The wireless market is heating up. Now, with virtually all the big-name players taking part, it can often be bewildering trying to decide which pair is the best. A lot of that comes down to whether you see yourself using such in-ears as more as hands-free call-makers or tools to transport you into your own musical bubble.
For some, the pull of the Technics brand might just convince you to opt for the premium EAH-Z70W, and there are plenty of reasons why that would be a good decision. This pair is a solid choice.
In a saturated market and with such little material, it’s difficult to produce uniquely designed earbuds that stand out. It’s why we see so many Apple AirPods clones, and so many other non-descript products being launched.
For Technics, the aim was to create something stylish and premium looking, without going over the top. Something that looks like a Technics-branded product should. And the EAH-AZ70W has succeeded.
Both the earbuds feature a metallic-looking plastic cap which – in reality – are made from plastic material, which only subtly contrasts with the black casing of the earbuds themselves. There’s also a white/silver model for a slightly different look.
These buds to protrude rather far outside of the ear. There’s the reason for that, which is mostly down to the tech Technics wanted to fit in and the acoustic design of the internals. There is, for instance, a small acoustic control chamber behind the driver and diaphragm. Gleam proprietary circuit board, touch-sensitive panel and the hardware required to make the built-in noise-cancelling work.
These ‘buds stay in pretty securely – although we did find that the shape wasn’t that optimally designed to snugly easily fit into the ear. We found ourselves often needing to slightly readjust the fit on one side. These in-ears aren’t the kind that fit so well that you can ignore them. It’s not an uncomfortable wear, just that you’ll be able to feel these ‘buds at all times.
Then there’s the issue of the touch-sensitive control. With deliberate actions it works well: you can tap to play and pause the track, or press-and-hold on the right or left to either switch noise-cancelling/ambient modes or launch your phone’s smart assistant. In that regard, it’s a good tool to have. But if you ever have to adjust your hair, your glasses or the match of the earbuds then there’s a chance you’ll brush against the touch-delicate panel and it will pause your music.
Still, the IPX4 rating ensures these in-ears won’t die in the rain. And the overall lightweight build ensures your ears don’t sense stretched half-way to the ground. Each ‘bud forms a good seal with the ear canal too, thanks to flexible silicone tips (which also come in additional sizes).
As for the charging case, that’s a long, flattened pill-shaped carry case which fits neatly enough in a pocket. The metal plate on top is embossed with Technics’ logo and features some subtle pin-striping.
Performance of Noise-Isolation
The Technics true wireless in-ears do a great job at blocking outside noise. The silicone tips seal up the outside of the ear canal’s entry really effectively. Then there’s the added bonus of the active noise-cancelling (ANC) filter to help ensure that once you have these ‘buds in your ears, and you start playing music, you’ll block out pretty much everything happening around you.
In our testing, it didn’t seem to matter what was happening around us, all we could hear was our songs. Whether we were standing in a room with a washing machine deep into its spin cycle, or someone was actually trying to get our attention, we couldn’t hear a thing.
Now Technics does have a relatively basic control app that works alongside in the in-ears to customise elements, including the noise cancelling. So if you want then you can enable ambient mode to hear more of what’s going on around you. That’s useful and really effective too.
Once enabled, you can adjust how much amplification is given to the external mics, increasing how clear you want that ambient noise to be. Like the noise-cancelling, this works well, although having to open up the app on the phone in order to adjust and enable it does make the process of using it a little clunky.
While you can’t adjust the amount of noise-cancelling or ambient sound coming through directly from the earbuds, it is possible to switch it between modes. So change ANC to ambient audio by long-pressing the touch-sensitive panel on the right earbud, or just switch them both of by doing the same again. Essentially, long-pushing cycles between the modes.
It’s an exemplary presentation from the EAH-AZ70W. Using 10mm dynamic drivers and graphene-coated diaphragms, there’s an acoustic chamber carved into the inside of each bud, giving room for the bass to really thump through impressively. Detailed and expressive, you’ll pick out fresh details in songs you thought you knew well. We had a lot of fun listening to the opening crunch of Lenny Kravtiz’s Are You Gonna Go My Way, with its stereo-split duelling guitars providing way to a thunderous bass groove. It’s a great example of the detail in the highs and mids the EAH-AZ70W is capable of, while offering a natural-sounding oomph to the powerful low end.
There’s space for subtlety too, with Judee Sill’s piano-led The Kiss lilting gently across the buds, with the faint reverb of the doubled-up vocal noticeable in a way few true-wireless buds would be capable of.
However, it’s a terrible shame that the EAH-AZ70Ws suffer regularly from faint interference, with quiet moments deflated by static fizzle and sizzle. It prevents an excellent sound from becoming class-leading.
At times these hard-dynamic elements – such as the smack of a snare drum, cymbal or the ‘S’ and ‘T’ in vocals – border on sibilant, but they cut through the track to add to its dynamic appeal.
But as we alluded to at the beginning, it’s bass that really impresses here. The motorists and the design of the empty spaces inside the earbuds ensure that even your lowest bass grooves have area to breathe and sound brilliant. So whether you like hearing upbeat poppy fun like Jason Derulo’s Take You Dancing or some classic hip-hop like Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G, the bass is just awesome.
If we had to criticise the sound at all, we’d say these ‘buds could do a better job of lifting some of the subtleties and mids in the background.
Get the Disturbed’s atmospheric and spine-tingling cover of The Sound of Silence, as an example. You get the clear and distinct vocals and plucked guitar cutting through, but the strings could be lifted a little in places. While they’re definitely there, there are times where you have to concentrate a little more than we’d like to hear a few of the more subtle elements that aren’t the core parts of the track.
They’re not the longest-lasting true wireless earbuds on the market, but the Technics EAH-AZ70W aren’t the worst, either.
You’ll get six hours from the buds on a full charge with active noise cancellation modes switched on, with the case housing a further 12 hrs of on-the-go battery cost for a total of 18 hours playback. You may get a little more with active noise cancellation switched off. But that’s not class leading from noise-cancelling earbuds, with the Sony WF-100XM3 offering 24 hours, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 giving 28 hours. Still, a 15-minute charge gets you 70 minutes playback if you’re in need of a quick fix.
The Technics EAH-AZ70W also come complete with their own accompanying smartphone app (Technics Connect), which is handy for the initial pairing process and for tweaking the noise cancellation and EQ settings to your liking. The EQ, in particular, is very powerful, and you can quite drastically change the sound of the earbuds to your taste by playing with it. But the use of the app can also frustrate, as sometimes we found the buds wouldn’t connect automatically to a handset unless it too was open.
The left bud can also be used to access a smart helper, with support for Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa (in its ‘Built-in’ variant). All work well, but note that getting Alexa to sync with the earbuds through the aforementioned Technics Connect app can be a bit tiresome.
In terms of noise cancelling, design and general performance the Technics EAH-Z70W in-ears is one of the best true wireless all-rounders out there. That said, there’s a lot of competition in a very crowded market. The Z70W’s design is stylish, but not always the best fitting. The sound is dynamic with great bass performance but is a tiny bit lacking when it comes to the more subtle background details.
Battery life isn’t the very best going, but it isn’t the worst either. In fact, 6.5 hours of continuous music playback is more than good enough, but we’d love to see more battery power on offer from the charging case. If there’s one area the EAH-Z70W performs really well, it’s with removing ambient sound around you. Using its combination of excellent passive cancelling and active noise-cancelling (ANC), these ‘buds cut out a huge amount of interfering audio – which lets you enjoy your music in your own little bubble. Wonderful.