TOPPING NX1 TOUR Xtralglactic
Part 2 IEM Impressions.
Since there has not been much activity on this thread Im just gonna go ahead and write it due the fact that Part 1 is just a few posts above this :)
This is for those who have expressed interest on how the NX1 performs with IEM's, specially Supergen2 whom I will satiate their curiosity now. I have chosen 2 of my IEM's to pair with the NX1. They are the Sony XBA3's and the Monster (I saw your eyes roll, don't think I didn't see!!! ;) Gratitude Earth Wind and Fire or Monster EWF (dont think for a second I will write out the whole thing everytime) but for this Il just say EWF and hopefully you know what Im talking about. HA!
Now I know these are not top end IEM's. XBA3's are known to have a metallic edge to the sound (and yes I agree with this) and the EWF's seem to like to accentuate the lower treble which is bad for heavily produced music (as per one of the comments I read ;) but none the less I enjoy using them anyway.
I was going to stick with the Ipod touch 3rd gen with this impression but I got curious on how my Ipad 3rd gen sounded with just plugging my Sony IEM straight into it and there's no comparison. The Ipad produced a full bodied sound while the touch was hmmm...anemic sounding in comparison. So in order to give the amps the best possible sound input at my disposal (not that the Ipad 3rd gen is the last word in music fidelity) I have decided to use the Ipad instead. The Ipad had its EQ set to flat and the volume will be at max all the time feeding into the NX1. Now maybe someone can correct me later as I was thinking it should be 3 stops below the max volume in order to get the cleanest sound possible through the headphone out due to THD's and all that but.....yeah..
HISSssss.....sssssss. No there really isnt much to speak of on low gain. On high gain...this is weird on low volume its audible but not by much. turn the volume pot to max volume and you will hear the hiss disappear halfway and return again albeit louder on max volume. This was my EWF's. With the XBA3, The hiss was inaudible at all volume levels but..weird again, when the amp was set on high gain, there was more hiss at zero volume then at max volume it virtually disappeared. Perhaps there is an explanation if an electronics guru reads this? What is this? IEM impedance? Amp Impedance? Line out impedance? There was nothing connected to the amp just the IEM's when I tested this or is it the NX1 needs to "warm up again"
I have now been sitting on the NX1 to warm it up abit....just kidding (not that it would damage it, its robustly built using metal)....but as I write this its apparently 8 degrees outside my house as per home weather station...Brrrrr! The NX1 will remain on the LOW gain setting as I found the HIGH gain made the mids too agressive with the XBA3’s and as we know IEM's don't really require that much juice and the amp is "truer"to itself on low gain...(is it??) But interestingly enough the EWF handled the high gain better as it gained energy and sparkle to the sound while the XBA3's started sounding "metallic". In the end, both IEM’s needed a level playing field so I chose the LOW gain.
Interestingly I made a mobile phone call and put my HTC One right next to the NX1 and it didn't start beeping like morse code. When I put the NX1 next to my home wifi router..it went off like crazy. This was tested with both IEM's.
I will be using the same 3 songs as in part 1 for consistencies sake and I will just be using the NX1's
THE NX1 with the SONY XBA 3's
Well inserting the XBA3's in my ears are certainly easier than the EWF. They form an excellent seal immediately while the EWF's take time to adjust properly. The XBA3's are lighter too but how does it sound?
Micheal Buble Me and Mrs Jones: At low gain the sound becomes loud enough for me to enjoy at 3/4 max volume. The pairing is excellent I believe but that metallic edge to Micheal Buble's voice is just present enough in the XBA3's to make me think twice but if I dont concentrate on that particular trait of the XBA3's its actually a quite enjoyable pairing. One thing that stands out is that I thought the XBA3's would be heavy on bass but its actually quite controlled and well behaved. The song has a simple bass line anyway. The highs are not piercing to me, even on the loud moments of the song when its all happening. The NX1 certainly makes the XBA3's sound balanced to me. Soundstage is always a problem with IEM's and I really cant hear the echoes of the people in the crowd so much. It just kinda like left and right stereo separation but done well. If there is a soundstage its quite narrow to my ears.
Micheal Jackson Love never felt so good: Volume stayed at 3/4 volume. Now heres something I haven't noticed before. When Micheal Jackson is singing (from Heaven or Hell? I believe the jury is still out on that one but he was a damn good vocalist) there is a hiss apparent in the background in the parts when he sings by himself and not present when its Justin Timberlake or just when its just the instrumental parts of the song! This is perhaps due to the low initial quality of Micheals vocal sample as the Exscape album is just composed of bits and bobs of whats left of his vocal talent. Also Micheal's voice seems to be coming more from the right side of the mix/earphone. Bass is definitely present here and the XBA3's definitely do justice to it with appropriate energy and SLAM. Just rightly done I believe. The metallic trait of the XBA3's is not as apparent here as with Micheal Buble's. The highs again are just right in my book, never becoming piercing or agressive when everything is playing at once. Soundstage...well its the cowbells that seem to only move left to right in the mix lololol so no there isnt much soundstage to this song. The NX1 acquitted itself quite well on this track.
Maysa Have sweet dreams: zzzzzzzZZZZzzzzz Oh are you still there? LOL:) since its 10:36 pm now, this song I feel is appropriate and thus I will give it commentary. Volume stayed at 3/4 (Im actually trying to replicate what I found out in part 1 where the NX1 just became louder by itself so there is a method to my madness :) I Like how the NX1 renders her voice. Not as warm as I would like (metallic edge to the mids rearing up again) but on the whole its still quite soothing. Bass is present but not overly done by the XBA3's and the highs are airy here just as her voice has that breathless quality to it... (gushing). Being a studio recorded track, there's not much soundstage to speak of and of what I can discern, there are instruments that pan left to right vice versa, but seriously the NX1 and the XBA3's pair well with this song. And thats what matters in end.
THE NX1 with the Monster Earth Wind and Fire
Man the EWF's certainly do feel heavier and the eartips seem to be slippery to me. I prefer the material of the eartips of the Sony's. These IEM's are indeed flashier with their rose gold accents and their mettallic build. My samoan workmate said "It better be looking all ALL THAT (snaps her fingers) if its gonna cost $399 bucks". I of course quoted her the initial launch price in the US, not the $77 I got it for in Officeworks on a sale earlier this year. But yes for those who would like to gift this to a member of the opposite sex (as I did and she gushed saying I didnt really have to spend that much on her Bday but she was obviously tickled pink at the astronomical price I might have theoretically paid for it. Probably thought it was real rose gold :).
Micheal Buble Me and Mrs Jones: The volume has been left the same. Its apparent that these EWF's have an elevated bass response with this song on the NX1 compared to the XBA3's. Theres simply more heft to it and presence. Its sub bass mind you not the mid bass bloatiness as can be found in less accomplished IEM's. One thing that that stands out to me is the soundstage. Its back! from the comparable barren-ness of the XBA3's its a revelation to me. EWF's are a band/live musical group. It would be remiss, indeed, a misnomer to name it Earth Wind and Fire if it didnt have soundstage as EWF do their thing onstage and sound amazing from doing it. These IEM's just sound amazing with this song paired with the NX1's.
Micheal Jackson Love never felt so good: The volume has been left the same. The hiss I found when Micheal Jackson is singing is also apparent here so this is as resolving as the XBA3's. There's something to be said about IEM's with dynamic transducers and the EWF's are one of those that I believe are done/tuned correctly. There is a just an energy and excitement listening to this track on the NX1 that my poor cold feet are trying to ignore the sub zero temperature of the air near the floor (remember hot air rises!) that they are actually tapping to the beat! The instrument separation on the EWF's are amazing. Every element to the song is distinct and has space to breathe from vocals to backing vocals to the cowbell that pans left to right the the simple bass lines. Let me listen and toe tap to this a few more times before moving on...........
Maysa Have sweet dreams: After 5 more repeats of Love never felt so good, I believe I am ready to move on to Maysa! And as a bonus I can no longer feel my fingertips. Brrrr! I now have noticed that the volume has indeed risen with this track!!! Yaay! I reproduced my first finding! Is it the mastering of the song? I dont know but I had to dial the sound back say about 10%. What can I say? Its now 11:16 pm, its freezing and this is basically Maysa singing me to sleep. Her voice is just rendered beautifully and faithfully with fulsomeness and warmness I have come to expect. Bass is nice and defined,not overpowering. Just right. The highs are just heavenly and non fatiguing at all. The NX1, EWF and this song is just made for each other.
Conclusion of the NX1 with the IEM's.
I seem to like artists that start with "M" (Micheal Buble, Micheal Jackson, Maysa)
I seem to be sensitive to the cold.
I perhaps overshare and go off into tangents.
I like the EWF's better in every way. I may see if the Sony's tips fit on these.
Maysa...come sing me to sleep please....oh NO!!! The NX1 just ran out of juice!!! :(
Edited by Xtralglactic - 7/1/14 at 7:09am