Brief: I’ve had my eye on these retro-styled Panasonic portables since long before my days at head-fi. With prices now close to the $30 mark, I figured it was finally time to take the plunge and see how the relatively popular and yet rarely-mentioned RP-HTX7s stack up.
Build Quality (7/10): The first thing that surprised me about the RP-HTX7 was just how small they are. I expected them to be closer to the size of the Creative Aurvana Live! but the RP-HTX7s are just barely circumaural with their deep cups and narrow pads. The headband is metal and the thin rods and small Panasonic badges give the headphones a rather precision-built feel, though they are far from delicate. The cups slide freely up and down the headband rods and the single-sided cable run up through the headband. The cable itself is thick, flexible, and terminated with a large 3.5mm plug. The fact that the headphones neither fold nor collapse also helps them feel more solid than much of the competition.
Comfort (7.5/10): Like the similarly-priced JVC HA-S700, the Panasonics are small circumaurals. Unlike the JVCs, however, the pads on the RP-HTX7s are not made of memory foam and the hard pleather headband is very thinly padded. In addition, the rigid structure of the RP-HTX7 provides nowhere near the level of adjustability that the JVCs offer. Still, the Panasonics don’t clamp too hard and are comfortable for several hours at a time.
Isolation (8/10): The isolation of the RP-HTX7, like the comfort, is compromised slightly by the hard pads and rigid fit. Still, they cut out enough noise to be enjoyable in noisy environments and the bassy sound signature works well where outside noise would otherwise drown out low frequencies.
Sound (6/10): The sound of the RP-HTX7 falls perfectly in line with what is normally considered a ‘fun’ signature – big bass, big treble, and comparatively underemphasized mids. The bass hits hard, with decent extension and full body. Impact is a bit hollow but still very respectable for a headphone of this caliber. The low end is not exactly flabby, but not tight either. The midrange is slightly recessed in comparison but far from unbalanced. There is an almost negligible amount of bass bleed and some coloration to the mids. Tonally, they are darker than what I would consider neutral. Detail is rather typical of a $30 headphone – the RP-HTX7 certainly won’t keep up with the Yuin clip-ons or the Philips SHP5400 in detail. Clarity is good, perhaps better than it should be with the low end these have. The treble is somewhat uneven, with a bit of harshness, but I’ve heard much worse. I’m generally sensitive to harshness and my well-burned-in set of the RP-HTX7 doesn’t really bother me. The presentation is good, with decent soundstage width and slightly poorer depth. Though not highly resolving by any means, they do a good job of separating out instruments. All in all, the RP-HTX7 is an enjoyable listen that clearly belongs in the tap-your-toes category.
Value (8.5/10): As a small and stylish circumaural portable headphone, the Panasonic RP-HTX7 offers plenty of bang for the buck. Well-built, isolating, comfortable, and fun to listen to, the Panasonics seem to have all the bases covered. At the price point their biggest competition is from the JVC HA-S700, which isolate better and are slightly more comfortable and a whole lot more portable. However, the Panasonics easily beat the JVCs in sound quality. While not refined by any means, the RP-HTX7 has the type of sound that begs you to crank the volume up. With a wide array of color schemes and iPod-friendly design, the RP-HTX7 really deserves more attention than it’s currently getting.
Frequency Response: 7 – 22,000 Hz
Impedance: 40 Ω
Sensitivity: 99 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 6.6ft (2m); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A