Laptop Mag Verdict
The Technics EAH-AZ40 sounds superb, but it’s missing key features that are standard on other sub-$150 rivals.
Robust, detailed sound
Highly effective ambient-listening mode
Lots of customization for a mid-range model
Signature features disappoint
Other charging cases hold longer playtimes
No aptX, ANC, and wireless charging support
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Technics recently launched two new wireless earbuds: the EAH-AZ40 and EAH-AZ60. Laptop Mag got its hands on the EAH-AZ40 to see where it ranks among the best mid-range wireless earbuds.
- Our expert picks for the best wireless earbuds, per budget and style
- Check out our Apple AirPods Pro review
- …and our Sony WF-1000XM4 review
Impressive audio quality and features to boot, the EAH-AZ40 offers a taste of what the brand can deliver, but the meal isn’t complete. Brand enthusiasts will find the sound profile dynamic, while Bluetooth 5.2 guarantees reliable wireless performance across all platforms. On the flip side, signature features underperform, plus the lack of ANC and more prevalent codecs hurt its value.
Find out below whether these drawbacks keep the Technics EAH-AZ40 from competing against the market’s more popular selections.
- Technics EAH-AZ40 for $136 at Amazon (Black)
- Technics EAH-AZ40 for $147 at Amazon (Silver)
- Technics EAH-AZ40 for $147 at Amazon (Rose Gold)
Technics EAH-AZ40 availability and price
The Technics EAH-AZ40 launched at $149, but you can score a pair for as low as $136 on Amazon. It comes in three colors: Black, Silver, and Rose Gold. Bundled with the purchase are a charging case, USB-C charging cable, and four sets of different-sized tips.
These buds share the same MSRP as top-sellers like the Beats Studio Buds ($149) and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($149), and are more affordable than category leaders like the AirPods Pro ($249) and Sony WF-1000XM4 ($279). If you’re looking for something less expensive, consider the OnePlus Buds Z2 ($99), which grants solid ANC and sound for a lower price.
Be sure to bookmark our headphone deals page for the latest sales.
Technics EAH-AZ40 design and comfort
The EAH-AZ40 and EAH-AZ60 are practically identical in design, except that the latter is bigger and houses additional hardware. Either way, these are two minimalist, handsome pairs of wireless earbuds. Technics did a convincing job of making plastic look and feel premium, giving the EAH-AZ40 an aluminum-plate-like exterior that comes accented with a glossy finish. I’m a fan of the details too, from the oval shape to the reflective touch panels.
The charging case wasn’t as compelling, as least from a construction standpoint. It feels cheap compared to the EAH-AZ60 case. Dropping it on hard surfaces will draw scratches. At least it is compact for portable convenience and stores the buds safely, thanks to strong magnets that keep the lid shut.
Comfort-wise, the EAH-AZ40 feels stiff on the ear after about an hour of wear. It does a much better job with fit. The angled sound port slides right into the canal and the tips form a tight seal to prevent slippage.
Kudos to Technics for tossing extra tips in the box, accommodating listeners with different ear shapes. An Ear Tip Fit Test would have been appreciated for achieving optimal fit, but its omission isn’t a dealbreaker.
Technics EAH-AZ40 controls and digital assistant
The touch controls and on-ear detection for auto-pause/play are on-point. Input methods are responsive to all touch and hold gestures, and can be personalized on each bud via companion app. You’re also given a full suite of media controls, including playback, volume, call management, digital assistance, and listening mode activation.
These buds come with Alexa integration, and though Amazon’s AI bot works well when manually enabled, voice activation doesn’t run as smoothly. My unit barely responded to any loud spoken “Alexa” commands. Google Assistant, Siri, and Bixby are also compatible and operate better than Alexa. The EAH-AZ40’s intelligible mics picked up every syllable and each program registered commands with precision.
Technics EAH-AZ40 audio quality
Technics’ audio reputation is up there with some of the best, so it comes as no surprise to hear that the EAH-AZ40 is awesome for music listening. Even with smaller drivers (6mm) than the EAH-AZ60 (8mm), the engineers fine-tuned the acoustic chamber and harmonizer to give these buds superb range and depth. Bass is rich, vocals are clean, and effects sound distinctive.
The hazy and harmonic vocal introduction on Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” was superbly reproduced. It remained prominent throughout the track, while the distorted drums and grumbling bassline created excellent reverb that hit just right. Bringing down the low end several notches, I played Missy Elliott’s “All N My Grill” and loved how well the earbuds highlighted the production’s symphonic elements. Striking, crisp-sounding violins serenaded my ears, the boom-filled kicks and snares were impactful, and even the tinny hi-hats received some shine to showcase the EAH-AZ40’s versatile soundstage.
Much of that sonic vibrance carried over onto orchestral recordings. Etta Jones’ “Don’t Talk to Strangers” was as intimate as I’ve heard on other hi-res wireless earbuds (e.g., Bowers & Wilkins PI7, Sony WF-1000XM4). The singer’s vocal range was given proper representation, exuding passion and sensibility with every lyric. Instruments like the double bass and piano sounded crisp as well.
An EQ is available in the app to tweak sound to your liking. Feel free to create your own profile by adjusting the decibel levels or pick from five effective presets (Bass, Vocal, Treble, Dynamic) that cater to different music selections.
To see the EAH-AZ40 only support AAC and SBC codecs is disappointing, especially since the EAH-AZ60 comes equipped with LDAC. More disappointing is the exclusion of aptX on both models, which is standard on most wireless earbuds.
Technics EAH-AZ40 special features and app
Most functionality runs through the Technics Audio Connect. Presentation is clean, navigation is simple, and there is lots to explore. Some of the basics include a Find Headphones mode, battery level indicators for each bud, connection mode for prioritizing sound quality or connectivity, voice assistant selection, and an Auto Power-Off setting. I also touched on the EQ in the previous section. Now let’s get to the other heavy hitters.
Active noise cancellation is reserved for the EAH-AZ60, but the EAH-AZ40 does have some noise-isolating capabilities to block out background interference. The buds won’t completely silence high frequencies or engine rumble, but will put a kibosh on chatty crowds at best. There is also a noise suppression feature hidden in the back end that comes with three different settings, though each has a trade-off that results in either latency or frequent sound interruptions.
An Ambient Sound Control mode is available to increase your awareness of surroundings. You can switch between two settings: Transparent for full ambient listening or Attention to focus on voices. The former allowed me to hear my infant child crying during naps, as well as oncoming traffic, while the latter was perfect for engaging in clear-sounding conversations with the missus from several feet away.
Probably the buds biggest feature, at least based on the promotional materials, is JustMyVoice. Enabling it is said to detect voices when speaking and eliminate external noises during phone calls. I tried it a few times and noticed very little difference, something I share more in further detail later in the review.
Technics EAH-AZ40 battery life and charging case
Battery life is rated at 7.5 hours per charge. Factor in high volume, streaming, and special features, playtime drops down to 6.5 hours. This is higher than the AirPods Pro (4.5 to 5 hours), but budget models like the $79 Jabra Elite 75t generate similar playtime for much less. I was fine with the 3 days of moderate use (2 hours daily) these buds provided before tossing them into the charging case.
Speaking of which, the case holds up to 25 hours total when fully charged. That equals about 3.5 extra charges. Overall playtime falls short of other mid-rangers like the AirPods 3 (30 hours) and JBL Live Pro Plus (28 hours). No wireless charging and mediocre quick charging (15 minutes for 1.5 hours of listening time) also works against the EAH-AZ40.
Technics EAH-AZ40 call quality and connectivity
The EAH-AZ40 is a below-average calling headset. Indoors is where you’ll get decent performance, primarily in quiet settings. I chatted clearly with clients on Zoom calls in the office, though there were some complaints of muffling. Taking calls outside was a struggle since the mics picked up a lot of ambient noise and demonstrated poor wind resistance, which, according to my wife, made me sound choppy and distant.
Bluetooth 5.2 does live up to its billing, giving the EAH-AZ40 super-fast connectivity with compatible devices. Pairing to my Samsung Galaxy Note S20 Ultra and MacBook Pro was instantaneous. Range is lengthy at up to 40 feet, enough to jump from room to room or walk across the house without any dropout occurring. Multipoint technology to pair the buds with two devices simultaneously is another sweet bonus.
The EAH-AZ40 gives you great audio and functionality for the price. Technics also did a surprisingly good job with the controls across the board. However, several other rivals in the sub-$150 category do the same.
Being the mid-range model means losing out on high-end perks that the pricier EAH-AZ60 carries (e.g., ANC, LDAC). The brand also didn’t put much effort into refining Alexa integration or signature features that were advertised for improved call quality and noise reduction.
Is it worth the purchase? That depends. If you value brand credibility and want buds that can pump out well-rounded sound at an elite level, the EAH-AZ40 is worthy of ownership. But there are other options like the Studio Buds that can get you more bang for your buck.