To be honest, Panasonic earbuds are not widely purchased in China. I received this pair as a gift, and aside from a few audiophiles, most people in China prefer to spend their money on either Apple or Sony. So, it’s quite surprising for many to hear that Panasonic makes earbuds at all.
The moment I opened the packaging, I could tell that the EAH-AZ80 earbuds are a high-end product. The box includes the earbuds, a charging case, a charging cable, and several replacement ear tips.
The Panasonic AZ80 earbuds have a circular main body design and are of the “bean” style, which fits into the ear canal. When I put them on, I noticed that, despite being relatively large, they are still quite comfortable.
First, the AZ80 earbuds have undergone ergonomic treatment in the part that touches the ear, which reduces the pressure on the ears to some extent. The inner side of the earbuds doesn’t have sharp curves, which prevents them from causing discomfort in the ears.
However, the AZ80 earbuds are relatively larger compared to other “bean” style earbuds. The sound chamber has some thickness, and when worn, it protrudes slightly from the ears. So, if you plan to sleep with earbuds on, it’s better to go with the old-style AirPods.
With the AZ80, there are at least seven pairs of replacement ear tips included, each with different sizes to accommodate users with various ear sizes. The ear tips are made of very soft rubber material, making them very comfortable to wear.
Panasonic claims that the AZ80 comes with the best active noise cancellation (ANC) technology to date. By connecting to the app and turning on the “Intelligent Noise Cancellation” function, you can create a more immersive listening experience through active noise cancellation.
There’s also a Panasonic technology called “JustMyVoice” for call processing. It uses a dedicated voice-detection microphone on the earbuds and combines it with the wind-reduction structure of the earbuds. This system inputs sound into the “Voice Activity Detector,” which works in coordination with the “Acoustic Echo Canceller.” It analyzes wind noise and the source of sound, and filters out all noise except for the call voice using the “Voice Post Filter,” ensuring that the call voice is clearly transmitted to the other party.
I tested this feature myself, and I found that the AZ80’s active noise cancellation capability can effectively reduce the continuous low-frequency noise in the environment when I tested it outdoors, on public transportation, in the office, etc. This feature helps to overcome the noise in the environment, creating a more immersive listening environment. However, during phone calls, the person on the other end mentioned that my voice sounded a bit artificial, with some synthetic quality.
Additionally, you can switch the earbuds to an ambient mode by using a long-press gesture. Through the app, you can also switch between the regular “ambient mode” and the “focus mode,” which enhances the speaking voice. This is a unique feature of the Technics TWS earbuds.
Overall, the AZ80’s active noise cancellation performance is at the mainstream level among ANC earbuds. However, it falls somewhat short compared to the latest flagship TWS earbuds available in the market today. Therefore, the active noise cancellation can be considered as an auxiliary feature for music listening, but I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the AZ80 solely for its noise-cancellation capabilities.
The AZ80 is equipped with a 10mm free-edge aluminum alloy diaphragm structure and an acoustic control room inside the earbud unit. It has a frequency response range of 20Hz to 40kHz, offering rich and deep sound. It’s particularly suitable for songs with male or female vocals. Testing it with the song “Tong Zhuo De Ni,” composed by Gao Xiaosong for Lao Lang, the sound is fresh, melodious, and the vocals are clear. It has a soft and warm sound profile, with a beautiful lingering resonance. Testing it with the catchy song “ANTIFRAGILE” by the Korean girl group LE SSERAFIM, the female vocals sound lovely, and I particularly like the elastic bass with no artificial post-processing, and you can independently adjust the bass volume with a dedicated app.
The sound quality of the Technics EAH-AZ80, whether watching movies on a laptop or listening to progressive house tracks by Underworld, offers a rich, deep, and detailed audio experience. Especially when the active noise cancellation is turned on, it doesn’t make me feel like my ears are blocked or trapped in a bubble. It feels like the music is enveloping me in the best possible way.
Connectivity, Pairing, and App Interaction
The AZ80 connects with a “take out and connect” approach. In the factory state, you can find “Technics EAH-AZ80” on your phone’s Bluetooth settings when you take the earbuds out of the charging case. If you
need to reconnect to a new device, the “Technics Audio Connect” app provides instructions for putting the earbuds into search mode, which is a straightforward process.
The AZ80 comes with the “Technics Audio Connect” app, which offers advanced settings such as adjusting noise cancellation modes, sound modes (similar to an EQ equalizer), and setting the earbud name. This app caters to the needs of audiophiles.
Seamless switching between various devices is a function that many users appreciate. The AZ80 earbuds use the latest Bluetooth 5.3 and can seamlessly switch between up to three devices (e.g., PC, smartphone, and tablet). The device can store up to 10 connections, and you can easily pair with any of them each time.
After a successful connection, you can view the usage status of the AZ80, including the battery levels of the earbuds and charging case, enabling transparency mode, audio pass-through mode, and adjusting the EQ. The app also offers common features, such as adjusting the strength of noise cancellation and ambient sound, and it allows you to find your earbuds, update the software, and more.
The touch-sensitive area of the earbuds is located on the outside of the earbud’s logo area on both sides. This area recognizes single-click, double-click, triple-click, and long-press actions to change tracks, play/pause, adjust the volume, and control noise cancellation. You can also customize the functions of these gestures in the app, and overall, the learning curve is not high.
The AZ80 offers impressive battery life. Without turning on the noise cancellation mode, it provides approximately 7 hours of playback with AAC and about 4.5 hours with LDAC. When used with the charging case, you get up to 24 hours of playback.
Of course, enabling noise cancellation will reduce the battery life. In ANC mode, the battery life decreases to about six hours. This level of battery life loss is entirely acceptable.
Charging-wise, wireless charging has become almost standard for flagship earbuds. If you charge the AZ80 wirelessly using Qi wireless charging, it takes about 3.5 hours. Using USB-C charging is faster, taking around 2.5 hours. Additionally, the AZ80 supports quick charging, which provides 70 minutes of playback with just 15 minutes of charging.
For fans of in-ear earbuds, the Technics EAH-AZ80 may seem a bit pricey, but as soon as you listen, you’ll understand what a $2000 Bluetooth earbud should sound like. The 10mm large-diameter dynamic driver unit gives the earbuds a refined, high-resolution sound with a ton of character, making them ideal for listening to music genres dominated by male and female voices, such as J-Pop.
In terms of the overall experience, the metal brushed finish of the earbuds gives them an elegant appearance. They look stylish and instantly recognizable as high-end Hi-Res earbuds. With a 25-hour battery life, wireless charging, and other features, they are very convenient for everyday use. Plus, bearing the Technics brand, known for its Japanese DJ-level audio equipment, these earbuds can definitely hold their own.
However, in terms of active noise cancellation capabilities, the earbuds fall slightly short and have room for improvement.