The New Cans In Town – Newstalk ZB

It’s a bold brand that tries to break into the premium bluetooth headphone market. There are some seriously well established names there – and for good reason. For years they’ve been honing the art of combining the best bluetooth codecs available, with excellent Active Noise Cancelling, better and better battery life and stylish design that looks good but is still comfortable and durable.

These things don’t happen by accident – consumer success on a large scale is rarely achieved on a first attempt; rather it tends to be an evolutionary process, developing brand loyalty over years.

Of course, Technics has a slight advantage; the brand itself has been around a very long time. It’s just the headphones that are new.

For whatever reason, Technics has suddenly decided to give this bluetooth ear-wear thing a really good bash. We’ve already seen the new range of true wireless buds, including the AZ40’s which looked a bit odd but actually fit brilliantly and sounded awesome. So now we have some over-ears; the EAH-A800 headset and it’s time to see if Technics can hit it out of the park on its first attempt… again.

I certainly can’t fault the physical appearance. There’s nothing particularly flashy here – although perhaps the silver model stands out a bit more than the black alternative I was sent – but everything looks and feels as premium as the NZ$499.00 price-tag suggests. The outer covers on the earcups have been machined in a circular way, reminiscent of the fine grooves on a record. There’s just the right amount of flex in the headband without any nervous creaking. The earcups extend from that headband to the length required with satisfyingly chunky clicks. 

There appears to be no particular compromise in the name of foldable portability – yes they fold into a luxurious soft-touch hard case but it’s not especially compact – or even symmetrical – more of an unusual upside-down egg shape that’s just as big as it needs to be, with plenty of room to store the included charging cable, aeroplane adapter and AUX cable. That AUX cable is really my only disappointment in terms of build quality – nice gold plugs but too thin, too flimsy and at only one metre, far, far too short.

Technics isn’t the only manufacturer guilty of assuming we’ll only use that AUX cable on planes or if we run out of battery. In fact, these days many premium headsets don’t even have an AUX option at all which means I can’t use them at work, monitoring the network radio show I operate. I simply can’t plug into my sound desk via bluetooth – not without crippling lag anyway – a pair of hardwired cans is my only option.

So I found a longer, compatible lead and used that instead. Because as it happens my radio show is a great place to try out headphones, especially to test comfort and noise cancellation.

At almost 300grams, the A800 is not the lightest headset around but I can’t complain about the fit. The balance, cushioning and softness of both the headband and earcups is up there with any other headphones I’ve worn – and I have to wear them for hours on end, every single day. They’re a pleasure.

The ANC is also top class. The ultimate test of this is if I can hear my Executive Producer talking to me while I have the live radio show in one ear and different audio …….



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