It goes without saying that the truly wireless earbud market is both crowded and competitive. With an assortment of audio brands and various price points, consumers have a lot of choices.
Not to be left behind, Panasonic has finally entered this space and introduced its own line of truly wireless earbuds. Despite a late start, Panasonic arrives with decades of experience designing audio equipment. The big question is, are these new Panasonic earbuds any good?
I’m reviewing the Panasonic RZ-S5000W In-Ear Noise Cancelling Truly Wireless Headphones. This follows the other Panasonic reviews I did for the RZ-S300W and the Technics EAH-AZ70W. Between these three reviews, you’ll know exactly which pair suits your personal needs.
Let’s begin with the design.
Design of the Panasonic RZ-S500W
The RZ-S500W features a circular design with an angled silicone tip that fits inside the ear. It comes in black and white models. The earbuds have a rubber coating and a horseshoe pattern with small holes featured on the back touch panel. Touch sensors built into the back of each earbud control music playback, volume, voice assistant, and receiving or rejecting calls.
With an IPX4-equivalent water resistance rating, they work in the rain or during workouts. There are no wingtips to hold the earphones in place. Included in the box are five silicone tips to ensure a secure fit in any ear size.
The USB-C charging cradle is noticeably smaller than the Technics EAH-AZ70W case. I could comfortably carry it in my front jean pocket. The earphones magnetically sit inside the case and three LED lights on the front indicate the power level.
With noise cancelling on, Panasonic says the battery will provide 6.5 hours of playback and a total of 19.5 hours with the charging cradle. While there is no wireless charging, Quick Charge will provide 70 minutes of use with a 15-minute charge.
Many wireless earbuds suffer from Bluetooth connectivity issues. I’ve experienced this issue firsthand. Usually sound will only come out of one earbud, and not the other.
Panasonic has taken a different approach and I suspect this will become an industry standard. While the earphones are visible as a single Bluetooth device, each earbud creates an independent connection. This limits latency and ensures a secure, reliable Bluetooth connection.
As you put in each earbud, you’ll audibly hear the Bluetooth connections occur at different times. Once the connection is made, the sound is synced between the two earbuds. Through all my listening sessions, I had absolutely no connectivity issues. Finally!
Noise cancellation with the Panasonic RZ-S500W
Before entering the wireless earbud market, Panasonic developed its own noise-cancelling technology from the ground up. Dubbed as “Dual Hybrid Noise Cancelling”, it uses two microphones that pickup and cancels noise from outside and inside each earbud. The unwanted external sounds are then combined with digital and analogue processing. My guess is the additional microphones provides the RZ-S500W with a wider cancellation effect than other earbuds with a single exterior microphone.
The intensity level for the noise cancellation and ambient noise can be adjusted in the Panasonic Audio Connect app. Similar to volume levels, the intensity can be adjusted on a scale between 0-50. This will appeal to audiophiles who want a lot of customization. Active noise cancellation (ANC) is activated by holding the right earbud. Here, users can toggle between ANC, ambient noise, and off.
I tried the noise cancellation both indoors and outdoors. Inside, I played music on a Bluetooth speaker near my desk. With the earbuds on, music playing, and ANC activated, I could barely hear any background noise. As soon as I switched to ambient mode, I could hear the background music. The difference was significant and noticeable.
Outside, I called my brother as I was walking to the gym. We got deep into a conversation and I forgot to ask him about the call quality. Even though it was windy and cars were driving by, the call went without a hitch. Compared to other earbuds I’ve reviewed, Panasonic has done an incredible job with noise cancellation and call quality in noisy environments.
Sound quality of the Panasonic RZ-S500W
The Panasonic RZ-S500W uses an 8mm dynamic driver. This is slightly smaller than the 10mm driver inside the Technics EAH-AZ70. Wearing these two earbuds back-to-back, I could barely notice a difference. That alone, tells me these earbuds are a great deal.
The bass and midrange frequency range seem to be slightly amplified. This appeals to average consumers who instinctively favours more low end.
Electronic music, in particular, sounds great with the RZ-S500W. I’m a huge fan of retro 80’s synth-wave music, an obscure genre with a loyal online following. The electronic kicks and toms in “Enter The Fury” by Mitch Murder’s punched out of the mix. Any bass-centric music stands out, and the midrange comes out soft and clear. This is exactly the type of mix most people want in modern music.
Considering the price point, these are impressive-sounding earbuds. Only the purists of audiophiles want a neutral flat frequency profile. The RZ-S500W is clearly consumer-centric, designed to appeal to the masses.
Final thoughts on the RZ-S500W
Just because you’re late to the party doesn’t mean you can’t be the life of it. Panasonic is proving that with their debut line of wireless earbuds. Sitting between the Technics EAH-AZ70W and the RZ-S300W, the Panasonic RZ-S500W defines what it is to be a mid-range device. For what you pay for, you get a lot. It provides the same sound performance as the high-end Technics EAH-AZ70W. I’m hard-pressed to find another pair of earbuds that sound this good at its mid-range price point.
For the value consumer out there who wants to get the most bang for their buck, I highly recommend you check out the Panasonic RZ-S500W. With independent Bluetooth connections, the connectivity is stable as can be. The adaptive noise cancelling work better than other earbuds and it’s adjustable. The in-ear fit is secure and the case is small enough to carry in your pocket. In short, there’s a lot to like here.
If you are in the market for wireless earbuds and want great value, give Panasonic earbuds a try. Despite being late to the game, they introduce a fantastic mid-range offering in the Panasonic RZ-S500W digital wireless earphones.