I have to admit that I am very new to Pai Audio (3.14 Audio), only knowing that they are Chinese IEM manufacturer that famed their name in Head-fi with their BA IEM, especially the multi BA MR3 and MR4, the positive review seems overwhelming in Head-fi right after the production, I am very interested in Pai Audio’s products as they seemed to hit the price point correctly, they are not insanely priced at least, and what really interest me is the Custom in Ear alike design that is usually reserved for top tier custom made IEM only, don’t ask me how they did it but somehow they managed to do it, did I mentioned that the DR1 (Single dynamic driver) that I reviewed today is just priced at about 40USD and it is also featured a MMCX adapter replaceable cable that you can easily replace, all of these for just mere 40USD.
Pai Audio (3.14 Audio or π Audio) DR1, 40USD
DR1 itself is quite an interesting IEM as I have told you, it looks like a CIEM (Custom in Ear Monitor) and not only looks alike, it is also very comfortable to put on and seal out a lot of noise, the cable is replaceable with MMCX adapter which you can easily get in audio world although might be pricey, the price of the IEM is only 40USD which is really very cheap, it is a budget IEM that contain a lot of feature that mainly aimed at entry level audiophiles, or anyone that appreciated better sound quality that their cheap/Earpod can provided.
DR1 is not particularly difficult to drive but at 32Ohm of impedance and 120dB of sensitivity, it is a little harder to drive than your regular IEM, my Meizu MX4 can easily drive it nicely and more than comfortable listening volume. My DR1 came in Blue colour which is quite nice looking, it come in red, black, gold, orange and shiny colour too, for those who like their IEM to be outstanding looking might like to try the shiny colour option.
The build quality is very solid and made with good quality of material, it seems like able to take a lot of beating and I wouldn’t worry to use it from day to day, the build quality and finishing is very assuring to me. The size of the shell is quite big but it suit me nicely and not easy to come out, the noise isolation capability is admirable too, comfort level is very good, it is easy to say that from ergonomics point of view DR1 performed admirably.
I have paired Pai Audio DR1 with Stoner Acoustics UD125, M2Tech Evo DAC Two Plus with Teac HA501, Centrance Audio DACPort HD, JDS Labs The Element also directly out from my Meizu MX4. PC as my source with Foobar 2000 and lossless music, also streaming through my Android smartphone with music streaming services with KKBox Premium and Spotify Premium
DR1 is indeed more sensitive to bass response than regular IEM, but it is way more than that. I will say the mid is slightly backward than being balance but it is not really muted or cause any veiled/boxy vocal/mid, the mid is quite nice with good sound body, overall the sound characteristic is rich and smooth sounding, tilted to warm side with ample of bass body and response.
I have no problem listening to vocal music with DR1, it is quite full body, while it is not technically neutral nor balance sounding but I believe Pai Audio was not intended to make DR1 sounded that way either, it is more like a fun sounding IEM to me, in a good way. It is fun but you won’t get those regular bassy IEM that probably have veiled mid that made you unbearable with vocal music, or bloomed by the heavy and overdone bass, or spiky treble response, fortunately I am happy to report that DR1 is not sounded that way, it has a nice sound and fun tuning but not overdone, for the money you paid I believe you will be happy with it. The treble is muted but not completely absent, unfortunately there is some so ever slightly sibilant in some of the female vocal music, but it will play your Rihanna’s hip hop song just fine and enjoyable, I played Michael Jackson’s The Essential album and really enjoyed the album with DR1. The sound is laid back and bassy, but somehow I managed to like how rock and metal music played on DR1 although it is not really fast sounding, I played some AC/DC and love the attack and decay of the sound, yes, the sound is not completely balance and neutral but who cares? It is fun.
If you are audiophiles, I mean those old school audiophiles that only play Classical music, you will indeed get better sounding IEM for same money, but honestly I found that DR1 is not that bad at all too, it played well with Jazz music especially smooth jazz that has zeal bass, it is smooth and enjoyable.
The soundstage is quite good but not extraordinary, it is wide and has good depth. Instrument separation is okay, nothing to shout about here but DR1 is not too bad in this regard, it actually has better soundstage than some similar price IEM. Detail level is good for the price but it is nothing special, nor was it intended to tune to be super detailed anyway.
When I crank up the volume there is some distortion and music do get a little messy sometimes but it is not that bad, and to be fair it is selling cheaply so we can’t expect Pai Audio will put some super high tech dynamic driver in the DR1, so I am not complaining here, fortunately though, you will really need to crank the music up to dangerous volume level to observe this issue.
Pai Audio might be new but they are simply making any IEM and sell to you. You will appreciate their hard work through their tuning of their IEM, DR1 is good enough for the price, I mean, there is so much feature you get for the money and the fitting is so good, the audio quality is quite good too especially if you enjoyed metal, Rock, Hip hop, regular pop and Jazz music, if you intended to use it when you are doing sport activity then it will be a good choice too, it stay tight in my ear and seal out a lot of noise, I really like the tuning of DR1 albeit Pai Audio can make it better by putting a better dynamic driver in it, but no complain as it is selling quite cheap, it is beautiful and it sounded alright.