Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
Since the beginning of 2019, we have looked at a couple of true wireless earphones, but they often give off a futuristic vibe even if the concept was introduced a few years back. The paplio Dash feel a bit lesser in quality than the last pair I reviewed, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, though these two are fighting in completely different brackets. My colleague Jonathan also looked at the Philips Upbeat True Wireless SHB2505. The Dash comes in a glossy black package. Its full black body is combined with a grey "p" that stands for paplio. Unfortunately, this shiny finish means we can see handling marks and surface scratches easily, especially as it is made up of all plastic. These buds seem pretty chunky, as they protrude out a bit more than the aforementioned Sennheisers. As a whole, the two earphones weigh approximately 11g, or 5.5g on each side. Their plastic build and construction are solid, though they do not feel as refined as some other true wireless earphones.
As for the controls, a single button on each side provide users with different actions depending on the combination of presses and/or holding. Play/Pause, Next, and Previous track can be executed with a single, double, or triple press, respectively. Pressing and holding in various times can allow users to reject calls, activate the voice assistant, or manually turn on or off each side. You can also change the Bluetooth to a mono mode and only send data to a single side. Finally, if you press and hold long enough, you can reset the Dash to its original settings. Unfortunately, you have to change the volume directly on your device, as the paplio Dash does not provide any controls to do so. I generally found these controls easy to get used to, but I would have liked some audible cues when executing press and hold functions prior to actually performing the action.
The paplio Dash connect to your devices via Bluetooth 5.0. This should not be too surprising, as most true wireless earphones utilize this recent revision of Bluetooth. This includes supported codecs of SBC and AAC. SBC, or Subband Coding, is the default Bluetooth audio codec with decent audio quality and low processing power requirements. This codec maxes out at 328 kbps. AAC, or Advanced Audio Coding, is preferred by Apple's devices and their iPhones, and maxes out at 250 kbps. Despite having a lower maximum bitrate, AAC is still known to offer better sound quality. Unfortunately, we do not have any support for Qualcomm's aptX or aptX HD.
With a closer look at the paplio Dash, you can see the bulkier nature of these true wireless in-ear monitors. Internally, the 5mm dynamic drivers have a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which matches the normal hearing range for a human being. It has a rated sensitivity is 97dB. The drivers are directed to aim into your ear for a direct and transparent sound reproduction. The sleeves are there to aim at the user's ear canals while also creating a passive noise canceling effect. paplio includes three different sizes of silicon sleeves. They also have two sizes of ear fins included for more security. Even so, I found the Dash would sometimes come loose even after trying multiple sizes of sleeves and hooks. Your fit will vary depending on your ears. Moving on, the paplio Dash have an ingress protection rating of IPX5, which translates to "protection from water projected from a nozzle". I did not necessarily test this protection in this way, but the paplio Dash is a bit more gym-friendly, especially as they can withstand sweat from a user. This is a great feature to see, especially as a lot of true wireless earbud users are found at the gym.
Since there are no cables, the paplio Dash utilize two pogo pins on each side to charge the whole set. In addition, to keep the earphones aligned in the case, magnets are located in the earphones to hold the pair in its position. This keeps the Dash in place inside the case, since they do not easily fall out even when I try to shake them out. The only time these did pop out were when I accidentally dropped the case on the floor. Located near the pogo pins are engraved "L" and "R" letters on the respective side to show users which side the earphones belong on. On the flip side, we have an LED above the printed "p" that flashes red or blue depending on the status. One thing I did not capture in the photos are the two MEMS microphones on each side, which are used for picking up voice during calls or voice assistant actions.
As for the carrying case, the paplio Dash's plastic case doubles as a charger for the headphones. It measures 92mm in length, 36mm in depth, and 32mm in height. This makes the case longer, but slightly shorter and less deep than the case with the Momentum True Wireless. It has a gloss finish with a paplio logo on the top. This top shell is made out of a thinner plastic and is slightly translucent so you can see the indicator lights on the Dash headphones. It also swings open with a press of the button on the outside. At the back, we have another pinhole LED and a micro USB input. The pinhole LED flashes red to show users the battery status of the case itself, depending on the number of flashes it shows. This also only illuminates when the headphones are inside and charging or when the case is plugged in. Otherwise, I would have liked to see the newer USB Type-C plug here.
As the two sides of the paplio Dash are completely disconnected, both sides have a lithium rechargeable battery. The carrying case doubles as a charger and has a battery inside it. As a whole, the headphones should last five hours on one charge, while the carrying case should add an additional fifteen hours of listening for a total of twenty hours. The manufacturer also advertises it can get an extra hour of playback with fifteen minutes of charge and can fully charge in 1.5 hours. In day-to-day use, I found while I was able to achieve this mark with ease. I also really like the fact it lasts twenty hours, which is a full workday longer than the Momentum True Wireless. If you want to turn these headphones off, you can press and hold the button for each side, or plop them in the charging case. Once the paplio Dash completes its charge, it stops charging and stays off until you take them back out.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis