Panasonic RP-HTX7 (mini-review and mods)
I was in York a few months ago and went into the HMV store for a mooch around, they had a headphone stand with about 12 sets of phones set up to listen to. Sennheiser HD25s amongst others and some hideously expensive ‘Beats’ thingies.
There was four choices of music genre to listen to and there was also an input jack to plug in your own music player . It was very interesting auditioning the phones with the same track, one after the other. I kept returning to the Panasonics as I preferred the sound of them and they were very comfortable. I should say I thought this was a great way to present the phones – well done HMV !
So I bought a pair later and when I got around to listening to the RPs for a fair while, I felt the bass was a bit over-bearing and from looking them up on the web, it transpired that there were a couple of modifications recommended to improve their sound signature.
The earcups of the phones are constructed from pretty thin plastic, putting a layer of approx 2mm of Blutack in them increased the mass significantly. The cable entry / exit points were (surprisingly) not secured other than by a knot in the cables, so I secured them with some hot glue and added Blutack around them. The primary mod was to cover up two of the three holes on the backs of the drivers. I found this mod on the head-fi forums here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/449350/panasonic-rp-htx7-what-a-suprise
Incidentally, there are two very small hole on the cups, which I presume are some sort of bass ports, as covering them up diminished the bass significantly. These were left as they were.
These mods seemed to do the trick, ‘taming’ the bass response. The weight of the phones has increased by about 60 grams and they feel a lot more solid now (they were very light before). The sound isolation is significantly improved as well. Apparently the Blutack is very dense acoustically and counteracts resonances in the cups, it’s also very easy to work with (as opposed to silicone !).
The RP’s were originally somewhat stridently bright which I found a bit fatiguing over time. So I used some foam from my Ultraphone GKs over the drivers themselves and as a result, the mids seem more present now. I used some chamois leather offcuts on the headband (held on with double-sided tape) to add extra padding and I also put a ring of the chamois on to the pleather pads as they were moving around a bit much on my ears (I have fairly large ears) and the chamois ‘gripped’ better. I have to say this doesn’t look pretty – but it is functional.
Lastly, I put a pair of Shure SRH840 pads on top of the original pads (using silicone sealant), this made them much more comfortable and balanced ther sound out somewhat – the drivers are now further from the ears and the bass is diminished.
These are not high-end phones by any means, but I like the sound of them, they made my Sennheiser HD280s (now sold) sound very ‘odd’ in comparison. Sure they aren’t neutral, reference phones (significantly recessed mids, but improved over the original) but they make well produced music sound pretty ‘meaty’, certainly in terms of bass.
The headphones cost me £37, the Blutack £1.50 !
My brother gave me a pair of Sennheiser HD205s that had been ‘cat vandalised’ – the intrepid beastie (‘Magic’ by name) had chewed the cable about two thirds of the way from the mini-jack. It was pretty straightforward to fix (a re-solder / hot-glue bodge), but I found the phones to be really uncomfortable for my large cranium, so I put them aside. A week ago I had the bright idea to try to put the drivers in a pair of Peltor Optime III earmuffs http://www.amazon.co.uk/Peltor-Optime-Premium-Headband-Muffs/dp/B000NNEM76
It wasn’t a pretty job, but copious amounts of hot-glue did the trick (and Blutack-ing in the ‘inner driver cavity’). I found it was easier to use cable on the left and right cups independently rather than arrange it from one side to the other. I used some old, robust Sony phones cable and mini-jack for this.
The result – they sound pretty good and the noise isolation of the Peltor’s (which is as good as you can get) ensures I hear what I’m working on properly – which is pretty necessary for me being an ambient music fellow. They are also very comfortable and can be used all day long with no comfort issues. They actually sound better than my GK Ultraphones http://www.gk-music.com/ultraphones.htm which are the same idea essentially, but with Sony MDR 7506 drivers, which were considerably more expensive than this modded pair. I’ve now got a spare pair of isolating phones for just a days modding work !