Can the Edifier Stax Spirit S3 best the more affordable Edifier WH950NB while delivering a compelling reason its near $400 price tag? Find out as I go hands-on with the exceptional Edifer Stax Spirit S3 headphones.
If there’s one thing Edifier understands it’s nuance. I saw it in the Edifier WH950NB and it’s at the forefront of the Edifier STAX Spirit S3.
Sound doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It begins, it amplifies, then it fades out. With the Edifier STAX Spirit S3, these three incorporations can be felt with surgical precision. The slow rattle of a snare before it crescendoes into a blare, or the low hum of bass before it fills the ear cup with warmth. Every detail can be picked out.
Listening to Kendrick Lemar’s Mr. Morale with Dolby Atmos (the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 doesn’t feature head-tracking) shows just what these headphones are capable of. The steady build-up of a track like Auntie Diaries fills the space effortlessly, with background hums and minor tweaks coming into focus where other headphones would falter.
It’s the same for slower pop songs as well. The low growl of Blur’s Coffee & TV rings through while leaving enough space for the bass and guitar work to punctuate when needed, all without distorting or drowning vocals.
If you want a set of cans that reproduce audio without needing to funnel everything into a thin pipeline, the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 can handle all types of music without breaking a sweat.
Look and Feel
Edifier doesn’t do flashy. If you’re after something bold and unique or that stands out, look elsewhere. What the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 does do, though, is provide a sleek look that is both stylish and comfortable.
Whereas the Edifier WH950NB took a while to get used to, the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 feel great from the moment they’re free of their cardboard prison. The ear pads have a solid amount of bounce and don’t suffocate the ear, and the headband feels sturdy while still managing to offer enough bounce that they won’t crush your cranium.
Button placement is very Edifier: You’ll either love it or hate it. Personally, I genuinely think all headphones should mimic how Edifier does it.
On the upper-bottom side of the right ear cup is a strip of three buttons. Plus sits above the power button with a minus below that. It’s all interconnected rather than three individual buttons and it works flawlessly once you’ve adapted to it.
The advantage of this setup is that you don’t need to scramble for three separate buttons, and instead can slide your thumb slightly when needing to adjust the volume or pause or power off. It’s intuitive, and that’s the most important thing.
The three modes of the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 are classic, hi-fi mode, and Stax mode and I can’t help but feel these modes don’t offer much all in all.
Classic is your default listening experience, hi-fi mode feels almost muted and drains the life out of the audio, while Stax sounds like it fine-tunes the experience so you can hear every level and pop clearly. Classic is fine, hi-fi is dire, and Stax is magical. There really isn’t much competition here as to which listening mode is best.
Though I should note, you can hook up the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 to the Edifier app, which lets users tweak audio to their liking thanks to the built-in equalizer.
Specs Worth Knowing
- EqualMass wiring diaphragm
- Uniforce magnetic circuit
- Fluxor magnetic array
- Fazor acoustic module
- Snapdragon audio technology
- Hi-Res lossless certified
- Replaceable ear muffs
- Carbon fiber material
- Qualcomm aptX Voice call NC
- Low-latency game mode
- Bluetooth V5.2 with support for up to two devices at once
- Edifier Connect App with multiple equalizer options
- 80 hours of playback
The Edifier STAX Spirit S3 comes in at $399.99. To be honest, the quality here more than justifies that price.
At this price point, Edifier is going up against industry-leading names like Sony and Sennheiser, and has to compete with cheaper offerings from Soul, JBL, and Skull Candy.
For the price, the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 offers up something compelling. It’ll take the Sony offerings to the limit, and they don’t suffer from Sennheiser’s ‘just cram it all together’ model of design.
As for comparisons with the cheaper cans out there, it’s not a fair fight. The Edifier WH950NB are great budget headphones but even they can’t hold a candle to the sheer quality Edifier STAX Spirit S3 has to play with.
The Bottom Line
If you care about catering to your ears and want the cleanest, most precise music experience possible, the Edifier STAX Spirit S3 understands nuance and how to replicate sound that excites and warms in equal measure.