These amazingly comfortable Wireless ANC Headphones go toe to toe with the best from Sony and Bose!
In January, Technics unveiled the $349 EAH-A800 Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones, a premium set of Bluetooth earphones that promise industry-leading battery life (up to 50 hours), top-notch active noise canceling, and LDAC Hi-Res wireless audio.
Price-wise, they’re in direct competition with top-rated ANC headphones from Sony and Bose, so I was interested in seeing how they compare. If they’re anything like the excellent Technics EAH-AZ60 True Wireless Earphones we reviewed a while back, they should provide a formidable challenge to the class leaders. Or will they become the class leaders? Read on to find out!
Disclaimer: This unit was sent to us by Panasonic in exchange for our review. However, no input was given or promises made regarding the content contained in this evaluation.
The Technics EAH-A800 isn’t breaking the mold from a design standpoint, but they have a premium look. They follow the same brushed aluminum design language that graces all the modern Technics gear, and it works well here.
They utilize a nice mix of materials ranging from a soft protein leather on the headband and ear pads to a sturdy hard plastic on the yolks and earcups. Topping each earcup is a beautiful brushed aluminum surface inscribed with the Technics logo, an element that brings home the upscale style of this product. They look great and feel good in the hand.
The headphones come folded up inside a nice slimline hard case which should provide good protection during travels. The case is relatively flat and compact when zipped up, which I love. Most full-sized ANC headphones take up too much room in your bag, even when folded, but that’s not an issue here.
BTW, along with the headphones, the case also holds the included accessories. They consist of a USB-A to USB-C charging cord, the 1m (3.3ft) detachable headphone cable, and an old-school headphone adapter that will come in handy if you get caught flying on an older airplane.
As far as wearability goes, the lightweight build, the cushiony memory foam earpads, along with a perfectly judged clamp added up to a remarkably comfortable and secure fit.
I had no problems wearing them for extended periods, even with my giant head. There were no bad pressure points. I can’t say that about other ANC headphones that partially depend on fitting like a vice grip to provide isolation.
When it comes to controls, the EAH-A800 largely eschews touch controls for actual buttons on the right earcup. They’re pretty skinny, so they manage not to stick out like a sore while at the same time being tactile enough to feel while you have the headphones on. Technics also does a great job of varying the button sizes, so you know which one you’re pressing without looking.
There are four buttons in total, including two dedicated controls for volume up/down, along with a “multi-function” button in between them. Below those buttons is a power on/off button. The multi-function button performs various operations, including music Play/Pause, Track Forward/Back, plus Fast Forward and Rewind. It will also call up voice assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri with a long press.
While it’s nice to have so much control at your fingertips, I found it challenging to perform some of the button press combinations. For example, it was difficult to fast forward by pressing the multi-button three times quickly, followed by holding it on the third press.
In addition to the buttons, there’s also a USB-C charging port on the right earcup, along with a 3.5mm headphone cable port.
Unlike the rest of the functions, Noise Cancelling is controlled by a touch sensor built into the right earcup. Tapping it twice switches between Noise Cancelling and Ambient Sound modes, and a voice prompt confirms your choice.
The Noise Cancelling is superb, matching or surpassing the class leaders. It does a fantastic job of blocking out both low-pitch background noise and high-pitch voices, something only the best ANC headphones do.
On the other hand, the Ambient sound mode isn’t quite as natural as I’ve heard on other models. That said, it does an excellent job of bringing in primarily voices and the like instead of blasting your ears with flight announcements accompanied by tons of atmospheric noise.
By the way, you can adjust the strength of both the Noise Cancelling and Ambient modes via the free Technics Audio Connect app, which is a nice touch. The app also allows you to set EQs and add additional functions to the touch sensor, along with a ton of other stuff. It’s pretty nice.
Additionally, the wearing playback sensor stops the music when the headphones are removed from your head, and if you put them back on within sixty seconds, the music restarts.
Inside the earcups are 40mm drivers, the average for a pair of headphones this size. To me, it’s probably the best size, as it provides the best balance of bass and detail. Sometimes larger drivers are too boomy in the bass.
Wireless connection is handled by Bluetooth 5.2, and as a result, you get a good range (up to 33ft.) and excellent battery life (up to 60 hrs playback with ANC on, up to 50 with ANC off). The Technics EAH-A800 also gives you a choice of 3 Bluetooth audio codecs (SBC, AAC, LDAC), with LDAC capable of providing CD-Quality sound.
I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about call quality, but during the few calls I made with the EAH-A800 I had a good experience. I had no problem hearing the person on the other end, and they said they heard me clearly as well.
For my sound tests, I started by connecting the Technics headphones to my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, using the LDAC codec to get the best of them. I did most of my listening with Noise Cancelling turned on, but the sound quality difference was negligible with ANC turned off. Actually, I felt like I could hear the depth and detail a little bit better with the ANC turned on.
Overall, I found the EAH-A800’s tonal balance firmly on the warm side with a diffuse bottom end, relatively clean midrange, and somewhat rolled-off highs making the sound lack a little air. There’s a slight emphasis in the upper mids and mid-bass, which provides excitement without going overboard.
There is a good amount of detail, which provides some realism to vocals and instruments, but a slight treble roll-off somewhat curtails the openness of the presentation.
These are laid-back headphones that don’t really grab you right off the bat, instead allowing you to digest what’s going on at a slower pace. This also makes them more forgiving of badly recorded music.
Dynamics are a bit bit soft due to the lack of sub-bass extension, but the mid-bass punch keeps the music moving and provides the rhythm needed to get your head nodding when listening to more lively music.
As far as Soundstage and Imaging go, the stage isn’t overly wide, but it does extend slightly beyond the earcups.
Imaging is pretty good, especially for wireless ANC headphones. The EAH-A800 paints a full picture of the music, as opposed to a “three-blob” left-center-right presentation, and there is good separation between the elements of the mix. There’s also a decent depth, allowing you to hear “into” the song.
That said, when compared to the Dali IO-6, which is the best sounding wireless ANC headphone in my opinion, it has slightly less resolution and separation. That said, the A800 has punchier bass, a more comfortable fit, and better noise-canceling.
Listening to “Breakdown” by Tom Petty, I loved the smoothness of the mids which provided a realistic texture to the instruments and vocals. I also loved how they distributed the instruments around the stage. The Technics are very easy to listen to, reproducing the track in a natural, liquid manner. On the other hand, I would’ve liked to hear some better bass dynamics and more air up top.
The Wrap Up
At the end of the day, the Technics EAH-A800 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones are a very nice package. The marketing materials promise superior audio, exceptional comfort, and sparkling call quality, and I feel they do all that and more.
I absolutely loved their comfort and call quality, plus the sound quality slightly edges the current class leaders. In addition, they have class-leading active noise canceling, and the companion app is excellent. On the other hand, they don’t quite have the resolution and dynamics provided by the DALI IO-6, which I consider to be the best sounding wireless ANC headphones out there. Conversely, the DALI headphones don’t quite match the Technics’ in bass punch and ANC.
All things considered, I feel the EAH-A800 are the best wireless ANC headphones out right now. If you’re looking for a good set of ANC cans for travel or work, you need to check them out! Highly Recommended!
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.