Audeze crashes CES 2015 with innovative, affordable new EL-8 planar headphones

You’ll find no shortage of headphones invading the halls of CES 2015 in Las Vegas, but when the gurus at Audeze debut a new pair of cans, the record stops. This year, the company premiered the EL-8, an incredibly innovative pair of headphones that the company hopes will own the audiophile scene.

And based on early impressions, they just might.

There are several new technologies in the EL-8 that make them not only more portable and easier to wear than the company’s flagship LCD-3 (aka: the “Voice of God” headphones), but also much easier and cheaper to produce. Audeze is now able to cast almost the entire bones of the ear cups in one fell move, dispatching with the laborious hand-crafting necessary for its other offerings. In fact, COO Sankar Thiagasumudram tells us that essentially the only part the company has to insert by hand is the new membrane, the heart of the planar magnetic drivers that create the sound.

Photo credit: Digital Trends / Ryan Waniata
Photo credit: Digital Trends / Ryan Waniata

As for that membrane, it’s constructed from materials developed by NASA, and at only 2 microns thick, it’s the company’s thinnest to date, which helps to make it extremely responsive. Audeze also engineered a brand-new magnet set for the EL-8, which is able to create a more powerful magnetic field on the side of the headphone that faces the membrane driver, allowing for an extremely efficient transference of energy, and therefore, lighter and more-efficient interior components.

As for the performance, even from our quick first impression, there was little doubt the EL-8 offer some of the most vivid, dynamic, and powerful sound in their genre. Acoustic instruments spun across the soundstage in tactile clarity, including one particularly impressive moment in which an acoustic guitar run moved from the right side to center, gushing like a waterfall in reverse. Peter Gabriel’s “Up” also offered a host of dimensional effects resonating through the wide soundstage. We’ll be able to offer more detailed impressions once we get our hands on a review sample, which should be in the coming weeks ahead of the EL-8’s official launch.

The only real issue we had with the EL-8 was excessive clamping force. However, Project Manager Cyrus Legg assured us a fix for that is in the works, cutting the 4 pounds of current pressure in half. The best news about the EL-8 might just be the price. At $700, they won’t be sold at the airport anytime soon, but that’s a pittance in comparison to Audeze’s $2,000 LCD-3, making the EL-8 extremely competitive in the audiophile space.

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