The Technics brand was relaunched by parent company Panasonic in 2014 and, after a shaky start, has really hit its stride in recent years – picking up a string of great reviews for its new generation turntables and CD/Streamer combo.
That the company is capable of making fine hi-fi separates shouldn’t come as a surprise, but headphones? The brand has a history of making such things, but we can’t recall testing any that truly impressed. Will the EAH-TZ700 in-ears buck that trend?
Priced at a rather hefty £1100 ($1400), these are clearly premium offerings. It’s hard for any in-ears to look truly premium, but Technics has done a good job here.
The EAH-TZ700s feel classy and well-engineered – a continuation of a pleasing theme we’ve noticed with the brand’s recent products.
Driver unit 10 mm
Sensitivity 102db / mW
Cord length 1.2m (approx)
Frequency response (with cord) 3Hz to 100kHz
Weight (without cord) 7g
Weight (with cord) 22g
They’re available in a graphite black finish (more grey, really) and the housing is made of die-cast magnesium with some of the internal structure using titanium, a metal known for its balance of lightness and rigidity.
Without the leads attached, these buds weigh just 7g each, so excess weight really isn’t an issue.
Unlike much of the competition, the EAH-TZ700’s engineers have gone for a single drive unit, rather than split the frequency range between multiple drivers. They use a 10mm aluminium diaphragm with an air chamber behind it.
The chamber controls the rearward sound radiation and is optimised to help the driver deliver the widest bandwidth.
There are two 1.2m long cables in the box; a balanced option with a 2.5mm jack and a more conventional unbalanced lead with a 3.5mm connection. The industry standard MMCX connector is used at the bud end in both cases.
There’s a choice of no less than eight different rubber tips of various sizes and shapes, so there should be something to suit everyone. We certainly don’t have an issue getting a good fit, which is vital with in-ears. You’ll know if you’ve got a good seal when the bass sounds properly deep and powerful with appropriate music.
One of the hurdles for pricey in-ears is that there is a shortage of truly talented portable audio sources. If you buy at this level, it makes no sense just to connect the Technics to the headphone output of your phone (if it has one). You simply won’t hear what they’re truly capable of.
For phone use, a quality outboard DAC is almost mandatory. The Audioquest DragonFly Cobalt is a fair starting point, but the EAH-TZ700’s performance gets noticeably better when we step up to the likes of Chord’s Hugo 2 (£1800) with our iPhone X.
Or you can go for a top-end dedicated music player, such as Astell & Kern’s A&ultima SP1000M (£1799). If you want to get the best out of in-ears at this level, it will cost you.
Once given a few days to settle, it’s obvious that there’s much to like with these Technics. They’re smooth and refined performers that deliver plenty of insight. We listen to Miles Davis’s All Blues and can’t help but enjoy the confident and authoritative way these in-ears render the music.
Instruments come through with a pleasing amount of natural warmth and body. There’s enough insight to render textures convincingly and plenty of space around each instrument to prevent things sounding cluttered.
We like the way these buds convey the easy flow of the piece, even though they aren’t the last word in rhythmic precision or drive. To us, it sounds like Technics hasn’t gone for outright transparency. The EAH-TZ700s’ tonal balance is skewed to avoid a forward or harsh sound, even if the recording already leans that way.
This safety-first approach makes sense when you listen to less than perfect recordings (or music streams), where the Technics are notably more forgiving than rivals, such as the Sennheiser IE800Ss, the Shure SE846s or the electrostatic Shure KSE1200s.
The downside of such a balance is that when the recording is good those same rivals offer even more insight and, when you listen to the likes of Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads or Jay Z’s Blueprint, more in the way of attack and drive.
Not that these buds are lacking in these respects. It’s more that similar money can buy you even better resolution and greater verve. This is something to bear in mind, particularly if you live on a musical diet of hip-hop or rock.
The EAH-TZ700s are civilised performers. They’re made with care and work well across a wide range of recordings. If you’re after a smooth and sophisticated listen then these are definitely recommended. Just make sure the rest of the electronics are up to scratch.
- Sound 4
- Comfort 5
- Build 5
Read our Sennheiser IE800 S review
Read our Shure SE846 review