DJ's around the world were dismayed a couple years ago when Panasonic announced it was discontinuing its Technics line of turntables, which had become the brand of choice among many professionals since the SL-1200 turntable was released in 1972. Recently though, the company decided to commemorate the iconic SL-1200's 40th anniversary by reintroducing the Technics brand with a new product: the RP-DH1250 Pro DJ headphones. We've been spending some quality time with Panasonic's latest headphones to find out if they live up to the Technics name.
What's in the boxOpening the sizable black box the Technics headphones are packaged in feels a bit like cracking open the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey - I'd almost swear I heard some trumpets flaring up right as I lifted the lid. Inside the box, the silver and black headphones are front and center, with some accessories hidden behind a compartment. There are two different cords to attach: one coiled and one straight, both of which lock into the left ear piece. The straight one has a remote/microphone attached, but only the coiled one screws onto the included gold-plated stereo adapter. It also has a black leather pouch that can hold the headphones when they're folded up along with at least one cable.
Both cords are the same length (1.2 m/3.9 ft), but the coiled one stretches to almost three times that (3 m/9.8 ft), allowing for some extra length if needed. Having the two cords may seem redundant, but that option makes the headphones equally accommodating for casual listening and professional studio work alike. I found myself preferring the straight cord most of the time since it's much better suited for simply listening to music. It has the remote attached and doesn't get tangled or caught on anything quite so easily.
DJs and sound engineers who need to move around a soundboard or pass the headphones to someone else from time to time will probably use the coiled cord almost exclusively. It's clear Panasonic included both cables to cover as many consumer bases as possible, and the result is a surprisingly adaptable headset.
How they feelPicking up the Technics RP-DH1250 headphones, I was surprised at how lightweight they felt in my hands, despite their larger size and sturdy frame. They're mostly comprised of hard plastic and seem like they could withstand some typical day-to-day punishment without any trouble, though I didn't test this theory too much – these aren't cheap after all.
After sliding them on, the wide pads on the ear pieces completely enclose the ears in a very natural and unobtrusive way. A thick layer of padding around the headband also helps cushion what little weight there is, completing an effect as if you're not wearing anything at all. According to Panasonic, the pads around the ears are meant to provide a "snug fit for noise isolation," but I didn't find they blocked outside noise any better than the $20 pair of headphones I ordinarily use.
The weightless sensation feels great, but falls apart the moment you move your head and gravity takes hold of the headband. This isn't much of a problem if you plan to be sitting in one spot for awhile, but it could quickly get tiresome if you just want to enjoy some tunes during your morning train commute. For me, the headphones only felt secure once I tightened them some more, which was still manageable but far less comfortable.
Of course, a pair of DJ headphones wouldn't be very useful if they had to be strapped onto your head the whole time, so Panasonic's headphones bend and twist to accommodate. Hinges on the sides of the headband and ear pieces let you contort them into just about any position you might need, whether you want to flip one side out to quickly monitor some audio or turn them into a makeshift speaker set. The only downside is that sometimes getting them back to the shape you want can be like playing with a Transformers toy.
How they soundSo to the most pressing question: how do they sound? Panasonic gave the Technics RP-DH1250 headphones a "Pro DJ" moniker, indicating they were designed with studio work in mind, but the box proudly proclaims they're "Made For iPod/iPhone." Given that the latter is likely to be the most common scenario, I went with the box's advice and first plugged the headphones into an iPod and set it to shuffle.
Listening to music on even my beat-up 4th generation iPod Nano was an eye-opening experience. I'm not exaggerating when I say that songs I've heard for years suddenly sounded almost brand new.
The headphones' 3,500 mW power handling capacity and 5Hz~30kHz frequency response meant I could crank up the volume on any song without receiving even a hint of distortion. Everything from Rage Against the Machine to Deadmau5 to Radiohead to even Carly Rae Jepsen and LMFAO sounded better than I'd ever heard them before (and I've certainly heard those last two quite a bit in the past year). Running through the eclectic gamut of songs on my playlist, Panasonic's headphones consistently wowed me with their ability to cover the full range of a song with crystal clarity. It didn't feel like I was listening to music; it felt like the music was filling the room like a swimming pool of sound.
To answer the question above: the headphones sound amazing.
I also hooked the headphones up to my computer to test them out on another activity where audio is crucial: video games. Panasonic may not have pitched Technics headphones at this area, but the do deliver an absorbing surround sound-like experience. In most games, it's important to know which direction the gunshots or zombie growls are coming from amongst many other noises, and the headphones' range made it easier to pinpoint specific targets. The only drawback was the lack of a microphone for voice chat. I couldn't find a way to get the mic on the cable remote working on any computer, but that doesn't disqualify them as a quality pair of gaming headphones, provided you have a separate microphone available.
The priceHere's where we get to the dark cloud over all these great features though: the cost. The Technics RP-DH1250 headphones are going to run you US$270, putting them on the more expensive side of the spectrum of headphones out there.
Granted, you're certainly getting you're money's worth – a versatile pair of studio-worthy headphones with a choice of accessories – but that's a cost that might drive it right out of many consumer's price range. The high price is the largest factor preventing me from wholeheartedly recommending these headphones to the average person. However, anyone looking to add to their sound studio or DJ equipment is already likely to be spending plenty of cash, and these headphones deserve a place on their radar.
Summing upTheir pros and cons on the RP-DH1250 Pro DJ headphones are almost split down the middle. On the one hand, they give an impeccable range of sound, feel very comfortable, and have a multitude of uses thanks to their folding options and accessories. But on the other hand, they also don't allow for much freedom of movement, come with a hefty price tag, and have a simple style that doesn't stand out much from other headphones on the market.
They're certainly a versatile headset, but still fall short in some categories. If you've got the budget for it, and you're in need of a good pair of professional headphones, these would definitely be a great fit for a studio or DJing gig. The sound quality is nothing short of spectacular and it's clear they were built with serious audio work in mind. If you're just looking for some headphones for your own recreational use though, the Technics headphones will only be worth it if sound is absolutely the most important feature for you. Otherwise, you should be able to find a comparable set that will work well at a lower price.
Panasonic is currently selling the Technics RP-DH1250 Pro DJ headphones through its website and select retailers.
Product Page: Panasonic