Last Updated On: 3-17-19
Though Edifier is still an overall lesser known audio company, they’ve made a name for themselves in recent years for producing several bookshelf speakers that have become highly regarded top competitors, particularly so in the budget category. The company has been quite dominant on Amazon’s best selling bookshelf speakers list for a while now. As such, I was excited to get a pair of their inexpensive H840 headphones and see if they were on par to the value that their popular bookshelf speakers bring to the table.
Packaging was pretty bare bones, a flimsy plastic box with a similar packing piece that fit the headphones. Packaging is usually where corners are understandably cut when it comes to budget audio products, and I’m personally mostly looking for something that’s secure enough to avoid damage while shipping, and this box felt fine enough. The only two other things in the box are a small instructional pamphlet and a warranty card. The H840 does not come with a carrying case.
My initial concern/peeve with so called budget over-ear headphones is when they don’t actually fit over ear. These do, but they’re on the narrow side with a more oval than circular shape. I have to kind of wedge my outer ear underneath the pad to get them to fit and it then touches slightly against the pad/cover. The pads themselves are soft yet fit nice and firmly on my head, no hot spots. I also wear glasses and these easily fit over them without issues, which is always nice.
All in all they’re perfectly comfortable, but I can see them being annoyingly small for some people. Per the stereo descriptor each headphone is permanently wired, as opposed to having a plug where you can use a separate connector. The notable disadvantage here is that you can’t replace the cable if it gets damaged as you could with other headphones.
These are functionally minimalist too, no inline volume control or skip button or anything like that, the only thing you can do with them is plug them into a 3.5mm jack.
The headband is adjustable on both sides by a little more than an inch or so. No indicator lines but it does move with clicking increments. The band itself is pretty small.
These headphones are just generally small and flimsy for that matter. Each headphone rotates horizontally on a circular joint and pivots horizontally on a dual hinge joint, which I’d say is the pretty clear weak point. While the headphones are nice and light, I wouldn’t feel totally comfortable carrying them around all the time.
Spec/Performance Discussion, Initial Listening Impressions, Other Related Observations
I came into this review with, I’d say, higher than normal expectations just because I was really wondering if these would be on par with how good their now popular bookshelf speakers sound despite being so inexpensive.
Here’s the initial verdict: these sounded great, like, I was really impressed. I always start with Daft Punk Random Access Memories songs as a baseline comparison because they’re so well produced, and they’ll usually pretty quickly reveal any shortcomings on a pair of speakers or headphones.
And? I really couldn’t detect any obvious flaws. The sound was very even, none of the instruments/vocals felt missing, clarity was solid. Percussions sounded very decent, nice and tight and not hissy, and this usually what falters first with cheaper headphones. The response range sounded very obviously nice and flat. The overall sound has a kind of “soft” color to it that’s characteristic of Edifier’s products in general.
The bass was totally present, not boomy or muddy at all as it often is with cheap headphones that try to have a lot of bass. No unwanted resonance whatsoever. It fell of a little bit on a few songs with drops, and a few of the notes lost their pitch/tone, so these couldn’t quite get down there like a bigger pair of, say, Audio Technica studio headphones with big drivers can. The H840’s quoted response range is 20 – 20k Hz, and they don’t specify a max differential, so some bass drop off is to be expected here and my impressions seem fairly consistent with the quoted spec.
The max SPL is 90 dB, which is perfectly fine for mid-volume listening, though I did have to crank up the volume a bit more than normal to get these sounding optimal. There seemed to be a narrow sweet spot for the volume, too low and they started sounding thin, too loud and they started sounding too harsh. I kind of had to adjust the volume from song to song which was a little annoying.
Though these are advertised as isolating headphones I didn’t think the outside noise blocking was all that great, so these might not be ideal if you plan to use them in a louder place.
The H840 has a one year warranty which is pretty minimal, but about what you can generally expect with headphones as cheap as these. I’d just be paranoid about breaking a joint or the permanently fixed cable after that year was up.
Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
At less than 50 dollars, these are really great sounding over ear headphones, and Edifier has, in my mind, kept up its current reputation of producing some of the nicest sounding cheap audio gear. I really couldn’t find anything significantly wrong or missing in the overall sound. They’re not quite as full and complete sounding as the more expensive stuff, but that’s obviously to be expected. My only real gripe is that the headphone itself is a little too horizontally small, but that’s about it.
If you’re looking for a pair of inexpensive over-ear headphones to use at your desk that’s light, comfortable, and sounds as good as it can and don’t care about or need any extra features, the H840 may very well be the best choice. I honestly don’t know why these aren’t more popular – probably only because competitors are so heavily marketed in this saturated niche.
Our current picks for the overall best budget over ear headphones