Android Central Verdict
Bottom line: Technics didn't just do one thing right with the EAH-AZ60. It covered almost the whole gamut of what makes wireless earbuds feel and sound exceptional. As a result, the performance pairs nicely with an excellent fit, creating a fierce combination that competes with the best.
Superb sound quality
Elegant and comfortable
Excellent ANC performance
Good app support
Decent battery life
No aptX codec
No wireless charging
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Technics ventured into the wireless earbuds category to go after the big dogs in the race. Think of the likes of Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser on sound quality, as well as the best you can find on design and functionality. It's a combination that comes at a price, but if done right, it gets easier to justify spending more.
That's the case Technics makes with its EAH-Z60 earbuds. Its newest pair aims to take what the company has done in the past and make it even better. The results are easy to like and are significant enough to consider them as serious contenders.
Technics EAH-AZ60: Price and availability
Technics launched the EAH-AZ60 in September 2021, making them available for $229.99. Since then, the earbuds saw a modest price drop, though it's temporary, and could return to the original price in due time. They're also not as widely available as others, but supply seems fine at retailers that carry them. They also come in black and silver variants.
Technics EAH-AZ60: What's good
I hadn't tested Technics earbuds before, but I knew of previous models, like last year's EAH-AZ70. Those are bigger than the AZ60 in both bud and case size. By shaving them down, one would assume Technics cut corners on features, but that's not true. The earbuds are on par with others like them regarding size and fit, while the case is very pocketable.
It helps that there are no less than seven sets of ear tips in the box, all but ensuring you find something that nestles into your ears properly. The reduced circumference in the buds themselves plays a pivotal role because it moves more of the weight to the inner ear (concha), so they don't ever feel like they're precariously in place. This pays off in a big way for audio performance because you don't have to fiddle as much to find the best fit for you.
The 8mm drivers are part of an architecture inside each earbud that helps produce their clean and vibrant sound, and by default, it's hard not to like how crisp everything is. Technics engineered the EAH-AZ60 to push the mids and highs more than the lows, though you still hear solid bass response from the outset. The results are actually kind of stunning. While it's not out of the ordinary to expect that from other brands known for audio fidelity, it's nice to see it coming from a source not everyone may be familiar with.
The EAH-AZ60 also support Sony's LDAC codec for hi-res audio from sources playing music of that quality. To test this, I played tracks from Tidal HiFi, and while there is a slight difference in clarity, I'm not sure everyone will find the contrast with other sources all that perceptible. For me, the most noticeable difference off the bat is that I don't have to raise the volume as much with a hi-res track as I would, say, playing the same one on Spotify.
It's just a bummer Technics didn't include aptX codecs to go with this audio package. Having AAC caters to iOS users, but aptX is a solid alternative for Android users, and it's a shame it missed the opportunity to offer that here. At the very least, you can use Technic's app to adjust the EQ and tune the sound the way you'd like it. One of the four presets is Bass+, though I found Dynamic was better. In the end, I created my own preset with minor adjustments from the default curve, which I considered a nod to how good these are out of the box.
So is the active noise cancelation (ANC). I wasn't sure what to expect in drowning out the background, but the surprises kept coming, as these are almost as good as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds in that respect. Sounds that would seep in with other earbuds were either severely muffled or never broke through. Like Ambient mode, you can adjust the effect's intensity based on your preferences by going through the settings in the app.
Technics also placed an onus on phone calls by equipping each earbud with four microphones. Most earbuds have three, or even two, so four is unusual, but the extra one is there to amplify voices once it hears you talking. To enable its full scope, you have to set up the JustMyVoice feature within the app. I tried it, and while it works well enough, I didn't speak with anyone who noticed a huge difference. Call quality is already excellent, so no complaints there, though I would say that the Jabra Elite 7 Pro are still the best for that. Technics also took the step of offering hands-free access to Alexa. Set it up, and you can raise Amazon's voice assistant by merely saying the wake word.
Touch controls are often finicky on earbuds, but yet again, the EAH-AZ60 come through with surprising efficiency. Single, double, and triple taps worked like magic almost every time. The larger surface area on the outer edge is probably one reason why it reduces false positives. However, it's equally evident the company put some thought into doing it right.
Multipoint connections are also welcome, letting you connect to two devices simultaneously. Pair the EAH-AZ60 with two phones (personal and work) or with a phone and computer/tablet, and you can always take a call when it comes in. The Bluetooth 5.2 connection was solid for me, rarely, if ever, showing any audible hiccup along the way.
Battery life fares decently well with all this stuff going on. I got close to seven hours with ANC on listening to music in AAC or SBC. However, if I was listening to hi-res LDAC tracks, that number whittled down to as low as four hours. The case has at least two extra charges in it, including fast charging via USB-C, where plugging in for 15 minutes can get you a solid hour of playback.
Technics EAH-AZ60: What's not good
When you do so much right, errors and omissions only become more glaring. A puzzling one here is the lack of auto-pause on the EAH-AZ60. Take off either earbud, and the audio doesn't pause — a feature that's a staple in so many other pairs nowadays. True, the onboard touch controls are effective, but it's an odd choice to leave out a sensor that could enable such a convenient feature.
The same goes for the lack of wireless charging on the case. Technics did work to shave off a fair bit of size to this case to make it more portable, but at the cost of including yet another convenient feature. Its absence is more apparent when you routinely listen to hi-res audio because of how much faster the earbuds run out of juice that way. I had to remind myself that I needed a cable handy, even though a wireless charging pad isn't far away in my place.
I mentioned the lack of aptX support earlier, and it stands out to me only because it would've opened other doors for these earbuds. For example, aptX Adaptive would theoretically give these the low latency necessary for gaming or watching movies and shows. But, of course, you can still do those things, just not with an adaptive response time to sync up audio and video more precisely.
And if you are thinking of wearing the EAH-AZ60 for runs or workouts, the IPX4 rating won't give you a whole lot of durability. You can get away with it, but when you're paying more for something this good, be sure to take care of them by wiping them clean afterward every time.
Technics EAH-AZ60: Competition
The Technics EAH-AZ60 are good enough to earn a spot among the best wireless earbuds, putting them in elite company. And they get there for more than one reason, which is what is truly surprising. The sound quality is fantastic, as is the ANC and overall design and functionality. For those reasons, there are only a select few alternatives.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 match Technic's earbuds in every facet, surpassing them in ANC performance, and including features like auto-pause, wireless charging, and hands-free access to both Alexa and Google Assistant. The EAH-AZ60 hold an edge in fit and comfort, but otherwise, Sony's pair are hard to beat.
The same is true of the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, which are arguably more comfortable, offer better phone call clarity, and are considerably more durable for active use cases. Finally, the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless are a compelling alternative when you want to spend less and have aptX Adaptive support. Unfortunately, they just won't fit as nicely as Technic's pair will.
Technics EAH-AZ60: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You hate dangling cables
- You care about audio fidelity
- You want a comfortable fit
- You want active noise cancelation
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You want auto-pause
- You want aptX support
- You want more durability
- You want to spend less
Technics released a real winner here. The EAH-AZ60 are easily one of the best pairs of earbuds I've tested in 2021, and what makes them all the more impressive is their varied performative merits. It's not just the sound. It's also the design, ancillary features, customization, and extensive settings options that make them worth the price tag. If they had the few things they're missing, it would be hard not to crown them with the top spot.
4.5 out of 5
Technics also appears keen to support these earbuds with firmware updates. I got two of them while testing out the EAH-AZ60, suggesting that periodic improvements may only serve to make these earbuds even better.
With how good these earbuds sound, Technics makes it clear you shouldn't underestimate the EAH-AZ60. Excellent design leads to a comfy fit, while solid app support opens the gates to a slew of customizations and settings that make these even better as a solid audio package.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.