Well hello there! Things has been quite tight lately and it has been a while since I wrote something. Truth is, I kind of drove myself off the wall too much that I missed writing for some time. Any how, as I managed to scrounge some time to do some write-up, I think it will be an opportune time for me to come up with something new.
I have been quite lucky to receive a new bunch of stuff from Pai Audio, of which I think has been a brand that is being overlooked lately given the influx of new brands of IEMs and earbuds. I think the recommendations on which ones to pick has been pretty solid with what I got, as I gave these stuff a spin around the block and they have so far been pretty good for me. I haven’t given them a thorough listening though so if there are any kinks, I should probably reserve them to the reviews.
For now, let me take you through my view on how the Pai Audio PR1 does.
At a glance, you will see that for something priced at US$19, Pai Audio has put quite some effort to give the build and packaging a bit of premium compared to other similarly priced earbuds. Using acrylic cylindrical case and a foam to hold it in its place, Pai Audio did seem to have in their minds the plan to make the look flashier compared to a lot of other earbuds within the same price region.
I also kind of like how they decided how the design looks like. Transparent shells that holds the drivers pairing it with a tin aluminum grill totally rocks, especially when seeing that they did a knot on the cable connected to the drivers to ensure that you will accidentally sever the wire off the transducers, which for me is a pretty good move to display how much the PR1 will hold up against abuse. Pairing the earpieces with a red sheathed wire adds the flair to the overall look. I kind of hoped that the plug used was a bit more robust, but then I think it should do fine especially by adding a strain protection to avoid breaking the wire should it be folded in the plug area.
Apart from the earbuds, the packaging includes some foams for the PR1 which seems pretty nice considering how much it improved the grip of the PR1 on my ears. Package also came with a shirt clip, although it seems that the only purpose it will serve is to hold it down as there seems to be no microphonics on the thing.
I will have to say, the PR1 did a pretty good job for its price. Not that it can crack the high end market open (not even the mid-tier range), but for its price, it definitely does its job pretty well. Overall it sounds somewhat leaning on the warm side, with good imaging to boot and good mids to supplement it. Highs are decent, but could have extended a bit more, while the bass can be rewarding if done right (tighter seal using thicker foams can cause some bloating). I also tried cranking the volume up; I am not recommending it as it also bloated the low ends a bit.
Here’s how it fared using my choice tracks:
Not While I’m Around – Christy Baron (Retrospective)
Piano on the tracks sounded clear and concise, with a certain crisp sound emanating for the said instrument. I find the bass guitar quite resonant, but I had to switch the foams to something thinner to allow better circulation to sound a bit more punchy. Vocals are quite enjoyable, I liked how well pronounced it is for the track. Treble is pretty good, what with ample sparkle it offers without getting any sharp even for listeners with low tolerance on the said frequency range. Track played using Soundaware M2Pro.
Woods – Janee (Released as Single)
The track is a jambalaya of instruments, meshed together in such harmony that will allow you to jam with the track. Using the PR1, the track has a pretty decent separation across all instruments. Strings (violin) stood out quite well, with percussion complimenting the violin pretty well, heck, even the finger snaps sounded really crisp. Staging really is more on the wide side, but does not do as much justice in terms of depth nor height. Bass seems tighter using the Pono Player but the rest of the frequencies seems to be pretty consistent with the first track.
War Child – The Cranberries (Greatest Hits)
Amidst the subtle guitar strums, O’Riordan’s vocals definitely stood out with the PR1 paired with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. The harmony across instruments worked really well with the vocals, giving that comforting feeling as you listen to the track. Small nuances on the vocals can be somewhat heard, although something as detailed as higher tier earbuds.
As long as you are not setting the expectations too high on the PR1, chances are you will be pretty much amazed by how it performs. Considering the price, you are definitely in for a treat; it won’t outdo the likes of the Blur, but pitting up against sub-$20 earbuds, the PR1 is definitely going to put up a very good fight. Would even probably win, depending on how you paired it and who is listening to it.