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REVIEW: Nuforce NE-7M iPhone IEM vs Denon C700 and Klipsch Image X10 (NE-8 Impressions Added...

post #1 of 854
Thread Starter 
I posted much of this in another thread that was started in July before these were released, but I have done more listening and impressions with the Denon C700 and Image vs these IEM which will be found in the final section below.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS 11/13/08 right out of the box, about 2PM:

I don't care who makes these Nuforce NE-7M, because listening to them unamped out of my 3G iPhone right now there is no question in my mind that they will beat the SE210, E2c, E3c, ER6i, Super.fi 5 pro and JVC Marshmallow/JVC aircushion and most other under $100-150 IEM.

I am so surprised by them I suspect maybe they would also beat the Denon C700, q-JAYS, SE310 and E4c, although I only have the C700 still. I clearly remember not being shocked and surprised with the other's sound like I am right now with the Nuforce out of the box.

These remind me more of my de-podded IM716 with 47 ohm resistors, but more efficient, and maybe better than the SA6 I borrowed for a few weeks before I bought my Image X10. I don't expect them to beat the image but the C700 are an easy target. I already know the Image will have more bass, but these are not lacking in any way.

The NE-7M are transparent with the soundstage outside of the head, the bass is controlled and detailed, the mids are smooth and the treble is extended and not sibilant. Wow. I suspect these are a tweaked version of an OEM earphone like the Crossroads Mylarone, and will become flavor of the month.

UPDATE - LATER THE SAME DAY 11/13/08 around 11PM with 8 hours of burn-in:

I did buy these as an upgrade to the earphones that came with the iPhone 3G. But I'm listening to them right now on my Macbook through my Travagans Green USB DAC amp, and enjoying them a lot. I am not having any problems with hiss right now, but my ears are getting a little fatgued and need a rest.

The iPhone 3G has such a nice sounding headphone out that it might be better than this setup right now. I left the Predator and Pico in my fanny pack out in the car, and this amp was within arms reach so I grabbed it. This amp certainly drives the NE-7M to sound better than the Macbook internal sound card (just tried it).

With Binks Audio Test CD in iTunes stored as 1411 kbps wav, the NE-7M are flat to 20Hz, and still vibrate my eardrums very well at 16Hz. My 46 year old hearing doesn't go out to 20,000Hz but I can hear 16,000Hz with these easily.

I am still impressed with these, but I'll have to wait till later to try them with the Pico and Predator vs the C700 and de-podded IM716 and Image X10. Sorry...

FINAL EDITS - Friday 11/21/08 after listening right up till the time of posting this about 1AM 11/22 (more information than in my 2PM post in the other thread):

I am using my iPhone 3G for this assessment below.

I posted most of this review in another thread at 85 hours, and I now have about 95 hours on my NE-7M and they are still sounding very good. I am now going to be giving my Denon AH-C700 to my daughter because the Nuforce are simply better in every way. The NE-7M bass is faster and more controlled, and highs are not as harsh as the C700. The mids on the C700 are very nice however, and female vocals and instruments like guitar sound very good. But sometimes the bass of the C700 is a little over-blown in addition to being not as well controlled. And, in a previous review of the C700 I also said they can have a colored and splashy harsh treble with the wrong amp.

However, with the NE-7M I am finding that they seem to do well with any of my portable amps, and are not particular about which one I use. That is completely different than the C700 which seem to be more sensitive to what headphone amp I use them with. I had to sell my Tomahawk after I got my Predator because the C700 and TH didn't get along, making the C700 seems shrill and harsh at times. I only like the C700 with the Predator and Headsix (or directly out of the 1G and 2G Nano), as they seem to smooth out the C700 sound a good bit. With the iPhone headphone out the Denon C700 become fairly sibilant, especially with Nora Jones and Dianna Krall and Sjelby Lynn female vocals - yuck. My biggest reason to have kept these is that they were my only canal-phones that make good bass without needing a tight seal, and they will allow a little ambient sound through for listening while I walk down the street or when I need to be more aware of my surroundings.

I have also been comparing them to my Klipsch Image X10 and find the Nuforce to have just a little less bass quantity and a little more treble quantity, but in a sense the Nuforce are more balanced. They still do excellent bass impact with electronic music like Infected Musroom, and sound like they were made for each other.

With the Image X10 the bass boost sometimes intrudes into the lower midrange with female vocals, and Shelby Lynn or Dianna Krall and Nora Jones can all sound a little too close mic'd or boomy. There is no lack of bass in the Nuforce, it just doesn't seem like the EQ is boosted like with the Image X10 or my old SE530 - the image feels like it has a 3 db bass boost from 32 - 125Hz and the Nuforce feels like flat EQ. With the Nuforce the deep organ notes can still be heard in Arne Domnerus "Antiphone Blues" at an appropriate volume in relationship to the saxophone playing in the cathedral together, while the organ takes a little more front stage with the Image X10. It works well with either phone on this music.

At the other end of the frequency spectrum, the NE-7M can invoke just a hint of sibilance in some recordings; but mostly in the ones where it is already known to be a problem, like in Diana Krall "Girl in the Other Room" which is my test CD for sibilance. The tiny hint of sibilance is a non-issue, unlike with the Denon C700, Ultrasone HFI780 or JVC FX66 Aircushion where it is more prominent. Listening to Shelby Lynn "Just a Little Lovin'" there is almost no sibilance, and it goes away with a deeper insertion into the ear canal. I need to move up to a large silicone tip with deep insertion, as I lose some of the seal with the medium, but bass does not suffer a lot with the lesser seal.

Pianos are done very well. I can really enjoy Liz Story "Night Sky Essays" without any piercing piano notes, and timbre and tone is true. Attack is good, maybe very slightly soft with Liz Story but better with Tsuyoshi Yamamoto "Misty" off the Smooth Jazz Festival. It is on par with the Image X10 with some music, but sometimes better than the image. With Liz Story and some other piano music I cannot stand to listen with the Klispch Image or my Freq Show customs, because the boost in the lower mids interacts with my ear canal/inner ear and causes some distortion or congestion in my right ear (which suffers from chronic tinnitus). I have reported this problem in other threads as being the main reason why I dislike my Freq Show. This is not quite as bad with the Image but is still much better when I listen with the Nuforce. Unlike the X10 which are too forward in the lower mids with piano, where the C700 ruin the piano for me is in the highs where it can be a little harsh and piercing.

Saxophone and other woodwinds are also reproduced very well with the Nuforce, and there is a sense of breathyness and reedyness, without any sense of artificiality where with some earphones it would sound a little synthetic (JVC FX66 or Super.fi 5 Pro for instance, where the mids in the sax were recessed). I like the X10 just a little more with saxophone, for adding the extra boost in the lower mids that adds some warmth to them - making up for some of the missing vibration felt from a saxophone in real life. Brass has a nice bite to it without drilling into the head, and drums have nice impact from bass through tom tom and snare.

Males vocals like Jack Johnson seem just a little better without the extra bass in the Image X10, but the extra bass does add more fullness to the guitar strumming with the X10. Both earphones are very crisp and detailed.

Finally, the Nuforce still seem to do the "out of head" sound better than the Image X10 at times. The X10 are a more forward earphone, so soundstage is a little closer. The Denon C700 seem to have the narrowest soundstage, and put the image right in the center of the forehead.

After I do my review of the Westone 3 that I will be getting next week, if the Westone sound as good as the demo I had a year ago then I will probably sell the Klipsch Image X10 to get the Westone (along with giving the C700 to my daughter). But the Nuforce NE-7M are not going anywhere - they represent a great bang for the buck. The Image are just a little better, except with piano where they are worse (unless I use the Pico amp instead of headphone out). And female vocals are just different but equally as good between the Image and NE-7M. With rock music the forwardness of the Klipsch Image is a plus, but with live jazz and classical or vocals music the Nuforce are my preferred. With electronic I give them equal points. My Livewires customs still give me a more transparent sense of hearing through the earphones and into the music, and the timbre and tone is still slightly more realistic, but they also cost 5x as much as the Nuforce.

I have still not heard an IEM under $150 that I think sounds better than this.

UPDATE 1/15/09 NUFORCE NE-8

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/r...ml#post5303581
post #2 of 854
That's a nice review indeed, thanks for your input. How comfortable would you rate these phones? Do they stick out or cause discomfort after longer periods of wear?
post #3 of 854
Nice for a $50 set of in-ears. Very thorough review as always HPA, good stuff.
post #4 of 854
Wow, $49 phones that will drive you to sell off the X10s and give away the Denons. I am imnpressed. How is fit, compared to the amazingly comfy X10s? I also have the Westone 3s coming, so I need to shed a phone or two when they arrive. I use the X10s for walking about, cause they are so fine in terms of SQ and comfort. I expect to use the Westones for serious at-home or in-transit listening (I use the better isolating Sleeks for that now). Would having a pair of Nuforce phones matched up with the Westones (assuming they are as good as you remember) be a good 1-2 punch collection? I could sell both the SA6s and the X10s, and recoup some $$$ in the process.
post #5 of 854
i wonder if this is mylar Xbi with inline module.. they look really similar
post #6 of 854
Looks they are good IEM's... I'm actually undecided between what to buy: these or the crossroads Bijou M...

I don't like the color of the Nuforce ( I know it dosen't matter in choosing IEM's but I love also the design of products) do you think it's possible to make them black with a spray can?
post #7 of 854
thanks for the review! I always enjoy your lovely write-up
post #8 of 854
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
Wow, $49 phones that will drive you to sell off the X10s and give away the Denons. I am imnpressed. How is fit, compared to the amazingly comfy X10s? I also have the Westone 3s coming, so I need to shed a phone or two when they arrive. I use the X10s for walking about, cause they are so fine in terms of SQ and comfort. I expect to use the Westones for serious at-home or in-transit listening (I use the better isolating Sleeks for that now). Would having a pair of Nuforce phones matched up with the Westones (assuming they are as good as you remember) be a good 1-2 punch collection? I could sell both the SA6s and the X10s, and recoup some $$$ in the process.
No, I said the Westone 3 will drive me to sell off the Image if they sound like the demo I had (Oct 2007), but the X10 still offer things the NE-7M don't (intimate warm rich vs neutral clean and spacious)

But the Nuforce did drive me to give the C700 to my teenager who lost her 3G Nano and Super.fi 5 pro last weekend. I think the Westone 3 were well above the E500 I had at the time last Oct 07, which I compared side by side at Westone. And I consider the Image to sound very similar to the SE530/E500 before I moved the SE530 into a custom molded acrylic shell this spring (now the SE530 sound more like the Livewires have tuned the sound tubes for more treble and less bass).

I do think the Westone 3 and NE-7M make a good 1-2 punch. The NE-7M are about as comfortable as my C700, and I can use them as a canal phone with medium tips or a deep IEM with larger tips. Even with the medium tips and medium insertion to the boney part of the ear canal the Nuforce sit fairly flush with the ear and don't stick out much at all. I have some Complys tips that look like they will fit and I plan to give those a try today (larger tip hole than Shure and Westone or IM716 so they fit the Denon and Super.fi).

Also a correction to the review: where I said, "Brass has a nice bite to it without drilling into the head, and drums have nice impact from bass through tom tom and snare." - that was for both the NE-7M and Image.
post #9 of 854
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by toughnut View Post
i wonder if this is mylar Xbi with inline module.. they look really similar
My understanding is that many of these OEM IEM have similar external housings, but have been tweaked to have their own distinctive sound. I somehow doubt these sound just like the Crossroads or OVC etc.
post #10 of 854
Nice review, hope for some more so that I can really get a more solid impression of these.
post #11 of 854
Thanks. I may pick up a pair for kicks at that price, since I checked out the NuForce site and like what they do. Also, their portable amp seems interesting as well. Might get that, instead of the FiiO E5. I love the Minibox E+, but it's too big to lug around. I use the X10s as my walking phone, despite their microphonics. If the Westones are what I expect (and what you and Ray Samuels heard), I am not sure what that means for the X10s in my case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
No, I said the Westone 3 will drive me to sell off the Image if they sound like the demo I had (Oct 2007), but the X10 still offer things the NE-7M don't (intimate warm rich vs neutral clean and spacious)

But the Nuforce did drive me to give the C700 to my teenager who lost her 3G Nano and Super.fi 5 pro last weekend. I think the Westone 3 were well above the E500 I had at the time last Oct 07, which I compared side by side at Westone. And I consider the Image to sound very similar to the SE530/E500 before I moved the SE530 into a custom molded acrylic shell this spring (now the SE530 sound more like the Livewires have tuned the sound tubes for more treble and less bass).

I do think the Westone 3 and NE-7M make a good 1-2 punch. The NE-7M are about as comfortable as my C700, and I can use them as a canal phone with medium tips or a deep IEM with larger tips. Even with the medium tips and medium insertion to the boney part of the ear canal the Nuforce sit fairly flush with the ear and don't stick out much at all. I have some Complys tips that look like they will fit and I plan to give those a try today (larger tip hole than Shure and Westone or IM716 so they fit the Denon and Super.fi).

Also a correction to the review: where I said, "Brass has a nice bite to it without drilling into the head, and drums have nice impact from bass through tom tom and snare." - that was for both the NE-7M and Image.
post #12 of 854

Nuforce NE-7m

Enjoyed your review. I was surprised by your inclusion of the X10 for comparative purposes but was even more surprised by your results. I will be ordering one of these tomorrow. Is Amazon the only one carrying these?
post #13 of 854
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by applevalleyjoe View Post
Enjoyed your review. I was surprised by your inclusion of the X10 for comparative purposes but was even more surprised by your results. I will be ordering one of these tomorrow. Is Amazon the only one carrying these?
I included the X10 because it is one of the few nice sounding universal IEM that I have left to compare anything to. I have kept the Denon C700 and IM716 because I can't get enough from selling them to get a reasonable amount of money back out of them. Just about every other IEM I have had that was inferior has already gone away, including E2c, E3c, SE310, E4c, Super.fi 5 Pro x2, q-JAYS, ER6i, JVC FX33 Marshmallows and JVC FX66 Aircushion.

My Triple.fi 10 pro went away due to comfort and fit, and my q-JAYS were just a little too dark for me, but both were up in the top 5 of the pack anyways. I have been saying the NE-7M beat anything I have heard under $150, although the de-podded IM716 when used with an amp can give them a run for their money. The C700 are just a little too colored and splashy, so I gave them to my 15 year old who lost her ipod and super.fi 5 pro last weekend. The Super.fi 5 pro were pretty colored sounding and I liked the C700 better; while based on memory the E4c and the SE310 were probably only slightly behind the NE-7M in terms of neutrality and lack of coloration.

The X10 remind me of my SE530 while they were still stock, but with a little better treble than the SE530 - both with a warm rich intimate fun sound. And the X10 also beat the SA6 which I borrowed for 2 weeks a while back to do a review, as I found the SA6 to be a little too bland for my tastes. I actually like the X10 a little better than my Freq Show 3-driver custom IEM as well. The X10 slightly beat the NE-7M because they are very involving and transparent most of the time, with a rich warm refined and intimate sound that puts you on stage with the excitement; while the NE-7m are like being able to sit in the audience and enjoy the show in the 1st - 3rd row with a wide stage. Currently, only my stock Livewires and my SE530 in a Livewires shell beat the X10, as the SE530 customs are tuned for flatter bass and more extended highs now - and both of the customs are tuned to be more similar to the NE-7M than the X10. The X10 are like a fine rich cognac vs the NE-7M being a dry clear martini.
post #14 of 854
Wow, considering the price (comparable to the X10's!?) and it breaks the stereotype of the Asian companies having all the bang-for-buck earphones! :P

Don't make me buy these please (Have C700's atm)
I guess these would rate a 6.5* value wise on ClieOS's earphone rating thread.

Honestly, don't make me buy these :'(
Going at this rate, the town of Milpitas in CA's gonna get a bit of my money...(Thinking of buying a Sansa Fuze as well to replace my Cowon D2 and Sandisk is based in Milpitas as well).
post #15 of 854
Actually I'm undecided on what to buy between these nuforce or the bijou m. I hope someone does a review comparing these two IEM's with microphone (very good for use on phones like nokia n95, iphone, htc, etc)
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