I found these portable headphones by chance at Target one day and saw that they were on clearance, marked down to about $15 from the MSRP of $60. Seeing the relatively high retail price, I thought these were practically a steal at one quarter of the MSRP so I promptly purchased them, thinking that I’d done pretty well for myself. After owning these for six months or so and using them on and off during that time, I’ve decided to review these, as there are only a few reviews out there on these portable headphones.
Design and Build Quality
The Panasonic Slimz are made to be portable headphones and fold completely flat into a space saving design and feature a retractable cable, which is automatically activated by plugging the straight plug into a small slot on the left driver casing.
Having said that, I can’t recommend carrying these around with you unless they are stored in the protective case they ship in when they aren’t actually on your ears. As soon as I took these out of the package, I immediately felt how light, plasticky and flimsy they felt in my hands. I almost felt like I was going to snap the headband in two just trying to place these on my rather small head. The swiveling ear cups feel like they’d snap rather easily if light pressure was applied to them.
The cable is the absolute thinnest cable I’ve ever seen on a pair of headphones, portable or otherwise. It too feels quite flimsy, and seems like it could snap at the slightest provocation. Yes, I realize that this concession had to be made to accommodate the cable winding mechanism but honestly, I would’ve preferred if Panasonic had omitted that feature in favor of a thicker and more durable cable. Seeing as I’ve also heard reports that the cable winding mechanism is easily broken, I’m not very confident at all in the build quality of the Panasonic Slimz. I know that headphones are rarely designed to take heavy abuse but I shouldn’t have to worry that I’m going to break my headphones through my normal everyday usage and that’s exactly the feeling I get with the Slimz.
After listening to these for a while, I find myself disappointed in their sound quality. It’s not necessarily bad, just…flat and that’s something I noticed across the board. Starting with the low end, bass is flat but packs a decent punch. It makes itself known when absolutely necessary but doesn’t have the engaging sort of texture or depth that I expect from a pair of headphones. Low end extension is rather mediocre as well, with these rolling off steeply past 100Hz. Midrange definition and clarity is decent enough, if lacking in dynamics. Vocals are a bit distant and lacking in fullness but are decent overall. On the high end, treble detail is good with a good shimmer but, like the low end, extension is mediocre. One of the strangest things about the Slimz is the peaks and valleys encountered the higher you go up in the frequency range. While the treble is rolled off significantly after about 14KHz or so, there are some audible spikes in the presentation from that point on.
If there’s one thing these do right in their presentation, it’s the soundstage. Soundstaging is rather good, with decent positioning, instrument separation and surprising airiness for a closed-back portable headphone. Listening to a couple live performances, these were surprisingly immersive, even if the sound quality was only decent at best.
Value and Conclusion
Honestly, I can’t see why these have such a high MSRP because they really don’t measure up to that price point in any way. Even for the $15 price I paid for them, these are outclassed by similarly priced portables. If one wants a cheap pair of portable headphones, the JVC Flats, which can be found online for about $10 – $15, and the Koss KSC75s, which can also be found for about $10 – $15, both outclass the Panasonic Slimz in terms of sound quality. I can personally vouch for the sound quality of the KSC75s (especially after being modded) and they will likely last a lot longer than the Slimz for portable use due to their more solid feeling build quality.
Overall, these are only a decent sounding pair of portables in the grand scheme of things. These aren’t worth their $60 MSRP and given the fact that there are such good options for the $15 price I purchased them at, they can’t really compete there either. If I wanted to listen to a pair of portable headphones, I would choose my KSC75s over the Slimz every time because the KSC75s offer a more engaging and high quality listening experience.
I wish I could recommend the Panasonic Slimz, but unfortunately, I can’t. Given that the retail price fluctuates between $15 and $60 depending on whom you buy from and that these are outperformed by headphones that can be found for cheaper than these, there’s no reason that I can think of to choose the Slimz over the more capable performers.