Panasonic RP HT1000 Open Air Headphones

Panasonic RP HT1000 Open Air Headphones 


- Open-air headphones system.
- Large-diameter driver units 40mm (1-9/16"").
- Neodymium, rare-earth magnet for rich and powerful sound.
- Double headband and cloth-covered earpads for comfort.
- Convenient single-side cord.


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[Dec 21, 2001]
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Audio Enthusiast


everything, bass, clarity,



I'll Take "Headphones For Fifty Bucks"

Sennheiser vs. Koss vs. Panasonic vs. Sony. We put them all through the ringer.

December 11, 2000

Months ago I posted a very general headphones article. It was not so much a shootout as it was an expose of several models in several price brackets. This was fun and informative, but not the most practical story I have written. Hence today's piece.
Fifty dollars is a good amount of money to spend on cans, AKA headphones. Cheaper units are typically crap: they sound terrible and are often uncomfortable. Once you're above $50.00 you begin to get into some serious headphones. I am all for blowing a few hundred on some swell headphones, but that is a serious investment for most people. So $50.00 seemed a reasonable price point. Plus, just about every manufacturer makes a pair at this price.

Etronixs, provider of equipment for the bulk of my testing, was nice enough to send me four pairs of headphones: Panasonic RP-HT1000 ($48.00), Koss R-80 ($47.00), Sony MDR-V300 ($52.00), and Sennheiser HD 400 ($40.00). And as you will see, that order is in no way accidental.

So what were my criteria? Well, the primary duty of any speaker is to make noise. So the first test was sound quality, which varied much more wildly than I had anticipated. Next up was comfort - very important. Some folks in the office wear headphones all day long, mostly to drown out people like me. A pair of cans that chafe your soundholes (AKA ears) after thirty minutes are no good. Lastly came features. Headphones in this price range are fairly similar when it comes to features, but there were some noteworthy exceptions. Lastly, build quality.

So how did everybody do? Read on.


Panasonic RP-HT1000

The HT 1000s are the only open-air headphones in this shootout. Open-air design means that the speakers are not set in a completely solid enclosure. The backs are open, hence the name. This means that a decent amount of sound seeps out toward other people, making them less than ideal in close quarters. The pair uses large-diameter, 40mm, driver units. Panasonic claims a frequency response from 7Hz up to 28kHz. There is no way in hell these things can hit 7Hz, but who cares.

Sound: At home I use a pair of Beyers that I've had for about four years. They are fantastic headphones, but they cost about $350.00. I could not believe how close the sound quality of the HT1000s was to my "reference" cans. The Panasonics easily had the flattest sound in terms of coloration. The sound was full, open, accurate, and dynamic. The low end was very impressive, present but not as exaggerated as many headphones make it. The detail was much better than I expected. Listening to the Silver Jews' American Water I actually heard undercurrents that I had never detected, even at home. There is a penny whistle or some such instrument present in the last verse that I had simply never heard. The only sonic weakness - and this is serious nitpicking - is a slight softness in the upper mids. The highs are great, but there is a bit of a gap between them and the mids.

These headphones sound fantastic in every respect. They are capable of reproducing anything from Ella Fitzgerald to The Matrix.

Comfort: As if sounding great weren't enough, the HT1000s were also the most comfy of the bunch. They are light yet fit very securely. The earcups are perfectly sized, even for my big-ass ears. The self-adjusting, two part headband works very well. I could wear these things all day long and be neither fatigued nor hot in the ears.

Features: Nothing special here, but that's no big deal.

Build Quality: These cans look a tad goofy, but they grow on you very quickly. And they might not look it at first glance, but they are very well made. The joints and wiring are all assembled very well and, thank god, Panasonic saw fit to put a fairly heavy gauge wire on the HT1000s. Great stuff.


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