(C34) Panasonic RP-HTF600-S
: lightweight circumaural monitor from Panasonic Build Quality (7/10):
The construction of the HTF600 is rugged in its simplicity – aside from the headband adjustment and a small amount of play in the earcups, there are no moving parts. This allows the build to be almost entirely plastic, including the inner headband, which makes the Panasonics extremely lightweight and not completely unsuitable for portable use despite their size. The outside surfaces of the earcups feature brushed metal inserts, which help the headphones feel a little less cheap, and the Quick Fit mechanism adds two pre-sets to the adjustable headband. The cable is single-sided, well-relieved, and nearly 10 feet long. Comfort (9/10):
The HTF600 is a full-size headphone with oval earcups. The structure is extremely lightweight and the earcups pivot for a compliant fit. The low clamping force makes them unsuitable for any sort of headbanging, at least in my case, but may be a lifesaver for those with larger heads. The only real issue is the pad material – the pads tend to heat up over time and can induce sweating Isolation (5/10):
The semi-open design limits isolation significantly and causes the HTF600 to leak at high volumes. Clearly the headphones weren’t design for use where background noise is significant Sound (7.75/10):
The sound of the HTF600 is rather well-balanced aside from the boosted low end. The bass is strong – depth is decent and impact is plentiful without becoming overwhelming. The Panasonics are much bassier than the Sennheiser HD428 and Beyerdynamic DT235 but don’t quite have the depth and fullness of a Cortex CHP-2500 (Prodipe Pro 800). Notes have good weight and thickness and the boost in the bass results in a pleasantly warm tone.
The midrange of the HTF600, while not quite as forward as the low end, still sounds prominent enough to impress with its smooth, musical nature. There is mild bass bleed and the mids are somewhat colored but provide good detail – better, for example, than with the bassier, darker-sounding Monoprice 8323. Clarity is decent but falls well short of higher-end sets – the V-Moda M-80, for example. It doesn’t hurt that the Panasonics have airy, well-balanced treble but the natural clarity is only on par with the Sennheiser HD428, which is still less warm and generally more transparent than the Panasonics.
Treble is present but not too high on sparkle. It seems smooth on the whole but lacks refinement and – surprisingly - can sound a touch grainy at times. There is a bit of harshness compared to the Cortex CHP-2500, making the HTF600 more fatiguing over very long listening sessions than both the CHP-2500 and the treble-recessed Monoprice 8323. It also sounds a little less clean than the HD428. On the upside, the HTF600 does have better top end extension than the similarly-priced competition and sounds plenty airy as a result.
The presentation is generally good – there is plenty of width to the soundstage as well as good depth and height, providing a well-rounded image. Unlike the many other entry-level headphones, the HTF600 never sounds small or closed-in and has plenty of air without sacrificing its impactful low end. Layering is vastly superior to the Monoprice 8323 and makes the Sennheiser HD428 sound flat and distant. Dynamics are good as well and the HTF600 sounds great with everything from classic rock to modern, dynamically-compressed music. Value (9.5/10)
. (MSRP: $59.99; Street Price: $30
) Whether at the street price or at full retail, the Panasonic RP-HTF600 is an excellent value. The sound quality is superior to anything I’ve heard in the price range, with plentiful bass impact taking almost nothing away from the clean, detailed sound and spacious presentation. Technically a full-size headphone, it is still sleek, lightweight, and restrained-looking enough to be used outside, appearing no more out of place than a Sony MDR-ZX700 or Superlux HD668B. Isolation is rather low and the headphones do leak sound but those looking for a comfortable, circumaural headphone will find that what the RP-HTF600 offers may just be the most enjoyable listening experience out there for the money. Manufacturer Specs:
Frequency Response: 10-30,000 Hz
Impedance: 56 Ω
Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 9.8ft (3m); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A