Audeze el

     

Audeze burst onlớn the audio scene a couple of years ago as one of the new wave of manufacturers dedicated to lớn high-performance tai nghe products. Its first headphone design, the LCD-2, has gone through several versions, but is still currently in production along with the newer và more expensive sầu LCD-3 và LCD-X, và LCD-XC. At RMAF, Audeze unveiled its lachạy thử flagship model, the LCD-4, with an eyebrow-raising price of $3995. All of these ’phones offer similar giải pháp công nghệ, fit, size, weight, and open-baông xã kiến thiết. The LCD-2, LCD-3, và LCD-X (no one has the LCD-4 yet) have all had similar criticisms aimed at them: They are heavy, power-hungry, offer little isolation, and are not travel-friendly because they do not fold or flatten.

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Given that so many ’phone fans require cans that are portable, lightweight, affordable, & easy khổng lồ drive with a cellphone’s limited power output, Audeze was missing out on a good portion of the headphone market with its LCD designs. Cue the music for the Audeze EL-8 and EL-8C headphones. Priced at $699, these two models are virtually identical-looking except that one is an open-backed design (EL-8), while the other (EL-8C) is a closed-back version using a solid piece of milled metal instead of an open grille.

Apart from a 2dB drop in sensitivity in the closed-baông chồng version and a slight weight difference, their specifications are identical. Weighing only 460g or 480g (for the closed-back) and able khổng lồ fold flat, the Audeze EL-8 represents the company’s thinking on how khổng lồ incorporate its sound & technology into lớn a lighter, more travel-friendly, more portable player-friendly package. How did Audeze do? Let’s find out.

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There is also a second potential problem with Audeze’s new cable connection—it can và most likely will loosen up with use. Both of the EL-8 Reviews samples have gotten lớn the point that even a slight tug can pull out the cable’s connections. While an easy-to-disconnect attachment scheme is great for those times when something bad happens lượt thích catching the cord on a doorknob while you walk through a door, it’s not great when merely vigorous head-shaking results in an intermittent connection. I predict that a lot of EL-8 users will be complaining about the excessive sầu “play” in this connection, và there will be some warranty issues as a result. Audeze has reportedly improved the connectors since it shipped my Review sample, and all current production features the new connectors.

Recently I reviewed a pair of $70 headphones from Monoprice that included a very nice hard-formed travel case. Given that the EL-8 was designed lớn be a portable & portable-friendly headphone, it was disappointing to find that instead of a nice molded hard case for travel, the EL-8 only comes with a soft drawstring bag for “protection.” Similarly-priced headphones from other firms including AudioQuest, Oppo, and HiFiMan all come with serviceable travel cases; why not the Audeze EL-8? (Audeze offers an optional hard travel case for $39.)

The EL-8 comes with one 2m (6.56 feet) cable and one 3.5mm-to-¼” stereo adapter. There are additional cables available at extra cost for the EL-8, including a cable for Apple iOs device with controls, a balanced cable for Astell&Kern devices, and a balanced cable for use with Pono players and the Sony PHA-3. Your choice of one of these cables is provided at no charge. Additional cables are priced at $49 each.

I have a new way of testing & comparing the isolation abilities of headphones—I use my AKG “Harry” dummy-head microphone rig. I place the headphones on Harry and compare the aural leakage I hear at two feet away. Using this testing method I could hear that even the open-bachồng EL-8 had better isolation than many other open-back headphones including the AKG K-7xx, and the aforementioned HifiMan HE560 and Sennheiser HD-700s. The closed-bachồng version (EL-8C) delivered even better isolation; I could hear nothing from two feet away. Yes, the EL-8C is definitely library-friendly.


Closed- Versus Open-Bachồng EL-8: Which One Is Right for You?In a perfect world, when a manufacturer releases two versions of the same headphone, one with an open and one with a closed baông chồng, they would sound identical và the end user could choose which one best suited his needs based on whether the ’phones were going to be used in a quiet or noisy environment. But this is not a perfect world, and the two versions of the EL-8 vày not sound the same. If their sonics were identical, it would make more sense for most users to purchase the EL-8C (for closed) over the EL-8 because it could be used in more environments successfully. But because there are sonic as well as ergonomic differences between the two, your decision on which would be best for you will be more complex.

As for sonic differences, starting with the bass, the EL-8C goes deeper and has noticeably better damping than the EL-8. When using a solid-state headphone amplifier, the damping differences are less obvious, but if you happen to lớn have sầu a single-ended tube ’phone amp available (and one that relies more on the headphone’s own internal damping abilities), such as the new Inspire by Dennis Had Dragon IHA-1, you will notice how much tighter & faster the EL-8C’s bass can be than that of the EL-8. The open-back EL-8 simply sounds looser và less controlled than the EL-8C when connected lớn the Inspire amp. With marginally powered portable devices, such as an iPhone, you will also notice the EL-8C’s more controlled & extended low-bass output.

Moving up the sonic spectrum, the EL-8 has a slightly warmer, & more harmonically complex midrange character than the EL-8C. In comparison, the EL-8C has more upper-midrange energy that moves female vocalists forward in a phối, but robs male vocalists of some of their lower-midrange harmonic richness. Holding the palms of my hands about ¼” away from the open backs of the EL-8, I can almost duplicate these differences, so I suspect they are in part the result of the closed baông xã creating some midrange frequency cancellations.

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Treble response through the two EL-8 versions is virtually identical. Both have substantially more air & zing than the AudioQuest NightHawk headphones, for example, but aren’t as airy as the Audeze LCD-2.

One last area where the two EL-8 designs sonically differ is in soundstaging. The EL-8C has a smaller & less dimensional soundstage than the open-back EL-8. The EL-8’s soundstage dimensions were almost identical lớn the LCD-2’s, but the EL-8C had noticeably less immersive dimensionality and scope.

Whether you find one of the two EL-8 designs to be sonically superior to lớn the other depends more on your own personal tastes in music rather than on some absolute sonic criteria. On modern pop the EL-8C’s excellent bass và sub-bass damping and control made it my preferred option. But on my own live classical concert recordings the open-baông xã EL-8 delivered a more accurate và detailed soundstage that was closer to what I heard when I was monitoring the recordings during the sessions. On pop selections I also preferred the EL-8C’s lively and more prominent upper midrange response, but on classical chamber music and contemporary bluegrass tracks I found the EL-8 to be more harmonically neutral & representative of what I’ve come to expect from the recordings.


Comparisons with Other HeadphonesLCD-2 và LCD-3 owners who are looking for a portable headphone that sounds identical to lớn their beloved LCDs will find the EL-8 closer to lớn their ideal than the EL-8C. The EL-8 captures most of the LCD’s soundstaging dimensions & harmonic character, lacking only that last iota of resolution, specificity, and inner detail. The EL-8 may not “scale up” (scaling up is the ability of a pair of headphones to lớn sound better as you nâng cấp the tai nghe amplifier or source) quite as dramatically as the Audeze LCD-2, but when I went from an iPhone 5 playing Tidal khổng lồ the Sony NW-ZX2 playing the same Tidal tracks, it was quite clear that the EL-8 preferred the additional drive sầu and delivered a more detailed, dimensional, & involving result when powered by the Sony.

Earlier I mentioned the upper-frequency differences between the AudioQuest NightHawk headphones & the EL-8s. Both these have sầu well-above-average bass and sub-bass response but the EL-8s are more “hi-fi” and spectacular, while the Nighthawks have a more natural (but not neutral) & relaxed presentation both in harmonic balance & dynamics. The EL-8 gave sầu me a more accurate sonic picture in inner detail và upper frequencies—và was certainly a more accurate headphone—but the NightHawk has an engaging character that is hard lớn resist.

Listening to lớn Shawn Colvin’s “Get Out of This House” from A Few Small Repairs via Tidal, the Oppo PM-3’s darker và smoother harmonic character compared to the EL-8 was quite obvious. On a better recording, such at Fences’ “Arrows” via Tidal, the EL-8’s higher resolving powers and cleaner upper midrange and lower treble outpointed the PM-3. In long-term comfort, the PM-3s won. The PM-3’s secure, single-connector tai nghe cable connection was another point in its favor. But in absolute sonic terms, the EL-8 is a better headphone in the important categories—accuracy và fidelity lớn the original source.

Although it has a higher MSRPhường, the Sennheiser HD-700 open-enclosure headphones are currently available for about $150 less than the EL-8. The two had far more in comtháng sound-wise than I expected, with similar harmonic balances & sonic perspectives. The Sennheisers were slightly more “Technicolor” with a dollop of extra midbass air, and a bigger, wider soundstage, while the EL-8s were more matter-of-fact, & in the kết thúc, more accurate. Comfort-wise the Sennheisers won with less side-pressure and lower weight. Unfortunately, if you want a tai nghe that travels well, the HD-700’s relatively fragile metal mesh & laông xã of foldability take it out of the running.

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SummaryCreating from a single design a closed-baông xã & an open-back headphone that sound identical in both versions is a difficult feat I have yet to hear accomplished. While the two Audeze EL-8 headphones are sonically similar, those differences in sound are sufficiently profound that most listeners will very likely have a preference based on their own tastes and program choices. And while neither EL-8 will completely satisfy an Audeze LCD owner looking for the perfect portable LCD surrogate, both vì chưng capture much of the speed, immediacy, & presence of the Audeze headphone lineup in an easy-to-drive và portable package.

SPECS & PRICING

Transducer type: Planar magneticMagnet type: NeodymiumDriver size: 100mmMaximum power handling: 15W (into 200 ohms)Maximum SPL: >130dBFrequency response: 10Hz–50kHzTHD: Impedance: 30 ohmsOptimal power requirement: 200mW–4WEfficiency: Open-baông chồng, 102dB/1mW; closed-baông chồng, 100dB/1mWWeight: Open-back, 460 grams; closed-back, 480 gramsPrice: $699


Chuyên mục: Tin Tức