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Panasonic RP HC500 Noise Cancelling Headphones

By David Hague

As a sinus sufferer, I don't like earbuds either for my music player or as a mobile phone headset. You continually feel as if you should be blowing your nose, every sound echoes around inside your skull and when you speak, because you cannot hear yourself properly, you tend to shout; the more you shout, the more it rattles around your head.

As a consequence, my listening is therefore limited to headphones and up until recently, this has been included in my task list of "finding the best" along with a decent mobile computer (for which I have recently decided on an Asus Eee PC but that may change), mobile phone (Motorola Razr 7?) and cure for sinusitis that can be taken while flying.

You might have picked the common thread here " flying. As I live on the west coast of Australia and most of the action in this biz occurs on the east coast, just recently I have been criss-crossing the country like a demented blow fly. Eight trips in ten weeks I ( think is the latest count from Perth to Sydney,Melbourne ('Mel-burn'), Brisbane ('Bris-bun') and Cairns ('Carns') in FNQ. No that's not an Aussie swear phrase, although it could be if they tried to serve the dreaded XXXX beer to you; FNQ stands for Far North Queensland. Think Great Barrier Reef.

All in all that's about 48,000 Kilometers and equates to a lot of Chicago, Kansas, Pink Floyd, Toto, Yes, Mike Oldfield and ELP on my Microsoft Zen.


* Reduces Ambient Noise by 92%
* Foldable/flat design
* Hard carry case and 2 pin flight plug included
* Frequency Response 8HZ-22kHz
* Sensitivity 108 dB/mW
* Impedance 32 Ohm
* Diaphragm 1.6 in
* Magnet Material Neodymium

I had been using a set of decent Sennheiser headphones that Douglas Spotted Eagle put me onto, and whilst they are damn fine headphones, they are no match for four Rolls Royce jet engines, a few screaming babies and the occasional whimpers of terrified passengers when we hit a decent airpocket. This also means the finer nuances of Peter Cetera, the highs of Jon Anderson or the swooping guitar of Oldfield cannot be fully enjoyed as they should be. And ELP's Fugue in D Minor with Landing Gear Retracting is not quite the same.

On one recent trip back from Lady Elliot Island in the Great Barrier Reef after a rather good Panasonic camcorder and digi-still launch with Ken Duncan and Jack McCoy (of surf movie fame), I mentioned my dilemma to a senior Panasonic executive who suggested I try a set of their recently released noise cancelling headphones.
Now these are the full deal encase-the-ear types and quite bulky to throw in a backpack to take on board along with a laptop (Ferrari Acer 5000), the Asus Eee and the other various odds and sods one tends to keep in a backpack (yes mother, spare undies and socks too).

But I can honestly say for a four hour flight - sometimes longer as Cairns turned out to be 8 hours+, it is definitely worth it. You feel as if you are in your own little part of space with no interruption to your thinking or concentration. I usually try to bash out at least one story when flying, but the addition of the Panny headphones has upped my output to at least two and sometimes three missives. And let's face it, the more I write, the more I am paid! Works for me.

I only have two criticisms to date of the Panasonic NR 'phones (Model RP-HC500 by the way US$282). The first is that the cable is not fixed to the 'cans themselves; it is a separate cable with connectors on either end.  This means that often it pulls out if you have your Zen or iPod in the seat pocket and you say, turn too far, yanking it from the socket. It also makes it prone to loss. An adapter is also supplied for airline seat connection if needed " you know, one of those double-pronged jobs.

The second as mentioned is the bulk, which of course is offset by the soundproofing capabilities. Just five minutes ago I had the acid test of screaming toddler-in-seat-in-front and while I could see the mouth moving and the tears welling, I couldn't hear a thing apart from a wonderful melodic guitar run from Terry Kath.

Ah bliss. Everyone should have a set. What a nicer world it would be. As long as we could find a way of stopping the kid behind from swinging continuously off the back of your seat and sticking their size 9's into the small of your back that is.

Oh and they make damn fine cans for video audio monitoring work too. Everyone wins. For more information, visit


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David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.

Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.

David can be contacted via


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