Given Technics’ commitment to the headphone market since its resurrection in 2014, the brand’s entrance into the popular true wireless earbuds world was inevitable.
The debut buds have arrived in the form of the Technics EAH-AZ70W, and, like their over-ear and wired earbud cousins, they are aimed at the more discerning end of the market.
They also feature noise-cancelling functionality, built-in Alexa voice control and a decent battery life, but do they have what it takes to beat the best-in-class Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 and Sony WF-1000XM3?
We seldom have reason to criticise the presentation of Technics kit, and the EAH-AZ70W don't buck that trend. They don’t look much different to the competition, with a curvaceous, elongated shape that’s somewhat par for the course. They are about 2cm deep so should nestle into your ear canal without protruding much. We find their fit light, comfortable and secure.
They have the reliably tasteful look of a Technics product, thanks to their smart brushed-aluminium look. An IPX4 splash-resistant rating means they shouldn’t be spoiled by a bit of rain or sweat either.
Amazon Alexa Yes
Battery life 6 hours (BT + ANC)
Battery life charging case 12 hours
The circular plates bearing the Technics branding provide a decently sized area for a finger to tap in order to control playback. Tapping either earbud once pauses or plays a track and answers phone calls (touch and hold to end or reject a call), but each bud has its own specific set of controls too.
Touching and briefly holding the left earbud launches your phone’s voice assistant, while the same on the right earbud cycles between noise-cancelling on, off and ambient sound.
Quickly tapping the left earbud twice or three times decreases or increases volume respectively, while the same gestures on the right earbud skip forward or backwards a track. We can’t fault the accuracy, although you do have to be fairly definite in your taps to avoid confusion between functions.
You can do away with touch controls altogether thanks to built-in Amazon Alexa support. Simply pair the Technics to your Amazon account within the Alexa app and you can control playback and get hands-free answers to all your burning questions.
Battery life is around 18 hours from a single charge (six from the buds, 12 from the USB-C charging case), which is perfectly adequate in practical terms, though less than the 24 and 28 hours playback time of the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds respectively. Naturally, you should be able to squeeze more hours out of them with noise-cancellation turned off. And, if you are after a quick fix, a 15-minute fast charge provides 70 minutes of playback.
The Technics EAH-AZ70Ws were first unveiled during CES 2020 in January this year, where the company detailed its three-pronged approach for its first true wireless earbuds – combining excellent noise-cancellation, stable connectivity and class-leading sound quality.
Technics created its own noise-cancelling technology, called Dual Hybrid Noise-Cancelling Technology, which essentially adds digital processing to the traditional analogue feedback method. It is handled by three microphones in each earbud, blocking unwanted noise both inside and outside of the headphones. It significantly reduces background chatter and road noise, but doesn’t completely silence them.
The Technics Audio Connect companion app offers the means to adjust noise-cancellation – helpful if you’re after a diluted effect – and is also where you can activate Ambient Mode, a common feature of true wireless buds that amplifies external noise so the user can hear traffic noise or train announcements. The app also lets you select sound modes, view battery status, and help find your misplaced or stolen buds by revealing their last known location.
To improve the connection stability, Technics has chosen to keep the left and right earbuds independent. Each receives a signal from the music source, rather than one bud passing the signal to the other channel in the more common master and slave configuration.
Technics has chosen to use newly-developed 10mm dynamic drivers, with graphene-coated diaphragms that increase their strength and high and midrange frequency performance. An acoustic chamber inside each earbud has been designed to optimise the airflow generated from the driver, too, theoretically delivering a spacious sound with deeper bass. These efforts have paid off.
What strikes us about the EAH-AZ70Ws’ sonic character is their openness and how deep in the bass they go. With Mac Miller's What's The Use?, the defining bassline is not only deep-rooted but also deft and defined, the Technics capturing its groovy playfulness and the way it underpins the track and drives it forward.
It’s not too overpowering either, the midrange is solid and punchy and exercises a good level of detail. His vocal delivery sounds rightfully soulful and buoyant in the chorus and full of his distinctive quips during the rapped verses, while the accompanying beat is suitably snappy.
The EAH-AZ70Ws’ space, solidity and insight are worthy of their price. Although they are benchmark performers in a lower price category, the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 buds sound much cruder in comparison. However, the Technics don’t quite manage to outpoint the similarly-priced Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earphones, which expand on the Technics’ skillset with greater articulacy and dynamic expression. Ultimately, that costs the Technics a fifth star.
Listen to a live recording of Fink's Trouble's What You're In, and while the Technics compel with their incisive and insightful character, the Sennheisers draw you into the track more by revealing greater nuances – the subtler dynamic discrepancies in the finger-plucking, the variations in his vocal inflections.
While the Technics may not be the best-value noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds out there, they are still a good proposition. They’re entertaining to listen to, comfortable to wear and pleasant to use. And for that reason, their inclusion on your shortlist is worthwhile.
- Sound 4
- Comfort 4
- Build 5
Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review