Sanwei Echo and Parla review - 2023 new all wood table tennis blades

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Sanwei has released two new blades under their Trio series banner in 2023 and have graciously sent them to me for review. The Parla, a seven ply all wood blade, and the Echo, a five ply all wood blade.
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To start with, I asked Sanwei a few questions:
  1. Parla and Echo are part of the Trio series – Is there another blade coming within the Trio series?
    Yes, we had a plan but there is no specific target date for this to happen.
  2. Where does the Parla sit in Sanwei’s product line compared to the Fextra One?
    They serve two different markets. Though both are 7-ply all-wood blades, the Fextra One uses 3 Ayous plies of even thickness as its core. The Parla has a more conventional 7 ply structure with a single thick ply as its core.

    They have different playing characteristics. The Fextra One is more attacking while the Parla is more balanced.
  3. What research went into creating the Echo and the Parla and how long did it take?
    It took a few months for the R&D. The idea for the Echo and Parla came from a brainstorming meeting. We found we didn’t have suitable products for this market, so we started.
Testing setups
Sanwei Parla

FH: Sanwei Gear 38 degrees hardness
BH: DHS Hurricane 8-80 37 degrees hardness

Sanwei Echo
FH: Sanwei Gear 38 degrees hardness
BH: Sanwei Target National blue sponge 39 degrees hardness

First impressions
Packaging
Both blades arrived with simple, functional packaging comprising a thin black cardboard box with a clear plastic ‘window’ at the front to show the blade. Each box had a simple thin, black plastic frame to ‘house’ the blade so it wouldn’t go swimming around in the box.

You don’t get a premium feel with the packaging, but it’s not needed since the blades aren’t meant to serve the high end of the market.

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Build quality
The build quality of both blades more than makes up for the simple, humble packaging.

The printing on both blades is both high quality and sharp. I liked the colours of both blades a lot, particularly the vibrant blues around the handle of the Echo. The wood surface is even, nice and smooth all over both blades as well with no rough spots to the playing surface or the sides of the blade. Sanwei describes the Echo as having, “flawless wooden texture”, and I’m inclined to say they got it right! The lens on each blade also adds to the overall look to give a good impression of build quality and design.

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I got the shakehand flare handled version of the Parla and the Chinese penhold (cpen) version of the Echo.

It’s worth noting the Echo cpen blade didn’t come pre-sanded like I’ve experienced with some cpen blades from other manufacturers. It not a standard thing so that’s understandable. Anyway, penhold players always sand their blade down until they get the right amount of comfort and grip so having it pre-sanded is arguably only useful for reviewers... 😁

More about the blades
The Sanwei Echo
Technical details

Plies: 5 all wood (Limba | Ayous | Ayous core)
Thickness: 5.9mm
Handle: Chinese penhold
Handle width at widest point: 32.4mm / 3.24cm
Blade face size: 150x155mm
Weight: 74g

View attachment 26458I shifted to my punch blocking style of play and happily this blade performed very well compared to other 5 ply all wood blades like the Yasaka Sweden Extra, Stiga’s Arctic Wood, and Yinhe’s budget N10 and N11 blades. It also greatly improves on Sanwei’s training series blade, the CS (New Century). I was able to block shots where I wanted and with very high consistency.

There was lovely feedback throughout, giving me confidence about where the ball was being hit. Both are key elements when it comes to blocking for me since I want to move my opponent around the table by changing the angle and force of my returns.

When it came to looping, this blade had a wonderful ability to help deliver shots that would kick off the table once it bounced on the other side – delivering a surprising boost of speed, catapulting the ball off the table with extra force (Sanwei describes this type of speed as ‘second speed’), probably from the amount of spin I was able to generate from this setup.

During practice play, once I increased the speed of my strokes, I could feel the Sanwei Echo wasn’t lacking in the speed department unlike some blades with carbon layers like the Yinhe Y4 (rated as ALL+ by Yinhe, while the Echo is rated as ALL by Sanwei).

I tried both the Sanwei Gear Hyper and the Sanwei Target National on this blade and found greater consistency in making shots with the Gear Hyper. Looping felt great and simple with that combination where I had a greater margin for error and didn’t need a perfect stroke angle each time.


Sanwei Parla
Technical details

Plies: 7 ply all wood (Limba | Ayous | Ayous | Ayous core)
Thickness: 6.0mm (Sanwei rates this as 5.9mm +-0.2)
Handle: Shakehand Flared handle
Handle width at widest point: 34.9mm / 3.49cm
Blade face size: 150x155mm
Weight: 89g

View attachment 26464This blade performed above expectations for me – I handed it to several intermediate-level players, they all adapted very quickly to it and made their shots confidently. I did a few video recordings of a few players making use of it and they all liked the feel of it. Even advanced beginners used to slower equipment (like the Sanwei CS paired with Yinhe Mercury II rubbers on both sides) were able to use my setup with some ease. Usually, the speed jump would understandably trip them up but not with the Parla paired with the Sanwei Gear Hyper.

Blocking with this blade was naturally faster than the Echo and, pleasantly, I was able to retain a strong level of control throughout. Forehand shots came out with power when I started speeding up my strokes and I retained a good feeling for the ball throughout.

The Parla is an offensive 7 ply all wood blade and works great for the modern, offensive, two wing game. Sanwei rates it’s speed at a modest ALL+ range but it feels capable of higher speeds in the OFF- range while maintaining control. Given that Sanwei has marketed this blade as having the ‘ultimate in control in the Trio series’, this is a good thing!


Conclusion
Of the two blades, I felt the Sanwei Parla was a better fit for me thanks to its stronger offensive capabilities. Blocks were sent back crisp and fast without ever feeling like I was struggling to control the blade.

On the other hand, I had an easier time doing blocks with the Sanwei Echo, possibly because of the slightly slower speed compared to the Parla. I felt like all I needed to do was stick my hand out at the right angle and the return would bounce back safely.

It’s worth noting again that other players I lent the Parla to adjusted very quickly to it and commented on how nice it felt to use it. With a lot of new setups, there’s typically a short adjustment time (admittedly, generally the higher the playing level, the shorter this adjustment time would be). With the Parla, players of varying levels were able to adapt to it quickly.

Both blades are well worth considering in their price range and competes well with more expensive blades.
Is the echo similar to the m8?
 
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