Table of Contents
  1. Intro
  2. Design
    1. Style
    2. Comfort
    3. Controls
    4. Stability
    5. Portability
    6. Case
    7. Build Quality
    8. Cable
    9. Front
    10. Angled
    11. Side
    12. Rear
    13. Top
  3. Sound
    1. Bass
    2. Mid
    3. Treble
    4. Total Harmonic Distortion
  4. Isolation
    1. Noise Isolation
    2. Leakage
  5. Active Features
    1. Wireless
    2. Battery
    3. App Support
  6. In the box
  7. Conclusion
  8. Q&A
Reviewed on Feb 26, 2016 , Marc Henney

Panasonic RP-HC56
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings
6.8Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.8Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.1Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
6.6Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
6.8Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Panasonic RP-HC56 are above-average noise cancelling earbuds. Their noise isolation is excellent and the audio profile is relatively balanced and woks well for most music genres. Unfortunately, they distort audio easily at higher volumes and the in-ear fit might not be the most comfortable.

Test Results
Design 6.5
Sound 6.8
Isolation 8.9
Active Features 4.5
Pros
  • Great noise isolation performance.
  • Good audio reproduction.
Cons
  • Uncomfortable "in ear" fit.
  • High distortion.
  • Thin cabling with no adequate audio controls.

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RP-HC56-K Amazon.co.uk CHECK PRICE Right
6.5

Design

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Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Design Picture

The RP-HC56 are stylish-looking earbuds. The well-designed pen shaped control module looks good and is easily portable. The earbuds are also stylish but unfortunately do nothing out of the ordinary to provide a stable fit or additional comfort. The control module also lacks decent control options apart from the volume slider, which is disappointing.

Style
Panasonic RP-HC56 Design Picture 2

The RP-HC56 are quite stylish, thanks to the well-crafted, pen-shaped control module and the cube-ish angled earbuds. They have an all black color scheme with small metallic accents on the back of the earbuds, which looks appealing.

6.0 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC56 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.08 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0 lbs

Comfort is average for the RP-HC56. The ear buds are angled but the in-ear design offers nothing out of the ordinary. They're also not as comfortable if you can't find the right fit.

5.5 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones; the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with, your audio device.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC56 Controls Picture
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : Yes
Additional Buttons : Noise-Canceling

Control options for the RP-HC56 are lacking. The control module only has one on and off button and a volume control slider. There are no other in-line controls, which is disappointing.

6.5 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC56 Stability Picture

These headphones are moderately stable because of their lightweight design, and tips that fit deeply into the ear canal, which is hard to dislodge. However, they don't offer any special stability tips to prevent them from falling out during physical exercises. The long cable and control module are also prone to get tangled or hooked on something, Which can yank the headphones of you ears.

8.1 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Portability Picture
L : 4.72 "
W : 1.97 "
H : 1.18 "
Volume : 11 Cu. Inches

The RP-HC56 are portable headphones. They don't take too much space and will comfortably fit into your pockets, purse or bag. The control module makes them a little larger than basic in-ear headphones, but it's a long pen-like tube that doesn't add too much additional bulk to the design.

5.5 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC56 Case Picture
Type : Pouch

Comes with a drawstring pouch that will protect the headphones from damage and does not add much bulk. It's small enough to fit into a pocket. Sadly, it will not shield the headphones from physical stress, hard falls and water damage.

6.5 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability; material quality; cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Panasonic RP-HC56 Build Quality Picture

Build quality is quite decent. The stylishly designed control module is thin, portable and feels solid. The battery compartment is well placed and easy to use. The earbuds are not too large and are angled to fit better within the ears. The cable is, however, pretty thin and the length of the control module makes it susceptible to bending if put in a tight pockets.

Cable
Panasonic RP-HC56 Cable Picture
Detachable : No
Length : 4.79 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

Front
Angled
Side
Rear
Top
6.8

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Frequency Response

Audio reproduction for the RP-HC56 is good but flawed. The audio profile is decently balanced and works with most music genres. Unfortunately, a dip in the mid-to-high range and hyped treble makes them sound a little weak with vocals and instruments and too sharp with certain tones. This will cause discomfort for listeners who are sensitive to high frequencies. Distortion is also a concern at moderate and higher volumes, which lessens the overall audio reproduction.

8.8 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.41 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
10.0 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.65 dB
Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.68 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.81 dB

Very good performance. The bass is very extended, if a little hyped. However, unlike most other headphones, the over-emphasis is on low bass, which is less noticeable than if the high-bass had been over-emphasized.

7.2 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.74 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds boxy. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.33 dB
Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and honky. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.44 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2.5KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-5.54 dB

Good performance. The low-mid range is mostly neutral, but the bump at around 600Hz could add a little bit of a honky quality to the sound. The dip in the high mids could affect the clarity and balance of the vocals and lead instruments.

4.3 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
7.39 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2.5KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-8.73 dB
Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.4 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.0 dB

Poor performance. The entire low-treble is underemphasized by about 7dB, significantly affecting the clarity, presence and intelligibility of vocals and lead instruments. The overly hyped treble and high-treble makes these headphones especially sibilant, resulting in piercing and painful treble.

6.7 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.124
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
20.65

Very odd distortion performance. They do better than average up to 2KHz at both 90 and 100 dB SPL. However, starting at 2KHz, there is a dramatic rise in distortion, peaking at around 20% at 5KHz. We achieved similar results with repeated testing.

8.9

Isolation

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Score components:

Stellar isolation performance from the RP-HC56. The in-ear earbuds provide a great seal as long as they are able to fit comfortably within the ear canal. The active noise cancellation is also top-notch and when combined with the passive in-ear isolation blocks an outstanding amount of ambient noise. The RP-HC56 will not disappoint in the isolation department and would be ideal for use in noisy environments.

8.9 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-24.25 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-19.58 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-19.57 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-34.86 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 200Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <18dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
11.28 dB

One of the best performers for isolation. Isolation starts at 20Hz with more than 10dB of reduction which is great for this range. It passes over the -20dB mark at 100Hz and closes in on -45dB at 15KHz. The weak spot, seemingly typical of in-ear headphones, is the mid-range, where these headphones still achieve a minimum of 11dB of reduction. Passive isolation on these headphones is very good too, outperforming some other headphones with their noise-cancelling engaged. Users should be aware though, with ANC On, touching the headphones in certain areas while trying to push them in the ears could make the headphones produce a high-pitched tone.

8.8 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Panasonic RP-HC56 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
30.75 dB

Very good leakage performance, typical of in-ear headphones. The profile is very narrow-band too, limited to 3KHz-7Khz.

4.5

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The Panasonic RP-HC 56 are not the most versatile headphones. They only have noise canceling as an active feature. Hence no wireless or app score. Luckily due to their relatively small size and limited active components, their battery life last quite long at more than 79 hours for a single AAA cell. 

 

0 Wireless
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Type
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What it is: The type and version of the wireless network, the headphones use to connect to the audio source. This could either be Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: The Bluetooth version will determine how compatible the headphones are with your Bluetooth enabled devices. Typically, newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible with older ones but may lack the additional features that more recent Bluetooth protocols provide.
:
N/A
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
N/A
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
:
No

8.5 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Score components:
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
AAA
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
79.7 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
N/A
Auto-off
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
No
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
N/A
Passive Playback
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What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
No

The RP-HC56-K have a surprisingly long battery life that will last well over a weekend's worth of continuous play time. So they will be great headphones to take on a camping or road trip where you don't have access to stores to purchase another AAA. Unfortunately, they don't have any battery saving features. They also can't be used passively when the batteries are dead unlike other models in the RP series.

0 App Support
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned

No compatible app.

In the box

Panasonic RP-HC56 In the box Picture

  • Panasonic RP-HC56-K Headphones
  • Airline adapter
  • Extra Earbud tips (x2 sizes)
  • AAA Battery
  • Carrying Pouch
  • Manual

Conclusion Amazon.co.uk CHECK PRICE Right

6.8Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
They perform moderately well in most use cases and environments, which make for decent everyday headphones.
6.8Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Mediocre for critical listening. Decent audio reproduction but the closed back in-ear design lacks a little openness to create a spacious and natural sounding soundstage.
7.1Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Suitable for commuting. They're small, portable and have a strong noise isolation performance. They will reduce a decent amount on a busy commute.
6.6Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Decent for sports use. They have a typical in-ear fit that's moderately stable, and they're also small enough to carry around on your person everywhere you go.
6.8Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Above-average for office use. They will block the chatter of a busy office and also don't leak much even at high volumes, but the in-ear fit isn't always comfortable for long listening sessions.
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