Willsound PK32

Rating:
4/5,
  1. dheepak10
    PK32 – The little big sound!
    Written by dheepak10
    Published Jul 12, 2018
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Mids are nice; Acoustic music lovers are in for a delight
    Warm signature done right
    Comfortable fit
    Microphonics-free cable
    Cons - Lack of a faster response impacts separation
    Noticeable bass bleed into mids.
    WillSound PK32 is quite different from the usual WillSound buds – a smaller Yuin shell and a vastly different sound signature from the rest of the WillSound lineup. These earbuds retail on Rholupat.com with 2.5mm and 3.5mm connectors and ship internationally. I have included the link below:

    http://www.rholupat.com/custom-earphone/willsound-pk32-25mm.html

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    Build, fit and packaging

    The earbuds have a nice, branded, zippered case which is shared across the WillSound family of buds and come with 4 pairs of dense, white foams. The foams are of good quality.

    The housing is a Yuin shell, this time around. For those will smaller ears and those who struggle with the size of MX500 shells, the Yuin should offer some comfort. The shell material is of good quality. The cable and jacks are same as the MK1.

    The cable has a nice pearlescent shine to it; doesn’t tangle easily and offers no unwanted microphonics. The Y-splitter and 3.5 mm jack lack the premium feel of the MK2 and MK3, but get the job done.

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    Note: There is already an updated version of the PK32 with a different cable and a slightly different tuning, but the driver remains the same. So characteristics exhibited in this review should might hold good for the newer version too.

    Foam Matching

    Foams are critical to get the right sound out of the Yuin shell buds and choice of foam have a greater impact on the sound signature.

    Those with bigger ears, like me, who are quite comfortable with the MX500 shells, will not get a good seal with the PK32 and when used without foams, will have a sound that is devoid of the essential warmth and bass response. Those with medium sized ears, may have an advantage here when worn without foams.

    The foams included are full and dense – offer more warmth than necessary while having an impact on the mids and highs. I did not prefer them.

    With thin foams, the mids and highs were not noticeably impacted, but the warmth was still lacking.

    Donuts were perfect for these, but I would recommend the use of a donut foam with a slightly larger hole to expose 2 of the 3 rows of vents on the faceplate. My foams were or medium density and added the right amount of warmth while having no impact on mids and highs.

    The review to follow is compiled with these donut foams.

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    So how does it sound?

    Here's the setup for my evaluation - FLACs (16/44.1, 24/48 and 24/96) on my LG G6 with ES9218p DAC SOC or Tidal Hi-Fi played bit perfect through the UAPP player.

    I write this in most of my reviews - the key factor that is to be considered while reading my opinion below is that earbuds may sound different to different individuals based on the shape and size of your ears and how the earbuds fit and how they are positioned and your hearing sensitivity itself. More so in the case of PK32 where the seal depends on the size of the ears and the foams used. With donut foams, the sound signature for most users will be the same with just the difference in the amount sub 1KHz frequencies.

    So, with all that said, let's get into the actual performance of the PK32.

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    The PK32 is one earbud where there is a noticeable change in sound signature after a good burn-in. I don’t believe in the concept of burn-in and haven’t noticed any significant change in the sound signature of most earbuds after burn-in, but if the maker recommends it, I do it prior to review. But I got to admit that the PK32 becomes better after burn-in. Willy recommends at least 100 hours of burn-in on these buds.

    With the PK32, Willy has tried to satisfy lovers of most genres of music – the PK32 is quite musical sounding. According to me, the mids of the PK32 are quite good compared to the rest of the frequency range and they are impressive on acoustic tracks.

    Breathe by Seinabo Sey shows the impressive rendering of vocals on the PK32 – reasonably forward and texturally rich mids. Sadly, there is some bass bleed into mids that is quite visible at around the 1:10 mark. This apart, the PK32 displays nice separation between the vocals and all the strings along with reasonable width and some decent kick drums. Another track to showcase mids is Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka, where the PK32 shows nice texture on the vocals, clean for the most part. What is also rendered well is the nostalgic chorus vocals that is presented with a good amount of width. Separation is just about average; instruments can use some extra air between them.

    One thing which I have mentioned repeatedly on the both tracks above is the nice stereo width showcased by the PK32. This is quite noticeable on tracks like Decks Dark by Radiohead; the width on offer is better than what is seen on the WillSound MK series. What is noticeable again is the bass bleed into the vocals – there is some visible restraint on the vocals due to the accompanying bass guitar. Still the vocals sound almost realistic with good texture on this. At around the 4-minute mark, when the track gets busy, separation take a small hit – definitely could benefit from some airiness.

    Changes by Faul & Wad Ad shows the range the small PK32 can deliver – impressive width, meaty, deep bass note, nice, clean vocals on the chorus. Though there is faint sibilance audible on the chorus vocals, they remain well separated from the bass and the saxophone. The saxophone has some bass bleed impacting its separation, but nothing to worry about. This track presents all key frequency ranges and the PK32 laps it up with ease; not like the MK2, but pretty well. That said, sub bass rolls off sharply below 60-70 Hz and can draw some blanks on tracks like Royals by Lorde.

    Not just the width, the depth on offer is also quite good too; not like the levels seen on MK2 or MK3, but much better than MK1. Even on complex tracks like The National Anthem by Radiohead, the PK32 does reasonably well – retains the bass texture throughout the track, even during the complex passage at around the 3-minute mark when trumpets and pipes are blaring. What doesn’t impress is the ride cymbals that sound digitally compressed. But during the second complex passage at the 4:30 mark, it is quite evident that the PK32 definitely needs more airiness – the track feels claustrophobic, for the lack of fishing time for a better word.

    Get Lucky by Daft Punk has enough bass texture on offer and the PK32 fumbles – the texture is not as clean as its cousins – the MK2 and MK3. The airiness on this track is better than others listed so far and micro details are ok for the most part and sometimes are hidden by the bass and vocals. Speed is good enough not to impact the tempo of the track.

    On a track like Madness by Muse where various bass frequencies are served on a platter, the PK32 demonstrates a slight slowness on the bass notes that impacts the texture. Also, the vocals don’t stand out and shine like in the case of the MK2 and MK3. Layering is just ok; there is a slight overlap between the layers of music in play after the 3-minute mark and the track is more warm than what I usually prefer.

    The History Song by The good, the bad and the Queen is another interesting track for imaging and bass quality. While the bass notes have a good weight, the texture is quite average. Nevertheless, the vocals are well separated on this track and instrument separation on offer is good enough for the track.

    One last track which has featured in almost all WillSound earbud reviews is Shibuya by Covet. The PK32 takes a stroll in the park with this track – be it the bass guitar or snare drums or the ride and crash cymbals, the PK32 does a good musical rendering of this track. Definitely it could use some extra airiness, but it is well done for the most part. In fact, the cymbal decays are much better rendered on the PK32 than on the MK3, which excels in all other areas.

    The biggest acid test for the PK32 was however the humble September Song by Agnes Obel. The track is characterized by fast piano notes across two different octaves. The lower octave makes is difficult for the PK32 as the track demands really fast bass response; separation of notes on PK32 take a hit.

    Conclusion
    The PK32 is the lesser known member of the WillSound family, and comes in a different packaging with the Yuin shells. These will have the most polarizing opinions as well as the sound highly depends on the foams used. Nevertheless, the PK32 are done right when it comes to musicality and sound reasonably big. These are definitely recommended for those into acoustic music, while others will be pleasantly surprised as well.

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      WoodyLuvr and Narayan23 like this.
    1. Lionheart24
      Thanks for this! I hope you get to review the PK16 next!
      Lionheart24, Sep 17, 2018
      dheepak10 likes this.
  2. subwoof3r
    The new WillSound little bomb !
    Written by subwoof3r
    Published Jul 3, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - SQ (mids especially), soundstage. Great allrounder.
    Cons - Sub-bass a little lacking, highs could have more micro-details.
    • English is not my native language but I am trying my best :)
    • Note that my pair has been properly burned for about 200 hours before this review (Willy preconize 100 hours minimum, but I found the sound to settle at approx 180 hours)

    Build quality and issues :

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    Overall build quality is very good. I really like the white cable (the exact same as MK1 rev2 but from red to white), is has also the exact same plugs and Y-splitter from MK1. I found the plug to be better quality on my MK2 rev2 (much sturdier and better finish). Cable is not microphonic at all but I found it to be a bit short. I did not measured exactly but it is less long than MK2 so beware a bit if some of you are going to use them with portable solutions (which was not my case).

    Y-splitter.jpg

    Let’s finish by the issues..
    Unfortunately, as some of you knows from the board, there is some QC issues. My first received pair had clearly bass issues. My second one is just perfect, so it is a bit of lottery at the beginning of first PK32 production, but I am sure that Willy will do things to avoid that in the future. If you have a bass-less PK32 then I suggest you to talk to Willy to make an exchange. He is a great person and will do everything to keep its customers very happy of any of his products.


    Comfort and fit :

    Contrary to other Willsound earbuds, Willy made a little changement and decided to use “PK2”-like shells. All I can say is that it is definitely a great choice for everyone, it has many fans out there for many reasons but the most known is comfort into our precious ears. The fit of PK2 shells is a real pleasure, you can listen to music without any fatigue or trying to re-adjust them to ears every 5 minutes or so. This comfort coupled to its analog sound (that we will talk more in details below) is definitely a perfect combination.

    Also, PK2 shells always bring to me more impact as they are more close to ears canal than any other earbuds. And due to this, they also bring a little more isolation so always a little plus if you’re working on a noisy environment.

    About the foams, I personally found best matching with VE (Venture Electronic) thin foams that you can found from their EX pack. Thin foams let highs express (which is really needed to PK32) without sacrificing soundstage and keep intact all other frequencies with a touch of a bit more bass (which is appreciated). Donut foams is also interesting (more bass but affects mids and soundstage is less large) could be a good option depending of the music you want to listen to (or moods). Full thick foams (like Heigi) is to me definitely not recommended to be used on PK32.


    Sound quality :

    Sources used for the review : Fostex HP-A8C (at home) and FiiO E10K (at work).
    Beware, I found PK32 very sensitive to different source. My best match was on FiiO E10K where I had best highs and details.

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    • Presentation : PK32 is definitely not a “fun” earbud (at the contrary of MK2), it is more close to original music first. It is a kind of neutral without being annoying at all, it is more a relaxing and analog sounding, but not extremely analytical (at least to my hear). Where all WIllsound products are stunning are how easy they sound natural and transparent, and PK32 is no exception to the rule.
    • Soundstage : wide and spacious without beeing extreme like EMX500S, I would say MK2 has the most wider soundstage compared to PK32. But PK32 as something really special, it’s like you are playing with artists on the scene and hear the music a bit from behind. Sensational. MK2 has very nice soundstage but feels ordinary.
    • Instrument separation : excellent. With MK2, it is the most impressive earbuds on this part that I currently own.
    • Bass : it is total different sounding than MK series that some may be chocked at first sight. Sub-bass is there but we are very far from an EMX500S could to, same as bass. The right amount of bass is here, just sufficient to appreciate your tracks to it’s origin. I found bass impact to be a bit more precise and impacting than MK2 (probably do PK2 shell). Bass never feel boomy but has a lot of presence. It never saturate. Sub-bass is where maybe it is lacking a bit compared to MK2 (and especially EMX500S of course) but it is designed for that first so it not a problem at all (at least for me).
    • Mids : it is where PK32 excels, definitely. Mids a bit more forwarded than any of WIllsound MK series, and due to its reduced bass, mids are pleasant to hear. Vocals (female especially) are excellent for an earbud.
    • Highs : never harsh and sibilant, detailed without being extreme micro-details. It has lushes and analog highs. Never fa tiguing but never boring at the same time. I feel having more micro-details in MK2, but high are enough detailed to be enjoyed. Overall nice clarity. Don’t hesitate to try different sources to appreciate them.


    Top music genres :

    To be honest, I’m generally listening most of the time electronic music, but sometimes I listen all kind of music too (jazz, hit, pop, rap, vocals, 80’s, etc) and since SO many days now, I really prefer to listen all my music with PK32 (even EDM!). PK32 is pretty good for all kind of music even if where it’s the king is on vocals, piano and other instrumental music first. It is anyway for evidence and definitely a great allrounder. Sometimes when you feel tired of this heavy mid-bass produced from MK2 during your electronic session, switching on PK32 is the deal!


    Conclusions :

    Will just successfully made another new brilliant earbud that only he can do this kind of magic. These earbuds always keep me impressed me day after day. Willsound earbuds are known to sound always different and PK32 does not break rules. This analog sound is definitely one of a kind into earbuds (for me it is the only one that I really feel this word). It is designed to keep “truth to music” (like the picture on it’s Facebook page which presents PK32), and I definitely agree with that. I feel like it has all the right amount everything and while not lacking everything at all. Pretty amazing. Definitely a highly recommendation from me. Thank you so much Willy to make this earbud a reality. I’m definitely a convinced guy now. Can’t wait to see new earbuds from WIllsound!


    Results (subjective) :

    • Overall sound quality and appreciation : 4.5/5
    • Soundstage : 4.5/5
    • Bass : 4/5
    • Mids : 5/5
    • Highs : 4/5
    • Quality/price ratio : 5/5