Headphones and earbud sales were picking up steam before many of us were sent home to work or study when the Covid pandemic first arrived.
The mini-boom started five years ago with Apple’s first AirPods, then ticked up as people working from home found they needed a private audio space either to work or entertain themselves.
Technics first showed up on my radar late last year with the excellent EAH-AZ60 and AZ40 earbuds. Now Technics is back with the EAH-A800 over-ear headphones.
Mouth watering specification
On paper the EAH-A800 has a mouth watering specification. In practice the headphones live up to their promise in every department except one, and that department is far from a failure.
Let’s start with the best feature: sound quality. I can’t find anything bad to say about it. The sound is realistic and perfectly balanced. The headphones are a solid argument to swap out your entire digital audio collection for lossless tracks.
With the EAH-A800 I could notice flaws in music or recording that might be glossed over with desktop speakers or earbuds.
I keep a set of flat-response wired monitor headphones to listen to the music I make myself. They show the EAH-A800 delivers a near perfect sound. You could probably use them for the same task.
The bass is deep and under control all the time, the highs can be bright without any jarring effect.
Yet the best is in the middle, you’ll get all the detail. Piano-based jazz is my go-to for testing headphones, with the EAH-A800 it can be like sitting in a small intimate jazz club metres away from the band.
Each ear cup has eight microphones to pick up ambient noise. The can capture your voice if you make a call on a connected device. And when you do, there are chambers and holes to restrict wind noise.
The company’s marketing talks about combining analogue and digital active noise cancelling techniques. In practice the results are solid, not outstanding.
I tested the EAH-A800 headphones while watching a football match on Spark Sport in the house while a contractor was mowing the lawn a few metres away. The headphones did not eliminate all the noise, but enough to make the commentary easy to hear.
For a follow up test I listened to music while a loud fan was pushing air around the room. Even before the first note played, the fan sound reduced to the barest whisper. Once the band got started you couldn’t hear any external sound.
EAH-A800 noise cancelling
Other recently tested over-ear headphones do a better noise cancelling job than the EAH-A800. The Technics headphones are not best-in-class for noise cancellation, but they are good. If you’ve not experienced active noise cancelling before, you will be impressed.
Tiny earbuds leave little room for batteries. You’ll be lucky to get a few hours listening before reaching for the charging case. With the EAH-A800 Technics says you get 50 hours between charges. I can’t verify that because I’ve not been able to listen long enough to check the claim, but it seems plausible.
A few other things need mentioning. Technics has a terrific build quality. My Sony MDR-1000X noise cancelling headphones are five years old. They have been around the world twice and on half a dozen long haul flights.
Which means they have seen a lot of travel and a lot of use, but now they are battered and worn. About a year ago the plastic holding the ear cups in place crumbled. Sure, five years and thousands of hours of listening is not bad. Yet I suspect the Technics headphones will last longer. Remind me to let you know in 2027.
Comfort is important if you spend a lot of time with headphones. I found the EAH-A800 to be among the more comfortable headphones I’ve tested in the past two years. Likewise the controls work fine for me.
Verdict – Technics EAH-A800
The world is awash in wireless headphones, earbuds and similar technology. It’s technology that has leapt forward in recent years. Technics EAH-A800 is up there with the best, the only flaw is that the noise cancelling is a tad behind the best-in-class. Otherwise all the features you need are there and the sound quality is excellent.
One last note: When researching this review I looked online for up-to-date price information and found a confusing range of deals. You could pay anywhere from NZ$300 to $500 for the EAH-A800. At the bottom of that range they are a bargain. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything of similar quality at that price.