Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 Review: Good noise cancelling, sub-par battery life

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The NeoBuds Pro 2 appear a bargain on the surface with great noise cancellation for their price, but battery life concerns do impact their overall value.

Pros Cons
Good noise cancellation Doesn’t live up to battery life claims
Affordable App is mostly built around a sales website
Inbuilt RGB lighting Who needs RGB lighting on a headphones case?

Score: 3.5/5

 

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman) Buy The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2! Buy On Amazon

In this review

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 Specifications
Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 Design
Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 Installation
Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 Performance
Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 Battery
Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 Conclusion

You want cheap wireless buds?

There is seemingly  no limit to the number of  cheap wireless buds you can buy.

Having reviewed everything from the cheapest of the cheap wireless buds to the very best of the high end, I’m always a bit wary when checking out new brands and especially more affordable earbuds.

That’s precisely what I’ve hit with the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2; priced at just $159.95 in Australia, these are amongst the lowest priced true wireless earbuds I’ve tested to feature active onboard noise cancellation.

At one time ANC was purely the domain of your high-end buds. Over the years it came down in price, but frankly, even when it did start to appear on lower-cost sets, I’ve often been left wanting.

In terms of ANC, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are pretty darned fantastic for the price. It’s just that you make up for that quality ANC in other areas, especially battery life.

Design

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

There’s only so far you can go with basic bud design while still retaining comfort and functionality, but Edifier’s certainly tried something different with the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2.

For the record, I’ve never reviewed the original Edifier NeoBuds Pro, so maybe it’s not that different, but still, it all starts with the charging case.

Most charging cases tend to ape Apple’s rounded AirPods style on the grounds that they’re the most recognisable, but instead Edifier has opted for case in black or white – with matching coloured buds – that kind of reminds me of the makeup compacts that my grandmother used to use, with a solid silver band around the case front.

There’s a large light at the front that’s actually capable of RGB colour changing if you really must, and the actual Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 buds within.

These have more the style and feel of a simple sci-fi movie prop – the kind that would go direct to streaming these days or straight to DVD or VHS depending on your frame of reference.

They’re small and quite light, with angular stalks bearing the Edifier E logo – at least I presume that’s what it’s meant to be – on each stalk. Nobody’s going to think you’re wearing fake AirPods at least, because these don’t resemble those in a particularly strong way.

While they don’t boast full water ingress protection, the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are at least IP54 rated, which means they can stand up to a little sweating if you want to take them out running.

I’ve tested them for this function, and they fit well, stayed in place and certainly didn’t seem to suffer from being drenched in my sweat multiple times, but you wouldn't want to go swimming with them on.

Installation

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 App (Screenshot: Alex Kidman)

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are Bluetooth 5.2 compatible, and out of the box they’ll start looking to pair with nearby devices automatically.

The case does contain a pairing button, which is absolutely my preferred way for true wireless buds to manage their pairing, because it’s so much easier than the devices that require long presses on touch sensitive panels or similar.

For many cheap buds that Bluetooth pairing is all you get, but Edifier does offer an app… or at least half an app, really.

If you want to tweak the settings on the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2, you’ll need the Edifier Connect App for iOS or Android. This lets you set ANC modes between high, medium or low ANC, ambient sound modes, wind reduction or ANC off if you want to preserve as much battery life as possible, as well as switching between music, game and spatial audio modes, equaliser settings and finally to set the RGB colour of the case.

To do that you need at least one bud in the case and one out of it for the app to properly “see” that the case is online. You only get eight colours to pick from, no light cycling or other fancy RGB options as you might expect from more gaming-centric gear… and honestly, I’m not sure who this is for.

It works, sure, but the only time you ever really look at the lights on a charging case are when you’re plugging it in to make sure it’s taking power. Otherwise, it’s kind of irrelevant.

My bigger issue with the Edifier Connect app is that far more of it is focused around selling you other Edifier products through the Discover and Mall tabs, which are just links to Edifier web sites rather than app control areas.

I would much rather not have to scroll through four different subsections of the Earbuds tab to activate different settings, which would be more user-friendly. Instead, Edifier's put more effort into trying to sell you further headphone gear through its app.

Performance

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

In the sub-$200 space, while ANC headphones aren’t new, my experiences with them have tended to be mediocre at best, and that’s largely what I was expecting out of the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2.

I was surprised at just how good and nuanced a level of ANC they provided. At high settings, a solid quantity of external noise was blocked, whether it was passing vehicles out in public, my neighbour’s lawnmower when I was working in my home office or even speakers when doing more direct testing of just how isolated they could make my listening experience.

If you want or need more awareness of your surroundings there’s the option for medium or low noise cancellation, while the ambient sound setting allows for “classic”, “vocal enhancement” or “background boost” modes.

These too work mostly well, although where with some ANC buds that support ambient modes they work to provide a more realistic environment, I always felt that the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 rather over-amplified some sounds, especially voices.

The ANC on the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 is a genuine highlight, though this doesn’t entirely follow through to the soundstage.

It’s certainly not bad (relative again to its price), but not quite as wide and varied as I might have liked, even with more high-quality audio choices.

If you’re a big fan of thumping bass that particularly doesn’t always come through as strong as it might – though again, I’m drawn back to the fact that these are just $159.95 ANC-capable true wireless headphones.

One nice touch that you don’t always see at this price point is support for ear detection, so music will pause if you pull the buds out for any reason.

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 use touch controls built into each bud with support for double and triple tap actions that you can set within the Edifier Connect app. Flexibility is great, but it’s a pity that, once again, I was often left stabbing at my ears with my fingers for minutes at a time to get them to work adequately. I’m no fan of touch controls on any buds, because I always find I struggle, but the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are particularly limited in this respect.

With regards to calls and microphone pickup, callers reported being able to hear me clearly enough, but they could all tell I was on some kind of headphone or speaker, with many noting that I did sound as though I was far away from my microphone. Probably clear enough for most calls, but I’d never record a podcast or radio spot using them, basically.

Battery

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

So far, so mostly good for the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2, but then we come to the battery life. Here Edifier’s claims are on the modest side, stating that the buds should be good for up to 4 hours with ANC enabled or 5.5 hours without it.

I don’t know why you would buy ANC headphones and then not use ANC, and that difference is quite low on balance, but there’s a bigger problem.

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 can’t manage 4 hours of battery life, let alone 5.5.

In my testing, they’ve tended to run to more like 2.5 to 3 hours at best, and sometimes below that.

Notably when out running (where, to be fair, the ANC is doing a little more work than in my otherwise quieter office) I’ve seen them drop 25% of their charge after just 30 minutes of literal run time.

I couldn’t possibly run for 4 hours straight, but this does highlight the big weakness of the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2, and a big part of the reason I feel for their asking price.

That kind of battery life might be OK if your listening is purely during a bus or train commute, but they wouldn’t be my first choice to pack on, say, an international flight any time soon.

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2: Alex’s Verdict

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are, on balance, relatively good -- as long as you can deal with the battery life not being that long. At this price, they're best suited for those on a budget who need decent ANC but only need it for an hour or so at a time.

If you're after ANC because you want an all-day escape from office noise or do a lot of plane travelling, they're going to leave you wanting, however.

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2: Pricing and availability

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman) Buy The Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2! Buy On Amazon

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