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Sunday November 6, 2016 9:50 pm

Bleeding Edge TV 596: Audeze EL-8 Titanium headphones review

With the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, Lightning headphones are gonna be big. The Audeze EL-8 Titanium Lightning headphones are an early contender. They are planar magnetic headphones, and include the ability to easily swap between the 3.5mm headphone jack (which the iPhone 7 lacks,) and Lightning. You plug the Audeze EL-8 Titanium headphones into the Lightning port on an iOS device, and you get amazing sound thanks to the built in 24-bit DAC and Amp. You can even save two sound profiles directly to the headphones themselves, so that when you switch devices, you get the same sound that you expect.

They do cost $799 though, and that's gonna be pricey for a lot of people, but if you're an audiophile, then the Audeze EL-8 Titanium Lightning headphones may be exactly what you're looking for!

You can pick up the Audeze EL-8 Titanium headphones now.

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Video Transcript:

Rumors of the 3.5mm headphone jack's demise on the iPhone may be premature, but the expanding use of that phone's Lightning connector for audio purposes is definitely growing into a trend. The Lightning headphone trend started with Philips and its Fidelio series. But today, I’m taking a look at a pair of Lightning headphones that are more for the audiophile crowd - these are the the $799 Audeze EL-8 Titanium. This is a closed-back variant of the $699 EL-8 launched at CES earlier this year, but these have a digital signal processor, digital-to-analog converter, and an amplifier all built into what they call their Cypher cable.

I know this sounds expensive, but for Audeze, a boutique audiophile manufacturer whose headphones are usually priced in four figures, the EL-8 lineup actually represents its most affordable products. The Cypher cable does jack up the price by $100, but it adds meaningful benefit to the user in ensuring that the headphones are properly powered. I've listened to the open-back EL-8 set with an iPhone 6S Plus and, while they sound crisp and clear, the iPhone is never really able to push them to their limits. Even at max volume, it sounds just, kinda loud — now that Audeze has built its own amp and processing into the cable, these planar magnetic headphones can really show off their amazing sound while used with mobile devices.

The EL-8 Titanium headphones have an in-line microphone and remote control, and their processing is also used when conducting phone calls or sending voice commands to Siri. They are a peculiar hybrid beast: combining the huge price and dimensions of a high-end headphone with the basic conveniences of a portable set. In their shipping configuration, they're compatible with Apple's Lightning connector and also include one for traditional 3.5mm outputs, plus for an extra $49 you can buy additional balanced cables for high-end audio players from Astell & Kern or Pono. Using the included standard headphone cable, you’ll hear the difference between the Cypher Lightning cable and using the regular headphone port. Also, plugging into the HTC 10, which has a built-in DAC and Amp, you get that same powerful sound that you’d get from the Lightning cable. What you don’t get, though, is the ability to save your EQ settings directly to the cable itself.

As for the sound, the headphones are incredible. You can hear the difference when using a DAC+Amp combo, as planar magnetic headphones typically sounds great when you drive them with something more powerful than your typical mobile device. Also, when listening to uncompressed or lossless music, you can actually hear a difference, where typically I can’t really tell if I am listening to compressed MP3s or uncompressed tracks from TIDAL. Bass if great without being overpowering, and since the drivers are larger at 100mm as opposed to the typical 40mm, you get a more full, richer sound.

The Audeze EL-8 Titanium headphones are available from Apple's online store and in a selection of US and Canadian retail Apple Stores now.

And there you have it! If you liked this one, please do leave a thumbs up on this video, and if you haven’t yet, go ahead and hit the subscribe button to stay on top of all my new video releases! But, I wanna know What you think. Are you ready for Apple to drop the headphone port in order to hasten the arrival of better sounding digital music? We’ll be seeing more and more of these Lightning headphones at the iPhone 7 draws near - but it’s not just Apple doing this. The latest phones from Motorola also lose the headphone port, opting instead to use the USB-C jack for headphone listening. Sound off in the comments with your thoughts. Thanks a lot for watching as always guys - your support is appreciated, and we’re almost at 50,000 subscribers. Once we reach that goal, I have something really special for you! Until next time, I’m Andru Edwards, and I’ll catch you in the next video.

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