After 12 more hours on the iTunes burn-in, the NADs sound pretty much the same. However, with the Comply tips the harshness is largely eliminated, at the expense of clarity I am afraid. Using a Matisyahu track, Chop 'Em Down from the Live at Stubbs CD, there is a bit if harshness in the recording (vocal) using the stock tips, not bad but it's there. With the Complys, not an issue. It's gone.
I won't rush returning these phones, because I want to be fair. But right now, unless they change dramatically with 50+ hours of burn in, I am just not in love with the sound signature, again considering the pedigree. And you are right, the form factor is also a distraction. I like wearing on the go in-ears over the ear, not hanging down. I will tolerate using the Trumpets that way because the cable is very thin, though it is also flat. But the NAD flat cable is much thicker, as are the driver housings themselves, so over the ear is clunky alternative. Not really workable.
I'm stumped. I am not saying the NADs are bad, not at all. They sound okay, but they just don't move me. As for comparison with the Trumpets, the Trumpets are less reverby, flatter, but I just prefer the sound/fit combo right now as I have all along. Also, I know the Tributes had a nice warm signature, but the the Trumpets are not warmish phones in that vein. They just seem very balanced to me. I know they get mixed reviews on the Net, but some people"get" them, some don't. Again, it could be fit. I am lucky in that I get a great fit with the stock medium silver tips. I think they are a hidden gem at their $150 price, but again, that could just be my ears.
One other thing, listening to the Beatles Anthology version of "Something," the amazing stripped down Harrison demo track, the vocal sounds a bit plasticky on the NADs, a trait that I noticed out of the box on other tracks. Again, not a very good characterization, but it's the best I can do. Something about the vocal/treble does not sound natural (and the NADs are touted as mimicking a live performance).
As far as the NADs being a neutral phone, I switched over the Ety ER4P I have on hand, and that's neutral to me. The NAD bass sounds more bloated/present. And with the Etys, not a hint of plasticky sounding treble, just clean and sharp with the usual Ety sound signature. Now, I typically use the Etys with a P to S cable and an iPod Classic/amp with bass boost (not my iPhone in the ER4P form), but even using them HP out on the iPhone, I prefer them over the NADs.
I will give the NADs 30+ hours on the burn in cycle and if they remain the same (needing the Comply tips to sound their best, which is not all that great), I will be boxing them up and shipping them back to Amazon. Oh well, it happens.