Panasonic RP-HD610N Review
Panasonic RP-HD610N Review
If you look for good Bluetooth headphone headphones with noise suppression, you are spoiled for choice: the range has become vast. The Panasonic RP-HD610N should have a difficult time with its very simple design. But maybe he has other qualities that make him stand out from the crowd?
What distinguishes a good travel headphone? Good sound? Sure, of course. Wireless? Yes, please! High wearing comfort and little space required? Desirable! Long battery life? Necessarily. Active noise cancellation? Fully hip. Hands-free calling with your smartphone? It would be helpful. Good design? Preferably yes.
- Clear, vibrant sound signature
- Great controls
- Solid noise canceling
- Very comfortable
- Noise-canceling creates distortion in loud environments
- No USB-C
The Panasonic HD610N can tick all of these points. Okay, the last one is debatable. But, in addition, the manufacturer promises a practical operating concept and optimization for Google Assistant.
The concept of the Panasonic RP-HD610N
For the Japanese, understatement is initially the order of the day. The case, like the supplied transport case, is simply black and has no ornamentation whatsoever. Alternatively, there is a more noticeable variant in brown. The entire construction is dominated by plastic or synthetic leather for the ear and temple pads. It looks a bit too cheap for a list price, but it is mechanically flawless. In any case, you will hardly catch envious glances.
When not in use, the receiver housings can be rotated to a flat position, and one of the driver housings can be folded into the bracket. The HD610N, which weighs 270 g, fits into its pleasantly flat case, weighing an additional 145 g—not counting the USB-C charging cable. With an endurance of “up to 24 hours” specified by the manufacturer, the Panasonic is in the upper midfield. In practice, one charge should be enough for several days of music enjoyment, maybe even for a whole week’s trip or longer, depending on your listening habits. Fifteen minutes of fast charging is enough for another two hours of wireless listening pleasure.
The drivers used are 40 mm MLF (multi-layer film) membranes with neodymium magnets in the drive, which I have fond memories of from earlier Panasonic headphones. In addition, an “anti-vibration transducer frame” is supposed to suppress annoying resonances.
The extensive support for Bluetooth profiles is pleasing: in addition to the always available basic protocol SBC, the Panasonic can cope with AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC. In German, this means: Regardless of which modern player is used, the transmission should rarely fall back on the worst-sounding variant, SBC.
The active noise cancellation (ANC) of the HD610N can be switched to three levels (low, medium, high) and can also be deactivated completely. The obligatory app for iOS and Android is, of course, also included. A few settings can be made in the Panasonic Audio Connect app, which is not necessary for the actual operation. For example, after how many minutes it should be switched off without a signal. The name of the headphones can also be edited there. A display on the main screen that reveals which Bluetooth protocol is currently being used for the connection is nice and rarely found. With many devices, this is almost impossible to find out.
And so the Panasonic RP-HD610 does in practice
All control elements such as on / off, volume, NC are located on the right handset housing within thumb reach. With a little practice, the keys can be felt and distinguished properly. The volume setting is released via a spring-loaded rocker switch.
A great specialty is the attention mode of the Panasonic RP-HD610N. By simply laying your hand on the right auricle, the music is muted, and the noise suppression is switched to “draft.” If you take your hand away again, playback is continued, and NC has activated again at the level selected last. Works well! By double-clicking the NC button, external noise amplification can also be activated.
Not so nice: No matter which level of noise suppression you have activated, clear background noise is audible – but this is usually masked when the music is playing. On this point, other manufacturers are much further ahead. The recently tested PX models from B&W are an example. With the NC switched off, the noise is gone, and, thanks to the good mechanical insulation, you are in many cases adequately shielded from outside noise. The effect of the three NC levels is decent but not above the class average.
Voice assistants: The “optimization” for Google Assistant mentioned at the beginning means that this feature is virtually integrated with the headphones, but this should not be called that. As a result, for example, reminders are output in a spoken form via the headphones. Siri is also supported and must be activated via the multifunction button (press the volume rocker).
By the way: every function changes, and on / off is confirmed with a female voice. And in German. However, the voice sounds a bit potty/nasal and thus gets a certain newsreel character.
The Panasonic RP-HD610N also has a real passive cable mode, for which a cable with 3.5 mm jack plugs is included. Thus, if the battery is empty, you can continue to enjoy music on the cord, provided the appropriate connection is available. However, the internal electronics (DAC / DSP) are bypassed. This passive cable mode is also the only way to explore the (more theoretical) “Hi-Res” capabilities of the HD610N with a frequency range of 4 Hz-40,000 Hz.
The wearing comfort is good, with relatively high contact pressure, which bothered me a bit after a long period of wearing, but ensured a very secure fit. This is ideal for on the go and even for some sporting activities.
Sound: Bluetooth very good, passive even better
The Panasonic made a good impression in the sound test. First of all, my test copy took a few hours to break in; after that, it looked a lot smoother. I heard it via Bluetooth with an iPad (AAC protocol) and via Mac (aptX) and wired in passive mode on the Moon 430 HA headphone amplifier. From a price point of view, the latter is, of course, an unrealistic combination. But to fully explore the sonic capabilities of the HD610N, the fantastic Moon is the ideal tool.
The HD610N is not the most audiophile star in the headphone sky. Not even in its price range. In return, he lacks the last ounce of sophistication and the natural enamel in voices and wooden instruments. But he turns on! Very direct, brightly colored, with powerful yet never bloated bass, the HD610N goes straight to the blood, making it ideal not only for pop music. Jazz and blues are also a lot of fun, thanks to their good transparency and direct approach.
I would describe the sound of the Panasonic RP-HD610N as extremely target group-oriented. Ultimately, headphones like this should primarily be fun on the go and, at the same time, block out the everyday noise of the big city. Whether alone with the music or with additional noise compensation. He does this very well. However, the comparison in passive mode on the Moon showed that the HD610N’s drivers could do even more. Via Bluetooth and the miniaturized DAC / amplifier electronics in the headphone housing – despite presumed DSP correction – it is far from the same dynamic and naturalness as a good headphone amplifier. But even that only speaks for how well the HD610N is acoustically tuned.
Conclusion Panasonic RP-HD610N
If you care more about sound than extravagant looks, you should consider the Panasonic HD610N when looking for good Bluetooth NC travel headphones. What I also like (and should not be underestimated), in addition to his honest and lively music pleasure, is the real passive mode, which can be tickled out of him even more with the help of a decent headphone amplifier.
The comparatively small pack size with the hard case and the really practical attention mode with the hands are also positive. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether that’s enough to ignore their cheap-looking plastic look. Technically and tonally, the price/performance ratio is right.