In the heyday of consumer electronics, the words “premium audio” and “Panasonic” wouldn’t have seemed so incongruous. However, with the rise of boutique audio hardware and the contraction of the CE market as a whole, the world we live in is a world where it’s surprising that Panasonic can actually make good headphones. And, thankfully, they’ve done just that with the BTD10, a pair of Bluetooth headphones that are, at the very least, ideal for travel.
These $199 headphones are primarily interesting as an airplane accessory. Because they offer full ear coverage you’re getting some – but not total – noise reduction. Furthermore, they are wireless so you won’t end up pulling plugs or yanking your devices off of the airline tray accidentally. They also include a standard audio cable for use with in-plane accessories. The headphones can control volume, track selection, and calls using the buttons on either side.
The headphones are dead simple to use and connect via Bluetooth. You simply hold down the power button to place them into pair mode and they appear on your device list instantly. You can reconnect by simply turning them on. The battery lasts about 20 hours – I was able to use it off and on for a few weeks without charging it – and if the battery dies the audio cable lets you listen without worrying about charging the battery.
Sadly, audio quality leaves a bit to be desired if you’re looking for “louder” headphones. Finding the right audio level was difficult. Turning the volume all the way up results in some crackling in the bass and can overpower the 40mm drivers with regularity. This results in staticky audio when you’re trying to hear quieter things or trying to listen in a noisy environment. However, once you find a sweet spot – about 3/4 of the volume with some control on the device side – you get acceptable quality that is listenable in most environments.
Are these better, say, than a Bose QuietComfort or a pair of Sennheiser cans? Well, for the pure convenience of wireless connectivity and on-board controls, you have a winner. Given that most good headphones cost over $250 but an acceptable pair of noise-cancelling headphones bottoms out at $104 on Monoprice, these phones sit smack-dab in the on-the-run airport purchase zone. While I still prefer Bose for pure noise cancellation (don’t start in on audio quality because I’ve tried the highest of the high and the lowest of the low and find Bose to be just about right), I definitely enjoyed using these for the week I was on the road. They aren’t the best headphones I’ve used but they are better than many I’ve tried and, with solid battery life and handsome design, they’re worth a look.