Technics A800 headphones review: Long battery life

The Technics A800 headset enters the big leagues with serious arguments, starting with an autonomy of more than 50 hours. Active noise cancellation included.

Technics, a subsidiary of Panasonic, wants to befriend Sony, a Japanese neighbor that’s dominating the active noise-cancelling wireless headphone market with its WH-1000XM4 (or WH-1000XM5) model. Launched at €350, the A800 model is tailored to match the references.

Because Technics has put quite a bit into its high-end headphones: complete companion application, active noise cancellation, transparency mode, gigantic autonomy and, of course, high-end acoustic reproduction (since it’s the house specialty). And frankly, the A800 has serious arguments for a slice of the pie.

The tactile surface of the Technics A800 headset // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

sobriety above all

The Technics A800 is first and foremost a beautiful headset. Japanese designers rely on a convincing argument: sobriety. The result is a product with impeccable finishes and, above all, that does not want to fall into too flashy a look. Anyone looking for a discreet accessory will find what they are looking for at first glance with the A800. Well-finished plastic elements and others in brushed metal (the most beautiful effect) are inserted on a sturdy structure. The very thick ear cups extend a headband with asymmetrical attachments. As for the colors, it will be black or silver. Again, there is no eccentricity in the catalogue.

The A800 pleases at first sight

The A800 comes in an excellently made, padded case, safe in the knowledge that the headset can easily fold on itself to fit inside (a diagram is even retrieved at the bottom of this egg-shaped case). Technics also provided the small compartment to house the few included accessories (USB to USB-C cable for charging, jack cable and adapter for the plane). For transport we can hardly do better, despite an imposing size that calls for a bag.

A bit difficult to build

The first contact with the helmet is not an ergonomic model (except for Google Fast Pair). If the companion application, which must be downloaded on iOS like Android, explains everything, the connection with their smartphone forces you to press and hold the ignition button for a few seconds to switch to Bluetooth communication mode (the indicator light flashes blue and red). We got more practice.

Technics relies on two interfaces for the physical control. First, there’s a shortcut bar with two volume buttons flanking a multifunction button – rear placement is questionable. With one click you can manage playback, with two to the next song, with three to the previous song… among other less obvious manipulations (one click + long press to go forward). There’s also a large touch area in the right atrium dedicated to active noise cancellation. By default, just double-tap it to toggle between options.

From the application it is possible to fully personalize the experience. You can enable/disable multipoint (connect to two devices at the same time), tweak the noise reduction, adjust the ambient mode (we recommend the “Transparent” parameter, which is more natural) or change the touch zone behavior (example: add a triple tap). Features are not lacking in this ultra-complete A800.

Customize the Technics A800 headset
Personalization of the Technics A800 helmet // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

The advantages of memory foam pads

Weighing around 300 grams, the A800 may seem like a heavy headset. Some perform better, some worse (the 384.8 grams of the AirPods Max). But Apple’s headphones proved that weight is ultimately just a number and comfort is all about how it’s distributed. For this purpose, the A800 uses shape memory pads. The texture is very pleasant and natural, designed to adapt to a maximum of morphologies. This design choice is very profitable, and it’s the ears that thank Technics.

Nonetheless, the manufacturer could have been just as generous with the padding under the arch, in contact with the skullcap. In fact, it lacks thickness to cushion the support, which can cause discomfort during the longest sessions. It’s a shame, because the clear round really wasn’t that far away.

The physical buttons of the Technics A800 headphones
The Technics A800 headset’s physical buttons // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

On the way to the bass

When you listen to music with the A800 for the first time, you will be immediately surprised by its very round sound signature. It has to be said that Technics relies on the bass register to convince and to ensure good dynamics. The result is a far from flat rendition that, depending on the genre played, might prove a little too exposed for some (rap and hip-hop fans are bound to find something here). It owes this special feature to its design, which combines 40 mm speakers with acoustic control rooms.

A good stereo scene

Otherwise the A800 excels at its ability to deliver a good stereo scene with precise and inevitably punchy editing. What is required is not naturalness, but boasting. We like it or we hate it, knowing that we can always adjust it according to our needs (through the equalizer available in the application). At least the A800 isn’t lacking in personality, and there’s a nice depth to what it reproduces.

We keep repeating it: when it comes to active noise cancellation, there’s Sony and the others. With its hybrid system, the Technics A800 does quite well when it comes to blocking out annoying noises. First, note that the passive isolation does a good part of the job (ears are perfectly enclosed). The active component, adjustable with a rotary wheel from 0 to 100% (good luck spotting differences), will try to reduce outside noise even better. When the music is started, we hardly hear his keyboard or voices. Also note that active noise cancellation has a major impact on acoustic performance. Without it everything is very flat. In short, it’s better to use it.

The Technics A800 headphones
The Technics A800 headset // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

record autonomy

50 hours: this is the autonomy announced by Technics for its A800… with noise reduction activated. It really is colossal, and it’s a KO argument in the helmet’s wallet. The WH-1000XM4, market reference, does not compete either (30 hours). The Bose headphones, on the other hand, are far from that with their 20 hours of listening time on a single charge.

The judgment

The Technics A800 stands out as an attractive alternative to the market reference: its Japanese neighbor WH-1000XM4. If it scores a little less well in the area of ​​active noise cancellation (which is still very efficient), it makes up for it with a neat design and, above all, a record autonomy. With 50 hours of use on a single charge, the A800 won’t let you down on your many travels.
You still have to accept the default sound signature, which focuses heavily on bass (they drool a little), a signature that you can correct in the companion app’s many features and customization options. In short, like the WH-1000XM4, the A800 shines with its versatility.

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