Technics is one of the most renowned brands, known for their turn tables, music systems, speakers and DJ headphones. They are regarded as one of the best and associated with premium quality and prices. But for the last few years they have ventured into the audiophile arena. They have recently launched a couple of high quality wireless headphones. The bigger and more expensive one is the EAH-A800 headphone which in my honest opinion looks better than most of the mainstream headphones. The other one is the EAH-AZ60 in ear IEM. Both are equipped with ANC to reduce ambient sound and are priced at $350 for the headphone and $230 for the IEM.
Here I will focus on the EAH-A800 headphone. This goes head on against the likes of Sony XM4/5, Bose QC700 and B&W P7 and I will compare to couple of these.
Grab one form these links:
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
Both the Headphone and IEM ship with similar looking boxes. First thing that greets us in the EAH-A800 box is the carry case. It’s a premium looking case which complements the brand Image of Technics. There is some documentation explaining how to use the headphone. All the Audio related items are placed inside the carry case. There is a type A to C cable, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable to be used in wired mode and an airplane adaptor tucked aside the headphone which ends the list of accessories out of the box.
BUILD QUALITY AND COMFORT:
Build quality of this headphone is on par with what we can find with similarly priced headphones like Sony and B&W P7. The build is mostly plastic but thankfully there is no crackling sound from the band or squeaky noise from hinges. It still feels solid and robust.
Technics has given this headphone a more premium look by covering the band with faux leather, fit is tight and doesn’t feel wobbly or loose. There is good amount of cushioning, distributing the weight and pressure evenly. Since I use wired headphones with wider head bands I would have liked a bit wider head band here too but that will make the headphone more bulky and heavier which can lead to discomfort if the headphone is resting on the neck. I am seriously impressed with the pads used. These are some of the softest and supplest pads I have seen on any headphone. I am not sure how long will these survive but the faux leather on it can last as long as 2-3 years without any problem if not neglected. Initially I was not sure of the cups will be able to cover my ears but the softer pads make things as easy as a walk in the park. Even when the pads rest on my ears a bit it’s so soft that even after 6-7hrs of usage I feel little to no discomfort. There isn’t a lot of back and forth movement but has enough movement to fit all the heads. Carrying the headphone around is simple too. This headphone folds both ways. The cups can swivel and ford inwards. Fold the headphone flat while on the go and fold these inwards and put it inside the case when not in use.
The aux cable provided with the headphone is of good quality but has plenty of memory. I would have liked a more supple cable. Oddly the buttons and MIC doesn’t work in wired mode. Kind of a bummer but it’s okay.. All the buttons and ports are placed in the right ear cup. The buttons have fantastic tactile feedback but I would have loved these to be a bit wider. These can feel a bit small at times.
PAIRING AND USAGE:
Paring is exactly like any other BT device. Once paired it prompts the battery charge status like high, medium or low. The buttons operate just like any other BT headphone but one can configure these from the app. Both the back plates can be assigned for different tasks too. Please watch this video for a more detailed walk through of the headphone.
Everything is awesome, all the functions are useful and add to the capabilities of the headphone but the firmware cannot be updated if the battery level is less than high. This is slightly inconvenient.
EAH-800 uses a 3 layered PEEK 40mm driver which when connected wirelessly can use LDAC and AAC and SBC for high quality sound. It uses BT5.2 for the best possible connection. This is the latest BT version I have seen on a headphone. For calls, it uses 4 micro phones in each cup for highest possible noise suppression and clarity. The operating distance is fairly good at 10m but do not have more than 2 walls between the phone and headphone, it starts to lose connection.
This even has sensors that stop the music if the headphone is off the ears and turns on if put back on and this works like a charm if the interval is not long.
If you have battery anxiety, this is the best headphone for you. It has approx 60hrs of playback with NC off and is around 40hrs with NC on and streaming with LDAC codec. EAH-A800 can take around 3hrs to charge. 15 min charge gives 10hrs of playback. In any case, one charge is more than enough for a week for most users if used for 5-6 hrs a day. I have been busy with a lot of stuff, and it might sound funny but I have only charged this headphone twice on two months. You can imagine the resilience of this headphone.
EAH-800 has to be one of the rare headphones that can take on wired headphones to a good extent. I love the way it balances things off without getting bassy or sharp. Yes, it has a slightly W shaped tuning but the dips are not deep giving it a fairly well balanced feel. What I really like about this headphone is its clarity in comparison the XB900N from sony is a bit too bassy and barely has much clarity with mids and treble. Definition is mushy, sonics are suppressed while lacking dynamics and note’s height.
This headphone doesn’t lack with details, there are no issues with layering or separation and the ait between instruments is very good too but it do struggle with high BPS tracks. It does not lack with texture but yes, it can feel like skipping a frame or two when compared to wired headphones like HD650 but in return EAH-A800 is easier to drive (HD650 needs $500+ tubes to sound good, EAH-800 sounds good with anything with a decent BT) and does not have sharp notes or clumsy stage like the HD650. This HP is more even with note’s height too. It sounds uniform, clean and clear.
The lower end is not boomy and does not overshadow the lower mid either. It has nice sub-bass extension while the mid bass is soft and full bodied. It moves good amount air, the impact area is big but the hit is not heavy or hard. Thanks to the accurate decay speed EAH-A800 delivers right amount of weight and texture. It does not deliver highly layered or super defined notes like Empire Ears Hero or NCM NC5 v2. Like most of the headphones this too have very good dynamics, it doesn’t feel monotonous like XB900N. The upper bass too is fairly active, giving the headphone a versatile and dynamic sound.
As mentioned earlier the mid range is not drowned or in the V. It has excellent transparency and clarity. There are no issues there but the tonality and timber are slightly dry and crispier side. The contrast between back and fore ground instruments is excellent. Let it be sonics or instrument placement EAH-A800 barely struggles with that. Vocals too have class leading transparency to them but the extra bit of agility combined with light weight notes can feel a bit on the face, in other words if there is some harshness the track EAH-A800 does not mask it. It at times feels like a BA based headphone, delivering higher level of details and transparency. Instruments have very good definition, note’s height does vary a bit but is still high on consistency. Yes, just like the limitations with wireless headphones, it does struggle a bit with super high speed tracks.
Unlike most of the wireless headphones, EAH-A800 does not struggle with treble region. It is lively and agile, delivering very good sparkle with an evenly energized treble end. Yes, the extension and air between instruments are not the best but this is better than some of the competing wireless headphones like B&W P7 and miles ahead of the Sony XB900N. EAH-800 has very good energy which keeps the notes highly transparent till the mid treble but the energy starts to drop gradually after that. It still maintains superb layering and air between instruments.
When used with wires EAH-A800 barely changes. The only region it kind of struggled with (treble) now gains very good extension and energy giving it a well rounded feel.
As an Audiophile I have barely used wireless headphones. Active Noise Cancellation too is fairly new to the scene too. I do have a bit of experience with XM3 and XB900N but they were not exactly great but thanks to the control provided with the app, the amount of ambient noise can be controlled and I like it at around 40-60%.
Its ability to suppress ambient sound is excellent but it cannot eliminate high pitched noises like frogs and horns and ringing of bells. It easily eliminates wind, fan and motor vehicle sounds. Rain is kind of subjective. It eliminates most of it but not all of it.
Does the ANC change the perception in sound? Yes, it’s not huge for general users but for audiophiles who pay good amount of attention to micro details can feel the change is notes body which is more defined and gets taller. The textures and definition too are a hair more effortless. Things start to sound a bit more cleaner too.
The effect of ANC is a bit more pronounced with the AZ60. (Review coming soon!!)
STAGE AND IMAGING:
Surprisingly this BT headphone has a much bigger stage than slightly less expensive wired headphones like Philips Fidelio X2hr and Sennheiser HD650. EAH-S800 has a very wide stage but is slightly less tall and deep. Instruments do not feel short even when they are placed further from the head, giving it a well rounded stage. The best thing is, it doesn’t feel limited to its stage boundaries, it’s fairly flexible and manages to deliver good dynamic cue placement.
Instruments are evenly distributed across the stage. No part of the stage feels heavy or clumsy. Cue placements and sonical abilities are very good, not as good as the Sivga SV023 but is very competitive for a wireless headphone.
Technics, we all have heard about but might not have owned any, especially audiophiles like me somehow feel this premium brand is off the limits and might not appeal to our needs. But to my surprise the EAH-A800 is a highly capable headphone. I was definitely not expecting this much of clarity and transparency from a wireless headphone. It sounds much superior to its competitors who mostly are bassy and warm. The way it keeps the stage clean and notes separated with good amount of air between them is note worthy. There are no issues with connection too and the ANC is just the superb. I am not used to this, at first it kind of feels odd but then I got used to it.
So what are the down sides? It can sound a bit dry and a bit too crispy. EQ can help but it’s the inherited crispy and agile feeling which will not go away. If you want something that sounds smooth and not lively, look for other options.