An impressive pair of noise-cancelling headphones, the EAH-A800 convince in all areas. They come stacked with features, the deliver high-quality sound, noise-cancelling is excellent, and the battery life is brilliant. The Technics are noise-cancellers of a very high calibre.
- Tremendous battery life
- High-quality sound
- Impressive noise cancellation
- Great wireless connection
- Comfortable to wear
- Sony over-ears offer more rounded performance
- UKRRP: £299
- EuropeRRP: €349
Acoustic Control ChamberControls flow of air within the driver for precise bass and spacious sound
Bluetooth multipoint pairingConnect to two devices at once
Technics’ latest over-ear headphones were teased at CES 2021, and their arrival a year later has come in a fruitful period for premium headphones.
Bose launched its QuietComfort 45 towards the tail end of 2021, Bowers & Wilkins is prepping the PX7 S2, and Sony has brought out the WH-1000XM5.
And there isn’t much room to manoeuvre since the likes of Philips and Cleer Audio look to undercut those above with their more affordable ANC efforts.
Right from the off, the Technics EAH-A800 will need to get their elbows out and start scrapping. But where will they emerge in that battle – near the top of the pile, or with a bloody nose?
- Great comfort
- Stylish appearance
- Combination of touch controls and physical buttons
Available in black and silver finishes, the A800 look superficially similar to their predecessors. However, examine a little closer and you’ll discover that much has changed.
The hinges that connect the earcups and headband offer more rotation and leeway to adjust the fit. The padding on the earcups is less substantial and takes a different shape – less of a pointed oval and wider. For a person with bigger ears such as myself, the fit better encompasses my ears, and the padding doesn’t pinch my earlobes. These changes help make the EAH-A800 more comfortable to wear than the EAH-F70N.
The headband is longer, which makes the A800 bigger, too. The width of the band is thinner, with more padding on its underside, cushioning the top of the head more adequately. The clamping force is tight and secure, adjustable through the headband, so the cans stay rooted.
I’ve worn these headphones for stretches as long as three hours on multiple occasions, with only a few adjustments required to relieve any discomfort. At 298g, they’re heavier than the F70N and most of their competition, but they’re not headphones that weigh on the head; they feel relatively light in their construction.
The A800 are also collapsible, so if you want to keep them safe and protected, they can be carried in the accompanying hard case.
The arrangement of the buttons on the right earcup has been re-jigged. Volume control is no longer a toggle, but buttons with tabs to identify them. Betwixt the volume buttons is the playback button, where a tap stops and starts playback, a double-tap skips forward and a triple-tap jumps back. With the tabs on the volume buttons, I found it quick enough to operate the headphones without having to fumble for them.
There’s no longer a noise-cancelling button, with onboard controls for ANC moved to the touch sensor on the right earcup. The sensor has to be activated in the Technics Connect app before it can be used, and default controls are a double-tap to enable Ambient Sound mode and a double-tap to revert back to noise cancelling.
Aesthetically, I like Technics’ approach. The pearlescent aluminium finish on the petal of the earcup is attractive, and the engraved Technics logo speaks to its premium feel. These are headphones you’ll want to show off.
- Thorough noise cancellation
- Generous battery life
- Plenty of customisation in the app
The Technics look great, are comfy to wear – but are they great at noise cancelling? Very much so, and I’d consider them among the top tier of noise-cancellers.
There’s a caveat, though: the Technics aren’t fans of headwear. The earpad cushions don’t like beanie hats or anything that could affect the area of contact between the head and earpads, which could reduce the noise-isolating seal.
Whip off the hat and things get very quiet. All I could hear of cars, vans and buses were the splutter of their engines and “whooshes” as they went past, while train journeys existed in a comfortable zone of silence, with most noises obscured.
People’s voices were handled just fine, too. With music on they were muddied enough that I couldn’t make out what two people next to me on the tube were conversing about; and the howl of the wind on the Jubilee line was tamed effectively. The level of suppression is good enough that music needed to be at only 50% volume during most journeys.
Compared to the QuietComfort 45, the EAH-A800 mask persistent noises better, such as the air conditioning on a train. Compared to the WH-1000XM4, the EAH-A800 conceal the various bumps during the journey a little more effectively, too. The Bose and Sony are slightly better ANC solutions overall; nevertheless, the Technics convince (as long as you take that hat off).
And the Ambient Sound mode isn’t half-bad, either. It’s clear and natural in tone, and while not all sounds get through, there’s plenty of detail to gauge where things are – and, happily, there’s no obvious change to how music sounds. Like the EAH-AZ40 true wireless, there are two ambient modes in the Technics Audio Connect app: Transparent, which lets sounds in; and Attention mode, which focuses on voices. Attention mode sounds more artificial, but it isolates voices fairly well.
Battery life is fantastic, and way ahead of other headphones I’ve tested at this price. On one occasion I used the A800 for 90 minutes, switching between ANC and Ambient Sound, and they were still at 100%. Used for three hours and they only dropped by 5%. Cheaper headphones, such as Cleer and Urbanista models, have often led the way for battery life, but the Technics are the first premium cans I’ve come across that achieve similar levels of endurance.
Technics quotes 50 hours with noise cancelling and streaming in AAC. With LDAC Bluetooth, which allows higher-quality streaming, it’s a hefty 40 hours – 10 more than the WH-1000XM4 or Bowers & Wilkins PX7, and nearly double that of the Bose QuietComfort 45. Fast-charging (if you need it) brings 10 hours from a 15-minute topup, while a full charge from dead takes three hours.
Bluetooth support is SBC, AAC and LDAC, so Android users with compatible phones will get the best experience. I’ve noticed zero connectivity issues walking around central London – just smooth streaming all the way.
The A800 come with Alexa built in, and calling her up is as simple as saying her name (music will pause as she waits for your request). The headphones won’t react if you whisper (I’ve tried), but e