In a category flooded with brands you never heard of, history is worth something, so here’s a quick recap. Panasonic launched Technics in 1965 to address the upper end of the burgeoning hi-fi market and the brand quickly gained a reputation for producing quality gear, starting with a speaker (the Technics 1) to compete with the likes of Acoustic Research and expanding into the amplifiers before releasing its pièce de résistance, the SL-1200. The turntable has been in production in various iterations for all but a handful of the past 50 years (the brand was on hiatus between 2010 and 2016).
Technics conceived the new EAH-AZ40 (left, $150) and EAH-AZ60 ($230) noise-canceling wireless earbuds in response to the growing “work from anywhere” trend. At the core of both models is a newly developed technology called JustMyVoice, which in the words of product planning manager Koji Kuwahara, “actively detects and captures your voice, while analyzing and isolating surrounding noise” to ensure clear calls.
A network of six (AZ40) or eight (AZ60) microphones detect the wearer’s voice and use beamforming to reduce surrounding noise. Two of the mics are embedded deep inside the earbuds and designed to further improve call quality by minimizing the vibrations caused by the rush of air on windy days.
Music listening is enhanced through the use of a special acoustic chamber designed to boost bass and enhance the midrange by optimizing air flow. The chamber works in tandem with a “harmonizer” that works to smooth the treble as sound exits into the listener’s ear.
Driver size is one of three key differences between the models. The AZ40 uses 0.24-inch driver, while the AZ60 has a slightly larger 0.3-inch diaphragm, which accounts its 0.25-ounce weight versus 0.18 ounces for the AZ40. The AZ60 also employs Technics’ higher level “dual hybrid noise cancelling” technology, which uses feedforward and feedback noise cancellation to minimize unwanted sounds inside and outside the headphones. Finally, the AZ60 supports Sony’s LDAC coding technology, which enables hi-res wireless streaming up to 96 kHz/24-bit via Bluetooth.
Both models are water-resistant and equipped two ambient listening modes. “Natural ambient” lets outside sound through so the listener is aware of his surroundings, while the “attention” mode pinpoints frequencies in the voice range to ensure the listener can hear people talking and announcements in public spaces. Both earbuds are also compatible with the Technics Audio Connect app, which supports Alexa voice control and provides a five-band equalizer along with controls for adjusting ambient noise levels.
Rated battery life for the AZ40 is 7.5 hours with noise cancellation engaged and up to 25 hours with the charging case. AZ60 battery life is slightly lower at 7/24 hours. Both models come with four different-size silicone earpads and sport a new “drop shape” to ensure a tight fit that keeps the buds in place. The AZ40 is available in silver, black, or rose gold, while the AZ60 is offered in silver or black. For more information, visit technics.com.