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Technics EAH-AZ80 earbuds review: top-notch sound and one truly unique feature

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Once you’re looking for new earbuds, it’s simple to dwell with blinders on and repair most of your consideration on the heavyweight manufacturers like Sony, Apple, Samsung, Bose, Sennheiser, and others. Which means lacking out on some interesting funds choices like these from EarFun, Soundpeats, and Anker’s Soundcore division. However it can also result in you glossing proper over some premium earbuds which might be value severe consideration. Over the previous couple of weeks, I’ve been reviewing one such product — the Technics EAH-AZ80 — and it’s turn out to be clear to me that these have earned a spot within the “finest wi-fi earbuds” dialog. 

For $300, you’d hope that Technics (a model of Panasonic) would be capable of ship one thing worthwhile. This can be a worth tier the place mediocrity in anybody class can doom your prospects. However I’ve but to run into something about these earbuds that feels middling or second price. They sound terrific, provide prolonged battery life, and embody genuinely distinctive capabilities like three-way multipoint; you’ll be able to pair the AZ80 to 3 units on the similar time — typical multipoint-capable buds have a restrict of two — seamlessly hopping between them as you pause music on one gadget and play one thing on one other. 

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The buds themselves, out there in silver or black, look sharp and would really feel at dwelling subsequent to certainly one of Technics’ venerable turntables. There’s aluminum trim on the outer floor, with the Technics emblem engraved in concentric circles. However the aspect that matches into your ear concha has been designed for consolation for prolonged listening, and I’ve by no means observed any soreness or fatigue when utilizing the AZ80. There are seven completely different sizes of silicone ear ideas within the field, which is much extra beneficiant than what you’d get from, say, Sony or Apple. Technics is de facto paying thoughts to these of you with smaller ears; the tip sizes embody XS1, XS2, S1, S2, M, L, and XL. The buds have a water resistance ranking of IPX4 — par for the course amongst flagship earbuds — however the case, which helps Qi wi-fi charging, lacks any such safety towards rain or sweat, so that you’ll wish to preserve it dry.  

Leaping proper into sound, the AZ80 maintain their very own towards the perfect of what’s in the marketplace at this time, akin to Sennheiser’s Momentum 3 Wi-fi and Sony’s WF-1000XM5. The ten-millimeter drivers produce wealthy, enveloping audio with a pure heat to the sound signature even should you by no means trouble touching the EQ sliders or hopping between the presets. Boygenius’ “Not Sturdy Sufficient” is an efficient instance of this, with every of the three voices coming by way of distinctly with wonderful readability in the course of the “at all times an angel, by no means a god” bridge. These earbuds shine with multilayered tracks, whether or not it’s pop (Olivia Rodrigo’s “Vampire”) or rock (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s “Demise Want”), the AZ80 produce an in depth and spacious soundstage. These are about as constantly pleasing as wi-fi earbuds get by way of dynamics and general presentation.

Technics despatched a leather-based case for the case to reviewers, however sadly, it doesn’t include the earbuds.

Technics additionally affords energetic noise cancellation that’s greater than respectable. It falls wanting the perfect contenders, like Sony’s newest 1000XM5 or Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds II, however isn’t drastically behind. And the audio constancy high quality makes up for being a step behind in ANC. The hole is wider in the case of transparency mode. I really feel like a damaged report at this level, however the ambient sound passthrough right here isn’t as natural-sounding as Apple’s AirPods Professional 2. It’s value adjusting the extent of outdoor noise that comes by way of by way of Technics’ cellular app for the perfect outcomes. You’ll be able to select the usual ambient sound mode or another choice that focuses on voices — helpful if you wish to hear an announcement at a practice station or airport. 

These aren’t the tiniest earbuds round, however their form makes all of the distinction for consolation.

Battery life is greater than adequate at round seven hours with noise cancellation enabled and upward of eight hours should you’re someplace quiet and might depart it off. That longevity can shrink should you’re listening at loud volumes or steadily streaming at LDAC high quality, however even in these instances, I didn’t really feel shortchanged, and the AZ80 by no means lower out unexpectedly. Voice calls proved passable, and Technics’ JustMyVoice isolation know-how may help get rid of a loud background so different folks can hear your voice even should you’re in a loud setting. Your speech can sound a bit clipped when utilizing JustMyVoice at full energy, but it surely’s a helpful instrument to have when wanted.

The three-way multipoint, which Panasonic claims is an business first for earbuds, works surprisingly nicely. I don’t have a pill presently, so I examined it with my laptop computer and two telephones. The Technics earbuds had no hassle following me alongside to no matter machine had my consideration at that second. The one tradeoff that comes with triple multipoint is you could’t use the higher-bitrate LDAC Bluetooth codec on the similar time; you can stream over LDAC by sticking to common two-way multipoint or, if you need most audio constancy and connection stability, the AZ80 might be configured to attach solely to a single machine at a time. 

The AZ80 can pair with as much as three units on the similar time.

All of those settings can be found within the companion cellular app, which is stuffed to the gills with options and changes for a spread of the earbuds’ features. The app can allow you to hear a preview of how your voice sounds on calls with Technics’ JustMyVoice filtering energetic. You’ll be able to optimize the noise cancellation for the perfect efficiency wherever you might be by adjusting a slider that makes it goal completely different frequencies. There’s a slew of EQ choices; I caught with the default, however “dynamic” additionally sounded very good to my ears. And the app helps you to dial in precisely how a lot ambient sound you wish to pipe by way of at any time when transparency mode is engaged.

The Technics Audio Join app does… loads. Some would possibly say an excessive amount of.

Cramming this a lot into an app can shortly show detrimental if the software program is buggy or has connection points, however I didn’t run into any issues with the Technics Audio Join app when testing throughout each Android and iOS. The deluge of preferences can really feel just a little overwhelming, but it surely all works, which is the vital half. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that simply as with different standalone earbud makers that lack a {hardware} ecosystem, Technics can’t match the seamless cross-device methods of Apple and Samsung.

Dropping $300 on a pair of earbuds isn’t any small funding. However should you’re in search of one thing off the crushed path and aren’t feeling enticed by the big-name manufacturers, Technics has produced a worthy set of flagship buds with the EAH-AZ80. They sound great, have ample noise cancellation, and include sufficient ear ideas that I can’t think about anybody being left with out the fitting match. And the three-way multipoint is an entirely distinctive promoting level that not even Sony, Apple, Bose, and different main rivals can match. If you happen to’re a heavy-duty multitasker, that is likely to be cause sufficient to attempt one thing new. 

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge

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