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Nuforce NE8 : brief review vs Denon C700

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello, I'm new to this forum but it's helped me purchase Denon C700 and Nuforce NE8, so here's a quick review for the NE8 and some photos (to supplement Hooran's thread)

In short: Very good sound quality, much better than expected for the price range, but cautious recommendation due to minor fitting and bass issues. My impression may improve later if I can solve those 2 problems.

My sources are Cowon A2 and Zen Stone. EQ and volume disclaimers below. FLAC or VBR 256+ tracks. Past IEM experience is limited to Denon C700, Shure E2C, Sennheiser CX300. I got the ne8 on Thursday.

I think ne8 is lightyears ahead of e2c and cx300, and almost better than c700 (slightly larger soundstage than c700, but slightly less overall presence due to shallower bass)

On vocal and classical, it was about as clear and balanced as I've ever heard with anything (in-ear or over-the-ear). Compared to c700, generally the sound appeared slightly wider and more spread-out (but not hollow). It also sounded smoother on the highest notes.

Same with pop-rock, electronic, trance and dance-pop, for the most part. But this is where it fell a little short, and requires some explanation...

The left earphone looks like this from the outside:



and from the inside:



I had (have) trouble getting a good seal. It came with 3 rubbery tips (small, medium, large) and a large double-flange tip. The middle-size was best for me, but really none of them did justice to what it required for proper sound. In fact, initially I was quite disappointed because no matter what I did, the sound was bass-less and lacked a firm presence in delivery.

So I had to adjust the source EQ:

A2 w/o EQ: c700 pretty good, ne8 unimpressive except for clarity

Zen (no EQ control anyways): c700 pretty good, ne8 pathetic/useless (so it's no good for me to jog with ne8 & Zen)

A2 EQ (lowest +7, low +3, mid 0, high 0, highest 0): c700 even better, ne8 getting good but still lacking

So I activated A2's Mach3Bass up to 6 or 7 (of total 10) and then it was satisfactory. When it worked, it worked well. The resulting sound was now complete. Clear, detailed all around. The bass responded quicker (tighter) than c700, and was less prominent but of good detailed quality.

Right now, the bass on ne8 with A2 w/ EQ & Mach3Bass is still somewhat elusive, depending on the music genre. It does surprisingly well for dance-music, sometimes better than c700. Sometimes it hits just right and it's like a revelation (like the audio is coming from around me with good ambient bass to fill in the entire spectrum) and other times it gets close to the pathetic e2c. However it seems to be kicking out the preferred bass even when I can't hear it. When I gently push it into the canal with my fingers, I can definitely hear what I think I'm missing.

The around-the-ear fitting was very comfortable once I figured out the optimal contour. It's easily bendable so I experimented quite a bit to find the matching 3D topology for my ear lobe (down, up-right diagonal curve, straighten out and then sharp turn back-down):



In my case, I had to "lean back" the bud to fit the groove just outside my canal, otherwise it would pinch against the cartilage and make it hurt after a while. Here's my optimal routing:



This held very well and comfortably, so much that I fell asleep listening to it and hours later they were still firmly intact. And I didn't feel it protruding because it lies very flat against the ear.

The cable was very thin and very susceptible to rustling noise transferred to the phones. But the clip just below the Y-separation did a good job of holding the slack in place and prevented the cable noise problem.

The included case was like the Shure case, but hollow inside with a small pocket and an elastic strap:



Overall, a thumbs-up for packaging and ergonomics.

Size comparison with c700:



Compared to the small ne8, the c700 makes me look like a robot with antenna-ears sticking out.

Impedance comparison: c700 16ohms, ne8 12ohms. So lower volume compared to c700. For example, with c700 on A2 I used the volume range 7-15 (of total 40 clicks) and with ne8 the range 4-12.

Since A2's Mach3Bass helped add more power to the low spectrum, maybe I have an impedance issue here. Attenuation might help juice more power to fill that lower gap.

Perhaps a better seal is also what I need. Comply T400 has been suggested on this board.

I should try contacting the Nuforce people for advice.

Bottomline for those on the fence: I think it's a really good buy but only if you can EQ to compensate. Perhaps other DAPs will not have the problem I did. I do like it as a complement to c700. I think I'll keep both for now.
post #2 of 14
Excellent comparison!

I also had fit issues with the included tips. I now use silicone tips from my vModa bass freqs. They are thicker and provide a better seal. The nub where the tips go over on both the NE-8 and vModa are exactly the same size and shape, so the vModa tips fit perfectly.
post #3 of 14
Nice. Was waiting for a comparison of these two.
Haha, the Denon C700 do stick out like an eyesore.
Wow, the sub $100 market is getting crazy good.
Anyway, you sure the bass issue wasn't due to the fit as both go hand-and-hand.

From what I've read around here:

The NE-7M's have better bass response/quantity versus the NE-8 (no statement about the quality of the bass) but the NE-8's have better treble response.
So I guess the C700/C751 have been topped for the best value-for-money earphone on the market by the Nuforces!

My plan is to get a Sansa Fuze + a NE-8 + Comply T400 to replace my current setup of a tweaked Cowon D2 + C700's + Comply T400.
I just wish that Sansa used an usual mini-B USB cable ffs. F'n propitiatory BS.

Back to topic though, Nuforce are the new kings for value
post #4 of 14
Two changes created a noticeable improvement in the bass (as well as overall SQ).

1) Changing the original tips to the clear silicone tips from V-moda Bass freqs.
2) Listening to my NE-8s again after a good 8 hours of burn-in using white noise and pink noise.
post #5 of 14
I've had a good 40 hours of burn in on the NE8 (Pink noise and listening) and the SQ hasnt changed all that much. Mids and vocals have balanced and smoother overall.

Bass is still a little rolled off. I have a good seal using Comply T500 from my SF5pro. At this point I don't see the bass coming any more than it is. Mids, highs, and clarity are superb. I agree the NE8 is great for pop, rock & classical.
post #6 of 14
is the ne-8 a good use for the gym? since the cord is thin from the review above?
post #7 of 14
The cord is very strong.
post #8 of 14
new-fi,

I also tried the medium tips for my UE Super.fi 3 and UE Triple.fi 10s, and they fit on the stalks of the NE-8 very well as well. Seal, isolation, and fit is again better than the original tips. The UE tips are probably my favorite as of now for the NE-8s, because the vModa and original tips are both a bit too shallow and don't go deep enough into my ears.
post #9 of 14
That fit looks pretty good! I always have problems with my IEM's falling out.
There are so many good products out, I can't buy them all!
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
mclovin24: I took it for this morning's run and it held up very well. Very light and unintrusive. The chord, around the ears and down to front chest-side with clip, rustled a bit, so I dropped it down to back-side and then it was perfect.

It was much more comfortable this way than e2c (which I used to wear the same way) and the thinner (but sturdy) chord kept out of the way instead of tugging on my ears like the thicker e2c chord.

Isolation from outside noise was much better than c700, but not as good as e2c. I prefer this level for exercising and workplace since now I can be more aware of my surroundings.

But I loved e2c's ear-plugging effect on airplanes. I think ne8 will not block the cabin noise as much as e2c, but in exchange the flatter profile against the ear will probably prevent pinning against the pillow and transferring low-hum vibrations (which was annoying with e2c)

Hooran: Thanks for the tip suggestions. I found the t400 tips on amazon but it's pretty friggin expensive (compared to the cost of ne8) I don't know if I'll need that many spares. Maybe I can find some people here to share it with?

nuforce-jason: Would you happen to know if the ne8 is open to tweaking with extra impedance? To me I wouldn't yet call this "bass roll-off" because it seems the response is fully there but the sheer amplitude is relatively lacking. So I think my setup is not delivering enough power to activate that low range to the same level as the rest of the spectrum. Does nuforce have a frequency/impedance chart for ne8?
post #11 of 14
Ya, we want frequency charts
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by new-fi View Post
mclovin24: I took it for this morning's run and it held up very well. Very light and unintrusive. The chord, around the ears and down to front chest-side with clip, rustled a bit, so I dropped it down to back-side and then it was perfect.

It was much more comfortable this way than e2c (which I used to wear the same way) and the thinner (but sturdy) chord kept out of the way instead of tugging on my ears like the thicker e2c chord.

Isolation from outside noise was much better than c700, but not as good as e2c. I prefer this level for exercising and workplace since now I can be more aware of my surroundings.

But I loved e2c's ear-plugging effect on airplanes. I think ne8 will not block the cabin noise as much as e2c, but in exchange the flatter profile against the ear will probably prevent pinning against the pillow and transferring low-hum vibrations (which was annoying with e2c)

Hooran: Thanks for the tip suggestions. I found the t400 tips on amazon but it's pretty friggin expensive (compared to the cost of ne8) I don't know if I'll need that many spares. Maybe I can find some people here to share it with?

nuforce-jason: Would you happen to know if the ne8 is open to tweaking with extra impedance? To me I wouldn't yet call this "bass roll-off" because it seems the response is fully there but the sheer amplitude is relatively lacking. So I think my setup is not delivering enough power to activate that low range to the same level as the rest of the spectrum. Does nuforce have a frequency/impedance chart for ne8?
Comply Tips, such as the T400, degrade after about a month or 2 months of use. That's why I don't use them, because they get expensive to maintain.
post #13 of 14
If you can get a month out of the Comply T400s (some can't get that much), you can pick up 10 pair for $34.95 at earplugstore.com. With shipping, that's about $4 a month. not too bad.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstarn06 View Post
If you can get a month out of the Comply T400s (some can't get that much), you can pick up 10 pair for $34.95 at earplugstore.com. With shipping, that's about $4 a month. not too bad.
That's true. I just wish some earphone company would made the "ultimate silicone gel eartip". Buy it once, and save me that $34.95 to buy a nice lobster dinner for myself and a lady friend instead, or go let it go toward the ATH-ESW10JPN that I'm eyeing.
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