Cons - Muddy bass that overrides the mids, congested mid range and poor highs. Hot, sweaty pads and poor, creaky build quality.
This was the first headphone that I bought based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews from members here. I was completely surprised at how much I disliked them when they arrived, and said so on the forums, where I was told to "burn them in". I followed instructions on this and found there was virtually no change in their sound. Muddy bass is the only way to describe their sound, and it overcame the mids on virtually all the music I tried them with. And they introduced some distortion to highs that I couldn't reproduce using any other set of headphones I owned at the time. It was a complete disaster musically, but taught me a valuable lesson about overly enthusiastic reviewers here at Headfi.
I wouldn't buy them again at any price, and certainly wouldn't recommend them for any use.
Pros - Overall relaxed yet fun sound, prominent yet controlled bass, intimate mids, good comfort with velour pads, price
Cons - Fragile build, very very long cable, rolled-off highs may be turn-off for some
Panasonic has ridiculously stupid naming schemes for their budget audio products, there’s seemingly no getting around that. When I was snooping around Head-Fi for some cheap over-ear cans that sounded good yet were comfy, the Panasonic RP-HTF600-S were highly intriguing, but I could never remember its model number for more than a week to save my life.
That said, I did eventually buy them and it’s now one of my most used audio products. One that I would whole-heartedly recommend despite the stupid model name, due to its very low price and very likable performance.
The Panasonic RP-HTF600-S Headphones
The Panasonic RP-HTF600-S, which I would be referring to as the HTF600 from now on, are budget headphones. On Amazon.com, you’ll find them for anywhere between USD $25 to $30. In fact, the Beyerdynamic EDT250V velour pads I bought to accompany the HTF600 were around USD $28 when I got them here (currently USD $24) while the headphones themselves I got for USD $25. It’s not exactly unusual, but it is comical to think that the headphones I’m wearing right now cost less than the pads they have on them.
Packaging & Accessories
For your money, you get a bare bones plastic box with the headphones inside and a 3.5 mm to ¼ inch adapter. That’s it, probably the shortest Packaging & Accessories section I’ll ever have to write.
The headphones and the 1/4 inch adapter it comes with
The headphone is made of a cheap, fragile feeling plastic that doesn’t seem like it’ll hold up to a high drop or a careless sitting on. For that reason, I usually avoid placing my HTF600 at the edge of my table or at similarly precarious positions.
The single-sided cable only comes out of the left ear cup and surprisingly, it’s pretty good. It’s soft, supple and is great for the price except for the fact that it is a gob smacking 9.8 feet long. I know other brands like Fostex and AKG have headphones that have 10 feet long non-detachable cables too, but why any company would want to do such a thing simply baffles me. To keep my cables manageable, I tie it up with a twist tie. Alternatively, you can braid the cable but I’m too lazy to get that done.
The insane cable on the HTF600, having to be tied up like a wild animal
Also, the cable is not detachable so some users have modded their HTF600 to include a 3.5 mm socket. Again, if you’re a lazy consumer like me, just live with it.
To end this section, just a quick note on the headband adjustment mechanism. The HTF600 come with two buttons on each side that are supposedly to help you adjust the headphones properly, but I find them utterly useless. Just adjust them as you would any other headphone. Note that the click adjustments are rather loose, so the headphones have a tendency to slide down when off your head and rattled a bit. In practice, this means you’ll have to readjust it if you take the HTF600 off and want to put it back on. They don’t slide down when they’re on your head though, so don’t worry about that.
Overall, build is acceptable, but not outstanding in any sense of the word. For your money, you essentially are getting what you paid for.
Stock, the HTF600 are comfortable enough but do get rather warm and sweaty after around 1 to 2 hours. Keep in mind though that I live in the very hot tropical island of Singapore, which has humidity and heat that other non South East Asian countries may find isn’t quite the norm.
The HTF600 stock are fitted with over-ear pleather pads that aren’t exactly the softest in the world, but are surprisingly comfortable considering the price you pay. For reference, they are less soft and plush than the pads on the Audio Technica ATH-M50x but are definitely miles ahead in terms of comfort compared to Grado’s frankly horrid foam pads. I do not own the popular Brainwavz HM5 pads but I wouldn’t be surprised if the stock HTF600 pleather pads are comparable to the standard pleather HM5 ones.
With the Beyerdynamic velour pads I got, comfort is improved dramatically. It’s much less prone to getting stuffy and sweaty, which is very important to me given where I live.
The velour pads (Left) and the stock pleather (Right)
The headband is relatively thick and soft, much better than what you’ll find on many other headphones of similar prices. For reference, I have a Sony on-ear I got for free somewhere that used to retail for around SGD $30+ and all it has for a headband is a single piece of plastic. Despite the padding though, I do get a sore spot on the top of my head after around 3 hours.
I’ve been on Skype group calls wearing the HTF600 with the velour pads and would usually notice my head and ears getting slightly sore after around 3 hours or more. However, by then, I’m probably in dire need of a good stretching and walking around anyway, so it works for me.
In short, the HTF600 is quite comfortable, but isn’t anything like a Beyerdynamic DT880 or HD600 for long hour usage. They’re good enough but do still have their clear limitations, as expected at the price. Isolation
Noise isolation is rather poor, due to the large ports on the sides of the ear cups. I have had entire conversations with people while the HTF600 were on and no, I’m not talking about Skype conversations. Noise isolation decreases further when you’re using velour pads like I do. In the end, despite these being stated as closed headphones, they’re basically semi-open, so you should treat them as such. Amplification
The HTF600 are rated to have a 56 ohms impedance and a 100 dB/mW sensitivity. In simple terms, these do not require an amplifier to use and would get pretty loud plugged into a laptop or smartphone. I’m able to use the HTF600 plugged into my iPhone 5S, which has a relatively good internal sound card for a smartphone and my VAIO Pro 13, which has one of the crummiest on-board sounds I’ve heard. Both are able to push the HTF600 pretty well. That said, I now mostly use the HTF600 with my Fiio Q1 Dac-amp.
If comfort and/or the price are the reasons one would be interested in the HTF600, the sound signature at the price would be why one would bother spending the extra pocket change on these headphones. There is even an entire Head-Fi thread here that discusses how the HTF600 is “more fun” than the legendary Sennheiser HD650. Yes, really, this thread exists.
While very amusing and definitely all in good fun, such hyperbolic comments can be very confusing for potential buyers. A $30 plastic fantastic headphone, no matter how fabulous, can’t be “better” than the venerable decades old $450 legend right? So to clear things up, that’s what I’m here to do, ruin the party. Sorry, I mean provide useful information.
Note that the Beyerdynamic velour pads do in fact change the HTF600’s sound so I’ll be describing the HTF600’s sound for both the pleather and velour pads in each section. Bass
The bass, as most owners of the HTF600 would tell you, is virtually the star of the HTF600’s sound. With what I perceive to be a slight mid-bass hump, the bass is thick and meaty while not being overly Bloated or uncontrolled, creating a rich, dark and fun sound.
Comparing to some other bass heavy gear, I don’t think the bass extends as deep as something like the Audio Technica ATH-M50x or the Future Sonics Atrio (MG7) earphones, both of which I also own. The HTF600 also has the least pronounced bass of the 3, which is probably why the lowest end of the spectrum is much less noticeable. In my opinion, the HTF600 has bass that would be the least aggressive and is the most relaxed sounding overall. The M50x can be a little headache-inducing with its aggressive bass and treble, while the Atrio can be a bit of a one-trick pony IEM with the strong bass not exactly working for some genres. In this regard, the HTF600 is more versatile, not to mention it is also the cheapest of the 3 mentioned products.
With the velour pads, bass is slightly more tame and diffused, having decreased body and impact. In other words, I’d say the bass is flatter with the velours. That said, bass is still very much noticeable with the velour pads and not much of the fun factor in the low-end is lost in my opinion. Mids
If the bass is the star of the HTF600 show, the mids would be the planet that revolves around it. The mids are intimate, rich and very smooth, having very few harsh peaks I can discern.
Male and female vocals, unlike many other headphones and earphones I’ve both owned and demoed, have an equal opportunity to shine. Male vocals are sometimes bled into by the upper bass, and female vocals can be very slightly peaky especially with hotly mastered tracks, but both genders have vocals represented in a forward and generally smooth manner.
I did notice that brass instruments in particular sometimes sounded a little undetailed and blunted, due to what I guess is the smoothed over frequency response in the mids and upper treble. I don’t personally find this to be a problem, since my rather sensitive hearing means I get physically uncomfortable when headphones are overly brassy or peaky in sound. With that in mind, I personally would rather have a duller sound most of the time over a sound signature that is too energetic or lively with brass instruments hurting my ears, but that’s just my opinion. As with all things audio, your mileage may vary depending on your preferences.
Comparing the pads again, with the pleather pads, the mids, to my ears, are more lush and rich. With the velour pads, the mids, like the bass, becomes more tame, diffused and has decreased body and weight. Treble
The HTF600 have treble that I feel is veiled and rolled-off. There is an overall slight haze to the sound, but is not muddy or unclear by any means.
Due to the general lack of high frequency emphasis, the HTF600 loses out on having micro-detailing and an analytical sound, but that, as I will discuss later, isn’t always a bad thing.
With the velour pads, the sound is a little less crisp as it is with the pleathers. Detail is slightly lost with the velours and there is slightly less shimmer to the sound. Treble overall is slightly tamer and is less pronounced. Verdict on Pads
Above, I’ve mentioned how the stock pleather and Beyerdynamic velour pads affect each chunck of the sound signature, but looking at the sound as a whole is when you’ll get the big picture of the differences between the two.
With the stock pleather pads, the sound is darker and richer while also retaining more detail and shimmer to the sound. Vocals are lush, bass is impactful with a fair amount of heft yet being controlled and the high frequencies are present but are far from being aggressive. Basically, the sound signature is slightly U-shaped, with more emphasis on bass, and the mids not being anywhere as recessed as other more aggressively U or V-shaped signature headphones.
On the other hand, the velour pads flatten the general sound signature and make the whole sound more diffused and decreased in weight. The sound is not as lively or energetic, but what you get in return is a much more spacious sound that takes full advantage of the angled driver placement in the headphones. While not as wide and jaw-droppingly precise like the Beyerdynamic T90 for example (for obvious reasons), the HTF600 with velour pads sounds airy and light, for a lack of a better description. You don’t get pin-point accuracy in imaging, but what you get is a very relaxed, mellow and enveloping sound stage that is easy to kick back and chill to.
To settle the differences between the pads, I personally like the pleathers more for most of my music due to their more engaging and fun representation of the sound. However, for long-term comfort, the velours win. On top of that, the velour pads work better for audio that requires a more spacious and airy sound, like orchestral tracks or movies and TV shows.
With all the users online that tell you to just get velour pads without providing much explanation, I hope this comparison would be helpful in your decision regarding whether to spend the extra on pads or not. There is a significant difference in sound, so my description would hopefully help you make a slightly better informed purchase.
With that out of the way, let’s finally wrap things up! Overall Sound
In summary, the HTF600 can be described to be on the darker side of headphones, with an intimate presentation that is mellow yet fun. The HTF600 is also quite the all-rounder, being able to provide a very pleasant and unoffensive rendition of many different musical genres.
However, for detail freaks, this is not going to be the headphone of choice due to the lack of treble emphasis. The HTF600 is not for everyone or for every situation. But if you want to have a relaxing, non-fatiguing pair of headphones to return home to and don’t have the dosh for something like the Sennheiser HD650 or the Sony MDR-MA900, I believe the HTF600 would make the budget conscious consumer rather happy with the sound it produces at its significantly more affordable price.
Are they as good or God forbid, better, than the HD650? Hell no. Compared to the HTF600, the HD650 is much more detailed in the mids and highs (it’s not even close really), has bass that’s much better in technical performance and the HD650 is a significant number of steps, hops and leaps ahead in comfort.
However, for their respective prices, which is easier to justify? While the HD650 is a fantastic headphone, it is considerably more expensive and it’s no contest, the HTF600, cheaper by literal hundreds of dollars, is the much easier recommendation for the money.
The Panasonic RP-HTF600-S Headphones
In one sentence, the HTF600 is engaging, relaxed, has the potential to be quite comfortable and is a good overall package at its wallet-friendly price.
With the stock pleather pads, it’s great for many different genres of music. Stick on the velours and you get a very comfortable headphone for long listening sessions and a spacious sound that is great for movies and TV shows. All in a package that only costs around USD $60 in total, $30 or less if you don’t want the velour pads.
I don’t think every person in the world needs a HTF600, because really there is no such product that everyone needs other than refrigerators or similarly mundane necessities like that. However, the HTF600 is a very easy product to recommend for many people and at its USD $28 price, it’s a no brainer for many who at the very least just want to give something new a try.
Being very affordable, easy to drive and pleasant to listen to for most genres, it’s also a very easy recommendation for beginners to headphones who aren’t concerned about looks and want a solid sounding yet cheap headphone to start with.
A great budget option that ticks a lot of boxes, the Panasonic RP-HTF600-S is not the “best headphone ever” or a “giant killer”, but is good enough to satisfy most people, if only its model name were easier to remember.
About Me, Josh Tseng:
A self-proclaimed “boring person”, I’m interested in audio gear, music, current events and having thought-provoking conversations with people I meet. Right now, SoundTown is a personal passion project of mine to improve my writing skills while being able to explore all things audio. I also happen to be visually impaired, which is why music has, for me, eventually become one of the most important forms of media I can consume.
If you want to talk to me, feel free to email me at email@example.com or you can also find me on Twitter at @JoshSoundTown. PMs on Head-Fi, for now, would be rather challenging for me to access so that’ll have to be something I’ll have to work on. Oh and by the way, all feedback on my writing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading and happy listening!
Cons - because of the $25 price tag it makes me feel embarrassed that i like them so much
I original bought most of my Headphones from Pioneer and Sansui back in the 70s and other than buying a few lightweight headphones and earbuds i was still satisfied but then i kept reading about the Audio Technica ATH-M50s and decided to buy them then i got some very soft earpads and although it made live performances sound great they leaked so much it now defeated the reason i have headphones which is so my wife would not be bothered.
then i saw the review of these on here and thought what the heck i will give them a shot.
they sound many times better than their price and bring real impact from my Adcom Stack without scaring the neighbors with my complete home system .