Audeze EL-8 Open-Back - Reviews
Pros: Tonality in the lower midrange is quite good, easily driven, aesthetics.
Cons: Veiled sound, too laid back, not engaging for many genres of music, low price-to-performance ratio

A big thanks to Armand, who has again sought to lend me a headphone for my honest opinion and, thus, supporting my YouTube channel and written review portfolio.


Specifications

Style Open circumaural

Transducer type Planar magnetic

Magnetic structure Fluxor magnets

Magnet type Neodymium

Driver Size 100 mm

Maximum power handling 15W (for 200ms)

Maximum SPL >130dB

Frequency response 10Hz – 50kHz

Total harmonic distortion <0.1% (1kHz, 1mW)

Impedance 30 ohms

Efficiency 102dB / 1mW

Optimal power requirement 200mW – 4W

Weight 460g

Package Includes

2m (6.56 feet) Audeze headphone cable

3.5mm to 1/4in stereo adapter



Build Quality, Comfort & Features

Aesthetically, I have to admit that the EL-8 Open is Audeze’s most stylish headphone to date. While the beefy LCD series can look nice in the right light, they are behemoths designed for sound reproduction first and foremost – with the weight to prove it. The portable SINE is a lot more manageable in terms of build, but its low-key nature makes it look like a generic Bluetooth headphone being used in 2017 rather than something that truly looks like it was made by Audeze themselves – not necessarily a bad thing depending on who you ask. The stylish EL-8 utilizes some wood in its design, but streamlines the rest of the chassis to look more like a consumer-focused and futuristic Audeze headphone.


The earpads are made of a soft leather and is smaller than the regular Audeze options. On first impression, they are comfortable enough – but over time I became painfully aware just how little room there was for my ears. I would quite easily touch the driver if I sneezed or shook my head even slightly – and there was an audible dip in the sound from the side that was touched for a split-second. The clamp is also quite high, but not a dealbreaker to me in London’s current weather – but I could definitely see the snug-is-an-understatement fitting becoming a problem as summer comes around. As this is a loaner, I took no measures to try and loosen the clamp out of respect for the unit and its owner – so your mileage may vary if you do so with yours.


I’m glad to say that the frame’s connection to the earcups is not a creaky affair with a dubious looking joint – as I saw with the LCD-2. The EL-8 is actually quite a sturdy and well-built headphone in terms of strength – and it has the weight to prove it, around 460g.





I can’t say that I’m a fan of the cable, a tapeworm-looking flat cable with connectors that look more suitable for connecting a hard drive to a motherboard than a cable to a headphone. I do see that the standard 4pin XLR Audeze connectors would have been too thick for this more stylish headphone, so they took measures as they saw fit – and I can’t fault them for that. I can’t pick holes in how it works, it doesn’t fall out randomly and stays in place quite well – it just looks weird to me but that is a highly subjective opinion.


In an upgrade over the LCD-2, the top of the EL-8 has a floating pad that helps with the weight distribution of this headphone. The surface area of the pad is quite small however.

Sound

I learned long ago that an open-aire headphone did not necessarily mean a wide and expansive soundstage, examples which include everything from the Hifiman HE-400i to the Focal Utopia – but I was taken aback by just how narrow the EL-8 felt. An intimate soundstage, in an open headphone, does not bother me so much when there is a depth to the imaging, but the EL-8 faltered on this front. The instruments are up close and have a “boxed in” effect to them.

The bass in the EL-8, while present, was quite muted – not at all what I was expecting. I would not call the LCD-2 (2016) an especially bassy headphone, but it had some body to the low end that had some pleasing texture as well. What the EL-8 has instead is a sense of the bass existing, but it is very imprecise in nature – bordering on being overly rounded and smoothed instead of textured. I hear this a lot with bass guitar work, and kick drums lack impact or punch to them.

That is quite indicative of the sound of the EL-8 overall actually, it does not have much punch or slam – any dynamics are muted. While the LCD-2 is a laid back headphone, it does not feel too lacking in resolve or accuracy of impact. Sure, they are softer than they would be on headphones and speaker systems that emphasize this – but the EL-8 hits like a pillow by comparison.


The lower midrange of the EL-8 is actually quite well represented, and the tonality of several instrument tracks (such as acoustic guitar strumming) and male vocals are quite well served. A listen to the original acoustic version of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence confirmed this to me, with both voices gliding melodiously and quite clearly – with the body they required. The lower mid emphasis is also not overwhelming, and I rarely come across a recording which feels bogged down due to any sense of bass-to-lower-midrange bleed.

On the subject of tonality, the EL-8 did quite well with some classic rock genres that can feel problematic on some bloomer headphones – with even the Beatles’ oldest recordings sounding clear and with the correct amount of weight behind the vocals and instruments. The midrange itself, the area where this headphone is focused overall to my ears, is also well done. To the headphone’s credit, instrument separation is decent in its narrow soundstage – with problematic overlap being avoided in most genres. The midrange definitely has the warm tilt of the lower midrange, with the upper midrange feeling quite dipped in comparison – for which female vocals and stringed instruments may suffer.

There is a veil around the sound of this headphone that I am not a fan of. I can’t just blame a rolled off treble and be done with it, as it seems to go beyond that. Even in modern genres of music that are generally more slickly produced, and mixed quite brightly compared to warmer and more analogue recordings of yesteryear – the EL-8 manages to sound like I’m listening to the music behind a thin sheet of glass – and it is something I can’t defend in the slightest. The treble, while being rolled off as it is, still manages to pick certain instruments (usually cymbals) to ring out clearer than others – but as an overall effort, the headphone is veiled and too soft.

The LCD-2 was also a laid back and soft effort by Audeze, but one that had far more of a “hi-fi” sound to it than the EL-8. I dislike using that term in this context, but I can’t think of another way to put it. If you want to spend this kind of money on a headphone, and like the Audeze sound signature, you should be looking at the 2016 LCD-2 over this in every situation other than you needing something that can be driven decently by a smartphone. The LCD-2 provides a warm, laid back sound that is tonally rich in the midrange and isn’t nearly as veiled. The soundstage is wider, the impact is a little more present and the details are a little more resolving. If you can look past the weight, the uncomfortable fit (without the Lohb or Audeze carbon fibre strap) and the difficulty in amping (relegated to a desk setup for most) – the LCD-2 should be what you opt for over the 30% cheaper EL-8. Hell, you could even pick up a b-stock LCD-2 on Black Friday for the same price as an EL-8 – or even cheaper.

Overall, I found the sound of the EL-8 a very mixed bag. On one hand, I am impressed by just how well it can do with male vocals and older recordings – along with a semblance of instrument separation. On the other hand, I dislike how soft its impact is, how veiled the overall sound is and how it’s a big downgrade over the superior LCD-2 which is not usually that much more in price.

Amping

As the marketing states, this headphone is very sensitive and can be driven by a smartphone. On both my Samsung Galaxy S6 and S8, the full volume setting was quite loud – for my preferences. While I did run this from my Audio-GD NFB-28 as well, I did not hear much benefit to the sound overall. Any benefit that I did hear came from the introduction of a superior DAC to the mix, which is the same improvement over the smartphones that I heard by using my Ibasso DX80 or Aune M1s digital-audio players.

Conclusion

I find it very hard to recommend this headphone over Audeze’s own LCD-2 to most people – if they insist on the house sound. While heavier and harder to drive, the LCD line introduction is a far superior headphone to the EL-8 on a purely sound quality basis – which matters to me over anything else in this hobby.

If you are looking for an Audeze offering that is smaller than the LCD series, I would recommend the SINE over this as well.
Pros: perfect bass, well built, well designed, fluid mid, full bodied sound, comfortable
Cons: Zync connectors, weight, A bit more openness would be excellent.
A perfect sweetspot between low and high range headphone.
 ​
Initials:
 
I purchased the Audeze el8 for personal use. I should thank @Zulkr9 for giving this to me. The review below is actually a self-opinion.  It may vary to your listening and circumstances. I believe music is a subjective thing. So your precious opinion and any suggestion is cordially appreciated. I believe There is many things to learn. So flood my posts comment section.
 
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Let me start
 
Audeze is an American boutique headphone company. It is impressing us with their best sound engineering and craftsmanship with every single of products. After 2008 its introducing many quality planner magnetic wonders to our headfi community. Among themselves LCD2, LCD X, LCD4 are marvels. But unfortunately, those are for themselves who have tons of cash in their pocket. I really appreciate the approach of making the mid-budget planner headphone, that is not just a marketing material, actually includes in the success book of the company.
And as a student like me, who has love for music, has a bigger dream but a small pocket EL8 is a solid choice to feel and hear how the high-end stuffs sound. Thanks, Audeze for these. :blush:
By the time you finish my review, you will get two things straight.
  • Though it marked 30 ohms, it sounds alright with portable devices. But good amping really brings the best outta it.
  • This can will add extra spice and salt to your music, that not only brings the vocal alive but also make your music lovely.
 
 
Who the hell I am
 
Just on the verge of starting let me introduce yourself.
Music, from the very childhood is my first love. The day I started my guitar playing, and the day I opted to play Ukulele its been with me in home or outside. I every now and then enjoyed music through my daily setup, smartphone and its cheap earphone.  When I introduced to the headfi community, things have changed.  Changed the face of my savings too. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: When I first heard through a quality headphone my jaw dropped, what the hell I was listening previously. From then its been two years. My journey along the path of music didn’t stop. I am fortunate enough to have to listen many legendary headphones.
After searching when I broke my bank and bought the first quality headphone, it seemed a new path was opened for me. The feeling of rediscovering old fav music is fascinating. It thrills me and gives me goosebumps.    
As music preference goes, I hear a lot of metal and rock songs. But as I have born in Bangladesh, my countries music library offers a lot more enriched genres. So I love to hear other genres too, until it sounds awkward to me. So, Folk, classical, pop, melody, instrumental are also in my liking list.
A person like me who isn’t technical that much. So in classical sense you shouldn’t call me as an and audiophiles.
 
My music library is my Custom Computer, Youtube etc. I have a huge collection of my fav bands’ music both in lossless and lossy format.  
Finally, I will start my review. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
 
 
Build, Design and accessories
 
 
 
 
First thing first, it is the one of the most well-built, well designed headphone that money can buy. BMW design work designed this for Audeze, and it resembles in every aspect. No cheap element is present there. The outer layer, the headband is made of metal and the frame has wood veneer accents. My open back one has a ‘A’ designed each side. When you hold it to your hand it will scream its premium build to your face. But considering the other production of Audeze line up, it might feel cheap. There is a leather head strap for extra comfort.  And the driver is freaking huge… 100 mm to be specific.
 
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The large earcups are made out of leather like thing (not leather actually) and enough soft for long listening comfort. As it build like a craft and with wood veneer accents and metal, its on heavier side. Despite of its weight it provides comfort that you deserve.  One may find discomfort while a very long listening session but for me its comfortable enough to carry on. 
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N/B: I use optics regularly. It provides me comfort with optics on. So if it’s an issue for you, you will be happy as I am now. 
 
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Here I got the 2016 open back model with white box. The box is big and shows that how premium it is. Though a carrying case would have been handy but there wasn’t any. Inside the foam padded box there are two cables and a quarter inch adapter I got. One cable is music only, another with a mic for apple devices, which works fine with my android smartphone (mic and middle button only works).
 
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Both of the cable is flat and quality is extremely good. But one downside for me that its Zync connectors. It connects to the headphone to an only way. And It’s hard to find. My wanted to work on my diy balanced cable but the connectors were missing.
 
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Aside the sound department the El8 could be the most beautiful and well-built headphone of your arsenal.
 
Some technical jargons for you :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

 

Spec

Style
Open circumaural 
Transducer type
Planar magnetic
Magnetic structure
Fluxor magnets
Magnet type
Neodymium
Driver Size
100 mm
Maximum power handling
15W (for 200ms)
Maximum SPL
>130dB
Frequency response
10Hz – 50kHz
Total harmonic distortion
<0.1% (1kHz, 1mW)
Impedance
30 ohms
Efficiency
102dB / 1mW
Optimal power requirement
200mW – 4W
Weight
460g
For the El8 technological terms please visit: https://www.audeze.com/products/el-8-collection/el-8-open-back
 
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Does it sound too?
 
It is advertised to use portably. With my smartphone Oneplus one, It gets pretty loud. After I switch to xiaomi the loudness a bit decreased. But when I plugged them into my Amp Fiio E12, oh boy o boy!! E12 had brought the best of themselves. So despite of being 30 ohms it requires a lot to current to shine.  Audeze marked the Optimal power requirement 200mW to 4W. So amp always helps planner to drive.
 
As the full earcup is the driver the different in music signature is huge. You will hear significant differences if you have come from dynamic driver headphones.
Before getting more into audio department let me clear you first. The so called laid back signature is a bit time consuming for a lot of people. Especially when you are from a bright headgear it will seem less energetic.  So It requires a certain time to cape with its signature. If you can give it that importance, I bet you can’t go back.
 
Bass:
The best part of the planner magnetic headphone is the bass department. How? Because they are fast and accurate. In case of el8 that is as true as sunshine. The bass is damn fast and has enough power to love and discover your old music in a new way. I should say, I clearly hear the bass notes, the paddles. Its clear and enjoyable. It has enough depth. As a planner, the layering is outstanding. LCD 2 just offers a little bit tighter and deeper bass than these. And one thing, it doesn’t blend in other spectrum of sound.
 
Mid:
The most coherent and fluid mid I have ever heard. After you get accustomed to this you will feel the micro details of vocals the instruments yet its not analytical at all. Its more musical and the astonishing fluidity will make you love it. For myself Amy Lee from Evanescence is the deepest voice (it’s my opinion). And El8 takes it to another level. Moreover, I hear a lot of metal songs. With the perfect bass notes, the background noise of songs, side vocals, main vocals can be separated damn easily. Its because of its layering by the magnetic diaphragm.
 
High:
Despite of being dark it surprises at the high spectrum. As a metal lover, I love the trash sound and sss on the upper spectrum and it delivers perfectly. Yet no noise or sibilance is introduced. I couldn’t think music could be this lively and lovable until I perfectly listened to them. The transparency, the body the accuracy is on par with its price tag.   
 
Over all, if the planner sounds make you familiar, you are trapped. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:  The pattern, the texture, the speed, the body are totally worth of every penny that you will pay for it. The instrument separation, the channel switching, imaging is on par with some expensive headphones. I literary can hear the actual bass notes, guitar string plucking, key taps and so on.

“It actually adds meat to the skeleton of music, make it thick coherent and lovable”
One downside is soundstage. It doesn’t offer staging like Philips X2 or AKG k7xx but the depth and accuracy of imaging will make you feel sound is coming from a distant place.
 
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Ready to drive?
 
I should say yes. But if you want to add meat to the bone power is a must. Jotunheim with the balanced output gets everything best outta El8. It sounds better with transparency, handles the power that has thrown at it pretty well.  
Lyr 2 with rolled tube made it more enjoyable and life like. The stage gets deep. The bass has a better body (not boomy) and mid’s fluidity increases to the LCD2’s level.
With Fiio E12 it gets enough power to shine. With e12 it actually gets more air.
 
Bottom line:
 
If you are looking for an affordable planner that can give you the texture of planner but wont break your bank like LCD X, here it is. This is a can that will intrigue you to lay back calm your head and enjoy your music. If you are a bit serious listener, require a highly energetic can; you can choose he400i or something similar like that.  
Just keep one in mind, this can be portable (also has a cipher lighting cable). But with its size and hunger for power I prefer it actually in home. When I feel reluctant, I plug in the puppy lean on my chair.
I wish I just could get a sturdy carrying case and the zync connectors to replace with anything easy to find.   
 
Sources and amp
My pc (with creative sound core audio cheap) + Oppo Ha2+E12
Then I got Monk RA1.0 for a few days, Aune m1s

I heard it with Bimby+lyr2 (tube rolled)
Mimby +Jotunheim
Modi 2 + magni 2
Phones: oneplus one, xiaomi redmi note 4 and various other devices (I don’t have any apple devices)
 
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Thanks for reading this long. Don’t hesitate to share or ask anything. All those photos were captured by me (sorry for being under exposed :p ). There supposed to be a lot of mistakes. Hopefully that won’t bother you much.  A long way to go for me. So your kind feedback is much appreciated.

 
Happy listening

 
Mosauwer
Mosauwer
Thanks man. Feedback is much appreciated. I am editing it as soon as possible. And yes my target isnot to mislead anyone but to show how EL8 actually is. @pass
TheOneInYellow
TheOneInYellow
Nice chatting with you on FB @Mosauwer!
 
I am so glad that the EL-8 series is getting the attention it deserves with the updated 2016 drivers.
 
Btw @eddysugi, EL-8 was introduced in 2015, not 2014. Drivers were updated in Nov 2015 as part of Audeze updating every headphone in its line-up, and this coincided with the release of both Sine and EL-8 Titanium headphones (both of which had 2016 drivers as standard).
You can find my thread on this too if you wish ^^
Mosauwer
Mosauwer
@TheOneInYellow thanks for your feedback.
Pros: Design/Build, Bass, Detail Resolution, Transient Response, Lush sound
Cons: Too lush at times, noticeable treble dip, lacks airiness, price
I recently purchased the 2016 EL-8 Open-back on a whim, knowing full well that they aren’t the most popular headphones here or on other forums and have pretty mixed reviews in general. I bought them because I’m a car enthusiast. Yes, that’s right. When I found out that they were designed by BMW Designworks USA, I knew I just had to have them. Before you start laughing too hard at my reasoning, let’s get started with their design/build.
 
Design/Build:
Easily the best designed, best built headphones I’ve ever used (surprised?). Design is very subjective, but I think the wood accent looks great, as does the rest of the headphone. Construction is all metal and real wood, but I don’t think the pads are real leather. They exude luxury, just like the cars from the company that designed them (well, most of them). This makes them decently heavy, but the headband padding is very soft and the weight is distributed nicely using the clamp force and large earpads. The metal parts of the headband do not contact my head at all. The cable is 6ft long and flat, terminating in a 3.5mm jack. The connectors are proprietary, but they will pull out fairly easily if something tugs on the cable, leaving the headphone safely on your head. **Edit:**No comment on fragility of the drivers themselves, as I have had no issues to report.
 
Sound: 
The first song on my test playlist is "Back In Black" by AC/DC, and the first minute is usually enough to give me an idea of the sound of a headphone. It only took me 30 seconds to realize I wasn’t impressed. The cymbal hits sounded dull/distant, the kick drum was too prominent, and Brian Johnson’s vocals sounded veiled. On the positive side, Angus Young’s guitar sounded very lush, while still being nimble as he moved from note to note. This theme continued as I moved to other rock songs. 
 
Of note was Queen’s "Another One Bites The Dust", which contained one of the most interesting moments I’ve had while listening to headphones. Like before, the bass guitar and kick drum overpowered the cymbal hits from the start of the song. What struck me though was the crescendo of sound from 0:35-0:39. Rather than sounding more like a single mass of high frequency sound getting louder, it was clear that there were many individual ones, all vibrating in intensity as they together as a group became louder. It was then that I realized how quick and resolving this headphone was. Another interesting moment occurred when I got to the high-pitched sound at 1:20-1:22. I’m so used to bracing for this moment and when I did that with the EL-8, I was extremely surprised to find out it had almost no energy at all. That’s how I confirmed the extreme treble dip.
 
Then I moved on to some vocal tracks. On Whitney Houston’s "I Will Always Love You", the vocals again sounded a bit veiled. It took a few more songs to realize that the perceived veil was a result of the extremely rich midrange. They were also very slightly darker in tone, but not as dark as the HE-400i. Same thing occurred for male vocals, such as MJ and Justin Timberlake. They were so lush that they sounded veiled, and ever so slightly darker than neutral.
 
However, moving on to bass oriented tracks like Daft Punk’s "Lose Yourself to Dance" yielded amazing results. This is where the EL-8 shines. Bass is very planar: no sub-bass roll off, extremely quick and textured. It is very much like my HE-400i, but with much more punch. Basically, you hear and feel every single bass note. Even with much more authority, it never bleeds into the other frequencies.
 
Songs like "Time" by Pink Floyd and "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead really demonstrated the detail retrieval of the EL-8. It surpasses that of the HE-400i, and keep in mind that this is without an emphasized treble which sometimes feigns detail. This is true detail retrieval due to impressive resolution/transient response. And it does this without sounding thin and analytical (like the 400i), as these are very lush headphones.
 
Soundstage isn’t crazy wide, but it is slightly wider than the 400i. It images extremely well though. Toto’s "Africa" best demonstrated both of these. There is a part with drums that starts out wide and moves in as drums are hit closer and closer to the center mic, and the EL-8 portrays this with much better spatial accuracy than the 400i while starting farther out.

Conclusion: 
The EL-8 is one of the best built and designed headphones on sale today. However, sound is a different story. It is extremely lush (to the point of veiled vocals), but still has great resolution and detail retrieval without sounding cold and analytical. Bass is its calling card, while the treble dip will be very problematic to most. Not even the build could make these worth the regular price of $700, but if you are very treble sensitive and a fan of great bass, finding it on sale may be well worth it.
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twelvebears
twelvebears
Completely agree with your review. I've just retried the new 2016 version and found them to sound no better than the originals, and are disappointingly dull, so these too will be sold on.
Pros: Excellent soundstage, vocals are natural, very easy to drive, sparkly highs, deep lows, comfortable, looks/feels great, firm solid cable
Cons: a bit heavy (Planar/metal case), lacks case for the price.
These so far dethroned all my top headphones. Deeper more natural bass than the M50X, or the HE-400, better 3d imaging, and speed than the AD900x, better comfort than the DT990pro.
 
  Mine is the 2016 refreshed model. It came in a white box shell, and a black inner box with a slide off top. They are packaged in foam that's well padded IMO. Underneath the foam is the box containing the Certificate of Authenticity, inserts, the manual, a 3.5 mm standard flat cable, and a Apple(if you selected it) remote cable(not a cipher). They're made in the good ol USA, right in Costa Mesa. Murica!!
This review is using a iphone 6 plus, with Apple store music as the sole source, no amp.  
 
  The headphones are metal, with veneer accents around the outer edges. They feel like they're built like a tank. I like the wood accent, it's a nice touch. The headphones feature a removable flat cable that ends into each cup via a one way socket connector with a friction/magnet hybrid latching system. The cables go in firm, but smooth, just make sure you line them up right to avoid damage, the buttons work well, feel well made, and have a firm, but soft click to them. At the time of this writing I have not used the microphone so I cannot comment. Audeze gives a insert in with the documentation proclaiming this. The ear cups can rotate flat, and are attached to a metal headband via a plastic junction plate. The headband adjustment is done like any other headphone with a click slider. These those are very, very stiff in their operation so adjust with care. However they feel well made, and will stay at the setting you put it at with a nice firm click.  The ear pads, and head pad are very soft, and comfortable, and seem to be made of a real leather or lambskin which surprised me. A look into the ear cup, and right there front and center is the Fluxor Fazer Planar looking right at you. For those who have not used a planar before, and have most likely only 40mm headphones. These suckers are huuuuuuge. 100mm/ 4 freakin inch!!!, so literally the entire headphone is all driver, and it makes a difference.
 
First off the bass is simply ridiculous, ill be upfront with that. However the bass is only as present as the source material has it. It can hit hard, and low. Accurate drum hits, subwoofer rumble in movies. The bass is both quality, and quantity, no bloat, no boomy (unless the source material calls for it). Vocals are clear no matter what, female or male. The hollowness that so many headphones give Liv Kristine is gone, just her actual voice. Lajon Witherspoon's deep, and grainy voice comes in frightening clear, Stevie Nicks you hear every nuance of her voice. Tarja Turunen throughout her range is spot on, I've never heard her sound so good. Same with Cristina Scabbia, Tommy Karevik, and Roy Khan. Instruments are stunning, hear the bows across the strings, plucks on guitars, hear key taps on pianos ( im not joking). Mids are as thick, or thin as the material, and are wide range presented. Every little treble detail is there, tinks in glass/ice cracks, sparkle/twinkle effects are clear. Things really can sparkle. Imaging is just amazing along the X, Y, and Z axis. They can present the sound smack in your face, or 10-20 feet out. Very black background, not a ounce of noise. No hums, hisses, crackles, The sound, and music are stars against the void of space. Direct drive from the iphone it can get loud, stupid loud, and without a hint of distortion.
 
Comfort is great on these, even with my glasses on. They hold pretty good on the head, and no sore spots even after wearing for a long time. The pads get a little warm, but nothing bad. One thing tho. They're heavy due to the massive drivers, and metal construction. Which definitely gives them that solid feel, those used to IEM's, or light headphones like Grados may be in for a surprise. Those who have experienced large planars before wont notice much. The cable for it's size is pretty hefty too, but like the headphones feels solid. Adjustment to the headband height like I said needs to be done with care because the adjuster is pretty stiff.
 
This is my first Audeze, and so far im impressed, very impressed, no Im ********* floored to be honest. Longevity is the final test. The only ding I give it is the price, hence the dip on the value meter, given it's 700 freakin bucks, and doesn't give a nice hard case I mean come on Audeze, but my B****ing aside, it's also a amazing headphone for the price.
trellus
trellus
Thanks for the good review; I have the HE-400 so your review got my attention since you mention it briefly in here and compare these Audeze cans favorably.
 
I only had about 15 seconds of head time once with these... and I didn't get enough of a listen to hear it except I remember thinking it sounded very unique and wasn't sure if it was good unique or not... but 15 seconds, yeah.....  
 
Definitely a can I am considering getting... some day.  Can't see myself shelling out the bones for an LCD, but I might stretch the wallet for these.
kimx
kimx
Thanks for the good review. I've heard the headphone yesterday in Munich. First impression was awsome. I'm currently listening to HD 650 and like them very much. I've read multiple times that HD 650 owner liked the EL-8 as well.
gab840
gab840
A bit more comparision b/w 900x & el8?
Pros: Beautifully made, comfortable, great mid-range and vocals
Cons: Just lacking a bit of sparkle and openness
So I treated my myself to a pair of EL-8 OB for Xmas and had really high hopes given the Audeze pedigree.
 
There are many really positive aspects to these headphones. They are beautifully put together (I experienced no issues with the connectors), very comfortable to wear for log periods and fold small and flat enough to be reasonable travel companions, even if not really being suitable for use on the move.
 
The bass has a wonderfully depth and speed, typical of planer-magnetic drivers. The mid-range an vocals are also nicely full bodied and natural.
 
Given what I have said so far, you may wonder why only 4 stars and why I would have just sold my pair?
 
Unfortunately, and this probably just my personal taste, I had two issues with the sound which meant they didn't quite 'do it for me':
 
Firstly I found the soundstage a little closed in for an open-backed headphone, a little too much inside my head - I found myself frequently going back to my old favourite AKG K702s and thinking them significantly more open, which was a shock considering I picked up my pair new for less than 1/3rd of the cost of the EL-8s.
 
Secondly, I found that the 7khz dip robbed the sound of a bit of sparkle and made them seem just a touch dull. This is something I seen commented on by Tyll Hertsens over at InnerFidelity before I purchased, but decided I want to decide for myself.  Now I freely admit that a sin of commission is probably a safer option than the HD800 peak, especially when being used with sources of varying quality, but unfortunately it just made me feel they lacked a bit of excitement.
 
In the end then, I have sold mine and gone back to my AKG K702s. I may well try another Audeze model at some point, but for me, the EL-8s just lacked that bit of pizazz which would make me love them
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Pros: Very comfortable. very open and clear! Crisp mids and highs with a nice tight bass.
Cons: short cable.
I used the Audeze EL-8 Open-Back headphones paired with a McIntosh MHA-100 amp. I was in a quite room with foam on the walls to make the room very quite. I used Vinyl albums such as Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon,Miles Davis's Kind Of Blue, Adele's 19, and the Remastered Nirvana Nevermind album. I found these headphones did really well at about 1.3 watts.
 
Sound
I have to say sound is the most important aspect for me in a headphone. I put these headphones on with no idea how these would sound. These quickly stole my heart with the Start of Money from Dark Side Of The Moon. It was very crisp and alive to me. Once it got to where the bass entered i heard it and it wasnt overpowering in any way. It seemed very balanced. I heard the mids and highs all put together with a very tight bass, I wouldnt say it was warm at all because it came across more like this is the bass drum and this is how it sounds. Very could you say punctual. I loved it. It had its own ID and it wasn't afraid to show it and flaunt it. After the first song I can honestly say I was in love and knew that it would be hard to send these back instead of a check. I switched on over to Miles Davis and I found myself relaxed it didnt seem to have that demanding feel but more of a sweet sound. I heard everything crisp and clear once agian with no over powering and a bass that said I am here but I'm not here to steal the show. I Switched on over to Adele, and once agian one word came to mind, amazing. So i thought I would switch it up and put on the Nevermind Album. I have to say it gave a new feel to it. I know how often people say that and I honestly did not believe it, but these did. I listened to these and it is not like the complete sound changed it just gave me a feel of full evenly balanced grunge. It was remarkable to say the least. I honestly dont have any complaints about the sound! I prefer these over my HD650's! The HD 650's are a much more layed back headphone to me and these were just more alive and eager to please. I would say the HD650's are warm and that the Audeze was just ready for any challenge and was ready to please.

 
Design
When i picked these up I kinda thought man these look nothing like the LCD's. It had a very thin wood veneer over top more wood maybe? It didnt seemed polished or flashy. It had a very flat bland look. It did not seem like a $700 headphone by the look of that veneer. It really gave me the impression that oh these headphones will be a step down just because of the looks. The side of it was i believe plastic it had a very flat finish to it that was not eye catching to say the least. It was very much so a flat and boring looking headphone. Next the cable it was 3.5mm end and it wasnt very long. Aswell it did not even come with an adapter to 1/4inch. Which for $700 I would expect to come with it. The packaging was very standard nothing to special. Was not very impressed here. The pads were the only thing that were impressive a very soft leather maybe, i am not sure based on how cheap they went on the rest of it. Still they were angled and very soft!
I found these using some decent power so make sure you can drive them that is my only warning in design besides the one in comfort which has to do with head size!
 
Comfort
I have to say the way they felt was very impressive. Very soft and i never found myself trying to adjust them on my ears. I had to bring them all the way out and push them in 1 click to fit my head. I think i have a little bit bigger then average head. So i would watch out if you have a big head, it may or may not fit. They do offer a 30day trial of them though so you can take them for a spin to make sure they fit your head! I really do not have alot to complain about when it comes to the comfort of them they felt good when I put them on and they felt good an hour and a half later. I liked the way that the pads where angled to fit it was really nice and comfortable!
 
Summary
Amazing sound that hands down beat my HD650's which I thought were nearly untouchable. The biggest thing I can honestly not stop saying is wow that sound was amazing and addicting! I kinda feel like they could have made the exterior of it look alot better, given a longer cable, and an adapter to quater inch. All that aside the sound is brilliant! Make sure you have an amp that will drive these to there potential cause they sound amazing! Aswell Beware they may not fit if you have a bigger head!

Whitebread
Whitebread
Hi aCodemonkey,
Concerning the power consumption, do you know what the voltage and current draw was? Also, I presume this power measurement was performed while playing back music, is that correct?

I ask because I'm wondering if it would be advantageous to buy the AM2 or AM5 amp for my Fiio X7. But, the current draw is fixed for all modules. So, instead, it seems that Fiio has increased the power output by increasing the voltage. From what I understand of how planar headphones work, there is no resonance frequency and the impedance is low so, current draw tends to be higher than dynamic headphones, of the same nominal impedance. Since the current output for the X7 amp modules is fixed, I'm thinking that getting a higher power output module wont necessarily improve the sound quality or increase the playback volume (I have not been able to measure voltage or amperage output or the phase difference, during playback).

Thanks.
Pros: Even sound across the entire sound spectrum
Cons: Heavy, connectors, short cable

The EL-8 are a beautiful set of headphones. From the minute you get the packaging you know a lot of thought went into the design of every piece of these headphones. They are really beautiful. I think it’s pretty well known that they partnered with BMW on the design.
 
Nothing like my AKG K240 MKII’s , which have been my reference headphone for the past several years. I’ve used these phones to check mixes for film, TV and recordings as well as check my mastering.  I know them very well and combined with my other monitor chain I was able to put together a very accurate picture of what is happening sonically and be able to place it where it needed to be in the sonic spectrum.
 
I work as a Film and TV re-recording mixer, as well as a sound designer, composer, and mix and mastering engineer for recordings. 
 
Because of my professional relationship with Audeze, I was able to take a trip to their facility and met with the designers and r&d people (something not available to most people). I was able to demo them with some recording that I know very well. I a/b’ed them with my K240’s as was really surprised to hear how much the AKG’s were lacking. The EL-8’s brought everything into sharper focus and brought all the elements closer as well as allowing me to hear details in the reverb and room recordings that I couldn’t hear on the AKG’s. In fact on EL-8’s I heard things in these recordings that I never noticed before. It was a really shocking experience.
 
They were even so kind as to put my phones and the EL-8’s on a test head and print out the waveforms of what was being produced by each.  It was nice to see my reaction and assessment of both headphones to be spot on with the sonic graphs. The AKG’s had a dip at the low end and another scoop around the low mid’s with a bump in the high mids and then they rolled off at the top. I knew they sounded like that from experience of taking my recording to other locations and that’s why I use them as only part of my monitoring experience. In fact I knew them so well that I always compensated for these deficiencies when using them as part of my monitoring chain, in fact I have been using these headphones for year and had their flaws memorized.  The EL-8’s on the other hand were pretty much flat across the board from low to high and they sounded like it.
 
Needless to say once I got them home and started to incorporate them into my current mix environment I have now found it necessary to upgrade all of my current monitor chain to try to match the response of these headphones. They sound that good.
 
So far I’ve replace the monitor controller, the convertors and about a thousand dollars worth of cabling. Next up is getting another studio designer in to help with further room treatment (my room was built with un-parallel walls and had sound treatment to start with) but I’m finding I need to upgrade that as well, all to try emulate the fidelity of these headphones.
 
 My only criticisms of these headphones are that they are heavy. If you are moving around or being active while wearing them, you might want to demo a pair in person to make sure they can work for your particular situation and for studio work I find the cable to be too short. It would be great if their was an option for a cable about 3’xs as long.
 
In all they are great sounding headphones and they just might change the way you hear music.
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Pros: Comfortable! Easy to Drive! Great Sounding!
Cons: NO MORE soft carrying pouch!! A hard-shell case is desired!
Background and Expectation:
I am fan of over-ear dynamic headphones. I have or had many dynamic headphones, but I have never own a planar dynamic before. I plan to buy the Audeze EL-8 as my first taste of planar dynamics. I choose EL-8 for 2 reason:  1. It is one of the newest planar dynamics headphone and featured with Fazor Tech.     2. Price. I only plan to spend less than $1400 (a common price for a dynamic flagship).       3. Comfort. I heard that Hifiman HE-560 has too much clamp force.
I expect to be impressed by EL-8. (And it does)
 
Review is based on   1. Sound Quality- a.Sound stage,    b.Treble, Mid, Bass     c.Detail&Sound Signature               2.Comfort            3.Portability               4. Appearance         
Headphones involved in the comparison:  AKG K812 & Denon AHD-7100 (Both claim to be easy to drive just like EL-8),      Sony MDR-z7 (Same price)
DAC&Amp: Denon DA300+SPL Phonitor Mini, Fiio E17K
 
1. Sound Quality 8/10   -----As Sum-up, it is a great sounding headphone. It has decent sound stage, balanced sound, and warm sound signature.  (I do not have any professional equipment to qualify the sound output of each headphones, sound quality review is purely based on my personal opinion)
 
a. Sound Stage.  -----K812 >>> EL-8 >= Z7 > AHD7100       For reference: Senn HD800 and T1 both has similar sound stage as K812.  Z7 is semi-open can (closed can with bass port)   AHD7100 is closed
      Sound stage is definitely not EL-8's advantage. K812's sound stage presents a live performance in a concert hall.  AHD7100 is like let the musician perform exclusively for you in a small room. EL-8 and Z7's sound stage is hard to describe.   I have heard Audeze LCD-X and LCD-3 at audio store, the sound stage of these headphones is much narrower than K812 also. If considering LCD-X costs 1.7K and LCD-3 costs 2K, audezes' sound stages are really not good.
 
b. Treble--EL-8>K812>AHD7100>Z7     Mid--K812>EL-8>AHD7100>Z7            Bass--K812>>EL8>Z7>AHD7100
    I have nothing to complain about the highs of EL-8. It is precise and controlled. But I am surprised about the mids of EL-8, especially when playing vocal. It sounds just like someone sing the song by your ears.  The bass is also controlled, but rather too weak.
 
c. Detail--  K812>Z7>EL8=AHD7100. If you are not a sound engineer or studio professional, I think the detail level of EL-8 is good for most type of music listening. 
    Signature --Warm and neutural. 
 
 
 
2. Comfort 9/10  -------As Sum-up.  EL-8 is a extremely comfortable headphone. I have wear it for 2 hour straight indoor, no discomfort occurs.
                           Weight: EL-8 460g> K812 390g> AHD7100 370g > MDR z7 335g-------Just for reference, it does not mean anything. EL-8 is the heaviest one, however you will not feel neck and shoulder muscle fatigue after long time usage. 
 
3. Portability 8/10 ---------As Sum-up, you can drive this headphone with anything cellphones or mp3 players. I have tried iphone 6, LG Optimus G-pro, Ipad Air, HP stream 7, and Ipod Shuffle. 
                               Portability: AHD7100>MDR z7>EL-8>K812.-------------Still, this does not mean anything. Most of these headphones are open or semi-open can, you will hear a lot of outside noise if you use them on-the-go; and the people next to you will hear what you are listening to very clearly.  I put AHD7100 at first purely because it is a closed can.
                        Easy to Drive:  AHD7100>K812>MDR z7>EL 8.--------------I have use Fiio E17k as DAC/Amp to drive all of them, and EL 8's output sound intensity is the lowest one of them all. On paper, EL-8 has the same efficiency as MDR z7, however, maybe MDR z7 is semi-open it sound louder than EL-8 which is open.
 
4. Appearance 7/10 --------- As Sum-up. I like the design and look of EL-8. However, the wood ring design always remind me of HE-560.
 
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fotomeow
fotomeow
Your K812s seem to beat the EL-8 in most categories, so why are you buying the EL-8s?!
EL-8 fuses the best of many worlds for me. Picture if you will, the deepest, well defined bass you have ever heard. Now add to the picture the warmth only a ribbon tweeter can produce. Top all this off with the cleanest high end you can recall. What you just imagined, my friend, is the sound of EL-8.
 
With its brilliant spatial definition and resolution it didn’t take me too long to realize my preferred choice of headphones has now changed. A choice that had not changed for over a decade, despite having tried many makes and models of headphones. Mixing, Mastering, or enjoying music, EL8’s are now my go to choice.
 
 
 
___
Responses to comments:
 
@joseph69 
My preferred choice remained Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro (250Ohms) for the major chunk of my work. I have owned two pairs of these over the last decade. I did break the second one in with a noise sweep CD I made, for about 200 Hrs. 
As it goes without saying, I always listen to and tweak mixes while listening on various pair of headphones. From generic ear buds to AKG K712 to Sony MDR series. But for a major chunk of my career the DT770 has remained my primary choice. I did try DT990Pro and a few other open back headphones, but did not find 'open back' headphones to be of my taste. Then I tried the EL-8.
 
 @coletrain104
One of the first pieces I recorded/ mixed was a cappella that I tracked using binaural and other spatial methods. To me the vocals sounded very natural. What really impressed me is the spatial resolution that EL-8 could reproduce. I highly commend you to listen to binaural or other spatial recordings on EL-8's. (Of corse I can only comment on the open model). Compare same track with other headphones and I know you will instantly recognize 'movement' and spatial resolution qualities of this headphones.
 
@Bark Snarly
I did have an instance or two of the cable coming out when I tripped on it. More like the Apple MagSafe connector. Except for that, they've been really good. Then again, I am assuming its more of a safety feature ?
 
@WNBC
The headphones did move me. As I mentioned earlier, what I so love is its spatial resolution.
As for the monitoring systems I have used/ have been using for the past decade (List only includes systems that i have used for at least an year or more):
 
Aside from the headphones mentioned above
 
Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamonds with DB1 in 6.1. (With Classe Amps)
Adam A7Xs with JBL LSR4312SP in 2.1
Genelec 1038CFs with Genelec 7071A in 2.1
And a few other monitor systems including but not limited to Auratones, NS10's, various models from Genelec and Adams. 
 
And yes. I am, involved in audio post production. a sample of my credits/ work is at www.tonyjoy.com
 
@Wildcatsare1
I hope I haven't spoken too soon ! so far so good. 
 
 
@aznever
I got immune to headband clamping so long ago.There was a time when I could barely wear any headphones for more than 5 minutes or so. 
I did have a small, similar issue with the EL-8's when I first got them. As if there was a pressure against my left eardrum every time I put the headphones on. I just tweaked the headband a little, angled the left side to align better to my head and that seems to have done the trick for me.
 
Hope this helps.
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WNBC
WNBC
Hmm, no forum posts, just joined yesterday to give the review.  Either this headphone moved you so much to join the community or ....  
 
Like Joseph said, fill us in on what you were using for the past decade and other headphones you've tried.
 
Mastering level headphones?  I'm intrigued.  Are you involved with audio post-production?
Wildcatsare1
Wildcatsare1
I really wanted to like the EL8, but they just don't do it for me. Glad you liked them.
aznever
aznever
The headband is not comfortable at all. At times it feels like it's pushing down onto your skull, a little painful and you would have to adjust it again.
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