Edifier Stax Spirit S3 assessment: It is all in regards to the sound

Edifier Stax Spirit S3

MSRP $400.00

“Put ’em on and you will not remorse one cent of their lofty worth.”

Execs

  • Glorious sound high quality
  • Very cozy match
  • Two units of ear cushions
  • Stable name high quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Nice app help

Cons

  • No ANC or ambient mode
  • No EQ in app
  • Quantity ranges low in wired mode

Planar magnetic headphones aren’t latest, however on account of the expertise’s comparatively excessive worth and comparatively massive measurement, it’s been relegated to the higher echelon of the headphone market, the place these with sufficient cash to afford them (and an audiophile sensibility to understand them) have been the one patrons. However planar’s advantages — smoother, extra detailed sound, with noticeably much less distortion — could be loved by anybody.

That very a lot describes what Edifier appears to realize with the $400 Stax Spirit S3 — a set of wi-fi planar magnetic cans which are designed to be gentle sufficient, cozy sufficient, transportable sufficient (and critically, inexpensive sufficient) to be thought-about an on a regular basis possibility. For a model not essentially recognized for its total sonic prowess, can Edifier pull off a spirited shock, or are they Stax Spirit S3 extra planar hype than anything? Let’s take a pay attention to search out out.

What’s within the field

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 unboxed.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Tendencies

There isn’t something overtly totally different in regards to the packaging, although Edifier does go the elegant route with a slick look. Within the field with the headphones, you get a pleasant clamshell case. Open that up, and the pouch on the highest half holds the three.5mm cable, 1/4-inch adapter, USB-C charging cable, and fast begin guide. Together with the usual leather-based ear cups, you get an additional pair Edifier calls “Ice Feeling” due to their material lining that feels cooler over longer listening stretches.

Design

Planar magnetic headphones are frequently a bit of larger to accommodate the tech crucial to make them what they’re. They might be a bit thick, however I discovered the Stax Spirit S3 to be on par with every other pair of cans utilizing dynamic drivers. Cushioning is nice with each units of ear cups, one thing I seen once I wore them for hours whereas working. I barely felt any discomfort, and whereas I do know everybody’s ears are totally different, odds are good you might discover they do the identical for you, too.

The Stax Spirit S3 are among the finest over-ear cans I’ve examined in a protracted whereas.

When it comes to controls, you get the whole lot you wish from the combo multifunction/quantity buttons on the correct ear cup. Monitor skipping is completed through the quantity buttons, whereas name reply/finish and Bluetooth pairing are carried out with the multifunction button. However that button additionally provides you extra decisions through the Edifier app. By default, a single click on performs play/pause, however there are additionally double- and triple-click instructions too. These could be set to one in every of: Play/pause (unsure why that’s there once more), voice assistant, sport mode, and switching between the three EQ/sound results: Traditional, Hello-Fi, and Stax. Sadly, there aren’t any put on sensors, so take these off, and so they carry on taking part in.

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 ear cups.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Tendencies

These are Bluetooth headphones, and work simply as effectively in a wired capability. The one catch is that it is advisable use the battery in each instances, as they’ll’t work in a passive state, once more on account of the planar magnetic design.

What’s lacking is lively noise cancelation (ANC) and an ambient mode, leaving the onboard mic to focus nearly solely on cellphone calls and voice assistant entry. Passive isolation is superb, so that you will at the least drown out a number of the background, however when you are on the lookout for ANC, you’ll have to search out it elsewhere.

As a substitute, the main focus right here is on hi-res audio by means of aptX Adaptive codec help to go together with SBC and AAC. No LDAC or LHDC, so no different hi-res codecs right here. Edifier performs up Snapdragon Sound by means of the Qualcomm Bluetooth chipset going as much as 24-bit/96kHz help, which actually qualifies as wi-fi hi-res, although you’ll need the playback gadget to additionally help aptX Adaptive to learn from the constancy. The Snapdragon Sound brand seems irrespective of what cellphone you’re utilizing, even when it doesn’t help the function, so don’t assume it’s lively when it’s not. Alternatively, you can even pay attention by means of a wired connection, particularly if you might have a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that does the heavy lifting.

Planar particulars

So why is planar magnetic a giant deal? The planar magnetic diaphragms generate sound waves in ways in which reduce distortion, and that’s a giant cause why the sound comes by means of extra balanced, and particularly resonant within the mid-range. What makes them sonic stalwarts is the best way they use a skinny diaphragm between magnets to create vibrant sounds with much less distortion. Dynamic drivers, that are in an amazing majority of headphones, use a magnet wrapped in a coil that may create deeper sounds, however additionally they are inclined to hit some distortion at greater volumes. Edifier licensed a few of what it wanted to make the Stax Spirit S3 from Audeze, an organization that has turn into synonymous with planar magnetic lately. It’s a mix that works.

There have been subtleties that got here out with plenty of tracks that I felt underpinned the strengths of those headphones.

Edifier’s massive contribution to the planar area began with its acquisition of Stax, a maker of electrostatic headphones, in 2011. Although it clearly took a while for Edifier to focus that workforce, the result’s the Stax Spirit S3, a set of wi-fi planar cans which are solely a hair larger and heavier than non-planar headphones. It solely takes one take a look at the ginormous Monoprice M1070C to understand simply what an achievement that is — and the M1070C aren’t even wi-fi. I’d simply be cautious of the daring claims Edifier makes relating to efficiency, together with for cellphone calls, which it says makes use of the “most superior micro processing system,” asserting that calls will sound like face-to-face communication.

They’re actually good, absolute confidence, however not fairly on the lofty measure such a sentiment suggests. The boldness extends to total sound high quality, calling out the varied elements used to fabricate the Stax Spirit S3.

Utilizing the Edifier app

Edifier’s app now has a piece particularly for Stax Spirit headphones, and the pointless Snapdragon Sound branding however, it’s simple sufficient to get round. What I’d’ve most popular is that the corporate go simple on the upselling, because it shamelessly allocates two sections on the menu at the underside to hawking extra of its merchandise. I don’t have any problem with an organization selling its personal stuff, however whenever you bury the settings and ancillary options for the headphones into the highest proper nook, it may possibly result in confusion. It would’ve been higher to place the settings within the menu, after which put the Mail and Uncover sections inside that.

At any charge, there are a number of issues to customise. First, are the earmuffs you select to make use of. The primary display will let you choose those you’re sporting so the app could make some changes to the sound profile. Swipe left and also you see the three sound results (Traditional, Hello-Fi, Stax) I beforehand famous. What’s puzzling is that Edifier noticed to it to incorporate a temporary explainer in regards to the earmuffs, but selected to not for the sound results. Maybe it thinks individuals shopping for these headphones would already know, however educating a shopper just isn’t a nasty thought in instances like this. Swipe left once more and also you get to Recreation Mode, which is off by default. Flip it on, and the Stax Spirit S3 minimize down latency, one thing I discovered additionally labored effectively whereas watching a present or film by adeptly syncing audio and video.

The opposite settings are largely purposeful, akin to setting the button controls, setting a timer for the headphones to show off, clearing them of all paired gadgets, or restoring to manufacturing facility settings.

Sound high quality

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 side view.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Tendencies

The Stax Spirit S3 are among the finest over-ear cans I’ve examined in a protracted whereas. They sound nice out of the field, and I used to be struck by the extent of element obtainable in a wide range of tracks. Most headphones will prioritize bass with treble to utilize the strengths dynamic drivers can ship on the low finish, however planar cans like this actually make the mids come to life.

I performed round extensively with the three sound results, and concluded that Traditional presents extra on the low finish, Hello-Fi delivers the most effective mids, whereas Stax clears up the treble, albeit on the expense of the lows. I didn’t use Stax as a lot as the opposite two for that cause. I listened to a whole lot of tracks in Hello-Fi or Grasp on Tidal, in addition to the most effective that Spotify may at the moment do to determine any variations. I additionally tried FLAC information on a wired reference to a DAC by means of Plex to gauge efficiency that means, too.

“You’re on headphones? I assumed you had been speaking into your cellphone.”

There have been subtleties that got here out with plenty of tracks that I felt underpinned the strengths of those headphones. The piano and bass guitar riff in Change’s A Lovers Vacation had some further polish I hadn’t actually seen earlier than. This grew to become a standard theme, the place instrumentation resonated throughout quite a lot of tracks and genres. After I performed a Grasp of one thing as outdated as Unhealthy Moon Rising by Creedance Clearwater Revival, the tune got here alive in Hello-Fi mode, with every guitar respiration life into the tune.

Sade’s Maureen and Lovers Rock allowed her soulful voice to essentially carry by means of, and it was a pleasure to hearken to the band’s albums with the Stax Spirit S3. Even making an attempt fashionable tracks, like Banking on Me by Gunna or Warmth Waves by Glass Animals confirmed that element isn’t unique to at least one period or one other.

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 Hi-Res Audio.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Tendencies

In case you’re a stickler for bass, you might lament that it’s not as punchy right here, however that’s type of the purpose. Traditional and Hello-Fi nonetheless present a very good quantity, although hardly what I’d think about a rumbling impact. They aren’t going to match what Sony can ship with the WH-1000XM5, and even a very good pair of Bang & Olufsens or Bowers & Wilkins. It’s one cause why I want Edifier included a 10-band EQ into the app to tailor the sound simply enough to usher in a bit of extra bass for many who need it.

I’d additionally indicate that iOS and Android experiences could differ, just because the latter tends to help aptX. Not each cellphone can do aptX HD or aptX Adaptive, and that does matter when you need the very best potential high quality. Tidal and Amazon Music HD on a appropriate cellphone may carry out simply that little further in a tune, very like I described above. Even so, I used to be struck by how good the Stax Spirit S3 sounded with telephones just like the Pixel 6 Professional and iPhone 13 when paired with them.

Button controls had been superb, restricted as they had been. Telephone calls had been additionally wonderful, and I knew it when a caller mentioned, “You’re on headphones? I assumed you had been speaking into your cellphone.” Callers may hear me clearly, particularly in quieter settings, whereas wherever with a crowd or background noise would possibly pose a problem as a result of there’s nothing to cancel it out. Edifier says it makes use of aptX Voice expertise to realize all that, which is largely a separate codec that’s a part of sure Snapdragon chipsets to concentrate on voice readability unbiased of that for music streaming. It simply can’t do something to drown out background noise.

What’s additionally nice is the headphones help multipoint connections, letting you pair them with two gadgets concurrently. Tremendous handy when you hearken to music out of your laptop however all the time wish to keep in contact in case a name is available in in your cellphone. It’s a fairly seamless transition, as simply answering the decision switches over. Finish the decision, initiate the music once more in your laptop, and also you’re again there once more.

Battery life

Wearing the Edifier Stax Spirit S3.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Tendencies

The Stax Spirit S3 are a horse on battery life. They simply hold operating and operating. Edifier charges them at as much as 80 hours per cost, which is ridiculous in a very good means, and whereas that quantity can fluctuate based mostly on quantity stage, I can attest that you simply gained’t be charging them too typically. Out of my very own curiosity, I paired them with an iPhone I had laying round and looped a Hello-Fi playlist on Tidal, leaving them to play uninterrupted in a single day at roughly 60% quantity. After I checked about seven hours later, they’d solely misplaced 15% battery life.

It’s a very important piece of this puzzle since the battery all the time must be on. I discussed earlier that it is advisable energy on to pay attention in wired mode, however my actual gripe with that was how low the quantity was by default. I needed to routinely go away it cranked as much as 90-100% to listen to what I’d usually hear over Bluetooth at 50-60%.

On the brilliant aspect, the headphones do have quick charging, so plugging in for 10 minutes can get you as much as 11 hours of listening time. Good enough for many long-haul flights when you plan to journey with these wrapped round your head.

Our take

Credit score to Edifier for crafting a formidable pair of planar magnetic cans. They not solely really feel actually comfy, however are nearly revelatory in how good they sound. I readily admit I used to be shocked at their constancy and consistency, and I think about you may be as effectively whether or not or not you’re acquainted with the model and its merchandise. And whereas the value tag may appear excessive when put next to different wi-fi cans, for these in quest of supreme sound high quality, they’re a cut price.

Is there a greater different?

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 are a benchmark for over-ear headphones, and with good cause. They not solely keep on a superb legacy, but additionally provide a load of options to go together with the actual fact you don’t must energy them on to pay attention with a wired connection. You don’t get planar magnetic tech with them, however they’re wi-fi and extremely succesful of manufacturing excellent sound utilizing dynamic drivers.

In case you’re enticed by the thought of planar headphones, it doesn’t get significantly better than the wired, open-back, $899 Audeze LCD-2. They’re far costlier, and lack the comfort and sound isolation of the Stax Spirit S2, however the LCD-2 are tremendous acclaimed by planar-loving audiophiles.

Then again, when you’re on the lookout for a reasonable but reference-quality listening expertise (and also you’re good with open-back designs), the Sennheiser HD 560S don’t have planar magnetic tech inside, however you might not discover the distinction.

How lengthy will they final?

Maintain them, and so they’ll care for you. The Stax Spirit S3 will final so long as the battery can take you, and that appears to be a protracted time based mostly on how lengthy every cost lasts. These aren’t supreme for understanding, so think about them for leisurely pursuits above all else. Edifier presents a typical one-year guarantee for purposeful issues, however not bodily injury.

Must you purchase them?

Completely. In case you need balanced sound and wish to hear it with totally different genres of music, you gained’t go unsuitable making an attempt the Stax Spirit S3 on for measurement. Your ears may also in all probability thanks for the consolation they create. The worth is true for what you get right here, contemplating what’s occurring inside.

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