Skip to main content

Panasonic RPWH5000 review

Wireless headphones that use infrared

Our Verdict

Innovative technology and surround options, but the digital reception is disappointing


  • Quality construction

    Surround sound decoding

    Detailed, exciting performance


  • Bright treble

    Unreliable reception that's prone to cutting out

Panasonic's RPWH5000s are wireless headphones with a difference. Instead of transmitting the signal using radio waves, they use a digital infrared system.

There's integrated decoding for Dolby Digital, Pro Logic II and DTS soundtracks, giving you the illusion of surround sound while watching movies or listening to music.

As you should expect at this price, the build quality and styling of the sleek, closed design headphones and transmitter cradle is excellent. The headset automatically turns on when you place them on your head and subsequently switches off when you remove them. The transmitter can be connected using either a pair of analogue phonos for stereo listening or via an optical digital input.

The infrared transmission system is more susceptible to cutting out. One step out of the line of sight and you lose all reception. The stereo sound is energetically paced, but falls prey to bright, high frequencies. Using the surround decoding mode creates the illusion of surround sound, but it doesn't compare to the real thing.