With the RP-HD610N, Panasonic continues to make its mark in the noise-cancelling headphones market. On the outside, these elegant, matt black, all plastic, closed over-ear headphones with leatherette padding are reminiscent of their competitor from Bose. But that was also the case with their predecessor RP-HD605N.
The closed RP-HD610N works with Bluetooth 4.2, but also have the option to be used wired. In addition to AAC, the electronics also support the Hi-Res audio codecs aptX HD and LDAC – which is already enough to recommend them, provided you have a corresponding playback source.
Otherwise, the Panasonic headphones score points as they have a runtime of 24 hours with activated noise cancelling (according to the manufacturer’s information). This is reduced by several hours depending on which codec and volume level you choose. In fact, this device never ran out of power during the entire test period. It takes about four hours for a complete charge, but there is also a quick charge function that provides about 2 hours of playback time after 15 minutes of charging. In comparison to the RP-HD605N, the battery performance has been slightly improved, and support for Google Assistant has also been added.
These headphones offer good wearing comfort. They sit securely, but perhaps just slightly too tightly. The foldable ear cups swivel and the headband is adjustable. Both the ear cups and the headband are sufficiently padded and contribute to the good fit. If you wear the headphones around your neck however, it feels too tight. Better to use the transport case, which is included, when they’re not in use.
The controls, which are on the right ear cup, are in my opinion a bit fiddly, but work well after a period of getting used to them. There are three buttons and a rocker switch with push function. The latter is easy to use for level control but with the others, you have to be more careful. The on/off switch also takes care of pairing, while the upper button is exclusively dedicated to calling up Google Assistant and doesn’t require any further command once pressed.
The last switch takes care of switching between the three noise-cancelling intensities. Battery status information is reported partly by LED on the device, but also by voice announcement with a clear but dull English voice.
The multifunctional rocker switch is of central importance. It controls the volume, but also playback (start, pause, track skipping, forward, rewind), phone calls, and it also calls your smartphone voice assistant if required. Finally, a sensor field on the right ear cup allows you to temporarily activate the so-called “Ambient Sound Enhancer” by placing your hand on it. This lowers the level of the music and amplifies external sounds through the microphones, allowing you to communicate with your surroundings without taking off the headphones. This function can also be deactivated or switched on permanently.
To support these functions, Panasonic offers “Audio Connect” a free app for iOS and Android. In addition to naming the headphones, you can adjust settings for automatic switch-off, view the codec in use and see the battery level. You can also switch between noise-cancelling modes here, set the priority of the Bluetooth path to sound or stability, and deactivate the “Ambient Sound Enhance” mode.
For Bluetooth, Panasonic still uses version 4.2 with possible multipoint connection but, as mentioned, it has high-quality codecs on board, but these require corresponding sound sources. I found the range of the wireless link and voice quality during phone calls completely satisfactory.
Due to their good fit, these closed headphones offer passable passive attenuation. There is also no problem with disturbing your neighbours with escaping noises while listening to music. The active noise cancelling offers three intensity levels and an off position – a straightforward system that does without extras such as automatic adaptation to the environment.
The highest intensity level provides effective shielding of ambient noise, especially in the bass range. Apart from audible background noise, constant ambient noise is significantly reduced – for example, in buses and trains. However, irregular noises such as speech, a washing machine or the rattling of a keyboard are not inaudible. At the highest intensity level, a sort of submarine effect is produced, but they also provide silence without music playing if necessary. Personally, I find the improved signal-to-noise ratio to be advantageous when on the move as it undoubtedly intensifies the listening experience.
With their dynamic 40 mm drivers with neodymium magnet and multi-layer diaphragm, the RP-HD610N deliver good sound performance. Although they can also be operated passively or actively with a cable, the focus is on Bluetooth operation. When used with an iPhone 8, these headphones convinced me with their rich, coherent and detailed sound which is round rather than emphatically clear. I wouldn’t rank them with the very best, but as headphones suitable for everyday use they provide excellent tuning and listening pleasure. The bass and high frequencies are slightly forward, which is an advantage when on the move.
The RP-HD610N draw basses with the necessary definition and richness. The tonality and dynamics are clearly reproduced. The spectrum extends into the low bass, although there are limits to the level overloads which we tested with Rihanna’s Pon De Replay.
The central midrange seems pleasantly unstrained and offers a good resolution, thus reproducing voices and instruments of all kinds clearly and with the necessary warmth. At the same time, they give rock music the necessary force.
In the high frequencies they are open and fast, but not particularly airy. In fact, compared to high-quality open constructions, I missed the uppermost shiny register. When dealing with harshness, the RP-HD610N give an honest and unembellished sound.
These headphones also provide a stable stereo panorama and reproduce left-right movements reliably. Reverb effects are well reproduced and the stereo stage is better illuminated in width than in depth.
Finally, dynamic mapping is also practical. The nuances of classical music and jazz are thus clearly discernable, even when listening on the move and especially when noise cancelling is activated.
When operated with the cable, which connects on one side, to the left ear cup, the great quality of the drivers is evident. In contrast to many competitors, there is little to complain about. Nevertheless, the sound image is audibly adjusted via the active electronics and noise cancelling is possible. Here, bass and treble are added and the sound becomes more pleasing or a bit less midrange. Consequently, I consider passive operation as a decent fallback solution when the battery is empty, but wouldn’t want to compare the RP-HD610N with high-quality cable headphones.
With the RP-HD610N, Panasonic provides convincing noise-cancelling headphones, which, at a price of just under 300 Euros, is below that of similar models from established competitors like Sony, Bose and Sennheiser. With their wearing comfort, features, operation and great sound quality, these headphones definitely hit the spot. However, it’s also worth taking a look in the clearance sales – the previous model is almost as good.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)(with cable): 4 - 40.000 Hz
- Impedance38 ohms
- Weight without cable275 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Detachable audio cable
- Airplane adapter
- USB charging cable
- Transport case
- available in black and brown
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
- BT version: 4.2
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP