Panasonic RB-M700 XBS Deep headphones

"If only the other features of the RB-M700 were as good as their monumental bass."

  • Very convenient

  • Incredibly powerful bass

  • Perfect for films

  • Expensive

  • Mediocre ANC

  • Short battery life

  • Not good for calls

If you're looking for active noise canceling (ANC) wireless headphones, there is certainly no shortage of choices at the moment. Models start well below $ 100 and range up to $ 600 or more. There are dozens and dozens to choose from. However, if you really need wireless ANC headphones that deliver a lot of deep, skull-shaking bass, the Panasonic $ 180 RB-M700, which has a unique "bass reactor" device, deserves your full attention.

Here is our full report.

design

Panasonic RB-M700 headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The RB-M700 (available in satin black or beige) is inspired by one of the best headphones in the world: the Sony WH-1000XM3. The RB-M700 reproduces Sony in a number of ways, from the headband with integrated metal adjustment sliders to the ear cup pins that fit seamlessly into the headband and ear cups for a very smooth look.

Put them side by side and these similarities are even more obvious, except for one thing: The massive, round ear cups and ear cushions from Panasonics.

Their size and shape are the only visual indication that they are not like all other wireless headphones.

I happily carried the RB-M700 for several hours without a hint of discomfort.

A circle of tiny ventilation openings surrounds the diameter of the outer ear cups and makes them look as if they had been lifted out of an old Braun hair dryer.

The comparison is not purely cosmetic. These vents, like the Braun ones, help move the air, which is useful when working with big bass sound.

These large, swollen ear pads look and are comfortable. I have worn the RB-M700 for several hours with no signs of discomfort, although it is 11.2 ounces heavier than many wireless over-the-ear headphones.

There are two minor tradeoffs for all of this comfort. First, they feel a little less secure on your head. The headband provides a decent clamping force, but cannot prevent these huge ear cushions from moving slightly when you move your head quickly.

Personally, it didn't bother me at all, but if you hope to take the RB-M700 and its giant bass to the gym, you'll need to be prepared to readjust them quite often.

Second, they look huge on your head, especially when viewed from the front or back. Sci-fi fans will undoubtedly see the resemblance to Princess Leia's double pastry hairstyle from Episode 4, as well as Doctor Who's Cybermen.

Those with smaller heads will be happy to know that although these cans look big, the minimum headband setting is actually quite small. For a white man 5 feet 8 inches tall, I have a ridiculously small head. Most headphones only fit me at the smallest setting, and yet I had to widen the headband a little so that the ear cups were at the correct height.

Control and ease of use

Panasonic RB-M700 headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

All controls for the RB-M700 are located on the right ear cup. It's a simple and straightforward layout that uses a three-button cluster for all the important functions like power supply, volume, skipping tracks, answering / ending calls and accessing voice assistants.

Unfortunately, the edges of the middle button are not well defined, making it difficult to find them quickly.

ANC is controlled via a two-way on / off switch – there are no setting levels for the level of noise suppression and no transparency mode for the intake of outside noise.

Near the bottom of the right auricle is a two-button rocker control for adjusting the bass reactor function. It offers three levels of bass enhancement as well as an off level. What is strange is that the plus and minus buttons are arranged opposite to the volume buttons, which makes the use not intuitive. Every time I thought I would increase the reactor effect, I reduced it. You get used to it, but it's a strange choice.

The RB-M700 does not have a wear sensor. You must therefore pause your music manually before you can take it off.

Battery and charging

With just 20 hours of operation on a full charge (and assuming the bass reactor function is turned off when the ANC is on), the RB-M700 won't win endurance awards compared to other wireless headphones, but it's still more than enough time for a full day's work plus one Way to work and even a trip to the gym or shop.

The charging specifications of these cans are also somewhat inadequate for wireless headphones. They use USB-C and it takes four hours to fully charge. With a 15-minute quick charge option, you have an hour and a half playtime when you run out.

The much cheaper Taotronics TT-BH060, for example, lasts 30 hours on one charge and a five-minute quick charge gives you two hours of playtime.

Noise cancellation

Panasonic RB-M700 headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The noise reduction on the RB-M700 is mediocre. Constant, booming sounds like fans, which ANC headphones are usually the easiest to deal with, are reduced by about half their normal volume – certainly a welcome improvement. However, Panasonic's ANC circuit introduces a very noticeable noise at the same time.

If you're looking for ANC headphones that give you peace and quiet in noisy environments without playing music, you'll be fed up with the hiss.

Panasonic's ANC circuit introduces a very noticeable noise.

Oddly enough, the RB-M700 with ANC can do much better when playing music.

Enabling ANC even at moderate volume levels appears to change the EQ, making bass and mid frequencies more pronounced while emphasizing the higher frequencies less.

While this doesn't add much to the overall sound quality, it does help offset the ANC noise, which is primarily high frequency sound.

I feel that Panasonic's ANC technology is not so much responsible for the mediocre noise reduction, but rather the design of the RB-M700 earcups.

These circular vents, through which air can enter and exit the pinna, are likely to let in external noise. Since the effectiveness of ANC depends on good sound isolation, there is likely to be a hard limit on how good ANC can ever be on a headphone that allows so much sound.

portability

Panasonic RB-M700 headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Most headphones these days are equipped with some kind of hinge or swivel system that allows them to be folded, folded flat – or both – to make it easier to store while traveling. The RB-M700 is a flat collapsible variant with ear cups that can be rotated 45 degrees inwards.

The flatter profile makes it easier to insert these headphones into an available backpack slot, but still takes up a lot of space.

Panasonic does not offer a hard or soft shell travel bag, so be careful when storing it.

The strange design is that it only works when you are not wearing the RB-M700. In other words, when the ear cups are worn around the neck, they rotate only slightly and cannot lie flat against the collar bones.

Call quality

Calls on the RB-M700 were acceptable, but only in quiet environments. The moment my voice had to compete with other sounds like traffic, wind, or even nearby bird sounds, it became much more difficult for my caller to hear me.

Without a transparency mode, it was more difficult to hear my own voice through the ear cups.

In other words, use these headphones when you need to, but don't expect excellent call quality.

Sound quality

Panasonic RB-M700 headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

As a result, the RB-M700 may not have excellent ANC, battery life, or even portability. But they do one thing really well: they can produce an incredible amount of low-end bass, and thanks to their bass reactor mechanism, this bass can be calibrated from warm to wowza.

Panasonic doesn't go into the technical aspects of the bass reactor (which is also available in the $ 150 step-down) RB-M500 headphones), but as far as I can tell from the company's marketing material, it's a separate component that behaves much like a subwoofer in a home theater.

EDM, rap and hip-hop fans will love the club-level vibrations that go through your head.

Because it is separate from the RB-M700's 40mm drivers, you get a much cleaner low-frequency sound that doesn't affect the overall sound quality at all.

At the lowest gain setting, the bass reactors provide a subtle extra swing that complements most music genres and picks up and amplifies the headphones' already impressive bass response.

Levels two and three are a completely different story. These settings aren't for jazz or classical music lovers, but fans of EDM, rap, and hip-hop will love the club-level vibrations that go through your head. Many headphones claim you can "feel" the music, but with the RB-700 it's not just an empty marketing language, it's the real deal.

Perhaps more than any other headphone I've tried, the RB-700 is made for movies. Turn the bass reactors to level three and then start the fight scene between Thanos and The Hulk in the opening sequence of Avengers: Infinity War, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Every blow, every body slam and every explosion creates a sound that you hear and feel at the same time. The bass reactors move so much air that you can feel them trying to escape the boundaries of the ear cups.

As impressive as this head-to-head subwoofer is, I was just as surprised at how balanced the RB-700 is when you turn off the bass reactors and just use them to enjoy music.

Without a smartphone app, there is no way to change the EQ. However, as long as you enjoy a sound that tends to bass, this is not a problem in my opinion. They do a decent, if not quite outstanding, job by separating the mids from the highs and the sound stage being comfortably wide.

The bass-driven signature keeps everything warm and full, but can also affect the genres somewhat and benefit from precision such as acoustic guitar, folk rock, jazz and classical.

They sound good, but are overpriced at $ 180. It is clear that Panasonic believes the bass reactor function is worth the extra money.

Our opinion

Although ANC and travel suitability may not be their strong suit and battery life is only very long, the very convenient Panasonic RB-700 delivers amazing bass levels that you can feel, making them the ideal companion for movies and music genres that normally require one Club attitude to be fully appreciated.

Is there a better alternative?

If larger-than-life bass is your jam, look no further. We have never seen headphones that break such a low-end device.

Given the drawbacks of the RB-700 in some other areas, you should check out our full list of the best noise canceling headphones for models that offer better ANC, better overall sound quality, and in some cases, better price.

How long will they last?

The RB-700 comes with a one-year warranty from Panasonic. They are well built and made from decent materials. However, the lack of a hard-shell carrying case or a soft travel bag can mean a shorter lifespan if you don't take care not to damage them when you stow them in your bag.

Should you buy them

Only serious bass heads who want to feel every low note (and a few more) should consider the Panasonic RB-700. Your ANC won't inspire you, but the bass will. For everyone else, you'll find a better balance of the functions of the competition.

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