Panasonic, a company well known for manufacturing high-quality audio products, came out with their first truly wireless earbuds, the RZ-S500W, in the middle of last summer.
With the launch of their RZ-S500W wireless active noise cancellation earbuds, the company set out to compete in a market dominated by names like Sony and Bose.
Given this is Panasonic’s first attempt at truly wireless earbuds, they certainly surprised us. The RZ-S500W earbuds are definitely worth your consideration. But do they have any shortcomings?
Let’s find out as we go through our in-depth Panasonic RZ-S500W Review…
The Panasonic RZ-S500W comes in a small box with a window on one side so you can see the actual earbuds and charging case. When you open up the box, you will find five pairs of ear tips as well as a USB-C to USB-A charging cable.
The earbuds sit in a protective foam tray. Both the left and right earbuds are made from black matte plastic with a shiny bit of accenting around the earbuds’ edges. Located behind this shiny surface, you will find LED indicators. At the end of each earbud, Plantronics has integrated soft-touch sensors as well.
The included charging case is also made of plastic and has a flip-open lid and a USB-C port on the rear of it.
Overall build quality is good, but we would recommend caution when handling the case. The lid of the case seemed a bit flimsy to us and could potentially snap off if dropped.
Comfort and Fit
Each earbud measures 21mm high by 20mm wide and weighs in at only 7 grams, making them exceptionally lightweight. They are comfortable enough to wear over extended periods once you equip them with the correct sized ear tips.
They come pre-installed with medium-sized ear tips. Inside the box that the earbuds come with, you will find extra small, small, large, and extra-large ear tips as well.
Lots of size options…
The additional silicone gel ear tips are individually packaged by size, allowing you to keep them nice and organized. With the correct tips installed, the RZ-S500W should fit snugly into your ear canal without applying excessive pressure.
You will notice that they do protrude quite a bit once they are seated in your ears since they are 31mm deep. Nonetheless, they are very stable, but you may notice some issues if you decide to wear a hat while using these earbuds.
They also have an IPX4 water-resistance rating allowing you to use them in the gym or even in light rain without them being damaged.
When you first go to pair these earbuds, you will want to start by placing them in the charging case. Then enable Bluetooth on the device you want to pair them with. Take the earbuds out of the case, and they will automatically enter pairing mode. This is noticeable by looking at the LED lights integrated along the edges of the earbuds.
When the earbuds are ready to pair with a device, you will notice LEDs flashing from blue to red. Then simply select the earbuds on your device, and the pairing should complete automatically.
Multiple pairing options…
You can pair the RZ-S500W with up to ten different devices. To pair the earbuds up to a different device, you can hold down the touch sensor on either earbud for seven seconds to re-enter pairing mode. Once connected, you can use them up to 30 feet away from the device. We never noticed any connection drops even at the max range.
You will also want to download the Panasonic Audio Connect app available on both iOS and Android onto your device. This app will provide you with software updates as well as let you adjust other aspects of the headphones.
As we mentioned, there are touch sensors at the end of each earbud. The left earbud’s main function is to control the volume, whereas the right earbud allows you to skip tracks forward or backward.
If you want to increase the volume, simply tap on the left earbud three times. To decrease the volume, tap it twice. You can also answer calls by tapping once on the left earbud or reject and end calls by tapping it twice. If you want to access your voice assistant, simply touch, and hold the left sensor for two seconds.
Simple to use…
Over on the right earbud, you can skip tracks forward by double-tapping the sensor or skip backward a track by triple tapping it. The right sensor also allows you to turn on and off noise cancellation by holding the sensor down for two seconds.
To play or pause music, you can tap on either earbud once. It is also worth noting that these do not come with a proximity sensor enabling the earbuds to automatically pause music or calls when taken out of your ear.
To put it simply, the active noise cancellation ability of these earbuds is fantastic! This is due to Panasonic’s Dual Hybrid Noise Cancelling technology onboard.
This technology allows for feedforward and feedback noise cancellation as well as analog and digital sound processing. This allows the earbuds to adjust the amount of active noise cancellation based on the surrounding environment.
Plantronics has incorporated mics on the outside and inside of the earbuds. In total, the RZ-S500W provides fifty different levels of active noise cancellation.
Focus on the music…
With noise cancellation turned up, background noise isn’t really noticeable. These earbuds can make mid-range frequencies up to six times quieter compared to not having them in at all. If you lower the level of active noise cancellation, you can let in ambient sounds. You can specify the ambient level by using the Panasonic Audio Connect app.
The active noise cancellation on offer also works to help increase call clarity. It blocks out wind and other environmental factors exceptionally well.
While using these earbuds, you do get that vacuum like experience common with active noise cancellation, though. While this isn’t unpleasant over short periods, it did start to bother us a bit in the long run.
Panasonic’s RZ-S500Ws features an 8mm dynamic driver in each earbud. The overall sound profile of the earbuds tends to favor the mid and low frequencies. If you listen to pop or rap music, the bass really comes through but doesn’t overpower the higher range frequencies.
Vocals come out clear, while instruments like cymbals are well pronounced without sounding too harsh and unpleasant.
We did notice that if you turn off active noise cancellation, the bass-heavy nature of these earbuds is less noticeable.
With active noise cancellation turned off, we felt the earbuds sound profile tended to be slightly more neutral. The earbuds offer excellent passive noise isolation. So, no matter if active noise cancellation is on or off, music still sounds pretty immersive.
Find your sound…
If you open up the Panasonic Audio Connect app again, you can further adjust the earbuds’ sound profile. It comes with settings to boost bass and voice, along with an adjustable equalizer.
Sound quality when making calls is pretty decent, and you will be able to hear callers clearly. With active noise cancellation on, background noise is at a minimum as well. You may notice some of your words are occasionally cut off in extremely windy environments, though. This is due to the microphones trying to suppress ambient noise while still picking up your voice.
The RZ-S500Ws have an 85mAh hour battery integrated into each earbud. Depending on sound level and operating mode, you should get six to six and a half hours of use out of them before they need to recharge.
If you are using these earbuds to make calls, battery life will diminish a bit faster, though. You can expect a maximum of four and a half hours of continuous communication time, depending on the device they are connected to.
When it comes time to recharge the earbuds, you will want to use the included portable storage case. This storage case has an integrated 800mAh battery that will allow you up to two additional times, and each charge takes two hours.
If you are short on time and just need a bit of juice for a short commute, the case also has fast charging abilities. After a quick 15 minutes of charging, the earbuds can get an additional 70 minutes of listening time!
The case features magnetized compartments for each earbud that hold them securely in place. You will also find three LED indicators used to display both the case and the earbuds’ charging status along the case’s front edge.
To charge the case, you will need to use the USB-C to USB-A cable included and a compatible power adapter. Depending on the adapter, you should expect to wait just over two and a half hours for the case to fully recharge from empty.
Panasonic RZ-S500W Review – Pros and Cons
- Excellent noise cancellation for the price.
- Strong, powerful bass.
- Detailed treble frequencies.
- Could have more high-frequency presence.
- Overly sensitive touch sensor.
- Average IP rating.
Looking for Something Else?
Finding the right earbuds has never been easier. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Most Comfortable Earbuds, the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best iPhone Earbuds, and the Best Airpods Alternative you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our reviews of the Best Wireless Earbuds For Small Ears, the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $200, the Best Lightweight Headphones, the Best Neckband Headphones, and the Best Travel Headphones currently on the market.
Panasonic RZ-S500W Review – Final Thoughts
If you are in need of noise-canceling wireless earbuds that won’t break the bank, then these sure do deliver. The RZ-S500W’s active noise cancellation is among the best we have come across on wireless earbuds. With fifty levels of sensitivity on hand, even the noisiest of environments become much less so.
Sound quality is pretty excellent if you don’t mind a bass-heavy sound profile. Thankfully, with the use of the Panasonic Audio Connect app, you can further fine-tune the sound profile to suit a wider range of listeners. Battery life is also superb and can be quickly replenished thanks to the storage case’s fast-charging abilities.
They even come IPX4 rated against water, so you can use them in the gym or out in the rain without them getting damaged!
Until next time, happy listening.