Technics EAH-AZ70W evaluation: High-notch noise canceling earbuds

I am unable to bear in mind the final time I reviewed a Technics product — it has been that a few years — however the venerable audio model, which Panasonic introduced out of retirement in 2014, seems on the corporate’s line-topping noise-canceling earbuds. The Technics EAH-AZ70W’s record value of $250 (£220, AU$449) places them squarely up in opposition to Apple’s AirPods Professional ($250), Sony’s WF-1000XM3 ($230) and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wi-fi 2 ($300). Whereas they’re a little bit massive, they stack up effectively in opposition to that stiff competitors, with spectacular sound and noise-canceling perform.

LikeExcellent sound and efficient noise cancellationPremium look and feelDecent battery life for noise-canceling true wirelessNoise-canceling ranges are adjustable in companion appTouch controls are responsive (quantity controls on earbuds)Transparency mode (lets ambient sound in)Works effectively for making calls

Do not LikeEarbuds are a little bit largeIt’s priceyNo sidetone when making calls

They’ve an identical look to the Sennheisers and match equally, although not fairly as comfortably. In that sense, they’re a little bit larger than your common true wi-fi earbuds and stick out of your ears a bit farther. Sennheiser managed to shrink the second-gen Momentum True Wi-fi mannequin as Jabra did with its Elite 75t, so this Technics would ideally be smaller. (As it’s, it could not match these with smaller ears.) However that, together with a considerably excessive price ticket, are its solely notable downsides.

The earbuds can be found in two shade choices for $250.

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Learn extra: Finest noise-canceling true wi-fi earbuds of 2020

I used to be capable of get a snug match and tight seal with the medium-sized ear suggestions. That tight seal is essential for optimum sound high quality and noise-canceling efficiency. These haven’t got a sport fin to lock the buds in place, however they did match securely and can be high-quality for exercises on the health club. Just like the AirPods Professional, they’ve an IPX4 water-resistance score, which suggests they’re sweatproof and splashproof.

The included carrying case is not essentially the most compact, nevertheless it’s not too massive and has a premium really feel, as do the buds themselves, with their aluminum shell. Sadly, there is not any wi-fi charging. The case fees by way of USB-C, with battery life rated at 6.5 hours of use whereas the charging case provides one other 19.5 hours of playback. These are first rate numbers for noise-canceling true wi-fi earbuds — the AirPods Professional are rated for five hours — however the numbers have been creeping up for true wi-fi earbuds with out noise cancellation. 

The Technics EAH-AZ70W have “twin hybrid” noise cancellation, utilizing two programs of microphones: feedforward noise cancellation (FF-NC) and suggestions noise cancellation (FB-NC). This hybrid strategy is changing into extra widespread, however Panasonic’s rendition is first rate, proper there with that of Sony, Apple and Sennheiser. And as with plenty of premium earbuds, there is a transparency mode that permits sound to leak into the buds so you’ll be able to hear the surface world.

You possibly can toggle by means of three modes — noise canceling on, ambient noise on and off — by tapping and holding the best earbud. Moreover, the extent of noise-canceling and ambient sound will be adjusted within the Technics Audio Join companion app for iOS or Android. Tapping and holding the left prompts your telephone’s voice assistant or you’ll be able to substitute that for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

The case fees by way of USB-C.

David Carnoy/CNET

In all, I discovered the contact controls responsive and these do have quantity controls — you faucet the left bud twice shortly to show the amount down and 3 times to show it up. The earbuds haven’t got a sensor that robotically pauses your music whenever you take them out of ears, however you’ll be able to have them robotically flip off should you go away them out, say on a desk (exterior the case), after a set time period.

My wi-fi connection was just about rock strong. Panasonic says these earbuds have a “Left-Proper Impartial Signalling System that helps keep a steady reference to correct sound steadiness between proper and left channels.” In future, extra earbuds could have the earbuds join independently to your machine however that is among the many first fashions to tout the characteristic.  

The Technics Audio Join app.

David Carnoy/CNET

The buds are outfitted with 10mm drivers with a graphene-coated PEEK diaphragm that is designed to scale back vibration and distortion, Panasonic says. The final word results of all these options, as I mentioned earlier, is that the EAH-AZ70W earbuds sound good. They’re on the higher echelon for true wi-fi earbuds for sound high quality. They ship detailed, wealthy sound with well-defined bass and a reasonably vast soundstage so the sound would not really feel caught in your head. They work effectively with quite a lot of music and sound comparatively pure for Bluetooth headphones (by that I imply music and vocals do not sound overly processed). They assist the AAC streaming codec however not aptX. 

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wi-fi 2 earbuds are hotter and I appreciated their sound extra. The EAH-AZ70W simply beats the AirPods Professional on the sound entrance, nevertheless, although the AirPods are considerably lighter and extra snug.

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 has larger bass and I discovered it extra snug, though it stands proud out of your ears much more. However the Technics buds have been a pleasure to take heed to. The one exception was some situations once I felt there was a treble push within the excessive mids, which made some feminine vocals sound a contact too vibrant. It is price mentioning that there is an equalizer for tweaking the sound within the Technics companion app for iOS and Android. It would not make an enormous distinction however it would alter the sound profile.  

Panasonic additionally sells the step-down RZ-S500W (proper) for $180. 

David Carnoy/CNET

These earbuds work effectively for making calls, with good noise discount that does an honest job muffling the background noise round you. Callers mentioned my voice sounded clear. The one factor lacking is a sidetone characteristic that permits you to hear your voice within the earbuds so you’ll be able to modulate it higher when speaking. You should utilize a single earbud to make calls. 

Panasonic sells a step-down mannequin, the Panasonic RZ-S500W ($180), which presents comparable options, together with noise cancellation, in a less-premium package deal with smaller 8mm drivers (the case does really feel a little bit low cost). That mannequin is promoting on Amazon for round $155 proper now and might be the higher worth, however the Technics EAH-AZ70W is clearly superior. 

I do assume the EAH-AZ70W’s value must come nearer to $200 for it to compete as a newcomer within the premium true-wireless enviornment (I do anticipate to see some reductions heading into the vacation shopping for season). That mentioned, other than its dimension, it performs effectively and does justice to the Technics model. 

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