Nuforce NE7M Earphones and Mic: New Kings on the Block
Nuforce NE7M: New King of the Block
Nuforce are not a huge company, but they have been making products for years that scale extremely well for the price. After several weeks with their excellent NE7M, I am ready to declare Nuforce the new King of the inexpensive earphone Block. Feel free to discuss this review of the Nuforce NE7M headset in our forums.
Nuforce Packaging – The Emperor’s Nu Clothes
Honestly, for 49.99$, I was expecting moulded, finger cutting plastic. Nuforce provided. While a bit kinder than Zagg’s blood-sucking plastic, Nuforce’s design is still cheap, sharp edged and throwaway plastic. However, there is enough cardboard and natural fibres in the package to make me believe that they care ever so slightly about the environment and their customer’s fingers.
Nuforce Fit Kit – Nu King on the Block
Nuforce began to surprise long before I put the NE7M into my ears. Their fit kit has the usual three-pair of single silicon flanges but also includes 2 pair of hybrid foamies in medium and large sizes. Since I react poorly to silicon, this inclusion is a welcome relief.
The silicon flanges are akin to the wide-mouth Sony and Sennheiser offerings, and are decently comfortable. I was able to use the smallest flange with no immediate discomfort but used the hybrid foamies for most of my review purposes. You can stow all the earpieces and the phones comfortably in the toss-pouch that Nuforce provide – again, though not a wonderful design, for 49$, the inclusion of even a cheap pouch is welcome.
Nuforce Earphones Specifications
Cable Length: 1.2 meters
Driver Size: 9mm
Driver impedence: 16ohm
Frequency Response: 20 Hz-22 KHz
Sensitivity: 100+/-3dB/mW at 1 KHz
Rated Power: 2mW
Max power: 20mW
Frequency: 20Hz – 16 kHz
Sensitivity: 58 dB +/-2dB
What all that means is of little importance if you are not really into your audio. If so, then just bare skip over this bit. If you do care about how easy the NE7M is to drive and how much hiss it will exhibit, then the spec above will help you a good bit. 16 – 32 ohms is pretty standard for inner earphones as well as earbuds. Since TMA is aimed at the iPhone and iPod Touch markets, I will only discuss how well they are driven from those models.
16 ohm is a hard to drive number. Most players will lose all bass definition when driving such a load. If you have a 1st generation iPod Touch, you will lose most of the definition but will still retain bass quantity. The sound you will hear is a thump or a boom. If your music does not rely on high-definition bass tones, then this may not bother you but if you like to hear the fabric of lower tones, you will be disappointed. The same goes for iPhone and iPhone 3G. Fortunately, the Touch 2G is much better when driving low ohm phones. You will get all the glorious bass quantity but with added clarity down to very close to 20 HZ, which is past the rumble and audible spectrum for most people.
As for soundstage, iPod and iPhone users – you are in luck. Apples players remain to this day on top in terms of left-to-right separation even when under load – that is a good thing.
Lastly, with a sensitivity of 100db, theNE7M does not hiss much at all unless you plug it into your Macbook Pro or other laptop. They are almost completely quiet from an iPod or iPhone headphone out which is great when you want to listen to the music and not the wind.
NE7M Cable and Construction: Nu King for the Price
Unlike many competitors, Nuforce chose to include a decent-quality cable in the package. The NE7M cable is long, light and relatively free from touch-noise. Though it does not compare to Westone or Futuresonic’s offerings but the NE7M is less than half of their price.
The microphone is small and slim with enough slack to be used either under the chin or looped over the ear to reduce microphonics. It also does not weigh down the cable: Nuforce did their homework. Because the NE7M cable is so light, it does not pull down on the earphones at all. The rubber is also not prone to tangle as much as many earphones, but still, I do not suggest bunching the NE7M up and stashing it in your pocket; use rather, the toss-pouch that Nuforce provide.
The NE7M is terminated with a strong right-angle connection that is thin enough for first generation iPhones and various portable amps that have recessed headphone jacks. Because it is right angle, less pressure is exerted on the headphone jack of your iPhone, making listening safer for your investment. Nuforce have also provided enough stress relief around the plug to ensure that the cable is not cut. However, signal shorts occur from time to time either using amps or non-iPhone or iPod Touch devices. If that happens, pull the jack slightly out to maintain a good connection. Though this is a mark against the NE7M, their overall score is still nearly flawless.
Housing the NE7M, is a combination of plastic and metal which, though not pretty, inspires confidence. There is no flex in the case and the cable terminates in a small rubber grommet which is snug around the cable.
Kudos to Nuforce.
Nuforce Remote and Mic
While Zagg included a handy volume pot on their Z-buds, Nuforce chose a simpler mic-only setup that includes play/pause controls. Nuforce’s mic is better than the Zagg offering. It is slimmer, lighter and hangs lower for better reception. While testing with an iPhone, I found calls to be clear and relatively free from touch noise. Below is a recorded test of the NE7M microphone.
nuforce-ne7m-recording – MP3 format
Sound Quality: The Right Fit means the Right Sound
Simply put, the NE7M is a juggernaut. It is 49$, includes a microphone and a good quality cable. But it sounds better than any earphones in the price range. With the decent fit kit that Nuforce provided, I am able to enjoy painless listening using the hybrid foamie ear pieces though I have tried and enjoyed even the silicon flanges. The hybrid foamies will bloat the bass ever so slightly and lose a bit of treble detail, but they are comfortable for long listening sessions.
I also tried my favourite Etymotic foamies with the rubber sleeve removed from the inside: pure bliss. Headstage, treble and bass are all preserved but with clarity of sound presence that no other tip supplied – at least for my tastes. Unfortunately, they are neither cheap nor included and have to be modified for use with the NE7M.
For listening tests, I spent most of my time with these staples of shigzeo’s library:
NE7M Bass: The Cheap King on the Block
For 49$, I have never heard an earphone produce such rich, deep and detailed bass. It is bloat-free next to Sennheiser’s lower CX models and does not fatigue. Lower notes resonate nicely in the sound chamber and have a soft edge that makes them perfect for acoustic music, however the NE7M bass is not slow. It can keep up with trance music, electronic and rap while commenting well on rock, folk and jazz.
NE7M Treble and Mids: King Henry VIII
The Nuforce NE7M is a warmer sounding phone even next to the Monster Turbine which is a bass king in its own right. The mids are warm and bring singers, pianos and other instruments well into centre focus while treble is a bit shy. Still a pleasant listen, the NE7M does not have much upper-end energy and sparkle. It presents music in mellow, well-rounded tones but is not dark.
NE7M Soundstage: New King on the Block
There is no excuse for a 49$ ear phone to have better soundstage than the Monster Turbine but Nuforce are pardoned in their excellent creation. The NE7M is not a perfect-sounding product but its bass and soundstage is off the charts. Instruments are not crowded together but splay widely across the space in front of you and to the side. They remind the Atrio M5′s stage in fact but lack a bit of its precision. Wonderful Nuforce – at 49$, you have created a new benchmark.
NE7M on the Move
The light and hassle-free cable is a life-saver while out and about. It makes some noise, but clothing rub and fingers do not jar listening. Because the cable is light, it does not cause the phones to hang too deeply in the ear or to come unplugged. Again, Nuforce trump anything in the price range and do well against more pricey competitors such as Zagg’s offering.
My final analysis will be based on utility and performance for the price. Nuforce’s experience and expertise in audio are evident in their offering of the NE7M: it is simply stunning. I would pay more than 49$ for the inclusion of such a great cable and microphone system combined with category-defining sound. Though overall better-sounding earphones such as the Monster Turbine exist, there is to my knowledge, no other earphone on the market which can deliver the same combination of great sound and great features for the price.
Nuforce’s NE7M gets kissed by TouchMyApps. For more Headphone reviews, please visit our Headphone review section.
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