Panasonic RP-HT21 headphones : $6 Well Wasted
Mar 31, 2004 (Updated Mar 31, 2004)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Cheap, widely available, known brand
Cons:Poor sound shortly after purchase, fall apart, foam tears, short cord
The Bottom Line: They are what they are, don't expect much from them.
I needed a pair of headphones that I could wear at work while I work on settlements. As I work in tort law, it's long hours, long boring, monotonous, paperwork filled hours. With the help of Launchcast.com (which my firm has now blocked, grrrr) I was able to slide through countless days of administrative claims without even realizing the time. Music just seems to make things go faster and I am not a big fans of buds, they just tend to hurt my ears after a short time and certainly over the years I have had at least ten sets to judge from (mostly, if not all Sony). I wanted something simple and comfortable, but slightly higher quality than Coby or SuperTron. Granted the name Supertron immediately instills great confidence in the product (yes, it's sarcasm), I wanted something with a little better brand reputation behind it. When it comes to most headphones under $10, it's all going to be relatively cheesy as far as quality in my opinion. Quite frankly I think anything less than $20 should be considered throwaway within a year, with the exception of some buds as they don't tend to get as torn up as quickly, or at least in my experience that seems to be the case.
Recommend this product?
I had a choice of some Sony cheapies or these little Panasonics (again, excepting the other illustrious brands Fry's had to offer). There didn't seem to be anything particularly special about the Sony's which justified the price which was about 3x what the Panasonics were. In retrospect I probably should have gone the Sony route, but who knows, they may have been worse. The Panasonics were about $6 after tax and out the door I went. rather than the classic early eighties thin metal band the Panasonics had a wider flexible plastic band that interlocked with the sliding/locking mechanism on the ear pieces. The ear pieces themselves are hinged and have about 20 degrees of motion such that they ought to fit about anyone. The "locking" mechanism was simply a tensioned clip from the headband pushing against the ear piece extensions. It is enough to keep them on while jogging, walking, etc, but I would go playing ball with them as they will probably fly right off. The ear pads are large (by comparison to others in the price range) ovals with the standard thin foam covers we all know. I doubt comfort was at the forefront of the minds of designers of this product, but they do work well for a surprisingly long time. No sweating, pressure, or fatigue issues for the most part. There have certainly been days where i have worn them for four or five hours at a time, possibly more without too much annoyance, but the sound quickly deteriorates.
At first listen, the sound was not that bad. I am listening to them straight off my desktop which I had to move under my monitor because the cord is so short. The sound in the first week or two was enough to impress me for a $6 outlay, but that changed quickly. After about a month, the distortion has become a regular thing and though I deal with it, I am not pleased with it. The thing that prompted me to write this today is that I am taking my lunch break to go to Wally World to pick up a pair of slightly better Sony or Koss headphones, so I figured I would give my two cents about this pair. The distortion starts at very low volume and only gets worse as volume increases. It's not as if I am head banging at work, my lead attorneys office is 8 ft away and the office is rather quiet, so having ones headphones blaring is highly unprofessional as well as annoying to my coworkers. As I said though, the distortion is present at low volumes which might work when listening to Helmet or Disturbed, but is no good for Fiona Apple or Chet Baker. Something had to give, and I don't mean the flimsy, barely 30" cord.
Three days after I got these little guys, the little pressure clip on the left earphone broke so i resorted to scotch tape to keep it in position quickly finding said fix-it was also relieving me of hair every time I took them off. This was annoying, but something I could work around. About two months into owning these the foam on the right earpiece started to spontaneously tear right down the middle of the pad, this was harder to ignore. Well, here we are about 4 months in and the right clip has broken requiring me to tape that side too, I guess it's the equivalent of an audio Poindexter, but whatever. I am kind of shocking myself here in that I am able to write this much about a $6 consumer product, but hey that's why Epins is here, right? Well, I fortunately have a sad old pair of Sony's at home whose drivers are shot, but still has the foam pieces, voila, replacement pads for the Panasonic. At this point you are probably wondering why I might keep them and it would be a valid, but they do still work, even if not well, and you never know when you might need another pair of headphones. I use my Koss PortaPros for my MD player and am on my way out to buy a good pair as I mentioned, so these will probably end up in that cluttered kitchen drawer I know we all have, the one with 2 yr old bills, a hammer, dead batteries, lint, a 3 month old dog biscuit; the drawer where things go when you don't know where they should go.
Overall, I was happy with these headphones for a very short period of time and really don't dislike them now, but they simply aren't very good. By no means is this a reflection of Panasonic Corp., let's put things in perspective here folks, they were a pair of $6 headphones, so with all this in mind, if you need a super cheap pairs of phones for whatever device you may have, I would recommend steering clear of these. I don't know how many people research a sub $10 purchase on the net, but if you do, I hope I have helped in your decision.
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