Reviewed on Apr 06, 2016 , Marc Henney

Panasonic RP-HC101
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings
5.9Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.4Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
5.1Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
6.1Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
5.5Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
6.5Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Panasonic RP-HC101 Slim Z are subpar on-ear headphones. They have a lightweight design and decent audio reproduction but feel flimsy and cheap. Ambient noise easily seeps into the ear cups and the weak noise cancelling is insufficient for even moderately loud environments.

Test Results
Design 5.5
Sound 6.5
Isolation 4.6
Active Features 4.5
Pros
  • Lightweight, compact design.
  • Decent audio reproduction.
  • Low leakage.
Cons
  • Flimsy build.
  • Poor isolation.
  • Small, uncomfortable ear cups.

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RPHC101K Amazon CHECK PRICE Right
5.5

Design

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Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Design Picture

The RP-HC101 are small, lightweight headphones that unfortunately disappoint with their flimsy, cheap-feeling build quality and their uncomfortably small ear cups. They have limited control options and the control module is surprisingly large, making them less portable than expected.

Style
Panasonic RP-HC101 Design Picture 2

The RP-HC101 look a little cheap and flimsy. They have a compact, understated design and an all-black color scheme accentuated by the silver of the metal frame running through the headband. The backs of the small circular ear cups have a glossy finish for added flare and style.

5.5 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC101 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.13 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0.39 lbs

The RP-HC101K are so lightweight that they do not exert much pressure on the head or ears. They are unfortunately poorly padded and the thinness of the headband causes stability issues, which can make these uncomfortable if you listen to your audio a lot while on the move.

5.5 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones; the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with, your audio device.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC101 Controls Picture
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Additional Buttons : Noise-Canceling, Talk Through

Button layout and the control options provided are functional but limited. The control options include a volume dial, a power switch and a monitor button that allows the user to temporarily suspend the noise cancelling to hear the outside world. However, the absence of call/music or track skipping controls is disappointing, as those options will have to be changed directly on the audio source or device.

6.0 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC101 Stability Picture

The RP-HC101 are decently stable but may fall off your head relatively easily. They are lightweight and have small ear cups that apply enough pressure on the ears, to maintain a stable fit during casual listening sessions. Unfortunately, they slip off your ears, while running and jumping. Also, the non-detachable cable is long and with the addition of the noise cancelling generator, easily gets tangled or hooked by something in the environment.

7.6 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Portability Picture
L : 4.53 "
W : 5.12 "
H : 0.79 "
Volume : 18.29 Cu. Inches

The RP-HC101 are very portable on-ear headphones that are compact enough to fit easily into a bag, purse or pocket. They also fold up to take up less space. However, the control module can be a little cumbersome at times and can be a little frustrating to carry around.

6.0 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC101 Case Picture
Type : Pouch

Comes with a soft pouch that will protect the headphones from scratches but will not prevent them from getting damaged from falls.

4.0 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability; material quality; cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC101 Build Quality Picture

Build quality is subpar for the RP-HC101 Slim Z. They're lightweight and the frame is relatively flexible but they feel cheap and flimsy. The metal headband is extremely thin and susceptible to warping under moderate physical stress. Also, the small ear cups are held to the frame by weak-looking joints that do not feel durable.

Cable
Panasonic RP-HC101 Cable Picture
Detachable : No
Length : 5'2" ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

Front
Angled
Side
Rear
Top
6.5

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Frequency Response

The RP-HC101K have decent audio reproduction. Bass is crisp and punchy and the lower harmonics of instruments and vocals are well reproduced. Unfortunately, they don't handle the higher frequencies as well, sounding too sharp at times and slightly muddy with lead instruments. The bass also doesn't rumble or produce the deep low ends that fans of bass might be looking for.

7.4 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.1 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
38.58 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-4.41 dB
Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.7 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.21 dB

Average performance. These headphones lack in low-bass and overemphasize bass and high-bass. The resulting sound lacks low-end thump, but tends to boom.

6.9 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2.5KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.11 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds boxy. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.8 dB
Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and honky. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.46 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2.5KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.46 dB

Decent performance. The main problem here is the overemphasis in high-bass, which is being carried over into low-mid and mid. This pushes forward the higher harmonics of bass instruments, and lower harmonics of vocals/leads, resulting in a boxy or even slightly honky sound.

4.4 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2.5KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
7.88 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2.5KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-6.74 dB
Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.54 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-2.53 dB

Poor performance. The -8dB dip surrounding 5KHz negatively affects the intelligibility and clarity of vocals/leads. The 10dB bump at 8KHz tends to make these headphones sibilant.

8.1 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.043
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.335

Good distortion performance. Although there is an overall rise in distortion at 100dB SPL, it remains within good limits.

4.6

Isolation

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Score components:

These headphones poorly isolate the listener. The small ear cups do not provide a great seal and fail to prevent ambient noise from seeping into your listening experience. The active noise cancellation is weak and ineffective, making the RPHC101K Slim Z unideal for use in even moderately loud environments. On the upside, they don't leak much sound.

3.3 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-7.36 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-0.46 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-7.7 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-15.4 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 200Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <18dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
15.26 dB

Poor isolation. These headphones don't provide either good passive isolation or good active isolation. Their performance is poor in all isolation categories.

7.2 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC101 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
36.41 dB

Average leakage. Being on-ear headphones, it is common for the leakage to cover most of the mid and treble ranges. And as expected, the majority of leakage here is spread between 600Hz and 6KHz, but the overall volume is not too loud.

4.5

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:
0 Wireless
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Type
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What it is: The type and version of the wireless network, the headphones use to connect to the audio source. This could either be Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: The Bluetooth version will determine how compatible the headphones are with your Bluetooth enabled devices. Typically, newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible with older ones but may lack the additional features that more recent Bluetooth protocols provide.
:
N/A
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
N/A
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
:
No

8.6 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Score components:
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
AAA
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
143 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
N/A
Auto-off
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
No
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
N/A

The RP-HC101 Slim Z have an incredibly long battery life. They lasted up to 5 days of continuous playtime, which is excellent for long trips where you won't have access to a store, to purchase new batteries, for a couple of days. They can also be used passively by switching the noise canceling off when the batteries die. Unfortunately, they don't have any battery saving features.

0 App Support
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned

No compatible app.

In the box

Panasonic RP-HC101 In the box Picture

  • Panasonic RP-HC101 Slim Z Headphones
  • Airline adapter
  • Carrying pouch
  • AA battery
  • Manual

Conclusion Amazon CHECK PRICE Right

5.9Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
The Panasonic RP-HC101 Slim Z are below-average mixed usage headphones. They feel flimsy and cheap and let a lot of ambient noise seep into your audio they're not the comfortable but have a decent audio reproduction.
6.4Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Mediocre-at-best for critical listening. They have a poorly balanced sound that lacks clarity and soundstage for critical listening.
5.1Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Poor for commuting. They're compact and easy to carry around but the noise canceling is not efficient enough for a busy commute or a noisy flight.
6.1Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Mediocre for sports, They're lightweight and compact. However, they're a little unstable for high-intensity exercises. Also, the control module on the cable is cumbersome and sways a lot.
5.5Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Mediocre-at-best for office use. They don't leak too much but also won't block ambient noise or office chatter effectively.
6.5Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.
Average for studio recording. Satisfactory sound quality and low leakage. However, the flimsy build and lack of comfort for repeated long recording sessions are not ideal.
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