With the RZ-B100W, Panasonic expands its True Wireless series and provides a more affordable EarBud version of the RZ-S500W and RZ-S300W. In terms of sound, we were particularly impressed by the RZ-S500W. Will Panasonic pull off the same coup with the RZ-B100W?
EarBuds offer advantages and disadvantages: Since these headphones are not stuck in the ear canal like in-ears, instead they are “hooked” in front of them, they fit quite loosely in the ears and do not form a closed system with the ear canal. On the one hand, this means that the isolation from the environment is much less than with in-ears and that there is little to no pressure discomfort. On the other hand, it is precisely this fit that is simply not compatible with some people’s ears and, as a result, the sound cannot fully develop. The result is meagre to barely audible bass range. You can counteract this by pushing the earpieces inwards, but this is not a very effective solution. Or, as is the case with Panasonic, you can improve things by installing a bass booster – what they call the Extra Bass System (XBS) – which attempts to compensate for the shortcomings of EarBud systems.
Since these headphones, which are available in black or white, are EarBuds, the usual accessories such as ear adapters or ear hooks are omitted. The package is therefore correspondingly spartan: EarBuds, charging case, a 30-centimetre USB-A to USB-C cable and the usual documentation consisting of instructions, warranty booklet and licensing notes.
Due to their design, there is no need to search for the right ear moulds. The result is an airy, comfortable fit whose passive isolation is not high. At around five grams per earpiece, the RZ-B100W are as light as a feather, so we did not find them annoying. Due to their design, these EarBuds are easily hidden under hats, and pressure discomfort should not be an issue. Another positive aspect is the impeccable workmanship of these earphones, which also applies to their transport case (39 grams). Furthermore, these headphones are water- and dust-proof according to the IPX4 standard, so they are also suitable for sports use, although they are not the best possible solution for this due to their comparatively loose fit in the ear.
These earphones’ small 40 mAh lithium-polymer batteries run for four hours, and they can also be used individually in mono mode. With the charging case, which can charge the EarBuds up to three times, you can achieve a total of up to 16 hours of runtime. In our practical tests, these values were not accurate because the charging case only needed about one hour and 40 minutes on a standard USB port of an iMac instead of the two hours stated by the manufacturer. These EarBuds also charged about ten per cent faster in the case. There is no fast-charging function like on the larger models, but there is an LED ring on the case that shows the charging status.
Bluetooth 5.0 is used for wireless operation, and these small Panasonics use SBC and AAC as codecs. Initial pairing of the RZ-B100W is done by removing the headphones from the case. If you want to connect the already paired EarBuds to another device (multipoint is not supported), you first have to disconnect the first player, take the EarBuds out of the case and complete the pairing in the Bluetooth settings of the second external player.
In our test with various Android, iOS and Mac devices, we, unfortunately, had to deal with sporadic dropouts in the wireless link. In terms of “range”, the RZ-B100W rank in the middle range: while the first drop-outs were only heard after about 30 metres in the open air, the first drop-outs occurred inside the flat when entering the second room.
Once a wireless connection is established, a simple tap on the left side controls the play/stop function. If you quickly tap the left side two or three times, the volume can be lowered and raised. Holding the left or right touch sensor for two seconds launches the usual voice assistants, while the right headphone allows the track to jump forwards and backwards with two or three taps. It is also possible to accept phone calls on both sides with a simple tap, while ending the call requires a two-second press and hold. In addition, there are control functions for telephoning, such as accepting or rejecting a waiting call or switching between a call and a call on hold.
Control using these small round touch surfaces always worked flawlessly with a delay of just under one second and after a short phase of familiarisation, any potential operating errors were resolved.
Even with this lower-priced model, Panasonic haven’t missed the opportunity to offer a similar variety of controls that will be familiar from the RZ-S300W and RZ-S500W – top stuff! Even so, I would have liked to have seen a touch lock feature that would prevent accidental triggering of functions when moving the unit.
It’s clear from the first few beats that, with the right fit, listening is fun! The large 13-millimetre drivers (for comparison: the RZ-S300W have 6-mm, the RZ-S500W 8-mm drivers) provide the “XBS Extra Bass System” with enough reserves for good low-frequency reproduction. This works well across all genres, with hip-hop and electronica tracks particularly benefiting. This just shows you how powerful EarBuds can sound because the bass reproduction is amazingly defined and rich! If you increase the volume to maximum, the lower mid-range, in particular, has a hard time asserting itself against this dense bass layer. Depending on the song and genre, they tend to distort and squelch a little in the upper midrange. If the drivers have enough air, the mids and highs are solid but much more restrained than the low frequencies. This results in a somewhat timid treble presentation, which prevents listening fatigue from kicking in too quickly, but at the same time lacks effervescence, especially with acoustic tracks.
Due to their design, these headphones have limited depth and width imaging. Nevertheless, they manage to comprehensibly reproduce reverberant spaces and movements in the sound field.
In summary, we can therefore state: The RZ-B100W do not deliver homogeneity across the entire reproduction range, but in this price range and with this target market, listening pleasure is what counts, and these EarBuds deliver it well, especially with their Extra Bass System.
Unfortunately, unlike their more expensive true-wireless siblings, the RZ-B100W do not offer app connectivity, so that equalisation, if necessary, is only possible with the appropriate music app.
Depending on the network quality, we achieved average to good voice results in our tests. The microphones’ noise reduction occasionally caused chopped off words in windy conditions. The caller on the other end of the line nevertheless understood us loud and clear.
With the RZ-B100W, Panasonic shows that EarBuds can also sound full and rich. The Extra Bass System does its job well, making listening to modern pop and electronic music particularly enjoyable. Although these EarBuds are more timid in the mid-range and treble range, we still rate the overall sound as “good” in view of the price.
So, if you like fat bass, find in-ears too constricting and can do without comfort features such as noise-cancelling, transparency mode or app integration, you can get good true-wireless EarBuds which are extremely comfortable to wear, light and stable, for just under 80 Euros (RRP).
- Ear couplingEarBuds
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Weight without cable5 g each, Case: 39 g
What's in the box
- USB charging cable
- Charging case
- available in black and blue
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.0
- BT profiles: HFP, A2DP, AVRCP