Casual readers may not know much about the Pamu brand, but it has been making headphones for years, although it stays mostly in the earbud market. Its biggest claim to fame, to me, is unique design language.
Take the Pamu Scroll, for example. Most truly wireless earbuds come with a simple clamshell type case that you plop your earbuds in when they need to charge. The Scroll sort of unwrap, much like an old school scroll. An interesting choice in terms of design, to be sure.
Does Pamu do anything fun or odd with its recently introduced Explore over-ear headphones? Let’s dive into a review.
I tend to lump box contents in with the build quality. Off the bat it’s pretty impressive with a nice hard shell carry case for these headphones. I always like when I get a decent case with my headphones. This one may not be super stylish, but it’ll get the job done. You’ll also find an auxiliary cable and USB-C cable in the box.
On to the actual headphones, they have a decent heft to them. They are not overly heavy but there is a good amount of weight.
My first quibble with the Explore is that the entire thing is made out of plastic. While technically not an issue, I would like to see a some metal in there –especially for the $199 price tag. With that said, they do have the fairly standard creaks and sounds you get from plastic. I would imagine that the sound will become worse over time.
The headband and ear cups have a real soft and nice padding to them. On the ear cups you’ll find the touch controls, “rocket lights”, while the bottom is where you locate the power switch, charge port, and 3.5mm.
On most headphones the ear cups rock up and down a bit to accommodate for different size heads. These, for whatever reason do not. They have a very angular design to them, which on my head make them press harder at the bottom of my ear than the top.
This creates two problems for me. One, they’re not super comfortable; I can feel the pressure difference and it’s distracting. And two, I wear glasses. When I listen to these with my glasses on it degrades the sound quality considerably.
Speaking of distractions, when I do have my glasses on the “rocket lights” flash constantly and create a glare on my lenses when they do.
I hate sounding so negative, but there is one more thing that I had trouble with: touch controls. They are insanely sensitive. If you have to adjust these at all, I guarantee you will activate the touch controls when you do. Even if you try extra hard to make sure you don’t touch the outside of the ear cup at all.
One positive I can take from this is battery life. Pamu claims 27 hours on the Explore. During my testing, I was consistently getting about 30 hours between 65-70% volume. I didn’t test the fast charge capabilities, but considering the battery life, I wouldn’t doubt the 10 minutes of charging provides five hours of playtime.
This is usually my favorite part of testing headphones and on paper the Pamu Explore doesn’t disappoint. As far as codecs go it has pretty much everything you’re looking for in a good pair of headphones, aptX, aptX HD, SBS, and AAC.
Before I get too far, I’d like to remind you that if you wear glasses you might want to pass on these. Thin wire frames may be okay, but plastic frames impact the sound experience, breaking “the seal” around your ear and losing a lot of the finer detail in music.
That said, while listening to the Pamu Explore with my contacts in, I would put the sound quality at decent. But, if I’m factoring in the $199 price tag, I would put the sound quality at almost bad. It pains me to say all of this because I really wanted to like these.
The bass extension is actually really nice. It’s tight, and not all over the place and it does hit you right in the ear hole. On bass-heavy songs the bass just sucker punches the mid range right in the gut.
To round out the soundstage, the highs just feel a little recessed to me and lack the clarity I was hoping for. Overall, I think the Pamu Explore suffer from a lack of separation in the soundstage. Everything is right next to each other and the bass just bullies everyone else around.
Taking everything into consideration, from packaging to sound quality, there’s a lot left to be desired with the Pamu Explore. Pamu gets some things very right, (nice hard shell case, USB-C, battery, and even bass response), but the things it gets wrong, it gets very wrong. To recap, this includes the overall sound quality, over-sensitive touch controls, the rocket lights, general design of the headphones. I simply can’t recommend these. I want to, I just can’t.
You can learn more about the Pamu Explore at the Padmate website where you can also purchase them.