Packed with features, the Edifier TWS NB2 Pro are some of the best sub-£100 true wireless earbuds on the market
- Great ANC for the price
- Effective in-ear detection
- Solid battery life
- Chunky design
- Hit-and-miss Spatial mode
- Limited touch controls
The Edifier TWS NB2 Pro are the latest entry into the Chinese brand’s range of true wireless earbuds and offer surprisingly effective noise cancellation given how much they cost. While their spatial sound mode doesn’t quite hit the mark, the NB2 Pro’s default audio profile is engaging enough to make these true wireless earbuds worthy of your attention.
Despite there being plenty of competition in the NB2 Pro’s price range, few alternatives manage to pack in so many features without dramatically compromising audio quality. The Edifier TWS NB2 Pro get the balance between price and quality just right, delivering decent audio in an attractive, albeit somewhat chunky package, for just £80.
Edifier TWS NB2 Pro review: What do you get for the money?
The second I opened the box containing my review sample, I was struck by the quality of the presentation. It’s clear Edifier has gone to great lengths to make the NB2 Pro look and feel like they’re more expensive than they actually are, both in terms of their packaging and the product itself. Nestled beneath a ring box-style lid, the small charging case sits firmly secured in a foam pad. Though made from sturdy plastic, the case has a faux-leather finish that makes it delightfully tactile – not to mention resistant to the patchwork of fingerprint smudges that can accumulate on other earbud cases.
The rest of the box houses some manuals, two differently sized sets of silicone ear tips, a short USB-C charging cable and an elegant drawstring bag for keeping the case in. While also available in black, my review sample was an off-white ivory colour, which meant the matching bag resembled a burlap material, but much softer. It’s a neat inclusion that gives the whole package a rustic charm and certainly raised my expectations of how the earbuds would perform.
The buds themselves are admittedly not as stylish as the casing, with chunky, angular stems akin to a mid-2000s Bluetooth headset. I may be being slightly dramatic there – it’s not an unpleasant design – but it’s one that feels unnecessarily bulky when compared to similarly priced competitors. The Huawei FreeBuds 4i, for instance, offer solid battery life and ANC, but have sleeker, rounded stems similar to those found on the Apple AirPods.
The NB2 Pro may not be the most discreet wireless earbuds around, but they’re a fine choice for exercise thanks to an IP54 rating for dust and water resistance.
Battery life is also fairly impressive: in standard mode, you’ll get up to nine hours of audio playback from a single charge, with a further 23 hours of use provided by the charging case. With ANC active, one charge will last you up to seven hours, and a fully charged case will add 18 more hours of listening time.
You can monitor the battery life of the buds via the Edifier Connect app, which also allows you to cycle through audio profiles and ANC modes, adjust the touch-control sensitivity and turn the in-ear detection on or off. While useful and easy to navigate once connected, I regularly experienced issues with the buds not properly connecting to the app or being found by it, which was highly frustrating.
Edifier TWS NB2 Pro review: What features do they offer?
The NB2 Pro’s design is even easier to forgive when you take into account just how much clever technology they manage to squeeze in. First up is the in-ear detection which, while not completely unheard of at this price point, is still rare enough to be noteworthy; the FreeBuds 4i mentioned above don’t have this feature, for example.
In practice, the detection works consistently, taking roughly two seconds for the sensor on the inner shell of the bud to detect that it either is or isn’t nestled against an ear, and play/pause audio as appropriate. It’s a really handy feature, and better still, it doesn’t rely on both sensors, so you can just take one bud out if you need to quickly speak to someone and the audio will still pause.
The other standout feature is hybrid active noise cancellation. This form of ANC uses a combination of internal and external microphones to pick up and suppress ambient sounds. It’s intended to remove a wider range of frequencies than noise-cancelling tech solely using internal or external mics, and it certainly works well in the case of the NB2 Pro.
As I have no cause and little desire to travel at the moment, I tested the ANC by playing videos of train and plane journeys at full volume on my laptop. A quick double-tap on the left earbud switches the ANC on and with it engaged, the roar of jet engines and rattle of train carriages quickly fade away. It’s impressive stuff for the price, and should provide sufficient noise cancellation for most users.
Another double-tap on the left earbud switches to Ambient Sound mode, which uses the external microphones to filter in environmental noise. This is especially useful in situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings, such as when walking near roads or sitting at your desk waiting for a review sample to be delivered. Sharp sounds like the clacking of keyboard keys come through very clearly, while voices are discernible, but not to the point where you can clearly make out what’s being said unless you’re standing in close proximity to the speaker. Still, it’s enough that you’ll notice if someone wants your attention, be they an angry driver or a cross boss.
Edifier TWS NB2 Pro review: How do they sound?
All the effort that’s gone into the packaging and materials could easily give the impression of trying to make up for some sonic deficit, but thankfully that’s not the case here. While the NB2 Pro don’t possess the most expansive soundstage, the standard audio profile is rich and well balanced. Their bass response is respectable and there’s enough detail to ensure different instruments don’t sound squashed on top of one another. Complex instrumental pieces such as Gustav Holt’s orchestral arrangement The Planets: Mars sound suitably epic, even within the more confined soundstage.
Switching over to Spatial Audio mode with a triple-tap on the left earbud, things are less consistent. On the one hand, the mode parses out the different sections effectively, giving the impression of an expanded soundstage and delivering an altogether more bombastic experience. The problem is that not all elements of the audio are articulated as well in this mode. The biggest casualty is vocals, with Spatial Audio mode producing a slight echo behind some vocal frequency ranges. For some pieces, this isn’t too big a deal, but for others, it can be rather jarring.
The third and final audio profile, Game mode, seeks to reduce video-audio latency for a more responsive and immersive gaming session. Edifier says latency can be cut to as low as 80ms while the mode is active, and I tested it out while playing Mario Kart Tour and Dead Effect 2 on my Android phone. I didn’t notice a dramatic difference in the lag when switching between the standard profile and Game mode, but the audio felt closely aligned to the onscreen action and this contributed to an enjoyable gaming experience.
Edifier TWS NB2 Pro review: How could they be improved?
There’s really not that much to dislike about the TWS NB2 Pro. The design could be sleeker, and the default and spatial sound profiles would benefit from some minor tweaks, but for the most part, these are very competent earbuds. The only thing that could really do with improving is the touch controls.
Double tapping the right earbud will play/pause audio, while a triple skips to the next track. On the left earbud, a double-tap cycles through the noise reduction modes and a triple-tap changes the sound profile. A double-tap on either bud will also accept or end a call.
The controls themselves are easy to execute and responsive, and you can even alter the sensitivity in the app if you find them too gung ho. A few notable commands are omitted, however, such as skipping back a track and adjusting volume. This isn’t the end of the world, especially when taking into account everything that the NB2 Pro get right, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re in search of earbuds with a truly comprehensive suite of touch controls.
Edifier TWS NB2 Pro review: Should you buy them?
If you’re after simple, affordable earbuds offering decent audio quality, the NB2 Pro probably aren’t the best choice, as you’ll be paying more for features you neither want nor need. Instead, have a look at our roundup of the best cheap wireless earbuds – there will be something in there that better suits your requirements.
But for those wanting useful features such as ANC and in-ear detection at a reasonable price, the Edifier TWS NB2 Pro are an attractive option. Audio quality is pretty good on the whole, and the NB2 Pro offer more than enough functionality to make up for less than stellar sound in the optional Spatial mode.