Edifier's premium planar magnetic over-ears could make Apple's AirPods Max sweat

Edifier STAX SPIRIT S5 in black
(Image credit: Edifier)

The Edifier Stax Spirit S5 are wireless headphones aimed at audiophiles. The new wireless cans won't come cheap, but Edifier promises a "superior audio experience" designed specifically for music lovers who want the best sound possible with the convenience of a wire-free Bluetooth connection. Those are big words, but will the Stax do enough to rival the might of the five-star Apple AirPods Max (£499/$549)?

In a bid to try, the new premium Spirit S5 incorporate planar magnetic drivers, components often associated with hi-fi-oriented headphones. Unlike dynamic drivers which produce sound using a diaphragm driven by a voice coil within a magnetic field, planar magnetic drivers deploy a flatter, thinner diaphragm with embedded wires suspended in the magnetic gap, allowing, says Edifier, for a more comprehensive sonic reproduction across the frequency spectrum. 

The new over-ear headphones also incorporate Edifier's "EqualMass" tech, which connects various wires in parallel to create a uniform driving force and keep the diaphragm's weight more evenly distributed, reducing sonic distortion as the drive unit moves back and forth with greater regularity and stability.

Edifier STAX SPIRIT S5 in black

(Image credit: Edifier)

The Spirit S5 offer strong Bluetooth codec support, including AAC, LDAC and LHDC alongside aptX HD, aptX Apative and aptX Lossless, which are capable of transmitting hi-res audio up to 24-bit/96kHz at higher data rates than standard. The Bluetooth 5.4 cans are also set up for low latency audio thanks to aptX Adaptive, with Edifier promising latency as low as 89ms for super-responsive gaming or an immersive cinematic experience. Bluetooth multipoint is also on board for connecting to two devices simultaneously, while app support allows you to customise your EQ settings to suit your personal preferences.

The S5 provide a whopping 80 hours of battery life, with a full charge of the cans taking around an hour and a half. Just 15 minutes of charging time will grant you 13 hours of standard playback, though, so even a relatively hurried juicing session should have you sorted for that dreaded long-haul flight. The S5 also use aptX™ Voice technology to enhance call quality, with dual microphones working to reduce background noise and further improve the quality of your calls.

The Spirit S5 feature genuine lambskin earpads and are finished with top-grain cowhide earcups, aiming for "elegance and refinement in both form and function", even if they're not particularly well-suited for prospective vegetarian and vegan buyers. There is no active noise cancellation here, however, unlike most wireless headphones at this price. But Edifier promises that the over-ears' ergonomic design is built to deliver a snug and secure fit, offering passive isolation and hours of uninterrupted wearing without any discomfort.

The Edifier Stax Spirit S5 are available now for £500 / $499.


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Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs. 

  • jjbomber
    Another shameless attempt to plug a Cr-Apple product, while pretending to be reviewing something totally different.
  • Spacebar
    jjbomber said:
    Another shameless attempt to plug a Cr-Apple product, while pretending to be reviewing something totally different.
    I wouldn't put it that way, but yes, I agree. As if the Airpods Max are some gold standard for Bluetooth audio quality. They're good, but, there are far better wireless headphones out there. Even a mention of the Sony XM5 or the Sennheiser Momentum 4 would be more apt.