Technics EAH-AZ40 Review
The Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds boast a smooth and spacious sound, terrific design, solid transparency modes and good call quality.
- Spacious and smooth audio
- Comfortable to wear
- Solid ambient sound modes
- Stylish appearance
- Lacking fidelity and dynamism out the box
- Rivals feature noise cancellation
- UKRRP: £129
- USARRP: $129
- Built-in AlexaSupport for Alexa is baked in, while other assistants can be accessed through a mobile device
- Acoustic Control Chamber and HarmonizerHarmonizer enables smoother and more natural treble performance, while the Acoustic Control Chamber optimises bass and mid-range
- Natural Ambient modePasses through a wide range of sounds for situational awareness
- JustMyVoiceIsolates and amplifies words while minimising surrounding noise during calls
It’s becoming a repeated refrain as far as Trusted Reviews is concerned with the true wireless market – there’s just so many options from which to choose.
Every brand is getting in on the action, trying to appeal to a wide range of customers. When Technics last launched a true wireless pair, the AZ70W, it was pre-pandemic. Times have changed and Technics has tweaked its approach, focusing on call quality and comfort at a time when online video calls have become a regular fixture.
And at £129, the EAH-AZ40 jump ear-tip first into a competitive area of the wireless headphone market. With Beats, Sennheiser, Cleer, and Urbanista all vying for attention, the Technics are different in that they don’t come with noise cancellation. Nevertheless, the AZ40 put forward a confident case that you needn’t necessarily have it at this price.
- Compact and lightweight design
- Comfortable to wear
- Excellent noise isolation
The EAH-AZ40 are available in range of subdued colours, from Technics’ traditional silver look, to black and Rose Gold. I quite like the silver of this review sample, but the Rose Gold is striking too. These earphones land on the more affordable side of the spectrum, but this doesn’t mean they’ve traded for anything less than a stylish appearance. Plugged into the ears they look good, and with their IPX4 rating they could double up for workout use.
At 5g per earphone, the EAH-AZ40 are super-light in the hand – and the shape of the housing is, in my opinion, perfect. They slot easily into the ears, the security of the fit and seal they create blocks an impressive level of ambient noise, which isn’t in a too dissimilar fashion to Sennheisers’ CX True Wireless range. Considering the number of earphones at the AZ40’s price point that have jumped on the ANC train, the Technics make the case that noise cancellation isn’t the must-have feature people believe it to be.
Four ear-tips sizes can be found in the box, from extra small to large, and as mentioned the earphones are rated to IPX4, which protects them from water or sweat. Note that the case doesn’t have an IP rating – but it’s as dainty as the earphones, and its brushed aluminium appearance is, again, rather stylish.
- Solid Transparency mode
- Decent battery life
- Well-featured app
Unlike the Sennheiser CX Plus or Beats Studio Buds, the EAH-AZ40 don’t offer active noise cancellation to reduce the impact of ambient sounds. And, arguably, they don’t need it, their noise-isolating design is good enough to blot out most sounds with ease.
You do get a Natural Ambient mode, however, and its performance here is better than the one I sampled on the Panasonic RZ-S300W. Those wireless earphones were plagued by an inconsistent and artificial sound, but the Technics earphones are much clearer.
I should add that the Transparency mode here isn’t the most detailed or incisive. Walking towards London Victoria, I was met with a broad sense of what was around me – but whether it was a small car, 4×4 or truck, they all tended to sound the same as they whooshed past. You don’t get the same level of nuance the Studio Buds can offer, but it’s a nit-pick in what is a solid go at offering more awareness.
Attention mode focuses on voices and is best used for listening to announcements or engaging someone else in a conversation. Its performance is good, a clear difference between it and the Transparency mode as it locks onto people’s voices and tannoy announcements.
Battery life is fairly long at 7.5 hours per earbud and 25 hours in total. Quick maths will tell you that 25 isn’t exactly divisible by 7.5, so you get two-and a-bit charges from the case. Even so, using them over the course of several days, the charge held up well; the number of times I needed to charge them has been relatively few and far between. Plus, a quick charge of 15 minutes is good enough for another 90 minutes of play.
I like the Technics Audio Connect app, in particular its sparse and clean look compared to the more basic-looking Panasonic Audio app. There’s an element of sophistication about its appearance that matches the Technics brand, and in terms of operation it’s swift and frictionless.
The codec in which the headphones are playing is shown at the top right, followed by the name (which you can edit), the battery life of each earbud, followed by the Ambient Sound modes (click through and you can choose between the two modes). Strangely, the Ambient Sound section is replicated twice more elsewhere in the app, which is a bit much.
That’s followed by sound modes and the equalizer with its four modes (Bass, Vocal, Treble, Dynamic), and a custom option with a five-band EQ that can be adjusted from +10dB to -10dB frequencies. Or you can have the sound without enhancement. I’d suggest a play around with what’s on offer.
Find My Headphones is exactly what it sounds like, with a few options to locate the earphones if you’ve misplaced them. JustMyVoice has been added with online video calls in mind and works by isolating and amplifying what you’re saying while reducing ambient sounds.
In my experience, the EAH-AZ40’s call quality is above average. The six individual microphones suppress noise well-enough, the only issues coming in very busy traffic areas. I was told by the person on the other end of the line that my voice came through clearly and wasn’t fighting against the noise to be heard. On a side note, wireless connectivity has been strong, displaying no break-ups in areas such as Waterloo and Victoria.
Shortcuts for Ambient and Sound settings can be found at the bottom, alongside Home and Settings. The latter offers more customisation such as touch controls, Bluetooth signal strength (SBC or AAC) and the voice assistant you want to use (Alexa comes built-in anyway). In addition, there’s a maintenance section that offers tips on how best to clean and maintain the earphones.
- Not the most dynamic sound out of the box
- Good detail, spacious delivery
- Relaxing sound that’s easy on the ears
The Technics EAH-AZ40 offer a genuinely enjoyable sound, as much fun as I’ve had listening to a pair of earbuds around this price for a while. They’re not perfect, lacking definition and a presentation that’s a bit soft, but they’re also very easy on the ears.
Low frequencies don’t have the explosiveness I’d like, and that’s a trait that (for me, at least) is consistent across Technics headphones. The underbelly is softer than some in terms of punch, but compared to the Lypertek PurePlay Z5 ANC, for example, there’s at least more energy to their low-frequency performance.
It’s a spacious and big delivery, too, clear enough to get a good sense of detail; but the space around instruments – those defining edges – isn’t quite as clear-cut. While I can hear where various instruments are placed within the soundfield, they don’t exist as elements on their own, more like a soundstage that’s broadly defined.
Nevertheless, the now Oscar-winning Dune soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is treated with an expansiveness the album warrants, with the bass in Dream of Arrakis displaying a warmth to its expression that makes for a smooth listen. High frequencies are fine, if not quite brought to the fore with the headphone’s default EQ. Switch the EQ mode and there’s more sharpness and refinement to be found.
Dynamism is decent, but the Technics EAH-AZ40 don’t bite into those ups and downs with as much zeal as the Beats Studio Buds. It’s only when playing around with the EQ and picking the Dynamic mode do I get a more pronounced sense of the peaks and troughs in a track. In fact, my preferred mode of listening with the EAH-AZ40 is with the Dynamic EQ on. This doesn’t just offer some more presence across the frequency range (Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge’s Sumaré gains more thrust and punchiness), there’s a better sense of flow and rhythmic ability.
The Technics convey voices of Zara McFarlane in Everything is Connected, for example, or Chris Cornell in Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun, smoothly enough – although there’s a crispness to Cornell’s vocals that does tread on the toes of sibilance when he enunciates “sun” and “wash”.
In any case, it’s a fine rendition and listening to I’m Tired by Labrinth from the Euphoria soundtrack with the Vocal EQ on adds a subtle enhancement by nudging vocals into greater focus without overemphasising or distorting vocals. I a huge fan of these Technics earphones; they’re not the most fidelious, but they are very enjoyable.
Should you buy it?
If you want top-notch comfort The Technics’ design is so lightweight and ergonomic that they slot in the ear with great comfort. In addition, the noise-isolating design is so good that there isn’t much of a need for ANC on this model.
If you think you need noise cancellation There are other wireless earphones around this price that tick off noise cancellation, so if that’s what you want then look elsewhere.
I enjoyed the Technics EAH-AZ40’s performance. They’re versatile enough to perform across a range of genres, and if you do find that they’re lacking with a particular genre, then the EQ options may help. These earphones display the smooth, melodic tone I feel Sennheiser was aiming for with its CX True Wireless earphones but didn’t quite achieve. The EAH-AZ40 are good entertainers with their pleasant performance.
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Tested over the course of several weeks
Tested with real world use
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These Technics only feature support for SBC and AAC, so there’s no room for aptX and higher-quality Bluetooth codecs.
There’s no noise cancellation on this model from Technics, but there is on the more expensive EAH-AZ60.
These earphones can only be charged through the USB-C port.