Pros: Very good bass, good isolation, acceptable mids and treble
Cons: Very recessed highs, somewhat uncomfortable after a couple of hours, build quality
As english is not my mother tongue, please pardon me for grammatical mistakes (I shouldn't have so many spelling mistakes, but... who knows ).
I bought this as a result of a search to replace my JVC HAS160. This are in a different league, but I didn't want to use my Sennheiser HD 25-1-II as a portable headphone. Though I love how the Senn sounds, its technical approach should not be used on, for example, the subway.
I was looking for a deeper sound of what could be provided by the JVCs, in a closed back format. My 1st gen PX100 certainly go deeper in bass terms than the JVCs, but everything is lost because of the open back format. At first I thought of the AKG K81DJ, which I tested before, but it was too much money for a beater that I was looking for, and I prefer all black headphones (I certainly love the looks of the HD25-1-II). As a cheap alternative I was between Sony MDR ZX100, Marshall Majors and this RP-DJS400.
I would give it a 6/10, but consider it as a preliminary qualification because I still haven't tested these on my day to day usage. Considering I managed to brake the JVC HAS160 at the joint between the headband and the speaker housing, I don't think this are going to endure a lot. The plastic seems a little cheap, and the swiveling articulation is composed of too many parts to last with the plastics it has been made. A better polymer (like the one used on the HD25-1-II) would have been a better choice.
As previously noted, it is not as comfortable as... well as any of my headphones. It is not unpleasantly uncomfortable, but certainly after a couple of hours ears become somewhat uncomfortably pressed against your skull. Nevertheless, it certainly can be used for a couple of hours without seriously feeling uncomfortable. However, my opinion is that it depends a lot on ear size. Given the size of the pads, my guess is that for small ears (significantly small) it could almost be circumaural, on the small size of circumaurals. For average size ears, it would be a somewhat big supraaural, while I think for above-average ears will be a common supraaural. The size is bigger than the size of the HD 25-1-II, which for me is a perfect supraaural. Hence, the RP-DJS400 excers some strange pressure on certain points of my ears. This doesn't mean it is uncomfortable, it's just that my ears are not used to feel anything on those places.
As it has been noted, it certainly doesn't need an amp and is much easily driven by my phone (Nokia E5 and Samsung Galaxy Y Pro B5510) than my HD 25-1-II. I would say that it is even easily driven than JVC HAS160. Haven't tested with my iPod since I'm rockboxing it, but I guess the same applies. These are easily driven
Much above but what I expected, but certainly need EQ. Out of the box and with flat EQ (on the setup given above, which is far from good but for testing purpose I tried the HD25-1-II and the RP-DJS400 on this setup), bass sounds deep but somewhat muddy, mids are present but not good and treble is deeply recessed. For comparison, the HD 25-1-II sounds very detailed but lacking bass.
My guess is that this headphones handle frequencies in a somewhat particular way. The EQ to achieve a good sound is +11dB on 60Hz, -3dB on 230Hz, +2dB on 900Hz, +6dB on 3KHz and +10dB on 12KHz. With this EQ the HD 25-1-II -and every other headphone I have- register a remarked bass, lose mid bass, and excessive treble. I'm not going to make a note on mids because I think mids presence is subject of personal tastes, but for the sake of this review with the EQ noted above voices are plenty.
The strong point of this headphones is bass. It is there, plenty of it, deep, controlled and with a good transition to mids. Certainly it is a goog headphone for bassheads, but I think it is more than acceptable for other kind of genders. I've listened to very different music (some MP3@256kbps and some audio CDs) and certainly amazes me how versatile are this headphones:
- Jamiroquai: Live in Verona
- Playing for Change album (directly from the original audio CD)
- Megadeth: Risk
- Marcelo D2: Acústico MTV
- Morcheeba: Fragments of Freedom
- Audioslave: Revelations
- Paul Tortelier: Bach Cello Suites
- Prodigy: Greatest Hits (CD1)
- Pendulum: Immersion
- The Police: Outlando's d'Amour
- Dave Grusin: Homage to Duke (specially Satin Doll, which is awesome)
Certainly RP-DJS400 do not excel with all those, but all in all is gentle enough to be good to listen to an ample range of genders. The bass, while clearly present, isn't bloated but precise -not at the level of, say, ATH-M50, but precise enough- and on the deepest notes of each song you can almost feel it on your ears. My believe is that this behavior with low frequencies is an important part of what make this headphones fun to listen to.
The transition from lows to mids is good, and since the treble is so recessed, the transition from mids to highs is gentle enough to not sound harsh (again, compared to HD 25-1-II, which sometimes it is too cold and harsh). EQed with this in mind the highs are all there, and detailed enough, but always kind of recessed. Without doubt I would characterize the RP-DJS400 is a warm headphone. EQed adequately is very gentle and easy to listen to.
Isolation is good, but not excellent. It is better than JVC HAS160 because it is bigger and clamps stronger, but it is not as good as the HD 25-1-II. I would say nevertheless that it isolates a tad better than Senns HD 202 and similar. I used them at the subway and I didn't need to turn up the volume to ridiculous levels, in fact I used them lower than JVC HAS160, but as I said, RP-DJS400 are very easy to drive.
Compared with JVC HAS160 which they are meant to replace, sound signature is very different, but this is clearly given by the different format. While the JVC is a small supraaural headphone with 30mm drivers, the difference in size is clearly noted, with the RP-DJS400 having a much deeper bass signature and a more ample soundstage.
Compared with AKG K81DJ, to my ears the sound signature is kind of similar. The AKG K81DJ sounds very good out of the box, and doesn't need too much EQ to be easy to listen to. The Panasonic RP-DJS400 can also be very easy to listen to and can sound really fine, but needs to be EQed.
Compared with the Senns HD 25-1-II, they are on different leagues. While the HD 25-1-II is not an always easy headphone to listen to, the warm sound signature and very deep and clear bass of the Panasonic RP-DJS400 makes it for a fun and easy headphone to use, but nevertheless it is not able to perform any kind of monitoring task or such.
I know that equalizing for testing purposes is almost senseless, but I mentioned it and tested them as this because we're not talking about an audiophile's headphone but about a consumer headphone which can sound very good. Hence, EQ comes in play since it can be used to more or less adequate the way a given headphone sounds to listener's taste.
Comfort aside, I would give the Panasonic RP-DJS400 an 8,5/10 because as previously said, it is a very easy to listen to headphone. It's price/product ratio is very good, considering it costs 10% of what the HD25-1-II costs here in Argentina, but they are different headphones.
The main issue with these headphones is comfort. I find myself moving them a little every 30 minutes or so because of those strange points where it presses my ears. After a couple of hours, I need to take them off for a minute or so. The second issue is build quality, and it really seems cheaply made, or at least, not at the level as the sound quality it has. Let's see what time says.
Anyway, given the very gentle and fine sound signature with almost any kind of music thrown at it, these headphones are a very good choice, specially for those who prefer warm sound signature, and deep and precise bass (certainly not a la Aiaiai TMA-1, which for me has a powerful bass but completeley uncontrolled, although for some it has a good bass).
Please feel free to leave any comment, I hope this review helps.