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The has style over substance

The first thing you'll notice about the speakers on the is that they sit very high. You may have a tussle getting it on your head, but it’s built that way to make room for the AAA battery that powers the active noise cancellation unit. By flicking the switch on the side of the headphones, you turn on the active noise cancellation and the world... gets marginally quieter. The active noise cancellation on this pair of headphones is a bit lackluster, as it doesn't really block out a ton of noise above what the headphones physically block from your ears. A necessary evil, the battery of the s lasts well over 20 hours of listening to music.

Turn on the active noise cancellation and the world... gets marginally quieter.

While the Panasonic RP-HC720 does come with a 3.93 foot long cable, you can replace it if you feel like it. Just look for a 1/8th inch male-to-male TRS cable, and you can use it with your Panasonic cans! The plug of the included cable is your standard, run-of-the-mill 1/8th inch affair. At the bottom of the left ear cup is where the cable connects to the Panasonic RP-HC720s. This is unlikely to be damaged, and if it is, you can easily replace the cable.

When you plunk the s on your head, you'll notice right away how soft the leather-ensconced foam is on your ear. The band doesn't dig into your scalp, and overall these are fairly comfortable headphones for most. Your mileage may vary depending on your head size, however.

The RP-HC720s fall short in a few key areas.

There's a hole in the 's ability to produce a strong, clear sound, considering that between 2.5-5 Hz was heavily de-emphasized. This is in the higher pitched end of the spectrum. For those of you wondering what this will mean for your music, basically it means that the highest notes of a piano, guitar and cymbal “shimmer” will be almost muted in comparison to the rest of your music.

Tracking is where these headphones stumble the most.

With the active noise cancellation enabled, there’s a small amount of distortion. It’s nothing to worry about, as you will most likely never notice it, even if you know what you’re looking for. If you turn the active noise canceling off, this small amount of distortion gets even smaller. This means the produces sound very accurately according to the sound files you give it.

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Tracking is where these headphones stumble the most. The left and right channels should be exactly the same. To put it bluntly, the have fairly bad tracking. Basically, they output volume at wildly varying levels in each side, leading to a distracting listening experience.

Fairly average for the price point, but disappointing noise cancellation

As far as performance goes with the s, you can expect a rather average experience, but with higher notes muffled to an odd degree. The active noise cancellation does block out a bit more sound than the s do naturally, but it lets in a lot of low-frequency sound.

With all that on the table, it seems that what you pay for when you buy the s is middling performance and a set of comfortable and easily-repaired headphones. But at ~$100, that's not bad at all. Sure, you could probably do better, but sometimes those options aren't readily available, or they may not work out for you personally. You could do a lot worse than the .

The is a bit of disappointment. They have middling sound quality and noise cancellation.

The 's noise cancellation isn't worth the battery it's run on.

To their credit, the Panasonic RP-HC720s do block out quite a bit of high-frequency sound. However, even with their noise cancellation circuit turned on, they don’t block out any of the lower-frequency noises, which can be a problem if you were hoping to block out a subway or truck noise. Despite the fact that they actively cancel noise, the Panasonic RP-HC720s do tend to leak a bit of noise, so be careful to keep the volume controlled when there’s a lot of people around.

The 's frequency response graph is like a bagel, a large hole in the middle.

Frequency response describes how a set of headphones emphasizes different frequencies. To test this, we first put the headphones on HATS, and make sure they have a proper fit. We then use SoundCheck to send a frequency sweep through the headphones, which covers a range from 20 to 20,000Hz. If it wasn’t for a huge drop in the 2.5-5kHz range, the frequency response of the Panasonic RP-HC720s would be good. This means high pitched screams, whining, and Queen might apt to be drowned out by other tones.

Tracking, Distortion

Tracking is a measurement of equivalency between the right and left channel. All along the sound scale, the favored one speaker or the other. At the higher pitches, the tracking issue became disconcerting and distracting.

Distortion is nothing to worry about, as you will most likely never notice it, even if you know what you’re looking for. If you turn the active noise canceling off, this small amount of distortion gets even smaller. As you can see below, some of the tiny peaks visible in the first graph are smaller.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

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