PaiAudio DR1 (single dynamic IEMs with replaceable MMCX cables)

General Information

Transducer Type: dynamic
Transducers per Side: 1
Acoustic Ways: 1
Sensitivity: 120 dB
Frequency Range: 20 – 20000 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Cable: 120 cm; L-shaped 3.5 mm connector
Colours: tan, red, orange, blue, shiny colours or gold

Latest reviews

ExpatinJapan

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great fit, MMCX cables, good for tip rolling, lots of good stuff...see below
Cons: tip dependent

Paiaudio DR1 IEM Review - Expatinjapan

 Head Pie  
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Paiaudio DR1 IEM review ​
- expatinjapan
 
  Photo: Rudi0504
PLEASE NOTE: Awesome! I just noticed that many of the basic information concerning the DR1 is the same as I wrote for the review for the Paiaudio MR3, such as Build, Fit and Packaging etc. So excuse me whilst I copy and paste that information over here as it is virtually all identical to my experience. For those readers who have already read the Paiaudio MR3 review you might want to jump to the Sound and Overall sections whilst enjoying the photos along the way.​
Work smarter, not harder!
 “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”― Bill Gates
 


Build

When I first saw photos of the IEMs on offer from Paiaudio on the internet, I thought they looked rather plastic and cheap.  I was proved wrong when I opened the box.
In person they are well made, seem durable enough to withstand general day to day punishment and use.
They have two kinds of cable, the old and the new. The old is the one I prefer for looks and design, a clear cable similar but not identical to the more custom looking Echobox X1 or the FiiO EX1 cables, stylish snake skin like looks comes to mind.
The (discontinued) new cable seems too plastic looking to me, a glossy black.
Paiaudio said that they will be reverting back to the original cable after feedback from their customers. The current batch are now shipping with the original cable design.
The IEMs shells are of the closed style, so I found them to isolate well on my daily commute.
MMCX connectors, so the cables are removable and replaceable.
There is one Knowles driver in each ear piece.
 
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Packaging

The main box is in a beautiful looking black sleeve with the companies logo on it, slide it off and inside is a cardboard black box with a lid affixed by magnets. Open it up and the IEMs are packed within a foam plate, the underneath of which has the cable (I gave feedback on how to package the cable so it would not be kinked upon arrival), also in the box is a small users manual, some extra tips (full set of S,M,L in a clear thin white silicone). There is also a small cloth bag for transporting the earphones. I prefer a hard shell case but the supplied cloth bag seems to suffice.
 
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Paiaudio DR1 single driver IEM, packaging and included extras.​
 
The IEMs themselves have a nice long nozzle that means the user can get a satisfying fit, often I have the experience of not being able to get a deep enough insertion in my left ear canal, with the Paiaudio DR1 I can. The result being that I have a nice balance of the music within my head and ear to ear.
The nozzle has one large bore with a metal screen covering.
I spent a bit of time trying to pick apart the IEMs themselves without too much brutality and they stayed together.
The cable can be rotated 360 degrees where it connects at the join to the IEM, also the cable can be detached.
They seem to not hiss when using the an ipod touch 6G, Shozy Alien and Centrance Hifi-Skyn.
 

Fit

This is one of the first pleasing points (apart form the outer packaging design) that hit home, I could get a full insertion via the good length of the nozzle, one that gave me the same experience and volume on both ears.
My ears are on the small side and as you can see in the photo the models ears are also on the small side, so fitting the main body of the IEM shell in the ear should not be a problem for  most users, I expect.  

They are light which makes for  a comfortable experience and fit within the outer ear comfortably.
The included tips are soft and thin, others may prefer to do some tip rolling with other brands to achieve a good fit and preferred sound signature.
 
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Photo: Rudi0504​
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Sound
As usual I got over 50 hours of airtime on the IEMs before entering into reviewing mode.

Listening with an ipod touch 6G with Flacplayer app and JVC L Spiral Tips the Paiaudio DR1 are a gentle IEM, soft and sweet without sacrificing any of the lovely detail and soundstage that I came to enjoy with its larger sibling the MR3.

It seems at times mid centric, but definitely with the right seal they can also seem bass heavy at times.
The sound is consistent and coherent, for $50 these are certainly beautiful sounding.
Detail, imaging and instrument separation is well managed, vocals are accurate.
The sound stage is quite wide and gives the listener a definite sense of space.

I feel like a bit of a huckster, a shill for Paiaudio writing this review but I can`t deny that for the price these are a nice pair of IEMs. Simple and satisfying. Put another shell on them, a custom looking cable and up the asking price and then send them to me again for review under another name and I would be interested in my opinion. Mind that I am not trying to overhype these IEMs, just that for $50 they are good.

Changing to the stock tips - M sized I could get a deeper fit and seal, the lows came out more, but some resolution and soundstage was lost.

Changing to the stock tips - L sized, the stock tips being of a softer silicone than the JVC tips I could get a deep insertion again, the bass/lows was still more prevalent but not at the expense of soundstage and instrument placement.

Changing now to the Centrance Hifi-Skyn, gain 1 the Paiaudio DR1 handles the extra amplification well, and the more resolving DAC within does not do any damage to its sound signature nor does it create any distortion at acceptable listening levels. It seems to perform slightly better with a bit of extra amplification

The PR1 with the original snake skin looking cable, I found the sound was darker and fuller in my opinion, whilst the (discontinued) cable which is black and more plastic looking and had a more spacious and clearer sound signature. But the differences were largely incremental.

I find the Paiaudio DR1 has sufficient detail, imaging and is spacious enough to be a sleeper hit within the audio community especially due the price, the lows are nice and tight, the mids smooth, lush and creamy, the highs are far reaching without entering into fatigue territory.

Make no mistake, It is not a TOTL IEM in terms of price nor performance. But what it does , it does very well.

 

Value

The Paiaudio range of IEMs is priced as follows
DR1   US$39 - $49
MR2  US$129 - $149
MR3  US$169 - $189.
I think it is a wonderful price US$39-$49 
for a single driver IEM that looks like a multi driver IEM. Fool all your friends for a fraction of the cost!​
One can`t complain at the price as one gets all the same packaging and extras as the two and three driver models (MR2 and MR3).
The sound is excellent for such an inexpensive pair of in ears.
It also has replaceable cables, and a great fit which makes these great value for the price.
if you have a bit of disposal income and feel like an experiment I would be interested in what others have to say.
 
 
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Overall

For the budget minded and destitute looking to enter into the world of cool looking IEMs the Paiaudio DR1 could be a great starting point.
The supplied tips are silky smooth and very comfortable, I found that I did not have to reply on my current go to tips the JVC Spiral Tips but could get a decent fit and experience with the stock tips.
They are built sturdy enough to last If one takes care of them, the replaceable cables are also attractive and convenient in case one needs to replace them or wants to try an aftermarket alternative.
The sound as mentioned before is excellent for the price.
It can come across as bassy, mid centric or even reference flat to a degree depending on what tips are used.
In all If one spent the money, I think they could say it was money well spent.  
 
 
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Thank you to Paiaudio for sending Head Pie the DR1 for review​
-expatinjapan​
 ​

DynamikeB
DynamikeB
Tempting...

HiFiChris

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: value, resolution, replaceable cables (MMCX), soundstage, resolution (that however gets a bit overshadowed by the bass), build quality
Cons: lower-middle treble peak adds some metallic timbre at times, fundamental tone bloom, cable lacks chin-slider, female voices a bit veiled

P1020905.jpg



Preamble:

Disclaimer: Before I start with my actual review, I’d like to thank PaiAudio and especially their Alex for providing me with a sample of the DR1 (price: ~ $37-47) in exchange for my honest opinion.
After I picked up their 3.14 “Flat” earbuds and the MR3 (I’ve also reviewed both) some time ago, here now comes my evaluation on the DR1.
I am not affiliated with PaiAudio in any way and this review reflects my honest thoughts on the product.

PaiAudio is a rather young company founded in 2014 and based in Shenzhen, China and has specialised in manufacturing In-Ear monitors. According to their information, the company that consists of totally 13 people has got national elite audio developers in their team.
The yet young company has currently four earphones in their product range, of these one is an earbud, one a dynamic In-Ear and two are Balanced Armature-based In-Ear Monitors, whereby all models except for the earbuds feature replaceable cables.

The company backs on direct distribution through ebay (http://stores.ebay.com/paiaudio), Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main/ref=olp_merch_name_1?ie=UTF8&asin=B00ZU89S6E&isAmazonFulfilled=0&seller=A4X08XUDEJ1P3), AliExpress (http://www.aliexpress.com/store/1738335) but also Penon Audio (http://penonaudio.com/Paiaudio-all-models).

In my review below, you can read how their single-dynamic-driver model, the DR1, sounds for the comparatively low price.

Make sure to also check out the PaiAudio thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/781399/audio-pai-audio#post_11926956.


Technical Specifications:

Transducer Type: dynamic
Transducers per Side: 1
Acoustic Ways: 1
Sensitivity: 120 dB
Frequency Range: 20 – 20000 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Cable: 120 cm; L-shaped 3.5 mm connector
Colours: tan, red, orangeblue, shiny colours or gold


Delivery Content:

Just like all PaiAudio in-ears, the DR1 arrives in the an identically designed packaging with the same delivery content.
The in-ears arrive in a plain black packing with a paper sleeve that has got a huge white “π” on top, which is PaiAudio’s signature feature. The actual package underneath the paper sleeve is just entirely black and has got a magnetic flap that unveils the In-Ear monitors when one opens it up. Apart from the In-Ears, a user manual, three pairs of white silicone eartips in different sizes (S/M/L) and a velvet travel pouch are included. I’d preferred to see a sturdy hard case or zipper case instead, but at this comparatively low price with these features (real MMCX connectors for less than $50 IEMs!), I don’t really mind at all and am very happy that something like that pouch comes included.
 

 
 
 

 
 

Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

The IEMs’ shells are relatively big and ergonomically shaped, but it generally doesn’t matter for me as my ears’ conchas are pretty big either.
Build quality is flawless as it seems and both halves of the shells are glued together very sturdily and pristine. Overall, the IEMs’ bodies seem valuable and convey the impression of being very sturdy.
For this price range very unusual, the DR1 uses an MMCX coaxial connectors system for its detachable cables, just as Shure does for example.
The flexible cable is greyish, semi-transparent and seems thick, sturdy and very durable, although it doesn’t have strain reliefs. The only thing I’m missing is a chin slider, but as the cable is replaceable, it isn’t a real flaw at all.
Through the shell, the dynamic driver-unit can be seen.

For just a small upcharge, the in-ear bodies can also be purchased in different colours, among a large selection of faceplates with shiny glitter applications (there are 13 glitter options available).
In my case, I chose “option 5” which has got wine-red in-ear bodies with glittery red faceplates. In my opinion, this design looks extremely nice, especially in direct light.
 

 
 
 
 

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Comfort, Isolation:

As I already mentioned, the IEMs’ bodies kind of resemble the size of the ears’ conchas and are rather big, which is not a problem for my large outer ears, but it may be too big for people with very small ears.
In the beginning, I couldn’t manage to get a good seal with the MR3, but it changed with time, as I found out that I have to gently turn the IEMs forwards, which is due to a rather unconventional angle of the rather short nozzle. Then, seal is pretty decent for me.
Comfort-wise, I find the DR1 to be very pleasant, and the cable has got close to zero microphonics, which is very nice, though I wouldn’t mind having a chin-slider.

Although there is a tiny vent in each body, isolation is on a really good level and just very slightly below PaiAudio’s entirely closed in-ears MR2 and MR3.


Sound:

My main devices for evaluating the sound of the DR1 were the iBasso DX90, DX80 as well as the HiFime 9018d. Music files were generally stored in FLAC as well as WAV format, but also some MP3s were used.
Just in case, the in-ears were burnt in before listening tests started.

Tonality:

The DR1’s tuning could be described as bass-heavy.
With a mighty emphasis of around 13 dB, the lows are evenly emphasised from the sub-bass over the mid-bass, upper bass as well as lower fundamental tone. There is a good amount of sub-bass rumble and from about 150 Hz on, level starts decreasing into the lower mids, where it stops. Therefore, the fundamental tone is also clearly emphasised and adds weight and mightiness to the lows.
Surprisingly, mids are very correct and just a slice darker, but don’t really seem coloured or very warm. Though, brighter and female vocals sound a bit veiled, “normal” voices however do not and sound entirely good.
In the upper mids and lower highs, level is a bit pushed back. From 3 kHz on, level increases a bit and comes back with a narrow emphasis at 4.5 kHz.
There is a small dip at 5.5 kHz; the upper treble along with the super-treble above 10 kHz are in the background, but extension is good.

Due to the peak at 4.5 kHz, some instruments in the treble area have a somewhat metallic decay and sound slightly artificial – but overall, I find the treble to be better tuned than let’s say for example the Zero Audio Carbo Tenore (which however has got the better implemented bass tuning in my opinion).
+13 dB compared to the Etymotic ER-4S sound quite much, but the doesn't sound that bassy; it is rather a smooth, warm, fundamental tone oriented IEM like the Sennheiser IE 80.

Resolution:

Let me start with the positive things – overall resolution seems consistent and no area is worse than the other. For the price, resolution is neither bad nor extraordinary, but just quite good and appropriate (just like the Carbo Tenore’s as well). Despite the strong bass emphasis, lows are relatively fast and controlled, but that isn’t audible at first sight (/listening) because of the phat fundamental tone which makes the lows appear a bit blunted and even a bit woolly (the lows somehow appear to me like if a subwoofer was playing underneath a blanket). It is a bit sad, as elsewise especially the sub-bass is really controlled for inexpensive dynamic in-ears (and clearly more arid than the Carbo Tenore’s) – a slightly different tuning with a slower rising fundamental tone would have been more advantageous.
Although voices (even bright ones) are tonally quite correct despite the sound signature with the mighty bass, the fundamental tone along with the slightly pushed back presence area and the dip at 5.5 kHz make especially female voices appear a little veiled – lowering the fundamental tone and compensating the 5.5 kHz dip makes the veil (that is just a negative side-effect of the tuning and wouldn’t have been necessary) go away.

With a little better fine-tuning, the actual resolution would be much more obvious, although the DR1 is already on a good level and on Carbo Tenore-standards (slightly better and slightly worse in some areas).
Dynamic dual-drivers in about the same price range (like the Havi B3 Pro I or TTPod T1 (non-E) however outperform the Pai by about half a class.

Soundstage:

It seems like a good spatial presentation is something all in-ears from PaiAudio have in common, as the DR1 has got a wide soundstage with a nice depth (which is a bit more than half as distinct as the width). Instrument placement and separation are really good and the Pai clearly beats the Carbo Tenore in this regard. The generated soundstage is coherent and appears quite spacious.
Compared to the Havi B3 Pro I, the DR1 is just as wide as the B3, but the Havi has about 40% more spatial depth. However, both are on the same level of instrument separation and spatial precision.


Conclusion:

The PaiAudio DR1 are in-ears with a good price-to-performance ratio (notice that even real MMCX connectors are used and that the bodies are well built).
Technically, the in-ears are strong, but like a rough diamond that needs some final touch – which could be achieved by a little tonal fine-tuning in this case, as its (lower middle) treble is sometimes a bit too metallic in impact and especially female vocals appear a bit veiled due to the mighty fundamental tone along with the moderately recessed presence area and the peak at 5.5 kHz – that is acceptable for the price, but a bit more is possible.
The spatiality, sub-bass rumble and resolution are quite decent.
Who is looking for a very bassy sound with a clearly emphasised fundamental tone and a general signature that goes a bit into the direction of the Sennheiser IE 80 will find an IEM with a good price-to-performance-ratio as a quite inexpensive portable companion in the PaiAudio DR1.
In my opinion, solely the tonal tuning could have been better made, as it somewhat influences the perceived resolution and is currently probably not the most advantageous – but all in all, my overall résumé is actually quite good with 75% or 3.75 (rounded close 4) out of 5 possible stars.
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airomjosh
airomjosh
how would you compare them with adv m4? which do you think is the better all rounder between the 2, or which do you think is better in overall sq?
HiFiChris
HiFiChris
@airomjosh
 
I'd say they are more or less on-par. DR1 has the better soundstage and imaging, M4 has a more favourable for the driver capabilities (but clearly on the bright side - if you don't like bright sound, it's not for you). It's a matter of sound signature preference in the end, but for soundstage, I would choose the DR1.
airomjosh
airomjosh
Thanks for he quick response bro...

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