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Drop + NuForce Move Wireless IEMs

Rating:
4/5,
Tags:
  • True wireless Bluetooth IEM from Drop + NuForce with 6hrs + 18hrs battery life

    Drop + NuForce Move.png

Recent Reviews

  1. ejong7
    The Second Leap : Drop + NuForce Move
    Written by ejong7
    Published May 26, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Smooth and warm sound with forward mids and ample bass. Sturdy build. Great case/battery design.
    Cons - Underwhelming treble. Poor isolation. Occasional connectivity issues.
    DISCLAIMER
    The Drop + NuForce Move was sent to me by Drop in exchange for an honest review. I worked this review while I was on a business trip so I do apologize if the review felt more rushed than usual.



    INTRODUCTION
    The Massdrop brand has been a mainstay in various communities since 2012, basing its entire operation on community driven commerce that aims at providing the best products at the best prices. Over the past few years, Massdrop, formerly a company which premise functioned as group buying site, has dived into the direction of creating their own products (in collaboration with many companies) that are competitive in both its performance and value.

    In lieu with their vision to focus on creating their own brand of products, the company has decided to change its name and be known only as Drop, a playful nod to their roots but at the same time allowing for more leeway to venture out and experiment with new ideas. One of such is the product in discussion, the first truly wireless audio option from the team (and its perennial audio partner NuForce) – Drop + NuForce Move (Move).

    With proven releases such as the Massdrop x NuForce EDC, Massdrop x NuForce EDC 3, and the recently reviewed Massdrop x NuForce Stride, this tried and true partnership promises to provide the most enticing option in the true wireless market with Move. Have they succeeded in their mission? Join me and let’s find out.



    INFO + SPECIFICATIONS
    The driving force (pun intended) behind Move is a single balanced armature driver from Knowles. Its frequency response range is between 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with an impedance rating of 22 ohms and a sensitivity rating of 105 dB (give or take 3 dB) at 1 kHz. I had no issues powering the Move to ear bleeding levels with my mobile phone so I’m confident that it can be driven with any Bluetooth capable source.

    Move weighs in at a measly 10g (0.4 oz), which means they barely put any weight on your ears. The included microphone has a sensitivity rating of -38dB (again, give or take 3dB) and can be used for all your calls and your interactions with mobile voice assistants (in my case, Bixby from Google).

    (I’ll be moving into the realm of Bluetooth jargon that frankly is not my forte. Therefore, for those who have similar level understanding as I do of the technology, I apologize for not being able to provide more context on the given specifications.)

    I was delighted to see that Drop and NuForce decided to launch with (to my knowledge) latest standard of Bluetooth in Bluetooth V5.0 compared to the V4.1 found in Stride. Its Bluetooth profiles include A2DP V1.3, HFP V1.7, AVRCP V1.6 and HSP V1.2 – all Bluetooth profiles that were also updated versions of the one found in Stride.

    Unfortunately, compromises had to be made, with the codecs limited to only SBC and AAC, hence the best quality codecs such as LDAC and aptX-HD (even regular aptX) had to be omitted from the product. Not the biggest lost if you’re entrained in the Apple Ecosystem (since those 2 are the only codecs available for the products anyways) however users of newer Android systems would miss out on the newer formats.

    Exclusively sold on Drop’s website, the Move is currently on its first launch, and hence will be sold at a ridiculously attractive price of $90. This price will increase to $130 when sold in subsequent launches, so do put that in consideration while you still have the chance.



    ACCESSORIES & OPTIONS
    The unit I received is a pre-production sample, with the IEMs likely to be very close if not the actual end product. Some cosmetic changes may apply on the accessories given and packaging used for the production run Move.

    (I received my sample while I was on business trip hence a change in scenery for the photo background. Apologies if the already less than professional shots are even less glamorous this time.)

    20190512_084802.jpg 20190512_084810.jpg
    These are the front and back of the product packaging for Move. I was pretty surprised by the size of its packaging considering the array of accessories provided, which will be explained in more detail below.

    20190512_084953.jpg
    You will find a few plastic bags of ear tips plus the charging case (with Move inside) upon opening the box.

    HbCD1KSR9yFaoqtTPgYX_1500x1000_nuforcemove.jpg
    Here is a breakdown of the content one would receive when the Move is purchased: The Move unit itself, its charging case, a short USB-C charging cable and several silicone ear tips. Picture credits to the Massdrop team.


    Based on my pre-production unit, Move will ship with the smallest box I’ve seen in the Drop (formerly Massdrop Made) line of products, which kinda shocked me considering the list of accessories that were provided. Opening the box reveals two separate compartments separated with more thin cardboard, one with Move in its charging case, the other holds all the other accessories.

    Several ear tip options were provided with Move, specifically 3 pairs of single flange and bi flange silicone ear tips in varying sizes, though foam tip lovers would miss out as there none provided out of the box. No matter for me as I prefer silicone tip anyways (and suspect Drop designed Move for use with silicone tips). A short USB-C charging cable was given as well (and yes, the charging standard was updated to USB-C from Stride, more on that later).

    The Move’s manual was pretty well hidden within the small gap of the cardboard made compartments, and I honestly would have missed them if I didn’t clear the box a few days after I received it. The manual mainly utilizes diagrams to act as quick guides for the user though I found the short table of instructions provided by Christian to be particularly useful (and more straightforward, I’ll have it up in the “Userability” section below).

    In my opinion, the accessories package was pretty fit for purpose, with the glaring omission being the foam tips. Having said that, foam tips are easily sourced so I wouldn’t worry too much on that.



    BUILD QUALITY + COMFORT + ISOLATION
    20190512_085028.jpg 20190512_085129.jpg 20190512_085143.jpg
    Here are some shots of the Move taken by my unskilled hands in my hotel room patio.

    bUAPRhwgSBmDJ9ZEpOys_DropNuForceMoveWirelessIn-EarMonitors1801.jpg tipjFXQTSyyb9G5eSQVd_DropNuForceMoveWirelessIn-EarMonitors1779.jpg
    Here are more professionally taken shots of the Move from the Drop team.

    Feeling the Move on hand, I believe Drop decided to stick with its use of Lexan polycarbonate material for the body of Move (including its faceplate that also act as its buttons, more on that later). The body is finished in a sleek, unobtrusive midnight-blue, with black faceplates, conforming to the colour standard in most if not all of its audio collaboration products (including all NuForce based designs).

    In my experience using other IEMs with the same build material, the IEMs should prove to be sturdily built to withstand the grind of everyday usage while being light in weight for use. I’ve yet to get any scratches on my Drop – NuForce review units so they should be fairly scratch resistant as well.

    Move is designed with a water resistance rating of IPX5, which in layman terms mean it can withstand small splashes of water onto it (hence sweat from exercise use should be of no issue), but is not to be used in the shower or for a swim.

    Move has average isolation that is further improved if you elect to use the bi flange tips. I found them pretty comfortable for use due to its great fit (thanks to its highly researched shape) but no doubt would have appreciated if it isolated a little more.

    An item that needs to be further elaborated this time is the carrying case that it came with, which not only offers protection to the unit but also act as a charging case. The case itself weighs ~53g (1.9 Oz) and has a USB-C port at the back for charging. The Move is charged within the case hence that are no charging ports on the unit itself.

    USERABILITY
    unnamed.png
    Here is a quick instruction guide that would be useful with your Move unit.

    I found the Move to be pretty user friendly, where I was able to quickly setup the unit for use on my first try without any proper instructions (i.e. the user instruction should be fairly similar to other wireless units). Christian sent me a quick user instruction guide in the form of a table which was more useful to me than the manual itself, which can be found above.

    The faceplate buttons, despite feeling a little plasticky, was quite responsive, where I was able to issue commands to the units (such as play/pause, changing volume and powering on/off the unit) with ease. I did find the beeping sound upon each volume toggle to be a little louder than my preference, but YMMV.

    Pairing with all my Bluetooth sources was a breeze, yet it was reconnection that I had some issues with. In my past few weeks of using Move, I’ve found myself experiencing the same repetitive problem where the left side of my Move had disconnected from its source, leaving only my right side playing with no quick remedies – a complete reset is always needed. I think what I did to replicate this complication was pairing Move with its source too early (where the left piece was yet to turn on) so while it is pretty annoying, the complication could potentially just be a mistake from the user.

    When the Move is connected properly to my mobile (and all my Bluetooth sources), I experienced no connectivity issues within its specification range of 10m (33ft). Call pickup was smooth and easy using the faceplates, and the call quality was more than acceptable. My few experiments with the mic (through calls and the occasional voice assistant) showed that it was pretty capable and of decent quality, with my voice being propagated clearly (or at least a similar level to my mobile phone’s own microphone).

    The Move, with its internal batteries, have a reported battery life of 6 hours under normal operation, which in my usage was confirmed to be accurate. While this may not be the longest battery life on the market for Bluetooth IEMs (not sure about the true wireless battery life benchmark), Drop were able to “fix” this flaw through clever engineering on its storing case – installing an extra battery in the case for it to act as a portable charger.

    Through this great design, Move gets 3 extra full charges, which increases the total battery life of the Move to a total of 24 hours. In addition, to allow its users to fully utilize this design property, Drop and NuForce had the unit designed for quick charging, where Move could charge up 1 hour of battery life through a short 15-minute charge in its case. While the charging case design element is not new to this industry, for Drop to be able to incorporate it into a unit at this price range was certainly uncommon, with the only other available option known (and more reputable) to me being the TFZ X1.



    SOUND QUALITY
    Evaluation Process

    The Move was burned in for at least 100 hours prior to any critical evaluations made on the unit. The tracks used for my listening sessions are files that are either FLAC/ALAC from a wide variety of genres except metal. The following is a list of source gear that I used during the review:

    · iBasso DX150

    · HiBy R3

    · Samsung Galaxy S8

    My impressions were made using the medium sized single flange silicone tips. I’ve yet to do any tip rolling tips but my quick impression on the single flange vs bi-flange design yield little to no sonic differences. The single flange tips were chosen purely based on its comfort, but I may switch onto the bi-flange for its increased isolation.



    Sound Signature
    The Move have an overall warm, slight mid-centric tone – something that caught me way off guard. In my head, I had expected the sound to be of V-shape, which would be in line with most Bluetooth IEMs that had cross my path, including the Stride. What struck me instead was a full-bodied sound that was focused on its midrange, rich bass with a smooth but slightly subdued highs.

    Move’s low end was tuned to be a great supporting act, providing enough rumble to highlight the thumping bass notes of your tracks if needed albeit lacking in the punch or vigour that would knock your socks off. Mid bass seems to be the focus, with deeper male vocals well presented, rich and full though maybe a touch thick. This bass, while acceptable for my listening, may not impress the bassheads within our community, but it does help in make listening with Move an easier listening experience.

    The midrange is undoubtedly the star of the show, where its forward yet clear and smooth. Vocals in this region (female vocals in particular) are rich if not lush, with instruments such as guitars coming across full-bodied. I think the design vision here, along with the boosted mid bass, was to have vocals at the forefront of its sound, which certainly helps not only with its song reproduction aspect but also improving call quality, and Move definitely did not disappoint.

    Treble was where the Move fell a little short, especially for a treble hungry person like myself. Treble was pulled back, which helps in Move’s goal of being easy to listen but creates a slight veil or lack of articulation that slightly hinders my overall sonic enjoyment especially for string instruments that reside in this region. It’s similarly smooth like the midrange at an audible cost of air and extension, which may not be the biggest factor in terms of call quality but would impact reproduction of tracks from genres such as classical.

    Level of detail on Move is sufficient, that is, it doesn’t sound muddy though it won’t amaze you in terms of clearness and transparency of your tunes. It’s soundstage, while not outstanding in width, has a sense of depth that creates enough realism for most ears. Airy, analytical, it is not, but realistic it is.


    COMPARISONS
    Unfortunately, I do not have any other true wireless IEMs available in my arsenal for comparison. Regardless, I do have its “more wired” sibling – the Stride, available for a head to head. Comparisons would mainly revolve around the build and sound quality of Move.



    Massdrop x NuForce Stride
    The Stride was first Bluetooth technology based Massdrop Made audiophile product to be launched, with the IEM targeted for consumers who are looking for the best sound for the best price with tolerance for minimal wiring. Sold at $74.99, Stride is cheaper than its newer sibling Move but there were a few updated articles that found its way to the newer and younger sibling which the Stride could have benefited on.

    Both units utilized polycarbonate as the material of choice for their housing. Stride may come off as the more “premium” feeling unit of the two through its aluminium use whereas the more plasticky feel on the faceplate buttons of the Move lead to it feeling like the cheaper unit of the two. Both the faceplate buttons on Move and mic control on Stride were fairly easy to use and is quick to pickup so both are pretty user friendly.

    The Stride has a longer natural battery life, clocking at 8 hours compared to the 6 hours achievable with the Move but lacks the useful charging case that ships with Move that extends its effective battery life in “one charge” to 24 hours. Instead, it relies on good old fashion cable charging. In fact, it uses an older standard in micro USB compared to the USB-C found on Move. Both units are able to charge up to their full battery life within 1 to 2 hours.

    Fit on Move is more, for the lack of a better word, fitting, at least to my ears. The fact that it was lighter and the added fact that, true to its name, its wireless, makes it a better fit for me. I felt more comfortable using the Move on longer listening sessions than the Stride (ignoring the sonic signatures). The Stride did isolate better on most used cases for me so that should be food for thought.

    Sound signatures for both units couldn’t be any more different, with the Stride focusing on a V-shaped sound whereas the Move has a mid-centric warm signature. In my opinion, both were aimed at achieving a sound signature that could play well with most genres, with the Stride aimed at a more exciting version of it while the Move was aimed at being easier to listen to.

    Stride had stronger overall bass emphasis of the two. Low end detail was a wash for me, with both achieving similar level of detail and extension. Delving deeper, I think Stride focused on providing a stronger punch and kick whereas Move focused its bass effort on rounding off a rich and full sound.

    Midrange found on both units are basically opposite ends of the spectrum. Move’s tuning has its midrange pushed forward to be the star of its show; Stride was tuned to have its mids recessed further back. Both were equally smooth though I strongly prefer the mids from Move as it was lusher and richer in tone.

    The treble found on both units were also vastly different to each other. Stride edges towards the end of brightness, while, on the other hand, Move prefers to have it pulled back or subdued. Treble energy is highly abundant with the Stride, hence solidifying its position as the more detailed unit at the price of being a little sibilant/strident. Move tends to smoothen out its upper registers to remove any harshness from its sound at the cost of treble detail and extension.


    CONCLUSION
    As the first audio product in the company’s self-branded line since its name transition, the Drop + NuForce Move continues the legacy of its siblings, proving itself to be yet another compelling product that is strong in both performance and value. Drop’s second venture into the realm of Bluetooth IEMs is yet again a successful one, and would in my mind be a front running option for those who would like to give the world of true wireless IEMs a try.


    I’m convinced that this partnership is unable to produce a product that will fail to convince me with its build quality – the Move should be able to withstand day to day use provided a minimal level of care is present. The IEMs were easy to use, light and is supported with a useful array of accessories including its charging case. The overall sound signature is warm and smooth, focusing on a forward midrange with a touch of rich bass, making it very easy to listen to for long sessions.


    If I had a wish list on what I would try to improve the Move to better suit my use/ears, top of that list would be a change in tuning for its treble, bumping up the treble energy while attempting to increase the level of its detail and extension. I would better appreciate a design that was similarly comfortable but isolated slightly better without the use of different tips. The included user manual could also do with some touch ups to be more useful for the end users. Finally, I hope the issue I had in terms of losing connection on my ear pieces could be resolved prior to full production.


    Drop continues to delve deeper into the Bluetooth audio market, first with its take on a “wireless IEM” (the Stride), and now with its true wireless effort (the Move), coming out reputation further enhanced with more solid products at attractive prices. A Bluetooth headphone is slated for release some time later this year so I’m pretty excited to see what Drop has to offer (again) in the most saturated section of the Bluetooth audio market. If they continue to make products like these it’s hard to deny that their brand is more than competitive when compared to the mainstays of our industry.
    1. lnorton.norton
      Very underwhelming for the price. They have a tinny sound. My waterproof Chinese wireless earbuds bought on Amazon beat them in bass and sound depth.
      lnorton.norton, Oct 2, 2019
  2. ClieOS
    Get Moving
    Written by ClieOS
    Published May 20, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Solid performance for the price, improved 2nd generation TWS. Can use regular eartips.
    Cons - No aptX support.


    The name Massdrop is a well-known and has been fairly well-received by us HFer - while the company doesn't exclusively deal with audio gears, it has however brought us quite a few of really excellent audio products as well as collaborations from various audio companies - from well known huge international brands to lesser known small businesses that might otherwise hard or expensive to find for many whom don't live on certain part of the world. The community driven company has however just changed and simplified its name to 'Drop', and the NuForce MOVE true wireless (*TWS = True Wireless Stereo) IEM will be the first product that come with the new branding.

    A big thanks to Drop for sending me a pre-production MOVE for an honest review - it is currently still in pre-order phase (during writing) and you can get more detail here: https://drop.com/buy/drop-nuforce-move-wireless-in-ear-monitors



    SPEC
    Driver: Knowles balanced armature
    Bluetooth: BT5.0 with HSP v1.2, HFP v1.7, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6
    Codecs: SBC, AAC
    Wireless range: Up to 33 ft (10 m)
    Frequency response: 20 Hz–20 kHz
    Impedance: 22 ohms
    Sensitivity: 105 dB +/- 3 dB at 1 kHz
    Microphone sensitivity: -38 dB +/- 3 dB
    IEM waterproof rating: IPX5
    Charging: USB-C
    Battery life: 24 hrs total (6 hrs + 3 full charges—18 hours—from charging case)
    Weight of IEMs: 0.4 oz (10 g)
    Weight of charging case: 1.9 oz (53 g)





    As far as the overall design and spec goes, there is really nothing that stands out particularly with the MOVE - which is kind of a good thing as far as TWS IEM is concerned. I have a pair of Purdio AirOn by Odoyo from the early days of TWS back in 2017 - the shape of the earpieces really leaves a lot to be desire and certainly the early version of TWS isn't performing nearly as good as I hope it can be - these issues are of course not unique to the AirOn but also fairly common among early TWS IEM. Many of these early TWS IEM were trying to make their shell as small as possible, and thus ending up having odd angle and shape on the nozzle, not to mention many of them use super small, for TWS only eartips. The combination of them both make my AirOn rather uncomfortable in any extended period of use and I can't change the eartips to something better as common eartips will not fit into the tight fitting charging case. Keeping the AirOn and its early version of TWS all sync up can also be challenging, especially if you are not in the most ideal of environment (*minimum interference from other wireless communication, such as WiFi and other BT devices). Music is generally fine but watching video is mostly out of the question due to really bad latency. Of course the current 2nd generation of TWS, such as the one in MOVE, has mostly conquered these issues. First, the shape of the MOVE makes more ergonomical sense as it resembles what a normal IEM will look like. Secondly, the nozzle as well as the charging case can take a normal eartips - in fact, I am using SpinFit on mine and it fits into the case just fine while adding extra comfort in use. The included eartips are fine to use by the way, but extra option is never a bad thing when it comes to fit on an IEM. Lastly, like many of the the new generation of TWS, the two side of the MOVE can sync up fast enough that watching YouTube is actually no longer a nightmarish experience. However, do note that under really heavy wireless interference, the MOVE will still have syncing issue. I was in a hospital's side hall the other days waiting for a check up and I was having sync issue with MOVE - It was a small waiting area with a lot of computers and medical equipment, and probably over a dozen smartphones mostly trying to stream video and music. So, if you are planning to use a Bluetooth headset in similarly noisy (*wireless wise) environment, TWS might not be the best choice. Otherwise, I generally have no issue with using MOVE around the house and in the city, for music, video as well as taking calls.




    Last by not least, the face plate of both earpiece on the MOVE are each a single button, and can be use for some basic remote control - for example, pressing the right side for 2 seconds is volume up, the left side for 2s is volume down. You can also play / pause / forward / backward / take call / on / off / voice assistant / paring using various combination of press and holding time. I won't bother you with detail but I do want to make note that the earpieces will automatically turn off when put back into the charging case. Likewise, they will turn themselves on when they are taken out - therefore there isn't any real need to manually turn the MOVE off by pressing the bottom. You can just put them back into the case when you are done and take them out when you need them. One extra note, putting the earpieces with flat battery into the charging case for 15 minutes should give them enough juice for more than an hours. The battery in the earpieces is rated for 6hrs use, which I have not fully tested as I rarely use an IEM for that long continuously, and every time I put the earpieces back into the case they just top themselves up. As such I barely able to drain them more than 70% before I went home and able to charge them all up with an USB adapter again.

    Sound Quality
    The overall sound signature of the MOVE is on the slightly warm and smooth side of things (*FR curve is available on the product link above). I'll personally say it is comparable to most entry level wired IEM under $100 - not a giant killer per se but I don't detect any noticeable shortcoming either. It is overall an enjoyable sound that ever so slightly on the fun side, going well for most genre of music but perhaps not analytical or specious enough for instrumental or classical. The single BA driver from Knowles was surprisingly full sounding, which reminds me more of a dynamic driver rather than a balanced armature. In fact, I thought it was a dynamic driver for the first few day of use as I didn't read the online product page carefully at first when I received the MOVE and the pre-production unit didn't come with any document. In any case, I reckon a full sounding BA is not a bad thing at all.

    With the MOVE, we are stuck between SBC and AAC as the two main BT codec. Of course, if you are using an Apple products, these are the only two codec you can use anyway. For Android smartphone with Oreo (8.0) and up, AAC codec will be used, otherwise it is SBC. I would have love to see aptX being supported as well, but whether or not it will be beneficial to SQ is less clear cut. Studies and measurement have shown that, while aptX is definitely better at high bandwidth situation (*single device, minimum wireless interference), it can be outperformed by SBC in low bandwidth situation (such as noisy or a TWS situation) as the higher compression and transmission rate on aptX might end up creating more artifact than SBC. Of course, there is also the issue of cost on implementing aptX as it might require better chipset, bigger battery and licensing from Qualcomm. For those who are on Android, you can tweak your BT setting slightly if you enable the developer setting. For me, my smartphone uses AAC codec with MOVE most of the time and I didn't really notice any particularly ill effect when streaming music and video since AAC is kind of a mid-point between SBC and aptX. At the end, TWS is a product of convenience at its heart - if you really demand the best of SQ, then higher end BT adapter like the FiiO BTR3 or EarStudio ES100 are probably more suitable than a TWS setup. Perhaps with future BT chipset release we might finally have a TWS setup that can address all the remaining issues of the current generation.



    Summery
    As an early TWS adopter with the Purdio AirOn, I actually never really warmed up to it due to its shortcomings, many of which are common among TWS of its time. The 2nd generation TWS like the MOVE on the other hand has finally delivered most of what TWS has promised - with balance between decent SQ and actual usability. There are tons of cheap TWS IEM coming out of China these days as well as a handful of more expensive options from the usual big brands. The MOVE is nicely slotted between them as a solid choice with a likable sound and a practical design. With its current pre-order price, it actually comes out cheaper than how much I have paid for my Purdio AirOn some 2 years ago, so what's there not to recommend? It should definitely be in your shortlist if you are looking into a TWS setup for everyday use.
      amekan47, actorlife and ValSilva like this.

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