Panasonic RP-HXD3W Review
These cans are fit for exercise, but not listening at the computer.
Meet Today's Headphones
Today we're putting an entry-level set of headphones under the microscope: the Panasonic RP-HXD3W. You're not exactly getting a high-performance unit for the price you'd pay, but on the plus side you'd be buying an interesting-looking set of headphones that work well enough for low-impact exercise or mobile use—despite their hiccups and rough edges in audio quality.
Design & Features
It's very apparent that the RP-HXD3W was constructed with modern design as their primary focus. From top to bottom, there are only clean, somewhat minimalistic surfaces without much in the way to clutter the visage up with excessive branding or designs that don't belong.
Similarly, there aren't too many features that really command much attention with the RP-HXD3W—they are very basic cans. They have a fairly bland Y-shaped cable that terminates in a similarly ubiquitous 1/8th inch plug. The cable is perfect for mobile use at 3.93 feet long, but it's probably not well-suited to use at the computer if you like to put your feet up or have a wheelie-chair.
Despite their plastic construction, they seem like they can take a few spills and keep working—there don't appear to be many likely points of breakage outside of the somewhat thin cable. Be warned: you can't repair the cable should it break, so take good care of it.
At first glance it really seems like these headphones are made for warmer climes or those looking to exercise with headphones that aren't in-ears. For example, I can see these getting used in a living room for someone who likes to start the day with NPR and yoga. With a silicone ear pad that holds your pinna firmly, you won't have to worry about excessive sweat or moisture giving you a rancid set of ear pads—you just wipe them down and you're all set.
However, that convenience comes at a price, as that material also does not let a whole lot of air in or out of your ears if you get a good seal. You may notice that heat and sweat don't really leave the ear cups if, and that can lead to a gross feeling after prolonged use during a run or extra-long gym session. In the short-term, however, it's actually quite comfortable, as it doesn't pinch your head and is generally cool to the touch when you first put them on.
Because these are consumer headphones, they will work well with smartphones (they have a simple yet effective remote)—you may or may not like the L-shaped plug, but that's a durability plus for something that's going to be jammed in your pocket quite often. Keep in mind that you can't replace the cable or customize these in any easy way, so be sure to take care of the cables—they might not be as tough as you think!
As with any set of entry-level headphones, there are going to be a few things you should be aware of. For starters, it's really tough to get the best fit possible due to the ear pads' design. While they are very helpful from a usability standpoint, it does make the fit a bit hard to get consistently good if you have larger ears. This creates issues for your audio that will be noticeable depending on how the fit is at that particular moment.
It shouldn't be surprising to you then when I tell you that these have some notable tradeoffs in the audio quality department. For example, a large range of underemphasis for certain sounds leads to audio that is slightly tinny. This is more or less okay for talk radio, but not so good for high-bitrate audio files.
Really though, these are entry-level headphones, and you'll get what you expect with these if that's what you're used to. Honestly, many people look for no-hassle headphones that work well enough, and for the price, these fit the bill—even if their audio isn't all that great.
If you're in the market for an inexpensive set of headphones that you can really put through the wringer in your low-impact exercise regimen (and you have issues with in-ears), these are worth a good, long look. The silicone ear pads and uncomplicated aesthetic make for a fairly robust design, despite the lack of additional durability features.
Sure, they're not great in the audio quality department, but they're very affordable, and their design lends itself well to mobile users looking to avoid many of the common pitfalls of using headphones in public. For example, you won't have to worry about stinky ear pads or difficult cleaning.
Should this sound like your set of headphones, you can hop online or head out to a retailer with $69.99 to grab them. You may be able to find them for less if you shop around a bit, though. Just be aware of their idiosyncrasies before you buy—you can check out all of the performance points one-by-one in the science page!
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