This week we reviewed the Technics F50 and Technics F70 Bluetooth headphones, two aptX and LDAC models that are certified Hi-Res Audio, feature 40mm dynamic drivers and are compatible with voice assistants. The only difference between these headphones is the F70’s 3-level active noise cancellation. Sold for €329 and €399, can they rival the current market leaders, the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II and Sony WH-1000XM3?
Technics F50 and F70: the brand
Founded in 1965 in Japan, Technics was initially created to represent the high-end hi-fi equipment by Matsushita, the name by which Panasonic was formerly known. Technics first specialized in the production of vacuum tube amplifiers, with iconic models such as the Technics 10A and Technics 20A. The latter had the particularity of featuring twenty 50HB26 pentodes and OTL circuits, which was unusual for the time. In 1970, Technics launched the SP-10, the world’s first direct drive turntable. This device introduced a new era in the turntable world and was followed two years later by the Technics SL-1200, the first in a long series. Nearly 50 years later, this range of turntables is still very influential, with the Technics SL-1200GR, Technics SL-1210 MK7 and Technics SL-1200G models. These turntables are still used throughout the world by the biggest DJs and certain radio stations. The brand then turned towards the production of wireless speakers, including the Technics Ottava SC-C70EG which we had the opportunity to review, hi-fi headphones and more recently, Bluetooth headphones, with the Technics F50 and Technics F70 that we reviewed this week.
Technics F50 and F70: packaging and accessories
The Technics F50 Bluetooth headphones come laid flat in an elegant box and are protected by thick pieces of foam. It comes with a user manual, a 3.5mm mini-jack cable, a carry pouch and a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging.
The Technics F70 comes in a box identical to that of its sibling with the same accessories. However, the F50’s carry pouch is replaced by a hard case in black synthetic leather.
Technics F50 and F70: presentation
Apart from the F70’s noise cancellation system, these two pairs of Technics Bluetooth headphones have a completely identical design. They feature a structure mainly composed of polymer, with an aluminum plate on which the name of the Japanese brand is laser engraved on each earpiece. The Technics F50 and F70’s earpieces can be adjusted independently from the headband and feature a foldable and swivelling structure to adapt to the shape of the head. This design also means they can be laid flat. To be honest, this polymer structure doesn’t seem to be of great quality at first glance. It appears fragile and has a tendency to creak when the earpieces are handled. However, this impression was soon rebutted when using the Technics headphones, as neither showed any signs of weakness during our tests, which were carried out over several weeks. The plastic is of excellent quality and allows the headphones’ weight to be reduced to 292g for the F70 and 286g for the F50.
The Technics F50 and F70 headphones feature a closed design with circum-aural coupling provided by heavily padded 3D earpads covered with synthetic leather. These pads are close to the ear, so a few adjustments are required to ensure that the auricle of the ear doesn’t come into contact with the pad. This only takes a matter of seconds. The headphones are supported by a wide headband that also benefits from generous padding. They are very comfortable, mostly because of how light they are. Despite the thickness of the pads and the synthetic leather, the earpieces breathe properly and don’t get warm, even after several hours of use.
On the right earpiece, both headphones feature a USB-C input for charging, the power and Bluetooth pairing button, as well as a multifunctional control for the volume, playing or pausing music, changing tracks and activating the voice assistant. In addition to these controls, the Technics F70 has an extra function called “NC” to activate and select one of the three modes of active noise cancellation. This button was a bit difficult to find when wearing the headphones.
Inside, the Technics F50 and F70 Bluetooth headphones include 40mm dynamic drivers that are powered by neodymium magnets and feature a CPF (Composite Performance Film) diaphragm. The ridges on the edge of this diaphragm have been optimized through simulations to ensure perfectly linearity across the entire frequency range. This design allows them to provide a wide frequency response ranging from 20Hz to 40Hz in Bluetooth mode and 4Hz to 40kHz in wired mode. With the cable, the impedance is 28 ohms for a sensitivity of 101dB per mW. Consequently, these headphones can be easily driven by any smartphone or device with a headphone output when their battery is flat. The latter provides 20 hours of playback with the noise cancellation activated for the Technics F70, and 35 hours for the Technics F50. The Technics F70 features a convenient power-saving mode which automatically pauses the music (while maintaining the Bluetooth connection) when you take the headphones off and plays it again when you put the headphones back on.
Technics F50 and F70: aptX HD and LDAC Bluetooth
The Technics F70 and F50 headphones are primarily designed to provide quality sound restitution during wireless transmission. For this, they integrate a 4.2 Bluetooth module compatible with the Qualcomm aptX HD and Sony LDAC codecs to ensure a transmission up to 92kHz with compatible sources. Consequently, they are certified Hi-Res Audio Wireless. Naturally, older codecs such as AAC and SBC are included to ensure compatibility with all Bluetooth devices, such as smartphones, tablets, DAPs and computers.
Technics F50 and F70: voice assistants
The Technics F50 and F70 Bluetooth headphones are compatible with voice assistants, such as Siri, that are installed on the associated mobile device or computer. Unlike a smart speaker whose microphones are always activated, the mic present in the Technics F50 and F70 headphones is only activated by pressing the multifunction button on the right earpiece for a couple of seconds. It is then possible to control music playback via voice demand and without having to take your smartphone out of your pocket. For example, simply ask for a certain song, playlist or radio station to be played, or ask for the volume to be turned up or down and the assistant will carry out the demand. However, this feature is only available when the headphones are used in Bluetooth mode.
Technics F70: active noise cancellation
The Technics F70 Bluetooth headphones differ from the F50 as they integrate an active noise cancellation system named Hybrid Noise Cancelling System. It provides three modes to adjust the level of noise cancellation to suit the listener’s environment. In addition to the active noise cancellation, the Technics F70 features an “ambient sound” mode allowing you to activate the microphone simply by tapping the earpiece. The mic then captures and amplifies background sounds to transfer them inside the headphones. This function is particularly useful if you want to listen to an announcement in a train station or on a bus, hear someone who is talking to you without taking the headphones off, or to be aware of your surroundings when listening to music in the street, for example. It is therefore useful for crossing the street safely.
Technics F50 and F70: listening impressions
First, we listened to the Technics F50 headphones in Bluetooth mode paired to a Mac computer. Even though the codec used was the basic AAC format, we were surprised by the quality of the Technics F50’s performance on Joao Gilberto’s The Girl From Ipanema. During this bossa-nova melody, the singer’s voice was textured, soft and warm. Next came the complex saxophone sequence with its high notes that are rather difficult to reproduce. The Technics F50 was not deterred and managed to do a great job, expertly handling the different frequencies. We continued our test of the Technics F50 with Prince’s song Kiss. Right from the introduction, the different guitar notes and the singer’s voice were very naturally reproduced. The lows were dynamic and very powerful, but did not alter the rest of the soundstage. When the volume wasn’t too high, that is… Although the Technics F50 displayed considerable skill up to a relatively high volume, it became muddled, with bass that overshadowed the rest of the soundstage when the volume was turned up very high. Although there is no point in listening at such a high volume indoors or in a calm environment, it may sometimes be necessary to do so when trying to drown out background noise in public transport, for example. The Technics F70’s active noise cancellation is therefore a significant asset for maintaining an immersive sound in noisy environments.
The vocals were textured, soft and warm. The lows were dynamic and very powerful, but did not alter the rest of the soundstage.
Naturally, we continued our listening session with the Technics F70 headphones, still paired to a Mac computer. In a stroke of luck, the door was open in our office that day and a neighbor had decided to do some construction work: perfect conditions for measuring the effectiveness of the noise cancellation system! To begin, we put the headphones on without activating the noise cancellation. On Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall, the sound signature and restitution were, unsurprisingly, identical to that of the F50. Consequently, the sound was very pleasant but the background noise prevented the experience from being completely immersive. We then activated the active noise cancellation system and choose the “high” mode. The latter proved to be immediately effective; even when we turned the volume down by half, no exterior noise was audible. Only very loud noises could be heard during the pauses in the music.
The noise cancellation system proved to be very effective. Even when we turned the volume down by half, no exterior noise was audible.
Technics F50 and F70: conclusion
The Technics F50 and F70 Bluetooth headphones are both very impressive. They provide a rich, warm and detailed soundstage. Bass is very present, without overshadowing the rest of the soundstage, as long as the volume isn’t turned up excessively high. The earpieces’ thick earpads and the memory foam on the headband make the headphones very comfortable and you soon forget that you are wearing them. Although the Technics F50’s passive isolation proved to be rather good in noisy environments, the active noise cancellation of the Technics F70 is a must when things get even louder. For this reason, the Technics F70 is the best choice for those who travel a lot and for urban users, whereas the Technics F50 is more suitable for use at home, on the terrace, or in any relatively calm environment. These Japanese Bluetooth headphones are an excellent alternative to the most popular models on the market, notably the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3.
What we liked:
- The effectiveness of the F70’s noise cancellation
- The comfort
- The deep lows
- The energy
What we would have liked:
- A less restricted sound at high volume
- A hard case for the F50
- For the noise cancellation button to have been easier to access