Sunday, March 20, 2011

[REVIEW] Panasonic RP-HJE450

From time to time I’ll like to pick up a big brand name earbud or IEM from the electronic chain store just to get a feel of what is ‘out there’.  It is a good reminder for me to see just how far I have travelled and it can certainly act as a good reference point for those who are just decided to move away from the big brand name offering in search of something better. Panasonic, like many other Japanese big brands, has pour out quite a good number of different IEM and earbud models yearly. The HJE series, which actually began its life as one of Panasonic more premier line of earbud, has slowly morphed into a more generic, consumer orientated series. With less than US$30 for MSRP, can we expect a little more from the HJE450?

HJE450-01.jpg

HJE450-02.jpg


SPEC
Drive: 12.5mm Dynamic transducer
Impedance (Ohm) / 1KHz: 16
Sensitivity: 102dB/mW
Max. Input: 200mW
Frequency Response: 6Hz - 26kHz
Cord Length: 1.3m / 4.3ft.

HJE450-03.jpg

HJE450-04.jpg

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
Packaging is typical of what you will find on store shelf, nothing to write home about.  Accessories isn’t any better, only consist of the standard selection for three pair of different sized eartips. Like everything else, build quality is decent for a low entry model form big brand but HJE450 does feature a few design elements which I like, and they are the reasons why I picked the IEM up from the store in the first place.

HJE450-07.jpg

First is the ‘Ergo Fit Design’ of the earpiece, which is basically the semi side-ported nozzle you can find on a good number of other IEM. The really interesting part is the oval nozzle. In my previous review of Klipsch S4, we talk about the oval eartips that are unique to Klipsch. The over nozzle on the HJE450 brings the same effect without the use of special eartips. The nozzle forces the eartip to take an oval shape and it really fits the ear canal well. It is so well that I already start seeing other IEM makers begin to adapt the same oval nozzle design with good result. Though the fit is pretty decent, isolation is relatively poor because of the vents on both the front and the back of the housing.

HJE450-06.jpg

Second is the ‘Necklace style cord’, which allows the user to loop the cable back to the neck and holds it there. Though it doesn’t totally eliminate cable noise like over-the-ear design, it does help reduce most of the effect. It is kind of hard to describe how it works, but you can check out the picture on the back of the box to get a better view.

For a less than $30 purchase, I have no complain about the HJE450. It is not the worst I have seen in that price range nor is it the best. But overall it is still a decent product.

Sound Quality
A 50 hours standard burn-in was given and no change was detected. As much as I like HJE450 as a decent $30 product, it pretty much goes downhill from this point forward as far as SQ is concerned. But fear not, it is still not a complete lost.

The overall sound signature reminds me of Sennheiser CX300, but with better control. It is warm with a mild U shaped frequency response. Bass has decent quantity, but nothing close to being a bass monster or as bloated as CX300. Mid, especially upper mid tends to be just a half step behind the rest of the frequency, though still carries a fainted sense of sweetness in it. Treble is decently sparkly, but rough and lacks refinement – which can actually be said to the overall presentation: rough and lacks refinement. Soundstage is average, nothing to write home about.



HJE450-05.jpg

Verdict
For the asking price, HJE450 has done nothing wrong for a big brand offering. You can certainly find much better sounding IEM from the smaller, more SQ oriented brands – and that’s what you should do.

This above rating is for Panasonic RP-HJE450  only and may change without notice. Please refer to the list for a complete listing

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