The Padmate PaMu Unique is a competitively priced TWS featuring aptX, BT5.0, and up to 40 hours total battery life. It is priced at $89
Disclaimer: The Padmate PaMu Unique sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank Padmate for this opportunity.
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Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
Padmate PaMu Unique
If you’re looking for something 'unique' then this is a good buy. It might not have end game sound quality or even audiophile quality sound for that matter. It doesn’t have bad sound quality but I’ve said it before.
What do you get when you take the earbuds from the PaMu Slide and bundle them with the charging case of the PaMu Scroll? You get the PaMu Unique of course. Padmate has decided to take two of their highest selling TWS models and combine them together to introduce this model into today’s market.
Padmate is a big retailer when it comes to TWS models. The PaMu Unique is being offered at $89.99 USD at the time of writing which is a huge discount from the listed $199 USD retail price. They’re offered with a one year warranty and 24/7 customer support plus a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The PaMu Unique TWS was sent to us for an honest review and we thank Padmate for the opportunity.
The PaMu Unique gets its name from being well, unique. It comes with some scroll-like magnetic covers that wrap themselves around the charging case in order to change their color and appearance.
As mentioned before this new TWS model is a combination of the earbuds from The PaMu Slide and the charging case from the PaMu Scroll. The major change is in the scrolls themselves.
The unit itself comes with three different scrolls or wraps. We will call them ‘scroll wraps’. There are 6 different types of scroll wrap patterns in total that are available but at the time of purchase you’ll have to choose from the two choices given and each choice includes three of the different patterns available. The 2 choices given are designated as charging case A and charging case B.
These scroll wraps have magnetic edges that cling to the case securely. They’re flexible and they’re made of leather according to Padmate.
UV Printing Technology
The color patterns according to Padmate are not just painted on either. The patterns are produced by a photosensitive reactive liquid that reacts to an LED cold light source lamp and when this liquid is exposed to the light source, the liquid not only forms unique color patterns but also bonds to the leather.
It’s a unique process, no pun intended. Each one produced is claimed to be unique so you won’t find any two alike. Unique is a well-chosen name I’d say.
Qualcomm True Wireless 5.0
The PaMu Unique has the same earbuds as the Slide Mini and they use the Qualcomm QCC3020 2 Mbps Bluetooth 5.0 chipset. This low power consumption chip has become very popular and is being used in various TWS models today.
The Qualcomm QCC3020 operates on 32bit architecture with a CPU clock speed of up to 32 MHz with a programmable Kalimba DSP single-core subsystem at a DSP clock speed of 120MHz.
The driver used is a 6mm dynamic 6-micron ultra-thin composite vibration membrane driver. Padmate’s website tends to spread out their specifications if any are listed. The only specification listed by Padmate on the driver I could find is an impedance of 16 ohms and the above mentioned.
Manufacturers who don’t post technical specifications tend to worry me and make me feel like something is being hidden from the customer. I’m pretty sure the driver in question here is not a custom driver or it would have been stated so.
I have a hunch this driver is a now commonly used driver that has a specification listing of 15Hz to 22kHz with an efficiency of about 102 decibels with a neodymium magnet but don’t quote me on it because it’s just a personal suspicion of mine.
However it doesn’t seem like a bad driver and I think it’s actually being held back by hardware limitation which to me is a common problem with all TWS models.
aptX, SBC and AAC
SBC or aka low complexity sub-band codec plus AAC advanced audio coding is ready to go on this set. It’s a common offering nowadays.
As stated previously the aptX version available is the standard version and it’s not the low latency or HD variant. It works well but I’d prefer the HD variant of course.
The earbuds use the embedded Qualcomm QCC3020 cVc dual-microphone noise reduction system. This implementation works well for conversations. It’s a mono system and not stereo although there are two microphones in each earbud.
The sound quality is acceptable and everyone I spoke to understood everything I said. It does have the typical sound muffling most noise-canceling systems are infamous for.
The touch controls on the PaMu Unique are pretty good with all the features you’ll ever need and expect from a good TWS set. There’s even a command for Siri assist. The touch controls work well for me, are pretty intuitive and responsive. I think Padmate did an excellent job in this area.
The antenna system on the PaMu Slide earbuds are in the stem and are of the LDS type which is claimed to give better performance compared to the usual wire type antenna many others use. LDS stands for Laser Direct Structuring and it’s a process of embedding an antenna into a channel.
The stated range is 33 feet which is also the range posted on the Qualcomm chip but I only got about 30 feet before they go out of range using a Bluetooth 5.0 source in a straight visible line. That is quite acceptable.
I added this section because when I reviewed the PaMu Slide Mini I mentioned I had an issue with auto-pairing. Every time the set went out of range it would not repair when it went back into range. I would have to go through the hassle of reseating the set into the charging case and repeat the pairing process.
However this set did not present this issue. It paired well every time and reconnected just fine when it went out of range and returned close to the source’s range.
This set paired well with everything I had and presented no pairing issues. The earbuds never went out of sync with each other either.
The stem style earbuds are pretty comfortable and have a rubber sheath that keeps the earbuds from slipping out of the ear canal. Looking closely at them they kind of resemble the same shape earbud as the Apple Air Pod Pro, in a manner of speaking.
They’re pretty comfortable and stay put inside the ear. They do give me a slight sore spot inside the ear when I use them for over two hours but that might just be my ears. Each earbud weighs a little over 7 grams.
My only major complaint with the earbuds are with the rubber tips and the system that’s implemented here. If I was an engineer I would never design a TWS or IEM with oval-shaped tips and mounting system and it’s this unit’s worst character for me. No one I know has an oval-shaped ear canal.
The ear tips on the PaMu Unique are well again, unique. But that’s a problem here because you cannot use any other tips other than the ones supplied by Padmate. If you don’t find one that fits properly within the six sizes included then the sound quality will be compromised.
Water-resistance is rated at IPX6 so you’ll be okay if you get caught in the rain. Those kinds of things happen, even to audiophiles.
The cylindrical-shaped charging case is an interesting design. On one end you have the USB type C charging port and on the other you have the charging indicator LEDs which are in a cool looking arrangement. They’re not the usual dot type LED but 4 slits of light in a round formation that indicate charging and battery capacity.
It’s bigger than most charging cases at 37mm round by 96mm long. However the battery capacity is pretty large and should supply the average user or even a heavy user with almost a week’s worth on one charge.
There is no built-in wireless charging capability but Padmate includes a dongle type adapter that fits the Unique’s charging case perfectly and integrates itself into the design of the case itself seamlessly.
The PaMu Unique earbuds have excellent battery life. Each earbud is equipped with an 85mAh battery and I got close to the specified 10 hours of use which is excellent. Nine hours plus was average for me.
The fast-charging capable charging case is equipped with a 400mAh battery. The case is specified to charge in 1.5 hours and I think that’s about right. Padmate claims 30 hours of playtime but I got a bit more actually. I got almost 4 full charges at about 9 hours each run which translates into about 36 hours of playtime.
Packaging and Accessories
It seems black boxes in white sleeves are the in thing nowadays. That’s what you get here. It’s simple, elegant, and not too wasteful. Everything inside is protected in rubber foam.
Once you open up the double-winged box you’ll find the two earbuds, the charging case, a PaMu branded carrying bag, pleather, of course, 5 additional rubber earbuds, and a USB-C charging wire of about 5 inches in length. An instruction booklet and an ear tip size chart are also included.
Separate from the main unit you also receive a black PaMu labeled box with three scroll wraps and another small box with the wireless charging dongle. You get a lot of stuff here.
Before I judge any type of electronic component I always run them for at least 20 hours especially headphones and IEM’s. It’s not so much for break-in because that just might be psychoacoustic adaptation whatever the heck that is. Insert laughter here. I just want to make sure things are not going to fall apart on you and I’d rather have it happen to me than to you.
When I reviewed the PaMu Slide mini with the same earbuds I mentioned the elevated mid-bass. Nothing has changed. The same signature is present here.
The bass at the 20Hz mark is 22 decibels higher than the 500Hz point on PaMu’s frequency response graph. The bass highly bleeds into the midrange. There is also a hump around the 3k region but it’s barely audible. They’re not V-shaped but bass/mid-bass emphasized. The midrange and highs are somewhat subdued especially the midrange.
Hold the extra bass please. The bass on the PaMu Unique is bloated and bleeds into many areas. It digs deep but only if you use an equalizer to reduce the frequencies from around 40Hz to about 400Hz then you’re able to hear the deep bass. The stock mid-bass signature tends to overpower and mask not just the midrange but even the deep bass frequencies as well.
Once you use an equalizer to tame the bass it becomes more controlled and acceptable with a pretty decent tone and decent definition.
It’s not great bass and it won’t satisfy bass heads because the bass is not very dynamic or impactful and it’s of a more soft nature but because of that same soft nature it’s not overbearing or offensive but again just as long as you bring those frequencies down some.
I ran the tone generator sweep test as always on these and did not hear any rattle in the lower frequencies as I did with the Slide Mini earbuds for some reason. I could hear these go down to below 20 Hz with no issues.
Once again the equalizer is your friend here. I apologize for the fact that I keep repeating this because if you leave these as-is you won’t be able to enjoy the decent midrange these can produce.
Once you tame down the bass with an equalizer the midrange comes forward a bit more in contrast to the recessed midrange characteristic of the stock tuning. The midrange is pretty flat and smooth to my ears except for the 3k hump as shown in the graph which is barely detectable. At times it did introduce a slight edginess especially with certain vocals and saxophones.
These drivers produce some pretty good midrange and I believe it to be their best quality.
These earbuds have a pretty flat response in the high-end section from around 4.5 kHz to around 14 kHz plus or minus 5 decibels and then the highs sharply roll off thereafter. It has a few wiggles in the high-frequency range but nothing major.
Once again I ran a sweep tone generator and got lots of noise above 14 kHz. But it’s not present listening to music which is very strange to me. I think anomalies I hear as grain or harshness might be because of this issue. I get cleaner highs when I turn down frequencies below 10 kHz a bit by maybe a couple of decibels.
Although the highs seem to have a decent extension and decent detail they do get somewhat grainy at times. They do have some sparkle. However because of the sharp 14 to 15 kHz roll off they don’t sound too sound sibilant or piercing either.
Imaging and Separation
These have just a touch of width and depth in soundstage but there’s not much height. It’s somewhat narrow but it does extend just a touch beyond the ears. Instrument placement is okay but not the best.
Detail retrieval is just okay. You get some detail but some of it gets lost in the recording. I had to struggle at times to hear details I knew were in songs because of being reproduced faintly.
This set paired well with all my devices and there was no perceivable lag. Probably the average .2 seconds. These are more suited for general use, MP3 sources, streaming services, and hands-free phone use. The earbuds can be used separately just fine as a mono source for phone calls.
I used this set with both Bluetooth 5.0 and 4.2 and didn’t notice any difference in sound quality or transmission range. Isolation is typical. It’s probably about the usual 30 decibels. But since this is highly dependent on the ear tip fit then it’s a coin toss.
SoundPeats Truengine 2
I recently reviewed this TWS and since they’re very similar in price at between 80 to 90 US dollars roughly I thought I’d compare these two. They both have their good points.
What is the Truengine 2 better at? I think it wins in sound quality. There are a few tweaks that have to be done to get there but overall Truengine’s sound quality is superior especially in the high frequencies.
The ear tip system is better on the Truengine 2. You can replace them with aftermarket ones. Therefore you can obtain better sound and isolation plus added comfort.
Where and in what areas do the PaMu Unique win? The PaMu Unique wins in battery life for sure. Battery life on the Unique is about double and I remind you it uses the same Qualcomm QCC3020 chip.
The PaMu also wins in touch functionality. I think the Truengine 2’s touch controls are a work in progress. The PaMu touch controls worked very well for me. What about the funky colors and uniqueness. Appearance-wise the Unique takes the cake. Even if you don’t like the look you have to admire the attempt and effort.
I can already feel people salivating and asking questions in the near future like “will there be a Gucci model”? How about some Nike emblems or perhaps a Hello Kitty version? I think you get my point here. The Choices are endless.
If you’re looking for something ‘unique’ then this is a good buy. It might not have end game sound quality or even audiophile quality sound for that matter. It doesn’t have bad sound quality but I’ve said it before.
The PaMu Unique has excellent battery life and if that’s a plus for you then go for these. They also have great touch controls so there are two reasons for buying these on top of the unique looks.
So there’s more than one reason to recommend the PaMu Unique. Perhaps in the near future Padmate can revise this model with a more common tip mounting system and a leaner bass tuning done through the Kalimba DSP. Perhaps find out what that noise is after 14 kHz and eradicate it. I would definitely sign up for a set and hit that add to cart button at that point.
But for now these are the ones available and it’s up to you to hit that button. You could always use their 30-day return policy if you change your mind.