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Panasonic RP-HTX7 review: Panasonic RP-HTX7

While their sound and design may not appeal to everyone, the Panasonic RP-HTX7s are excellent entry-level over-the-ear headphones that are a good bargain.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

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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 e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.

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Panasonic probably isn't one of the brands you associate with value electronics, but when it comes to headphones, the company has shown that it has several models that deliver excellent bang for the buck, including the Panasonic RP-HTX7 monitor headphones reviewed here.

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8.3

Panasonic RP-HTX7

The Good

The <b>Panasonic RP-HTX7s</b> are affordable entry-level over-the ear headphones that fit comfortably, are relatively lightweight, and sound very good for the money. They also don't leak sound, and their retro styling is more hit than miss.

The Bad

They're slightly brash; there's no integrated microphone for making cell phone calls.

The Bottom Line

While their sound and design may not appeal to everyone, the Panasonic RP-HTX7s are excellent entry-level over-the-ear headphones that are a good bargain.

These guys have been around for a few years (I'm sorry I didn't review them sooner) and can be had for anywhere from $30 to $50 online. They come in several different colors and are distinguished by what Panasonic calls "retro styling."

That styling may not appeal to some people, but I thought they looked pretty good and, more importantly, they fit comfortably, were relatively lightweight for over-the-ear headphones, and created a tight seal -- not only did they passively block out a lot of sound, but they didn't leak any sound, making them suitable for cubicle use at work.

True to their "monitor" roots, the RP-HTX7s have a single, fairly thick 3.9-foot cord and somewhat reinforced straight plug. The cord isn't as thick as the unwieldy one on the Audio-Technica ATH-M30, another excellent budget monitor headphone set. The Panasonic's cord is shorter and more suited to mobile use. However, it is worth noting that you will have trouble getting that beefier plug to fit in your headphone jack if you have a case on your phone.

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The headphones feature a "retro" design and come in multiple colors.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In terms of features, there are no real extras, and this model doesn't have a built-in microphone for making cell phone calls. What you get is a sturdily built closed-back headphone set that looks more expensive than its price might indicate -- even if it isn't luxurious. For instance, the earcups are well-padded but aren't terribly plush or made of leather or anything fancy like that. Also, they don't come with a carrying case and they don't fold flat. And like most other closed-back over-the-ear headphones, they will get your ears pretty steamy if you wear them outside on a hot day.

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The RP-HTX7 are designed for both home and mobile use, but they don't feature an integrated microphone for cell phone calls.

Performance
The RP-HTX7s are notable for their clarity and generally well-balanced sound. If you're into big bass, these probably aren't the headphones for you, but they do deliver an ample amount of low-end and it's pretty tight, especially considering the price of these headphones. While the headphones are fairly even-keeled, there's a little bit of treble accentuation (they're a tad bright), which can lead to a slightly harsh edge when you dealing with tracks that aren't particularly well recorded. Or, to put it another way, the headphones will make bad-sounding tracks sound worse. By the same token, well-recorded, lossless tracks will bring out the best in these headphones.

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The earcups create a tight seal.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
We review a lot of headphones here at CNET and are always on the lookout for models that deliver a lot of bang for the buck. The RP-HTX7s fall into that category -- especially if you can get them for $30, their current low price online (note: you have to add them to your cart at Amazon to get that price). Needless to say, you can't expect the world from $30 headphones, but if you're on a tight budget and still want something that sounds good, this set will certainly fit the bill.

Are they better than the slightly more expensive Audio-Technica ATH-M30s? In some ways yes, in other ways no. The Audio-Technicas have a warmer, more laid-back sound, with bigger bass (I give the nod for sound quality to the ATH-M30s). They're also slightly more comfortable to wear over extended listening sessions. But the Panasonic sets' sound is a bit more detailed and aggressive, which is how some people like their headphones. The RP-HTX7s are also more suited to mobile use, with a less bulky design and a significantly shorter cord that's thick but not too hefty.

Add it all up and you're looking at an excellent pair of entry-level over-the-ear headphones. No, their design and sound won't appeal to everyone, but most buyers should come away feeling like they got a great bargain.

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8.3

Panasonic RP-HTX7

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8Value 9