If you’re one of the people who have recently opened up a newly-purchased piece of portable electronic equipment, like, say, a mobile phone or portable music player, chances are you’ll have a pair of generic, black earphones on hand. Take my advice: put them away neatly. Do yourself a favor. Instead of using those which have most likely been added as an afterthough for listening to music, get yourself a pair of Hisoundaudio PAA-1 Pros (~$50).
Hailing from one of the most economically successful cities in China, ShenZhen Hisoundaudio Co., Ltd. has recently released an entry-level, high-fidelity-grade earphone that easily sounds twice as much as it is worth. The PAA-1 Pros sport silver accents running down its body, exuding a contemporary design that won’t guarantee head-turning from passerby, but definitely don’t look anything like stock.
The earphones come in a solid, two-piece plastic container that also includes a shirt clip, three pairs of foam, a warranty card (in Chinese, of course), and a matte-finish VIP card (for claiming warranty service, I assume). Releasing the earphones from their stock box bind isn’t difficult, as only an inch of twist tie gets in your way. You’ll immediately need to use a pair of the included foam if you don’t want any dirt getting into the 16mm transducers.
These particular earphones have been through about 100 hours of various genres of music, so the drivers have already flexed enough and have settled in to their optimal performance level. At first listen, using a 6th-Generation iPod Classic into a 9V-powered amplifier via line-out, it’s easy to realize that this 32-ohmer is not power hungry at all. The main downside of not being demanding, though, is that there is a tendency for distortion to come early as the volume increases.
The PAA-1 Pro makes its sound signature known right from the very start. It is very warm and has deep, enveloping bass that can extend even lower if paired with a good amplifier. Short of sounding like a V in equalization, thankfully there’s respectable midrange presence unlike most generic earbuds that either lack mids or are all mids with nothing else left. Even at low volumes, which I personally think is how the PAA-1 Pro should be listened to, the warmth and resolution of these earphones continue to be its main strengths, provided that you’re in a fairly quiet environment.
This is probably where most earphones fall short, and the PAA-1 Pro is no exception: isolation. Since it is not an IEM (in-ear monitor), it is open-backed and hardly provides any respite should you happen to find yourself in a noisy area. However, when used indoors, the lack of isolation becomes less of an issue and reveals the extended detail retrieval of the PAA-1 Pro.
With regards to musical genres, the PAA-1 Pro shines best with contemporary pop, electronic, dance, R&B, and some genres of rock. The dominance of its bass response can have a tendency to veil some of the midrange on select genres. Its particular midrange magic lies in the high range of 6.5 to 7kHz, almost within the realm of treble. This sorely misses the vocal range, and as such, some voices sound slightly pinched. But to really exemplify the strengths of the PAA-1 Pro, listen to synthesizer-focused electronic music (such as progressive house), to hear beautifully textured saws (sawtooth waves) and clear, palpable sub-bass. Also, depending on the genre, the general sound presentation may change with the PAA-1 Pro. For most pop rock songs, the sound is very forward and engaging. Drop in some chamber music and it changes to being relaxed and laid-back. In either case, you are immersed in the music with a level of intimacy very few earphones can give.
To conclude, the Hisoundaudio PAA-1 Pro has a clear and definite target market–today’s young generation that listen to deep, rumbling, synth-lined beats. But it’s definitely not hard to appreciate the warm and intimate sound signature coupled with the unobstructed soundstage width and clarity that only open-backed designs can possess.
Hisoundaudio sure has built a keeper in the PAA-1 Pro.
Supercell – LOVE & ROLL
Today is a Beautiful Day
John Legend – Used to Love U
Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal
Al Di Meola – Tangata Del Alba
Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar, Vol. 1: Music of Astor Piazzolla
Coldplay – U.F.O.
Proposed, flower, wolf
DJMAX TECHNIKA Original Soundtrack
Infected Mushroom – Avratz
Converting Vegetarians: The Other Side
Samantha James – Breathe You In
The Salzburg Baroque Chamber Orchestra – Summer “Presto”
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons
deadmau5 – A City in Florida
The Carpenters – Rainy Days and Mondays
Death Angel – Mistress of Pain
Fall from Grace