Technics EAH-F70N Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Review
The Japanese giant goes from strength to strength, and this time it’s head-fi. Matthew Jens listens in…
Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
AUD $599 RRP
The resurrection of Technics has been dramatic. The specialist hi-fi wing of the giant Matsushita Electric Industrial Company – known to most of us as Panasonic – was run down, but then reborn again in Australia last year. It now boasts a seriously impressive range of new products including its iconic turntables and is now moving into the weird and wonderful world of head-fi.
Just launched are two new wireless headphones, the F50 and the F70. The latter is the flagship, costs $599 locally and competes with the four horsemen of the noise-cancelling apocalypse, so to speak – namely Sennheiser's Momentum 3, Bose's NC700, Beyerdynamic's Lagoon and Sony's WH-1000XM3. All share the $599 pricing, except for the $449 Sony. It's quite a fray to jump right in to, so the new Technics had better be good…
As you'd expect from the brand, this new headphone is very well finished. With earcups made from aluminium, the F70 weighs in at under 300 grams. Despite being relatively light, it has a hefty feel – yet with enough pressure the headband still flexes in daily use. The earpads are thick and deep but not gigantic, and contain proprietary 40mm drivers. I'm no fan of touch controls on headphones, so you can imagine my relief when I found the cleverly placed buttons on the F70, which are intuitive to learn and use. And when it's time to put this product away, it folds up nicely with both cups swivelling inwards – and the bundled hard case isn't too big.
In terms of connectivity, the F70 only has a micro-USB port but makes up for this with its ability to play a wide variety of music formats – including the usual SBC and AAC, plus Qualcomm's aptX and aptX HD codecs, plus Sony's LDAC. It's surprising to see the latter as this high-bandwidth Bluetooth transmission method is often only found on flagship Sony releases.
When putting this pair of headphones on for the first time, the clamping force is difficult to ignore – this works wonders for passive isolation, which is impressive even without noise cancelling switched on, but isn't the most comfortable I've tried. When covering the right earcup with your hand, it activates 'ambient mode', allowing outside noise in. This is an intelligent implementation for this feature, but I wish there were a way of leaving this mode on permanently. There are also smart ambient sensors for pausing music when the headphones are removed from your ears.
The F70 maintains a composed, structured and neat sound signature. With a lean and tight bass, along with an open, airy midrange, this is ideal for listening to a wide array of musical genres. Take Luminous Beings by Jon Hopkins, for example. With a bass-heavy headphone, this song could easily descend into boom-tizz, but via the Technics I found little details kept creeping out of the shadows. This is neatly demonstrated at the 2:47 mark, where the more aggressive samples disappear to nothing, letting the subtler details of the song peep through. This headphone keeps up nicely with the pace and timing of these but doesn't push them too far into your face. It lets the midband detail through without the bass overwhelming the moment.
This isn't a bass-light headphone by any means however, it's just that it doesn't fully take centre stage. Indeed the midrange is impressively neutral, so much so that it can be listened to for many hours without fatigue. And when noise cancelling is switched on, the F70 does an admirable job of drowning out lower frequencies and making the outer world quieter. It's not quite on-par with the offerings from Bose or Sennheiser but is a real step up from smaller budget designs.
With seriously good sound, the new Technics EAH-F70N is an impressive package. I love its airy, open, neat, clean and neutral sound – and it's all the more surprising from a noise-cancelling Bluetooth design. Still, it's not the most comfortable pair of headphones on sale when brand new, feeling a touch too firm-fitting for my tastes – hopefully, age will loosen things up a little. Overall then, this is a fine first attempt from this re-emerging star in hi-fi, and shows great promise for the future…
For more information, visit Technics.
Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.