The Technics EAH-AZ40 are great-sounding mid-range earbuds but omit key features found on many of their similarly priced rivals
- Stylish and comfortable
- Detailed, spacious sound
- Effective ambient modes
- No ANC
- Lack wear detection
- No wireless charging
Technics knows a thing or two about high-quality sound, being the brand Panasonic uses to release premium hi-fi audio hardware, and while the EAH-AZ40 are aimed at a more mainstream market they deliver impressive audio quality wrapped up in what is a stylish and very comfortable package.
However, their feature set is more limited than some rivals and, without active noise cancellation or wear detection, they fail to truly stand out in a highly competitive market.
Technics EAH-AZ40 review: What do you get for the money?
The Technics EAH-AZ40 have a list price of £130 and are available in three colours: silver, black and rose gold. They operate over Bluetooth 5.2, which is the latest version, but codec support is limited to just SBC and AAC.
Four pairs of silicone eartips are included to help you achieve a secure fit and you also get a USB-C cable for topping up the charging case. Total battery life of both the earbuds and case is around 25 hours, with Technics stating the buds will last up to seven-and-a-half hours on a single charge. Quick charging means that just 15 minutes in the case will provide the buds with 90 minutes of playback time.
The EAH-AZ40 make do without active noise cancellation or wear detection, but they do offer two ambient sound modes: Transparent and Attention. The former lets in all environmental sound, while the latter specifically enhances voices.
You’ll need to download the Technics Audio Connect app to switch ambient modes, but a whole host of additional options make doing so worthwhile. Most useful are the EQ presets and five-band graphic equaliser, which you can use to create a custom EQ. It’s also possible to fully customise the EAH-AZ40’s touch controls, turn off Multipoint pairing, which allows you to remain connected to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, and select the voice assistant you want linked to the earbuds.
Other options include being able to turn off the LED that blinks continuously when connected over Bluetooth, selecting how much background noise gets cut out when on phone calls, and a “Find headphones” feature. The latter pings the buds if they’re switched on and in the vicinity and it can also be used to reveal the last known location they were connected to your phone.
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Technics EAH-AZ40 review: What do we like about them?
Most wireless earbuds are drab affairs but the Technics EAH-AZ40 are actually rather eye-catching. Attractive reflective surfaces make up a significant proportion of their outer housings and I’d consider the silver pair I was sent among the most handsome earbuds in my collection.
They’re also extremely comfortable. The nozzles of the buds created a solid seal in my ear canals without feeling overly intrusive and the housings of the buds sat flat against my ears. They remained completely secure throughout testing and that, combined with their IPX4 rating for water resistance, makes them a good option for use while exercising.
The EAH-AZ40’s ambient modes also impress. The Transparent option lets in a decent amount of external sound but I found the Attention mode even more useful, particularly in the office. It successfully highlighted nearby voices and allowed me to keep up with conversations while listening to playlists on Spotify at low-to-moderate volume.
And those playlists were very nicely presented by the EAH-AZ40’s 6mm drivers. The soundstage is reasonably wide and this allows the earbuds to communicate a decent sense of scale on grander musical numbers. They’re also able to deliver an impressive amount of mid-range and treble detail – vocal clarity is a real standout – but I found lower frequencies a little undercooked.
This was easily rectified using the custom EQ setting in the companion app, however. With the 100Hz and 315Hz bands boosted a couple of decibels, the soundstage felt better equipped to deliver a punchy “Rave Classics” compilation.
Finally, I found the EAH-AZ40’s microphone quality superior to many of the earbuds in its price range. It effectively picked up my voice while on calls and recording clips and reproduced it clearly and accurately. The earbuds use Technics’ “JustMyVoice” technology to reduce external sound and this worked to an extent: my voice was always front and centre of recordings, but I was able to pick up on the click-clack of others typing around me on recordings and other voices weren’t completely eradicated.
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Technics EAH-AZ40 review: What could be improved?
I’ve mentioned that the EAH-AZ40’s bass response could be a little beefier, but this isn’t too big a deal given the EQ options at your fingertips. I would have liked to have seen support for other codecs in addition to AAC and SBC, however.
Active noise cancellation (ANC) is no longer the prohibitively expensive technology it once was and as a result, the earbuds that have it are getting cheaper all the time. This makes its absence here sting a little. We’ve reviewed numerous affordable ANC buds over the past year or so, including the Sennheiser CX Plus, which cost the same as the EAH-AZ40, and Oppo Enco Free, which are available for £89.
Granted, you rarely get amazing noise cancellation for that kind of money but any sound attenuation is welcome when you’re commuting or in other noisy environments. The EAH-AZ40’s passive noise isolation isn’t bad but I found myself having to push the volume right up in certain situations, which I’d rather avoid doing. Technics does produce ANC earbuds – the EAH-AZ60 – but these are rather dearer at £200 and have significantly bulkier housings.
The EAH-AZ40 also omit wear detection and, therefore, don’t automatically pause audio when removed from your ears or resume it when put back in. The inclusion of ambient modes goes some way towards making up for this but, in an ideal world, I’d like to see both. There’s also no wireless charging, which isn’t something I missed all that much, but is nice to have if you own a Qi charging pad.
Technics EAH-AZ40 review: Should you buy them?
If you can look past the fact they’re light on features, you’ll find plenty to like about the Technics EAH-AZ40. Sound quality is high and can be customised to a decent degree, both ambient modes work well and the buds are supremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The companion app is simply laid out, too, and provides plenty of ways to tweak your experience of the features that are there. It’s just a shame that these don’t extend to ANC, wear detection or wireless charging – key features that are found on many other earbuds available for under £150.