Retro is all the rage these days, and a number of companies have taken that mantle leaving the musty pawn shops and cluttered old record stores that sell 1970s gear and turned it into a modern audiophile sales boom. McIntosh is sold in Magnolia and that brand dates back to before the 1970s but is a highly popular audiophile and home theater brand today. Luxman is a Japanese brand that has seen an audiophile resurgence in the modern era. Over the past 10 years, though, the brand that has most caught my attention is Technics. I mean it is pretty hard to say “two turntables and a microphone” without thinking of Technics. Their electronics today are my absolute favorite in terms of industrial design that is mindful of the past but well versed in today. Technics has a line of electronics, a few pretty juicy turntables, and in-ear-monitors, but none of those are the topic of today’s review. This review is of the Technics EAH-800 over-ear Bluetooth headphones.
Priced at $349, the Technics EAH-800 (buy at Amazon) is a product that falls right in the middle of a power-packed field of headphones vying for your wireless audiophile budget. The EAH-800s don’t have any specific retro-design as you might expect, as they aren’t but seem like they’ve got a lot of the design cues that are seen in other more-fashion-forward headphones. That implantation of technology and the overall, audiophile grade sound, The EAH-800s are one of the best sounding headphones anywhere near their price class. How do they compare with the likes of mainstream players like Bose, Sony, and Apple or how to stack up versus more audiophile players like Sennheiser, Focal and Bowers & Wilkins? I’ve reviewed them all recently and I got you, friends. I got you.
What Makes the Technics EAH-A800 Headphones Special?
- The un-equalized sound of the Technics EAH-A800 is among the most natural and balanced, headphones right out of the box.
- The Technics EAH-A800 are super easy to pair to Bluetooth, which is increasingly the case but not something that I can say about every headphone at this price. Some are still wonky. The EAH-800 connect with one button held for perhaps five seconds and you are rocking.
- The Technics Audio Connect app downloaded in about two minutes on my iPhone and allowed me all sorts of options. Out of the gate, I updated the firmware, which is always a good idea. I set up Siri (not that I use that much with my headphones, but what the hell, right)? Then I got into their 5-band EQ. It has plenty of presets but you don’t have to be George Massenburg or Alan Parsons to know how to adjust or “mix” the sound. With five bands, you can find the area that you want to change and change it easily. For me, I was -1 on the two lowest bands to take a tiny bit of the boom out of the bass. That’s it.
- The Technics EAH-A800 are very comfortable compared to other headphones in their class. It’s easy to make the seal very tight to get the best bass, but that’s not comfortable. Technics stuck a nice balance here that has been often missed by both mainstream and audiophile brands recently.
- A USB-C input jack right on the headphone is a major plus to me and the Technics EAH-800 has one. I’ve got that cable (in duplicate in my briefcase) and I can keep them powered up all of the time, easily.
- Battery life is predictably long on the Technics EAH-A800. So long, in fact that I’ve never even come close to finding the end of them. 20 hours? At least and perhaps longer is a realistic battery life. Let me put it this way: you are going to get tired of wearing the Technics EAH-A800 on the plane long before you will need to recharge them – even using ANC (noise cancelation), which does use more battery.
- Speaking of noise canceling, my son is playing Roblox with his squeaky-voiced buddy from up the street. With the door closed in my office and demands of lower volume from the virtual melee in the nearby kitchen, I was much happier with this pre-pubescent kid tuned out via the ANC of the Technics EAH-A800 right from the Technics app. You can select your ANC from the right ear cup of the headphones, too, but either way it was a welcomed break on a Sunday afternoon, between football games. The Technics EAH-A800 also allow you to calibrate your headphones to the volume of noise out there. They additionally have a “transparent mode,” which allows a good bit of ambient noise to leak in so that you don’t get run over by a garbage truck while walking the planet like Caine in Kung Fu (YouTube). I raved about this feature on the Apple AirPods Max and love it here, too, for $200 less.
Why Should You Care About the Technics EAH-A800 Headphones?
Literally everybody needs a good pair of wireless over -ear headphones. Going back to work in person is a new kind of agony for many of us. Traveling was always agony and (seemingly) post-COVID the Technics EAH-A800 can give you an escape. Some get a buzz from the gym. I find it nothing other than needed work and bringing my personal, hand-curated music collection into the discussion is a little light into a somewhat dark place. Everybody has a place where headphones like this can work for you and make your life better. The question is: exactly which pair out of the many on the market are best for you?
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Technics EAH-A800 Headphones
- The case for the Technics EAH-A800 is, well, just like every other case not made by Apple.It’s fine. It will protect your headphones. It won’t make you “think different” nor should you expect it too.
- If you are looking for a fashion statement first, then I am going to send you to other options right here and now. Unlike Technics’s iconic turntables or their simply gorgeous stereo components, these headphones remind me more of the Sennheiser Momentum 4s, which are all-sound and very little look. In fact, the Technics EAH-A800 and the Sennheiser Momentum 4s look a lot like each other.The Technics EAH-A800 come in silver and black. That’s on par with Sony, Bose, and others but it falls well behind the style standards set by say Bowers & Wilkins and Apple.
Listening to the Technics EAH-800 Headphones
On “Tonight, Tonight” from Genesis’ Turn It On Again (best of) ripped from CD at AIFF 1440 resolution (buy at Amazon on CD), you get a big sonic presentation that you could have only hoped for via your TV speakers when watching that old episode of Miami Vice while Sonny and Crocket were cruising with the White Testarosa through South Beach. As I mentioned earlier and have been encouraged to do more by other audiophile colleagues of mine both with and outside of FutureAudiophile.com, I used just a touch of EQ on the Technics app. It was so easy to do and while I know most wont download the app, it does give you a chance to personalize the very strong out-of-the-box sound. The drum hits have a thunderous effect with their legacy 1980s “reverse gated reverb” that makes me want to see if I still fit in my old, all-white Versace suit. I was blissful as I took a trip back to a simpler time in 1986 thanks the EAH-800s.
Back in the day, executives at Sony Music were furious with George Michael when he wanted to do an entire album of musical standards. Like Warner Brothers and Prince (right before the unpronounceable symbol and “slave” era) they really wanted Michael to do six more versions of Faith, which was just not creatively that interesting to the wanna-be crooner. On The Police cover of “Roxanne” from Songs from the Last Century (AIFF 1440 CD Quality) you can hear a wonderfully open soundstage when listening to the Technics EAH-800s. The specific fingerings of the strings of the standup bass are poignant and low on this demo track. George Michael’s voice has extension and range even with the ANC cranked up, which can often squish the sound in order to remove other background sound. Little cymbal strokes and high micro-taps of on the snare drum are crystal clear and musically engaging. Everybody knows the melody of “Roxanne,” but it is highly unlikely that you will put on the red light and move on to the next track when listening to this gorgeous recording while playing on the Technics EAH-800. The bass was head and shoulders better than on the Bose Noise Canceling 700s Headphones (buy at Amazon) and even better than on the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 wireless headphones (buy at Amazon).
- Buy Technics EAH-A8000 headphones at Crutchfield (buy at Amazon)
- Check out the specs at the Technics site here for all sorts of information from the company (site)
- Read more top-level wireless headphone reviews from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, Sennheiser, Bose, Apple, Sony, HIFIMAN, Focal, Mark Levinson and others here (audiophile headphone category)
Does the Technics EAH-A800 Have Any Resale Value?
Headphones like the Technics EAH-800 are a wear and tear item that I sadly tend to beat on pretty hard. If you do the same, don’t expect much resale before the headphones break. If you are careful with them, they can last a long time and perhaps retain some resale value, but not like a Technics turntable or receiver. Wireless headphones just don’t roll like that.
Who Is the Competition for the Technics EAH-A800 Headphones?
Apple AirPods Max (buy at Amazon) are a colorful and forward-thinking option at $549 ($200 more than the Technics EAH-800s). Simply put, they don’t sound as good. They have many of the same technologies and they come in candy-flavored colors. For many, that is the draw. If the sound is what you are looking for and style can go by the wayside just a little – look into the EAH-800s.
Sony’s WH-1000XM5 (buy at Amazon) headphones are another player at the $399 range that is worthy of serious consideration. They have excellent ANC and always have but that isn’t as unique a feature as it used to be when Sony and Bose ruled that category. Now everybody has killer ANC. The Sony’s have a great midrange sound out-of-the-box and are very comfortable.
The closest match to the Technics EAH-800 overall are the very, very good Sennheiser Momentum 4 headphones (buy at Amazon) for $399. They look just like the EAH-800s and sound really great too. The Sennheiser HD-1s were my reference headphone for years and my son now wears them for use with his computer as they have held up nicely.
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2s headphones at $399 (buy at Crutchfield) are another key player in a stacked marketplace for luxury, wireless headphones at this price. The bass is the issue with the Px7s S2s, as they need EQ to compete with the others in the category and you can do that (and should). The colors and design are better with the Bowers & Wilkins and its audiophile lineage is without question. With a phone in hand and at the right store, maybe you can do an A-B comparison? Then you will know which headphones that you like the most in the $400 range.
Final Thoughts on the Technics EAH-A800s Wireless Headphones…
The Technics EAH-A800s headphones (buy at Amazon) are a well-balanced, sound-comes-first pair of $349 wireless over- ear headphones that appeal on many levels. They aren’t just another pretty face in a big crowd filled with some supermodels. Proof of that is in the well-crafted Technics app, the comfort of the headphones, and the overall sound. To call the EAH-A800s a value is completely fair. To call them a performance model in a space where there are some (to use a skateboard term) poseurs – would also be fair. I could absolutely live with the Technics EAH-A800s as my travel or workout headphones as they are step above my old Sennheisers HD-1s (now discontinued) and compete favorably with all of the big boys in the market today.