The A11/800 from Kygo are wireless over-ears which feature a long battery life of over 40 hours, support high-quality audio codecs such as aptX LL, aptX and AAC, and are equipped with active noise suppression as well as awareness and ambient modes for perceiving the environment. The app also allows the headphones to be adjusted to the size of the ear and they have a sensor-controlled playback function.
The foldable design of these over-ears features oval-shaped shells that are slightly slanted so that the soft leatherette padding fits snugly around the ears. They tilt and swivel to offer a high degree of adaptability, while the fit is tight rather than loose. In this respect, the over-ears have a firm hold, but a certain pressure is also noticeable during prolonged use. Due to the construction and material, it must be accepted that the ears will get warm. However, this can be remedied by occasional “ventilation”. At the same time, these primarily plastic headphones offer good shielding from the outside world.
On the energy side, these Bluetooth headphones are designed for endurance, with a running time of up to 42 hours, especially since the use of the ANC mode made no significant difference in practice. With active noise suppression, the battery lasted almost 40 hours before a power supply via the USB-C port became necessary. If the capacity of 950 mAh is used up, a complete charging process via the supplied USB-C to USB-A charging cable takes less than two hours, so any quick charging function has been dispensed with. Alternatively, a 3.5 mm audio input is available so that these headphones can also be used wired. A corresponding mini jack cable with a 1-button remote and integrated microphone is also included with the accessories.
Pair the over-ears using Bluetooth 5.0 by pressing and holding the power button on the right side; this turns the system on and puts it into pairing mode. Since the headphones support NFC pairing, near-field communication with an NFC-enabled device can also be used for pairing. It is also possible to connect two devices at the same time. However, the stability of the radio connection was rather limited; with various Android and iOS systems used within an urban setting, dropouts occurred at a distance of three or four metres, while a total range of seven to eight metres existed. If a smartphone or tablet is connected, a large touchpad covering the entire surface of the right earpiece serves as a remote. While the play/stop function and the acceptance and termination of telephone calls are controlled by a simple tap, the volume can be adjusted by swiping vertically. Horizontal swiping, on the other hand, helps you to select the title and allows you to skip forward or backwards. In addition, Siri and Google Assistant can be called up by double-tapping. Since the touch control reacts precisely, the operation works perfectly after a short familiarization with the required motions. The only thing to bear in mind is that the ear shell is not straight, but angled, which causes the axes of the touchpad to shift accordingly.
In addition to touch control, the headphones have sensor-controlled playback with automatic play/stop function, which does has its pitfalls. If the headphones are removed and put away, the playback pauses with some delay. If, on the other hand, they are held in the hand, pausing is quite unreliable. At the same time, playback is quickly interrupted when moving the headphones to the right position on the head, which makes the sensor technology seem rather obstructive in everyday use, especially since the function could not be switched off. The speech intelligibility during telephone calls was also not completely convincing, clear voices sound as if they’re in a relatively large reverberation chamber and there is a tendency to distortion in the upper-frequency range.
The sound of these Bluetooth headphones is quite bright and characterized by superficial highs, which have a high constancy and do not drop off, but tend to overdraw hissing sounds with increasing volume. While the mids seem pleasantly natural, the basic tuning has extremely slender bass, which only reproduces the upper bass range, so that bass-stressed music with depth sounds strange and tinny. Although there is a powerful, high output, which offers plenty of reserves, the sound doesn’t seem completely clear despite the high frequency, but has a slightly cloudy, reverberant note. The stage appears to be offset in depth, so that spoken content and films profit from the alignment. Bearing in mind the price category, however, the sound is disappointing from my point of view, especially since there is perceptible background noise in a quiet atmosphere.
In ANC mode, which can be activated and deactivated via a separate button, the alignment is bass accentuated. The rich bass extends deep down; so that the headphones no longer sound thin, but full and powerful. The stage also moves noticeably forward, so that the sound is direct and present. However, the tuning tends to lean towards the other extreme due to its overload and the basses sound a bit dull. In a way, the function is reminiscent of a bass booster, and the effect of noise suppression on complex noise sources seems ambivalent, as low-frequency components are faded out well, while the rest of the range is only slightly reduced. At the same time, there is a humming sound in ANC mode that affects the sound.
Awareness and ambient function
The awareness and ambient modes are available for perceiving the outside world, with both functions sharing a button. At the touch of the button, the awareness mode is activated, which amplifies high frequency outside sounds while the low-frequency range is reduced. This should make voices easily perceptible. However, the signal mix is too diffuse to be clearly understood, especially as the headphone’s background noise is amplified. In ambient mode, which is activated by pressing a second button, the entire frequency spectrum of outside noise is increased, which allows a rough orientation, whereby individual noise sources are relatively difficult to locate since this function also raises the background noise. You can return to standard playback by pressing the button again.
Kygo Sound App
The free app does not provide a classic equalizer for sound adjustment, but an XY touchpad that offers a total of four different basic orientations, named after the cities of Bergen, Los Angeles, Ibiza and New York. Stylistically, the repertoire ranges from quiet ballads to lounge music and house to hip-hop, with intuitive access enabling far-reaching sound changes that greatly enhance the listener’s experience. Further plus points are earned through the headphones being updatable through the app.
The feature list of Kygo’s A11/800 is long and impressive, but what’s missing is a balanced tuning. Regardless of the app, there are two extremes to choose from, a high frequency or bass-heavy sound in ANC mode, both of which have weaknesses. The instability of the wireless connection, the existing background noise and the imprecisely reacting automatic playback are further shortcomings of these Bluetooth headphones. On the other hand, the intuitive touch control is well implemented, and the design of the battery for continuous operation is a big plus point.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)15 - 22.000 Hz
- Impedance34,5 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)103,3 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head679 g
- Weight with cable215 g
- Weight without cable200 g
- Cable length140 cm
What's in the box
- Audio cable with 1-button remote and integrated microphone
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Travel bag
- available in black and white
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX LL
- BT version: 5.0