From their dual cables to their snazzy yet sizable build, just about everything about the RP-DH1250s so far straddles the line between “made for consumers” and “made for professionals.” Sound is where it counts, though, and in this case Panasonic has built a headset that will provide good sound for most users but doesn’t quite live up to its more studio-worthy “Pro DJ” moniker.
That’s not to say they sound subpar, though. The common assumption amongst many consumers is that DJ headphones should specialize in bass, and while that’s not entirely true, the RP-DH1250s mostly live up to those expectations. On a bass-heavy alternative rock track like Alt-J’s “Breezeblocks,” for instance, the Technics rumbled along with low-end sounds that were altogether clear and forceful.
Likewise, most higher-end sounds and vocals tended to come across cleanly, with the powerful singing performances in songs like Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and the Cranberries’ “Zombie” maintaining their aural heft and vigor. The Technics also held their own when it came to percussion, as listening to John Bonham pound away all over the drum set on Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” was equally distinctive and satisfying.
In general, the RP-DH1250s have a focus on depth and distinguishing sounds. They’re especially successful with pop, rock and hip-hop tracks, and they do a good job at making sure every noise within a given song’s soundscape can be heard. A funky track like Toro y Moi’s “So Many Details” is stuffed with various synths, basslines, guitar riffs, background samples and shifty vocals, yet the Technics were able to capture each sonic aspect and give them plenty of room to breathe and move around the song the way they should. For many listeners, listening to more complex tracks like these with the Technics will be like teaching an old dog new tricks. And those tricks will usually sound good.
But while the RP-DH1250s should prove satisfactory on a consumer level, they tend to fall a bit short of their professional-grade ambitions. These cans distorted slightly at absolute max volumes, for instance — not so much to disturb the untrained ears of most casual listeners, but certainly noticeable to the “Pro DJ” crowd Panasonic seems to desire at the same time. And while rock, pop and hip-hop tracks tend to succeed here, full-on electronic, dance and house songs don’t stack up as well.
This is no small part to the RP-DH1250s relative lack of mid-range punch. TG found a fairly slight yet consistent bit of fuzziness between high- and low-end sounds, the kind which caused some finer details to be lost where they shouldn’t be. Again, the level of depth here is impressive; but while the Technics may be able to discern all types of sounds with ease, not all of them will sound quite as sharp and edgy as they would with other cans in this price range.
A guitar-heavy track like Eagles of Death Metal’s “Cherry Cola” still sounded relatively great overall, but the expected amount of guitar-driven sheen gets consumed by the Technics’ greater emphasis on the low end. And on a taxing electro track like Stanley Ross’ “Hammeroids,” the RP-DH1250s became a little bit lost in all the grooves. These sounds aren’t lost entirely, but they’re just not as bright as they could be.
Per usual with headphones, pulling the trigger on the RP-DH1250s is going to be a matter of preference. There are plenty of consumers out there who won’t mind sacrificing a little mid-range edge in order to obtain crisp vocals and bumping bass, and to those people these cans will be great. They should also be satisfactory to more than a few DJs out there, but anyone looking to get more serious studio work done could get a sharper and more complete sonic package for $270.
And really, that price is the most important detail of all here. The Technics’ flexibility, style and many sonic strengths (read: bass, vocals and depth) are wonderful, but their discomfort, plastic build, noise-cancelling deficiencies and lack of mid-range brightness simply cannot justify a $270 investment from consumers who don’t have money to blow. But for those who do, these modern Technics will provide a sufficiently groovy trip down DJ memory lane.
TechnologyGuide Test Lab Director Barney Morisette contributed to this review.