Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis
Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.
As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it is quite a paradox haha. Tests were conducted primarily wirelessly via Bluetooth. I mainly used a Google Pixel 3a XL, which has support for AAC. After over 50 hours of break-in time -- well above typically required period -- we put the paplio Dash to the tests. All tracks were uncompressed or high bitrate files.
Starting where I always do, the paplio Dash performed alright in the lowest region of frequencies, though I did notice some deficiencies. The bass was present and adequate in amount. I may not be a bass head, but I do like a rich low-end. Unfortunately, this was not the strongest of areas for the Dash with a bass that left a less than rounded feeling in my ears. The lack of clarity in this area also caused it to sound less defined than I would have liked.
As for the middle region, I heard a more bottom-heavy midrange and a slightly recessed sound in the upper middle region. Instruments like pianos and acoustic guitars were reproduced with a mostly natural sound, but it lacked the full wooden resonance I might have expected. Vocalists in this region sounded natural overall. Even so, the midrange from the paplio Dash lacked thickness of detail and richness in this region, partly due to the lesser high midrange.
Finally, at the top region, the recessed upper midrange continued into the trebles. Vocalists in this region, including higher-pitched female vocals, were a bit dry at times. Higher instruments like violins, electric guitars, and percussion elements like high hat clashes suffered from a clashy, dry feel here too. Overall, I think the paplio Dash produced a V-shaped sound with a roll off at the higher end. This is what I would normally classify as a fun-sounding signature, especially with its greater emphasis in the outer regions. However, each of these regions suffered from some cleanness and clarity that could have been addressed for a truly fun experience.
As for soundstaging and imaging, there are notable physical limitations with the paplio Dash that hold it back from performing well in this area. The smaller 5mm drivers along with the closed-back design of the earphones make it hard to provide an open sound. As such, music sounded like it came from a narrow source and lacked in both width and depth. Voices that normally would have been able to differentiate distance and direction seemed closer together than what I was used to. Again, this is in part due to the physical nature of the paplio Dash, but I think improvements could have been made here.
In heavier circumstances with more layers and elements in music, I noticed the paplio Dash never lost a voice or a sound, but the devil is in the details and unfortunately, we lost a few devils along the way. This was more noticeable with voices in different frequency regions, as we lacked clarity with more layers. Layers started to muddy and merge together in these situations. I also heard some notable dips across the layers with a lack of smooth transitions here. As we mentioned previously, I think the paplio Dash can be cleaned up as there was a bit of a muffle heard in the earphones across all regions. Finally, sound isolation was alright here, as there was a bit of noise leakage both in and out while wearing these earbuds.
In terms of daily usability, the paplio Dash had excellent battery life. Its 5 plus 15 hours battery life meant I went several days without charging the Dash, and I actually measured it myself to ensure it met specifications. The wireless range was excellent, giving me some distance from the audio source without any notable drops or stutters. Latency was a bit noticeable in videos and more so in games, which can be concerning for some users.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis