The Audeze EL-8 comes in a couple different variations. A titanium version with the ability to play 24-bit music via a digital connection made news a few months ago. But perhaps the most popular version would be the open-back EL-8 – a robust headphone sporting a price of $699.
Audeze EL-8 Open Back Review
The Audeze EL-8 comes with the bare necessities – a 4 ft (1.2 m) stereo cable with an in-line mic and remote for iOS devices, a 6.5 ft (2 m) audio-only cable, and a 1/4” stereo adapter.
Build-wise, it’s as solid as any other Audeze headphone, with a slightly-heavy band and extenders. However, this weight is mitigated by the inclusion of some plush padding on the headband and deep, comfortable earcups. The materials used are premium – genuine leather padding, and real wood accents around the edge of the earcups. While this gives these headphones a decidedly posh look, it doesn’t come without a price: in rare instances, extreme heat or cold may cause the wood accents may expand or contract,and eventually crack.
|Transducer type||Planar magnetic|
|Magnetic structure||Fluxor magnets|
|Driver Size||100 mm|
|Maximum power handling||15W (for 200ms)|
|Frequency response||10Hz – 50kHz|
|Total harmonic distortion||<0.1% (1kHz, 1mW)|
|Efficiency||102dB / 1mW|
|Optimal power requirement||200mW – 4W|
As you can see, the EL-8 ain’t no joke, especially when it comes to bass. With that decent frequency range, paired with 100mm drivers (meaning more air displacement), and both of those coupled with that low nominal impedance of just 30 ohms, this beast can deliver the BASS – and it’ll do it on your computer, your phone, or a portable music player.
As should be expected, this headphone really distinguishes itself when it comes to low-end detail, with easy separation and sooooo muuuuuuch DETAIL. The bass is deep, but not too deep – just what you’d expect from the planar-magnetic driver.
The mids on the EL-8 are strong, with an accurate and realistic profile. There’s some decent separation or clarity in the midrange, allowing for a real sense of detail to almost leap out at your ears.
Highs on the EL-8 are decent. Perhaps…they might be the slightest bit tinny, but really, we’re talking the slightest bit. It’s more of a nagging suspicion than a full-blown “yep, definitely heard it with our Golden Ears,” but it’s a persistent nagging suspicion. Overall, those highs aren’t too unpleasant, our nagging suspicions aside.
Impressive, with a real sense of space and definition, the soundstage on the Audeze EL-8 is a doozy – especially when you consider the price. While there might be some slight constraint to the different instruments in a recording, whether you’ll actually ever notice that probably has more to do with the piece of music in question, than it does with the headphones.
Open or Closed?
Since these headphones come in open and closed varieties, will you miss anything by going with one over another? Yes. Get the open-back if you want the best sound. Get the closed-back if you want to hide the fact that you still listen to Carly Rae Jepsen.
A solid headphone all around, the EL-8 offers superb build quality, a masterful level of comfort, and some delicious bass to those who can afford its admission fee. It’s not particularly fantastic for classical music, but I was greatly impressed by how it handled rock, punk, grunge, hip hop, and pretty much anything else.
For those seeking the most detail they can get, or for those seeking the ultimate pair of headphones for classical music, avoid the Audeze EL-8. If you want something more detailed in a closed back variation, you could consider the Audio Technica ATH-A2000X ($649). Or if open back is your game, you could also consider the Grado RS1e ($695).
For bassheads, the EL-8 offers a sweet sound that isn’t easily discounted. Even though it is a fair jump in price from some Oppo headphones, and Audeze’s own smaller Sine headphone, the EL-8 speaks to a level of quality in sound and craftsmanship that few manufacturers can contend with.