Enjoy Quality, Comfort, and Rich Sounds with the Worlds First Dual Chip ANC/Transparency Earphones
I know I am not alone in appreciating a good underdog story. It is for this reason that I typically avoid buying trendy name branded gear, without first looking at reviews and searching for alternatives. Interestingly, many seem to fall into the lazy trap of marketing techniques. The next time you walk into a BestBuy, Walmart, B&H, etc., look at how the products are placed in space. The things that they want you to buy are highly visible, well placed, and utilize visual cues to lure you away from your money. Like the girl next door story, a little searching will often result in a gem that may have gone unnoticed. The products from padmate have repeatedly impressed with their quality for cost ratio.
The PaMu Quiet earbuds arrived in a classy 5 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches tall by 1 3/4 inches thick white retail package. Designed like a book, the top and bottom panels were indented, while the remainder of the panels were not. The spine of the package listed Qualcomm aptX trademarking information, while the access flap provided the pamu name in a silver-leaf font. Turning to the cover panel, the product name was listed in shimmering silver font, while the pamu name was provided along the top right. Hanging like a stopwatch from a lanyard, the company provided a front-and-center, visually appealing image of the pamu charging case. Beneath the image, you will find the earbuds resting upon a sin wave track. Lastly, along the bottom of the panel, you will find icons for Qualcomm aptX, and active noise canceling. The rear panel provided a dodeco-lingual description of the PaMu Quiet Wireless ANC Bluetooth Earphones: “Independent & hybrid active noise cancellation processing system/CVC 8.0 call noise reduction/10mm Pen + titanium composite speaker/aptX audio decoding/Waterproof grade: IPX4/Bluetooth 5.0.” The company address and palmate website address (www.padmate-tech.com) were listed along the bottom left of the panel. Along the bottom right, you will find information about the FCC ID, 5v/300mA hour, capacity 500mAh/1.85Wh, model T10, Made in China, product manufacturing labels, and an SKU barcode.
When I opened the magnetic flap, my eyes were immediately drawn to the leathery-black PaMu quiet charging case resting within an eqgshell-white plastic cutout. Beneath this, I found a 4-inches long by 2 1/4 inches wide by 3/8 inches thick box with multi-lingual instruction manual and warning/declaration booklet. Beneath the upper box, you will find two additional accessory boxes. The first box (smaller box), measured 3 7/8 inches long by 7/8 inches wide by 1/2 inches thick and contained a pair of large and medium-sized oval eartips. The second box (larger box), measured 3 7/8 inches long by 2 3/4 inches wide by 7/8 inches thick. The box contained a 3 3/8 inches wide by 4 5/8 inches black pleather (plastic-leather) drawstring bag, a 14 1/4 inches long USB-A to USB-C charging cable, and an 18 inches long neck strap. The inner surface of the flap provided information about how to open the case, how to remove the earbuds from the charging case, and how to remove the thin plastic coating over the charging terminals. I removed the 3.24-ounce, 2 5/8 inches diameter, leather charging case, and realized that it looked like a pocketwatch or stopwatch. I pressed the black button (looked like a watch winder) and the lid opened. Along the inner surface of the lid, you will find the same information that was presented on the back of the packaging. Inside of the case, you will find two 0.17 ounce earbuds with “L” and “R” penned onto the lower surface. With the thin plastic removed from the charging terminals, I returned the earbuds to the ribbed leather case, closed the lid, installed the neck lanyard, and then placed the case upon my wireless charging pad. Similar to the red light at the front of KITT from Knight Rider, a blue LED illuminated along the rim of the pamu charging case.
While the earphones charged, I opened the multilingual instruction manual to the English section. The manual started with instructions on how-to-open the case, then walked the user through the incredibly easy pairing process. To do this, simply remove the earbuds from the case, and they will automatically enter into pairing mode. Power on your smart device, navigate to Settings, to Bluetooth, and then select PaMu Quiet L from the list. You will hear a ding, followed by a female voice announcing “Power On,” “Pairing Successful,” “connected.” To insert the earphones, first ensure that you have the proper tip to fit into your ear canal. Then adjust the angle to accommodate a good seal. Once the earphones are powered on, paired, and placed into your ears, you can begin listening to music, watching movies, enjoying audible books, gaming, or making phone calls. The controls were fairly straight-forward but unfortunately lacked volume control. To play/pause music or to answer an incoming call, you can single press the capacitive touchpoint just above the “pamu” name on either earbud. If you double click either of the earbuds when a call is coming in, you can reject the call. While playing music, a double-tap of the right earbud will advance the track, and a double-tap of the left earbud will reverse the track. A long press of the right earbud will cycle between active noise canceling mode and transparency mode, while a long press on the left earbud will activate Siri. At the bottom of the panel, I was pleased to find a note that was left for the user: “The function definition of Press and hold, double-click can be customized in App.” However, the App is not currently available in our country or region via the iOS App Store. When done listening, you can replace the earphones back into the charging case and enjoy up to 3 additional 3.5-hour charges. If desired, you can use the included USB-A to USB-C cable to charge the case via the side USB-C input port. Having recently tested the PaMu Unique earbuds, I missed the ability to control the volume with the earbuds.
I found that the preinstalled ear tips worked best for my listening enjoyment. Over the past week, I have placed the earbuds into transparency mode and listened to audible on the 30-minute commute to and from work each day. To test the quality of output, I turned to one of my favorite testing websites, audiocheck.net. For the initial test, I navigate to Audio tests and then select the Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz). With the typical range of human hearing ranging from 20Hz to 20 kHz, I need to be able to hear/feel the deep rumble of bass starting at 20Hz. If a pair of earphones does not pass this test, I will not continue testing them because the bass experience can make or break the overall sound profile. I was quite pleased with the test and heard the bass at 20Hz. The tap play/pause controls proved to be quite responsive, and the ANC/Transparency modes proved useful for either blocking out sounds or allowing ambient noises respectively. As noted above, the PaMu Unique offered volume control but lacked the previous track and ANC/Transparency features. I still am on the fence about which control scheme was a better option.
Once the earphones have passed the bass test, I navigate to the High-Frequency Response and Hearing Audio Test (22-8 kHz) for the high range. Similar to the bass tests, a male voice will announce the levels and a tone will follow. Due to age, barotrauma, and other factors, we tend to lose the higher end of hearing (presbycusis) first. Because of this fact, the high-frequency test tends to be a bit more user-specific than many of the other tests. With better than same-age related hearing, I was able to hear the tone starting at 15kHz. My 11-year-old son was able to hear 17kHz. When complete, I tested the channel programming with the Left/Right/Center test and was pleased that the left and right earbuds were programmed correctly. The last step, and my favorite of the website, was to test the Stereo Perception and Sound Localization Test. Similar to the opening of the “Sound Of Silence (3D Binaural Audio)- Simon and Garfunkel Cover-Jarvis Brothers (Ear to Ear), the test uses binaural recordings with a knocking sound. If you are a jumpy person, I would encourage you to use the restroom prior to running this test. My children love this test, and my wife refuses to repeat the test after a mini-shock, while she was lying in the dark.
If you have not read my review of the PaMu Unique, I would encourage you to check them out on macsources.com. As mentioned above, there were a few features of the PaMu Unique that I missed but these were overshadowed by the ANC and Transparency modes of the PaMu Quiet earphones. The battery life was adequate and lasted an entire week of ~1 hour per day listening with Transparency or ANC on. I wished that the voice announced the status of the earphones as you changed the modes, but the lack of that feature was not a deal-breaker. To review my test tracks, I like to use a variety of songs from Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music. Additionally, I utilize the Audible App to enjoy audiobooks. To evaluate the bass, I listened to the modern technic sounds of “Bright Lights Bigger City” by CeeLo Green, the opening sultry bass line of “Train Song” by Holly Cole,” and enjoyed the chanting fullness of “Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold” from The Hobbit. I then listened to the opening of Star Wars The Clone Wars, The Dark Knight Rises Joker Theme “Why So Serious,” from 3:00-4:00, and listened to the poppy bass-centric version of Home Free “Ring of Fire”. I found the bass supported the mids and highs and that the sound was crisp and clear. I did not feel that the sounds were muddy, even with increased volume. It was at this point that I noticed the true quality of the ANC. I did not notice the heavy pressure on my ears that I sometimes feel with ANC headphones. Additionally, the oval shape of the ear tips paired much better with my ear canals than the traditional rounded shapes. So, when you pair the passive noise cancellation from the in-ear setup with the ANC microphone/chip setup, I could barely hear outside noises (~40dB reduction).
To complete my sound tests, I used a variety of options from Pentatonix, The Glee Cast, The Gaither Vocal Band, and Home Free. To test the upper sounds, the blend, and the mids, I love to use instrumental options from the Far and Away and Braveheart Soundtracks. I was pleased with the staging of Bob Marley and the Wailers “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” Radiohead “The National Anthem,” Enya’s “Caribbean Blue,” and with the random sounds of “Bubbles” by Yosi Horikawa. I felt that the earphones did a great job with the above tests and continued to impress for options from Prince, Megan Trainor, Charlie Puth, Alabama, and CCR. I was a little disappointed that the App was not available and felt that it would greatly enhance the overall function of the earphones. Much more comfortable than the original PaMu Slide, I did not experience any fatigue while wearing the PaMu Quiet earphones. I did find, however, that the earbuds stuck out a little bit too far for comfortable pillow listening. Overall, the PaMu Quiet headphones did a fairly good job with sound stage, spacing, and favored slightly heavier base. I believe that this setup would prove positive for 90% of the average, non-high-end audiophile listeners.
It appears that PaMu continues to trudge onward with their technologies. I found the PaMu Slide earbuds to work quite well, then fell for the PaMu Unique earbuds. With the addition of ANC/Transparency, I have found it difficult to go back to the PaMu Slide/Unique. I was impressed with the Bluetooth 5.0 range and found minimal interruptions in sound. If I was going to design the PaMu Quit Version 2.0, I would add volume control, and I would add a tone/announcement for the ANC/Transparency modes. I sincerely look forward to when they get the equalizer App up and running, as this may fix some of these features. Regarding the base sound output, I do not think that I would change anything. The battery life was more than adequate for my needs, the shape of the earbuds felt comfortable within my ear canals, and I felt that the device had a good overall weight. The charging case may be a bit large for some, but you can use the included neck lanyard to wear around your neck. The ability to charge via USB-C was a welcomed feature, as was the ability to charge wirelessly. Unlike the AirPods Pro, the earbuds did not turn off when removed from the ears. While testing in bed, my wife was pleased that there was very little sound leak. I was able to run/jog, to ride my bike, to jump rope, and to play with my kids on the trampoline and never had an earbud pop out of my ear canal. The IPX4 rating may be a backwards step in technology, but I do not plan to swim in the earbuds anyway.
From listening to music, to watching movies/Television on Hulu, CBS All Access, Movies Anywhere, Amazon Prime Video, and VUDU, to listening to Audible, the PaMu Quiet earphones exceeded my expectations. Overall, I would rate the PaMu Quiet Earbuds Sound Quality at 9.5/10, 9.5/10 for comfort, 9.5/10 for battery life, 9.5/10 for accessories, and 10/10 for packaging.
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