The Affordable Audeze EL-8

I will never forget the first time I auditioned the $1699 Audeze LCD-X planar-magnetic headphones. My neck and shoulders relaxed—my tensions melted and my brain exclaimed, welcome to the next level! I had never experienced this quality of detail or spatial perspective. I knew then; the experience of enjoying music via headphones had fully evolved from a necessity (it's late and the kids are sleeping) to a viable first choice over traditional loudspeakers. The new Audeze EL-8s ($699) are not just moderately-priced alternatives to the reference quality Xs—they offer their own special brand of reference quality and new technologies.

The EL-8s introduce Audeze's latest "Fluxor" neodymium-magnet circuits which offer increased flux density and reduced weight. The EL-8s also employ the company's new "Uniforce" variable trace-width diaphragm strategy—which Audeze says equalizes and unifies the magnetic field across the entire diaphragm surface.

The EL-8s don't stun you with their beauty on every song like the LCD-Xs do, but they made me feel like was getting extremely close (maybe even closer than the Xs) to what was on the recording. They seemed exceptionally lively, natural, and uncolored. This was a quick audition in a Vegas hotel room, but I heard enough to assure you: These new headphones are a product you are going to hear a lot of good things about.