Technics EAH-AZ80 Assessment: Are These the Finest New Earbuds of 2023?
Stellar sound and excellent noise canceling with improved match
Good battery life
Can pair with three gadgets concurrently
LDAC audio codec assist for Android gadgets
Voice-calling efficiency is first rate however could possibly be barely higher
On the time I am penning this overview, Sony is gearing as much as launch its rumored and much-anticipated WF-1000XM5 earbuds, the follow-up to its wonderful XM4s that earned a CNET Editors’ Selection in 2021. These upcoming Sony buds — presumably dubbed the WF-1000XM5s — are thought of the odds-on-favorite to be the highest earbuds for 2023. However wait! One other Japanese firm, Panasonic, has launched a shock contender, the EAH-AZ80, underneath its flagship Technics model. These are next-generation earbuds that not solely sound terrific however characteristic excellent noise canceling in a extra ergonomic design. They’re accessible in two coloration choices — black or silver — and carry an inventory worth of $300.
Geared up with Bluetooth 5.3, the EAH-AZ80s have nearly every part you’d need in a set of earbuds, together with wi-fi charging, assist for Sony’s higher-resolution LDAC audio codec for Android and different gadgets that assist it and the power to pair with as much as three gadgets concurrently (Panasonic says that is an “trade first” for multipoint pairing). However extra on all that in a minute. Let me begin with my one small gripe, which can not apply to you — and your ears — however may affect some individuals.
Learn extra: Finest Wi-fi Earbuds for 2023
Improved match (principally)
Panasonic discovered one thing from its earlier earbuds, which included the EAH-AZ70W that I reviewed favorably again in 2020. As a consequence of their form, they did not fairly nestle in my ears in addition to they in all probability ought to have and a few individuals complained that they put stress on sure components of their ears after utilizing them, for a short time. That is modified with this mannequin as Panasonic has revised its design to higher conform to the pure form of your ear, significantly that a part of the ear referred to as the concha.
The EAH-AZ80s now nestle in my ears higher, becoming extra comfortably and securely. My solely challenge was that I used to be form of in between a big and extra-large ear tip — six sizes are included — and the form of the ear tip wasn’t fairly completely suited to my ears (I had the identical challenge with Sony’s WF-1000XM4 buds). I used to be capable of get a decent seal, however the extra compact AirPods Professional 2 and new Beats Studio Buds Plus match just a little extra comfortably.
Since I overview so many earbuds, I’ve obtained plenty of additional ear ideas, so I went in quest of a greater match and ultimately discovered a set of ideas from my assortment that labored just a little higher. The vast majority of individuals in all probability aren’t going to have my drawback, however considerably beefier buds like Sony’s WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wi-fi 3 can pose a match problem for some individuals. The EAH-AZ80 aren’t overly weighty for high-performance earbuds however they do weigh 7 grams per bud or simply 0.3-gram lower than the Sony WF-1000XM4s. They appear pretty sturdy — I dropped a bud onto the pavement as I used to be strolling my canine — and are IPX4 splash-proof so you possibly can run with them (they did keep in my ears whereas I ran with them, however that might not be the case for everyone).
I assumed the contact controls had been fairly responsive and labored properly. You’ll be able to customise what your faucets (or faucets and holds) do within the Technics Audio Join app for iOS and Android, which does supply a wealth of settings choices, not so in contrast to Sony’s Headphones app.
I praised Technics’ earlier earbuds for that includes excellent sound high quality. However the EAH-AZ80s take it up a notch on the sound entrance and are proper up there with the very best-sounding earbuds, together with the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 S2. These buds do not characteristic twin drivers just like the Bowers & Wilkins’ buds do, however Panasonic says they’ve a brand new 10mm driver with a “free-edge aluminum diaphragm that delivers the best sound high quality ever from Technics’ true wi-fi earbuds, extending excessive and low frequency response whereas lowering undesirable resonance and distortion.”
The readability and depth to the sound is spectacular, and I seen a slight increase in sound high quality once I paired them with a Pixel 7 Professional with LDAC assist and a streaming service like Qobuz that serves up high-resolution audio tracks. In addition they sound wonderful with an iPhone 14 Professional, which makes use of the AAC audio codec, although Qobuz does sound higher than Spotify. Notice that it’s a must to activate LDAC in Technics Audio Join app to make use of that audio codec on Android and different gadgets that assist it.
They lack that additional little bit of bass extension that high-end wired earbuds supply, together with Panasonic’s personal Technics EAH-TZ700 in-ear displays ($1,200), however for wi-fi earbuds, they ship a premium audio expertise that measures as much as just about every part that is on the market on this worth vary and even larger. You get plenty of earbuds that sound excellent for his or her dimension, together with the AirPods Professional 2, however fewer that characteristic the correct sound with additional readability and three-dimensionality that you simply anticipate from dear headphones.
These are the kind of earbuds that let you distinguish separate devices, even in difficult tracks the place devices get mushed collectively when listening to lesser Bluetooth headphones. Singers’ voices sound pure, there’s good sparkle to the treble (with no sibilance), and the bass is tight. They do not have fairly as a lot bass power because the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 however you possibly can kick up the low-end a bit with the bass or superbass increase settings within the Technics Audio Join app if bass is your factor. (I check bass with tracks like Spoon’s Knock Knock Knock, Athletes of God’s Do not Need To Be Regular, Orbital’s Soiled Rat and typically throw in Taylor Swift’s Vigilante Shit for good measure, as a result of my youngsters inform me she’s type of fashionable.)
Past the handful of preset EQ modes within the app, it’s also possible to create your individual customized equalizer setting. I primarily caught with the default signature sound setting as a result of it sounded simply positive.
Notice that Panasonic has additionally launched a brand new step-down mannequin to the EAH-AZ80 referred to as the EAH-AX60M2. They characteristic the identical options because the EAH-AZ80 however have smaller 8mm drivers and are lacking the ergonomic design improve discovered on the step-up mannequin. I’ve not tried them but, however they checklist for $50 much less and I believe can be discounted to lower than $200 within the not-so-distant future. I might personally advise you to pay the additional cash for the EAH-AZ80 buds.
Upgraded noise canceling and improved voice-calling
In terms of noise-canceling for earbuds, Bose and Sony are on the high, with Apple nipping at their heels. It is all the time actually arduous to say which firm’s noise canceling is healthier — or finest — however the EAH-AZ80 options wonderful noise canceling with a few ambient sound modes (Apple calls it a transparency mode) that lets ambient sound in and lets you hear the skin world.
I spent a number of days commuting on foot within the streets of New York and the buds decreased what appeared like about 85% of the noise round me. Some larger pitched frequencies leaked in (I may hear individuals’s muffled voices) however visitors noise was muted to a pleasant diploma, as was the rumble of trains within the New York Metropolis subway. I do not assume these are fairly on the extent of the Bose QuietComfort 2 earbuds, the present gold normal for noise canceling, however they appeared proper there with Sony WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Professional 2 when it comes to their noise muffling capabilities. (I’m assuming Sony will increase its noise-canceling recreation with the arrival of the XM5s, nevertheless.)
Within the app for iOS and Android, you will discover a noise-canceling optimizer choice that you may have interaction (I ended up jacking it as much as the Max setting at any time when I used to be outdoors). There’s additionally an choice within the app to run a check to listen to how a lot background noise is being decreased when you’re making a name. Additionally, you possibly can go for a “regular” noise discount setting and a “robust” noise-reduction setting (on the robust setting your voice high quality suffers a bit).
Panasonic says its improved JustMyVoice expertise “makes use of eight high-sensitivity MEMS mics, a delicate voice detection sign, and surrounding noise suppression to seize and transmit your voice clearly.” Callers instructed me they may hear my voice clearly on the “regular” noise discount setting but additionally heard a good quantity of background noise, particularly once I spoke. On the “robust” setting, background noise was enormously decreased however I gave the impression of I used to be in a tunnel, callers stated (I may hear them simply positive). I had two individuals inform me they thought the decision high quality was fairly good however less than what you get with new Beats Studio Buds Plus and AirPods Professional 2. (I did one firmware improve already however we might even see extra as Panasonic tweaks options and efficiency).
With the AirPods Professional 2, Apple’s transparency mode is on or off and routinely adjusts to the world round you. With these buds, you possibly can manually modify transparency ranges within the app — I discovered the mode sounded most pure (most like not having earbuds in my ears) once I set it at round 50%. There’s additionally an Consideration mode that you may toggle on, which emphasizes voices so you possibly can hear individuals speaking higher in noisier environments.
As I stated, the one distinctive characteristic is the improved multipoint pairing that lets you pair three gadgets concurrently — say a pc, smartphone and pill. The one caveat is that in case you use the LDAC audio codec, you possibly can solely join two gadgets concurrently, and it is actually finest to have the buds paired to a single machine if utilizing LDAC for optimum bandwidth (you make your multipoint/LDAC choice within the app).
Whereas battery life is rated for as much as 7 hours playback with ANC on (at 50% quantity), I obtained nearer to six hours as a result of I play my music at nearer to 70% quantity. You get just a little greater than three additional fees from the charging case, which, as famous, could be charged wirelessly or through USB-C. There’s additionally a fast cost characteristic that provides you 70 minutes of playback from a 10-minute cost.
Technics EAH-AZ80 remaining ideas
One ought to anticipate so much from earbuds that value $300 — and sure, that is nonetheless so much to pay for headphones, even when loads of individuals appear to be prepared to pay upwards of $450 for the likes of Apple’s AirPods Max headphones. General, Panasonic has finished a pleasant job of making an all-around top-performing set of buds that supply an improved match with wonderful sound, excellent noise-canceling and a sturdy characteristic set.
Voice-calling capabilities are first rate however do not fairly reside as much as their billing (but). Hopefully we’ll see some firmware upgrades that enhance the voice-calling expertise in noisier environments. Regardless of that caveat, so long as they suit your ears properly, the Technics EAH-AZ80 are proper up there with the most effective wi-fi earbuds in the marketplace proper now.