Pamu Z1 Pro Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Earbuds Review – Surprises from unlikely places

Every once in a while, a product comes across my review pile and absolutely surprises and delights. This time, it’s the Pamu Z1 Pro ANC Bluetooth earbuds. Ever since Apple launched the wireless AirPods, the market for wireless earbuds has quite literally exploded. Consumers have a wealth of choices from every major audio brand but most of those, especially with Active noise cancelling and great battery, cost hundreds of dollars. 

The Z1 Pro stands out from that crowd by offering you most of the same features and performance for significantly less – USD $79 or just over AUD $100 at the time of this writing. What you get is a great pair of earbuds that are comfortable, sound amazing and have great battery life. Unfortunately, there’s a few flaws that will immediately disqualify them for some users but overall, the Z1 Pro is one of the best Bluetooth earbuds I’ve used yet. 

Pamu Z1 Pro ANC Bluetooth Earbuds Review

I like the design of the Z1 Pro — it’s simple and yet stylish sporting a two tone colorway with ours being the White/Grey variant. There’s also a Black/Grey and Green/Yellow. The carrying case matches the ear buds color. The buds have a bulb enclosure attached to a short, oblong stem. They use silicon tips for the ears and Pamu supplies four tip sizes in the box. Even so, I didn’t get a good solid sound seal even with the biggest ear tips and so I could always easily hear the environment around me. Lastly, the earbuds are IPX4 rated so they will survive a light water splashes or sweat from your workouts.

The case looks and feels like a large, smooth, white pebble you might pick from the beach and easily fits in any small pant or breast pocket. It’s just thin enough to shroud the earbuds in a protective cocoon without unnecessary bulk. It bugs me that I can’t open the lid with one hand but that’s probably for the best since the lid feels a little less sturdy than I’d like. The case gives you 3 charges of the earbuds which in turn hold up to 6.5 hours per charge making for a combined total of 24 hours. This was indeed my experience where I consistently got through three, sometimes four, full workdays using the Z1’s. You can charge the case with a USB-C cable or better still, any Qi Wireless charger.   

Once you open the case, the buds power on and enter pairing mode automatically. The rest of the controls are handled by a touch panel at the top of each stem. They require the usual variation of single, multiple taps or long presses to activate different functions. It works well enough and you can customize the controls in the Pamu mobile app. The app is clean and easy to navigate and also offers you some simple EQ presets which I didn’t find too useful overall. Also available are the controls for listening modes which are Transparent, ANC On and ANC Off. 

Now this is where the Z1’s fall flat unfortunately. Pamu says the Z1’s Hybrid ANC will reduce noise by 40dB but despite my best efforts, I couldn’t notice the ANC effect at all. In fact, the only way I knew it was on was a slight shift in inner ear pressure and not so much noise reduction. Even after I updated the buds to the latest firmware, the ANC was not noticeable. I’m not sure if I just got a bad set of buds and I haven’t been able to find other reviews of the Z1 Pro online to compare findings.  

But here’s the surprising thing- it doesn’t matter!

Why? Because the Z1’s sound fantastic, as good as if not better than my considerably higher priced EPOS GTW 270’s. The Z1’s use 10mm titanium drivers which produce excellent clarity across the frequency range allowing you to hear the tiniest of details while also shaking your ear drums with some serious sub-bass.  I can’t recount the number of times I was caught off guard by the cues I heard listening to all sorts of music that even full-size headsets couldn’t reproduce. 

Making things even better is the ultra-low latency support which, like the Razer Hammerheads True Wireless, makes the Z1 Pro’s perfect for mobile gaming. Bluetooth headphones suffer from a lag that isn’t noticeable when you’re streaming Spotify but once you start playing games or watching video, you notice a considerable delay between the visual and audio. Pamu has addressed this and with a simple flick of a toggle in the app, the Z1’s will considerably reduce that latency. 

So watching YouTube on the go or playing Apple Arcade games on my iPhone 13 Pro Max is a truly enjoyable and lag free experience. I even used the Z1’s for my primary work machine and found their low latency perfect for my Zoom calls. Speaking of which, the microphone quality on the Z1’s was also great with my voice transmitting clearly to callers. Pamu uses Environmental Noise Cancelling(ENC) microphones which do a much better job than the ANC. 

Verdict

So what’s our takeaway here – are the Pamu Z1 Pro’s worth buying? Absolutely. At just over $100(and Pamu often has some crazy sales) these are a very well designed, non-ostentatious set of wireless earbuds that sound amazing, have great battery life and most importantly, are significantly cheaper than the big name brands. Yes, I was disappointed by the ANC but considering so many of us aren’t commuting these days, that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If you really need noise cancelling earbuds, then you’ll have to pay upwards of $200 for some Bose or Sony buds. Everyone else though will be more than happy with the Pamu Z1 Pro.

Pamu Z1 Pro Bluetooth Earbuds
LIKE
Sound fantastic
Low latency performance
Great battery life
Fantastic value for money
DISLIKE
ANC on my unit didn't make a difference
Case lid feels a bit flimsy
8.5
Excellent value earbuds

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Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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