Chrissy, of Xrissart, recently posted a great video on using PanPastel with brushes, mostly with inexpensive makeup brushes, that enable not only the large, soft, coverage, but also the compact detail that you could only previously get from switching over to pencil.
So having dropped a whopping $20 on a set of 18 brushes from Amazon, I decided to try out her approach.
It didn't go too well as I ended up using Pastel Pencils to do finer lines. It was generally okay for the basic coverage, but I think the brushes are way too soft to really get detail and it was hard to push the pigment into the tooth of the paper. I think the key is soft enough to pick up and hold pigment, hard enough to facilitate blending. This is where the Sofft tools really shine, they grab lots of pigment and enable you to really push and blend. So, while I think brushes can be used, I think you really need to find the right ones to make it work and these weren't it.
As a footnote, I decided the switch up the video posts to more reflect the less regular schedule of me posting videos that have caught my attention.