Edifier Stax Spirit S3 flat headphones sound great but lack features

Edifier’s Stax Spirit S3 Planar Headphones deliver exceptional sound in a way that differs from traditional headphones. Rather than using cone-shaped speakers in each earcup, these flat-panel headphones use magnets on either side of a membrane sheet to produce sound. The result is a clear, even sound with greater separation across a wider frequency range. Clarity is remarkable.

While the music and audio sound great, there are some trade-offs. This technology is not new, but it costs more than using traditional dynamic drivers. Plus, some people don’t like the enhanced clarity on offer. It’s kind of like the debate between vinyl and CD playing the same song better.

The Edifier Stax Spirit S3 retails for around $399, making flat-panel headphones affordable. While the audio is excellent, certain design choices and the lack of certain features won’t make these headphones a slam dunk for everyone. Still, anyone looking to immerse themselves in music and considering spending money on premium headphones should have these on their bucket list.

TL;PhD

advantage

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Cooling mesh gel earpads feel great
  • Extremely long battery life

shortcoming

  • Buttons and parts of the frame feel a little fragile
  • Unfortunately, ear detection and other advanced features are missing

Purchased at Edifier.

What are flat headphones?

How Stax Spirit S3s are priced depends on the type of technology they use. So why are flat headphones special or different? In short, a charged diaphragm sandwiched between two magnets generates sound waves as it moves in its magnetic field. More important, though, are the benefits it brings, such as less audio distortion and greater sound range.

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Edifier says its new diaphragm technology combines three distinct parts of “Audeze Fluxor Magnetic Structure, Uniforce Diaphragm and Fazor Phase Management” to accurately reproduce sound. Don’t worry if these terms don’t make a lot of sense. They’re worth mentioning because Edifier’s partnership with Audeze is an important detail that will enhance the legitimacy of these headphones for some.

Stax Spirit S3 Features

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

Before getting back to their sound, a few details about the headphones. The Stax Spirit S3 has an incredible 80 hours of battery life. Plus 10 minutes of charging will add 11 hours of listening time. During the first week of wearing the earphones, I used them many times a day, and once I accidentally left them overnight. I checked the battery life after 7 days and was shocked to find that the charge level was still at 91%.

In the Edifier Connect mobile app, you can adjust the EQ and adjust some other settings on the headset. Interestingly, there’s a timer power off setting, which does exactly what it says to turn off the headphones after a given amount of time, whether you’re listening or not. This setting is odd considering I couldn’t find an option to have the headphones turn off automatically when not in use.

As far as the missing feature goes, I wish the earphones had a sensor that would pause the audio when I took them off my head. However, most of the time, I’d like the power button to function more reliably. It felt squeaky under my fingers, and it was always difficult to gauge how long to hold it down to turn the Stax Spirit S3 on or off.

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These headphones don’t actively cancel noise, nor do they advertise to do so. The jackhammer happened outside my living room the other day, and of course I heard it while listening to music. Since the S3 earcups cover your ears, there’s a bit of passive noise blocking – but don’t buy these for noise protection.

The Stax Spirit S3 comes with two sets of ear pads, and I really like the cooling mesh gel. When I put them on for the first time, they provided a brief chill. It’s similar to flipping a pillow in the middle of the night to feel the cool underside. The initial feeling wears off after every prolonged use, but they’re still cooler than other earpads I’ve worn.

Stax Spirit S3 sound

Edifier Stax Spirit S3
Stax Spirit S3 headphones have an 80-hour battery life.
Taylor Hayes

The main feature of the Stax Spirit S3 is its sound. Most of the headphone’s benefits come when you’re actively listening – meaning you’ll notice these enhancements if you’re listening intently. These can open up an expanded world of audio for the discerning.

For example, it’s easier to capture nuances like backing vocals, or random guitars that only play open chords two or three times in a chorus. Low-end keys and synths have more depth. The mix of a particular song can also be a factor in how good it is when listening through the Stax Spirit S3.

For this reason, some songs may have a slightly dull feel with deeper inspection. Hearing a more defined musical edge can reduce some of the mystery or magic in the mix of all the ingredients.

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To be clear, I love listening to music through these headphones.Maggie Rogers’ new album surrender is a good example worth mentioning. I like the detail exposed and think the S3 enhances listening in almost all situations. But some people may feel differently.

Aside from music, I especially like to use these to watch shows and movies. I found people’s conversations to be clearer and background sounds to be more spatially detailed. I’ve used them to play games on the Nintendo Switch and haven’t found anything unique in this case.

Should you buy Edifier Stax Spirit S3 headphones?

The Edifier Stax Spirit S3 headphones are really aimed at music lovers – people who are often focused on playing songs. If you’re willing to spend a fortune on headphones but want a stunning design and a robust feature set, these might not be for you. I wouldn’t recommend these to anyone looking at this price point, but for some, they’ll be a terrific option.

These Edifier Stax Spirit S3 wireless headphones add addictive clarity. Once you’ve experienced flat headphones, it may be hard to go back to more traditional headphones.

Get it at Edifier for $399.99.

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