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Padmate Pamu Z1 Review ANC Earbuds With Fast Wireless Charging Case

Thursday, September 09, 2021


Different from the norm, the Padmate Pamu Z1 break the mould of conventional true wireless earbuds with a thick stem design that resembles a pair of eskimo boots! A couple of other features that make the Pamu Z1 stand out are an interchangeable belt and a backlit rubber pulltab on the side of the charging case to feedback battery status. The Pamu Z1 charging case integrates a 500mAh lithium ion battery, as well as a fast wireless charging coil that can recharge the charging case in just 1 hour when using a 10W fast wireless charger.

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The Pamu Z1 charging case also supports 7.5W wireless charging (1.5 hours charging time) and standard 5W wireless charging (2 hours charging time). Via cable, the Pamu Z1 charging case takes 1.5 hours to recharge. The Pamu Z1 charging case weighs 40 grams and measures 6.5cm long, 4cm high and 2.5cm thick. It can stand upright despite the USB-C charging port being located on the base of the charging case.

The Pamu Z1 earbud stem measures 2.5cm long, 1.5cm wide and 0.5cm thick and, it has a hard plastic construction with a matte plastic finish on the outer side and a glossy plastic finish on the inside. Despite not having rubbrized material, the plastic is grippy, which helps anchor the earbuds. The earbuds fit comfortably, thanks to the low weight (6 grams per earbud) and the stem and short nozzle design so, the earbuds don't insert all the way into the earcanal like in-ear earphones.
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The size of the stem makes the Z1 earbuds bulkier than most true wireless earbuds. But, on the plus side, the Pamu Z1 earbuds have good battery life - longer than the Pamu Quiet Mini earbuds - but not as long lasting as the Pamu Slide earbuds. With anc turned on, the Z1 earbuds deliver up to 6 hours playtime at full (100%) volume and up to 24 hours total with the charging case, which provides three extra charges. With anc turned off, battery life isapproximately 8 hours. The charging time of the Pamu Z1 earbuds is 1.5 hours. The earbuds also have a battery status led (on top of the stem), which is very discreet so, you don't even know it's there.

The Pamu Z1 earbuds use hybrid (feedforward/feedback) active nosie cancellation (anc) so, each earbud is equipped with two anc microphones, as well as two microphones for calls per earbud. One of those mics it's an ENC type noise reduction mic, which is the best at removing background noise during calls but, it does make voice calls sound clinical/flat sounding. The feedforward (outside) mic is located on the front of the stem, just above the touch control area, while the feedback mic is located near the nozzle. The Pamu Z1 earbuds also feature a pinhole reset button, which is located on the underside of the stem.
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When pairing the earbuds you will see two instances (Pamu Z1 LE and Pamu Z1) show up under bluetooth devices, which is a bit confusing because only one of them works (Pamu Z1). The bluetooth 5.2 chip also supports SBC and AAC codecs but does not support absolute bluetooth volume nor multipoint connection. Switching between the earbuds is seamless so, you can go from stereo to mono without the audio pausing or disconnecting. That said, there is a 4 second re-connection delay and, you will hear a voice prompt before reconnection. The Pamu Z1 earbuds cannot be paired individually with seperate devices.
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The Pamu lettering on the front of the charging case feels a bit out of place. It is very prominent and pad printed, which slightly cheapens the overall premium look of the earbuds. Interestingly enough, the lettering can be actually removed by detaching the centre piece, which is interchangeable, although Padmate doesn't seem to be selling interchangeable pieces yet.The Pamu Z1 charging case has a grippy matte finish, which hides fingerprints well. The lid closes magnetically and has a strong hinge which keeps the lid open without flopping.
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Pamu Z1 earbuds come with mobile app support via the Pamu app, which is free to download but, it requires an account registration. The app lets you switch off the anc, as well as select transparency mode or anc mode. There is also the option to select whether you want to operate two modes (transparency and anc) or three modes (transparency, anc and off). There is no voice prompt when toggling between anc and transparency mode, other than a faint beep to indicate the listening mode.
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Being able to switch off anc and transparency mode is useful because you can use the Pamu Z1 like regular non-anc earbuds, which makes a huge difference when listening to music. With some anc earbuds, you don't have an "off" option, which means anc or transparency mode is always turned on. The Z1 earbuds also have a high passive noise cancellation that provides up to 40dB natural noise reduction, which makes the anc performance.
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The Pamu app features two game mode settings: low (140ms latency) and ultra-low(130ms latency), as well as six EQ presets. There is no EQ band equalizer though. From the Pamu app, you can also remap the touch control functions. There are a total of six functions available (skip to previous, skip to next, volume up, volume down, anc and voice assistant) but, you can only have two functions per earbud via double tap and long press. The touch sensitivity requires a firm tap so, it's not overly sensitivie, which is a good thing as it prevents accidental presses.
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Another advantage of bulkier earbuds it's that they naturally sound better because there is more space and, the Z1 earbuds are no exception. The larger body allows the 10mm dynamic drivers to pump a lot of bass without muddling the higher notes. The Pamu Z1 have the same IPX4 rating as the Pamu Quiet earbuds.
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The Pamu Z1 earphones come inside a hard cardboard box with a thick foam insert, which is nice for safely storing the earbuds long term. The included silicone eartips have a premium feel to them with a standard bowl shape. The tips are soft with a thick bore, which helps passive noise isolation and bass response. Despite the oval shape, you can also fit standard round bore eartips, as long as the bore isn't too stiff. A branded thin PU leather drawstring pouch and an unbranded USB-C charging cable are also included. You can buy the the Pamu Z1 directly from Padmate and get 20% off, using discount code NEWZ1.
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