Technics EAH-A800 Headphones REVIEW
The Bluetooth headphone competition is intense, but Technics’ spiffing entrant is so good that PAT PILCHER gives it the ultimate honour.
Technics: If you’re into hi-fi or DJ action, then chances are good that you’ll know the brand. Now they’re back, and this time, they’re gunning for Bose and Sony with slinky over-ear gear, the EAH-A800 ANC capable Bluetooth headphones. At an initial glance, the EAH-A800 ticks all the right boxes. They’re stylish, beautifully built, have great specs, and sound excellent. But the big question is this: Do the EAH-A800s have what it takes to go up against the likes of Sony and Bose?
Competition in this space is intense. Sony’s well regarded WH-1000XM4 has a strong following, as does Bose’s ear gear. Add in other equally compelling brands from Bowers & Wilkins or Shure, and it isn’t hard to see that Technics really do have their work cut out.
None of this is lost on Technics. They’ve crafted the EAH-A800s superbly and have got a lot right. The supplied review units were finished in black, but can also be had in silver. Thanks to a compact design, they can easily be packed away into their bundled carry case. Machined Alloy accents, faux leather, and memory foam trim help to give them a distinctly premium look and feel.
Technics have ensured that each contact point with your noggin is made using faux leather-covered memory foam. It’s a comfy touch that combines with a firm but not vice-like fit. The EAH-A800s weigh in at a mere 297 grams. This means that they’re super comfy for extended listening sessions.
All controls are on the right-hand side earcup. They’re intuitively laid out and consist of play/pause, FFW/RRW, volume and answer/end call. There’s also a power/Bluetooth pairing button plus a USB-C/3.5mm analogue connection. As well as physical controls, the right earcup surface lets you tap to enable/disable active noise-cancellation and make phone calls.
As is expected with most ear gear, the EAH-A800’s come with an iOS/Android app that allows you to choose what the right earcup’s touch interface does. A particularly nice touch is the ability to dial in how much active noise-cancellation/ambient sound you get. There’s also a five-band EQ. Last (but not least), you can also choose from voice assistants and check for firmware/software updates.
Under their hood, the EAH-A800 pack a pair of 1.6-inch drivers. They also make use of acoustic control chambers. These regulate airflow to provide more precise low-frequency audio, just like a violin. The sheer amount of thought that’d gone into the sonic side shone when putting them through their paces. Bass feels nuanced, balanced, and poised. There’s oodles of texture, yet everything bass related feels natural. The mid-range delivery is also superb and the EAH-A800 delivered incredibly engaging vocals. Upper frequencies are precise and when combined with the midrange, deliver a spacious and immersive soundstage. While their audio sparkles, the sound isn’t shrill or too bright. Bass sounds (and feels) warm and controlled. In short, the EAH-A800s bring music to life, making the listening experience very engaging and enjoyable.
What really impressed me was the ability of the EAH-A800s to make just about any genre I tried shine. Rock in the form of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ sounded great. Its catchy electric blues guitar riff sounded great, and Robert Plant’s vocals were delivered with plenty of venom and zing. Add in John Bonham’s dynamic snare-drum and my inner bogan was soon air guitaring. The silky bass in Fat Freddy’s ‘Wandering Eye’ also had me foot tapping. Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 in E flat, op.55 – the ‘Eroica’ Symphony, showcased how well they handled highly dynamic audio (which many headphones struggle with).
It isn’t just their audio reproduction that impressed. Taking the EAH-A800’s walkies in Wellington’s CBD, whose crowded RF environment puts any Bluetooth widget to the test, I was impressed to note there were no Bluetooth connection dropouts. Phone calls were crystal clear thanks to the eight mics on the EAH-A800’s earcups (which offer noise-cancellation, voice assistant control, and help with call quality). Beamforming mics and clever signal processing meant that in-call audio had virtually no external noise.
Active noise-cancellation is adequate. I liked that the EAH-A800’s audio wasn’t coloured while it was enabled. I wasn’t enveloped in dead silence, but it worked fine in most situations. Unless you are spending significant amounts of time in super noisy environments, this is unlikely to be a real issue and the excellent audio on offer more than compensates.
Another win for the EAH-A800s is battery life. Panny’s bumf says you should get around 30 hours with noise cancelling on and 60 hours with noise-cancelling switched off. In use, I found that the numbers were largely borne out. Equally impressive is the charge time of just three hours. Anyone wanting top-notch audio who is likely to be away from the mains will find the EAH-A800s are just what the Witchdoctor ordered.
If you’re thinking I’m impressed by these Technics cans, you’d be totally right. Their super-engaging audio combines with a battery that keeps on keeping on. This is wrapped in bomb-proof Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. While you can get better active noise cancellation, what is on offer isn’t bad at all. Given how well the EAH-A800s performed across the board, it isn’t hard to see why they scored a well-deserved 10 out of 10 – Witchdoctor’s highest honour.
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