Edifier H840 Headphones
Edifier is a Chinese audio company that specializes in home theater speakers. While they do not have the name recognition of quintessential audiophile brands such as Bowers & Wilkins, they boast considerable design chops, and their contemporary aesthetic is getting the brand noticed. Two of their notable achievements are their 15” tall Spinnaker speakers and their S730 speaker which won the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovations Design and Engineering and the iF Design Award, respectively. Their avant garde speakers such as the egg shaped Luna Eclipse ($200), the e55 ($999), and the Prisma Encore E3360 ($130) belong in any modern home.
Edifier products are gaining recognition. Their R1700BT ($150) was well reviewed by What Hi-Fi?, and the Exclaim BT Connect by PCMag, Digital Trends, and Macworld view them as capable performers compared to their cost.
They integrated coveted technologies such as DSP Digital Signal Processing and Dynamic Range Control (DRC) to minimize audio distortion at high volumes into a large part of their product line, including the Luna Eclipse, R1700BT, Exclaim BT Connect ($130), S550 Encore ($600) and into their MP700 ($230). The Spinnaker ($300) and CineSOund B3 soundbar ($200) have DSP only. They also included Bluetooth 4.0 into the S1000DB ($350) and the MP700.
While over-ear headphones may be more bulky than the oftentimes inexpensive on-ear and in-ear headphones, they deliver performances in the most lifelike way. While there are benefits to each of these types of headphones, I gravitate toward over-ear headphones for their sound and comfort. The fit and musical delivery of the Edifier H840 make them a solid and affordable over-ear.
The Edifier H840 Over-Ear Monitor Headphone is an incredibly worthwhile and low cost investment compared to the power and quality packed into this lightweight auditory gem. Don’t be fooled by its lack of heft and bulk, at just 0.2KG in weight, the H840 boasts a superbly robust array of crisp sound on more levels than one would expect at this price point. While In-Ear headphones are the most ideal for the road, the H840’s is a road warrior with its adjustable pleather ear shells that fold for incredibly quick and easy storage. It’s hassle free use paired with its extraordinary audio quality makes the H840’s cost of under $60 a tried and true treat for your wallet and ears.
The H840 are ideal for watching movies because vocals are heard clearly when there are not competing sounds. However, in “Just Friends,” on Amy Winehouse's’ ‘Back to Black,’ (96/24, AIFF, Island Records, 2015) percussion, bass guitar, and sax dominate the forefront which detracts from the emotional impact of the velvety brass tone of her voice and powerful lyrics. To its credit, the treble levels are extremely balanced with the combination of Winehouse’s dark and weathered vocal tones accompanied with the treble instrument’s brighter resonances which is viscerally impactful. The H840 draws attention to the dramatic interplay between what Amy says and what she chooses to emphasize. Text painting is when an artist expresses her emotion through the lyrics by emphasizing and enunciating key words. The tension between the robust colors of her voice and the text painting she employs is clearly felt.
On The Yorkshire Baroque Soloists rendition of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (48/24, AIFF, Signum Records, 2015) balance of instrumentation is superb as outlined in the very initial movement of the work. Bass is not overpowering but is certainly present, as is mandated by the composition. Lyrics are slightly run together but I don’t blame on this particular choir, and not this equipment. However, the orchestration is certainly the focus of this masterwork by one of history’s most prominent and genius composers. The upright bass’ use of staccato in which notes are separated and legato, in which there aren’t breaks between notes, along with Bach’s signature swelled quarter notes are portrayed immaculately with the H840. I can hear how the bass line is being built upon by each section of strings. The viola and violin section are amplified at all of the perfect times which work hand in hand with the frequent crescendos and decrescendos of the alto and soprano sections of the choir.
It is difficult for me to not feel the intense emotion of the soloists and their lyrics in the glorious German recitative which opens many of the movements of the work. Recitative is the term used in classical and operatic works for the text and lyrics that are by definition ‘sung-spoken word’ and lack any sort of musical pattern. Recitative is used to portray a character speaking before he sings an aria or something with a more recognizable melodic content. The H840 does a stupendous job at putting the clarity of the soloist moments in the forefront. While listening to the solos by the tenors and mezzo sopranos especially, I felt as though I was sitting in the mezzanine of Deutsche Oper Berlin, one of Germany’s finest Opera houses. Whether you’re a classical music fan or not, I challenge you to listen to even just a portion of this miraculous work and not feel a sense of soothing calm and pure emotion and empathy in one of its earliest forms. I feel it’s impossible to not feel soul wrenching emotional highs and lows in something as beautiful as this incredible piece of historical art, which the H840’s do great justice to in terms of sound quality.
I listened to a few select samplings from Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard (192/24, AIFF, Polydor Records, 1972) in hopes of hearing how the H840’s would handle the various instrumentations used in the contrasting styles and genres Clapton uses throughout the album. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how streamlined and even the levels were throughout almost the entirety of the album. Slower tempo songs such as ‘Give Me Strength’ and ‘Please Be With Me’ provided easy listening thanks to the H840’s ability to provide resonant and smooth warm bass tones without overpowering the treble levels of the guitar and Clapton’s voice. I greatly enjoyed the contrast and quality differences while listening to tracks such as ‘Motherless Children’, ‘Steady Rollin’ Man’ and ‘I Shot the Sheriff’. The crisp and clear tones in the percussive parts of each piece were striking. The drums did not overpower the vocals or other instruments, yet stood apart as their own entity with their own special groove. On all tracks from the album, Clapton’s smooth and relaxed vocal tone shimmered gracefully through the H840’s ability to dynamically blend all levels and nuances and complement the tones that pair with his lyrics.
The synthesizers, rapid rhythms, and vocals on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (88/24, AIFF, Columbia, 2013) overwhelmed the H840. Unfortunately, more drivers are required to do justice to this type of music. The Cleer DU ($109) is one of the closest rivals to the H840 that can achieve this mission with its 2 drivers while fitting into the over-ear group, and possesses a similar foldable headband, and a similar price-point. The V-Moda M100 ($270), also an over-ear with dual drivers is extraordinary at an even greater price-point.
Ideally, if money were no object, I would recommend an in-ear monitor such as the Noble Trident ($400) with 3 drivers, or the Dulce Bass ($700) -possibly the best IEM for electronica - which provide the best stereo separation between instruments of any type of headphone.
The H840 is a versatile piece of kit which reproduces classical, classic rock, and singer-songwriters faithfully. It’s performance is comparable to headphones costing 3-6 times as much. For less than $60, buyers get something that tackles most genres with the exception of electronica competently. Highly recommended.
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz～20kHz
CONNECTOR TYPE: Straight
SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL: 90dB
CABLE LENGTH: 2.0m WEIGHT: 0.2KG
No DRIVER DIAMETER: 40mm