2020 is the year of COVID-19 pandemic. It is also the year of active noise-cancelling (ANC) for true-wireless earbuds. When Sony launched the WF-1000X in 2017 with ANC at an affordable price tag, it took 3 years for the industry to catch up. By then, Sony has already released their third-generation WF-1000XM3, attaining the undisputed king of ANC in true-wireless earbuds. There is no doubt the noise-cancelling technology developed from ground up by Sony offers impressive noise-elimination magic, though the earbud design is not the most streamlined nor comfortable.
PaMu is no stranger to crowdfunding. Their first project in 2018, PaMu 1.0, received nearly US$1 million. The second, PaMu Scroll, achieved US$3.38 million. Then PaMu Slide reached over US$6 million. On hand for review is the latest PaMu Quiet, distributed in Singapore exclusively with 1-year warranty support by Leader Radio Technologies (LRT), popularly known as weareready.sg. It already surpassed US$1 million with nearly 9000 backers.
PaMu team has partnered with the industry’s big names to deliver their next quality product. Here’s a breakdown:
- Qualcomm QCC5124 chip to support aptX, SBC, AAC decoding
- AMS3460 Dual chip noise-cancellation from AMS
- 3 Knowles microphones to support feed-forward and feedback dual noise sensor technology
- Murata crystal units
- GE plastic parts
- HRS connectors
- 10mm PEN + Titanium driver units
- IPX4 water resistance
- Qi wireless charging case
- 3.5 hours per bud, 10.5 hours total with case
- Smartphone app supported with firmware updates and customised touch functions
Design and Operations
Probably the most interesting design feature of the PaMu Slide is the case which looks like a pocket watch. I have to applaud PaMu for thinking outside the box to create interesting styles. And it’s not just the unique case which is covered with PU leather on the top case and zinc alloy.
The battery indicator occupies half the circumference of the case, and during charge, the blue LED animates from left to right to indicate the charge level just like a fuel gauge meter. Though when the earbuds are being charged inside the case, there is no visible indicator except for a few flashes when the case is closed, and you could tell the remaining battery life based on the length of the strip lit. And while I appreciate PaMu for including a soft PU leather drawstring pouch, the opening is a tad too fitting, making it a chore to store the case in the pouch.
The earbuds have gone through some detailed re-design according to the PaMu team to reduce the thumping effect when walking or running. PaMu has added some vents to reduce ear pressure yet it retains the same tight bass feel. The earbuds are slightly less chunky than the PaMu Slide.
Pairing the PaMu Quiet is simply disconnecting from the previous device and adding to your next device. PaMu Quiet goes into pairing mode when no device is connected. For more customised functions, install the smartphone app where you can see the battery level, set the ANC mode, personalise the key functions.
I find the touch gestures not that sensitive, specifically the double-tap gestures. Whenever I tried to double-tap, the earbud ended pausing the playback (single-tap gesture).
Following the footsteps of the PaMu Slide, the PaMu Quiet delivers fat imposing bass that rumbles your favourite tracks effortlessly. The treble sounds clear and sufficiently full with details. The midrange is kept minimal to ensure the vocals are clean yet not too pushy. I find the PaMu Slide delivers more sparkles but thinner. For that, I prefer the PaMu Quiet treble response and overall balance. Despite bass-heavy, the music does not sound muddy or too bloated. I enjoy playing tracks where I would like a little more bass for kicks, and I certainly feel more immersed with the music beats while running. Compared to the Jabra Elite Active 75t, the PaMu Quiet is more balanced, with fuller bass, while the 75t has deeper sub-bass without the mid-bass fullness, and brighter upper treble. The 75t has also the advantages of smaller earbuds and charging case which carries more charges.
The PaMu Quiet supports both ANC and Transparency mode, though the levels cannot be adjusted. The ANC removes noise across the mid and lower ranges effectively but the side effect is an over-emphasized upper frequency that would not have been noticeable under normal circumstances. I noticed the same phenomenon on the Technics AZ70 when I turned ANC to the max, but the AZ70 allows ANC adjustment, so after sliding the level to the middle, the upper frequency became more suppressed while the midrange hiss was let in slightly. Other ANC earbuds might not remove the lower ranges as much, but the upper frequency is not so revealing. Sony WF-1000XM3 continues to be the benchmark when it comes to eliminating the upper frequency.
For the Transparency mode, the PaMu Quiet achieves rather natural levels, though I find it a tad soft. I could not hear much ambient noise when music is being played, so the effect is not as open. For that, I am quite happy to turn on Transparency during jogging along the road pavement.
The PaMu Quiet sounds impressively clear, so clear that the background noises are all picked up and heard by the other party. The left earbud is the primary by default, and if you dock the right earbud, there would be no disruption. But if you dock the left earbud, the connection will be dropped and the smartphone will have to reconnect separately to the right earbud, broadcasting just the right channel instead of mono. When the left earbud is undocked from the case, the connectivity will be force-switched to the left earbud instead of continuing with the right earbud. Basically, the left earbud will always try to be the master.
Earbuds with ANC features have become such a common sight that it’s no longer surprising to see them priced below S$200. Admittedly in most products at that competitive price range, the ANC quality is merely patronising and not as effective as Sony or Bose.
The PaMu Quiet offers a unique case design to spice up the true-wireless market. The ANC is highly effective in the low ranges but could not keep out the upper range. The bass response is the most infectious among the ANC earbuds, while the earbuds are comfortable and secure.
At a retail price of S$179, the PaMu Quiet offers an overall excellent product, providing above-average ANC solution, comfortable wear, and clear call quality for bass-loving consumers. Available in Singapore exclusively distributed by Leader Radio Technologies (weareready.sg) with 1-year warranty.