The Technics EAH-AZ60 headphones are presented with great ambitions: no more and no less than the best true wireless headphones today. And they were indeed not far from meeting this challenge...
Proud of its Hi-Fi DNA, the Japanese firm Technics insists first and foremost on the sound prowess of its premium true wireless EAH-AZ60 earphones. Promises that are obviously made on the quality of the sound rendering, but also of the voice capture, which the manufacturer knows the stake on a product of this type.
To try to eclipse the WF-1000XM4, Technics has generously filled the technical sheet of its headphones. We find almost all the expected features: active noise reduction "hybrid" (presented as the best of the market), noise listening mode, Bluetooth multipoint connection, LDAC codec, complete mobile companion app, autonomy of 7 hours per charge, IPX4 certification ... In short, the complete armada to try to make its hole in this jungle that has become the market of true wireless headphones.
Construction & Accessories
The EAH-AZ60 are not extravagant in shape and size, but this does not prevent them from enjoying a very satisfactory design quality. The different elements, headphones and carrying case, are mostly protected by plastic parts with different finishes. Assembly marks are clearly visible on the earphones, especially on the part in direct contact with the user's ear. That said, we didn't notice any signs of weakness in this area during our test period. The headphones benefit from increased water resistance (IPX4 certification) and can cope with occasional use in the rain (which should be followed by maintenance to maximize their durability).
The quality of finish is slightly less good on the carrying case. Even if there is nothing to worry about, we quickly noticed that the hinge had a very slight play. Nothing to complain about regarding its design, on the other hand, this one finding without problem its place in a trouser pocket.
Comfort & fit
As we've written, the EAH-AZ60 doesn't revolutionize the wheel and adopts a design that's fairly similar to many headphones on the market. The elongated profile and the curves drawn by these earphones seem particularly ergonomic, and this is verified in practice: they find their place naturally in the hollow of the auricle and are inserted without difficulty at the entrance of the auditory canal, the in-ear tips being besides rather little intrusive. The armada of silicone tips provided (seven pairs of different sizes) offers moreover a very broad choice to the user to optimize the comfort.
In spite of this beautiful attention on behalf of the manufacturer to make the port of the EAH-AZ60 the most universal possible, we notice rather quickly that they are not really addressed to all the ears, especially to the smallest, the fault for a design a little too imposing. Indeed, the earphones occupy a considerable place at the level of the concha (by being wedged under the anthelix to ensure their maintenance in the ear) and can cause a small discomfort on the "average" size esgourdes, even to be particularly awkward for the smallest. On the other hand, the support is almost irreproachable for headphones without stabilizer: the whole remains well in place, even in movement.
Getting started with the EAH-AZ60 is as easy as it gets: Bluetooth pairing starts as soon as you open the box, and all you have to do is search for the headphones on the menu of your source device or wait for the Fast Pair notification on Android smartphones. A nice touch, especially with the presence of the multipoint function (pairing to two devices simultaneously, which is also very well implemented): pairing can be triggered at any time directly on the headphones.
Speaking of controls, the interaction with the earphones is done via their sensitive touch surface, which proved to be responsive and reliable throughout our test period. A total of four controls are accessible per earphone, and the list of actions available is very complete: management of playback, calls, volume, listening modes, navigation between tracks, triggering the smartphone's voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa). Nothing is missing, except perhaps a port sensor to pause/resume playback automatically ... The EAH-AZ60 obviously offer a default configuration for the allocation of touch controls, but it is possible to set them up completely via the companion app of the headphones, Technics Audio Connect.
This aspect of advanced customization is also found on all levels: listening experience (5-band graphic EQ, presets), isolation (level and adjustment of active noise reduction, listening mode ...), wireless connection (different connection modes and codecs). It is even possible to disable certain features (multipoint, LEDs, etc.) or rename the headphones. In short, it's hard to fault this application.
Finally, concerning the Bluetooth connection, we did not notice any problems of stability or range during our test. The EAH-AZ60 are compatible with SBC, AAC and LDAC codecs and can be used in duo as well as in solo (left or right), switching to mono in the latter case as soon as the other earphone is placed in the charging case.
Technics gives only one indication as for the autonomy of its EAH-AZ60, namely 7 h of use per load with the active noise reduction engaged. The duration of use in fact proved to be very close with approximately 6 h 45 min, while passing by the codecs SBC/AAC. A respectable score, even if some direct competitors are more generous (we think for example of the 9 h of the WF-1000XM4, to quote only them). This value has dropped unsurprisingly when switching exclusively to the LDAC codec, to just over 4 h 30 min per charge, again with active noise reduction engaged.
The carrying case, on the other hand, offers two full recharges of the headphones. This one does not support Qi wireless charging and must be connected via its USB-C port to refuel.
Without user intervention, the Bluetooth broadcast delay is about 300 ms: a high value, and more than most recent true wireless headphones which are more like 200 ms. It is almost impossible to watch video content because of the high sound/image lag, but fortunately, these headphones are able to set up automatic compensation with most video playback applications (YouTube, Netflix, Disney+...), making viewing much more comfortable.
A rare point to be mentioned, the Technics Audio Connect application allows you to manually set the headphones in a low latency connection mode. The result in practice is interesting since it allows to limit significantly this one to arrive at a value certainly still a little too high, but clearly more acceptable, which would allow almost the practice of the video game.
A real weak point of their Panasonic RZ-S500W cousins, the EAH-AZ60 are much more efficient on the hands-free issue and offer a particularly convincing pick-up quality, able to follow quite closely the best headphones on the market on this level. We have written a full review of the performance of the EAH-AZ60, which you are welcome to read if you want to know more.
Considering the core business of Technics, it goes without saying that we were very curious to hear what the EAH-AZ60 have under the hood... And the result is clearly there. The true wireless headphones of the Japanese brand offer indeed a very nice listening experience, admittedly a little flattering in some respects, but which remains nonetheless mastered and full of qualities.
The sound signature of the EAH-AZ60 is primarily rich, detailed, energetic and dynamic. The Technics headphones, like many other competitors, are not those that aim for absolute neutrality and thus show a certain affinity for both the extreme lows and a large part of the upper-mids/treble. This slightly "V" shaped profile brings to the reproduction a slightly more vivid, sharp and immersive sound, with a reinforced feeling of impact and depth.
Fortunately, the EAH-AZ60 does not make the mistake of becoming a caricature and retains a true sound homogeneity: the timbres are well preserved, each element, even discreet, is reproduced in a coherent and natural way, and no zone really encroaches on another. We still recommend applying a correction to the upper midrange (-3 to -5 dB depending on your affinities) thanks to the equalizer integrated into the companion app to obtain a more natural treatment and soften the aspect of the latter that is a bit too "sharp", especially when the active noise reduction is engaged.
The very good level of performance offered by the EAH-AZ60 is also based on other aspects: the nice frequency balance and the generous extension in the lowest frequencies, as we mentioned above, but also the nice extension in the high frequencies, the whole combined with a very satisfactory precision and an almost non-existent harmonic distortion on the whole reproduced spectrum. This very solid base allows us to enjoy punchy bass, defined midrange, full and relatively "airy" highs. We also appreciate the way in which the sound scene is reproduced, in particular thanks to the excellent stereo separation which the earphones show, although it does not reach the level of naturalness and fidelity that we can find on the WF-1000XM4 (this one being a little crushed on the plan of the depth).
Active noise reduction
Technics' great promises in active noise reduction led us to expect another good surprise in this area, but the EAH-AZ60s are still a good step behind the big boys.
After taking the time to optimize the active noise reduction algorithm in the application settings, the isolation offered by the EAH-AZ60 is globally satisfactory. Without surprise, this one is the most effective in the attenuation of the noises in the low frequencies (resonances in the bass generated by the wheels of the vehicles, the ventilations...) and even offers approximately 20 dB of attenuation in the low-mediums, which is also felt on the human voices with a clear reduction of the sensation of proximity. On this point, the Technics earphones join the best.
It is on the other hand clearly less the case on the mediums where the ear-phones show a certain weakness: components of certain noises (contact, of clapping, strikes on a keyboard, "metallic" noises) and of the human voice remain perceptible, in particular when one wishes to use its ear-phones only to isolate itself from the external world. In a musical listening situation, close conversations remain slightly audible, although incomprehensible.
The mode of listening to the surrounding sounds Transparent proves on its side convincing. The rendering it offers is relatively well balanced, despite an identifiable attenuation in the high frequencies which prevents an extremely natural perception, in particular to easily locate the location of the elements which gravitate around us. The Attention mode is of little use, except to be perfectly sure not to miss any voice announcement or to hold a short conversation. This mode puts a lot of emphasis on the midrange, in order to maximize the intelligibility of voices, but is not at all natural.
Here is a nice surprise that these EAH-AZ60 from Technics. The high-end true wireless headphones of the Japanese manufacturer manage, thanks to, among other things, very good sound performance and a user experience as complete as it is intuitive, to slowly but surely move into the top tier. Although they do not quite compete with the absolute reference that are the WF-1000XM4, they remain unavoidable if you are looking for excellent true wireless headphones.