August 30, 2019
I have always used tethered headphones, and decided to try the E8. I work in a cubicle, and wanted something that I could pair with my phone, listen to music, and drown out the surrounding conversations and noise. Bottom line: given the price, these are pretty darn good. I normally don't write super long reviews, but this purchase deserves a bit of description. Note that I got these on a pretty good sale, so my price vs value assessment may be skewed. Quite honestly, if I had gotten them at the usual ~150, I might have given them 4 rather than 5 stars.
Physical: The headphones themselves are well made and feel quite sturdy. The headband fits well. Some reviewers have commented that they are heavy; I don't find that. The ear cups barely fit over my ears, but are very comfortable. The pads attach magnetically, so they can be easily changed, so that when they finally (and inevitably) get disgusting, it's not a big deal. The noise reduction effect of the headphones themselves, without noise canceling turned on, is quite good. They really do a pretty good job of shutting out environmental noise. My one big con for physical stuff is that the case is MASSIVE. Extras like USB charging cable and audio cable are well made.
Sound: Sound quality is excellent. I have eclectic tastes in music, and classical piano, orchestrals, folk, rock and world all sound great. I don't "test" headphones with specific pieces. If it sounds good, it sounds good. Additionally, given that i'm playing from compressed MP3 files, assessing whether or not the headphones reach "audiophile" levels of quality is irrelevant. Bass is rich, treble is clear, midrange pleasant and sharp. There is the faintest background hiss when nothing is playing, and it is not evident as soon as music is on. I dabble in electronics and have some understanding of the underlying circuitry and theory. I daresay that it would be very costly to reduce hiss to zero. Some background hiss is a fact of life with digital sound, and the E8s are well within my range of acceptance.
Electronics: No problem with pairing, they show up on my phone as "E8". The power paradigm is a little weird, in that noise canceling circuitry has a separate power switch from bluetooth and amplifier. I guess this may be to allow for tethered listening with noise canceling on, but it was not what I expected. Controls are kinda small, and I was most comfortable adjusting the volume, turning the unit on and off, etc. with the phones off my head. Bluetooth shuts off after ? 10 min if there is no signal. Battery life for my purposes (normal 8 hour day) just fine.
Noise canceling: The circuitry does an excellent job of reducing sustained, low frequency noise such as jet engine rumble, HVAC noise, etc. . It is much less effective for speech and other higher frequency noise, and I think that it is the physical sound barrier of the headphones that does most of that work. Interestingly, (a little bit of an aside here, but interesting nonetheless) I work next to a supervisor's office and they are required to use a white noise generator outside their door to provide privacy during HR discussions. With noise cancelation on, the low frequency components of the generator are suppressed, but the high frequency components are not. This makes the effect of the white noise generator worse. The most powerful law of nature is the law of unintended consequences... My adult daughter has a set of S**y noise canceling headphones that are about twice the price, and their efficacy at higher frequencies is much, much better.
Bottom line? I got these for $103 as a gold box deal. At that price, they are really great as my primary interest was sound quality rather than noise suppression. The noise suppression provided is a nice extra. If noise cancelation was as important as sound quality, I confess I would be somewhat disappointed. However, really good noise cancellation is expensive. Again, at 100 bucks they are great. 150? not as compelling. Still darn good, but maybe 4 stars rather than 5.