Audeze EL-8 Titanium Over Ear Closed Back Headphone
Headphones have become a necessity. With the advancement of audio technology, you will find headphones that produce fantastic sound quality and provide exceptional comfort. Some of these headphones are foldable, making them very efficient and easy to travel with. In higher-end models, you will find features like active noise cancelation or passive noise isolation, integrated voice assistant, and many more.
Higher-end headphones manufacturer, like Bose, Sennheiser, Sony, provide stellar audio reproduction and extreme comfort with adequately cushioned earcups and headbands. Some of these headphones are great for sound mixing, editing, and studio usage.
With the release of the iPhone 7, Apple got rid of the headphone jack and stated shipping headphones with lightning jacks. This had a significant impact on the headphone industry. Shortly after the release of the iPhone 7, many brands started to bring out headphones that came with a lightning jack, and some consumers leaned in more towards wireless headphones to get rid of all and any wire.
Even the higher-end headphones started shipping out with lighting cable. One of these brands is Audeze. Founded in 2008, Audeze is a headphone manufacturer operating out of the United States. Audeze is known for its high-end headphones they make, especially their planar magnetic headphones.
Planar magnetic headphones operate differently than traditional headphones. Planar magnetic headphones mix operating principles between dynamic and electrostatic drivers. This type of setup creates sound in an electrostatic style and contains thin wires which can be found in dynamic drivers.
What makes the planar magnetic setup better is that you will find almost no electronic and audio distortion. This helps the headphones create a more precise sound without the help of headphone amplifiers. This type of headphones offers a wider sound stage but lacks in the bass impact.
Audeze EL-8 is Audeze’s attempt to make a pair of planar magnetic headphones that work with iOS devices.
What’s in the Box?
The Audeze EL-8 comes in a gorgeous minimal looking box with the Audeze logo in the middle. Sliding out the headphones from the box, you will find a beautiful presentation of the headphones. The presentation is awe-inspiring. The headphones are stored in a foam insert that holds the headphone up. Underneath that lies a sperate box, where you will find the necessary manuals and accessories. For a pair of expensive headphones, the presentation checks all the boxes.
As for accessories, you will find two different cables. One of them is your regular 3.5mm cable, which is 6.6″ long but comes with no microphone. The other wire is the CIPHER cable made for your iOS devices, which is 4.1″ long and comes with an in-line mic.
Other than that, you will find the usual 3.5mm to 6.3mm connector, which helps attach the headphones to a DAC. Moreover, you get a certificate of authenticity; Afterall, you breaking your bank over this pair of headphones. However, you get neither hard or soft carrying case, nor a cleaning cloth, which is very disappointing.
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Design and Quality
The Audeze EL-8 comes with massive oval earcups, which are 2.5″ deep. Inside each can lies a huge 100mm driver. Due to the large drivers, the headphone weighs more than a pound. You can rotate the earcups and 180 degrees and wear them on your neck. However, doing so doesn’t feel good at all.
If you minus portability, the build quality of the headphones are excellent as these were built by DesignWorksUSA, which is a company under BMW. The construction of the headphones is impressive too. The all-metal housing for the earcups looks and feels fantastic. The inside of the headphones is soft, made out of leather, and feels great against the skin. The hinges also work very well despite being made out of plastic. The headband is also padded, which increases comfort.
Portability wise, these aren’t great as the headphones are quite bulky. The well-designed headphones have to mark on them to indicate the right and left earcups.
Given the size of the headphones, these aren’t for everyone. No doubt about its comfort and fit, but if you’re into more lightweight headphones, these are not for you. The headphones are snug, and you will feel a pleasant tension on the headband. Despite being heavy, the weight doesn’t come in the way of comfort.
Despite the headphones bulky size, the clamping force isn’t an issue, thanks to the premium leather on the earcups, which feels fantastic. As a result, you won’t feel any fatigue after extended listening sessions. The padding on the headband plays a crucial role in this comfort too. If there were no padding, the headphones would have been very uncomfortable.
How Does This Sound?
Besides the in-line control, there’s another difference between the 3.5 jack and the CIPHER jack. The in-line controller on the jack also houses an amp and a DAC. These help with the headphone’s delivery of sharp and responsive sound.
However, there isn’t much difference in the sound quality between the two cables. It’s good to note that, android devices power the headphones to a satisfactory level. You can mitigate this problem by using a DAC.
The headphones lack details when compared to a more powerful headphone. But the sound is useful if you don’t compare it. The Audeze EL-8 offers balanced audio with fantastic articulation. The music on these has a heft to it, and it’s very crisp. On softer songs, the vocals feel tremendous and the soundstage of the headphone is outstanding.
However, the bass reproduction isn’t great. Usually, with a larger driver, you expect more punchy bass, but that’s not the case with Audeze EL-8. Having a significant 100mm driver, the headphones should deliver powerful bass. Unfortunately, the headphones lack in the bass department.
You can control the audio with the dedicated app for Audeze, and the app is fantastic. If you’re using an iPhone, using the CIPHER cable will get you the performance you desired.
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If you really want a planar magnetic headphone made for iPhone, you can buy this. But keep in mind that, for a fraction of a price, you can get much better headphones.