. They have divergent features, though, so if you care more about longer battery life without ANC, get the original NBs. If you care about pretty much everything else, the NB2s are the best bet.

I think the best alternative at this point are the $99 JLab Epic Air ANC buds, which have a ton of features (albeit with only okay ANC performance) and great sound control via their app.

How long will they last?

I am impressed with the build quality of the NB2s and expect them to last until the lithium-ion battery degrades. Edifier also includes a 1-year limited warranty.

Should you buy them?

Yes. They sound great, they look way better, and they added several features I enjoy. They’re the best ANC you can get for the price, too.

Editors' Recommendations