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Old 09-22-2010, 09:32 AM
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Default Panasonic HJE900 Review (a different take)



INTRO: What always happens did happen: I hated these at first, and now I quite like them. I do find them to be very flawed headphones though, and with dfkt’s glowing review I was expecting something better. I will elaborate:

First I will focus on what is good. I find these headphones to reproduce sound clearly for the most part, their soundstage and bass impact is pretty impressive, and they are built well. I agree with dfkt that they are musical sounding and laid back. Someone on head-fi announced they were analytical yet “fun” sounding. I guess I can see why someone might find them “fun” because of the bass impact, but on the whole I find them to be very laid back. I don’t think they are analytical. I find the isolation to be good enough, but I would like to try to improve it. UPDATE: If you stuff the outer part of the tips with foam, the isolation is pretty good. It should be good enough for most situations.

Now for the bad. My first and primary complaint is that the mids are very subtle and boring. At first they sounded veiled and distant and I was appalled, but that changed. After days of listening I found them to be clear and pleasant sounding mids, but they are very relaxed: They aren’t as engaging/forward as the mids on either of my Sennheisers are, or my (dead) NE-7Ms used to be. This might be a bummer for some people. My second complaint is about the frequency response: it doesn’t seem “natural” to me in any way. The bass, esp. the deep bass sounds great when turned down a heck of a lot, but with a flat EQ it’s just too loud esp. because of the relaxed mids. The highs sound even louder to my ears and are messy.The HJE900's sound can be fatiguing because of this. While I think the quality of the bass and the mids is quite good, I can’t say the same for the highs. My third complaint is the sibilance. It usually isn’t noticeable, but when it’s there, it’s annoying. I might try the foam mod to help out with this and the loud highs. I also need different tips for a better fit, but I’m in no rush. The cable is rather short.

CONC: Although these are nice sounding IEMs on the whole, I’m not totally impressed or amazed by their SQ for $90. If dfkt says they rival the best IEMs out there, I have no choice but to believe him because I haven’t tried many. I don’t find them to be much better, if at all, than my cheap HD 485s, but maybe that’s just because I find their sound to be odd, others may not. I say buy them if you can get them for under $100, and nothing I have said has scared you away, but walk, don’t run. . .

Some more info about them: they are a shiny dark blue color, not grey. They have a coupler that works to adjust the length of the split in the cable if you twist it. I think I can hear. . . no, feel freqs below 20 Hz believe it or not, and I can hear at least as high as 17.5 kHz on them as well. You cannot sing or eat while listening to these because you can hear yourself.

dfkt's review: http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum...ad.php?t=56274
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Last edited by Satellite_6; 11-11-2010 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 09-22-2010, 09:42 AM
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The way they're tuned sure matches lower listening levels better than playing them very loud. It's just how the human ear works - at lower listening levels boosted bass and treble sound more natural, but when you turn them up, they might start to sound too hot in the treble, too bassy down below, and too hollow in the mids. The HJE are phones I enjoy listening to in bed, or in quiet surroundings - while I prefer phones with a less loudness-shaped frequency response on the go, where I listen at higher SPL.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:25 AM
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Yup, they're for bassheads I guess. I don't usually listen to music loud at all, but I still find the FR uneven. They are good for passing out on a bed, but that's not really what I bought them for - I needed IEMs for portable listening. Most likely I will keep them, but I could end up selling them one day b/c I'm not sure the mids do it for me.
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:29 PM
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Hey Satellite, thank you so much for your well written and cogent comments on the Panasonics.

I actually can see where you are coming from with many of your observations though my own ears tell a slightly different story. I didn't begin to understand our different reactions until I read dfkt's post. He, as usual, has the most reasonable and probable explanation.

You see, I too have now been listening at much quieter volume levels. This doesn't tell you much but I rarely go beyond 30% of maximum volume with any of my player/IEMs combinations. This now after decades of blasting my ears with music, in clubs, concerts, playing guitar with headphones/amps in close proximity, etc....the result being I now have a definitely detectable but still very subtle case of tinnitus. In addition, it seems I can no longer accurately detect high freqs above 17khz [according to a couple of online tests, conducted using my admittedly moderately crappy PC speakers - Altecs]. But still, overall, while no expert, I do fancy myself to have a pretty decent set of inexpert ears. As a guitar player, I look hear specifically the mid/upper mid/high range of the freq spectrum - my ears I guess target those specifically.

So with all those issues I face and my own listening preferences, I totally see where you are coming from re: some possible veiled/too subtle mids. At least initially for me as I was listening to the Panas for the first few hours at around 15% more volume on my DAPs than I am now, 72 hours later. At the slightly louder volumes, yes, I can see what you mean about the mids being recessed, with the treble for sure being much more prominent, even to my high freq-challenged ears. I have not found the bass overwhelming at all, either initially or now. In no way do I feel the Panas approach the incredible thump thump thump I get in my chest and throat as I do with my VBs. But make no mistake, the Panas do indeed go way down low - for me, who is really not a true basshead [k_j], the level of ooomph from the Panas is just about right.

A side note: I really don't think I believe in the burn-in phenomenon. However, as WalkGood pointed out to me once, perhaps there is some settling in that occurs with drynamic driver IEMs as time goes by. For what its worth, the first night of ownership, I did run my Panas overnight with my Sony E345 player set to shuffle all. I now listen to the E345 at volume 9 out of 30 using the Panas and EQ [with no EQ, I find myself pushing the volume up to 12-13]. For the overnight playback, I set the Sony E with no EQ to 24 - they got loud enough I could hear them a bit while in bed across my bedroom.

Don't know if that did anything at all, but since that time, I have been delighted with the Panas. I am sure it is likely a placebo thing.

One thing else in terms of soundstage. I sure ain't no expert, but I am absolutely convinced the soundstage [as I understand the term] I get from the Panas is huge. This has been especially noticeable to me while listening to some live recordings, especially stuff that has been pretty well mastered/recorded [well, as much as an amateur like me can say]. Guys playing on stage left are indeed coming from pretty far left, drum rolls and hi-hat/ride cymbals are distinctly where they are supposed to be, etc...

In any event, great comments Satellite. For me, at the lower volumes i am employing now, I really have to say I think these Panas are incredible. Truly, the best way for me to describe them based on my own thus far limited experience, is that they combine the best parts of my VBs and Maximo i590s [both of which I love for very different reasons] right out of the box, in one gloriously sexy and hopefully indestructible package.

Yeah, I love 'em. Hope you don't have to sell them but I am sure if you do, you will have no probs

cheers man,
-lestatar
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:23 PM
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Well if they only sound flat-ish at low listening levels that's no excuse really. It seems silly to make IEMs that only sound good at low volumes (without EQing).

The bass is just too much for me, I guess I'm different from most people in that I like bass flat within a couple of db. My other headphones are the same though, and I expected this, so it's not the main issue.

I have no idea if physical burn in is real, or it's just a psychological effect, but the sound has changed over time just like my other headphones. I didn't bother leaving them on overnight or anything, and I certainly don't believe that the sound of headphones changes over hundreds of hours which some head-fi members seem to believe.

The soundstage is huge for IEMs, but nothing special compared to cans, and while this is a good property to have, good sound this does not necessarily make. It's also somewhat irrelevant for my purposes b/c the i7 doesn't produce that great of a soundstage unfortunately.

P.S. FWIR not being able to hear past 17k is pretty normal.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Satellite_6 View Post
Well if they only sound flat-ish at low listening levels that's no excuse really. It seems silly to make IEMs that only sound good at low volumes (without EQing).
The other way round, flat IEMs can sound bad at low volumes (even my favorites, the SM3) - you can't have it all, that's just how it works.
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfkt View Post
The other way round, flat IEMs can sound bad at low volumes (even my favorites, the SM3) - you can't have it all, that's just how it works.
I'm not suggesting they be completely flat, just flatter. Should not headphones be aimed to sound good at "normal" volumes? Meh, idk, maybe not necessarily. . .
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