People’s body shapes have gone either way in the past two years owing to the change of routine during pandemic life, and Technics’s latest true wireless earbuds have gone the way one would most like to admit to. Having launched its first-ever pair in 2020, Technics has honed that debut design for its concurrently released second and third models, the EAH-AZ60 we have here and the lower-specced EAH-AZ40, to make them more slimline and comfortable.
Whereas the first hauls of true wireless earbuds on the market were, out of necessity, relatively bulky compared to the small earbuds on the other end of wires we had been accustomed to, manufacturers’ latest efforts have managed to pack mics, chips and drivers into more discreet housings. And the Technics AZ60 are a perfect example of this.
Open the packaging and you’re greeted by an oval-shaped, slim-profiled charging case that’s considerably smaller than Technics's debut, the EAH-AZ70W. In fact, if you excavated the inside of the older one, you could probably just about fit the new case inside it, Russian Doll-style. The earbuds themselves have followed a similar path: the housings have shed millimetres in thickness and are less bulbous – more drop-shaped than spherical, if you like. That’s an ergonomic evolution, with the new buds’ smaller size (roughly 25mm deep) and lighter weight (7g) making them easier to fit and wear. They don’t require so much twist action to lock them into place and are less burdensome when they’re there. The shallower depth of the housings means they sit flusher in your ear, too, which in our eyes is always a good thing. Thanks to their IPX4 water resistance, they shouldn’t need ushering into a bag as soon as a few raindrops fall – which is just as well if you live in the UK.
We’re pleased to see seven pairs of eartips, in sizes ranging from XS to XL, supplied. In fact, our only grumble from a design point of view is that the charging case is now plastic as opposed to aluminum, which does give the product a less premium feel. This is likely a cost-cutting measure, considering the AZ60 have a cheaper launch price than the AZ70W did. Priced £199 ($229), they slot in just beneath the class-leading competition in the premium sector, the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, and they have a decent specification to help justify that.
Today, noise-cancellation is a given around the £150 ($150) mark, so we’re not surprised it’s front and centre on the AZ60’s spec sheet. Technics has now fallen in line with the majority of true wireless brands by offering both a premium, active noise-cancelling model and a more affordable proposition without noise cancellation (which the AZ40 are).
The AZ60 have four mics per earbud – one feed-forward mic to cancel outside noise, one feedback mic to cancel inside noise, and two mics dedicated to voice detection so that surrounding noise is blocked during calls. It works well: office chatter, road traffic hum and even plane engine whirr are significantly reduced (even if we find the Sony WF-1000XM4 does this even more effectively) and call quality is generally very good from both ends.
Bluetooth 5.2, LDAC support
Battery life 24 hours (7 in earbud, 17 in case) with ANC on
Water resistance IPX4
Dimensions (hwd) Earbuds 26 x 23 x 28mm
Weight Earbuds 7g, charging case 45g
The intensity of the noise-cancelling effect can be adjusted in the Technics Audio Connect app, which is also where you can select whether the AZ60’s ‘Ambient Sound’ mode is Transparent (which amplifies external noise so you can hear things around you without taking your earbuds out) or Attention (the new Attention Mode promises to capture sounds in the human voice frequency range). You can cycle between Ambient Sound and ANC by hold-touching the right bud’s circular interface, however touch controls like this can all be customised in the app, so you can, for example, choose whether you’d prefer a double-tap action to switch tracks or raise volume.
The app demands a download for the clumsy folk among us for its ‘find my buds’ function, too, and lastly it’s also where you can see the current battery status of your earbuds and charging case. Battery life is a competitive 24 hours in total: we find the buds themselves last around six to seven hours (with ANC on), while the charging case can replenish them twice before requiring a recharge itself via USB-C. Handily, a 15-minute charge can deliver 70 minutes of playtime.
That battery life understandably drops (to roughly 4.5 hours in the buds and 16 hours total with ANC on, according to Technics) if you’re playing songs over the high-quality LDAC Bluetooth connection from a compatible device, such as a Sony Xperia 1 III phone or Fiio M11 Pro music player. LDAC support does mean optimal wireless playback through the AZ60 if you have the right equipment, although we’re a little disappointed that the more widely-supported aptX and aptX HD codecs have been left off the earbuds’ menu.
Still, even if your connection is over standard Bluetooth (version 5.2 is supported), the Technics will deliver music to your ears in an enjoyable way. An initial comparison between the AZ60 and older AZ70W reveals how Technics has made sonic headway in its leap from first- to second-generation true wireless earbuds. The AZ60 is notably more transparent, having gained in clarity and detail. Bass is now more prominent, and that extra low-end boldness makes their presentation a little more exciting without overly skewing tonal balance.
We found the AZ70W’s space, solidity and insight worthy of their price, and that goes for the newer model too, the AZ60 being more mature than most rivals – and justifying their price over the cheaper competition with that.
Whether we play Ludovico Einaudi or London Grammar, Mac Miller or Mogwai, there’s coherence to the presentation and a good representation of frequencies that you feel confident are giving you a decent depiction of the recording. The Technics’s sophisticated presentation does mean they tend to sideline dynamic punch and energy and instead prioritise control and refinement – and that comes at the slight expense of musicality. With upbeat tracks, we find ourselves craving more vigour and rhythmic drive. Both the aforementioned Sonys and Sennheisers are, while slightly pricier, more musical, and not only rhythmically stronger but also subtler in the way they lay bare instrumental textures and vocal timbres and express the dynamics of music.
For their premium but fair price, the Technics EAH-AZ60 are very decent buys. You get a design that’s smart, practical and comfortable, a reasonable specification that includes effective noise cancellation, and solid, easy-to-appreciate sound quality. They may not be sonic marvels that do everything best in class, but they certainly see Technics edging closer to the class leaders in the premium true wireless market.
- Sound 4
- Features 4
- Build 4
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