Coming in at a lower price point than the previous two, the EAH-AZ40M2 are the second generation of the 'entry-level premium' (as I've decided to call it) Technics earbuds. And while the lower price point means we don't get the flagship model's stunning Just My Voice call tech, and a smaller audio-driver set, these £130 earbuds still left a strong impression on Mr. Earbud Sceptic Me after using them for work and play over a period of several weeks, to see if they could hack it alongside the greatest noise-cancelling earbuds on the market today.
Technics EAH-AZ40M2 review: Key specs
|Dimensions:||26 x 22 x 24mm (each bud)|
|Connection type:||True wireless|
|Microphone:||Monaural, MEMS Mic|
|Playback time with battery (earphones):||NC on: 3.5h (LDAC) / 5.5h (AAC)|
|Row 6 - Cell 0||NC off: 4h (LDAC) / 7h (AAC)|
|Playback time with battery (earphones w. charging case):||NC on: 12h (LDAC) / 18h (AAC)|
|Row 8 - Cell 0||NC off: 14h (LDAC) / 24h(AAC)|
|Frequency response:||20 Hz - 40 kHz (LDAC 96 kHz/990 kbps)|
Technics EAH-AZ40M2 review: Design and build
Just like its very slightly bigger siblings, the Technics EAH-AZ40M2 are neatly, and beautifully, designed. Instead of an Airpods-like stick protruding down, the entire unit it contained within a pill-like structure (the review sample I was sent was a refined-looking silver) with the earplug contoured to fit the ear shape, which offers good balance when inserted into the ear, preventing wobbling or the bud easily getting displaced, but without advertising to the world that you are a Very Busy And Important Person Who Needs Earbuds For Important Business Reasons (I don't know, maybe I need my prejudices checked...).
They are a little bit lighter than the AZ60 and AZ80 models, though, which I found reduced the firm-placement sensation of the AZ40s when compared to its dearer siblings, and my left ear in particular tended to reject and partly dislodge the earbud after a little while, requiring fairly regular reaffixing. My ears are notoriously fickle when it comes to earphone fit, though, so this may not be a problem for many others.
They come with three different-sized nibs, for different-sized ears, and while it doesn't match the astonishing seven options on the AZ80, I found a nib to fit my ears quite well and without any long-wear pain so often associated with earphone use in my experience.
Both the earbuds and the case look neat and refined, and while there's no wireless charging of the case here, the USB-C option on offer charges the case from empty to full in around 2.5 hours. The 35-gram case has a flat bottom to stand on its own, and fits neatly into a pocket, with the charging slots for the earbuds offering that satisfying magnetic click as they slot into place that I like so much. It's the simple things, you know?
Technics EAH-AZ40M2 review: Features and performance
While the Technics EAH-AZ40M2 case doesn't offer wireless charging, the earphones offer a good range of features. The 6mm audio driver produces a deep and rangey sound, with good bass level, although the aforementioned slight fit-firmness issue affected that slightly for me.
The active noise cancellation, deployed and switched off by a push-and-hold on the earbuds, works really well, blocking out the world very effectively indeed, just like on its bigger, more expensive siblings. While the Just My Voice tech isn't featured here, which filters out noise around you when using the earphones for calls, call clarity is very decent, only starting to struggle to pick up my voice in particularly noisy environments, such as next to a busy road and in a hectic shopping centre, for example.
The battery life seems almost exactly as stated in the spec sheet, with the buds lasting for almost 4 hours using LDAC audio and only short pauses, with noise cancellation switched on.
Pairing and on-bud controls all worked consistently and without fuss, and I could pair to both my laptop and my phone simultaneously as the buds support up to three connections at the same time.
Technics EAH-AZ40M2 review: Price
The Technics EAH-AZ80M2 retails for £129.99 in the UK and $169.99 in the US, which is in line with their premium lineage, although you could find similarly specced competitors for under £100/$120 with a little searching. The Technics brand does carry some price-premium weight, though, what with the brand's well-established reputation of quality and longevity.
Should I buy the Technics EAH-AZ40M2?
If you want what I like to call 'entry-level premium' earphones, the Technics EAH-AZ40M2 from Panasonic are a rock-solid option. With a refined design, mostly comfortable fit and typically Technics-like audio quality, if you're looking for earphones beyond the merely functional, the AZ40M2 offers most of what the more expensive AZ60M2 and AZ80 do, but at just over £100/$150. If you are willing to spend a little more than that, though, I do recommend the higher-specced AZ80 and AZ60M2 for their Just My Voice call tech and silky-soft but reasurringly firm fit due to their slightly weightier pill-shape casing.