Panasonic EP MA73 Massage Chair
- Ease of Use
- Overall Massage Quality
- Customization Options
- Value for the Money
The Panasonic EP MA73 has some of the most advanced massage technology available, and for the price, you’d expect it to. But features like heated massage rollers and ultra kneading give the Panasonic EP MA73 an edge in the high-end massage chair market. And though lacking features like foot rollers and Zero Gravity, if you want a massage chair that will last for years to come, the Panasonic EP MA73 is a great option.
The Panasonic EP MA73 is one of the most expensive massage chairs. It’s also one of the most advanced and highly rated. But with the continuous introduction of new, affordable massage chairs to the market, is it worth the price? And does it deliver a quality that other massage chairs can’t? In this review, we’re walking you through each feature to find out.
Panasonic (formerly Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works) was founded in 1918 in Japan by renowned industrialist and “god of management,” Konosuke Matsushita. The company’s first product was an electrical socket designed by Matsushita himself. Eventually, the device became a success, and Matsushita invested in the development of other electronic goods. Some of these are the battery-powered bicycle light and clothing iron — both of which were commercial successes.
As the company grew, Matsushita developed a “people first” philosophy. In 1929, he formulated the Basic Management Objective which outlines Panasonic’s business mission “to devote themselves to the progress and development of society and the well-being of people through their business activities to enhance the quality of life throughout the world.”
The first Panasonic massage chair was produced in 1969 — over 50 years ago. Their massage chairs were the first to be endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) as being credible complements to chiropractic therapy. Furthermore, while the massage chairs are designed and engineered in Japan, they’re manufactured in China.
Table of Contents
- 1 About Panasonic
- 2 Features of the Panasonic EP MA73 Massage Chair
- 3 Massage Techniques and Auto Programs on the Panasonic EP MA73 Real Pro Ultra
- 4 Manual Mode and Customization Options on the Panasonic EP MA73 Real Pro Ultra Massage Chair
- 5 What’s Missing the Panasonic EP MA73 Chair
- 6 Panasonic EP MA73 Massage Chair Specifications
- 7 Panasonic EP MA73 Review Final Thoughts
Features of the Panasonic EP MA73 Massage Chair
While most of the features on the EP MA73 are common — air massage, 3D rollers, etc. — the particular technology used was developed by Panasonic, so you won’t find it on any other brand’s chairs.
Auto Body Scanning
The rollers are 3D, which means they move in three ways: up and down, side to side, and inward (applying pressure). 3D massage chairs give you the ability to control the depth and intensity of your massage better. It's a great feature for the gentle massage and deep-tissue massage enthusiasts alike. Although it’s not the fact that the Panasonic EP MA73 is a 3D massage chair that makes it standout. It’s the advanced technology that supports the 3D rollers that do.
The Panasonic EP MA73 has dual massage rollers — two sets of two — that are designed to mimic the feel of two thumbs and two hands. The rollers are heated to simulate the warmth of a masseuse's hands and the benefits of hot stone therapy, which we’ll cover in more detail later in the article.
3D Dual Roller Massage Technology
The body scan on the Panasonic EP MA73 can most accurately detect heights between 4’6” and 6’1.” However, if at any point the rollers don’t detect your correct shoulder height, you can manually adjust the position using a set of up and down arrows on the remote.
Once the scan is complete, the Panasonic EP MA73 automatically reclines into a preprogrammed position according to the massage program selected.
The scan begins once you select a massage program, during which the rollers move up and down your back gently tapping for about 30 seconds. To get the most accurate scan, sit as far back against the backrest as possible and make sure the bottom of the head pillow is at ear level.
The Panasonic EP MA73 features sensor technology that’s able to detect your height, shape, and key pressure points before automatically adjusting its rollers to give you a custom massage.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s working behind the scenes:
- Gliding rollers. A high-performance brushless motor allows the rollers to seamlessly glide across the back — reducing the amount of resistance or “snag” of the rollers.
- Intensity Sensor. An intelligent sensor automatically adjusts the massage pressure for optimal comfort.
- Intuitive Microprocessor. High-speed processing gives the rollers a high level of precision and responsiveness to produce complex shiatsu techniques.
- Wide Neck and Shoulder Range. The rollers extend up to 4.9 inches to provide deep treatment to sore and stiff muscles. The massage range covers 30.75 inches vertically and 8.25 inches horizontally.
In addition to roller massage, the Panasonic EP MA73 features air massage from the shoulders to the feet. There are only 33 airbags, which is on the smaller side in terms of total number. However, they’re strategically placed in the major areas and provide good coverage.
While rollers knead and penetrate, airbags press and squeeze to produce a compression massage -- which is perhaps most beneficial for circulation.
Let’s say you’re receiving a compression massage on your arms. Each time the airbags squeeze your arms, blood and stagnant fluids are pressed from the skin, muscles, and joints. Then, when the airbags quickly deflate, new blood rushes back in. As new blood enters, it introduces new oxygen and nutrients, both of which are essential for tissue repair and recovery.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the air massage areas on the Panasonic EP MA73:
- Shoulder Massage. Airbags next to the shoulders inflate to press and squeeze the upper body while also holding it in place against the backrest during roller massage.
- Arm and Hand Massage. Airbags massage the tops and bottoms of the forearms and hands.
- Seat & Hip Massage. Airbags located next to the hips and under the buttocks inflate and deflate at varying intervals to gently twist and stretch the lumbar area.
- Calf and Foot Massage. Airbags compress the calves and feet and help push them onto acupressure nodes.
Pop-Up Self-Adjusting Arm Massagers
Rather than having open arm massagers or slots next to the seat, the EP MA73 has pop-up arm massagers that work in two ways. They act as regular armrests when not use, and as arm massagers when popped up. The armrests also are self-adjusting, which means they move with the massage chair as it reclines. Why is this important?
Since your body moves backward with the chair as it reclines, your arms change position relative to the massagers. So if your arms move back but the arm massagers don’t, your arms won’t fit into the massagers properly. This means you can’t enjoy a full arm massage in the reclined position. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that on the EP MA73.
Foot Massager Ottoman
All throughout, Panasonic included features that would help the EP MA73 double as a luxury recliner and massage chair, which brings us to our next feature.
On the Panasonic EP MA73 massage chair, the ottoman is rotatable and retractable. So instead of having ever-visible foot massage wells, the ottoman flips over to reveal a smooth cushioned surface.
With it rotated, the ottoman looks like what you’d find on a standard recliner. Position the ottoman higher as a footrest or retract it back under the seat of the chair and out of view.
Like we mentioned above, inside the ottoman are airbags that surround the calves and feet. As they inflate, they squeeze and push the feet onto an acupressure plate.
The plate has a protruding node that applies pressure to the arc of the foot stimulating acupressure points. Though you can’t control the acupressure nodes with the remote, you do have the option to remove it altogether for a gentle airbag-only foot massage.
The ottoman is also extendable up to an additional 18 cm to accommodate users of different heights. Removable and hand-washable sole covers let you quickly and easily clean the ottoman fabric.
Like we mentioned above, the rollers are heated, which means the heating system on the EP MA73 is one of the most comprehensive available. Since the rollers move from the neck to the tailbone, the entire back is warmed rather than a single area.
The intensity of the heat may vary according to your body temperature, room temperature, massage area, massage program, or clothing material.
In addition to heat in the rollers, there’s heat in the ottoman. Located under the feet, heating pads warm the arch and toes relieving stiffness which helps the acupressure nodes provide a deeper massage.
Heat has a long history of therapeutic application. Under heat, blood vessels dilate which increases circulation and flow of oxygen and nutrients. As new oxygen and nutrients enter an area, they begin repairing damaged tissues. Then, as muscles warm, they relax, and the massage rollers are able to provide a deeper tissue massage. In addition to its healing properties, heat is also comforting, helping to relieve stress.
Surrounding the Panasonic EP MA73 is a leather-like upholstery made from polyurethane. While not genuine leather, the poly upholstery shares some characteristics like durability, flexibility, and softness. Unlike leather, however, the polyurethane upholstery is highly abrasion and stain resistant.
LCD Remote with Pedal Stand
All of the functions on the Panasonic EP MA73 are easily controlled using the remote. A bright LCD screen displays all of the active functions, so you always know what’s running. A pedal stand keeps the remote out of the way, but always within reach.
To help direct you through the massage process, the Panasonic EP MA73 features voice guidance. The voice guidance gives information like “Seat yourself deeply in the chair, and adjust the position of the pillow,” to help you understand the operation procedures. If at any point you want to skip the voice guidance, a “Volume” button lets you adjust the sound down or turn it off altogether.
Massage Techniques and Auto Programs on the Panasonic EP MA73 Real Pro Ultra
The Panasonic EP MA73 features seven massage techniques. While not as robust as other similarly-priced massage chairs, it covers the fundamental techniques of shiatsu massage. Plus, the advanced technology that governs the rollers ensure the techniques perform accurate and effective movements. Let’s take a closer look at the techniques:
- Junetsu Ultra Kneading. A Panasonic-exclusive technique, Junetsu Ultra Kneading uses circular motions on a small area to provide pinpoint treatment.
- Shiatsu. Applies vertical pressure and compression to relieve muscle knots.
- Kneading. Uses wide circular motions to compress and stretch the muscles.
- Swedish. Uses gentle strokes across a wide area.
- Rolling. Up and down movement to stretch a particular area.
- Taping. Rapid alternating tapping strokes.
- Full Back Roll. Up and down movement along the spine to stretch the full back.
Using a combination of the massage techniques above and air massage, the Panasonic EP MA73 offers six auto programs and demo program. The programs are fully-automated, so if you like the idea of pressing a single button and receiving a full-body massage, one should pay attention to the auto programs. While not a large variety, the auto programs are comprehensive. Let’s take a closer look at the massage programs:
Neck and Shoulder
Demo (Ultra Knead/Junetsu)
*The auto programs move along an intensity scale with Swedish being the most gentle and Shiatsu being the most powerful.
**The thumb-like rollers are able to grab the neck and roll along the sides of the neck and tops of the shoulders to provide treatment to the hard-to-reach areas of the trapezius muscle. This is a standout feature since most massage chairs aren’t able to effectively massage this area.
There are four additional stretch programs on the Panasonic EP MA73. These programs fall under the category of “manual options,” but their one-touch operation and comprehensive treatment deserve mention alongside the auto programs.
Let’s take a closer look at the stretch programs:
- Neck. During the Neck stretch program, airbags in the seat inflate to lift the body. Then, the airbags slowly deflate as the rollers hold the neck to provide a gentle, lengthening stretch to the neck and back.
- Chest. During the Chest stretch program, the shoulders airbags inflate to press and hold the body against the backrest while the rollers knead and stretch the back.
- Hip. During the Hip stretch program, airbags in the seat inflate at varying intervals to twist the hips while rollers knead the lower back.
- Leg. During the Leg stretch program, airbags inflate to squeeze and hold the thighs, calves, and feet while the ottoman raises and lowers to pull and stretch the leg muscles.
Manual Mode and Customization Options on the Panasonic EP MA73 Real Pro Ultra Massage Chair
The Panasonic EP MA73 massage chair does have quite a few customization options, though not as many as you’d expect for the price. Here’s what’s available:
Choose from four stretch areas, including neck, chest, hips, and legs.
Air Massage Location
Choose from four air massage areas, including shoulder, arm and hand, lower back, and leg and foot.
Roller Massage Location
Choose from five roller massage areas, including neck, shoulder, middle back, lower back, and full back.
Turn roller heat off or on or add it to any massage program.
Turn foot heat off or on or add it to any massage program. The foot heat can be adjusted two levels.
A set of up and down arrows let you control the position of the rollers.
Control the intensity of the rollers up to five levels depending on the massage action currently active.
Control the intensity of the airbags to three levels.
A removable back that gives support to the body when using the EP MA73 as a recliner.
So what does a manual massage look like?
Let’s say you have neck pain, but don’t want to use the Neck and Shoulder auto program.
- First, you’d select “Neck” from the remote.
- Then, using a set of up and down arrows, you’d choose a massage technique from the display screen. Choose from ultra kneading, shiatsu, kneading, Swedish, rolling, or tapping.
- Press “OK” and the massage rollers will automatically move into position.
- Adjust the massage intensity or add additional massage features like shoulder air massage or back heat.
After you dial in your ideal settings, the Panasonic EP MA73 Real Pro Ultra lets you save them with the memory feature. So instead of having to remember your settings each time you use the chair, you can press a button, and the chair will automatically “remember” them for you. You can create and store up to three custom programs.
What’s Missing the Panasonic EP MA73 Chair
If your massage chair budget is upwards of $9,000 and can afford the Panasonic EP MA73 price, you have your pick of the majority of models on the market. And while the Panasonic EP MA73 massage chair has many top-of-the-line features, there are a few it’s lacking, including:
Mechanical Foot Rollers
A popular massage chair feature, foot rollers provide a powerful kneading massage to the bottoms of the feet. While the Panasonic EP MA73 does have acupressure node inserts, they aren’t mechanical, so they don’t move or knead to the level that spinning rollers do.
Another popular massage chair feature but much less common than foot rollers are calf rollers. There are currently only two massage chairs that have them: the Apex Ultra and the Human Touch Navitas. And even between these two models, they’re very different. The Apex Ultra has spinning nodes that protrude into the calves while the Human Touch Navitas has real rollers that move up and down the legs like back rollers.
Zero Gravity Recline
Zero Gravity is a bit of a buzzword for massage chairs. So what is it? Originally designed by NASA to help astronaut’s cope with gravitational stress on their bodies, Zero Gravity is a reclined chair position that shifts the body’s weight.
Such that, it is evenly distributed across the backrest while the legs are elevated at or slightly above the heart. In Zero Gravity, the vertical pressure is removed from the spine allowing the vertebrae to decompress, the muscles to relax, and leg circulation to increase.
Many massage chairs feature Zero Gravity not only for its therapeutic benefits but its massage-friendly benefit. With the body’s weight pressing down on the backrest, the massage rollers are able to provide a deeper massage.
On the Panasonic EP MA73, there are no speakers. Though a sound system doesn’t directly affect the quality of your massage, it can enhance the experience. Fortunately, an iPod or stereo can be used in conjunction with the massage chair, though not directly through it.
Other Considerations for the Panasonic MA73
Five Year Warranty
The Panasonic EP MA73 features a five-year limited warranty. The first three years includes all parts and labor and the remaining two years is parts only. Considering most massage chairs come with a one or two year warranty, the warranty on the Panasonic EP MA73 is another positive aspect of this high-end massage chair. Though it’s not uncommon for Panasonic massage chairs to last well beyond their warranty — many users were citing 10 years or more with regular use.
Panasonic EP MA73 Massage Chair Specifications
Chair dimensions (reclined)
26”H x 32.7”W x 79.6”D
Chair dimensions (upright)
45.3”H x 32.7”W x 48”D
Recommended maximum user weight
Recommended user height
5'0" to 6'5"
Required Recline Clearance
Panasonic EP MA73 Review Final Thoughts
With its state-of-the-art technology, excellent reputation, and exclusive features like Junetsu ultra kneading and heated rollers, it’s tough to beat the Panasonic EP MA73 — even with its high price tag. Though lacking attractive features like Zero Gravity and foot rollers, the Panasonic EP MA73 delivers on quality and style and is sure to perform for years to come.