Panasonic RZ-S500W review: Do the noise cancelling earbuds live up to the hype?

Panasonic RZ-S500W review: Do the noise cancelling earbuds live up to the hype?
We put Panasonic’s RZ-S500W noise cancelling true wireless earbuds to the test – from battery life to water resistance – we’ve covered it all in our review

It’s sometimes quite difficult to come up with an introduction that immediately grabs the reader’s attention. It’s almost impossible when the subject in question is a brand as revered and talked about as Panasonic.

It’s a great company, and it’s a safe bet to assume that we won’t come up with a single original thought about it in the next 200 words, so if you fancy heading straight to the review, please scroll away.

Now they’re gone, let’s talk about active noise cancellation (ANC). It can be a temperamental beast at the best of times. It is, after all, an intricate bit of audio tech – little microphones in your headphones pick up ambient noise, analysing its various pitches, and tell other little microphones to play audio frequencies that match and drain away the outside world, leaving you in a tranquil state as you step on the bus.

It must be a stressful existence to be those microphones, permanently listening out for changes in outside noise. This is before you realise that the music you’re listening to will include some of the frequencies that your headphones are trying to block out, potentially resulting in a pared back version of your favourite playlist.

It pays to get earphones that offer premium ANC, then. Panasonic released the RZ-S500W earphones with the distinct claim of class-leading ANC for a mid-budget price. A big statement, but if there’s any company that could do it, it’s probably Panasonic.

Read more:

We put the earbuds properly through their paces, playing all genres and listening in all weathers, to see if that claim can be backed up.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism acrossThe Independent.

Panasonic RZ-S500W noise cancelling true wireless earbuds

Buy now

Type: In-ear

Noise cancellation: Dual hybrid ANC

Weight: 7g per earphone

Battery life: 6.5 hours NC on, 19.5 hours with charging cradle

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

Water resistance: IPX4 (earphones only)

Voice control: Yes

Design

The general design of the S500W sticks to the basics: a sturdy – if a little bulky – case, a clean colour palette of either black or off-white, no fancy streaks of gold or garish logo. A simple “Panasonic” half way down the casing of each earbud, hidden by your ear when listening, is enough for the brand to have made its mark. It’s refreshing to see this, almost as if Panasonic knows it doesn’t need to shout the loudest to foster attention.

There isn’t a particularly luxurious feel to them, but it works with what the brand is trying to do. The simplicity might not be for everyone, but it worked for us, and it’s perfect for a commute.

You get five different tip sizes, ample for even the most highly-strung of ear canals. Once you find the right tips for you, the passive noise cancellation is almost second to none, and would likely be enough for many listeners before ANC even gets a look in.

They do have IPX4 water resistance, meaning light rain won’t be a problem, or sweat in the gym. But the weight and chunky feel of the earbuds might put paid to your gym sessions: while we didn’t find any issues with them dropping out of our ears, we could see this being a problem with more consistent movement such as going on a jog.

Read more: 11 best Bluetooth speakers for every budget

The battery is strong for ANC wireless earbuds: 6.5 hours from one full charge with NC on, and a further 13 hours from the charge case – enough for another couple of full charges (quick maths). Panasonic has also included quick charge, giving you approximately 70 minutes of noise-cancelling listening from 15 minutes of charging.

Panasonic’s corresponding app does the basics well, giving you control over ambient noise volume and letting you tweak the sound profile of your earbuds. However, the touch controls, found, as usual, on the back of the earbuds, are more than enough for most actions. One downside is that they’re perhaps too sensitive: it sometimes feels like even a waft from your hand in the general direction of the control panel is picked up.

Aside from that, the touch commands are simple and effective, with one tap for play/pause, and various numbers of taps for other functions, such as ANC and track skipping. The controls are consistent, and work without fuss. A big tick from us.

Sound

The S500W’s ANC cuts out almost all lower frequencies, thanks to their dual hybrid noise cancelling technology. Analogue and digital noise processing combine to both sense ambient noise and sound that has breached the seal of your earbuds, matching and blocking out the unwanted frequencies.

As mentioned, this is happening constantly, with the earbuds analysing your surroundings every second and adjusting their NC accordingly, resulting in serene listening. While the S500W’s ANC doesn’t deal with the higher end as well as it might, this is only noticeable between tracks.

Read more: 8 best kids’ headphones

Panasonic has changed the way music reaches our ears through its wireless headphones. Before, audio data was relayed between the earbuds, making your music susceptible to sound interruptions and lag. Panasonic has switched this up, bringing in a “left-right independent” system, where all the data is sent to both earbuds at the same time. Sounds logical, works like a charm: we had no issues with distortion at all, with immediate pairing and clear audio throughout.

It also means that listening through one earphone at a time is a breeze, and swapping mono listening between earbuds is a painless and almost immediate experience. It’s something that you might not immediately consider, but becomes a glaringly obvious advantage once you recognise it.

For what you’re paying, the audio from the S500W is impressively full, coming out favourably against other earbuds at a similar price point. The fuzzy bass in Childish Gambino’s Redbone still hits hard, while vocals float nicely over the top with a pleasing clarity. For some reason, we were in the mood to listen to the Skyfall soundtrack, and were surprised by the instrumental sophistication the S500W managed to convey.

Impressively, ANC doesn’t seem to affect the audio output, a common downfall for less-than-top-budget noise cancellation, and is a rarity at this price point.

Buy now

The verdict: Panasonic RZ-S500W noise cancelling true wireless earbuds

Panasonic has succeeded with the RZ-S500W earphones. The brand has taken many of the tech smarts from its more expensive endeavours and fit them in here, giving an unassuming pair of mid-budget earbuds a refreshing and surprisingly premium sound. ANC is a winner here, too, blocking out most ambient noise and constantly adjusting itself to offer optimum noise cancellation – a great feature in a pair of mid-range earphones.

It’s difficult to judge these in isolation from Panasonic’s premium brand, Technics, and its own true wireless ANC earbuds. The Technics EAH-AZ70W are fantastic, but they also cost more, and when it comes down to it, it’s a toss up between the two pairs.

The Panasonic RZ-S500W are a capable, clean pair of earphones, with sound quality of a higher level than their price would suggest, and premium ANC. They go about their business without fuss, performing at their optimum, and let you get on with enjoying your music. What more could you ask for?

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on earbuds, headphones and other tech buys, try the links below:

Marshall’s first true wireless earbuds give the AirPods Pro a run for its money – read our review to find out why

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

コメントを残す

メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 * が付いている欄は必須項目です