A major manufacturer offering a set of earphones that you can find well under $10? At this price point, this would not typically fill you with anticipation.
So can these Panasonic RP-HJE120 earphones break the mold and set any audiophile’s pulses racing, or at least raise it above catatonic?
You may be pleasantly surprised to find out…
Panasonic RP-HJE120 TL:DR Review
- Nicely balanced sound
- Sound better than many more expensive earbuds
- Very comfortable with a good fit
- Amazing value for money
- Not the highest build quality (but still good for the price)
- Mic is not the greatest
- The sound is not going to blow away bass-heads
- Design & Build - 7/107/10
- Comfort - 9/109/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
These Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK earphones offer a surprisingly high level of sound performance given the price point.
For everyday use, I cannot recommend them highly enough
These Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK earphones offer a surprisingly high level of sound performance given the price point. While you shouldn’t expect top of the range sound, you’ll notice strong bass, and the earbuds hit both low and high ends well. In fact, I actually found myself picking the sound of these over several much more expensive earbuds.
They also offer an excellent fit, aided by the choice of earbud sizes and the oval design, fits most ears better than the traditional circle design.
On the down-side, the cable’s cheap, plastic feel isn’t great, and the microphone doesn’t transmit as clearly as you may like.
However, they come in a selection of colors, are so cheap that if you accidentally put them through the laundry or step on them, you can simply buy another pair.
So for the price (and prices quite a bit higher) they are easily the best choice as a replacement for your smartphone earbuds. A bargain and the reason we crowned it as our best earbud under $30!
Design & Build
While there’s nothing definitively wrong with the build quality, you will notice that this is an area where some cost-cutting went on. The cable has a cheap, plastic feel, with the main cord being two cables glued together, rather than a single cable. This isn’t a problem, for the most part, but it does lead to a possibility of splitting in the main cord.
The actual split leaves plenty of cord for both earbuds, with no difference in cord length between them. I personally prefer this, as I’ve never been a fan of headphones that have one cord shorter than the other. However, it’s something to keep in mind if you prefer that style. The split point doesn’t slide either, so you can’t adjust the cord lengths.
They feature an L-shaped jack, which improves durability in comparison to straight jacks. It’s not gold-plated though, so corrosion may be an issue over time.
Finally, there’s an option to add a small remote on the right earphone cord with a single button for playing and pausing songs. This also contains the microphone, which while useable, isn’t the clearest.
While the build quality is slightly suspect, these Panasonics excel when it comes to comfort. Panasonic has used an oval design for the earbuds, which fits more comfortably into your ear canal than the standard circular design most manufacturers use.
The earbuds also come with the usual selection of three buds; small, medium, and large. Simply switch between them until you find the right fit, which shouldn’t be too much of an issue. At this price point, most comparable headphones only provide a single set of buds, so having some options means fit shouldn’t be a problem.
The cord is over a meter long, making it longer than most standard headphones that come with your smartphone. Personally, I prefer this longer cord. I’d rather have a little cord folding against my stomach than have to feel like the earbuds tugging at my ears constantly due to the short length of the cord.
Another standout area of the Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK is the excellent audio quality for the price.
The frequency range extends from 10Hz to 24KHz, and the excellent seperation makes it easy to separate different parts of a track from one another and I could pick out individual instruments and voices in the tracks I tested them with.
Even instruments that played at a lower volume, which often get muddied up behind the louder voices and guitars, were identifiable.
I tried these with pop, rock, classical and hip-hop and I found that all of them came across vividly, with a real pop, without anything sounding too in-your-face.
The bass is particularly impressive, as it offers a satisfying thump without being so overbearing that it takes away from the rest of the track. While some bassheads might find the outright punch of the bass lacking, for most music, they balance was just about perfect.
Noise isolation isn’t perfect. You will notice a few external sounds seeping in, which affects the headphones’ overall volume. However, when you consider the price again, these buds actually form a good seal around the ear, but it’s the cheaper plastic construction that lets them down slightly but compared to their direct competitors, they are very impressive.
Unfortunately, the optional microphone doesn’t continue the good work of the earbuds. It almost feels like an unnecessary add-on, rather than an integral part of the package. I made several calls using these headphones, and almost everybody mentioned that my voice sounded quiet or muffled. On the plus side, the people I called came through very clearly.
You can’t expect a perfect pair of headphones for under $10 dollars, but the Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK offer a remarkably solid overall package. They have excellent sound quality, hitting high and low ends easily while offering a consistent and satisfying bass thump.
The oval design and selection of earbuds offer good fit and comfort, with the buds creating enough of a seal to block out most external sounds, though not all of them. Personally, I’m also a fan of the long cord and the L-shaped jack.
They’re not perfect though. You can see where Panasonic saved money when you have the headphones in your hands, as the plastic makes the cords feel cheap. The microphone almost takes away from the package, as it doesn’t match the standard of the buds.
Having said that, the cheap feel doesn’t affect the sound quality, so the Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK are a great choice if you’re looking for a cheap set of replacement earbuds for your smartphone at a reasonable price.