Reviewed on: SoundStage! Solo, July 2022
I measured the Technics EAH-A800 headphones using laboratory-grade equipment: a GRAS Model 43AG ear/cheek simulator/RA0402 ear simulator with KB5000/KB5001 simulated pinnae, and an Audiomatica Clio 12 QC audio analyzer. A MEE Audio Connect Bluetooth transmitter was used to send signals from the Clio 12 QC to the headphones. For isolation measurements, I used a laptop computer running TrueRTA software with an M-Audio MobilePre USB audio interface. These are “flat” measurements; no diffuse-field or free-field compensation curve was employed. If you’d like to learn more about what our measurements mean, click here.
This chart shows the EAH-A800s’ frequency response with the Bluetooth connection, noise canceling on, and EQ off—the mode I expect they’ll most often be used in. There’s a lot of bass, and also a little less energy around 3kHz and more energy between 5 and 10kHz than I might normally expect to see.
For this chart, which shows the effects of some of the EQ modes, I switched to a real-time analyzer display with a white-noise signal played from my phone—it’s the only way I could reliably evaluate all the different EQ modes in the app. I also added a measurement of my preferred settings in the Custom mode; obviously I preferred a lot less bass than any of the stock EQ modes offered.
This chart, also produced using Clio’s real-time analyzer with white noise, shows how the response differs with noise canceling on and off, in Ambient mode, and in wired mode. The response is definitely very similar with noise canceling or Ambient on, and very different in the other two modes.
This chart shows the EAH-A800s’ response in Bluetooth mode with NC on and the EQ off, compared with the Bose QC45, the Edifier Stax Spirit S3, and the right-on-Harman-curve AKG K371 headphones. Obviously, the EAH-A800s are very bassy out of the box, and need to be EQ’ed.
The EAH-A800s’ right-channel spectral-decay plot (measured with the wired connection) looks mostly clean, although there’s clearly some resonance in the bass that’s inherent to the acoustics of the headphones.
Here’s the THD vs. frequency, measured using the wired connection at 90dBA and 100dBA (both levels set with pink noise). It’s very low, even at the extremely loud 100dBA level.
In this chart, the external noise level is 85dB SPL (the red trace), and numbers below that indicate the degree of attenuation of outside sounds. The lower the lines, the better the isolation. We’ll start by showing the differences among the headphones’ different listening modes: noise canceling on and off, and Ambient.
This chart compares the isolation of the EAH-A800s (set for max NC) with three other noise-canceling headphones: the Bose QC45, the Soundcore Life Q35, and the PSB M4U 8 MKII. Clearly the EAH-A800s’ noise canceling is competitive with other top performers.
Latency, measured with the MEE Connect transmitter (which has aptX and aptX Low Latency, but not AAC or LDAC), averaged about 288ms, which is high—more like what we’d expect to see with true wireless earphones, which have extra latency because they have to “talk to” each other. So these won’t be great gaming headphones, but you weren’t going to use them for that, anyway.
The impedance magnitude, measured in wired mode with power off, averages about 17.5 ohms, roughly half the rated 34 ohms—although that’s of no concern, because even 17.5 ohms isn’t tough for a cheap headphone amp chip to drive.
Sensitivity with the wired connection, calculated for 34 ohms rated impedance, averages 104.7dB from 300Hz to 3kHz, so these should play plenty loud even if you’re plugged into the armrest of a beat-up old 737.
Bottom line: The EAH-A800s’ noise canceling is excellent, and none of the more technical measurements reveals any engineering concerns—but there’s no question that they’re tuned to be very bassy out of the box. These headphones seem to be a firmware update away from potential greatness.
. . . Brent Butterworth