Pros:Great sound reproduction
Powerful Active Noise Reduction technology in an inexpensive alternative
Cons:Durability is questionable
Cord length limits versatility
No battery means no sound at all
The Bottom Line: I would choose these again in a heartbeat. For the price, I can break 6 pairs and still be ahead of the competition.
Anyone who uses headphones for any activity will appreciate the Panasonic RP-HC55 in-the-ear headphones. The earbuds are as comfortable as any in-the-ear sets can be, the active noise reduction (ANR) is very efficient, and the result is much better sound at a much lower volume.
Recommend this product?
The product comes with the headphones, three pairs of foam earbuds (small, medium, and large), one regular-duty AAA battery, an instruction manual, a plastic clip for storing excess cord, and a small cloth drawstring bag to carry it all in. The battery unit includes a pocket clip to attach the battery case/volume control to your pocket or neckline. There is twenty-two inches of wire from the case to the earbuds and an additional twenty-nine inches of wire from the case to your unit. The battery case itself is three 3 1/2 inches long.
The product works extremely well. Background noise is reduced significantly, allowing for a much more pleasant experience on an airplane or in a bus or crowd. It also works well when listening to music while using power tools such as a lawnmower, vacuum, or leaf blower. The product does not eliminate such background noise but reduces it enough that it truly fades to the background. The noise reduction does not seriously hamper conversational frequencies, so it is not necessary to remove the earbuds to converse with others. Specifications indicate that the product reduces ambient noise by 18 decibels which is very good for this price range; many other ANR products costing twice as much claim only a 12 db reduction.
The resulting sound quality is excellent. The claimed dynamic range of 10-20,000 Hz provides excellent bass response as well as clarity in the easier-to-reproduce higher frequencies. Music reproduction is surprisingly full, movie dialog easy to follow, and deep bass (explosions, for instance) impressively covered. The sound is clear, crisp, and rich. The only adjustable feature of the product is the volume; any changes to balance or frequencies would have to be made on the source ( iPod, computer etc.).
The length of the cords is sufficient, but the placement of the battery case near the middle of the cords makes for problems. The battery case is heavy enough that it should be secured (hence, the pocket clip). If it is used without clipping the case, the earbuds will be pulled out. But the earbud cord is not long enough to use the clip on your waistband, which is unfortunate. This precludes carrying both a small music player and the battery case in your jeans pocket, for instance. If the earbud cord were only a bit longer (three inches would likely do for most folks) this problem would be solved.
The unit only works when the battery is powering it; I recommend you keep a spare in the handy carrying pouch when you are away from home!
The product is not an expensive alternative in the market. Over-the-ear and in-the ear models range up to $300. ANR technology is in high demand and does not come cheap, but this product retails for around $50, making it a comparative door-busting deal even at regular price. As such, I would encourage buyers to handle with care; do not pull on the cords and never expose the case to rain or other water sources. That said, I would expect a reasonable adult to get a life of five or ten years out of these headphones.
The Panasonic RP-HC55 headphones are a great value. I highly recommend them.