With the EAH-A800, Technics offers sophisticated Bluetooth headband headphones that tick almost every possible box in the equipment list. But what can the EAH-A800 Over-Ear Headphones do that its Panasonic RP-HD610N, which is around 50 euros cheaper, cannot?
I only recently reported on the revival of the Technics brand in a test of the Technics network receiver SA-C600 CD. And in our report on the history of Technics, you will find many more backgrounds on the Japanese cult brand. So just this much in advance: Technics is Panasonic’s premium audio brand, just like AMG at Mercedes, M GmbH at BMW, or other brand definitions for different target groups under the same corporate umbrella. Please keep this in mind.
The Technics EAH-A800 is surfing on the long-lasting wave of wireless headphones. And with the RP-HD610N mentioned at the beginning, there is already a very similar headphone from the parent company Panasonic. The question of the raison d’être for these headphones is probably not just for me.
With a price of around 350 euros, the EAH-A800 finds itself in a huge ocean of predators hunting in this area for a long time. Standing out from the crowd takes a lot of self-confidence and solid skills. In any case, Technics does not rely on any special optical opulence or rich colors. The EAH-A800 looks a good deal more stylish and, above all, less plastic-like in direct comparison with its half-brother from Panasonic, but it’s not a lionfish either.
The Technics EAH-A800 – introduced
The housing and bracket are available in a black or silver version, which is more of a color combination of black/anthracite (test sample) or silver/white.
The similarities and differences between the associated transport case and its brand brother from Panasonic are striking. Both come from the same design department, which has given the Technics case more finishing touches. The case of the EAH-A800 is slightly slimmer and has a much better division inside with an optimized insert. It also offers space for the supplied cables (jack and USB) and an airplane adapter. In addition, the Technics headphones can be folded up and stowed in the case with much less fiddling.
The material quality and detail processing of the Technics is significantly better. Everything feels higher quality, appears more harmonious, better thought through to the end. That alone justifies the surcharge of 50 euros. Both the Panasonic and the Technics use 40 mm drivers with embossed membranes. Not the same, but the technical data – as far as comparable provided by the manufacturer – are very similar: neodymium magnets, frequency response 4Hz-40kHz, and an impedance of 34 (Technics) or 38 ohms for the Panasonic. But that says absolutely nothing about a tonal relationship.
Regarding Bluetooth, the Technics version 5.2 is a generation more advanced than the Panasonic (v4.2). But Panasonic is still more flexible when it comes to format support. It is, therefore, very surprising that Technics only offers communication via AAC and LDAC in addition to the Bluetooth basic protocol SBC. Panasonic also offers aptX / HD, which is widespread in Android.
Enormous differences can be seen in the battery life. The Panasonic says goodbye after an average of 24 hours with noise canceling activated and with an SBC connection. Technics, conversely, promises up to 50 hours of continuous sound for the EAH-A800 in NC mode. Without NC, even up to 60 hours are possible. Fifteen minutes of recharging are enough for another 10 hours of music enjoyment. The Technics is, therefore, the first choice for long-term listeners or those who appreciate it when they rarely have to be recharged.
|Concept:||Closed, dynamic, circumaural headphones with Bluetooth and ANC|
|Assembly:||40 mm PEEK/polyurethane 3-layer membrane|
|Nominal Impedance:||34 ohms|
|Transmission range:||4 – 40,000 Hz|
|Battery life:||Up to 50 hours with and up to 60 hours without ANC|
|Accessories:||USB-C charging cable, 3.5mm jack cable, airplane adapter, hard case|
Large range of functions with and without the app
When developing the EAH-A800, the Technics department decided to slim down the button operation on the housing compared to the Panasonic. Good this way. It still takes some time to get used to distinguishing between the somewhat fiddly buttons on the right case with a sure instinct, but this is learned quickly. In addition, the outer surface with the Technics logo on the right is touch-sensitive and thus offers access to additional functions.
What you can do with the touch surface can be set via the associated app. It offers many other options that would go beyond the scope of a detailed description.
One of the benefits of the more recent Bluetooth chip in the Technics is the multipoint pairing feature. This makes it possible to connect to two Bluetooth sources simultaneously. What good is that? Well, not for listening to different music from two sources simultaneously through one pair of headphones, anyway. Who wants that? Rather, it serves the following scenario: pair the EAH-A800 with your smartphone and tablet. If you are listening to music on your tablet and a call comes in via your smartphone, press a button to switch to your smartphone and make the call using the EAH-A800 as a headset.
Incidentally, the Technics has eight integrated microphones for telephone calls and voice control, which should ensure crystal-clear communication in every situation, including suppression of wind and other background noise. In the app, speech intelligibility can be tested with your voice by speaking something, and the spoken word is played back over the listener with a time delay.
Other features of the EAH-A800 are the almost obligatory active noise cancellation when listening to music and an ambient mode in which voices and other ambient noises are “passed through.” And lastly, a special attention mode. This is used, for example, to improve the audibility of announcements at the airport. The package is rounded off by a wearing sensor that automatically pauses the music when the headphones are picked up.
Comfort and practice
The parent company Panasonic already thought about the best possible fit of the ear pads for the RP-HD610N and adapted them three-dimensionally to the anatomy of the head. The shape has been optimized for the Technics, and the ear cups have been given a little more space. While the Panasonic sits quite close to the eavesdropping lobes, it feels a good deal “free” under the Technics. Nevertheless, the upholstery seals off outside noise properly. Very good! All in all, the wearing comfort of the Technics is better – despite its approx. 30 g additional weight.
The solid and cleanly manufactured case doesn’t produce any creaking noises. Touches on the case or bracket are directed inside, but there are no annoying background noises when wearing it normally/listening to music.
In terms of operation, I like the spring rocker for the volume on the Panasonic a little better than the individual buttons on the Technics. Still, the distinguishability and streamlining of the button layout is a bit more intuitive overall. The app is not required for normal operation. Put it on, switch it on (press and hold the button briefly), and you will hear a “Tüdeldidii” switch-on sound, followed by the announcement “Bluetooth connection active.” Incidentally, this is the same voice as in the Panasonic – with the same strange intonation.
Switching functions via the touch surface usually works quite well. But depending on the weather and whether z. For example, if gloves are worn, touch operation on headphones is always somewhat vulnerable, in my experience. But maybe I have weird fingers.
A sound comparison between active Bluetooth headphones is almost always just an assessment of how well the respective electronic tuning via DSP was successful. To weigh the “natural” acoustic properties of headphones, a passive mode is required to compare subjects to the same headphone amplifier at the same level. Fortunately, that’s exactly what my two Japanese guests can do.
Connected to the Questyle CMA Fifteen with a jack cable and switched off, the two work purely passively, without the signal being sent through any A/DD/A converter and DSP in the headphones.
The level of both listeners is practically identical. But not her sound. Although we can speak of a clear family resemblance here, the two subjects have a different sound character.
At first, I wasn’t sure whether the Technics could distance itself from its half-brother in terms of sound because, in direct comparison, the younger of the two has a slight sound coloration in the mids. When I quickly switch from the Panasonic to the Technics, it seems that the latter sounds a bit “potty, nasal.” – To put it bluntly.
It is quite clear that the Technics offers fresher, more sparkling highs and more airiness in the overall sound. He also has a bit more controlled, sonorous basses on the plus side, although both candidates, fortunately, don’t show off with an unnecessarily inflated rumble bass.
The previously noted and minimal discoloration of the Technics in the mids does not go away. But it is only really noticeable after the direct change from Panasonic. However, the cross-check with particularly neutral references, such as the Fostex TH909, revealed that the Panasonic does not play completely neutral in the mids either, only tending towards a different, slightly brighter timbre. But only in the mids.
With its fresher highs and the somewhat more controlled low and fundamental tone, the Technics can ultimately carve out a small lead. But there are certainly no worlds between the two.
But what about Bluetooth operation? With wireless radio from the iPad (AAC) and internal digital signal processing, the basic sound characteristics of the two test subjects remain recognizable. Here, the Technics are slightly livelier headphones that convey more drive. However, in Bluetooth operation, it is all the more evident that DSP tuning is always a bit of a matter of taste. My case is more the Technics. – By just a touch.
Briefly on the noise cancellation: Decent, but not above the class average. The voice quality for telephony is very good.
Spend 50 euros more on the Technics, right? In a family comparison with the Panasonic RP-HD610N, the question can easily be answered in favor of the Technics EAH-A800. The additional investment is not only worthwhile from a sound perspective. The Technics wins the family duel with the mentioned nose length in practically all important categories. Better wearing comfort, operation, range of functions, higher material quality, and a more harmonious sound pattern make it easy to get over the additional “Fuffy.”
Only one thing bothers me personally: As an old hi-fi hand who admired Technics for its fantastic components and loudspeakers back in the 80s, I would have expected a somewhat bolder, higher-end approach and a greater distance for headphones from the brand wanted to the Panasonic. But today, Technics is also a lifestyle brand, not just a subscription to exotic hi-fi. Regarding price/performance, the EAH-A800 lives up to its brand name.
|+||Good wearing comfort|
|+||robust sound without exaggerations|
|–||large range of functions, long battery life|