Panasonic RP-HJE125 earphones.
There was a time when a gold bikini brought in most of my site’s traffic but now i’d say its definitely all about the Cheap Headphones. Apparently people are very interested in Panasonic’s RP-HJE125 earphones and I imagine that is because of the Wirecutter’s recommendation in their “Best In-Ear Headphones Under $30” review1. So, despite being quite happy with my RHAs, I bought a pair of the Panasonics to test – at just £6 it was hard not to. Here are my thoughts after more than a year’s use of them.
Let’s start with the most important aspect – sound quality. As the Wirecutter reviewers suggested, it is good. Very good. The bass is perhaps not as deep as with the RHA MA350s but I find them to provide good clear sound.
In terms of build quality, the earbuds are light but feel sturdy enough. They fit my ear nicely but it’s worth noting that the slightly odd shaped design might not suit everyone. Also, despite being more obviously Left and Right than any other bud i’ve owned before, I still somehow manage to try putting them the wrong way around every time. The cord used by Panasonic looks and feels very cheap. In fact, I’m not sure it could look worse. It also tangles very easily and, personally, I find it slightly too short a lot of time, unable to reach from my head to deep trouser pockets. But all this said, more than 12 months down the line, it’s all still working fine and showing no signs of wear. Thankfully the plain cord construction also means there’s not much cable-rub noise, but they are in-ear headphones so a little disturbance is inevitable. It’s safe to say you wouldn’t want to run wearing these.
When I originally mentioned these headphones, I noted that the US version (RP-TCM125) seemed to have in-line mic while the UK version did not. I can now confirm this is indeed the case, if that’s a deal-breaker for you.
So, overall verdict? While I have a few minor gripes, they’re all very easily forgiven on a pair of earphones that sound so good but cost so little. I think you can definitely trust the Wirecutter’s decision on these.
They’ve since updated the original article and the old version doesn’t appear anywhere on the Wirecutter site sadly. It’s now “Best In-Ear Headphones under $40” and the Panasonics no longer take the top spot, though they do still get an honourable mention. Fortunately, the Wayback Machine has a copy of the original text saved at https://web.archive.org/web/20131217033758/http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-headphones-under-30/ ↩