Compare AZ80 to Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
The Sennheiser MTW3 is another of my favourite earbuds to use, but now with the Technics AZ80, I have a new favourite. The difference is subtle but it depends on the type of music you listen to. I find that the MTW3 is still better to deliver a fuller bass, but at the expense of midrange, which turns out to be a little less clean than the AZ80. In the treble area, the MTW3 might seem to sound bright, but again, the boomy lows create a veil over the treble transience. For that, the Technics AZ80 lets me enjoy the space of the treble sparkle a little better. Again, depending on your genre, the MTW3 is still enjoyable especially if you prefer a less forward treble.
Compare AZ80 to Sony WF-1000XM5
I don’t have the Sony WF-1000XM5 with me anymore, so I’m going to give my impressions based on memory. In terms of audio quality, the AZ80 offers slightly more treble authority, but since both earbuds support EQ customisation, you can get either of them and tune the frequency range to your preference.
But when it comes to overall usage, I would prefer AZ80 because it has more usage personalisation, for instance, change the touch controls, adjust ANC levels. I also prefer the eartip fit, and the AZ80 earbuds are smaller. The wireless connection to the smartphone also exhibits lesser disruptions compared to the WF-1000X5 when I use during train commute to work. While ANC on the WF-1000X5 is better, it’s only marginally.
There are unique features on the WF-1000XM5, like Speak-to-Chat, Quick Attention, and Adaptive Sound Control, but I do not use them, so they are not factored into my choice.
In terms of ANC, the AZ80 offers slightly improved noise cancellation from the AZ60 which is already excellent. While it is generally harder to beat the Sony WF-1000XM5 especially with its passive-noise-cancelling foam tips, I find the AZ80 more comfortable to wear. It is close to impossible to achieve total noise cancellation from the urban environment, especially in the train commute. You are bound to be able to hear some noise. The more important consideration is whether the noise disrupts your listening enjoyment. For the AZ80, I feel completely at ease and isolated, and I can easily listen to music details even at low volumes, especially when it comes to Classical genre tracks. In fact, the ANC on the AZ80 is so good that I feel a bit wary that I was not able to hear things around me, like train announcement, or someone asking me to give way. As I walk through the train station from one platform to another, I am really in my world, feeling tranquil, no chattering, no footstep noises, no station announcements.
So what I usually do is to turn on Transparency Mode just to make sure I am still aware of things around me when necessary. And since every user has his or her own preference in the ANC and Transparency intensity, the Technics AZ80 – as well as the rest of the AZ series – lets you adjust the level.
Ambient Sound Quality
The Ambient Sound transparency mode on the AZ80 is the best among the Technics models, and I would also say, the best among all the true wireless earbuds – except AirPods Pro. However, in terms of features, the AZ80 is THE BEST, because it allows you to adjust the transparency level. When I turn to the max at level 100, it is completely open and almost natural, with the exception that the white noise seems to be a little enhanced. If I dial down the level to about 8, the white noise is less but the overall ambient noise would be slightly reduced. I love the ability to adjust the level because depending on situations, I can adjust to let in less ambient noise because I want to reduce overall noise yet at the same time I want to be aware of things around me.
More Multi-Point Pairings
For the longest time, multi-point pairing allows connecting up to two devices at the same time. Even so, not all wireless headphones support multi-point. Finally, the Technics AZ80 (as well as AZ60M2 and AZ40M2) supports up to three device connections, making it more versatile. I can now connect to a tablet, a smartphone and a laptop, a common set of tech devices that mobile warriors use. The compromise is that LDAC cannot be enabled.
LDAC – Hi-Res Wireless Audio Quality
Do not overlook LDAC. It does improve the audio quality of your earbuds. If you somehow felt the sound quality is not that good, and you demand good sound, then switch to LDAC. As LDAC demands higher data bandwidth, you need to disable multipoint to achieve the best resolution of 96kHz 24-bit at 990 kbps which transmits a frequency range from 20 to 40000 Hz.
Good news is that even with multi-point with 2 devices, LDAC can also be enabled but streamed at a lower bandwidth. This is supported even for the older Technics AZ70 and AZ60 models via firmware update.
One of the best features for the Technics has got to be the ability to remove background noise during a call. The Technics AZ80 continues to achieve this feat. They even built a demo from the app to show how effective the mic can remove background noise. This is one of the reasons why I stick to my AZ60. I compared with the Sennheiser MTW3 and the AZ80 is able to remove the background noise better.
There are so much customisation possibilities with the Technics AZ80 (as well as all other AZ-series), here is a highlight of those that matters to me:
The Technics AZ80 is rated with 4.5 hours on each earbuds with ANC and LDAC audio codec streaming, or 7 hours with AAC codec. When combined with charging case, you 16 hours to 25 hours (ANC off). It takes 2.5 hours to fully charge the case, or just 15 minutes quick charge for 70 minutes of usage. You can leave the earbuds on your ears with ANC enabled and no audio for up to 9 hours.
My experience with the Technics AZ80 tells me that it is a remarkable true wireless earbuds built upon years of experience in the previous models. Most of the features have existed in earlier models and even the newer mid-range models. With a retail price of S$469, it appears to be a tough sell when there are other more popular models like the Sony and Sennheiser, at lower prices. Technics has got a marvelous premium product, the earbuds sound great, and packed with features, but it would take more than just positive reviews to convince consumers, because there are fewer actual owners compared to the competitors. And my biggest reason for advocating great products like Technics AZ-series earbuds is that I hope it can be commercially successful to continue developing and releasing future models. The world needs better earbuds, and it’s getting boring with just Bose and Sony helming the top of the popularity rankings for ANC earbuds.
You might want to consider the Technics AZ60M2 at S$359. It has the same features as the AZ80 but using a smaller 8mm speaker drivers and a less premium build. Or, get the AZ60 that has the same features as AZ60M2 except triple multi-point connection, improved JustMyVoice, wireless charging, and wear detection.
The Technics AZ80 is my favourite true wireless earbuds in 2023! Read to find out what makes it better than Sony WF-1000XM5.
Best balanced bass, midrange and treble with immersive sound staging among the AZ series
Adjustable ANC and Ambient sound levels
LDAC hi-res wireless audio delivers better details and resolution
Up to 3 multipoint pairing
Class-leading voice call quality at noisy places
Not many new features from previous models