When it comes to audio equipment, it can’t be denied that Bluetooth headphones are the hottest items on the market right now. However, there is still a place for radio-frequency (RF) types – such as the Panasonic RPWF950 Wireless Headphones. Offering a wide operational frequency and the ability to work like a transmitter with non-Bluetooth devices, these headphones have an edge over newer sets which do not have this compatibility.
The RPWF950 runs on an 863 to 865MHz RF wireless system, with solid audio performance – as expected from a brand like Panasonic. Whether you’re listening to music, watching TV or gaming, the headphone’s surround sound feature provides a more immersive listening experience.
Featuring large 40mm dynamic drivers, users can expect seamless audio that has a CD-like quality. With a frequency response between 18 Hz to 22,000 Hz, they are able to handle both low and high frequencies well. The bass is deep, while the mids are detailed and well-rounded. They do a reasonable job with the treble range, although the notes lack shine and sparkle.
Those who prefer warmer tones might want to skip the RPWF950, since they have a flat response. The upside is that you’ll get accurate sound reproduction, which recreates the audio as close as possible to what the artistes or sound engineers intended you to hear. Thanks to the surround sound feature, users will enjoy a wide soundstage with accurate sound imaging, with noise coming from all around you. This makes these headphones ideal for watching action films or gaming, allowing users to accurately pinpoint game cues such as enemy footfalls or the direction of gunfire.
The RPWF950 has low impedance and high sensitivity, making them suitable for both portable audio devices such as CD players or tablets, as well as home audio systems such as Hi-Fi sets and TV. For those who like blasting their headphones on at high volume, it should be noted that the volume does not go up too high with the RPWF950. However, the good news is that there is minimal distortion even at ‘high’ levels.
At first glance, the RPWF950 appear a little quirky. Designed as a pair of supraaural headphones, they sit on the ears instead of enveloping them completely. Large and bulky, they don’t seem to be built with portability in mind, as the ear cups do not fold down for easy storage. They are also quite heavy compared to other wireless headphones on the market, at over 30 ounces – but thanks to their ergonomic build which distributes weight evenly, users don’t feel it as much.
The closed back design allows for better noise isolation, so users can watch TV in bed without having to worry about the sound bothering their sleeping spouse. They are also good at blocking out ambient noise.
The most defining design feature of these headphones is probably the headband. While most wireless headphones have a single headband, the RPWF950 has two – one which goes over the head, and another which holds the two sides firmly together, giving the entire setup more structure. The bottom band is padded with a soft but durable PVC material. The band itself is not adjustable, but they end in a rounded Y-shape on each side, allowing the cups to swivel back and forth for a better fit.
For extra comfort, the cups are covered with plush pleather that feels easy on the ears – although they do build up heat after long hours of wear and are not that suitable for warm environments. The sleek and metallic silver body is finished off with classy black for a minimalist but modern appeal.
Like all RF wireless headphones, the RPWF950 needs a transmitter for them to work – and this comes in the form of a base, which has a recessed cradle to keep the headphones secure when not in use. A battery charger is included for the headphones’ Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. The headphones have a long battery life of 20H on a full charge – that’s close to a day – but can last about 15 hours in between charges.
In terms of operational range, these RF wireless headphones trump the new Bluetooth ones, offering users flexibility of movement up to 100m. The signal is strong and can even penetrate through walls and ceilings, allowing you to move to different rooms whilst still enjoying music or audio with minimal distortion and static. Even at a distance, the signal rarely drops. The auto tune switch allows for easy setup – simply plug the headphones in for sound to come through.
Also included is 2.2m cable for connecting from the transmitter to non-Bluetooth devices, an AC adaptor and an adaptor cord.
Overall, the Panasonic RPWF950 is a mid-range pair of wireless headphones that deliver in terms of audio performance. In addition to being sturdily built, they are also comfortable to wear. The fact that they allow users lots of flexibility to roam around, without the need for annoying cables, is reason enough to buy them.. While the audio quality might be far from pleasing for audiophiles, casual listeners should find plenty of value for money in these headphones.