Edifier International are best known for their ranges of multimedia speakers. We’ve reviewed a couple of the models here and been largely impressed – so much so that I was pleased to spot an extensive headphone range on the company’s website. Though not the most expensive model on offer, the H850 is the top of the no frills audiophile line; simple headphones designed and tuned for listening enjoyment above all else.
The H850s are a fairly typical design. Oval leatherette ear pads front light ear cups with brushed aluminium detailing on the back and subtle branding. The pads are removable and are a foam-filled synthetic leather construction, with additional foam behind and cloths covering the driver grilles.
Each ear cup contains a 40 mm driver, angled cleverly to direct sound toward the ear. Rated with an impedance of 32Ω the H850s should be easily driven by a mobile device or laptop, though they’re equally suited to use with a home hi-fi. Maximum rated input power is 50MW, though I encountered no issues using the H850s at reasonable levels with high power headphone amplification.
The slim headband features the usual locking adjustment mechanism for each cup, with adequate padding and a gentle clamping force with even pressure across the head. The cups swivel 90 degrees in one direction to fold flat for storage, and 20 or so degrees in the other to adjust to the head. The cable is two metres in length and is detachable, attaching to the left ear cup via a 3.5 mm locking connector. The connectors looks to be a proprietary design, though a standard 3.5 mm cable with a slim connector would fit well should the original ever become damaged. The cable terminates in a 3.5 mm connector with a good quality quarter inch adapter provided in the box. Absent is a cable with inline controls and a microphone, as is any sort of storage case though neither are glaring omissions at this price.
Build quality is decent with some flexing and plastic creaking but nothing to give major cause for concern. They’re not going to withstand significant abuse, but will hold up to home use and traveling with reasonable care. Comfort is reasonable. They’re not the most comfortable cans I’ve had on my head but they’re far from the worst. My only minor criticism is that the ear cups are rather shallow, and if you have large ears may find that your ear contacts the plastic grille covering the driver. Thankfully the H850s are super light weight so this is a minor annoyance and while you’re certainly not surrounded by oodles of plush padding, they are more than comfortable enough for an extended listening session. I also found more pressure on the left ear cup than the right, which initially caused a perceived sound imbalance. Extensive usage lessened this issue.
Perhaps the H850s biggest claim to fame is their sound. They’re tuned by Phil Jones of Pure Sound – founder of Acoustic Energy and a renowned designer of loudspeakers and equipment for both the consumer and professional markets. Unlike many style over substance consumer headphones, these are tuned for neutrality rather than mind-blowing bass or force and volume. If anything they have a slight mid bass boost as opposed to the typical low bass boost of the likes of Beats and Bose. This makes them a delight with vocals and 70s rock in particular. The bass is powerful and while not prominent by design does go very low indeed when the track demands.
Highs are extended though at times can become a tad harsh. This is often to be expected with a neutral headphone particularly with modern bright recordings with limited dynamic range. The H850s are more than capable of differentiating good recordings, mixes and masters from bad which is a positive thing, though it does have the slight adverse effect of appearing excessively bright on tracks that are bright to begin with. Ultimately this is a sacrifice you must make with the vast majority of quality headphones unless the headphones are tuned to offer a warmer sound signature which these are not.
Sound staging is more than reasonable. Though they don’t excel at sound stage width, sounding a little closed in an d narrow, they do portray depth well with excellent instrument separation and plenty of detail. Discerning the notes of individual instruments or pulling apart vocal harmonies is not an issue here. Portraying the particular tone or character of an instrument is one of their greatest strengths. Acoustic guitars sound wonderful through these.
Certain genres are a real delight through the H850s. I spent a great deal of time listening to early rock; in particular the original LP issues which are unspoiled by repeated remastering. The H850s are immense fun. The more I heard what they could do the more I enjoyed and appreciated their sound. They are a steal and earn a thoroughly deserved recommendation.