Wireless headphones are the Uber of personal audio – everybody has tried one. Whether you keep using them depends on what your experience was like.
When I’m at home I usually use wireless cans at night to listen to podcasts or music while falling asleep. When I used to ride a train and bus downtown into an office on weekdays they also got used en route to tune out the hustle while I read a newspaper.
I wish the Technics EAH-F70N was around when I had to catch the 8:10 morning train from City Hall station, because not only does it look the business with a graphite grey and alloy chassis, it comes equipped with aptX HD, sub-300g weight and noise cancelling. Add-in wearability thanks to a comfortable fit without overt clamping pressure and you have a sweet combo that folds up to slip in a coat pocket when not in use.
Build quality is excellent, with a smooth, but ‘chunky’ feel to the folding/ball-joint driver yolks. The various machined, cast, and precision aluminum pieces of the chassis flow nicely between the leather headband, “soft, low-resilient polyurethane foam” earpads and dense plastic outer housing of the drive units. It’s a classy looking piece of gear that belongs to the ‘Japanese minimalist’ school of industrial design. The F70N ships with a round, well-padded soft case, USB charging cable, detachable cord and airline adaptor.
With various ‘smart’ tech implementations, the Technics did everything I was expecting of it from a noise-cancelling standpoint. Using the headphones is a lesson in good industrial design, as experiencing what the F70N had to offer (‘Hybrid active noise-cancelling’ which offers the ability to “suppress noise levels in varied environments from airline cabins and trains, to buses and cafes, and everyday noise in crowds and on the street” via a three-mode selector button on the bottom of the driver chassis) was intuitive and straightforward with only a cursory read-through of the manual. The noise-cancelling is implemented without creating a feeling of compression, and to be honest I didn’t give it a second thought because it just plain worked and didn’t draw attention to itself. Simple hand gestures activate sensor features such as ‘ambient mode’ which, as its name implies, allows external sonic elements to mix with the music. Take the ‘phones off while listening and they automatically pause playback, place them back on, and playback resumes. There is ‘voice-assist activation’ as well, meaning you can use a service like Siri on iOS. “By speaking, you can make a phone call, select a music title to play in linkage with a music streaming service or check the weather or route guidance.” It worked without a hitch.
Normally, I’m a wired headphone user who likes to spin vinyl, stream Tidal or Qobuz via Roon and chill out with a dedicated head-amp or DAC combo. But the F70N had me reaching for it more often than not because its sound is so sure-footed, embued with weight and solidity, and an undeniable boogie factor. Other wired cans on hand stayed put for the most part during my time with the Technics, and of note was how much my oldest daughter enjoyed them too. Her Beats Solo 3 remaining unused for days during a visit after I let her try the F70N.
Whether it was translating the bass scale and sonic tension of a Massive Attack retrospective, the subtle guitar riffs and plucking off an exsquisitely-recorded folk trio album (Come What May – Wizz Jones, Pete Berryman, Simeon Jones) or conveying the slam, grit and texture of cuts like “What Do I Get?” off Singles Going Steady by The Buzzcocks, the new “composite perfromance film” 40mm drivers of the F70N delivered impressively-extended bottom end, a tight, beat-driven midrange and a smooth, unfrayed treble that stayed open-ended. Drum skin differences could be ‘felt,’ timbral accuracy was spot-on as cello and violin were easily distinguishable, and piano hammers on string with pedal accompaniment swelled with real spatial definition and weight.
This is a simple, good looking headphone kitted-out with the latest in Bluetooth, LDAC/aptX-HD and noise-cancelling tech that isn’t fussy to use, delivered a muscular, musical, accurate and mostly neutral sound signature, and had excellent battery life in real-world use. Liked by me playing everything from the Ramones to Rachmaninoff, and quickly adopted by my teenage daughter as her new favourite wireless headphones, they seemed to manage that oft-sought trick of appealing to multiple generations of music lovers.
Simple is always best, especially when it comes to implementing technology with music. Complexities in usage can lead to frustrations, which is the last thing a company wants owners to experience when using their products. Technics manages to create a wearable piece of applied science in the EAH-F70N that worked seamlessly with my iPhone and made listening to music truly enjoyable.
Technics EAH-F70N: Bluetooth aptX HD wireless over-ear headphone with 40mm Neodymium magnet drivers, 28-Ohm impedance, 101dB/mW sensitivity with active-noise cancelling, voice assistant and wearing playback sensor.