It's a Headphones Thing

A Headphones Reviews Blog

Review: Phonak Audéo PFE 132

Prior to the review, I would like to thank Tom and Sandra for the review sample.

 

Phonak is one of the world’s leading hearing aids manufacturers, founded in Switzerland more than 60 years ago, in 1947. Fast forward to 2008, Phonak has introduced the “Audéo” brand, their earphones brand. Audéo’s first product was the “Perfect Fit Earphones” (aka PFE). The product had got a lot of rave reviews, and now, almost 4 years later, the Audéo brand has established very well, they’re now a much known brand behalf of the audiophiles.

Before we start, here are the Phonak’s Audéo PFE 132 technical specifications:

Driver

Balanced Armature

Frequency response

5 Hz – 17 kHz

Sensitivity

Gray filter – 109 dB SPL/mW, 1 kHz
Black filter -107 dB SPL/mW, 1 kHz

Nominal impedance

32 Ohm

Weight

14 g, 0.5 oz

Plug

3,5 mm 4 pole jack

Cable length

120 cm, 3.9 ft

 

Packaging: The PFE 132 comes in quite big white-cardboard package. On the front side, there’s an image of the PFE 132s, and under the image there’s the “Made For – iPod, iPhone and iPad label, due to the fact that the 132s includes the standard Apple three buttons control, and also a microphone. Next to that label, what I believe to be Audéo’s motto is printed: “Great Sound. Perfect Fit. Designed For You.” There’s a magnetic “door”. When opened, the PFE 132s is revealed in its whole glory, through a small, round plastic window. When opening the package, there’s a round cardboard with the earphones and their 3 buttons control attached to. Weirdly, the earphones do not come with any eartip attached to them, in my opinion it’s because that the company wanted to let anyone choose their eartip alone. The packaging is pretty impressive, nice and well designed, and it looks like one of the packages that you look at first when you enter to a store.

 All of the supplied accessories

Accessories: The PFE 132 comes with a very nice set of accessories: A small fabric case (which has two storage sections and can fit every pocket), Three silicone eartips pairs (Small, Medium and Large), one pair of black medium T-130 Comply Tips (which are custom made by Comply for Audéo’s line), A cleaning tool, A pair of black silicone ear guides, A small box which contains 4 more pairs of acoustic filters and a filters changing tool. A few more pairs of tips would’ve been nice, but the accessories are good for the 132’s price, Phonak didn’t cut the corners at all. The case is a brilliant idea, as it’s a lot better to put all of the accessories in one of the storage sections, and the IEMs in the other one and not together, so the accessories won’t get tangled with the cable of the IEMs, etc.  The rating is 9/10.

 

Building Quality and Design: The lightweight plastic housings aren’t the most durable looking and feeling ones I’ve ever seen, though they do look pretty well built and classy designed. The housings are shaped in a pretty weird way, to get better comfortabiltiy and fit. The nozzles are quite short and thick, they don’t seem to be the ones that use to break while changing tips. The strain reliefs are exactly in the right size and they feel like one which will do their job quite good, they’re strong and flexible at the same time. A weird thing is that the cable is very thin before the Y splitter, but after it, it becomes very thick. The thin cable piece is very thin, even thinner than the Apple iBuds’ cable. The PFE 132s is supposed to be worn over the ear, so the designers probably designed the cables this way, so it won’t cause too much weight on the user’s ears. The 3 buttons control is placed a few centimeters after the right earpiece, exactly in the right place, as it’s pretty close to the user’s mouth. There’s a lack of strain reliefs in the 3 buttons’ two sides, with some abuse, the cable in that spot can get easily torn apart. The cable ends with an angled 3.5mm jack covered with glossy black plastic. The plug itself is gold plated. The rating is 8.7/10.

 Comfort / Fit: These are called “Perfect Fit Earphones”, so I had pretty high expectations for the comfort and fit section. My expectations were greatly answered, the comfort that these offer is one of the best I’ve ever experienced with IEMs. The lightweight housings and cables, the special shaped housings, which fit my ears perfectly, and the great silicone ear guides make this product to deserve its name. Another addition to the already great comfort are the Comply tips, they make the fit less tight and softer, in ratio to the silicone tips. The comfort is absolutely outstanding; the rating for this section is 10/10. 

 

Microphone and Control Performance: The microphone’s performance is good, the sound is clear and clean, and it does its work. On the other hand, I’ve had a few problems with the controls: It didn’t play the next track as it should’ve had when double pressing on the middle button, and after a lot of time I’ve tried it, it got a little bit weird, the music started to play fast, but after a second the control got ok. The rating for this section is 8/10.

Isolation and Microphonics: The isolation is quite average, mainly due to the not so deep insertion, but when changing the stock silicone tips to the supplied Comply tips, it increases a lot. Microphonics are almost not found, they’re there, but in a very tiny amount, almost not felt. The rating for this section is 7.5/10.

the acoustic filters

Sound Quality: I’ve found the sound of the PFE 132s to be very dependant from the eartips used. When I listened to them with the silicone eartips, the sound was lacking some low end weight, and the sound was really flat and balanced, but when I changed to the Comply tips, the sound has changed its characteristics: The bass got more body and felt fuller, the treble got more detailed, etc.  Also, the acoustic filters didn’t really change the overall sound for me; I didn’t really notice any difference between the gray filter and the green filters. For this review I listened to the PFE 132s with the green filters (supposed to provide bass and treble boost and to give more V-shaped sound signature, I noticed they added a bit of warmness and smoothness), but as I said, the sound didn’t really change in ratio to the gray filters (which are supposed to give the midrange a boost. They sounded a bit more balanced and neutral to me).

The sound in this review will be described as to when using Comply tips, which in my opinion, give the best sound out of these, they’re very recommended.

The Bass is smooth, punchy enough and pretty controlled. It feels quite full and it includes enough weight and body. It’s not lacking, but it isn’t there in huge amounts too. It also has a quite good speed, like most of the other balanced armatures.

The Mids are warm, sweet and very clear, almost transparent. Like the bass, they’re quite bodied and full, not lacking. They’re not recessed but not forward either, they have a good place in the middle.

The Treble has a good extension and it’s quite smooth, accurate and clear. Its presentation is great, it’s quite analytical but enjoyable too.

The Sound-Stage is quite closed and small, it feels quite claustrophobic. The instruments separation is pretty good.

Overall, the sound signature is quite musical, analytical and clear. The rating for this section is 8.5/10 in ratio to the PFE 132s price.

In conclusion, the Phonak Audéo PFE 132 provide the user with one of the best comfort in the IEMs world, a great, quite balanced sound, pretty good building quality and a nice set of accessories. For its price, it offers a quite good value for the money, it’s a great competitor in the lower than 250$ IEMs market. The overall score is 8.9/10. 

Pros: Great fit and comfort, pretty balanced sound, good set of accessories, Microphone and 3 buttons control.

Cons: The isolation is average only, Lack of strain reliefs near to the control which can cause the cable to get easily torn.

The Phonak Audéo PFE 132 IEMs can be purchased for 240$ through Audéo’s site, Amazon, or through various Audéo authorized dealers, which can be found via the dealers locator in Audéo’s site.

 

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One response to “Review: Phonak Audéo PFE 132

  1. Pingback: REVIEW: Phonak Audéo PFE 232 « It's a Headphones Thing

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