Saturday, 8 September 2012

Nuforce NE-600X Review

Nuforce NE-600X Review

Thanks to Nuforce for the sample

First Impressions:  Hmm, compared to their siblings I have here (the NE-770X) these ones have had a mishap with the ugly stick.  Not that I really think looks matter, you can’t see them when you’re using them so what difference does it really make?  Some care, I know but it’s not something I’d really mark down for.  It does come in a variety of cable colours if that floats your boat though.

Sticking them in my ears and for some reason I’m getting plenty of driver flex in the right ear.  Since I cannot face the minute or so to wait for things to equalise themselves I’m slapping Comply’s on.  Note to dynamic IEM producers, I’d much rather they isolate less but never offer up any air pressure issues or driver flex.  Granted I’m not a normal user as I’m pulling them out frequently to compare things.  With the Comply’s on though, these are not bad, not bad at all.  The bass is huge but pretty good, I’m double checking the price.  I know it’s been a bit since I heard the GR99 and NE-770X but these seem better and that can’t be right can it?  Burn in time.

Source 1G iPod Shuffle with and without a 75 ohm adapter added and a Fiio E9

Lows:  They were slightly helped by the use of Comply’s but not a vast amount once the normal rubber tips settled.  Basically the bass here is very large, it’s overinflated and bitchin’.  It’s subtle like a brick to the face but it pulls it off, it’s crazy good. I had to keep checking other el cheapo things and this is a lot better.  To the point its concerning, as in its better than the 770.  How can that be right?  AB’ing them and maybe it’s that these are so much more sensitive and so much louder or that there is so much more bass (and it’s not like the 770 was light) perhaps it’s just a perfect synergy between the 600x and the 1G Shuffle?  Am I drunk?  I can’t work out what’s going on but these are a lot better than they ought to be.  Of course the bass is huge and that’s the only thing I can come close to complaining about.  Its depth is superb and it’s stupidly agile for being this big and cheap. 

Mids:  They are too far back, much to far as that big bass tends to over shadow but the clarity is astounding, like the bass I keep AB’ing things as I keep thinking something is wrong.  They shouldn’t be this good, so good I’ve just gone hunting for the ViSang R03’s (Brainwavz M2 Twin’s) and while the two cast vastly differing amounts the R03’s aren’t all that far ahead.  It does show up just how the 600X lacks air and just how far back the vocals are but one is US$60 and the other US$25.  If you a big mid lover as I am then there aren’t really going to suit you as they are really somewhat V shaped and the bass clearly dominant.  But screw that, these sound astounding for what equates to about £15.  I was going to say it’s unbeatable but I see the Radiopaq Jazz going for £10 which is insane. But then they don’t have the prodigious bass response of the 600X.  Bugger me these are good.

Tonally they are a touch on the warm and the mountains of bass really do suck out the air and any sense of breathy delicacy but at this price what do you expect.  These trump the GR99 without any trouble.

Highs:  I cannot say they are the most refined ever but like everything else its way batter than it should be.  So long as not too much is going on that is, should things get too heated the highs begin to break up and loose it becoming a bit of a splashy mess.  Still I’m actively looking for complains as these for what you pay are insanely good.  I keep wondering if I have a nonstandard pair, could maybe Nuforce have sent the wrong thing in the box?  These are genuinely good.  How can these be better than their much prettier siblings?  I don’t know.  These impact just about right and have a good almost natural decay that veers over to the safe and edge sanded side of things.  It won’t satisfy those looking uber crisp, bight and edgy treble but in this price range this is the best way to go.  The result is just much better than it has any right to be.  I keep thinking I must be getting some crazy synergy as I don’t see other reviews of the 600X being so positive but I really can’t find fault with it.
Quantity wise as I mentioned before these are a bit V shaped and the treble does stand somewhat before the mids but it’s not really coming close to the bass. 

Soundstage:  It can do scale and in the mids distance but it’s really not got much in the way of air and space.  It’s a presentation choice rather than being one the right way to go or not.  Instrument separation is great, particularly in the different frequency ranges.  Usually the bass should cloud things but here it really seems to make little difference to anything else.

Fit:  Good.  It does have a flat cable which I’m never much keen on but it still let me wear them up and be comfortable.  It did once or twice pop off over my ear but they really gave any other bother.

Comfort:  Well aside from some air pressure and venting issues fine.  In normal use I don’t think it should be much of a problem. 

Cable:  Hmm, it’s flat and a touch plasticy.  It works fine but it’s clearly nothing special.  You do get a cable slider though which is good.

Microphonics:  Wearing up I got none but you wear down you can basically cure things with the chin slider. 

Accessories:  Not a lot, but then I wouldn’t expect a lot at this price.  Why add in stuff you may not ever use?  You get 3 pairs of tips.

Isolation:  Fairly good but nothing out of the ordinary.  It’s enough with ease for normal day to day things, walking, on a bus etc but not so much for long flights.  It’s a dynamic I’d actually have preferred a little less isolation and better venting.  That said my usual warning, it’s enough to get you run over if you aren’t looking where you’re going.

Value:  Kick ass.  In the US amazon will ship you set for princely sum of US$24.95.  That’s about £15, so long as you want a hugely bassy sound or are happy to EQ it away you’ll be hard pressed to best these.  Of course you’ll be hard pressed to actually get them in the UK without paying almost as much in postage costs, according to ebay these would come to £24.68 today.  Even at that these are still good value but not the clear champ they should be.

Conclusion:  As I have written this I have constantly thought something must be wrong.  These are on paper not to my tastes at all, they are stupidly bassy, mid recessed and yet I find I really like them.  What the hell is going on?  I honestly don’t know, maybe it’s some crazy perfect synergy between these and the 1G Shuffle?  Sure as hell these don’t want to be paired with a warm DAP as these are plenty warm as it is.  Warm and oh so bassy, maybe that’s why the naturally cold and a touch bright 1G Shuffle works so well?  Surely not this well?  I keep thinking I must be hearing something wrong as I haven’t seen anyone else give them such praise but as I continue to AB them against others they shine.    The only real problem with them is their sound signature.  These are not catering to the Head-fi crowd, it’s as simple as that.  They are mountainously bassy and normally id be the first to slate them for that but it is actually really well done.  Granted it’s still so much it gets tiring on my ears with bassy songs but it’s actually got quality! I’m beginning to think I may be going a bit crazy.  Okay I need a break I think.

Almost a week has now passed and I have read what other had to say about the 600x and I am beginning if I have something different than they as what they describe.  At present Whitney is belting out “Run To You” and she sounds far too good.  I flick back to the 770X and they just sound like ass in comparison, how the hell is that possible? Ditto the GR99 and the Tridents.  I think I have to go check prices of things again. Is it that after the wave of rather bassy things I have in lately has broken my ears and brain?  I have no idea what’s going on but there are just amazing compared to everything else I’m trying.  I think I’m even getting used to the huge bass.  I really do just not know what’s going on, if I have some super set fluke or I’m having some aural breakdown but these are just far better, than their price suggests.  It’s not what I expect, perhaps I’m doing Nuforce a disservice but I expect the shocks to come from the likes of Vsonic, Dunu, maybe even MEElectronics.  These are outstanding, just outstanding.  Hell they are so good I think there must be something wrong somewhere!  Did the factory make a mistake and put the wrong drivers in them?  I’m at loss as these just sound incredible, how come no one else has gone nuts over these?

At this point I think I may be heading towards some sort of breakdown.  My ears are repeatedly telling me there are incredible for this price, my former top 2 in what I call the el cheapo range were the GR99’s and the Trident’s and these just stomp all over them both.  There isn’t a “oooh this one does this better etc etc” they just flatten them.  These with the bass reducer option applied are frighteningly close to the rather excellent Visang R02/Brainwavz M2 (they were the same things just different branding) and they are US$60.  So given others haven’t said similar, I mean these are not close to their price rivals so why has no one else said so?  I keep thinking I’m doing something wrong but no matter what is going on I can tell you these are freeking me out.  These are punching so far above their weight I can’t help think something crazy is going on.  Am I getting some insanely congruent pairing with sources? Have I had a stroke? I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.  These should not surely be better than their far prettier siblings the NE-770x and it’s not like I thought they were bad but these just demolish them.  Sure they really, really do need a bass reduction setting applied and even then they are bassy but the detail is just amazing.  The tonality too is just incredible, the dynamics and enthusiasm are all so outstanding.  Yet they are priced at practically throw away money!

I suggest if you’re in the US you buy a pair, right now.  The cost is so low and if you get what I’m getting you’ll be more than impressed.  I’ll grant it’s a concern that other reviews haven’t seamed to hear what I’ve heard but I can only really go by my own ears and these are disturbingly good for the money.  So please go buy a set and if you don’t agree with me send them back.  US Amazon has a good returns policy doesn’t it?  Just be aware it’s one of the most bass heavy things out there so be prepared to live with that or EQ it down a lot.  That bass mountain and its beating from the ugly stick are neither reasons to not at least try one of these.  I hear a lot of things and usually things aren’t so clearly better than those of a similar price but this is.  It is priced so cheaply it is just wiping the floor with what should be its competition.  It’s just a shame that it is erm, a little fugly and all that bass.  Please maybe do a version 2 with the bass dialled down?  The looks however are something I personally don’t care about but it would be a shame if people didn’t buy this or it not get the attention it deserves because it’s the ugly sister.  The sound quality is simply stunning.  Literally I have been so stunned I’ve been emailing others to ask what they made of it and to check if I was going mad or not. 

Seriously people, go buy a set as these things are just stupid good at this price. 

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