Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burn them in and rejoice!, 17 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Panasonic RP-HJE450E-R Ergo Fit Ear Canal Headphones - Red (Electronics)
~~~~~EDIT (16/11/12)~~~~~
So after a couple of weeks of frequent use, I've fallen in love with these earphones and, though I feel dirty for it, I've very happily got over the loss of my 170s!

Once they've burned in, these earphones are magic. The detail in the sound is remarkable! But this is a double edged sword. Get a music source which is prone to generating a bit of noise in its output, like my phone, and you get every little detail of the source noise reproduced in beautiful quality on top of magnificent music. However, attach these beautiful earphones to a higher quality source, like my laptop, and the music comes alive! The sound balance is perfect, delivering all the right frequencies for the all the different styles and recordings of music.

As mentioned in my previous edit, noise isolation is OK but not brilliant, but I've walked along busy roads with little difficulty hearing my music, being bothered more by the phone crackle than the sounds of traffic. In fact, being able to hear some of the noise of the outside world is rather helpful from a personal safety perspective! The fit is very comfortable and I've worn them happily for hours. Not having had much experience of other earphones

So to the rating! Out of the box I wrote these off with 2*. After burning them in (see below) I upped my rating to 4*. After some thought I've decided to give the RP-HJE450s the full whack of 5*! What you get for the price is superb and my music library has never sounded better.

-----EDIT (28/10/12)-----

I kept going with my beloved 170s for as long as possible but lost them the other day (so sad!). As such I started shopping around for proper replacements. Everywhere I went I kept reading people's comments about how dynamic drivers in earphones like these need time to "burn in", which struck me as odd. But lots of different people wrote said it in lots of different places about many different earphones so I thought I'd take another look at these 450s as I still had them lying around. I left them playing for about 10 hours solid on all different kinds of music shuffled from my wide selection to "burn in" every possible frequency (I got on with other things in the meantime, in case you wondered). I did pop back to listen to the difference every now and then and the sound did change as time went on. At one point it sounded like every singer was lisping and that all percussion was being funnelled through a thin metal pipe to get to my ears and the bass was just low noise with the treble suffering from distortion and crackle.

BUT, rather like the folk story of Tam Lyn, having gone through all manor of horrors and transfigurations, after many hours of playing and then many hours of rest and a few more hours of playing THE SOUND HAS BECOME PRETTY GOOD! So everything I said below about these earphones is true straight out of the box, but it would seem that they need to be run-in, like shoes. And because I wasn't listening to all of these hours of playing it's not just because my ears have grown accustomed to the sound.

Gershwin sounds rich and satisfying, Badly Drawn Boy sounds clear and soulful, Ellie Goulding sounds stunning, John Williams sounds majestic. The Cardigans still sound awesome. So I've changed my rating to 4*. There are still some slight quibbles with the sound that I just can't quite put my finger on, but the improvement is huge and almost unbelievable! And, one thing I forgot to mention before: the 450s, like the 170s I so loved, play louder at lower volumes than other earphones I've tried, so even though the noise isolation from the rubber earbuds isn't total, these have enough punch to drown out the world even if your music player still has a few more notches on the volume dial.

If they continue to improve then I'll edit this review again. Apologies for previously misrepresenting these magnificent value-for-money earphones!

-------------------
ORIGINAL REVIEW:

A few years ago I bought a pair of Panasonic RP-HJE170 earphones and have loved them ever since, but the earbuds have worn out and as a budding audiophile I decided to move up a stage in quality (not least because my beloved 170s are no longer produced). So I bought a pair of 450Es, trusting that if Panasonic made their starter earphones so well, these would be even better.

The fit is comfortable, the adjustable earbuds doing a lovely job. You won't bug anyone around you with your music because there's hardly any sound leakage - even at full volume. The slider thingy on the cable is quite slippery, if that matters.

There's no doubt that the sound is sharp and detailed with a good sense of depth. But while my 170s made music sound like it was playing live in my brain, the 450Es make it feel a bit like I'm hearing the music playing through the wall from a pub nextdoor. The bass tones are too high and the mid-tones are too low; choirs (tested using the film scores of John Williams) and higher female singers (Ellie Goulding) are drowned out, male singers sound as if their mouths were pressed right against the microphones when they were recorded(Badly Drawn Boy). Orchestras sound cumbersome, lacking the rich, energetic mixture of the juicy mid-tones and missing emphasis from what what would otherwise be a passable treble ("Rhapsody in Blue" by Gershwin). That said, the bass isn't overpowering and won't give you any headaches. To use another analogy: my 170s were like listening to honey while the 450Es are like listening to treacle. Golden syrup would count as perfection, but given the alternatives I'll take honey. The box says "Acoustic Precision Control", but the simple fact is that they got it wrong.

I could have given the 450Es three stars because their performance on rock and grunge sounds was pretty good (The Cardigans sounded fantastic) but, for me, if you can't make everything sound good then why bother? So the 450Es only get 2 stars.
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Location: Dorset, UK

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