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Panasonic RP HJE355 review: Panasonic RP HJE355

Once again, a pair of low-budget Panasonic earbuds delivers.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read

We've reviewed several of Panasonic's affordable headphones and have come away duly impressed with their solid performance for the money.


Panasonic RP HJE355

The Good

<b>Panasonic's RP-HJE355</b> series in-ear headphones cost less than $20, sound very good for the money, and are comfortable to wear.

The Bad

There's no built-in microphone for making cell phone calls.

The Bottom Line

Panasonic's very affordable RP-HJE355 series in-ear headphones sound as good as many earphones that cost twice as much.

The company's RP-HJE355 series of in-ear headphones may not be as dirt cheap as the ErgoFit RP-HJE120s, which cost around $7. But you can get this swankier model for around $14-18, depending on the color (it comes in a few different color options), which is still a relative bargain. Why different colors cost different prices, I don't know, but it's probably because some colors are more popular than others.

The quick take on these guys is that they're comfortable earphones that offer excellent sound for the money. The MSRP on them is $39.99 and the truth is they sound as good as many earphones that we test that cost $40-$50. They offer relatively detailed sound with punchy bass. No, they don't have a ton of bass, but it's plump enough and overall these are nicely balanced and fairly warm. No, they aren't going to blow your socks off, but the sound is quite respectable.

In comparing them to the step-down RP-HJE120s, I'd say these have better build quality and sound a touch better. They also have a thicker cord that doesn't tangle nearly as easily as the HJE120s' cord.

You get three sets of eartips and an accessory to wrap the earphones around. Sarah Tew/CNET

However, I did feel I got a slightly better fit with the RP-HJE120s. I got a little tighter seal from the eartips (three sizes are included), and they felt slightly more comfortable. I think part of the reason for that is the HJE120s' all-plastic design makes them lighter (they also seem to be a touch smaller).

Neither model has a built-in microphone for making cell phone calls, a feature that's become a must-have for a lot folks. It's worth noting that this model has an L-shaped plug (it's smaller than the RP-HJE120s'), which is good. But that plug may not fit into the headphone jack of some phones equipped with thicker protective cases (which causes the jack to become recessed).

Lastly, no carrying case is including. That isn't expected at this price point, but I thought I should point it out.

The earphones come in multiple colors. The standard black version seems to cost a few bucks less. Sarah Tew/CNET

As with a lot of these noise-isolating earbuds, the fit of the eartips and the type of seal you get makes a huge difference in terms of sound quality. If you can't get a tight seal, you lose a lot of bass.

One of the different-size eartips should allow you to get a tight seal. However, a small fraction of users simply won't get that tight seal or find these terribly comfortable. That caveat aside, the RP-HJE355s are a very solid set of earbuds for the money. Without any trouble, they could pass for earphones that cost twice as much.


Panasonic RP HJE355

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 8