Edifier Stax Spirit S3 review: Great planar sound at an accessible price

Edifier Stax Spirit S3

MSRP $400.00

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


  • Excellent sound quality
  • Very cozy fit
  • Two sets of ear cushions
  • Solid call quality
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Great app support


  • No ANC or ambient mode
  • No EQ in app
  • Volume levels low in wired mode

Planar magnetic headphones aren’t latest, but because of the technology’s relatively high price and comparatively large size, it’s been relegated to the upper echelon of the headphone market, where those with enough money to afford them (and an audiophile sensibility to understand them) have been the one buyers. But planar’s advantages — smoother, more detailed sound, with noticeably less distortion — could be enjoyed by anyone.

That very much describes what Edifier looks to realize with the $400 Stax Spirit S3 — a set of wireless planar magnetic cans which might be designed to be light enough, cozy enough, portable enough (and critically, inexpensive enough) to be considered an on a regular basis option. For a brand not necessarily known for its overall sonic prowess, can Edifier pull off a spirited surprise, or are they Stax Spirit S3 more planar hype than anything? Let’s take a listen to search out out.

What’s within the box

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 unboxed.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Trends

There isn’t anything overtly different in regards to the packaging, though Edifier does go the elegant route with a slick look. Within the box 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 quick start manual. Together with the usual leather ear cups, you get an additional pair Edifier calls “Ice Feeling” due to their fabric lining that feels cooler over longer listening stretches.


Planar magnetic headphones are often a little bit larger to accommodate the tech obligatory to make them what they’re. They could be a bit thick, but I discovered the Stax Spirit S3 to be on par with another pair of cans using dynamic drivers. Cushioning is great with each sets of ear cups, something I noticed after I wore them for hours while working. I barely felt any discomfort, and while I do know everyone’s ears are different, odds are good chances are you’ll find they do the identical for you, too.

The Stax Spirit S3 are among the best over-ear cans I’ve tested in a protracted while.

When it comes to controls, you get all the pieces you would like from the combo multifunction/volume buttons on the fitting ear cup. Track skipping is completed via the amount buttons, while call answer/end and Bluetooth pairing are done with the multifunction button. But that button also gives you extra decisions via the Edifier app. By default, a single click performs play/pause, but there are also double- and triple-click commands too. These could be set to one in every of: Play/pause (unsure why that’s there again), voice assistant, game mode, and switching between the three EQ/sound effects: Classic, Hi-Fi, and Stax. Unfortunately, there are not any wear sensors, so take these off, and so they carry on playing.

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

These are Bluetooth headphones, and work just as well in a wired capability. The one catch is that it’s worthwhile to use the battery in each cases, as they will’t work in a passive state, again because of the planar magnetic design.

What’s missing is energetic noise cancelation (ANC) and an ambient mode, leaving the onboard mic to focus almost exclusively on phone calls and voice assistant access. Passive isolation is superb, so that you will at the very least drown out a number of the background, but when you are searching for ANC, you’ll have to search out it elsewhere.

As a substitute, the main target here is on hi-res audio by the use of aptX Adaptive codec support to go along with SBC and AAC. No LDAC or LHDC, so no other hi-res codecs here. Edifier plays up Snapdragon Sound through the Qualcomm Bluetooth chipset going as much as 24-bit/96kHz support, which definitely qualifies as wireless hi-res, though you have to the playback device to also support aptX Adaptive to profit from the fidelity. The Snapdragon Sound logo appears regardless of what phone you’re using, even when it doesn’t support the feature, so don’t assume it’s energetic when it’s not. Alternatively, you may also listen through a wired connection, especially if you might have a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that does the heavy lifting.

Planar details

So why is planar magnetic a giant deal? The planar magnetic diaphragms generate sound waves in ways in which lessen distortion, and that’s a giant reason why the sound comes through more balanced, and particularly resonant within the mid-range. What makes them sonic stalwarts is the way in which they use a skinny diaphragm between magnets to create vibrant sounds with less distortion. Dynamic drivers, that are in an awesome majority of headphones, use a magnet wrapped in a coil that may create deeper sounds, but in addition they are likely to hit some distortion at higher volumes. Edifier licensed a few of what it needed to make the Stax Spirit S3 from Audeze, an organization that has grow to be synonymous with planar magnetic lately. It’s a mixture 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 big contribution to the planar field began with its acquisition of Stax, a maker of electrostatic headphones, in 2011. Though it clearly took a while for Edifier to focus that team, the result’s the Stax Spirit S3, a set of wireless planar cans which might be only a hair larger and heavier than non-planar headphones. It only takes one take a look at the ginormous Monoprice M1070C to appreciate just what an achievement that is — and the M1070C aren’t even wireless. I’d just be cautious of the daring claims Edifier makes relating to performance, including for phone calls, which it says uses the “most advanced micro processing system,” asserting that calls will sound like face-to-face communication.

They’re really good, no doubt, but not quite on the lofty measure such a sentiment suggests. The arrogance extends to overall sound quality, calling out the varied components used to fabricate the Stax Spirit S3.

Using the Edifier app

Edifier’s app now has a bit specifically for Stax Spirit headphones, and the pointless Snapdragon Sound branding notwithstanding, it’s easy enough to get around. What I’d’ve preferred is that the corporate go easy on the upselling, because it shamelessly allocates two sections on the menu at the underside to hawking more of its products. I don’t have any issue with an organization promoting its own stuff, but whenever you bury the settings and ancillary features for the headphones into the highest right corner, it may result in confusion. It’d’ve been higher to place the settings within the menu, after which put the Mail and Discover sections inside that.

At any rate, there are just a few things to customize. First, are the earmuffs you select to make use of. The most important screen will let you choose those you’re wearing so the app could make some adjustments to the sound profile. Swipe left and also you see the three sound effects (Classic, Hi-Fi, Stax) I previously noted. What’s puzzling is that Edifier saw to it to incorporate a transient explainer in regards to the earmuffs, yet selected to not for the sound effects. Perhaps it thinks people buying these headphones would already know, but educating a consumer isn’t a nasty idea in cases like this. Swipe left again and also you get to Game Mode, which is off by default. Turn it on, and the Stax Spirit S3 cut down latency, something I discovered also worked well while watching a show or movie by adeptly syncing audio and video.

The opposite settings are largely functional, reminiscent of setting the button controls, setting a timer for the headphones to show off, clearing them of all paired devices, or restoring to factory settings.

Sound quality

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

The Stax Spirit S3 are among the best over-ear cans I’ve tested in a protracted while. They sound great out of the box, and I used to be struck by the extent of detail available in a wide range of tracks. Most headphones will prioritize bass with treble to utilize the strengths dynamic drivers can deliver on the low end, but planar cans like this really make the mids come to life.

I played around extensively with the three sound effects, and concluded that Classic offers more on the low end, Hi-Fi delivers the most effective mids, while Stax clears up the treble, albeit on the expense of the lows. I didn’t use Stax as much as the opposite two for that reason. I listened to lots of tracks in Hi-Fi or Master on Tidal, in addition to the most effective that Spotify could currently do to establish any differences. I also tried FLAC files on a wired reference to a DAC through Plex to gauge performance that way, too.

“You’re on headphones? I assumed you were talking into your phone.”

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 Holiday had some extra polish I hadn’t really noticed before. This became a typical theme, where instrumentation resonated across quite a lot of tracks and genres. Once I played a Master of something as old as Bad Moon Rising by Creedance Clearwater Revival, the song got here alive in Hi-Fi mode, with each guitar respiration life into the song.

Sade’s Maureen and Lovers Rock allowed her soulful voice to essentially carry through, and it was a pleasure to hearken to the band’s albums with the Stax Spirit S3. Even trying modern tracks, like Banking on Me by Gunna or Heat Waves by Glass Animals showed that detail isn’t exclusive to at least one era or one other.

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

In the event you’re a stickler for bass, chances are you’ll lament that it’s not as punchy here, but that’s form of the purpose. Classic and Hi-Fi still provide a very good amount, though hardly what I’d consider a rumbling effect. They aren’t going to match what Sony can deliver with the WH-1000XM5, and even a very good pair of Bang & Olufsens or Bowers & Wilkins. It’s one reason why I wish Edifier included a 10-band EQ into the app to tailor the sound simply enough to herald a little bit more bass for individuals who want it.

I’d also indicate that iOS and Android experiences may differ, just because the latter tends to support aptX. Not every phone can do aptX HD or aptX Adaptive, and that does matter when you want the very best possible quality. Tidal and Amazon Music HD on a compatible phone could bring out just that little extra in a song, very like I described above. Even so, I used to be struck by how good the Stax Spirit S3 sounded with phones just like the Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 when paired with them.

Button controls were nice, limited as they were. Phone calls were also excellent, and I knew it when a caller said, “You’re on headphones? I assumed you were talking into your phone.” Callers could hear me clearly, especially in quieter settings, whereas anywhere with a crowd or background noise might pose a challenge because there’s nothing to cancel it out. Edifier says it uses aptX Voice technology to realize all that, which is essentially a separate codec that’s a part of certain Snapdragon chipsets to concentrate on voice clarity independent of that for music streaming. It just can’t do anything to drown out background noise.

What’s also great is the headphones support multipoint connections, letting you pair them with two devices concurrently. Super convenient when you hearken to music out of your computer but all the time need to stay in contact in case a call is available in in your phone. It’s a reasonably seamless transition, as just answering the decision switches over. End the decision, initiate the music again in your computer, and also you’re back there again.

Battery life

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

The Stax Spirit S3 are a horse on battery life. They simply keep running and running. Edifier rates them at as much as 80 hours per charge, which is ridiculous in a very good way, and while that number can fluctuate based on volume level, I can attest that you simply won’t be charging them too often. Out of my very own curiosity, I paired them with an iPhone I had laying around and looped a Hi-Fi playlist on Tidal, leaving them to play uninterrupted overnight at roughly 60% volume. Once I checked about seven hours later, they’d only lost 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’s worthwhile to power on to listen in wired mode, but my real gripe with that was how low the amount was by default. I needed to routinely leave it cranked as much as 90-100% to listen to what I’d normally hear over Bluetooth at 50-60%.

On the intense side, the headphones do have fast 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 travel with these wrapped around your head.

Our take

Credit to Edifier for crafting a formidable pair of planar magnetic cans. They not only feel really comfortable, but are almost revelatory in how good they sound. I readily admit I used to be surprised at their fidelity and consistency, and I imagine you could be as well whether or not you’re acquainted with the brand and its products. And while the value tag may appear high in comparison to other wireless cans, for those searching for supreme sound quality, they’re a bargain.

Is there a greater alternative?

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 are a benchmark for over-ear headphones, and with good reason. They not only carry on a superb legacy, but additionally offer a load of features to go along with the actual fact you don’t have to power them on to listen with a wired connection. You don’t get planar magnetic tech with them, but they’re wireless and highly capable of manufacturing outstanding sound using dynamic drivers.

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

However, when you’re searching for an inexpensive yet reference-quality listening experience (and also you’re good with open-back designs), the Sennheiser HD 560S don’t have planar magnetic tech inside, but chances are you’ll not notice the difference.

How long will they last?

Handle them, and so they’ll handle you. The Stax Spirit S3 will last so long as the battery can take you, and that appears to be a protracted time based on how long each charge lasts. These aren’t ideal for understanding, so consider them for leisurely pursuits above all else. Edifier offers a regular one-year warranty for functional problems, but not physical damage.

Do you have to buy them?

Absolutely. In the event you want balanced sound and wish to hear it with different genres of music, you won’t go flawed trying the Stax Spirit S3 on for size. Your ears may even probably thanks for the comfort they carry. The value is true for what you get here, considering what’s happening inside.

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