Pros: Very nice clean spacious sound with sold dyanmic and detail. Great isolation. Quality build from accessories to housing design.
Cons: Tip rolling required for the best possible sounds. Almost too nice. Treat it like a new born.
Nuforce primo 8 http://primo8.nuforce.com/
I remember reading a while back about these from HeadphoneAddict's thread and was intrigued right away. I messaged a few friends about these as thought it would be nice to try these out and so I managed to wrangle a pair from Nuforce to write this review and I am so happy I did..I would like to fist publicly thank Wolfgang0119 formerly of Nuforce for reaching out to me for my views regarding various Nuforce gears and phones.
Little over a week ago I got a brand new box containing the Primo 8 and it was like unwrapping a Christmas gift on Christmas morning as I knew what contained inside the box.
"Isn't She Lovely" Stevie Wonder..
Isn't she wonderful
Isn't she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we'd be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn't she lovely made from love..
reading HeadphoneAddicts thread about these I did have some high expectations on the sounds and I did what every person would have done in this situation. I plugged them in immediately to my Ibasso DX90..Only to be met with a somewhat underwhelming sound. I remember messaging my friends about how disappointed I was on initial listen but I am not a person that judges a sound on open listen..I think I was more impressed with my FX850 and IM03 on open listen than these to be honest but again I refuse to let open box impression weigh in anything regarding the actual sound of these so I kept on listening to them. That evening I did realize this sound was not going to be a one night impression type of sound. I will have to learn about what it is I am listening to and started to realize they were opening up while I was listening to them more and more.
Sensitivity 118 db
Max Power 5 mW
With 4 BAs in a patent pending three way phase coherent crossover design with perfect linear phase performance per housing, using proprietary 7X silver wire w/outer layer copper wire using a Kevlar silk core..Nuforce is pulling all the stops on this design from the housing down to the cable and I kept on thinking to myself.. This sound should have grabbed me by the jugulars but no that wasn't how I felt listening to them. I was just not hearing what the big deal was. How can all this tech and design fall to the way side..Yet they continued to sound more coherent and I was starting to hear layers of music. I realized that the sound at that moment was not to their full potential..Then I grabbed for my box of tips.
Here lies the issue with these for me. The nozzle is very narrow and so are the tips. I initially tried the complys that was already on the primo8 only to take them off immediately. Above the picture to the left are the supplied silicone tips and you can see the size of the small sound hole/ nozzle end of the tips. The tips to the right are my beloved JVC FX850 tips aka Sprial Dots. I will get to those later but for now I settled on the silicone tips provided.
Initial impression of the sound out of the provided silicones was much better over the Complys. Immediate thoughts of the Vmoda M-80 crept into my head as I kept on listening to these with the silicones for several hours. Cycling through all my test tracks..Clarity was there. Speed is very excellent, detail was clearly apparent.. Vocals was brought out in full and had great presence.. Layering of music was also very apparent at this stage. So potential for a higher end sound was there. But something was off to my ears. Upon more listening it was the treble while extended nicely was behind the mids a bit and I thought maybe this was what Nuforce meant by fatigue free listening.
At this point my expectations was that these would beat out my other neutral in ears the ZA Doppios and ATH-IM03 in the treble arena but I found it actually lacking in comparison to both..I am a fan of fatigue free listening but this was somewhat unexpected. The sound FR initially was very similar to the fatigue free Vmoda M-80 with a forward mid signature and neutral bass presentation.To be fair these already left the portable cans from Vmoda behind in imagery and detail in the mids but that treble area kept nagging at me. The more I listened the more this was apparent. I left them on my burn in station as I resumed my every day life for a week straight.. Listening in on them when I got a chance..
I got used to the sound more and more and started to understand more the abilities and the sound quality I was hearing yet at the end of the weeks worth of burn in.. That treble was still somewhat behind the mids in sound..Most of my box of tips did not fit the narrow longer nozzle of these earphones so tip rolling proved to be a bit of a challenge. A week later I finally had a chance to sit down with them and try something I have been thinking all week about.. Somehow fitting my Spiral Dot tips onto this nozzle.. I had to do it.
Standard tips to the left, Spiral Dots to the right.. Made by JVC has been a revelation to me as they are simply one of if not the best silicone tips on the market and well worth the $15-$18 price tag to get a 3 set pair from Amazon japan..Highly recommended for guys that own more than a few earphones. Tip rolling is all about optimization of provided sound using your own tips from your left over collection of tips or in this case using these much wider bore spiral dot tips. So far I use the spiral dots the most out of all my tips simply because these open up the sounds and gives the best clarity and detail to just about every phone I have used them on. But here lies the problem. How was I going to get these much wider bored Spiral Dots on that narrow nozzle. This is how I did it.
So this is the smallest stock silicone tips provided with the Primo 8. I usually just throw all the small and extra small tips together and give them away as I have no use for them but in this case these provided exactly what I needed.. What you guys are seeing is the tips applied backwards onto the nozzle and this is what you get.
So I folded the cap sleeve of the tips backwards onto the earphones base leaving a thicker half of the nozzle and a much thicker stem to put on another more wider tip on there. The great thing is there was no cutting or modification on my part. I just simply put the tips on backwards and this was the result..The back end of the small tip nozzle sit absolutely flush with the sound nozzle of the Primo 8 so it doesn't extend the sound nozzle but just widens it.
Then I throw on the the Spiral Dots on top of this configuration and it looks like this.
Notice just how much space we are dealing with here? Compared to the stock tip configuration? 3X the diameter space with proper depth spacing so the sound channels to your ears correctly. With fingers crossed I tried the Spiral tips on the Primo 8.
Sound with spiral dots:
That treble that was a bit laid back is now fully realized and even with the mids. Bass end now has more authority and punch, the lowest of sub bass notes come through with ease. Much better sense of spacial cues and extension on both ends while taking nothing away from the fantabulous mids of these earphones. I am now hearing their full potential firing off on all directions. This sound is now finally realized. It is exactly what Nuforce was meant to create to my ears now. Clarity and depth is even more improved with a wider bore configuration as the sound now expands in my ears. More layering and spacing of sound improved. The balance improved while providing more authority in all regions of the sound..
To me this is how I imagined the Primo8s..This sound is exactly how I expected they would sound like from reading reviews and impressions from tomscy2000 and a_recording aka Lachlan..The sound main attraction is the full bore wide open mid section that does mids 100% to full capacity. Even on NuForces cheaper earphones mids has been one aspect of their house tuning that is never overlooked so I expected the mids to be in full bloom and they are in deed. Vocal performance is exemplary from these in ears and has some of the speediest bass I have ever heard. 3D special qualities about this sound is all about little things that add up to a higher end sound to my ears. Finally realized with the Spiral dots. For guys that own the Primo8s. Throw on a much wider bore tip and use the smallest provided tips fit backwards for a new take on the Primo8. I am very certain it will surprise you guys in a good way..
Bass end of the Primo 8 I find fantastic for this sound. I would say it is above neutral in presentation and has an exact amount of punch layering and low sub bass to do even Hip hop correct. Which actually surprised me as I was thinking these might be bass light but to my surprise the dual bass BAs are in sync like the rest of the BAs to give you exactly what the recording has for bass..Sure the bass end is not colored like my H3 or FX850 but very satisfactory none the less. I would not have expected any less from Nuforce in the bass arena..
So previously it was Treble <Mids>=Bass. Now it is Treble=mids=Bass=+space+depth+clarity.. I noticed because of the added energy of the treble region, tonality is less leaning toward warm and much more neutral better even balanced across the board. Overall much better sounding to my ears.. And you get the best Nuforce sound I have ever heard..
Trying various daps and amps these sound much better when amped with more power so try out your amps with these as they will expand accordingly..
I would like to conclude by saying I think Nuforce has got a real hit on their hands and even without my tip rolling experiment these are worthy of the price for admission but please try out this tip experiment for the absolute best resolution from the Primo8. I think it does everything NuForce claims it does but now even better. Thanks for spending the time to read over this review and as always Happy listening.