If you’re an audiophile with $700 to spare on a set of incredible headphones, you can stop looking now. California-based headphone maker Audeze has what you’re looking for with their EL-8 series of headphones. Audeze has managed to create a pair of world class headphones with a price that’s truly justified by their performance. They may not be the headphones you’re going to take on the go with you, but they will be headphones you look forward to using every day. We’ve gotten our hands on the closed back EL-8 headphones and were very impressed.
Taking the EL-8 headphones out of the box, I was immediately impressed with the high quality of the packaging. Audeze is clearly trying to create a luxury experience right out of the box and it works. This is exemplified by a certificate of authenticity included. It’s signed by the product inspector and spells out Audeze’s mission for superior sound. It’s a small detail, but one that will go a long way in justifying many a HiFi audio junkie’s latest purchase. Also included is a user manual, small carrying bag, cables and audio jacks. Expectations are set and, thankfully, the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the packaging carries over even more so into the design of the headphones themselves.
The EL-8 headphones are a sight to behold, and they feel as premium as they look. I reviewed the closed back variant (an open back variant is also available) with an aesthetically pleasing design of smooth, black backs that meet a circled veneer of wood. The headphones are plush, with more than enough padding to drown out other sounds and create a comfortable listening experience. Notably, the headphones rotate to lie flat when you place them on your desk. The audio cables included are sturdy, capable and a very high quality. You’ll use two proprietary (don’t lose them!) reversible jacks – like Apple’s Lightening cables – to plug in the left and right side which easily pull out if your headphones get caught on something.
Weighing in at just over one pound, the headphones aren’t light, but are designed to make sure you forget about them. The adjustable top band is padded on top and they are truly comfortable, though I did notice the weight shortly after putting them on nearly every time. They’re also a bit stiff at first, so expect to have to break them in a bit through frequent use. These may not be the best headphones to use out on your morning commute, but they’d be perfect for your home or desk at work.
So how good is the sound? Exceptional. Using the EL-8 headphones, I heard parts of songs I’ve listened to every day for years that I’ve never noticed before. These headphones sound noticeably better than any $150 – $200 headphones you can get. The sound is crisp, deep and nuanced. With hardly any distortion (<0.1%) and a frequency response of 10Hz to 50kHz, these headphones aren’t messing around on paper or when they’re on your ears. The closed back of the EL-8 did a good job keeping other noises out too. Even now, I’m listening to music on them and typing on a mechanical keyboard I can’t hear. (The open backed variant will let more sound in, but will provide you with slightly crisper sound.)
Audeze creates this sound quality in such a compact package by using a patent-pending technology called Fluxor. Introduced in the EL-8 headphones, Fluxor “delivers nearly double the magnetic flux density of the highest-grade neodymium magnetic circuits available,” according to their website. If you know what that means, you probably already have these headphones. If you don’t, it just means that these headphones work through the magic of magnets to bring you awesome sound.
If you’re obsessed with the latest and greatest in audio, these headphones should be at the top of your list. Despite the prohibitive $700 price tag, Audeze goes a long way to justify it. From the beautifully designed exterior and technologically advanced guts to the expensive-feeling cables and classy packaging, the EL-8 headphones are a valiant attempt at Audeze becoming a household name.