It is strange to think that Technics has only been in the wireless earbuds market for less than five years. The Japanese audio brand, better known as a rather impressive purveyor of hi-fi equipment in the form of turntables, amplifiers and speakers, first brought its considerable expertise to the world of wireless in-ears in 2020 with the Technics EAH-AZ70W.
The AZ70W may not have set the world alight, but they were a solid debut that hinted at greater things to come from a company that clearly had faith in itself at this level and in this new arena. A few years later, the Technics EAH-AZ60 again saw the ambitious brand setting its sights on the Sonys and Sennheisers of this world, and while another four-star rating may not have been enough to truly upend the established ecosystem, it again hinted that, a little like Brighton or Newcastle in recent Premier League football seasons, a new challenger could emerge to give the dominant forces a run for their money.
This should be the aim of the new Technics EAH-AZ60M2, a sequel to the AZ60 here to shake things up with improved voice call quality, better ambient noise reduction and, hopefully, class-leading sound. Whatever happens, it’s clear that Technics isn’t about to leave this corner of the market any time soon.
The EAH-AZ60M2 are a cheaper alternative to their more costly EAH-AZ80 siblings, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t substantial competition at this level. Hovering in the middle-ground between truly budget options and the more expensive premium designs, the AZ60M2 see competition coming courtesy of the class-leading Sony WF-1000XM4 in this price bracket, the more expensive Apple AirPods Pro 2 and the refined Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, all three of which are five-star performers with some serious pedigree.
The EAH-AZ60M2 will cost you £199 / $250 / AU$399, while the AirPods Pro 2 are a little more at £249 / $249 / AU$399 at launch, although there are small discounts to be found here and there.
The fantastic Sony WF-1000XM4 can currently be nabbed for under £200 in the UK now (we tested them at £250 / $280 / AU$450), whereas the consistently impressive Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 can be yours for around £219 / $249 / AU$399, although prices have started to drop since their release.
This leaves the AZ60M2 towards the lower end of the price scale when compared to their rivals, with most pairs ending up a little more costly when discounts or sales aren’t accounted for. This could become a strength of the AZ60M2, because if they can deliver similarly impressive sound for a slimmer cost, it may be enough to persuade consumers to stray over to the Technics side of the market.
Comfort & build
The Technics EAH-AZ60M2 sport a similar design to the more expensive EAH-AZ80 model, although without the more premium flourishes that come with a higher-end pair of buds. That being said, the rather utilitarian AZ60M2 still get the job done, providing a comfortable and contemporary-looking pair of earbuds packaged alongside a pocketable, if rather bland, plastic charging case.
The EAH-AZ60M2 retain the original “drop shape” from the previous EAH-AZ60 model, with most of the unit cased in plastic, except the exterior touch surface which sports a smooth metallic finish. The buds also fit comfortably in the ear, and while they may not have the more premium ergonomic contouring of the flagship AZ80, we didn’t experience any serious discomfort or dislodging once the appropriate ear tips had been chosen.
Getting the correct one, incidentally, was made more likely courtesy of Technics providing seven ear tip sizes ranging from XXS to XL as standard with the AZ60 – that’s considerably more options than you get with most rival earbuds. You won’t be furnished with an in-app personalised fit test, though, so it’s important not only to check that you’ve got the right fit to prevent any unwanted slippage but also to ensure you’re getting the optimal sound from your new buds. If you are hearing properly deep bass then the likelihood is that the fit is fine.
The AZ60M2 may not be as costly as the flagship AZ80, but they’re still very much at a price for which features such as active noise-cancelling (ANC), advanced call technology and fully integrated app support should be available. ANC is delivered through two main modes – pure noise cancelling and the more transparent ambient sound – and both function at a decent level for the money, even if some unwanted noises do sometimes slip through the net.
One of the Technics’ unique selling points for both the AZ80 and the AZ60M2 has been the implementation of three-channel multipoint connectivity, allowing you to switch quickly and effortlessly between a trio of distinct sources via Bluetooth without having to manually set the connection every time. We were keen to see if Technics could pull it off, and soon discovered that we can easily flit between multiple sources without delay or difficulty. The buds’ higher-quality Bluetooth LDAC codec support is only available for two multipoint devices, but even so, it’s a remarkable trick that we haven't seen even from the industry’s biggest names.
Codec Support LDAC, SBC, AAC
Battery Life Up to 7 hours (single charge in earbuds with ANC on), up to 7.5 hours (ANC off); total 25 hours (with charging case, ANC off)
Finishes x3 (Black, Silver, Midnight Blue)
Weight 7g (each)
Touch controls are implemented pretty well, with full customisation for each ear once again personalisable thanks to the Technics Audio app. Getting the buds to respond to your tap-based commands isn’t a problem, although there are more sophisticated systems (the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are the gold standard here) which allow complete on-ear control for every function you can think of. As it is, you’ll need to drop some commands out in favour of the ones you really want, so adjusting ANC might have to be sacrificed in favour of volume control, for example, depending on your priorities and preferences.
Battery life isn’t bad either, although it’s far from remarkable at this level. The AZ60M2 provides up to seven hours on a single charge if the ANC is switched on, climbing to 7.5 hours with noise cancellation off. With the charging case you’ll get a total of 25 hours without ANC and 24 with, numbers that run roughly parallel to the excellent Sony WF-1000XM4 buds.
Technics promises improved voice technology for its new earbuds courtesy of its JustMyVoice call technology, and we find it works well. JustMyVoice analyses your voice signal and then suppresses any surrounding noise so that your speech is what comes through ahead of unwanted background interferences. Like the AZ80, ambient noise reduction is well implemented to blot out wind and blustery conditions when the weather becomes an issue.
Loading up Tidal and selecting Tina Turner’s We Don’t Need Another Hero sees the AZ60M2 make a good account of themselves, dealing with the subtleties and nuances of the track’s dramatic peaks and troughs with respectable agility. There’s texture and weight to the bass plucks, while lighter instrumentation feels suitably delicate amid the drama, all lending itself to an engaging, well-rounded listen.
What about a decent sense of fun and rhythmic drive? Calvin Harris’ Feels is always a good test of whether a pair of headphones can get your head bopping, and the AZ60M2 do an admirable job of eliciting the desired effect. The track’s funky, bouncing rhythm is conveyed nicely, while the personality of Katy Perry’s loose, sometimes suggestive vocal delivery comes across with suitable feeling.
Sviatoslav Richter’s rendition of Debussy’s Claire de Lune serves as a test of the AZ60M2’s proficiency for quieter, more delicate performances, and it’s a similarly pleasing story here, too. There’s space and tactility on display, not to mention clarity and dynamics from such a simple yet expressive piece, that glossy piano texture coming to the fore with real expression.
The problem we find, however, is that although our listening sessions with the AZ60M2 are utterly enjoyable, switching to the rival Sony XM4 for comparison elicits a slightly more satisfying experience than Technics’ admittedly worthwhile efforts. The funky pulse of Feels, the inspirational drive of We Don’t Need Another Hero, even the subtle expressions of Claire de Lune, it all just feels more enjoyable when listened to through Sony buds. Place them both side by side on a table, and your hand, and heart, will inevitably be drawn to the XM4 buds in opposition to Technics’ game pretender.
The EAH-AZ60M2 are another assuredly competent effort from Technics, a strong pair of all-rounders that exhibit few glaring weaknesses while performing solidly across the board. There’s a respectable number of well-designed features to show off, an utterly satisfactory level of build quality and a genuinely competitive sound, all delivered with confidence and subtle style.
If you end up getting a pair as a gift, there’ll certainly be no need to grit your teeth and practice your best forced smile, because you’ll have received an unquestionably capable pair of wireless earbuds.
- Sound 4
- Comfort 4
- Features 4
Read our review of the Sony WF-1000XM4
Also consider the Apple AirPods Pro 2
Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review