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Pamu Quiet Mini Review Hybrid ANC Earbuds With Bluetooth 5.2

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Once a very sought after feature, active noise cancellation (ANC) has practically become a standard feature a lot of people now expect from earbuds. What's not so standard though, it's hybrid ANC. See, it’s not just how much noise ANC earbuds can reduce but how they reduce it that’s important. Hybrid ANC is the current trend on headphones and with good reason because it combines both types of ANC - feedforward and feedback - using microphones inside and outside to generate the cancelling noise. 
Hybrid ANC is relatively new on earbuds and the latest earbuds to sport them are the Pamu Quiet Mini, which shares the same name as the original Pamu Quiet and even has a similar earbud design, although the charging case is radically different to Pamu Quiet's nifty pocket watch pendulum design! The Quiet Mini earbuds come inside a bathtub style cube-shaped charging case with a lid that flips open upright at 90 degrees. Quiet Mini's lid uses a friction hinge that allows you to keep the lid open ajar, which is useful for air drying the earbuds after sweating in them.
The outer shell of the Pamu Quiet Mini charging case has an off-white matte coated finish, which is noticeably different to the milky white finish inside the charging area and on earbuds themselves. Both the charging case and earbuds handle dirt well without attracting fingerprints or leaving oily smudges. The charging case has a neat battery status led indicator, which is embedded inside the front of the charging case and can only be seen when it lights up. The led light has a breathing effect and will show red when the charging case battery is low (below 30%) and blue (above 30%). There is Pamu branding on top of the lid (laser-printed chrome etching) and alongside the earbud stems. The charging case lid is magnetic, keeping the lid securely closed.
The Pamu Quiet Mini charging case bathtub design, allows the earbuds to lay flat inside the charging case rather than upright, which makes removing the earbuds from the charging case a little bit easier. The Pamu Quiet Mini earbuds pair easily, although you do have to take them out as they cannot be connected while sitting inside the charging case.
Once connected, the earbuds status leds will flash blue every few seconds during audio playback. There is no re-connection delay and, you can switch between earbuds without the audio pausing. Earbud switching (stereo to mono) is seamless for the most part, aside from the voice prompt saying "reconnecting". You cannot connect both earbuds to separate devices and, there is no multipoint connection pairing.

The overall footprint is compact. The Quiet Mini earbuds weigh 5.5 grams each, while the charging case weighs 45 grams. The earbud stem measures 2.5cm long, 7mm wide and 7mm thick. The charging case measures 6cm, long, 6cm wide and 2.5cm high. The Quiet Mini earbuds have the exact same alien-shape design with a thick stem, an elongated driver housing and a status led on the back that looks like a terminator eye. Each driver housing integrates a single 10mm dynamic driver, a 45 mAh battery and a Bluetooth 5.2 chip. The Quiet Mini driver diaphragms are made of a composite: polymer resin (pen) and titanium, which is an interesting combination since most headphones/earphones traditionally use metal diaphragms (e.g. titanium or aluminum).
There are a total of three microphones on each earbud, all of them Knowles. The speaking microphone is a Knowles mems microphone located at the tip of the stem. It has noise suppression and works well at cutting out a lot of background noise while keeping your voice natural sounding and amplified. The other two are Knowles noise cancelling microphones for the hybrid ANC (active noise cancellation) system. The ANC performance is good when it comes to blocking out low frequency sounds (e.g. car engines). Voices and other high frequency noise like humming sounds don't get suppressed as much as with the regular Pamu Quiet.
Hybrid ANC on earbuds is rather unique since it is a feature typically found on headphones with earcups where one microphone is positioned on the outside of the earcup (feedforward ANC) and the other microphone is positioned inside the earcup (feedback). On the Quiet Mini earbuds, the feedforward ANC has been positioned outside the status led pinhole, while the feedback ANC has been positioned near the nozzle.
The Pamu Quiet Mini have an IPX4 water resistant rating (same as Pamu Quiet), which is considerably lower than the Pamu Slide Mini model, which is IPX6 rated. The Pamu Slide model is also IPX6 rated and also comes with a nifty charging case that functions as a reverse wireless charging pad. The Pamu Quiet Mini charging case doesn't integrate reverse wireless charging but, it can be charged via a standard 5W Qi wireless charging pad, taking 3 hours to fully charge.
The Pamu Quiet Mini 500mAh charging case can also be charged with a cable via USB-connection, taking 2 hours to charge. A full charge can recharge the earbuds three times over and there is quick charge (1 hour runtime from 10 minute recharge). Runtime at 70% volume is 4 hours with ANC on and 4 hours 40 minutes with ANC off.
The Pamu Quiet Mini earbuds take 2 hours to charge and feature very responsive touch controls that only require a light touch to activate, rather than a tap, which is nice although it can sometimes cause accidental touches. Be default, you can control skipping of tracks, play/pause, take calls (answer/end), voice assistance and ANC. Volume is not supported by default but, it can be enabled via a mobile app, the Pamu Quiet app, which does not require registration/signup or location permission in order to use and/or save new button settings for the earbuds. The app's main screen is simple. It has a slider bar to that lets you toggle from Transparency mode, ANC on and ANC off.
The Pamu Quiet Mini app also gives you access to each earbud's battery level status, as well as firmware updates and button functions, which can be remapped by ticking the desired box. You can only have two functions per earbud, one of them being a double tap and the other a long press, which is always better for controlling volume. There is also two pre-set modes for changing the ANC toggle pattern. Mode 1 has Transparency/ANC on, while Mode 2 has Transparency/ANC on/ANC off. You also have the ability to disable the audible beep you hear when toggling but there is no way to tweak the sound as the Pamu Quiet app does not have an EQ (equalizer) built-in.
Speaking of beeps, you will hear a voice prompt when maxing out the volume, which is quieter compared to other earbuds volume output. As you can hear from the volume test of the video above, the Pamu Quiet cannot be heard, although the volume is loud enough when the earbuds are inserted in the ears. The Pamu Quiet app also has a "game mode" function designed to work similarly to aptX-LL by reducing latency so, you can play mobile games without lag. Game mode reduces a good amount of lag, although also reduces the audio quality a bit. Speaking of aptX, Quiet Mini's Bluetooth 5.2 chip does not support aptX, other than SBC and AAC codecs.
When toggling between Transparency and ANC, there is no voice prompt or beep to alert you of the function you are in. That said, you can easily tell ANC is enabled because external sounds become reduced and the bass in the audio gets boosted. The sound signature does not get altered when Transparency mode is enabled. In fact, the sound signature is just the same as when ANC is disabled, which is clear and balanced; hence vocals and instruments aren't overpowered by the bass nor is the mids/treble muddled. 
The volume sensitivity seems slightly lower on the Pamu Quiet Mini than on the regular Pamu Quiet. Transparency mode works well too, picking up sound around you clearly. An unbranded charging cable is included along with a thin protein leather pouch and two sets of extra white color matching silicone eartips which come inside a plastic ear tip holder. You can buy the Pamu Quiet Mini from Padmate. Check out the review of the Pamu Nano earbuds.

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