Panasonic RZ-S500W


New Head-Fier
The S500; an acceptable, but dated listen
Pros: Decent ANC, even nowadays.
Above average build for the buds themselves. They feel solid.
Good overall timbre.
Bass has solid impact.
Case battery can last a couple days even with intense usage.
Cons: Treble has a slight amount of shout. Hard to pinpoint.
Comfort is very much a miss past one hour of usage; protruding, huge shells and a stubby nozzle. Shells are also heavy.
Case quality feels very cheap.
App's EQ is limited to way too few bands to be able to make a large difference.
TLDR: Panasonic's RZ-S500 IEMs offered a solid amount of value back in 2020/2021. They still offer a bit of value, but the comfort issues are so staggering it's very difficult to recommend them.

Probably no images on this one, sorry. I'm too lazy to clean the case properly. It looks a little worn-out.

Ah, well, Panasonic. Last time I ever had to deal with anything from them was a broken TV that was a little too wide and a little too heavy to easily alone. I know of their audio products; my late uncle had a stereo system that was quite acceptable. As for how I got my hands on this pair, I've needed some TWS with noise cancelling when I was starting uni. I'm still in uni, and found them to be actually quite decent in muting out screams from the hall, but that's only one facet of this rather dirty "gem". A dollar store gem, if you will. Looks great until you take a proper look.

Build quality
The build quality is all over the place. While the buds themselves have a quite solid shell that feels well put-together; after all, over the past two years I haven't seen them take poorly to abuse, the case could have been considerably better. The plastic used on the case doesn't feel good, the hinge feels like it's always going to break and it feels uncomfortably hollow. While the buds feel good, that translates into weight. TWS aren't usually light, especially in comparison to some IEMs - after all, you gotta shove the Bluetooth bits and a battery somewhere. This unfortunately brings us to comfort, where I have to take the biggest marks off. 65/100

Comfort, fit

The S500 fit decently well and you get a solid amount of tips with the in-ears themselves, and that gets you a decent chance at a comfortable seal. The tips themselves aren't any staggering show of quality, they feel only slightly more firm than something like a KZ eartip. However, after trying out every single tip for weeks after getting it, I found the biggest issue with the comfort - not the tips, but the nozzle. The nozzle is simply too short. It's stubby. With a longer nozzle, although it's wide, you'd be able to get a good fit far easier, alongside some additional stability. With this, the whole shell presses into your ear and your canals feel quite worn after more than an hour of listening. These frequently give me headaches while I'm on the bus. With how they're protruding, too, they aren't good sleeping buds, either. The touch surface is large and will most likely wake you up with either the beep or the fact that it suddenly feels like someone's using your ear as a guide for a nail. While walking around, the seal can also be a bit inconsistent and you are prone to hearing those oh-so-wonderful popping noises in your ears. Wonderful! D+ for comfort, cause at least they give out a lot of tips. 35/100

ANC performance, application

I ran this app on multiple devices - a Redmi 4X with AOSPextended, my Poco X3 with Lineage 20, and a Google Pixel 6a that I quickly borrowed from my brother. I've never had issues with the app crashing or freezing up, which is something commendable, as I haven't had the best of luck with those apps as of late. The browsing experience is dated, but it gets you to the important bits from the get-go, and it sometimes reminds you to clean your buds, too. The equalizer presets, whopping two of them, aren't any great. The bass boost ruins most of the balance that the IEMs normally have and bloats the whole experience. If it was in the sub-bass region only, that would've been an interesting, punchy flavor. There is also a sort of...instrument boost? Get ready for honk and shout if you turn that on. As-is, it's best to use them in the standard profile and add a tiny nudge somewhere with the limited EQ.
The ANC itself was rated as "pretty good" during its year of release. I can safely say that it's still quite decent, but has solid competition nowadays. The ANC itself doesn't like sudden thumps or bumps - not a lot of them do, but the S500's ANC is a particularly egregious example. Go over a bump on the road, and the S500 will distort. The Airpods Pro (1st gen) do not. Granted, a completely different ballpark, but you know what I'm getting at. The ANC also tends to mess with the bass a little. Ambient mode is solid, but distorts easily when you meet something louder than a passing car. 60/100

Sound performance
It might be best to start with the scores right from the get-go.
Low-end: 70/100
Mids: 50/100
Treble: 55/100
Tonal Balance: 60/100
Overall Tonality: 60/100

I don't find the Panasonic outright wrong or egregious anywhere in the sound, which is a surprising thing. The bass has plenty of thump, it feels decently impactful, especially at this price range, and in its stock setting provides for a classic-ish V-shape that isn't going too far. There is a slight amount of bleed that I'm not very keen on, but it does help the tonality here, as the mids aren't anything outstanding. There's nothing to mention with them, nothing wrong, but nothing..great. They're just there and as such a lot of the things inside that area don't perform that great. Treble is slightly..shouty? There's just a bit much of it, and these could do with a small reduction in the treble area to help the tonality a bit more. The sound itself doesn't make me remove these out my ears, but the comfort does.
There's no point in talking about technicalities here; these are a cheaper TWS set. Instrument separation is obviously not particularly great, and the overall staging/imaging combo is just okay for an IEM.

Song examples
Volkor X - Gravity
Not doing too bad here. Bass has plenty of impact and doesn't drown out most of the other instruments particularly hard, and the synth itself also sounds quite decent and a little bit sharp. The instrument separation doesn't do great, and some parts of the song just get lost. 65/100

Flamengo - Stále dál
This is probably the biggest loss for the Panasonics. The vocals themselves already have a bit of that sharpness added on thanks to the effects used. Guitars don't feel very good, and the flutes don't feel like they have as much life in them as they could. Whether or not that's due to the treble, I can't say. 45/100

Taeko Ohnuki - Peter Rabbit to Watashi
Similar issue as with the first song. Instrument separation on the S500s guarantees that you don't hear some of the finer, quieter tones of the background, which results in a really nice song sounding a little bit too smooshed in and it feels like half the band ran away. 65/100


Panasonic's biggest issue here is the comfort. It's simply very poor and I can't keep these in for longer than two hours. If Panasonic is listening or maybe lurking somewhere in the depths of the internet, my biggest suggestion would be to tuck the bass in a little bit back, tone down the treble by 2-3db and..fix the shells. As it stands, its pricing is now a little bit too tough, as you may be able to find one of the better Lypertek models still unopened somewhere for barely fifty bucks, and the updated Moondrop Nekocake is probably a better choice in most aspects than this.



New Head-Fier
Punches above its weight class
Pros: Nice sound for a wide variety of music
Noise cancelling
Touch controls work well
Cons: Mediocre eartips
Not multipoint
Touch controls are a bit too sensitive when adjusting the fit
I just got these yesterday as it's been a bit too hot in my office (upstairs, no insulation, Florida - warm with AC & fans) to wear my Sennheiser 4.50 BTNCs. I was honestly tempted by Sennheiser's CX True's but were they really worth $50 more? Maybe - or probably, as I like the sound of my Sennheisers a lot. But I researched the crap out of both and had a hunch that the Panasonics might punch over their weight class.

So far, the hunch feels right.

Before I delve into How I Think It Sounds, a little background on my ears/listening is in order.

I'm not a super audiophile. I have some experience with production (mostly electronic music) so I tend to like hearing everything clearly in a mix. But I'm less picky about soundstage and I like to hear (and feel a little) bass. However, I've been told (though some 20 years ago) that I have 'magic ears' when it comes to mixing but frankly that was just me obsessing over every sound having it's own place in the stereo field and in the audio spectrum. So I am picky about sound - just not super picky.

So far, everything I've thrown at it has sounded good - highs, mids, and (the one thing I that was a requirement) bass. Between trip hop, 90s hip hop, 90s grunge & alternative, classic showtunes - almost everything sounded excellent. Clear & spacious.

The two things that didn't sound that great were punk (I just wanted more bass, I dunno why they cut the bass so much) and Aphex Twin's 'Ambient Works Vol II,' which shocked me by sounding a touch muddy. (or maybe I hadn't heard it this way before, because I picked out some new sounds in the trip hop and hip hop that I hadn't noticed before. Hell - I heard Green Day's backing harmonies better than I ever have before).

The noise canceling is unreal. My Sennheiser's noise cancelling is barely noticeable. This makes the loud fans in the house disappear so I don't have to turn my music up that much. I'm super impressed.

The app is ok, I'm glad I can adjust the EQ but I'm mostly going to use it on my computer. The bass boost is noticeable but not necessary.

Two things I would change:

1) Multipoint. We all have multiple devices, this should be standard by now (for at least 2 connections).
2) The tips. I hate them, I need to find aftermarket eartips stat.

I'm rating it a 4 because I'm sure there are some much better options that would make me realize its flaws, but it feels more like a 4.5 specifically for me.


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