Panasonic RP-HC720 Review
Meet the Panasonic RP-HC720, an entry-level set of active noise-cancelling headphones from Panasonic.
Meet the RP-HC720s, an entry-level set of active noise-cancelling headphones from Panasonic. While they do offer a low-priced set of noise cancelling headphones, their audio quality is a bit on the lackluster side. These cans are more for listeners on a budget than they are for frequent flyers. Buying a set of entry-level headphones is usually a mixed bag performance-wise, and the Panasonic RP-HC720s fit this description very well: while they aren't bad, they certainly aren't all that impressive either. The truth of the matter is that there aren't very many good entry-level options for active noise-canceling headphones, as the technology has certain drawbacks.
Comfort Design & Features
The Panasonic RP-HC720 has style over substance
The first thing you'll notice about the speakers on the Panasonic RP-HC720 is that they sit very high. You may have a tussle getting it on your head, but it’s built that way to make room for the AAA battery that powers the active noise cancellation unit. By flicking the switch on the side of the headphones, you turn on the active noise cancellation and the world... gets marginally quieter. The active noise cancellation on this pair of headphones is a bit lackluster, as it doesn't really block out a ton of noise above what the headphones physically block from your ears. A necessary evil, the battery of the Panasonic RP-HC720s lasts well over 20 hours of listening to music.
While the Panasonic RP-HC720 does come with a 3.93 foot long cable, you can replace it if you feel like it. Just look for a 1/8th inch male-to-male TRS cable, and you can use it with your Panasonic cans! The plug of the included cable is your standard, run-of-the-mill 1/8th inch affair. At the bottom of the left ear cup is where the cable connects to the Panasonic RP-HC720s. This is unlikely to be damaged, and if it is, you can easily replace the cable.
When you plunk the Panasonic RP-HC720s on your head, you'll notice right away how soft the leather-ensconced foam is on your ear. The band doesn't dig into your scalp, and overall these are fairly comfortable headphones for most. Your mileage may vary depending on your head size, however.
The RP-HC720s fall short in a few key areas.
There's a hole in the Panasonic RP-HC720's ability to produce a strong, clear sound, considering that between 2.5-5 Hz was heavily de-emphasized. This is in the higher pitched end of the spectrum. For those of you wondering what this will mean for your music, basically it means that the highest notes of a piano, guitar and cymbal “shimmer” will be almost muted in comparison to the rest of your music.
With the active noise cancellation enabled, there’s a small amount of distortion. It’s nothing to worry about, as you will most likely never notice it, even if you know what you’re looking for. If you turn the active noise canceling off, this small amount of distortion gets even smaller. This means the Panasonic RP-HC720 produces sound very accurately according to the sound files you give it.
Tracking is where these headphones stumble the most. The left and right channels should be exactly the same. To put it bluntly, the Panasonic RP-HC720 have fairly bad tracking. Basically, they output volume at wildly varying levels in each side, leading to a distracting listening experience.
Fairly average for the price point, but disappointing noise cancellation
As far as performance goes with the Panasonic RP-HC720s, you can expect a rather average experience, but with higher notes muffled to an odd degree. The active noise cancellation does block out a bit more sound than the Panasonic RP-HC720s do naturally, but it lets in a lot of low-frequency sound.
With all that on the table, it seems that what you pay for when you buy the Panasonic RP-HC720s is middling performance and a set of comfortable and easily-repaired headphones. But at ~$100, that's not bad at all. Sure, you could probably do better, but sometimes those options aren't readily available, or they may not work out for you personally. You could do a lot worse than the Panasonic RP-HC720.
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