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Earbuds item created by jacksonchansf, Sep 13, 2012
Pros - You get what you paid. The Fish bones
Cons - Not very sturdy, Bloated bass, Confortless, Harsh highs
I'll be short : I was very disappointed when I listened to the PAA1-Pro the first time. I found bloated bass, harsh highs and a typical mainstream V-shaped sound signature. So, I began a hundred hour burn-in and retry it... Nothing changed a lot. Maybe the highs became less harsh but still not what I would call pleasant to my ears. I put them away a time and come back to them after two weeks. Still nothing changed. So, I take my time and passed few weeks with them, switching between different sources like : Sansa Fuze, iPod Classic, Teclast X3, SMSL sap-4s, JDS Labs cMoy (with the stock opamp) even the Aune T1 but, eventually, I have to admit that I never find them pleasant to my ears.
For me, with the PAA-1 Pro, you get what you paid. It isn't the badest earphone, I listened to, it just mainstream one for 30$ no more no less. Finally, I've found it lacking of confort and i was unable to run with them too. Whatever position, I tried, the keep falling of my ears during my running session.
I would thank HSA for the sample but as I said during our mails' exchange, I have to be honest with myself. I didn't like it that much, it isn't bang of the buck for me, just a honest price for those earphones.
Pros - Sound, Detail and Balance, Value, Case & Accessories (especially foam covers)
Cons - Generic Design, Awful Cable, Size and Comfort (Fit)
Most of this review is taken from my original longer comparison review here : http://www.head-fi.org/t/679360/review-hisound-audio-paa1-pro-earbuds-e212-iems-opposites-in-almost-every-way
For this review - ignore the green bars on the side - it's not where I set mine (something wrong with Head-Fi rating system). I listed price at $50 as that is the normal price for these buds. In reality I paid $10 (the cost of the shipping).
Introducing HiSound Audio's PAA1-Pro
I'm always a sucker for trying new things - you never know when you'll find a hidden gem. So when I saw HiSound Audio's offer, giving Head-fiers an opportunity to try their PAA-1Pro earbuds (just for the price of shipping), I jumped at the chance. I'm really glad now that I did.
I was provided the PAA-1Pro for just the cost of shipping. I am in no way affiliated with HiSound Audio - and this review is my honest opinion of these earphones. I would like to thank Jack and the HiSound Audio team for making this opportunity available.
Preamble - 'about me'. (This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).
I'm a 46 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile - just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current mid-fi set-up. I vary my listening from portable (i-devices) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP). My main headphones at the time of writing are the Shure SRH1840, Beyer DT880 (600 ohm), Mad Dog V3.2, Shure SRH840 and Shure SE535 Ltd Ed. IEMs. My recent headphones have also included the Sennheiser HD600, AKG K701 & Q701, and Grado SR325i (full woody). I have auditioned quite a few entry and mid-tier cans, but have yet to hear any flagships (at current time of writing this review).
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz to grunge and hard-rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range. I am neither a bass or treble head (you could argue that I do like clarity though). Current amps = NFB12 and LD MKIV. I also formerly owned several portable amps - the most notable being an Arrow 4G and GoVibe PortaTube.
For the purposes of this review - I used the PAA1-Pro and E212 straight from the headphone out socket of both my iPhone 4 and iPod Touch G4. I did not bother with amping them, as IMO they do not require an amp – and the likelihood is that HiSound have targeted them toward an audience who would not use additional amping anyway. By now I have probably notched up around 40-50 hours listening on both units. In that time I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (I do not believe in 'night and day' burn-in).
For a brief comparison (toward the end) - I mainly used a set of Apple Earpods and the buds that came with my wife's Sony DAP.
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging is ideal for a retail presentation - an easy to display rectangular retail box - with an 'average' footprint. The specific sales blurbs / descriptions on the box is interesting. The PAA-1Pro is " the most bassy ear-buds ". We shall see (keep reading).
For accessories, the PAA-1Pro includes an excellent semi-rigid soft-shell case (dimensions approx 75x75x30mm). This is an ideal size for the earphones - and has inner pouches for spare foamies etc.
It also comes with a rubbery 'fish' cable management tool. I'm not really too sure what to make of this. I tried it - but it's terribly cumbersome. I can't really see anyone actually using this.
The PAA-1Pro comes with 2 spare sets of foam covers (a well thought out addition actually), and an alligator type shirt clip for cable management. Again there is a warranty written entirely in Chinese.
(From HiSound Audio)
Maximum SPL ：120db（1khz，1 Vrms）
Jack / cable : 3.5mm straight, 119 cm
Build / Fit / Comfort / Isolation / 'Style'
The PAA-1Pro looks to me like a very generic looking ear-bud. Nothing really stands out. The silver accent on the housing looks good – but otherwise not much to write home about.
R & L are marked + the buds are not completely circular – so I can relatively quickly tell which earpiece is which – but I do have to look closer before fitting.
The shells themselves are very solid and look built to last. There is no real strain relief at the shells though – which makes me wonder about the longevity of the cable. The 3.5mm plug is straight, looks relatively sturdy, and includes strain relief. The cable split has strain relief at the apex of the V. The cable is rubbery, tangle-prone, and slightly micro-phonic (not as bad as I initially feared though). It’s the sort of cable you’d expect on cheaper generic buds (HSA – why didn’t you use the same cable as the E212?). There is no chin slider. The PAA-1Pro are designed to be worn straight down.
These are a largish ear-bud, and whilst rounded, the shape is not completely smooth. For me (and I’m a reasonably sized bloke – 6ft tall, average head size, proportionate ear size), the buds fit OK but did cause some discomfort – especially around the back of the concha – after prolonged use. Over time this has diminished. My wish would be that someone could come up with a more ergonomically designed (smooth and oval) fit for increased comfort. The new Apple Earpods are a perfect example of what can be achieved – food for thought HSA? As with most buds – the positioning can sometimes be quite difficult to get consistent – and this greatly affects the sound. If it’s possible to take a leaf out of Apple’s book. Their new Earpods fit me perfectly – and pretty much every time.
There is no real isolation – they’re ear-buds – there is not supposed to be! But inclusion of the foam covers helps fit, comfort, and does give a measure of ‘seal’ which does help the bass impact.
All-in-all, pretty much ‘meh’ – generic type fit and ergonomics which are helped by the addition of the foam covers.
The following is what I hear from the PAA1-Pro. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline).
For this I’m using Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen” as there is a lot of micro detail in the track, and it is pretty well recorded
Actual detail retrieval on the PAA-1Pro is not bad. Despite having a bass impact, nothing is smeared - and the detail is there because the separation in frequency is quite good.
Sound-stage & Imaging
For this I’m using a binaural recording – Amber Rubarth “Sessions Form The 17th Ward” - “Tundra”. I use this because it’s a pretty simple way to get comparative data on sound-stage. I also used some other live performances (Loreena McKennit’s “Dante’s Prayer” and others).
The PAA-1Pro is good for an earbud at this price point with some clear separation. Sound stage size is small and intimate – but sense of space is not overly congested. Enjoyable.
Rather than referencing tracks – I’m going to give general impressions – as I’ve tried to listen to as many varied genres as I can.
The PAA-1Pro has me hooked. Bright recordings remain bright – there is definitely a touch of added bass, but it’s not overpowering. Highs remain sparkly (maybe slightly subdued), and the upped mids (particularly) are far more apparent. Lower mids are not over powered by the mid-bass. Overall cohesion is very good for the value point. Vocal tracks retain the warmth – but when the instrumentation kicks in, vocals still remain the focus, and the bass line adds to the presentation rather than overpowering it.
The PAA-1Pro lives up to it’s moniker. I’m not sure if they are “the most bassy ear-buds” – but for cheaper ear-buds where the bass is usually too light, these are actually an improvement. Bass is more mid-bass than sub-bass to my ears – but the added thump is not excessively boomy. Also, the fact that it adds to the sonic presentation rather than overpowering it, makes these ear-buds (for my tastes) very enjoyable.
The PAA-1Pro is easily powered out of an iPod Touch G4 or iPhone4, and on most tracks I was well under 50% on the volume slider.
For sub $50 the PAA-1Pro is a reasonable buy – and could be made an excellent buy if HSA could make it slightly more ergonomic (fit) and change the cabling (use the E212 cables hint, hint). Ergonomically it needs to lose some size, and a little more rounding would help overall fit. But the PAA-1Pro sonically is very good value for money. The overall sound is cohesive, and the added bass helps fill out a normal weakness found in a lot of cheaper buds (ie too much in the upper mids and highs, and nothing down low). The PAA-1Pro defintiely fixes this issue.
Quick Comparison PAA-1Pro to Apple Earpods/Sony Buds
My Earpods have Earskinz and foams fitted - giving slightly better seal and bass.
All 3 are voiced similarly - but both the Sonys and Earpods are slightly brighter voiced (less bass line). The PAA-1Pro have a definite edge in actual clarity though, and are definitely sonically superior. Bass on the PAA-1Pro has more impact and definition - yet does not feel unbalanced. The ideal combo would be Earpod ergonomics and PAA-1Pro sonics.
Recommendations to HiSound Audio
Here is a short list of what I’d change if I could. Hopefully this may be helpful to you Jack.
Lose the fish
Add a chin slider
Change ergonomics slightly – rounder and slightly smaller? More oval?
Use the E212 cable
Once again Jack – thanks for the opportunity with these. Loved the experience.
Pros - Rich Bass
Cons - Too big for my ears, Bad build quality
They really don't fit in my ears as they are too large in diameter. They also leak a lot because of this. They would not work in a public center.
I would say sound wise they are pretty similar to the E212.
Build Quality: There is a lot to be desired here. They do not have nearly as nice a build quality as the E212s. The cord is crappy, and they feel like the cheap earbuds they give you on the plane.
Treble: It is rolled off but not that bad. It certainly isn't good for listening to sopranos however.
Midrange: Not as effortless as the Sony MH1Cs. Not as warm either. Richer than the E212
Bass: Very comparable to the Sony MH1Cs. It is rich, and loud, but not boomy. Better than the E212.
Soundstage: A little worse than the E212.
I have to say although they don't fit me I am very pleased with these in that most earbuds aren't nearly as good as IEMs and these sound very similar to the E212s.
Thanks to Jack at Hisound audio for giving me this sample to review.
Side note: I agree with other reviews. These IEMs, just like the E212, really need a burn-in. They sounded terrible at first.
Pros - Crazy bass, good amount of accessories
Cons - sizing issue (slightly large for my ears), Cable can move into the housing, non tangle free cables
My ratings are /5 in comparison to their cost.
Lows, the lows are definitely the highlight of these earbuds in my opinion. The bass reaches deep and has good impact/volume. For the lows alone i would give these earbuds a 4.5/5
The mids are definately towards the warm sounding side.
They arent overpowered by the bass however feel to blend with them instead.
Otherwise, vocals are clean
The Highs are the bane of these earbuds, due to the strong mids and lows, i feel underwhelmed by the highs of this bud. Overall they were lacking in comparison. Not much to say otherwise.
Good amount of accessories, I enjoyed the hardcase and fishbone that came with these.
They were too large for my ears causing pain and soreness after 30 minutes or so.
I enjoyed my time with these earbuds. My complains however are they were too large for my ears so I didn't have much of a chance to just close my eyes and enjoy music for too long with them. However, if they fit the ears, I would definitely recommend these as a gift to get someone started into the world of audio.
Would like to add that it was a pleasure working HiSoundAudio and Jack, they were very prompt on replies and would love to buy from them again in the future.
Pros - Good sound stage, long ear bud stem, nice accessories and case
Cons - Fit might be an issue with people with smaller ear opening, no cable slider
I'd like to thank Jack Fu of HiSound Audio for sending me a review sample of both the PAA-1 Pro and the E212. I burned these in for around 20 hours,
Galaxy S3 with PowerAmp & Noozxoide Eizo Rewire, HP 4410S notebook.
3 pairs of ear bud sleeves
A Nice & functional IEM storage box
I compared the PAA-1Pro to the following IEM's and ear bud: HiSound E212, Crossroads Bijou3, Generic Sony Ear buds. I unfortunately had a fit issue with the PAA-1Pro as I couldn't get a proper fit and only way to get the proper sound quality was by cupping my hands to my ear and as this is not very practical but this is what I did for the review. My wife on the other had had no fit issues. I feel the burn-in made quite a difference because, out of the box, they sounded just marginally better than my generic ear buds and was not on the level as the E212 without burn-in.
The PAA1-Pro has an overall pleasing sound signature for me in terms of the lows, mids and highs. All were well control and did not overshadow each other. There was a lack of instrument separation but this could be due to the limited burn in (20 hours) I had with them. I'm sure this will change over time as the 20 hours burn in had a difference. The sound stage had more width in it than it had depth. Maybe a 50 hour burn in could change that.
The sound quality of the PAA-1Pro is a lot better that my Sony ear buds but I liked the SQ of the E212 better and compared to the Bijou3, the PAA-1Pro had better wider sound stage but the Bijou3 had a deeper one. The Bijou3 is better in the sub bass section but in every other frequency range, I liked the PAA-1Pro better. I especially liked the highs as it was very clear, detailed and sparkled. There was no fatigue that you normally associate with this type of treble. I was quite impressed with the sound stage. This is the best ear buds I've ever tried out of the 5 I've owned.
I'll rate them as follows: E212>PAA-1Pro>Bijou3>Sony ear buds.
For the asking price of US$49, this is an item of very good value. If you are not into IEM's this is an excellent option to go with.
Pros - Comfortable fit, Great bass and Mids don't suffer from bass bleed.
Cons - Non- Tangle Free Cables
HiSound Audio's PAA-1 Pro Review First off, I'd like to thank Jack from HiSound Audio (HSA) for the sample. Before we proceed further, it's important to note that these were burnt in over 50 hours before the review.
Size of the driver：16mm
Maximum SPL (Sound pressure level)：120db（1khz，1 Vrms）
Earphone Jack ：3.5mm
Price: $49 (USD) + Shipping
HiSound has recently changed their package I believe. Package no longer comes in a hard plastic case. Earbuds come with a pair of foam on them. There are two pairs of extra inside the soft pouch. The cable is slightly on the thin side, has a rubbery feel to it; I don't believe they're tangle free. Plug is quite sturdy looking and is a straight 3.5mm one.
Comfort/ Fit/ Ergonomics
The earbuds fitted my ears quite well, but they felt a bit big. I really liked the fact that the earbuds didn't move alot.
Sound Source/Gear Used: RW-AK100
Shall be split into the usual categories:
The lows are very well controlled, very good sound seperation and the bass is pretty punchy.
Lows definitely feel and sound very deep and layered
Slightly forward looking and warm sounding. One thing for sure is that it's behind the Lows. Great thing the mids blend really well with the bass. Vocals sound clean and detailed. Live guitar sounds very realistic too.
Definitely behind the lows and the mids. Wasn't really impressed with the highs to be honest. I felt that there was an overall lacking of the presence of the highs. However, detail and clarity was still good.
I enjoyed my time spent on these buds. Great product by HiSound at a very reasonable price. Bassheads & K-Pop Lovers, if you're looking for a earbud to satisfy your needs, this is definitely one I'd recommend.
Pros - Sound, Nice Case & Accessories, Very Comfortable For Me, Exceptional Customer Service
Cons - Annoying Cable, Not So Great Build Quality
First, I'd like to thank Jack Fu of HiSound Audio for sending me a review sample of the PAA-1 Pro and the E212. It was certainly very generous of him to send multiple units to so many people. I am in no way affiliated with HiSound Audio and this will be a completely non biased review. Tested with my HDP-R10, Sansa Clip+ and SGS3 international version. More on amping later. I have burnt these in for a while now, but not for the 100 hours that HiSound recommends. I will change the review if I feel like the sound changes after burn in but others have not noticed much if any change after burn in.
Design, Accessories & Unboxing
Being a vented earbud, there is close to no isolation, but this is really something that affects every earbud and not just this one. It's shape is more or less the shape of the old Apple earbuds but it is significantly more comfortable with the soft covering. It comes with a cable manager which IMO is just about useless, 3 sets of the soft thing that goes over the earbud and a nice shirt clip. There is no cable slider though if you are one who cares about that. The box is very nice and simplistic, not having too much unnecessary stuff that comes with other earphones. It does come with a very nice square zip case which I find to be extremely handy and something that is generally only included with more expensive products. The downsides to the design are the annoying cable and the slightly shoddy build quality. The cable is plasticcy and very rigid and looks easily tangled and IMO is one of the worse cables that I've seen but it is not too hard to use like the TF-10 cable. The build quality is also not that great, but it is more than what you would expect in a $50 product. I don't feel like it is going to break anytime soon, but I would have rather it be made with some metal even if it made it a bit heavier. The good thing is that all the flaws of the PAA-1 Pro is in this section since I believe that the sound is what you would be expecting in a $100+ product.
Have people started faking HiSound products?
How the PAA-1 Pro comes. The way that the cable is tied makes the cable bent and the cable doesn't seem like it will become straight anytime soon. The case is very nice though.
Those people who have never read one of my reviews before, I break them into 3 main sections - bass, midrange and treble.
Many people label these as a basshead earbud and while I don't completely disagree, I disagree to some extent. While the bass is emphasized, bassheads will probably be wanting more quantity. The bass is very clean and there isn't very much sub bass and instead, the PAA-1 Pro focuses on mid bass. The bass is extremely dynamic and hits hard without any bleed whatsoever into the midrange. The detail is really just incredible, and I feel like I'm hearing textures in the bass that I've never heard before in a sub $100 earphone, regardless of whether it was an earbud or IEM. To be perfectly honest, I was expecting slightly bloated bass, but there is no bloat at all and it actually stays incredibly clean. They certainly hit much higher than it's price might suggest.
I do feel like the midrange was the section that I enjoyed the most. Let's start with vocals. HiSound have got it just right there. They are neither pushed too much forward nor recessed which makes them feel extremely realistic. Vocal separation was impressive as well and they worked very well with bands signing together. Midrange instruments were also portrayed in an extremely realistic way and the timbre was just right. There was sibilance present if it is in the track, but it was not bothering at all and it wasn't piercing like some other earphones. Pianos sound nice, but are just a bit on the thin side. Guitars are recreated exceptionally though and so are violins. Detail levels are once again much better than other earphones in it's price range. HiSound has hit it out of the park with the midrange.
Quite a few people have said that the treble is rolled off. Yes, I do feel like it is a bit rolled off, but IMO there is plenty of sparkle and it doesn't become overly sibilant or cause listening fatigue. I was actually quite shocked when I listened to them because they had quite a lot more treble than I was expecting. Cymbals are rendered very nicely and have a very nice and pleasant decay. They weren't dull at all, like other earbuds that have treble roll off. Woodwind instruments are extremely nice and they really do sound like they are in a total other price range. Now, the treble roll off doesn't mean that they are like the Apple Earpods (which I actually like quite a bit) and they are quite a lot brighter. I find that they brighten up some more if you take off the soft sleeve thing but there is enough IMO.
By soft sleeve thing I mean these. Sorry for the crappy picture.
Separation & Detail
To test vocal separation, I used the song "Some Nights" by Fun. I was actually very pleasantly surprised at how well they handled the start of the song. I could quite easily tell where each singer was. Instrument separation lags just behind vocal separation but it does do well there as well, not becoming overly muddy and confusing on congested tracks. It handles itself well there.
Detail levels are very good, especially for the price. The detail in each drum hit was easily discernible and I could hear the nuances in string instruments. It is very impressive here as well.
Imaging & Soundstage
The imaging is something that I was absolutely blown away by. I could tell where everything was on the stage and the sound was actually quite transparent. Hardly ever did I find that I just could not tell where something was. I am quite confident that there is probably nothing better than the PAA-1 Pro within it's price range that can best it in that area.
The soundstage is quite large as well. It is quite a bit larger than the Sony MH1Cs, a pair of high value $40 IEMs and even a bit bigger than the E212. I'm not sure about earbuds, but it is certainly large by IEM standards.
I find that these opened up a bit more with amping, especially the bass. Drum hits had a bit more weight and details in the bass were more evident. The midrange sounded clearer and the treble detail increased a bit, but quantity stayed around the same. Soundstage opened up even more and everything just sounded more complete. I do find that a cheap amp such as a Fiio E6 can drive them perfectly fine. A budget rig that I would suggest is the Fiio E6 and the Sansa Clip+. These 2 drive the PAA-1 Pro extremely well and IMO sufficiently. I did try them with my much more expensive HDP-R10 but the changes were quite small over the $60 rig.
Sony MH1C vs Hisound PAA-1 Pro
So far to me, the Sonys have been my go to recommendation for IEMs in the $50 price range. Well, not anymore because I feel like the PAA-1 Pro well and truly defeats it. The Sony can sometimes get a but muddy due to the slightly excessive sub bass but this is not an issue with the PAA-1 Pro at all. The mid bass hits a tiny bit harder than the MH1C but the detail is better. There is sometimes a veil on vocals on the Sonys but this is just about non existent on the PAA-1 Pros. There is also more treble on the PAA-1 Pro which I think is a good thing because the Sonys can sometimes come off as having a treble veil. There is definitely more sparkle and detail on the PAA-1 Pro. As for isolation, the Sony MH1C is better by a huge margin since the PAA-1 Pro has next to no isolation. Soundstage and imaging is better as well by quite a lot. The Sony cable is worse IMO, but both are bad. The Sony MH1C is well and truly defeated and the PAA-1 Pro has become my new my budget king.
HiSound E212 vs HiSound PAA-1 Pro
I was certainly very intrigued by the HiSound E212 since it was said as "the best IEM under $100". When I first heard it, I was shocked, and not in a good way either. They were a veiled, muddy mess. The bass was overpowering and the treble really veiled. I let it burn in for a while and after 50 hours, I listened to them again and to my surprise, they had opened up quite a lot. The bass became more controlled and the treble came out a bit. For the bass, the E212 still has much more quantity and more sub bass. The quality is about the same so which is better really does come down to personal preference. As for the mids, HiSound has done extremely well with both of the earphones. They all have this sort of clear but interesting and fun midrange. The E212 has a lusher, more creamy midrange while the PAA-1 Pro has a thinner midrange presentation. The treble is not a competition IMO. The treble on the PAA-1 Pro is quite obviouslybetter in quality and has more quantity. The roll off on the E212 isn't that bad though, and those who are a bit sensitive to treble will like it. The soundstage is a bit bigger on the PAA-1 Pro and the imaging is a bit better as well. I personally prefer the PAA-1 Pro, but I can see why people would like the E212 more.
Apple Earpods vs HiSound PAA-1 Pro
The Apple earpods have been getting quite a lot of praise lately so I decided to go and get a pair recently. I was quite impressed that Apple could actually make a decent earbud unlike the absolutely horrible old Apple earbuds. The bass is more heavy on the Earpods, but the quality of the bass is really not very good. There is significantly more quantity but the quality is also a lot lower. The mids has a veil as well, making vocals sound too dark and adding even more weight to them compared to the E212 except the E212 does not sound veiled for some reason. The PAA-1 Pro absolutely sounds better there. The treble is veiled as well and the PAA-1 Pro has more quantity and much better quality as well. Overall, the PAA-1 Pro sounds a heap better than the Apple Earpods but I do respect the Earpods for what they are - a well above average pair of stock earbuds.
This is yet another example of a product that sounds way above it's price range. I find the sound to be extremely neutral with some mid bass emphasis and a slight treble roll off. Please do not think that it is a knock off just because it comes from Chinese company. Give it a try and I am almost sure that you will be pleasantly surprised at what $50 can buy nowadays. If you are looking for a more noise isolating IEM with more bass oriented signature, I wholeheartedly recommend the HiSound E212. I will be review them soon once they fully burn in.