DQSM is by no mean a prolific brand when it comes to releasing new product. Instead, it like to take its time and get things right. Its previous flagship, the Turandot, released back in 2019, is still in many ways a front runner in the current earbuds market with its unique euphonic and musical presentation. This time around however, DQSM has decided to tune its next flagship earbud, the PD21, with a different signature - one that focuses more on technicality.
Intended to be wore over the ear, PD21 comes in two flavors: 2 strands and 4 strands twisted cable (and also option of single-ended 3.5mm or balanced 4.4mm plug). While the 2 strands version is already impressive on its own, I do recommend the 4 strands version first if your budget allows, as it really ‘correct’ some of the minor shortcoming of the 2 strands version. In fact, PD21 was first originally released only as 2 strands but it was the early customer’s feedback that pushed DQSM to release the 4 strands version. So what’s the difference? Well, there is a very very minor harshness / brightness in the upper vocal of the 2 strands version that is smoothed out in the 4 strands version, making it almost as flawless as it can be. Do however note that PD21 comes with MMCX socket so you can experiment with different third-party cable if that’s your fancy, though personally I think the cable on the 4 strands version is already superb in every way and doesn’t really need replacing.
As said, while PD21 is the new flagship, it is not a direct upgrade of Turandot as far as sound signature goes. PD21 spots a more balanced and neutral sound that is technically better than Turandot in many ways - crisp and analytical on the treble and well extended on bass, with a big soundstage no less. There is almost no obvious flaw or shortcoming in the presentation to speak of. Perhaps the only thing PD21 isn’t quite as good as Turandot is that it doesn’t quite have the kind of euphonic quality in its mid-range that Turandot is great for. I’ll say instead of which is better in an absolute sense, they are more like compliment of each other with different style of tuning. Turandot really shines with vocal, where PD21 is versatile on all genre of music.
All and all, another excellent ToTL earbud from DSQM.