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Panasonic RP-HC500 vs. Audio-Tehnica quiet point ATH-ANC7 vs. Bose
on January 12, 2008
I just purchased the Audio-Technica Quiet Point ($124) and the Panasonic RPHC-500 earphones and compared them side-by side, using a CD run through Bose Speakers, with an earphone outlet on the speakers. I found that both earphones are equal in ear coverage; i.e., the earphones themselves are the same shape and size. Sound quality: virtually the same, with the exception that the Panasonics were a little "Bass-ier" than the Audio-Tehnicas, and might be better suited to use with an amplifier where the bass tones from the amplifier could be regulated. I found that the base tones on the Panasonic were somewhat greater as compared to the A-Ts, but if the listener likes a greater amount of bass tone, then the Panasonic would be the perfect choice.
I then compared both to the Bose $350 fit-over-the-ear model. The Bose displayed a clearer sound quality, but for $350, I would choose the Audio-Technica or Panasonics due to their far lower prices and better construction. The Bose earphone yokes are extremely fragile. I just fractured the yokes on my second pair of Boses and hopefully they can be repaired when I send them back to the company. It seems inconceivable that such an expensive pair of earphones can break so easily. The Panasonics seem to have the beefiest yokes. The Audio-Tehnicas have a similar physical appearance to the Boses. From the standpoint of yoke strength, it appears that the Panasonics win out over the other two. Also, the Audio-Technica yokes poke out about 1/2 inch more than either the Bose or Panasonics, possibly making wearing them less comfortable if the wearer's head is turned to the side while lying on a pillow, for instance.
Comfort-wise, the A-T and Panasonics seem to be virtually identical. The Panasonics have a bit more padding, so if the user has little hair on top, they might be slightly more comfortable. They appear to be equally easily adjustable for optimum fit. The Panasonics arrived with a dual-plug for use on airlines, while the A-Ts did not. I have no idea if dual plugs are a requirement for listening to airline music; the last time I flew, I used the single-plug Boses with no problem.
While wearing each pair, I clicked my fingers at arm's length to compare the noise-cancelling qualites. The Panasonics won hands-down. The Panasonics also seemed to be slightly more adept at cancelling out the broadcast from a nearby table radio tuned to a talk show. Interestingly, the Bose earphones displayed what appeared come in a poor third, allowing more radio sound to come through, even though the noise-cancelling button was on, and a new battery had just been placed in the unit. How each would compare on an airline with screaming children, I have no clue
I plan to purchase the Panasonics and send the Audio-Technicas back. The Panasonics have better noise cancellation, better construction around the yoke area (hopefully making them less apt to break), include a dual plug for airline use, have a flatter profile in case the wearer wants to listen in bed while his/her head is in a lateral position on a pillow (or while sitting in a reclining chair), has a slightly better cushion at the top cross-piece, and is $25 cheaper than the Audio-Technicas. Both have nice carrying cases that display about the same size and bulk as displayed by the Bose. The Panasonic boasts 92% noise-cancelling capability, while Audio-Technicas have 85% printed on their box.
As far as the Bose earphones are concerned, I would not buy another pair. After comparing the Boses to the above earphones, I feel the Boses are far overpriced and far more prone to breakage. I am on my second pair, the first pair having broken on both sides and may be unrepairable. After the first pair proved to be so flimsy, I babied the second pair, but the yoke broke in the same spot as that of the first pair. The Bose earphones appear to be riding on their previous good reputation; however, these earphones IIRC were the only pair of earphones on the market that really provided good fidelity---there was no other competition. Now, there is competition, both in quality and price. I feel Bose needs to rethink their pricing and design features, lest they become non-competitive.