Panasonic's first true wireless earbuds are cheaper AirPods Pro alternatives

panasonic rz-s500w
The Panasonic RZ-S500W. (Image credit: Panasonic)

Panasonic's first-ever true wireless earbuds are finally available to buy, months after we first heard about them at CES 2020 – and one of the two new models could prove a compelling cheaper alternative to the AirPods Pro.

The flagship pair of earbuds are the Panasonic RZ-S500W, which come with active noise cancellation like the AirPods Pro and the best true wireless earbuds of 2020, the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Panasonic says that the new wireless earbuds offer "industry-leading" hybrid active noise cancellation technology, which combine "FeedFoward Noise Cancelling, Feedback Noise Cancelling, and an Analog/Digital Processing hybrid". 

These technologies work together to reduce noise generated both inside and outside the earcups, in theory resulting in an uninterrupted listening experience – and at $289 / £169, they're cheaper than much of the competition. That works out at around AU$415, though a Panasonic spokesperson tells us that these prices are subject to change.

Like the AirPods Pro, you can allow environmental sound to pass through the earbuds when you need to hear what' s going on around you; Panasonic says you can "simply tap the touch sensor to cycle between Noise Cancelling, Ambient Sound
and OFF".

Peaceful phonecalls

That touch sensor can also be used to activate your voice assistant of choice, whether you prefer Siri or Google Assistant. Panasonic says that support for Amazon Alexa will be coming in the next few months, too.

As well as applying noise cancellation to your music, the new true wireless earbuds will also block out environmental noise from your phone calls, using a built-in microphone that, according to Panasonic, suppresses wind noise and other interference, improving noise cancellation performance and call quality.

Battery life comes in at six-and-a-half hours of continuous playback with noise cancellation turned on, while the charging case offers a further 13 hours of juice.

As for audio quality, we've been left guessing somewhat; Panasonic hasn't revealed the kind of drivers used within these earbuds, or given any description of the sound profile on offer – we can't wait to try them out for ourselves to see how they stack up against the best headphones of 2020. 

panasonic rz-s300w

The Panasonic RZ-S300W (pictured) are the cheaper of the new true wireless earbuds. (Image credit: Panasonic)

Check out the cheaper model, too

The second of Panasonic's new true wireless earbud models are the RZ-S300W, which don't come with noise cancellation, but are cheaper than the flagship pair at $129 / £109 (around AU$185) – again, these prices are subject to change.

Without active noise cancellation draining the battery, these buds can last for 7-and-a-half hours of playback, with three further charges contained within the charging case.

Like the pricier RZ-S500W, the RZ-S300W come with an IPX4 waterpoof rating, so they too should be suitable for working out with, as well as voice assistant-compatibility. 

Both models also come with "a unique antenna design" that Panasonic says will deliver reliable connectivity, even when using Bluetooth in a crowded area.

Again, we don't know much about the sound profile of these true wireless earbuds, but if they can offer decent audio quality on top of that budget-friendly price and good battery life, Panasonic could be onto a winner.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.