Edifier Stax Spirit S3 Planar Headphones Sound Amazing but Lack Features

Edifier Stax Spirit S3
The Stax Spirit S3 planar headphones include great audio quality with exquisite clarity. TYLER HAYES

Edifier's Stax Spirit S3 planar headphones provide exceptional sound by doing things differently than more traditional ones. Instead of using cone-shaped speakers in each earcup, these planar headphones use magnets on either side of a thin diaphragm to produce sound. The result is crisp, even sounds across a wider frequency range with more distinct separation. The clarity is remarkable.

While music and audio sound exceptional, there are some trade-offs. This technology isn't new, but it is more expensive compared to using traditional dynamic drivers. Plus some people don't like the enhanced clarity that is offered. It's a little like the debate between whether a vinyl record or CD playing the same song sounds better.

Edifier Stax Spirit S3 retail for approximately $399, and they are priced affordably for planar headphones. While the audio is excellent, some of the design choices and the lack of certain features won't make these headphones a slam dunk for everyone. Still, anyone wanting to sink into their music and considering splurging on premium headphones should have these on their list.

TL;DR

Pros:

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Cooling mesh gel ear pads feel wonderful
  • Extremely long battery life

Cons:

  • Buttons and parts of the frame feel a little flimsy
  • Lack of ear detection and other premium features is unfortunate

Buy at Edifier.

What Are Planar Headphones?

Stax Spirit S3 are priced the way they are because of the type of technology they use. So why are planar headphones special or different? In very simple terms, an electrically charged diaphragm, sandwiched between two magnets, creates sound waves when it moves in its magnetic field. More important, though, are the benefits this delivers, such as less audio distortion and more sonic range.

Edifier says its new diaphragm technology combines three notable parts including "the Audeze Fluxor magnetic structure, Uniforce diaphragm and Fazor phase management" to accurately reproduce sound. Don't worry if those terms don't hold much meaning. They're worth mentioning because Edifier's working with Audeze is an important detail that will bolster legitimacy for these headphones for some people.

Stax Spirit S3 Features

Edifier Stax Spirit S3
The Edifier Stax Spirit S3 headphones come with two pairs of ear pads, including ones of cooling mesh gel, which I found to be the most comfortable. TYLER HAYES

A few details about the headphones before getting back to their sound. Stax Spirit S3 features an incredible 80 hours of battery life. Plus charging them for 10 minutes will add 11 hours of listening time. Over the first week with the headphones, I used them quite a bit each day, and I accidentally left them on overnight once. I checked in on the battery life after seven days and was shocked to see the power level still at 91 percent.

Inside the Edifier Connect mobile app, you can adjust the EQ and tweak a few other settings of the headphones. Interestingly, there's a timed shutdown setting that does exactly what it says to turn off the headphones after a given time, whether you're listening or not. The setting is curious considering I couldn't find an option to have the headphones turn off automatically when they weren't being used.

In terms of features that are missing, I wish the headphones had a sensor to pause audio when I took them off my head. Mostly, however, I wish the power button functioned more reliably. It felt creaky under my finger, and it was always hard to gauge how long to hold it to power on or off the Stax Spirit S3.

These headphones do not actively cancel noise—nor do they advertise doing so. One day there was jackhammering happening right outside my living room, and I certainly heard it while listening to music. There is a little passive noise blocking because the S3 earcups cover your ears—but don't buy these to keep noise away.

The Stax Spirit S3 come with two sets of ear pads, and I absolutely loved the cooling mesh gel. They provided a brief chilling sensation the first time I put them on. It was similar to flipping your pillow over in the middle of the night to feel the cool underside. That initial feeling wore off after prolonged use each time, but they still remained cooler than other ear pads I've worn.

Stax Spirit S3 Sound

Edifier Stax Spirit S3
The Stax Spirit S3 headphones feature 80 hours of battery life. TYLER HAYES

The headlining feature of the Stax Spirit S3 is its sound. Most of the headphones' benefits come when you're actively listening—meaning if you're paying attention, you'll notice the enhancements. These could open an expanded audio world for discerning people.

For example, it's easier to pick up on small nuances like backing vocals or that random guitar only strumming open chords two or three times during a chorus. There's a little more depth exposed for the low-end keys and synths. The mixing of a particular song also can be a factor in whether it's better or worse while listening through the Stax Spirit S3.

To that end, with deeper inspection comes the possibility of a slightly sterile feel to some songs. Hearing a more defined edge of music can lessen some of the mystery or magic in the mixing of all the ingredients.

To be clear, I've loved listening to music through these headphones. Maggie Rogers' new album Surrender is one great example worth mentioning. I enjoyed the details exposed and thought the S3 enhanced the listening in nearly all instances. But some people might not feel the same.

Beyond music, I particularly enjoyed using these to watch shows and movies. I found people's dialogue to be more audible and background sounds to be more detailed spacially, as well. I used them to play games on a Nintendo Switch but didn't notice anything unique in that case.

Should You Buy Edifier Stax Spirit S3 Headphones?

The Edifier Stax Spirit S3 headphones are really targeted at music lovers—people who often concentrate on the songs playing. If you are willing to spend a premium amount on headphones but also want a stunning design and a robust set of features, these probably aren't for you. I wouldn't recommend these to anyone looking at this price point, but for certain people, they will be an amazing choice.

These Edifier Stax Spirit S3 wireless headphones add a new level of clarity that can be addictive. Once you experience planar headphones it might be hard to go back to more traditional ones.

Buy at Edifier for $399.99.

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