SONUS FABER PRYMA 01 headphones
+ Gorgeous designer headphones with Sonus Faber pedigree. Absolute eye candy, especially in reddish brown leather and black carbon fibre livery per Carbon Marsala guise, as reviewed. Invitingly liquid, warm vocal and instrumental presentation that will please most.
– Will put a hole in your wallet. Not the final word in treble and low frequency reproduction. Will polarise canfans.
LET’S be clear. The Pryma 01s are drop dead gorgeous headphones. In the Carbon Marsala edition reviewed here, the Pryma is classy yet purposeful with reddish-brown Italian leather headband, aluminium ear cups, copper and stainless steel buckles and carbon fibre panels.
Handmade in Italy, the Pryma speaks of a loudspeaker design and manufacturing legacy long entrenched in Sonus Faber spanning the past few decades.
Unboxing the Pryma was so much fun. The headphones are presented as a deconstructed package in a multi-layer and multi-compartmental box. Nicely done with great attention to detail.
The Pryma ear cups attach to the headband via a twist clasp mechanism similar to the ones found on some high street designer handbags. The uber comfy ear pads are exquisitely engineered and attach to the ear cups magnetically with a crisp snap. Evidently, the Pryma was penned with elegance and luxury as primary goals.
Placed on my ears, the Prymas were comfortable with sufficient headband pressure applied to keep them on my head. This came as a surprise as the ear cup clasp mechanism seemed rather fiddly when initially engaged. On my head, however, the Prymas provided a pretty solid and secure fit.
One caveat though. Notwithstanding the comfy fit on my head and ears, those with larger ears may find scant room in the Pryma’s relatively narrow ear pads.
See dedicated Pryma 01 website for specifications and accessories.
The Pryma headphones reached me new but already sounded relatively open from the get go. However, for good measure, I placed the cans on continuous play for a few days and was rewarded with a more relaxed and spacious sound.
Fully run in, the Prymas are very accommodating headphones and can be run directly from most personal audio devices or cellphones, and worked fine with the Apple iPhone 6 and Huawei P9 cellphones in my household.
Nonetheless, the 01 will eagerly welcome a standalone or portable headphone amp with a more defined bass and soundstage presentation. The Prymas were particularly well matched with the headphone output of the Cary CAD300SEI integrated amp and with the Chord Mojo DSD DAC/amp.
Paired with high quality recordings on the Sony HAP-Z1ES digital player and Cary CAD300SEI, the Pryma presented a warm, enveloping and open soundstage that invites extended listening. More than I care to admit, I found myself listening to album after album with the Prymas and loosing track of time, enjoying the smooth, spacious acoustic.
Reminiscent of the sonic flavour of Sonus Faber loudspeakers of yore (think 1980s and 1990s), the Prymas have a decidedly prominent midrange, which accentuates the vocal range and instrumentation, quite a departure from the current loudspeaker tuning favoured by Sonus Faber which has a more precise and clean character. Although the liquid nature of the headphones is applicable throughout the frequency range, the upper and lower octaves are definitely reticent.
The Prymas are lovely on vocals. On Linn Record’s Mozart – Opera Arias and Overtures (24-bit/96kHz FLAC), Elizabeth Watts’ luminously rich voice was clearly articulated against the vivid orchestral backdrop of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Christian Baldini.
Similarly, on Aimee Mann’s new album Mental Illness (24/44.1 FLAC), her melancholic vocal set against a sparse acoustic guitar and percussion accompaniment was clearly presented.
Pitted against the transparent and incisive Hifiman HE500, which feature planar magnetic film drivers, the Prymas were left trailing on outright speed, detail, and extension on both ends of the spectrum. On high-resolution recordings of Nirvana and Linkin Park for instance, the HE500 projected firm control of bass slam and resolve whilst the Prymas were struggling to catch up. Bassheads will find the Prymas falling short on this count.
THE LAST WORD
Clearly, the Pryma 01 headphones are not your typical audiophile cans. To be fair, Sonus Faber did not design the Prymas with its extensive audiophile customer base in mind. In the Pryma 01, Sonus Faber had a clear goal – to offer discerning consumers a luxurious and elegant pair of headphones. A platform that would deliver a highly musical experience which would likely not offend.
To this end, Sonus Faber has well met its design goals.
Dell XPSL502X, Sony HAP-Z1ES Digital Player, Chord Mojo and SMSL M8 DSD DAC, Thorens TD124mkII with Grace G-704 tonearm & Hana SL, Technics SL1200mk3D with Benz Micro MC Gold, EAR 834P phono / Amplification: Cary CAD-300SEI, Odyssey Audio Stratos Plus, Unison Research Simply Four, NAD 302, N.E.W. P3 pre amp / Speakers: Sonus Faber Minima Amator, Zu Audio Omen / Headphones: Sennheiser HD580, Grado SR125i (woodied), Velodyne vTrue (tweaked), Allesandro MS1i, Massdrop T-X0, Hifiman HE500, Stax SR207 / assorted cables
Price: €499 / €549 as reviewed
Malaysian price: RM3,199 as reviewed
Malaysian distributor: Perfect Hi-Fi (+603-5882 1693)