Pros: Good build, decent sound quality for the price, the best customizable IEM in its price range
Cons: Not very natural
Narmoo is yet another new contender in the crowded budget IEM world. To stand out in such a competitive field, one either has to get creative. What Narmoo has brought us is an improvement on a old, but interesting system.
The packaging of the Narmoo R1M is a great exercise in moderating excess. Instead of forcing the consumer to pay for fancy packaging, Narmoo has instead provided an excellent carrying case and added a cardboard slip over it to serve as packaging. Inside are some basic tips (I don't really like them; read more to see what I actually use with them) and the different filters (black is bassy, silver is heavily damped, and grey is in between). I did have a bit of a problem with the filters though. They would randomly screw off by themselves and I lost one of the grey ones the first week I had them. This review would have been done a few months back if I found the filter before moving out of my dorm last week. The cable is a nice flat cable with a microphone, with with a proper strain relief. For the cost of entrance, the R1M is a great value if for nothing but its case.
I primarily used the grey filters with the R1M for this review, but I will describe the differences between the filters later on. At first listen, they didn't exactly wow me; for $30, I thought the Xiaomi Piston 2.0 were much better.
After trying to get used to their sound, changing changing the tips to Ultimate Ears tips, and learning not to compare their faults with my Hifiman RE600, I got a better feel of the sound. What stands out most to me is that unlike a large number of sub $30 IEMs, they are able to project a decent soundstage, albeit more wide than deep, but it makes for a very good pair of IEMs for rock lovers. Also a strong suit, which I didn't at all expect, was a forward, energetic midrange. Of course, they suffer what I've normally come across in cheaper headphones: the midrange has a tendency to sound very unnatural, like they've been equalized too far up, to the point where I can sense it will distort if the music doesn't match the IEM well. The treble, even after being burned in for months, is still pretty grainy to me, and doesn't extend very far.
The bass deserves its own paragraph, because it's what's affected most by the filters. With the black filters, bass is definitely strong enough to satiate most bassheads, but the more discerning should try the other filters. The bass with the black filters was one of the sloppiest I've ever heard. It got a lot of praise from people that haven't heard anything "nice" but I couldn't even stand a minute of them. The grey filters were a bit of an improvement. Still obviously bass heavy, but finally listenable, if still sloppy. Individual notes were at least differentiable. The silver filters are still bassier than neutral, but the most tolerable to my ears. Timbre with any filter is not very close to natural, but the silver ones get the closest to it.
All in all, the R1M is an acceptable choice for $30, but I can't help but think that if the case was ditched, they'd instead be a spectacular $20 option. Even at such a low price point, unless you're explicitly looking for a tunable IEM, there are better options. The good thing is that they're better than the Xeport 5010 at the same price, and much better than MEElectronics' entry. Not to discourage Narmoo, but I feel like the best option for them now is to focus on making an IEM with one fantastic sound signature rather than three slightly different ones.