- Editor's Rating
- Balanced yet punchy sound
- Light, colorful and easy-to-wear build
- Great value
- Can't fully reproduce more detailed sounds
- No accessories
- Earpads are a little stiff
Quick TakeWith classic style, lightweight comfort and better-than-expected sound, the Panasonic RP-HTX7s are an excellent entry-level option at $30 to $60. Expectations should always be tempered at this price range, but these cans outpace around the vast majority of their low-cost competitors.
The Panasonic RP-HTX7 Monitor headphones want to make everything old feel new again. Typically available for anywhere between $30 and $60 online, the RP-HTX7s look like something straight out of the ‘60s. Their practically featureless over-the-ear design puts the emphasis on music and music alone, substituting the bells and whistles found in more premium Panasonic ‘phones for a purer, old-school experience.
This mix of classic design, Panasonic branding and affordability make the RP-HTX7s a real contender for budget headphones shoppers on paper, but can they live up to such promise in execution? Let’s take a look.
In the Box
As their price tag would indicate, the RP-HTX7s are a barebones affair. Opening up their plastic box grants nothing but the cans themselves — carrying bags, extra cables, microphones, or added accessories need not apply here. While it would certainly be nice of Panasonic to include something for their users’ troubles, I found the absence of any extras to fit with the RP-HTX7s’ retro aesthetic. Still, those that don’t like wearing their headphones around their neck may find the lack of a dedicated carrying case annoying.
Design and Features
Once the RP-HTX7s are up and out of the box, there’s still not much to them. Panasonic offers them in a variety of solid, mostly vibrant colors, which can be good or bad depending on how you feel about standing out. My pair was splashed with a bright lime green coat, making them, let\’s say, less-than-inconspicuous in public places. People who don’t like the attention can get an all-black pair, but for the most part these cans are going to stand out amongst the sea of EarPods and Beats that are normally out and about. They have a personality, in other words, and I like that.
I also can’t complain too much about the RP-HTX7s’ general build. To be clear, you shouldn’t expect the world here. The RP-HTX7s are mostly made of plastic with thin metal adjusters, so they’ll always come off as a little cheap by default. Their black headband lacks any significant sort of comfortable cushion, and the padding on their earcups is a tad too stiff. Likewise, I thought the attached 3.5mm cord could stand to be a bit longer than 3.9 feet.
None of those issues should be all that disconcerting for a budget-minded buyer, though. In fact, much of what’s on display here actually exceeds what I\’d expect from cans in this price range. They’re an easy and remarkably lightweight fit, and they slide and adjust on the head without much issue.
The RP-HTX7s’ earcups can’t swivel, and they could give sensitive skulls discomfort after prolonged periods of use, but they effectively block out most sounds at mid-to-high volumes while also keeping sound leakage relatively low. They’re far from noise-cancelling cans, but they’re roomy and practical. And while their cord is a little too short, it is straight and thin enough to avoid getting tangled up for those rocking out on the go. Just be sure not to wear them outside on a hot day, since their closed nature traps heat and will make your ears feel like they’re in tiny saunas.
Despite being made of low-cost materials, the RP-HTX7s manage to feel unobtrusive when listening to tunes. They’ll never give a feeling of luxury, but they mostly stay out of the way and let the sounds do the work. For the everyday music listener, that’s about as much as one can expect from an inexpensive set of monitor cans.
When it came time to take the RP-HTX7s out for a musical stroll, I once again came away impressed. Given their inherent limitations, they provide a hearty and balanced sound. They lack the overall fine detail expected in more premium headphones, of course, but you could do much, much worse at this price range.
The RP-HTX7s’ sound is usually even, with a slight emphasis tacked onto the bass and low-end. The cans performed admirably on both bass-heavy rock songs like Alt-J’s “Breezeblocks” and super bass-heavy electro songs like Stanley Ross’s “Hammeroids,” with accurate and distortion-free booms that provided a fair amount of oomph. Cranking the noise up to 11 will understandably muddle things a bit, but electronic and hip-hop fans strapped for cash will unearth plenty of grooves here.
Strong vocal performances were mostly crisp and clear, with tracks like Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” maintaining the majority of its muscle. Mid-range reproduction was just okay; complex arrangements like Toro y Moi’s “So Many Details” lost some of their nuance and sharpness, but tones are adequately separated on most standard songs. On rock and metal tracks like Eagles of Death Metal’s “Cherry Cola” or Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction,” guitars and percussion weren’t incredibly rich but still stayed punchy and enjoyable throughout.
At no point during any of these songs did my ears feel strained or agitated. Above all else, these cans provide a pleasurable listening experience, the kind that wows with aural warmness rather than technical detail. Their sound isn’t going to satisfy audiophiles, not by a long shot, but the RP-HTX7s will please just about anyone perusing the lower end of the headphones market.
I didn’t expect to enjoy the Panasonic RP-HTX7s as much as I did. Their enjoyable sound, lightweight build and ease of use all surpassed what\’s reasonably expectable from a pair of cheapo monitor cans, making them an excellent value for those looking to go beyond their EarPods or other stock headphones.
Yes, they’ve been out for a couple years now, their audio quality pales in the face of more expensive sets, and they have a handful of minor design annoyances. At a cost this low, though, those faults are all excusable. For users that are down with Panasonic’s retro style, the RP-HTX7s will make for a surprisingly good listen.
TechnologyGuide Test Lab Director Barney Morisette contributed to this review.