It seems like ever since Apple killed the headphone jack, all the cool kids these days are rocking wireless Bluetooth headphones. Nothing like a pair of black buds or stark white stems sticking out your ears to show off how switched on you are.
The new Pamu Quiet is an Apple AirPods Pro clone — just all black and don’t automatically work with your iDevices.
At $99, they are one of the most affordable truly wireless earphones you can buy. Aside from being wireless, the Pamu Quiet as their name suggests have Active Noise Cancellation. Padmate claims that these earphones are the worlds first to have a dual processor design that improves audio quality and noise cancellation.
So I put them to the test and here’s what I found.
Pamu Quiet Truly Wireless ANC Earphones
Right from the unboxing, I was impressed by the clean, white packaging that again steals inspiration from more established brands. Opening the box reveals the Pamu Quiet charging case, some spare silicon ear tips and instruction documents. The charging case of the Pamu Quiet is something special. It’s styled like a classic pocket watch of a bygone era.
Only rather than gold, the case is some mix of synthetic leather and plastic. There’s even a bundled lanyard so you wear it around your neck. Pressing on the top button releases the front door of the case revealing the earphones resting place.
Inside is the resting place of the earphones which are held securely by the magnetic dock. This is great because they can’t accidentally slip out when you open the case. Each slot is marked with L and R so you can easily identify which ear the earphones go to. The earphones themselves are black buds with a short stem. They have replaceable silicon tips and each stem has the Pamu logo and charging connectors. The earphones fit snugly in my ear providing a great sound seal.
Padmate bundled some extra silicon tip sizes so you can find a fit that works for you. The earphones remained fixed during brisk walking and other general movements. When I tried running, at least one of the earphones would fall out. They might not be so good for runners or other high impact sport but you should be fine using them in the gym for low impact exercise. And the Pamu Quiet has an IPX 4 rating which means they will survive dust, sweat and splashes of water.
Where’s the on button?
Pulling the earphones out of their charging case turns them on. A small triangular LED light at the top of the earphone lights up and a helpful voice prompt confirms that they’re on. This also puts them in pairing mode. Simply look up Pamu Quiet L on your Bluetooth devices to connect — first the left one which then syncs the right.
Unfortunately, the Pamu Quiet can only connect to a single device at once which is a bummer. I’m sure most of us use our headphones for work and calls. Having to turn off one device so you can use the Pamu Quiet on another gets irritating and time-consuming.
Once connected, the helpful lady in the earphone will let you know. The Pamu Quiet use a Qualcomm aptX chip for Bluetooth and can decode AAC audio at 48Khz and 16-bit LPCM Audio. This simply means the Pamu Quiet sound great. The sound is full-bodied with clear highs, flat mid-range and deep, rumbling bass. Music sounds rich and exciting and bass heads will not be disappointed. These are certainly the best sounding earphones I’ve used — wired or wireless. Padmate uses 10mm PEN + Titanium drivers which give the Pamu Quiet a flat and dynamic frequency response.
The Pamu use a Knowles microphone array to pick up your voice when you make calls. It works very well. My callers said I sounded clear if not a bit fainter than usual. This faintness was worse in Zoom video calls on my laptop which forced me to speak louder than is natural for me. But the Pamu Quiet did a great job of separating background noise so that my voice remained forefront.
To control the audio, the Pamu’s have an invisible touchpoint about two thirds up the stem of each earphone. A tap for play/pause, double-tap for skip. It will take you some time to get used to the exact position of this touch spot though. I kept fiddling to find it and I wish it was more of a strip than a spot. You can fiddle around with what that control button does in the companion app. The app allows you to set the button to adjust volume, activate Siri or Google Assistant. The right and left earphone buttons can also be independently customized which theoretically gives you more controls.
Shhh! Be quiet
By default, the Pamu Quiet operate in transparency mode which lets ambient sound through to you. This is useful for listening to transit announcements or join in conversations without removing the earphones. To activate the Active Noise Cancellation or ANC, you need to touch and hold the control spot for two seconds. Once it’s on, you won’t get a voice confirmation or even the same beep that accompanies skipping and pause actions.
It may take a minute to notice the change which is more of a general reduction in the overall ambient noise. Padmate says the AMS3460 chip inside the earphones combined with the Qualcomm chip enable them to achieve a 40 dB noise cancellation. I have no way of proving that but it does get quiet.
I also noticed that they have a limited range of sound frequency reduction. For example, they drown out the high-pitched screams of my daughters playing but still let in the noise of cars and trucks. It reduces the loud noise of my boiling water kettle to only a loud hiss. Come to think of it, most sounds become a hiss which is odd. Must be the noise-cancelling algorithm Padmate uses. My neighbour’s bushwhacker was still an angry buzzing sound though far less headache-inducing than with ANC off.
I also took the Pamu Quiet for a walk around my neighbourhood. They picked up an alarming amount of wind noise — something I ran into with the much pricier B&O Beoplay H9 headphones too. It’s annoying when all you expect is blissful silence. Oddly enough, the Pamu Quiet also has a third mode — ANC off. This one’s a little confusing as to why this is there but what it does is turn of noise-cancelling and transparency. This leaves you with just the natural sound seal that comes with stuffing silicon earbuds into your ears. I’m not sure why you’d use this mode though because having the ANC on is generally better.
Overall, the noise cancellation on the Pamu Quiet doesn’t blow you away. It impresses in some scenarios and not so much in others. Thanks to COVID19 restrictions, I can’t comment on how the Pamu Quiet would perform on aeroplane flights, buses or trains. I suspect that they will do alright.
All day listening
Now let’s talk battery. The Pamu Quiet will last you about three hours on a charge with three more charges in the carry case. Your mileage will vary depending on whether you are using ANC or not but that’s plenty for a whole workday. Regardless, you have more than enough ways to keep the earphones topped up. The case itself can be charged via USB-C or Qi wireless charging.
If you have a smartphone with reverse charging, you can even have the case charge while it’s in your pocket with your phone. The case will let you know how much charge remains via a crescent-shaped LED strip on the front door. The strip lights up blue every time you take out or place the earphones in the case. The crescent shrinks to indicate the level of charge and animates when the case is connected to a charger.
The US$99 Pamu Quiet offer a fair bit of value for truly wireless earphones. The Apple AirPods Pro will give you superior noise-cancelling and user experience but cost over double. A quick look on Amazon will reveal an excess of no-name wireless earphones for less than the Pamu Quiet but there be dragons.
For what it’s worth, the Pamu Quiet sound great, with rich and clear bass. It does a great job in mobile phone calls and the charging case is certainly one of the most unique out there. If you aren’t too fussed by brand loyalty, these earphones are a pretty good bet.
Padmate provided the Pamu Quiet to PowerUp! for the purpose of this review.