MyST Nail 2 V2 Earphone Review
At the end of 2012 while doing my daily routine o scouring the Internet for new headphone gear I stumbled on what seemed to be a gold mine. It was a Russian headphone shop called MyCroft and they sold the usual stuff like HiFiMAN and Phonak but also had their own brand MyST. They had all different items, portable amps and DAC to desktop versions, cables and some IEMs. I was very intrigued by a lot of the products but especially the PortaDAC 1866 (review coming) that was the first portable DAC I have ever seen with 4 inputs with one being Bluetooth. I started talking to one of the co owners, Roman and he seemed very proud a confident with his products. I asked about the company and found out all sorts like he used to OEM for Fischer Audio making their amplifiers (HA-2 and Mystify). The Mystify when reviewed was a success but then it disappeared quickly after but it was obvious that this company could make a good product. I was mainly interested in the PortaDAC but I asked about the IEMs. He said that he loves the Nail2 V2, it is a best seller in Russia but does sound strange and he sometimes wonders why others like it. He is a very honest man. After some more discussion, I decided to buy the PortaDAC and Nail 2 at the beginning of the year. So this is the Nail 2 V2 that I am reviewing here.
The IEM has a single balanced armature driver which is has a impedance rated fairly highly at 120 ohms. To get this earphone out of Russia I think you will be set back just over £200, maybe a bit more.
As I got the 1866 at the same time and instantly fell in love with that I ended up using that as a source and amp a fair bit and I did find that they worked well together, good old-fashioned manufacturer synergy. I also used my beloved HiFi ET MA9 and my iPod Classic with a huge range of portable amplifiers that I have with my favourites including the Lear FSM-02 V2, GoVibe VestAmp, MyST PortaAMP (more about this another time) and Hippo CriCri.
Synergy Here is Unreal - Nexus 7 through bluetooth to MyST PortaDAC 1866 to MyST PortAmp to MyST Nail 2 V2
When at home I use my iMac and then USB to either the Audioengine D1 or the 1866 (which whitewashed the D1) and then use a line out to an amp like the Tube Amp BL-2 or Objective 2 or just use their headphone outs.
As for music I do not use anything specific and have just worked through a lot of my music. This is mainly FLAC with a bit of WAV and ALAC and the odd bit of MP3.
As for tips I have been playing around with these with Phonak silicone, Sony Hybrids, Jaben Foam Tips and some others and the noticeable best have been the Phonak and Hybrids with the hybrids have a tad more clarity but slightly thinner sound but the Phonak having a more full sound with a bit more bass.
This looks like a very well done DIY IEM. That is not to say its flawed or has any problems because it does not, it is DIY done perfectly but it just reminds me of DIY because of the Neutrik jack and the hand engraved R and L signs on each of the silver barrels. I personally love how it looks because there is little that looks similar to it.
Build quality is stellar. There needs no explaining that a Neutrik jack is a tank and they have even put a little plastic sheath on as a strain relief. The cable feels really strong but is not flexible at all. That being said it does remain tangle proof and is very usable as long as you coil it up for storage. The y-split is smoothly done with a bit of clear heat shrink that can hardly be seen and does the job. We also get a bit more of the heat shrink going into the housing acting as a strain relief.
The housings are wonderfully built. They are all metal in a design that has nowhere which can go wrong. It is made up of just two parts of metal, the back and min bit of the housing and then the sound nozzle and the two parts are connected seamlessly. The end of the sound nozzle as a filter into stops any problems with earwax occurring and I also think it houses an acoustic filter for the armature driver.
Overall this is a well build, simple yet elegant design.
Okay…. This section adds to the whole DIY look. It comes in a little plastic lock bag with a sticker that has the name and some specification printed on. Inside you get two black plastic tools. These seem to be what would be used for filter removal and replacement but I did not get any spare filters.
You then get a separate packet and that is a brand new pack of Phonak Audéo silicone tips in medium with a cleaning tool. I actually personally really liked the Phonak tips using them on many other models like Vsonic and Sony IEMs so I was happy to see them included. However they are three pairs of medium in the pack so there is not a lot of versatility in terms of size and if these do not fit you will end up having to buy after market tips but I was just fine with the included tips and they work just great with the Nail so no complaints there from me and I have a couple of back up pairs two!
The one think I am sad not to see with these is any sort of carry case. I understand that your paying for the IEMs here and the quality of them and not the packaging and accessories but I do like to see a case. I will likely by them a pelicase.
Fit of these is easy and even if you have the smallest ears in the world I doubt that you will come across any problems. These have a very thin barrel, thinner than the Etymotic HF5 and every other IEM that I have ever owned. Wearing them either over the ear or straight down just give them a nice push however deep you may want and your sealed and good to go.
Even though these have a very deep insertion depth, as much as an Etymotic, they do not feel intrusive however because they are just that bit thinner so they do not feel my whole ear up when they get deeper and this feel comfortable, really comfortable. They are so small that even though they use metal and very well built, they still weight little to nothing and do not apply any pressure on your ear. These things are amazing in your ear and with foam tip will disappear completely into bliss with them.
I think I have just crowned my new isolation champions. Sorry Etymotic. Yes these isolate just amazing. They get in deep and just block everything out. These are on the same level as my silicon custom IEMs and better than my acrylic ones. If you need all ambient noise blocked out then give these a go!
Microphonics (Cable Noise):
If you chose to wear these straight down then you will suffer from a fair bit of cable noise. These do produce a fairly loud thud and wind can cause this as well or just walking and knocking your t-shirt. The lack of a cable cinch or included cable clip does not help this either but by wearing them over the ear you can completely reduce the cable noise to a minimal amount.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so don’t make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
The sound of these simply put is unique and magical and also truly top tier in its self. It is not going to be like any single armature earphones that you own, unless, perhaps you own something from Final Audio Design. In fact these remind me of the Heaven IV but have removed all there problems, generally sound better and are just easier to get on with working with most genres. These have a very nice frequency response in amidst an expansive and airy soundstage. We have a boosted bass which extends as deep as you could ever ask for, a airy, smooth and balanced midrange and topped off by a peak free treble that slopes downwards neatly after 10khz.
Soundstage and instrument separation:
Normally I will listen to my HD580, HE-500 or something like T1 and then move to a close can or IEM just to be annoyed by the soundstage that is tiny in comparison with sub par imaging. Well when I switch back to these they do not sound claustrophobic and maintain a pinpoint imaging. Soundstage is wide and deep so beautifully three-dimensional and we also have a great height, which is something that can be easily helped on by a good amp, something like the MyST PortAmp does the trick.
This is a earphone that smashes almost all the things one may expect in a armature earphone, in fact it gets rid of the bit people complain about but keep them bits we love and one of them would be the amazing and airy instrument separation that we have come to love with armatures. Not once was I concerned or finding it hard to distinguish where two different instruments were coming from as they always basking in the delight of there own space.
Well-bodied Impact. Fast Impact. Never-Boomy Impact. These are all traits of the mid-bass. There is a nice well-mannered boost so it is perceived well in line with the mids with zero veil or bleed. It has a small amount of warmth but is dry for the most part that ends up sounding very lush and engaging.
The best part of these is the deep bass that is textured just marvelously. It is not boosted and your not get some silly amount of slam like the Sony MH1c will give so I would not expect that sort of sub-bass performance but expect something nearly at the Sony MDR-EX1000. Nice rumble, and just amazing detail and texture, so realistic in terms of timbre. I could listen to a bass guitar groan away all day.
These do an amazing job of perfectly capturing the emotion of a vocalist. They are more vocal forward in the midrange with the instruments sound a little warmer and laid back (not recessed, laid back). The midrange has a good balance, only sloping downwards the slightest to the high mids but not something that will cause a nasally effect, leave anything missing or not allow a female vocalist too sound sweet. Because female vocals do sound sweet, not like a Beyerdynamic T1 might in this area, but still very enjoyable to say the least. Like I have said before they still capture the best of a armature driver and we get great transparency and detail, not quite Etymotic or DBA-02, but still at an amazing level.
This is where things get a bit different. I have a feeling that Roman who designed these is a little bit sensitive to treble from our discussions and this being is creation as taken this into account so if you feel that you’re a bit sensitive to sibilance or peaky treble then jump on these now. These do not just drop off into a bottomless hole at the end of the midrange however and they still offer a polite amount of 10khz sparkle, just not an over board amount that could offend. So we still hear them cymbal crashes and snare drums, just not piercingly over the rest of the spectrum. Now they do have a slightly dropped amount of presence as well, which does provide a slightly dark sound to these earphones and that is something to take into a consideration. After the 10khz sparkle we do have a fairly steep but steady roll off allowing only a small quantity of upper treble.
Heir Audio 4.Ai (with Effect Audio upgrade cable):
Here is some competition. You all know how much I love my 4.Ai and they are a bit more expensive too. With a quarter of the drivers and a smaller housing it is simple that the Nail is the easier and more comfortable of the too and also offers more isolation. The Nail has better bass extension with a more confident deep texturing. The mid-bass has less decay with the 4.Ai but a warmer feel to it and a looser punch. The mids are more detailed by a touch with the 4.Ai but do not have as good balance and it is clear with female vocals the nail actually had more presence in the high mids. Treble is more plentiful with the 4.Ai as you may guess and also has better extension and more sparkle. Soundstage is slightly bigger with the Nail and imaging is very tight with both of them being stellar in this area.
Adding the points up these are very close competition when it comes to which is better and I may just throw it the way of the 4.Ai but the Nail is cheaper. To be honest it is simply what is more ideal for you in which you have to decide which one to get.
What better mid balance with great sweetness and more presence by a touch? Nail. Want sparkly and slightly bright highs? 4.Ai. Mid-bass and warmth? 4.Ai Sub-bass? Nail
A pretty close call but I enjoy the Nail the most of the two because it actually makes the 4.Ai sound a bit edgy in the mids even if I think the 4.Ai is the slightly better earphone.
We cure the RE-400s sub bass roll off, add a bit of warmth and power to the mid bass but keep the amazingly balanced mids with even more detail and then just reduce the treble ever so slightly. Pack that with better instrument separation and a much bigger soundstage and it is easy to pick the winner here. The RE-400 are a lot cheaper and easily taught a lesson by the Nail.
MyST have entered the market with a IEM that should be taken with the up most seriousness because it is a serious contender, especially for you guys who find sibilance really easily or earphones like the Heir Audio 4.Ai bright even if they clearly are not. It is a great form factor and amazing sound that I think will truly justify your hard earned money and I have not had this much fun reviewing these in a while. For what should be a bout 200 pounds I would not think twice about giving these a go.
This was pasted from my review website www.inearspace.co.uk