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Pryma 01 headphones

Pryma 01 headphones

I’m not an audio writer; I’m an audio widow. I’m married to the editor and we live in a house seemingly made out of cardboard boxes. Usually, I’m the silent partner in all this audio stuff, but not this time. You see, when Alan opened the box for the new Pryma headphones from Sonus faber, I wrenched them out of his hands so fast I almost broke two of his fingers. And they aren’t going back. So this is the trade off.

Almost all of my music listening is on headphones now; sometimes to drown out the same piece of music being played over and over again as Alan reviews yet another black box, and sometimes when listening to a lunchtime podcast. But, I must admit, most headphones seem designed for a very male audience in their ‘functional’ black or silver finishes. The brightly coloured Beats and their kin are an alternative, but their looks only seem to work hanging off young ears. What is there in headphones for the more grown-up part of 51% of the population, like me?

Pryma headphones come in five finishes – black carbon fibre with silver fittings and a ‘marsala’ brown leather headband; gloss white with silver fittings and a coffee leather headband; two gloss black variants with a black leather headband; one with silver and one with gold fittings; and a dark, smoky, almost chocolatey grey one with rose gold fittings. We – that is to say ‘I’ – got the rose gold version. Replacement headbands are available to customise your headphones, and replacement magnetically-bonded ear-pads will follow suit.

The Pryma headphones come in a large, elegant presentation case with the kind of ‘blurb’ you might find on perfume bottles. If the style of the Pryma headphones themselves wasn’t enough, the words, “To the style of your shoes to the bag on your shoulder. It’s in the details,” say this is a product for the fashion conscious, and not necessarily the fashion conscious metrosexual man.


I understand that a hi-fi magazine has a mostly male audience, so the stiff and padded headband attaches to the ear-cups using an eyelet and turning clasp arrangement, held in place with a copper and stainless steel buckle. Women reading this have already sussed out how this works from the pictures, and will have at least two handbags that work in the same way. The only added information needed is that the headband is like a padded, oversized Alice band, with leather exterior and plush interior neatly and professionally saddle-stitched in place, complete with the Pryma ‘petal’ stamped into one side. The fit and finish is ‘Prada’ grade. The bottom of each ear-cup has a 2.5mm jack socket and one arm of the Y-shaped cable has a little red loop denoting the right ear, so stereo goes with the cable, not the ear-cup. The rubberised cables have an inline microphone on the right hand cable and meet in a little black Polo mint/Life-Saver. This acts as a great cable tidy and de-tangler, but it does sit very central to your body – as if it were painting a target on your cleavage! Depending on where you sit on the introvert/extrovert scale that could be a good or a bad thing. The headphones come supplied with three grey herringbone bags; one large one for the band and cable, and two small ones for the earcups.

The technical aspects of a pair of headphones like the Pryma are secondary concerns. And by that, I mean that practically everyone who buys a pair of Pryma won’t give a damn about its technical vices or virtues. They’ll buy them because they look great. They will buy them because they look good to be seen wearing, for those who wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair of Beats. They will buy them because the clasps and colour schemes match their handbags. The fact they sound great is chocolate sprinkles on the icing on the cup cake.

In fact, the technical specifications are fine… apparently. Here comes the Alan bit: it’s a closed, circumaural design, featuring a single 40mm full-range dynamic driver with a Mylar diaphragm, an oversized voice-coil, and a neodymium magnet. The cables, from the 3.5mm jack to the voice-coil, are made from high-purity oxygen-free copper. With a sensitivity of 118dB and an impedance of 32-ohms, they should be fine being driven from a smartphone.

The only word you need to understand in that is ‘smartphone’. I plugged them into my iPhone and they sounded great. The have a lot of bass – not in the thump-thump-boom too much bass of a pair of Beats, but good bass for sitting and listening to music in an al fresco café without the sound of the outside world encroaching on your own sounds (Editor’s note: the closed design helps here, but in the few moments I was allowed to listen to the Pryma, they do have a good, strong bass over and above the benefits of closed headphones in the open – and how come I am married to someone who eats al fresco in London during the winter?). And the little microphone barrel is great – it gives your voice a very clean sound, far better than the phone microphone and most handsfree devices, and it’s good going up against high winds. The one button on the microphone can end a call, or start and stop whatever track is playing on your phone, but there’s no volume control or track selection.

I’m a big fan of Carole King’s Tapestry album [Sony] and any pair of headphones that can bring out the lyrics are fine by me, and the Prymas do this extremely well indeed. But, over to Alan for the right terminology:

The Pryma 01 – the first headphone design from Sonus faber, a break-out and stand-alone division of the WOM (World of McIntosh) group – does have an extremely good midband, giving rise to excellent vocal articulation. This, coupled with a fine underpinning of deep bass, makes for a very controlled, precise, and deep bass with a good soundstage solidly located somewhere just outside of your head, suggesting lateralisation issues are minimised. This soundstaging benefits from using a really good headphone amp/DAC like the Chord Mojo, but the basic presentation works, as predicted, from a smartphone. The lack of a ¼” jack adaptor in the otherwise thorough packaging suggests the Pryma 01 is intended for portable and smartphone use. There is a distinct, and yet surprisingly agreeable ‘slope’ to the sound, with a distinct boost to the upper bass and gently rolled off treble, giving an overall sound as ‘chocolate’ and sophisticated as its looks. Those wanting a bright and extended treble should probably look elsewhere, but those who prefer their sounds less ‘forward’ will find these headphones extremely attractive. I’m hesitating at drawing parallels with Sonus faber’s loudspeaker range, but the comparison is irresistible and probably worthwhile – the similarities in sound quality between the Pryma and Olympica loudspeakers are fairly clear.

It’s probably a measure of the Pryma’s future success, but every time I’ve worn these headphones out in public, I’ve been asked about them, and usually asked where they can get a pair. And those who asked have that air of ‘the money’s not important’. Judging this purely on the reaction to my pair of Prymas, they will be the must have item for the ‘ladies who lunch’ set. If the company ever wanted them back, I’d just ask the company to put me on commission, I’d go for a coffee in Kensington, and I will have paid for my pair in an afternoon!


Like most audio widows, the subject of Alan’s work tends to pass by me in a haze. The rare exceptions have often been some of the more elegant loudspeakers from Sonus faber. So perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that the first set of headphones where I played the Wife card are from the Sonus faber design team. The Pryma headphones are not what I was waiting for, but I wasn’t waiting for the Apple iPad when it arrived, and I’ve been welded to one of those from the moment it appeared in the house.

The Pryma have been my headphones of choice since the box turned up because they sound good and look great. Highly recommended for anyone who wants more than just good sound on the move!

Technical Specifications

Type: circumaural, closed headphones

Transducers: 2× 40mm dynamic drivers, with Mylar diaphragms, and neodymium magnets with oversized OFC voice coils

Frequency Range: 10Hz–25kHz

Impedance: 32ohm @ 1kHz

THD: 0.1% @ 90dBspl

Rated power: 120mW (short term max power)

Sensitivity: 118dBspl @1kHz/1mW

Features: detachable earpads, interchangeable headbands, 1.3m connection cable made of 99.99% OFC, with tin alloy soldered gold-plated connectors

Finishes: See text

Dimensions (W×H×D): 18.6×20.5×7.6cm

Weight: 355g

Price: £380 (standard finishes), £410 (carbon fibre)

Manufactured by: Pryma

URL: www.pryma.com

Distributed in the UK by: Absolute Sounds

URL: www.absolutesounds.com

Tel: 44 (0)20 8971 3909

Text Box:


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