Hello, head-fiers. Since this is my first post I feel the need to give a brief introduction of myself. I am a Bulgarian enthusiast consumer with limited funds and scarce experience with audio equipment. However, that does not prevent me to try to use the terminology, that fordgtlover had posted. Recently, I stumbled upon head-fi.org and enjoyed reading about different types of headphones. The following is an attempt to give something back to the wonderful community here. I will be presenting the Panasonic RP-HT21 supra-aural headphones.
Disclaimer: Please take what you see here as an attempt at a review and not an oppinion of a professional. Bear in mind that I encourage constructive criticism. When I am doing something new, I like to educate myself by using the guidance of the works of people who have done the same and have done it good. Therefore, I will be borrowing the layout of Swimsonny's review and the famous ljokerl's review. All credits to that goes to them.
Panasonic RP-HT21 - Lightweight Headphones with XBS
I consider the RP-HT21 an amazing bargain at just around 5 US dollars. Not only they are a known brand of electronics (many consumers seem prone to trust the seemingly well-known) but also they deliver a spectacular performance, which I dare say is difficult to match at their price range and even a little bit beyond that. I've had those headphones for at least 8 years. As you will see in the pictures provided, they have definitely seen better days (notice the silver duck tape on the headband and the custom-made ear cushions). They have well surpassed the 600-hour barrier (set by me) and then some more.
I have used these with a variety of output devices ranging from a multitude of desktop computers, to laptops, smartphones and mp3-players. For the purpose of this review I will be using 2 devices - a Rockboxed Sansa Fuze 4GB and a rooted Google Nexus S with PowerAMP and Voodoo Sound Control, which unlocks the built-in "powerful hi-fi headphone amplifier included in [the] phone and audiophile-quality DAC". Genres I listen to: rock, heavy metal, techno, dance, club, dubstep, classical music, oldies, ballads, instrumentals, some jazz. I've used these in my evaluation.
Build quality and design (8/10):
They are strongly-built from good quality plastic. My personal experience guarantees that they can take quite a few hits before breaking or being severely damaged. The design is sort of out-dated, however if you do not care about looking like an 80's teenager, it should not be a problem. The silvery duck tape that is visible on the picture binds the "tooth" that serves as an anchor to adjust the headband length. I broke it yesterday by fiddling with it unnecessarily. That's at least 8 years of faithful service to yours truly. I bandaged the other side for aesthetic reasons. The headphones can fit almost any head. Personally, my head falls on the big side and you can see that the band is quite long. However, it allows for at least as much adjustment in either direction. One flaw, if it is worthy of being called a flaw, is the lack of sturdiness of the foam pads. Perhaps my expectations are unreasonable, I do not know. After about 3 years since the initial purchase the foam pads fell apart and I have been using the headphones with various pads that did not fit or crumpled shortly after. Being a handy person and coupled with the fact that I had coursework to avoid doing, last week I decided that I will make my own custom ear pads. I am quite pleased with the fit and comfortability. For those that are interested, I cut up some socks, folded a double-layer of them and I used a needle and thread to sew the pads. The cable is of notable quality, not prone to tangling and very sturdy. The y-split is durable. The jack is L-shaped and of reasonable quality with good strain-relief.
Being incredibly light-weight, the RP-HT21s are a pleasure to wear and could fulfil almost anyone's expectation of comfortability. Due to their age and prolonged usage, I have noted that the headband has stretched a bit and I would not be able to jog with them efficiently.
I have travelled from Bulgaria to America and back using these, but I was lucky the people in the aircraft were not noisy. I would not recommend using these in loud environment, as they are with open design and let lots of noise in.
Now, the hard part for me. How do I describe their sound qualities? Let me begin by saying that they have good mid-bass, the sound is airy and somewhat aggressive; not too analytical but fairly articulate. The crispness and detail (e.g. with cymbals) is about average. I believe the RP-HT21's have good depth and bright character of the sound. The soundstage is average - it is quite easy to distinguish different instruments while listening to good quality (flac, 320kbit/s) records. They do not have the AKG K81DJ's bass strength but do deliver an above average performance for their price range. I'd say they performed rather awesome with all of the genres I stated above, even more so when tweaked with PowerAMP's equaliser (in some tracks for bass enhancement) and amped with the Google Nexus S. Mids are average, highs are a bit above average.
I will try to support my opinion without being overly biased, as those headphones have been my companion for a long time. At the ridiculous price of about 5$, these headphones are a steal, a "bang-for-the-buck" lover's dream and have the potential to be a favourite headgear for abuse in harsh environment. Good sound qualities paired with sturdiness and comfort with the sole exception of sufficient noise isolation make these my favourite.
I suppose you can find these in some local electronics stores and certainly in amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.
Edited by horizon21 - 5/6/12 at 10:08am