Hands on: Technics EAH-F70N noise-cancelling headphones review

Clever ambient pass through mode impresses

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

Strong noise cancelling capabilities and a cool pass-through audio feature make Technics EAH-F70N headphones one to watch.

For

  • Very powerful noise cancellation
  • Intuitive Ambient noise pass through

Against

  • Face top-notch competition

Turntables may be the first thing you think of when you hear the Technics name, but the company is also a dab hand at creating excellent overear headphones too. It’s rolling out a bunch of consumer-focussed cans at CES 2019, of which the Technics EAH-F70N are the top-of-the-line model with some clever features to challenge the stiff competition with. Read on for our early-access first impression.

[Note: TechRadar saw two pre-production pairs of the Technics EAH-F70N at CES 2019 – one to represent the final industrial design, the other to demonstrate what to expect from the audio quality on offer. Bear in mind then that things here could still be subject to some slight changes, so head back for a full review shortly for a final, definitive verdict.]

Pricing and availability

Pricing and release details have yet to be shared for the Technics EAH-F70N, but expect them to fall in line with what you’d see with a premium set of noise-cancelling overear headphones. 

If you’re looking for an inevitably-cheaper alternative, check out Technics’ next step down in the range, the EAH-F50B, which drops the noise cancellation features on show here.

Design

The Technics brand is known for its premium approach to design, and the EAH-F70N is no exception. It's made from aluminium (we saw a pre-production model in a sleek gun-metal finish), with a tight but comfortable head clamp to maximise the noise cancellation capabilities.

Comfortable leather padding surrounds the ear cups, and it’s here you’ll find the majority of the headphones’ controls, including power, a micro-USB charging port, volume settings and a noise cancellation toggle, all housed on the left hand side. The leather padding also extends to the headband too, with the Technics logo prominently displayed either side of your head.

The cans are capable of high-resolution audio playback thanks to support for LDAC and apt-X HD standards, and are equipped with 40mm dynamic tuned drivers to maximise bass response and clarity. You’ll get 25 hours of playback from a four hour charge.

Performance

All par for the course so far then – until you move to activate the headphones' Ambient Sound Enhancer, which ties into how excellent the noise cancellation on display is here.

The Technics EAH-F70N use a "Hybrid Active Noice Cancelling" feature, which makes use of distinct mics placed both on the exterior of the headphones and close to the internal drivers. With this, across three different intensity levels, they’re able to cancel out ambient noise to great effect – totally numbing the sound of the busy CES showcase center they were on display at.

That could at times prove a little even dangerous if you’re completely unable to hear what’s going on around you, so the Technics EAH-F70N has a little trick up its sleeve. Place your hand over the right ear cup, and you’ll turn on an ambient noise pass through feature, using the mics to let you clearly here the outside world. That’s perfect for listening out for train announcements or traffic from a road, for instance.

It’s not necessarily a unique feature – many noise cancelling cans have similar ways of letting you bring the noise of the outside world back into your ears. But it’s incredibly intuitive on the Technics EAH-F70N, working very well to blend the ambient sounds back in with an easy-to-use gesture. In addition, the headphones  are also intelligent enough to know when they’re on your head, and will pause playback when they’re removed.

Though our time with the EAH-F70N headphones was short, they appeared to offer a detailed and enveloping sound – helped hugely by the superb noise cancellation. A few minutes listening to some smooth jazz sounds (of an unknown artist, unfortunately) wrapped us up in rich double bass runs, giving the full range of character the instrument can offer, with a great sense of place and space grounding the arrangement once the snare rolls and hi hat kicked in. How the headphones will perform with other genres remains a mystery for the time being, but we’re looking forward to finding out.

Early verdict

The premium over-ear noise cancelling headphone space is becoming an incredibly competitive area, and we’re going to have to look long and hard to find a pair to beat the Sony WH1000XM3. But this Technics pair show early promise. We’ll keep you posted on how they compare to the cream of the crop when we get some extensive hands on time with them.

  • Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.  

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.