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Panasonic RP-HJE125

counterpoint

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May 4, 2022
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Hello. Short time lurker, first time poster here. I haven't seen any discussion of the Panasonic RP-HJE125 specifically. I'm sure they are obsolete by now but these earbuds were my first experience in IEM territory. Amir did a review of the RP-TCM125 a year ago here (https://www.audiosciencereview.com/.../panasonic-rp-tcm125-review-budget-iem.22797/) and found them favorable with EQ but I don't think they are identical in terms of frequency response.



Panasonic RP-HJE125.jpg



Yes, without EQ I would have moved on from these earbuds a long time ago. But what has always drawn me to these has been the combination of performance (with EQ), comfort, and value. They have served me well for over 6 years and I have preferred them over any headphone I've ever tried. That has always astounded me considering the price disparity between this and mid to upper tier headphone offerings. Nevermind all the esoteric crap out there. I always had my doubts and never even bothered with all that. When I first bought them in 2015 they were $7.99 on Amazon and have replaced them with a new pair every year or so and mostly because of the cable stiffening over time. I paid $9.87 on Amazon for the last pair I bought a year ago. I'm not cheap when it comes to gear but I try to chase value and not foolishly throw money away in this bottomless pit.

Comfort has turned into a big thing for me considering how many hours I spend at the desk and for that reason prefer earbuds/IEMs over headphones. I have tried next to none of all the different earbuds/IEMs out there but I have a few older Sony models that are okay but none of them are quite as comfortable. I can leave these in my ears all day and I might feel fatigue at the end of the day. You could trash them and just buy a new pair for ~$10. Once I got a decent EQ dialed in I was done even looking for something better and just lived with them. A lot has happened since these were first available and the IEM market has gone ballistic I've noticed. I don't know if Panasonic is still producing this model anymore but it looks to either be discontinued now or "supply chain" issues. I will probably be forced to move on to something else eventually but I will always be fond of this model. I also have the bluetooth model that uses the HJE120 drivers and that has also served me well.

EQ has evolved over time along with my technical understanding. I think in the beginning I was just using a 31-band graphic EQ in Equalizer APO along with a 1st gen Scarlett 2i2. I knew nothing about parametric EQ and thought it was rocket science or something. I eventually upgraded to an RME Babyface Pro and learned more over time. In October 2020 I bought an RME ADI-2 DAC FS to use as the DAC/amp along with the Babyface Pro as my ADC/mixer and switched over to using the 5+B/T bands of PEQ available. I preferred this over Equalizer APO because I use Hangouts/Discord/Zoom/etc. a lot and real-time monitor my voice and the EQ gets applied to that. I immediately fell in love with the quality of this DAC and how powerful my setup had really become.

My understanding and experience continued to evolve over time and went through many different EQs. I think the biggest struggle was trying to figure out what I liked and what sounded good to me. This was before "target curve" was even in my vocabulary. I dabbled with Peace GUI and the graph window helped me visualize the parametric EQ I was still new to. I fine tuned things even more by using 3 more bands of PEQ on the Babyface Pro's digital out. I think I was aware of REW but always thought it was more complicated than I needed. Well, I've been using it a lot lately and I must say it really is a wonderful tool once you learn how to use it.


Panasonic RP-HJE120 (red), RP-TCM125 (green), RP-HJE125 (blue).jpg

Source: https://forum.hifiguides.com/t/the-cheap-af-headphones-earphones-thread/1739/7


So, I've been exploring target curves and even took crude measurements of the RP-HJE125 using a Behringer ECM8000 and some 3M Nexcare tape. I quickly realized how flawed and inaccurate that really is so I only used it as a rough guide. I'm not going to even bother posting any of that. I found a graph of measurements taken of 3 Panasonic models but I don't know how accurate it is. I'd like to get a coupler one day but its not a priority expense for me right now. I immediately knew I wasn't going to like any of the Harman IE curves without modification. There is way too much upper-mids/lower-treble for it to sound natural to me and the mid-bass to upper-bass is a bit anemic with perhaps a bit too much sub/low-bass. The Oratory curve is better but with too much bass for my taste and still a bit more treble than I like (all subjective and preference I know). So, I came up with my own curve and I'm just calling it a slightly modified Harman IE 2019 curve.

I would like to offer the EQ settings for my alternative curve; my own personal preference (so far). Keep in mind I have no idea how accurate this all is since I have no way of taking accurate measurements and relied on my ears (and who knows what the frequency response of my ears are at this point). Also, I don't know if there are variations in manufacturing of this model over the years or how the frequency response changes over time as they break-in. I'm just going off how the pair I'm using right now performs. I tried to get the best EQ I could using only 13 bands PEQ (11 peak + 2 shelfs) possible with a ADI-2 + Babyface Pro. You could fine tune things slightly more with the finer precision possible in Equalizer APO and maybe in the 6KHz and 9KHz regions with two more bands. I selected the most important bands in the vocal range for the ADI-2 and Babyface digital out. The least important bands were put on the Babyface's digital in since it does not get applied to the microphone monitoring. I decided to use 2 bands of PEQ to tame the stabbing peaks around 7.6KHz and 11.1KHz since I'd rather have it smoothed out than try to correct for the nulls around those frequencies. I don't know if the exact frequencies of those stabbing peaks vary between units. There is a kink in the upper 500Hz region on my pair not worth trying to fix. I like the Slow filter and the NOS filter even more so this is all with the NOS filter in mind. I don't like any of the SD filters.

I don't know if the journey is over considering how much I've learned in a short amount of time and how much has changed. My tastes could change tomorrow and all this could be moot. Who knows. But I think I squeezed every last drop of performance I could out of these things for my setup. I would like to pickup at least one more IEM to try at some point but haven't settled on anything yet. It would have to be something just as comfortable though. I don't know if anyone here has a pair of these laying around but try this EQ and tell me what you think.

All I can say is that it sounds pretty good to me!

YMMV


Panasonic RP-HJE125 to Harman IE 2019 Modified EQ Settings (for use with NOS filter @ 96KHz sample rate)

Babyface Pro

AS 1/2 In
B1 Peak f=54Hz, -2.5, Q=0.7
B2 Peak f=4.3KHz, -2.0, Q=5.0
B3 Peak f=7.6KHz, -14.0, Q=5.0
AS 1/2 Out
B1 Peak f=120Hz, -2.0, Q=0.7 (user preference up to 0dB but not recommended to go under -3.5dB)
B2 Peak f=1.3KHz, -1.5, Q=0.7
B3 Peak f=1.7KHz, 2.5, Q=4.0

ADI-2 DAC FS
BB Low Shelf f=68Hz, +1.0, Q=0.7
B1 Peak f=11.1KHz, -10.0, Q=6.5 (needs to be on the ADI-2 on Band 1-3 for Q value greater than 5)
B2 Peak f=250Hz, -9.0, Q=0.6
B3 Peak f=590Hz, -4.5, Q=0.7
B4 Peak f=2.7KHz, -7.0, Q=1.3
B5 Peak f=4.8KHz, -9.0, Q=3.5
BT High Shelf f=10.0KHz, +1.0, Q=0.6 (use +0dB for Sharp or Slow filter @ 96 KHz, use +1.0dB for NOS filter @ 96 KHz and +0dB @ 192KHz)




Panasonic RP-HJE125 PEQ Settings For Equalizer APO

Code:
Preamp: -1 dB
Filter: ON LSC Fc 68 Hz Gain 1 dB Q 0.7
Filter: ON PK Fc 54 Hz Gain -2.5 dB Q 0.7
Filter: ON PK Fc 120 Hz Gain -2 dB Q 0.7
Filter: ON PK Fc 250 Hz Gain -9 dB Q 0.6
Filter: ON PK Fc 590 Hz Gain -4.5 dB Q 0.7
Filter: ON PK Fc 1300 Hz Gain -1.5 dB Q 0.7
Filter: ON PK Fc 1700 Hz Gain 2.5 dB Q 4
Filter: ON PK Fc 2700 Hz Gain -7 dB Q 1.3
Filter: ON PK Fc 4300 Hz Gain -2 dB Q 5
Filter: ON PK Fc 4800 Hz Gain -9 dB Q 3.5
Filter: ON PK Fc 7600 Hz Gain -14 dB Q 5
Filter: ON PK Fc 11100 Hz Gain -10 dB Q 6.5
Filter: ON HSC Fc 10000 Hz Gain 1 dB Q 0.6


Target Curves

Harman IE 2019, Oratory 1990, & Modified Target Curves May 2022.png



Harman IE 2019 & Modified Target Curves May 2022.png



Harman IE 2019 Modified Target Curve May 2022.png




edit: I think I made a mistake in the first EQ settings file but its fixed now.
 

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