Reviewed Mar 2010
Details: Panasonic’s flagship IEM made of Cubic Zirconium
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $249.99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 26 Ω | Sens: 100 dB | Freq: 6-28k Hz | Cable: 3.6’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: UE Single-flanges
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down
Accessories (2.5/5) – Silicone single-flange tips (3 sizes) and soft carrying pouch
Build Quality (4.5/5) – The Cubic Zirconium housings feel indestructible. Cables are user-replaceable and fairly thick but a bit plasticky and energetic. Cord cinch doesn’t have enough grip. Reports of nozzle filters falling out
Isolation (3.5/5) – Good for a dynamic-driver IEM
Microphonics (4/5) – Low when worn over-the-ear; slightly bothersome otherwise
Comfort (4/5) – The Cubic Zirconium shells are quite heavy and the long strain reliefs/cable connectors can make them hard to wear over-the-ear. Cord may be too short for some
Sound (8.6/10) – The HJE900 sounds every bit as interesting as it looks. Bass extension is impressive and impact is fast and tight. Low-end response is slanted slightly towards mid/upper bass. A long-ish decay time gives them a very natural presentation at the low end and their realistic timbre rounds off the sound. The upper bass boost gives them a warm tonality – but not excessively so. In fact, the unique presentation of the HJE900 is defined by the combination of slightly warm vocals and crisp, sparkly treble, all underlined by strong, controlled bass. The midrange is detailed and has a lusher feel compared to the dryer, more accurate ATH-CK10s. The soundstage is fairly close and intimate, but not narrow or closed-sounding. The HJE900 do have more depth than width, separating instruments nicely and imaging each well. The highs are more similar to the ATH-CK10 than other dynamic-driver IEMs, with a good amount of sparkle minus some of the detail and transparency. The Panasonics are quite efficient but don’t hiss too badly with my Amp3. On the downside, they are less forgiving of poor source material than much of the competition, likely due to their accentuated presentation of the upper mids/lower treble. Not recommended for 128kbps mp3s.
Value (7.5/10) – The HJE900 provides a great balance of fun and refinement. The bass and treble are quite strong, perhaps excessive for some, but the sound is beautifully dynamic and involving. They manage to sound very ‘musical’ and yet have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to detail and imaging. Unfortunately, Panasonic has pulled them from the US market, leading to a two-fold increase in price. For those in search of a fun, v-shaped sound the HJE900 may still be worth buying but the competition is very strong at $250.
Pros: Rock-solid, replaceable cables, interesting and engaging sound signature
Cons: Treble may be excessive for some, heavy shells, stock tips are underwhelming