Following 2020's flagship noise-cancelling EAH-AZ70W earbuds, Technics returns in 2021 with two new models. Today, the Panasonic-owned brand is debuting the EAH-AZ60 and EAH-AZ40 with similar designs and spec sheets. The key difference being the pricier AZ60 offers active noise cancellation (ANC) while the AZ40 doesn't. Where the AZ70W was more audio focused, Technics says the two new options are designed for productivity and everyday life.
In addition to ANC, the AZ60 also supports LDAC: Sony's wireless audio standard that offers higher quality sound over regular Bluetooth (AAC). Inside, the AZ60 has slightly larger drivers — 8mm vs. 6mm — which is likely part of the reason they're two grams heavier. Besides those items, Technics' new models share a lot of similarities. The overall aesthetic is nearly identical, right down to the IPX4 construction. Both options employ JustMyVoice tech, which Technics says provides "crystal clear" calls by detecting your voice and reducing background noise. The company explains the AZ60 has four mics on each earbud to help with this, while the AZ40 has three on each side. Bluetooth multi-point connectivity means you can switch between your phone and your laptop with ease between calls.
The AZ60 and AZ40 are equipped with additional sound modes to suit different listening environments. The Natural Ambient mode allows you to listen to "all surrounding noise" while the Attention mode is configured to capture the frequency range of voices. In theory, this should primarily pick up a chatty co-worker or airport announcements, but without testing we can't say for certain how well this works.
Battery life varies a bit between the two models due to ANC and LDAC support on the AZ60. That set of earbuds will last up to four and half hours with noise cancelling and LDAC. Opt for lower-res streaming and you can increase battery life by 2.5 hours. Technics says disabling ANC in either scenario will give you an additional 30 minutes of listening time. When you factor in the case, the AZ60 can go for up to 25 hours with ANC and LDAC both disabled when you really need to stretch things. The AZ40, on the other hand, will last up to seven and a half hours with 25 total hours when you factor in the case. Those are the same figures as the AZ60 with noise cancellation and LDAC off. Both models have a quick-charge feature that will give you between 45 and 90 minutes of use in 15 minutes, depending on your sound settings.
The EAH-AZ60 and EAH-AZ40 will be available in October for $229 and $149 respectively. The AZ60 will only be available in black and silver, but the AZ40 will come in a rose gold option in addition to those two hues. Both models clock in less than the AZ70W, which was $250 when it debuted last year.
Update 10:29AM ET: This post has been updated with additional information from Technics' livestreamed press event.
Update 9/29/21 11:18AM ET: Technics has updated its pricing figures and, unfortunately, the prices are higher. The AZ60 will be $229/£199 and and the AZ40 will be $149/£129. This post has been edited to reflect this information.