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[REVIEW] NineWave NW-Studio Pro

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

No doubt high end earbud is getting harder and harder to come by these days. The stall of earbud development in Japan at the late 90s (probably a result of their economy crisis) pretty much marked the last golden days for earbuds user. Even though the introduction of Yuin PK1 in 2005 somewhat resurrected the high-end earbud market, it never does recover enough to match the exponential growth of the IEM market. The good news is perhaps the popularization of  portable electronic devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc)in recent years helps not only the IEM development, but also creates just enough user ‘pocket’ to allow high-end earbuds to flourish largely out of the public’s sight.  NineWave (9w) as one of a handful of high-end earbud makers is actually quite young as a company. Only just incorporated a year ago, their first earbud, the NW-Studio Pro created some buzz among earbud user when it was debuted at the headphone convention at Japan last year. How does it measure up?

 

9W-01.jpg

 

9W-02.jpg

 

SPEC

Driver Unit: 13.5mm dynamic transducer

Frequency Response: 20Hz 20kHz
Sensitivity: 110dB ± 3dB
Impedance: 32Ω ± 15%
Cable: 980mm

Plug: 3.5mm 24 gold plated
Weight: 12g ± 0.5g

 

9W-03.jpg

 

9W-04.jpg

 

Packaging, Accessories, and Build Quality

Packaging is simple and elegant. If it was to be sold in a clothing and accessory store, I won’t doubt there will be people mistaking it as a brand name purse. The beautiful leather case really showcases what it means to be ‘high end’ in the earbud world, not just for the sound but the whole product as well. But at the same time it is also practical, housing all the accessories and the earbud itself with ease.

 

9W-05.jpg

 

Beside the case, 9w doesn’t cutting back on other accessories in anyway. Three pairs of foam pad are included and they are extra thick and rather large, reminding me a lot of the Grado flat pad. I like the foam pad a lot, but also wish 9w had included some donut foam pad as well. There is also a gold plated 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter and a 95cm extension cable.

 

9W-06.jpg

The Grado flat-pad-like foam pad.

 

Build quality is top notch. I simply haven’t seen an earbud that is so elegant and simple in design yet so beautifully finished, making the best of other companies look like ugly duckling in comparison. The whole body made out of aluminum alloy, which I assume to be machined out. The cable is quite adequate for the job. It is soft and doesn’t seem like the type that will harden up too much (which is a problem with early Yuin). The only complain I have is with the cable length. The main cable measured end-to-end of 105cm and the extension is 95cm. That means the main cable is slightly too short and the extension is a bit too long. If it is a proper two piece cable design, I would expect something like a 40cm+80cm, or 50cm+70cm combination. If it is a one piece cable design with further extension, then I would expect the main cable to be at least 120cm in length, if not 130cm. It is not a big issue overall but it just makes the earbud a little less than perfect practicality wise.

 

Sound Quality

The earbuds received over 50 hours of burn-in before the review. No significant change was detected.

 

The first thing that NW-Studio Pro surprises me is the bass. While it might not be the deepest bass I have ever heard from an earphone, the sheer punch is quite impressive as far as earbuds are concerned. If there is such a thing as a basshead earbud, I reckon Studio Pro will be much closer to that title than anything I have heard on the same caliber. Yet the overall quality is still pretty high as texture and lower end rumble are still well rendered. Mid is actually a lot more forward even compared to the warm and mid centric AS-Charm. It is very warm and very sweet, intimate to almost in-the-face, definitely one for the vocal lover and those who like their music full. Treble extends decently to 16kHz with good detail and sparkle, but not quite as crisp or well defined compared to that of a well amped PK1. The only real issue with the treble is the slight peak over 10~12kHz which roughen up the presentation. It isn’t harsh in the conventional meaning (as it is out of the usual ‘sss’ region), but it could have been smoother if it is just a few dB lower at that area. Overall the treble seems to be more of a supporting role to the mid than to an attraction of its own. To get more crispiness, a good idea is to give the earbud a pair of donut foam pad. It still won’t beat PK1 on analytical presentation, but it is more exciting and detailed to listen to. Soundstage is decent and perhaps one of the biggest weaknesses of the overall presentation – it is actually quite good on its own, but not something to write home about especially compared to that of PK1. Of course you simply can’t have intimacy and soundstage in the same room. They just don’t work out that way.

 

Compared to PK1, HR1 or even to a lesser degree, the AS-Charm, the Studio Pro sounds quite differently. While others are trying to put out a grander sound, Studio Pro is trying to get closer to the listener. This makes it a little difficult to compare side-by-side to others earbuds where the strengths and weaknesses of each other are on the opposite ends. However on the big picture, I would think Studio Pro is no lesser in overall quality. It is more dynamic, intimate and good for the mainstream music. This serves well for Studio Pro as an alternative choice for those who are not into a more neutral sound. At only 32ohm, it also has the benefit of working well without any extra amping.

 

9W-07.jpg

Size comparison (from left): NW-Studio Pro, AKG K319, Yuin PK1.

 

Verdict

There isn’t much more to say about NW-Studio Pro except that it is a brush of fresh air in the earbuds market for the recent years.  I would think it is time for us to slowly move away from the PK1-like old design and into something new and better looking. Earbuds lovers don’t always need to choose plain and black to distinguish their audio choice from the general public. On the other hand, NW-Studio Pro also shows us that we don’t need overly flashy design with outrageous price tag for a good earbuds. It can still be conventional, well finished, on an affordable level, and need not be controversial. What can an earbuds lover asks for more?

 

See Earbuds Round-up for a rough ranking.

post #2 of 20

Great review!   How much do these cost, by the way?  Also, have you tried the sennheiser lineup of earbuds to compare?

post #3 of 20

Do u think is normal all the reviews you have writen , nowhere to find a negative review?

 

 

post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sotiris View Post

Do u think is normal all the reviews you have writen , nowhere to find a negative review?

 

 



Well, unless you have any particular reason to disagree with any of his reviews, I don't see why it matters.

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaBomb77766 View Post

Great review!   How much do these cost, by the way?  Also, have you tried the sennheiser lineup of earbuds to compare?

Ah, forgot to mention the price. It is about $175. The only Sennheiser earbud that currently interests me is the MX980, but the local price is a little too high, as in most Sennheiser locally.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sotiris View Post

Do u think is normal all the reviews you have writen , nowhere to find a negative review?

 

 

I don't write in a 'negative tone', if that's what you are asking - but I give them a ranking and that is as negative as I want to go for any review. I don't think an earbud or IEM that received a low SQ or value score is something wonderful to have. Read my Etymotic MC5 and Klipsch S4 review and I do express pretty clearly that their sound are not to my liking. But I see no reason to bash them heavily with word like 'cr*p". 'shill', 'money sucking low life' - that's not my style. I hardly bad-mouth on people I don't like in real life and I don't see why I should do so online. Sure a negative tone makes for more excited reading on your end, but it is pointless as far as a review is concerned (at least from my POV). If you want some cursing and hatred, you are on the wrong channel. Of course I can also start writing review on SkullCandy Smok'in bud or the iFeelU IEM I have and start bashing them (because they are that worthless), but those really don't worth my time, or your.
 

 


Edited by ClieOS - 5/13/11 at 5:30am
post #6 of 20

Great review, thanks! 

 

I wish you could get a chance to review the budget model as well ( the NW Studio ).  I hope 9wave becomes a power house in the audio world in the next few years. Both sets are pretty awesome.   

post #7 of 20

Although my english is not my native language i will try to be comprehensible.First of all words like 'dusturbing bass' , 'annoying mids' , or 'non-existent high' are words that descibe in a negative way a product and believe me , they can destroy the promotion of a product more easily than just being bad mouth ( i believe with the second approach u will make people more curious to find out why u hate them). Another reason that make me critical to the reviews is that this kind of product can not be advertised neither in tv or internet and have so much publicity.So how we can advertise them .We must find a place where similar people are interest in these things and find someone to give the positive publicity and give life to these new product.So we pay for a good review.I have no clues to accuse u about this thing , but watching u writing first time positive reviews for new products made me thing of this.Last and not least ,lets take a phrase of your review 'surprises me is the bass' .If i was able to search these phrase with the exact match in reviews topics , i would find it everywhere. So if someone likes/loves/is obsessed with the bass in his phones,u will lure him to try them, because this feature will satifly his desire, an aspect of human nature  that needs satisfaction or else human will be depressed since his happiness is connected with that.Thats my comments for now

 

Regards


Edited by Sotiris - 5/13/11 at 3:07pm
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sotiris View Post

Although my english is not my native language i will try to be comprehensible.First of all words like 'dusturbing bass' , 'annoying mids' , or 'non-existent high' are words that descibe in a negative way a product and believe me , they can destroy the promotion of a product more easily than just being bad mouth ( i believe with the second approach u will make people more curious to find out why u hate them). Another reason that make me critical to the reviews is that this kind of product can not be advertised neither in tv or internet and have so much publicity.So how we can advertise them .We must find a place where similar people are interest in these things and find someone to give the positive publicity and give life to these new product.So we pay for a good review.I have no clues to accuse u about this thing , but watching u writing first time positive reviews for new products made me thing of this.Last and not least ,lets take a phrase of your review 'surprises me is the bass' .If i was able to search these phrase with the exact match in reviews topics , i would find it everywhere. So if someone likes/loves/is obsessed with the bass in his phones,u will lure him to try them, because this feature will satifly his desire, an aspect of human nature  that needs satisfaction or else human will be depressed since his happiness is connected with that.Thats my comments for now

 

Regards



All of that may be so, but it's a little much to accuse him of accepting bribes.  I trust what he says, since his opinions have been in line with my own for things the two of us have tried.  Again, if you try anything he has reviewed and decided he was blowing certain aspects way out of proportion to get peoples' attention, then sure, you'd have a case - but you don't, so there is no case.  I'm sure some reviewers do accept "payment" from manufacturers to give good reviews, but ClieOS isn't like that.

post #9 of 20

Ya sorry bro, as the first person in the entire world to get to listen to the 9wave earbuds, I agreed with everything ClieOS said to the letter.  


Edited by swbf2cheater - 5/13/11 at 5:47pm
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sotiris View Post

Although my english is not my native language i will try to be comprehensible.First of all words like 'dusturbing bass' , 'annoying mids' , or 'non-existent high' are words that descibe in a negative way a product and believe me , they can destroy the promotion of a product more easily than just being bad mouth ( i believe with the second approach u will make people more curious to find out why u hate them). Another reason that make me critical to the reviews is that this kind of product can not be advertised neither in tv or internet and have so much publicity.So how we can advertise them .We must find a place where similar people are interest in these things and find someone to give the positive publicity and give life to these new product.So we pay for a good review.I have no clues to accuse u about this thing , but watching u writing first time positive reviews for new products made me thing of this.Last and not least ,lets take a phrase of your review 'surprises me is the bass' .If i was able to search these phrase with the exact match in reviews topics , i would find it everywhere. So if someone likes/loves/is obsessed with the bass in his phones,u will lure him to try them, because this feature will satifly his desire, an aspect of human nature  that needs satisfaction or else human will be depressed since his happiness is connected with that.Thats my comments for now

 

Regards


First of, there is no 'disturbing bass', 'annoying mid', 'non-existing high' or any of such things in NW-Studio Pro - there is a rough peak on 12kHz, and that is what I said in the review. It has a great bass response for an earbud, and that's how I described it. I could have easily said 'the bass is SENSATIONAL and WONDERFUL!!!' and it will be just as good for me, but I choose not to. Should swbf2cheater, who I understand is a NW-Studio Pro lover, calls me out for not using stronger words in my review? I write it as it is, because the bass did surprise me at my first listen - why should I write anything different than my own impression?

 

As one of the more frequent reviewer in the forum, I admit I do receive quite some number of free sample from manufacturer and dealer in exchange for review. But the first condition of the review is that it is honest to my opinion. I don't need to say anything good if I don't want to - takes the recent Xcape v2 review for an example - I do confirm it is a lesser IEM than its predecessor in my review and people are not happy about Sunrise and its dealers (for selling them an 'improved' IEM that gets a lesser review). That is free sample from Sunrise and I don't need to cover for their mess. The second condition I have for myself is that none of the sample will be sold, so there is not money gain for me regardless of how an IEM is reviewed, positively or negatively. I post pictures of my whole collection yearly and I can point them to you if you are interested. Last but not least, let's take a look at this:

 

P1050073.jpg

This is the invoice of what I bought last month @ Jaben Singapore.

 

People often make assumption that everything I reviewed must be free sample - well, that's not true. I spent at least two or three thousands yearly (if not more) of my own money buying gears that eventually get reviewed on Head-fi or my own blog. Since I don't make any money from my review or the samples, these money comes from my own pocket. In fact, I spent over US$600 on gears @ last month alone. I own it to no one to write a positive review on NW-Studio Pro but myself. Why do I need to promote NineWave when I spent my own money on it, or why should I lie about it if I don't like it at all? Do you actually think NineWave will send me a bucket full of cash because I wrote a positive review as a customer?


Edited by ClieOS - 5/13/11 at 7:41pm
post #11 of 20

ClieOs, don't listen to him :)

 

I think you should report it and get every message after his removed so as to now slander your name or 9wave.  ( including all these replies )

 

 


Edited by swbf2cheater - 5/13/11 at 8:47pm
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by swbf2cheater View Post

ClieOs, don't listen to him :)

 

I think you should report it and get every message after his removed so as to now slander your name or 9wave.  ( including all these replies )

 

 



Yeah, I agree, this thread got off to a pretty bad start...I think it should be cleared out as to not scare people off who are just coming to comment.

 

And as another comment I'd like to add: is it possible to really compare these to any IEMs you've listened to?  Or are earbuds just too different to really compare to IEMs?

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaBomb77766 View Post

Yeah, I agree, this thread got off to a pretty bad start...I think it should be cleared out as to not scare people off who are just coming to comment.

 

And as another comment I'd like to add: is it possible to really compare these to any IEMs you've listened to?  Or are earbuds just too different to really compare to IEMs?

I don't usually compare headphone of different kind. It is just really difficult for me to do. For example, earbud will always has better soundstage in general when compared to IEM, and IEM will always sound a little more detail because they are inherently more upfront in presentation. They become more or less moot point in the comparison.

post #14 of 20
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

I don't usually compare headphone of different kind. It is just really difficult for me to do. For example, earbud will always has better soundstage in general when compared to IEM, and IEM will always sound a little more detail because they are inherently more upfront in presentation. They become more or less moot point in the comparison.

I think another reason may be due to depth of insertion? Probably IEM also tend to sound more detailed because they don't need to "fight" with outside noise.

 

 

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatthumb View Post

I think another reason may be due to depth of insertion? Probably IEM also tend to sound more detailed because they don't need to "fight" with outside noise.

 

 


Yes, there is the practical side as well, though I hardly use earbuds in noisy environment anymore.

 

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