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Panasonic Wings

Vital Rating: (Very Good)
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Tested: Panasonic Wings Wireless Headphones

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Johan Hjord and Tal Rozow

Listening to music while riding may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but we know many riders who do like to rock out while working out – and many who like to keep the beat going while shredding too. If you like the idea of tunes on the trails but don’t fancy being attached to your phone, Panasonic provides an affordable wireless answer with their Wings series. We’ve been putting a pair to the test to see how they stack up.

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Panasonic Wings Highlights

  • Ultra-light Bluetooth® sport clips for high-impact training, indoors and out
  • Premium 9mm neodymium drivers for full rich bass and natural treble and voices
  • IPX 4 rated waterproof shielding for water and sweat resistance
  • 3D Flex design and quick-fit adjuster bend to your ear and keeps headphones in place during vigorous training
  • Quick Charge: up to 70 minute playback with 15 minute charge (6hrs full charge)
  • Connects with iPhone/iPod/iPad™ and Android devices
  • Bluetooth version: 4.1
  • Bluetooth profiles supported: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
  • Includes ultra-soft S/M/L earpads, USB charging cord and travel case.
  • MSRP: $99.99

Initial Impressions

Panasonic calls these “earclips”, and that is probably the most accurate way to describe them. The Wings earphones are a hybrid between an earbud and an over-the-ear headset, with the audio driver portion of in-ear design, and an adjustable harness that sits behind the ear and holds the whole thing in place.

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Included in the box are the earphones, a mini-USB charging cable, a soft transport pouch, and three sizes of ear tips. The earphones are made from fairly basic materials, but appeared to have been well put together – all in all, a general no-frills kind of impression.

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A small access door on one of the earpieces lets you access the mini-USB port for charging. After topping up the battery for the first time, we were ready to connect the Wings and spin a few “records”.

On The Trail

Pairing the headset with your audio source is simple, pressing and holding the center button for 5 seconds puts the Wings in pairing mode, from there on simply select them in the list of devices on your phone/laptop/whatever. Once paired and ready to roll, figuring out the fit of the Wings is easy. Pick the size of the ear tips that gives you the best seal, bend the over-the-ear portion to the right shape, and adjust the cord length with the retention clip – job done. We found the Wings not to be very sensitive to what you do with the cord itself, the earpieces do a good job of holding on by themselves.

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Using the Wings with a helmet is also straightforward. We got good results wearing them under the helmet straps, which provided a secure fit and helped keep everything steady. Once you add riding glasses to the equation there is a bit of competition for the real estate available behind your ear, but we found a way for everybody to get along (if you prefer to goggle up for maximum enduro effect, this won’t be an issue).

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The Wings provide good, clear sound, thanks to the use of the A2DP Bluetooth protocol (which minimizes audio compression/decompression during transmission from the audio source to the headset). With the earpieces fully inserted into the ear and a solid seal, there is enough bass to create a rich and generally satisfying listening experience. The in-ear design also helps eliminate external sounds (which also includes other trail users or cars for example, so take that into account when evaluating any potential safety hazards that might result from riding with earphones). We did find that the Wings struggle to maintain a perfect seal once you get into a bit of action, at which point the audio quality suffers somewhat, leaving the sound a bit flat. You can play with the equalizer settings on your audio source to help mitigate this effect, but that does become a bit tedious especially if the same audio source is used with other devices (car stereo, wireless speakers, etc).

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As far as general stability goes, the Wings do a good job of holding on even on very rough trails. We did our best to try and shake these suckers loose, to no avail. As we just alluded to, it’s hard to keep a perfect seal at all times, especially when you’re sweaty, but not to the point of not being able to hear the music. The Wings stay in your ear at all times, they just don’t always fully seal up the ear canal.

In addition to music playback, the Wings also allow you to make and take calls when connected to your phone. As tested, they delivered excellent audio quality on both ends of the call.

Things That Could Be Improved

As just discussed, the sound can be a bit flat sometimes, especially when the in-ear seal is not perfect. The sound is clear, it just lacks that outright wow effect, especially compared to something like the Jaybird Freedom (which are also twice as expensive, BTW).

Depending on where you put your audio source when riding, the connection with the headphones can sometimes drop out momentarily when things get shaky, creating a playback glitch. We found this aspect sensitive to the orientation of the phone and the position of the pockets of your shorts. For completely glitch-free playback, we'd store the phone in our riding pack.

The control unit is not the best. The buttons are small, sit flush with the housing, and require significant amounts of force to be operated. They also lack proper physical feedback (aka “a click”), so it’s sometimes hard to know if you managed to press them at all. Add in a pair of gloves to the equation, and we struggled to find our way around sometimes.

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Long Term Durability

The Wings come with an IPX 4 waterproof rating, which means they are shielded against water and sweat. In terms of general construction, they certainly seem to be up for abuse as well. We’ve had our pair out on many rides and we’ve also forgotten them in our riding pack for quite a few more, and they seem to have come out of it all none the worse for wear. Battery life is still pretty much as promised as well (~6 hours on a full charge).

What’s The Bottom Line?

If you like rocking out while riding but you hate the idea of a cable connecting you to your phone, Panasonic’s Wings provide an affordable wireless solution that is well suited to the rigors of life on a mountain bike. They sound good and stay put, even when the going gets tough. They might lack the outright sound quality to impress the hardcore audiophiles out there, but they make up for it with a reasonable price tag and a very secure fit on the trail.

More information at: www.panasonic.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Specifications

Product Panasonic Wings
Audio Type Earbuds
Features • Ultra-light Bluetooth sport clips for high-impact training, indoors and out
• Premium 9mm neodymium drivers for full rich bass and natural treble and voices
• IPX 4 rated waterproof shielding for water and sweat resistance
• 3D Flex design and quick-fit adjuster bend to your ear and keeps headphones in place during vigorous training
• Quick Charge: up to 70 minute playback with 15 minute charge (6hrs full charge)
• Connects with iPhone/iPod/iPad and Android devices
• Bluetooth version: 4.1
• Bluetooth profiles supported: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
• Includes ultra-soft S/M/L earpads, USB charging cord and travel case.
Miscellaneous
Price $99.99
More Info

​www.shop.panasonic.com

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