Review: Technics EAH-A800 headphones offer great comfort and dynamic sound

Technics EAH-A800 ANC headphones
Is it time to ditch earbuds with poor battery life for over-ear headphones? Photo credit: Newshub

I still remember the disdain I once had for people wandering the streets with giant headphones on as they listened to their fancy iPods and MP3 players, wondering what planet they are on.

Turns out the answer these days is Planet Extreme Comfort and Long Battery Life.

Not only that, it turns out people are much less likely to stop and talk to you when you've got over-ear headphones on instead of virtually invisible earbuds.

Whether it's my misanthropic side revealing itself or just wanting a better overall experience on my long walks, I've been considering investing in a new pair of enclosed headphones for such purposes.

Technics earbuds have impressed me in the past, so could the company's new wireless active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones put themselves in prime position for morning jaunts?

I've been using the EAH-A800 headphones for a couple of weeks now and here are my thoughts.

The good

Everything about these headphones screams quality, from the plectrum-shaped carry case to the giant Rs and Ls in the earcups and inside the case so even a dummy like me can put them on correctly and fold them away each time.

Some of that attention to details is moot, however, if they don't stand up to performance scrutiny. Unsurprisingly the EAH-A800s not only do that, but excel.

They are incredibly comfortable to wear - and for extended periods of time. The big cups feel like they contain the softest memory foam and they're just tight enough to give you benefits of ANC without putting pressure on your head.

They're not exactly light, but at just a touch under 300g they're not heavy enough to really bother you when on either.

It's rare I'm able to wear headphones for the best part of a work day and not feel some degree of discomfort, but that's what happened here.

Technics EAH-A800 ANC headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

That kind of all-day performance is aided by a fantastic battery, providing up to 50 hours of playback with ANC turned on with a single charge. That's more than enough to get me to Scotland from New Zealand on a plane with plenty of juice to spare at the end of it.

There's even a flight adapter and 3.5mm audio wire included in the case so I can try this out next time I'm flying home.

Equally as impressive, just a 15-minute charge will deliver somewhere around 10 hours worth of playback if you're in a hurry. That's more than any earbuds are likely to give you fully charged.

Handily, a voice also announces the battery level when you turn the headphones off and when it gets too low you are prompted to get your USB-C cable out.

As to the sound itself, I loved what was delivered by the 40mm driver.

The bass may be a little heavy for some, but it was ideal for my tastes and everything else screamed fidelity. 

I always listen to the same songs when I try new headphones so I can try and contextualise their performance. More joyful, however, is when you listen to songs you haven't for a long time and hear parts clearly you've never heard before.

It was absolutely brilliant spending 42 minutes and 36 seconds listening to Nirvana's Nevermind for the first time in ages. I just allowed myself to be enveloped by Kurt Cobain's vocals and loud guitars, along with Dave Grohl's energetic drumming and, at times, delicate use of the crash cymbal.

It was so good I almost wanted to cry.

Technics EAH-A800 ANC headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

One of the things I really appreciate about Technics' audio devices is the ability to tune them exactly how I like.

The Audio Connect software on my phone allows me to define the level of noise cancelling I want, as well as quality test how the earphones sound on calls. You also get an equaliser with either preset levels or custom settings. 

The ANC uses feedforward and feedback noise cancelling with both analogue and digital processing to deliver something that worked just fine for me. It wasn't the best ever, but it was far from bad.

My audiobook listening on morning walks went undisturbed by the heavy trucks that zoom past me on a regular basis and the drone of the computer fans in my home office was silenced.

The performance on calls was as good as I needed it to be. There are eight microphones and wind noise reduction to make sure it performs - but given I would rather go to the dentist than talk with people on the phone it's not high on my priority list.

One nice extra, hidden away in the settings, is the ability to define when the headphones automatically switch off. As a habitual bed listener, I've been caught out way too many times by headphones that have exhausted batteries because they don't turn off.

With the EAH-A800s, I set it to 15 minutes and once my podcast automatically turns off, I know the headphones will do the same shortly.

Technics EAH-A800 ANC headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

Throw in a touch sensor on the right cup to quickly allow ANC and transparency modes to be switched - for example, if you go into a shop and need to talk to the person behind the counter - along with actual volume buttons and you've got a package that really sings.

The bad

Taking everything into consideration, there's not a lot I would change about these Technics.

The most noticeable thing for me was the automated switching on and off of audio can be a little unpredictable.

There were times when the cups moved and the audio cut off, and there was generally a noticeable delay - of only a second or two, to be fair - when taking them off and the music continuing.

It wasn't annoying enough for me to turn the function off, which you can in the software, so maybe it wasn't that bad.

The second might be slightly more personal. The on/off button happens to be exactly where my thumb goes when putting on, taking off and adjusting the phones.

This meant on a few occasions I ended up accidentally switching them off and taking a few seconds to work out what had happened.

Considering the great things about the headphones, I don't think either of these are major flaws.

Technics EAH-A800 ANC headphones
Photo credit: Newshub

The verdict

The EAH-A800s are a stellar set of headphones which should not disappoint. The music is full and has decent bass, and the software gives you more control than most to ensure the audio is just as you desire.

I can't comment on the ANC performance on an airplane, but, given their success with Helensville's monster trucks, I would imagine these handle it just fine.

These bad boys normally retail at $499, but look out for sales - at the time of publishing one outlet had them at a price so good it's practically criminal to ignore.

I've enjoyed my time with earbuds as I walk, but the battery life, quality and comfort of the EAH-A800s means I think those days are gone.

No over-ear headphones are particularly great for running so I'll keep in-ear ANC options for those days - but otherwise it's time to fully embrace my inner misanthrope.

Maybe it's time you did too?


Newshub was supplied with a set of Technics EAH-A800 headphones for this review.