Having arrived here at Audio46 just a few days ago, the Audeze EL-8 Closed Back is aching for a review. For a closed-back planar magnetic, it’s definitely a rare sight, but it will still compete with the lower-priced Oppo PM-3, as well as the more-expensive offerings from Audeze. But where does it sit for the price?
Unboxing the EL-8 is a feat, with lots of snazzy-looking cardboard coming together to form a multi-layered, jewel-like package that exudes ostentatiousness. Inside, you’ll find the headphones, along with a removable cable (no mic or remote), a carrying pouch, a 1/4” stereo adapter, a certificate of authenticity, and a user manual.
Build-wise, the Audeze EL-8 Closed Back is designed like a tank, with thick leather padding on the earcups, and just a little bit on the headband itself. The cups swivel 180 degrees, and the removable cable features a lightning-like connector. The outside of the cups on the EL-8 Closed Back is covered by a circular plate of brushed aluminum.
Sound wise, the EL-8 offers some downright beautiful low-frequency detail – something especially appreciated when listening to male vocal tracks. In fact, while reviewing these headphones, I found it hard to stop listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon on repeat. Thanks to the EL-8, the whole album sounds different to me now – with more detail and clarity throughout.
Of course, even when listening to songs without tons of detail, this headphone still offers a tight and full bass not out of place when listening to some hip hop or some hard(er) rock.
With a low impedance of 30 ohms and a wide frequency range of 10-50000 hertz, the EL-8 gives most people the impression of a low power requirements and a rich, full sound.
While it definitely has the low power requirement down (not benefiting much from an amp, when paired), the high end of the EL-8 can sometimes seem a little bit understated. Thanks in no small part to the excellent level of detail in the bass and midrange, the high end seems reduced in comparison…something that may just be the result of my ears playing tricks on me.
Listening to simply recordings where a single instrument or a single voice reaches into the high frequencies, the detail is obvious. But in more complext recordings, that same high-end detail seems less prominent.
Clarity and separation are still fantastic, and exactly what you’d expect them to be on a headphone that sells for $699. Is it worth your money, though? If you’re after a headphone with excellent bass detail, and you want that closed-back design, you should check these out. If you’re looking for something more even-sounding, with an equal amount of treble for a more dynamic sound, perhaps consider other closed back headphones with dynamic drivers, like those from Beyerdynamic or Audio Technica.