Moving straight to the Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds from the Sony XM5 headphones was probably setting these stunning rose gold babies up to fail. But despite how hard I tried, the Technics have failed to woo me. And I really wanted them to.
Here’s what I thought after spending a week with them.
The Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds
They’re the latest in-ear true wireless earbuds from Technics, the company known most for its kick-ass turntables and a strong history in the sound space. The EAH-AZ40 earbuds are pitched as ‘delivering sound with amazing range’, as well as boasting a top-notch voice detection mic for clear phone calls. While I agree with the latter, the former is not something I experienced. Here’s what I thought of the Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds.
Setup & use
Pretty straight forward experience, nothing out of the ordinary to report on here, aside from the standard 2022 tedious account/app set up that you now have to do for absolutely everything. The Technics Audio app is also easy to use. You can switch ambient sound on or off, choose which sound enhancement you’d like – bass+, vocal, treble, dynamic or custom – with the last allowing you to fiddle with the settings. The app gives you battery status and offers its own version of Find My. While it plays a loud jingle, it’s not loud enough to be heard when you’re in a busy environment or the buds aren’t close by. Works fine when they’re loose in my handbag and I’m just walking through the door. You can also switch on location information to see the last place you left the EAH-AZ40 earbuds.
You can only use the app when the buds are in your ears, and you have to wait a bit for the app to register they’re in (loading screen in the first pic). You can, however, change the on-bud controls. Which is great, because I had a lot of issues here (more on that later). There’s not a whole lot else you can do in the Technics Audio app, but it’s enough. Except when it comes to playing around with the sound (more on that later, too).
Look & feel
The Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds come in three colours: black, silver or rose gold, with the charger case matching the colour you choose. The rose gold colour is a nice change from the standard black and white, and I genuinely like it. The coating doesn’t feel cheap, either.
They’re light, 5 grams, and quite small. There’s four different earpiece attachments, so you should find one to suit your ears. But despite the small earpiece and being lightweight, they still fall out of my ear. Not as bad as the Apple AirPods 3rd-gen buds do (they just fall out and onto the floor while I am sitting still). But enough for me to frequently push them back in like I’m shoving a pair of socks into a drawer that should have been cleaned out months ago. Of course, the buds have buttons on them, so I paused the music or activated the assistant enough for it to annoy me. Running was not fun. They fell out too frequently. This issue isn’t exclusive to the Technics EAH-AZ40 buds, so I’m starting to think it’s not them, it’s me. As you can see in the pic below, they don’t look too big, which is great, but you can see the reality of how they actually fit.
Battery & charge
Technics promises up to 7.5 hours playback from a single charge, which is a little more than what I got, but I was playing with them a lot. You’ll get a total charge of up to 25 hours in the charging case. A great feature if you’re terrible at keeping things charged, add to that a 15-minute quick charge will give you 90 minutes of playback time. Enough for a gym sesh.
How do the EAH-AZ40 buds sound?
Not great, if I’m honest.
Listening to music
At the start, I mentioned Technics bills the EAH-AZ40 buds as ‘delivering sound with amazing range’, but I’m not sure what range they consider to be range. To test this, after listening to my ‘own’ music taste, I popped on Bad Guy by Billie Eilish and, would you look at that, the bass in the background sounds great and her breathy voice is clear, distortion-free, even up at max. The xylophone tings at the chorus were enjoyable and the hand claps weren’t overpowering. The EAH-AZ40 buds are great for pop.
The first song I usually test on any speaker/headphones is Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. This song requires the kit to do well across low, mid and high frequency, all thanks to his voice. His upper register is known for his androgynous, agile falsetto and a powerful and expansive (yet not screamy) range. We also get singing as soft as a whisper and the strumming of a sometimes overpowering acoustic guitar. The Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds handled his range well, very well. Buckley was clear and powerful at full volume. At times, max was too high, but turning it down a little solved my sound-bleeding issues.
So why am I not happy with the sound? Well, if we move out of mainstream, the EAH-AZ40 buds let me down. Another track I often play is Aerials by System of A Down. It starts low, builds up into a mammoth explosion after some guitar riffs and a violin. As the lyrics come in, the buds start to sound tinny. It’s like they’re trying so hard to keep up with not distorting the instruments that the vocals suffer. As we get heavier (Into the Earth by Lorna Shore, for those of you playing at home), it’s at times, a tinny mess. The vocals are distorted and the instruments all bleed. Blastbeats are not handled well, at all. It’s a similar case when I head into the EDM space. While pop was handled well by the EAH-AZ40 buds, there was something about pop vocals on an EDM track that sounded like I was listening to a song via my iPhone’s in-built speaker out loud. The beat, however, sounds good.
The bass is too much. But there’s not enough pre-set options to choose from and Average Joe ain’t gonna know that their 10K is supposed to go up or down by ‘X’ amount of dBs.
With six individual mics and advanced wind noise reduction, Technics would tell you the EAH-AZ40s transmit your voice clearly on each call and that its JustMyVoice technology isolates and amplifies words while minimising surrounding noise. On a phone call, I heard my dad on the other end clearly, but talking back, it was like I had my hands over my ears – I had no idea how loud I was talking and my own voice was over-powering. Dad said I was clear, but not as clear as he’s heard me when I’ve called him to test other headphones/earbuds. Outside in the Sydney CBD, I could still hear him quite well, but he said a lot of the outside noise bled into the call.
Video calling on a laptop was again clear, up until the time I had to speak and it was only then I truly noticed the ‘cork’ sensation that happens with in-ear earbuds.
The Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds look great, aren’t super heavy like other buds and have a great battery life. They perform well when you listen to the most basic of music, but I would not even consider purchasing them if you are a music lover. Phone calls are fine, although not as good at Technics would make you believe. While they do boast the ability to connect multiple devices at once (ie, phone and laptop), the experience isn’t as seamless as this is via Apple’s AirPods or Samsung buds if you have a Samsung phone.
Competing with the EAH-AZ40 buds are the LG TONE Free FP9 earbuds ($319), the Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds ($249), the Apple AirPods Pro ($399) and the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds ($388). The Technics EAH-AZ40 earbuds retail for $249. You’ll get a good experience from the Technics, but I can’t tell you it will be a great one.