The Pryma 01 headphones are stylish and sound terrific. But are they too fashionable? It’s time to find out in our full review.
The introduction of Beats headphones a decade ago recharged an audio industry that had largely become static in the decades prior. Suddenly, headphones became cool again as Beats introduced bright color choices to a consumer product that had almost exclusively been painted in drab, black hues.
As Beats has grabbed the biggest slice of the headphone market, including industry stalwarts like Bang Olufsen and Audeze, and newer companies such as Master & Dynamic, and Pryma.
The last of these is the newest brand under Italy’s iconic Sonus Faber audio label. It’s first product, the Pryma 01 (pronounced “preeee-mah”), arrived earlier this year. Soon after, it got the pop star treatment when Beyoncé wore a pair in her Lemonade video, “Sandcastles.”
Are the premium headphones (they start at $499) worth it? Let’s find out.
Founded in 1983, Sonus Faber offers handcrafted speakers, headphones, and high-end audio equipment based in Arcugnao, Vento, Italy. Now part of the product portfolio of Fine Sounds Group, Sonus Faber’s other brands include Audio Research, Radio Digital, and Sumiko. Prior to launching Pryma, Fine Sounds Group acquired McIntosh Laboratory, a U.S.-based company known for its high fidelity systems.
Design and Hardware
The Italian-made Pryma 01 is meant to impress — even before you actually see the headphones. The headphones come in a beautifully arranged box that includes multiple carrying cases (one is for the cord) and a set of instructions.
The headphones come in four pieces: the two detachable earpads, an interchangeable headband, and a connection cable made of 99.99 percent oxygen-free copper.
The earpads (I received a Coffee & Cream model) are made of premium aluminum, which feels indestructible, yet lightweight. The closed headphones include tiny holes, called helmet resonators, used to enhance bass reproduction.
The headband is made of high-quality Italian leather, which is lined with a breathable microfiber interior. In a unique twist, this headband attaches to the earpads using four buckle-like notches on both sides using a side-swinging mechanic. This flexibility makes for a near-perfect (although not always comfortable) fit, regardless of your head size.
Want a different headband color? Pryma offers them separately for $89 each.
The detachable audio cable measures 1.3 meters and features a microphone and 3.5mm stereo jack.
The audio performance on the Pryma 01 is powerful and rich, but without a lot of high-res detail. The sub-bass experience is best described as moderately intense, with deep lows and articulate highs, although some songs sounded more muted that I would have liked.
At mid-range, the bass response is punchy, but not overpowering. Songs without a lot of bass sound natural and much more well-balanced.
As usual, for my tests, I listened to the following songs via Apple Music:
- “Prologue” by Alexandre Desplat, “Birth (Original Score) Soundtrack”
- “Hey Eugene” by Pink Martini, “Hey Eugene!”
- “Wall of Glass” by Don Ross, “Don Ross”
The Bottom Line
Rating the Pryma 01 Headphones
Design is almost certainly the No. 1 reason many will decide to buy a pair of Pryma 01 headphones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given that they also happen to sound very good. But because the Pryma 01 design relies so much on being in style, one must wonder whether they’ll be out of style sooner rather than later. Given the price point, this is a factor worth considering.
Because of this, were I to purchase a Pryma 01 for myself, I’d go with one of the more subtle designs, such as the Carbon Notte, Rose Gold, or Carbon Marsala. The other models (especially Heavy Gold) could feel dated well before the headphones reach retirement age.
Coffee & Cream, Notte, Heavy Gold, Rose Gold, and Pure Black models are priced at $499. The Notte Carbon and Carbon Marsala designs are each $549.
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