Gaudio Nair

F700

Headphoneus Supremus
Swiss Made Audio Jewelry
Pros: + Beautifully crafted IEMs
+ Professional sound tuning considered the 3 BA’s technical limitations
+ Nair: Neutral/Mid-centric signature that makes vocals and instrumental pieces shine
+ Clariden: Delicate W-Shape signature for an engaging listening experience
+ Detail retrieval, separation and clarity
+ CIEM-like shells that assure excellent comfort for most of us
+ Easy to drive
+ Aggressively priced IEMs given the high level of craftsmanship and technical achievement
+ Premium packaging and high-quality yet spartan accessories (less is more)
+ Satin Audio Hyperion stock cable
+ Friendly communication with GaudioLabs
Cons: - Nair: might be a tad bright and bass light for some
- Clariden: purists might dislike the heftier bass vs. Nair’s flatter tuning
- Both IEMs require a good portable set-up to unleash their full potential, eventhough a modern smartphone is largely sufficient to enjoy their respective sound
- Aluminium body is somewhat cold and even colder in Winter, especially in Switzerland (nitpicking)
ON YOUR MARKS…
Today, I have the pleasure to share my impressions about two fantastic IEMs designed, engineered and manufactured in Switzerland by GaudioLabs (Gaudio). Please check the homepage of Gaudio to make yourself a first impression about their offering : https://www.gaudiolabs.com

These IEMs, the Nair and the Clariden, hit the market in Spring 2020 and represent the first effort from Nicola Gianotti, founder of GaudioLabs, a Swiss audio wizard, who not only is a potent and senior audio technician but also a true music lover. Both IEMs belong to the 300 series and retail for CHF 899.- for a pair. No need to say I am eagerly waiting for the 500 series to come out. Who knows, maybe custom fit will enter Gaudio’s catalog at some point, and why not hybrid or tribrid tech? In any case, I fully trust Nicola to come up with something amazing, leveling up his already solid game.

Disclaimer: Gaudio sent me a pair of Nair and a pair of Clariden within a loan program. I contacted Gaudio in this purpose and not the opposite. The Nair ended up being bought by my father after he briefly has listened to it (!) and I returned the Clariden to Gaudio. I didn’t receive any financial compensation or incentive of any kind for posting a positive review. Pictures posted within these upcoming impressions are Gaudio’s property and/or mine. Nicola provided me some of the pictures at my request. Some of them are mine too.

Nair

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Clariden
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…GET SET…
What does Nair and Clariden mean? In Switzerland, what do we have? Chocolate? Yes, but not the best unfortunately, because Belgian’s one is even better. Watches? Oh yes, we know how to manufacture the best looking and the most expensive watches. Banks? True, I am working for one of them. Cheese? You bet! Cheese belongs to our culture too and we have serious candidates, although the Italian and the French ones are fantastic too. So, what’s missing? Think about landscapes… you got it? No? Look at that:

Piz Nair
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Piz Clariden
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…GO!
After reading @ryanjsoo Nair review, I asked myself how could I propose an added value to his spot on and excellent report. Very challenging actually, because I agree on almost everything he has written about it. Thing is, the Clariden also is taking part to the party and I own two other Swiss IEMs from P-EAR-S Audio, namely the SH-2U, a 2 BA IEM and my beloved CIEM, the UT-3. Later on in the comparison section, it will feel like a Sunday afternoon on a soccer field. A derby is coming your way.

For the time being, let’s focus our attention on Gaudio’s brainchildren.

PICTURE BOOK
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// THE NAIR //

Nicola Gianotti told me that the Nair especially shines with Classical and Orchestral music. Eventhough I am not a classical aficionado, I like modern « classical » (soft electronic) and gentle or complex pieces of music in general. First thing that stroke me is the resolution and the fantastic detail retrieval ability of the Nair. You really hear everything from your tunes. The instrument separation is truly phenomenal, the imaging is more than satisfying (you don’t need 8 or more BAs to get a good imaging) and the layering immediately let you know you are in presence of an IEM tuned by a professional. You are not getting this kind of signature and reaching this technical maestria without knowledge and hundred of hours spent in the tuning of what this IEM was meant to be. Listening to the Nair, I had the impression that Nicola kind of « polished his bowling ball before scoring a strike ». He knew that before releasing the Nair, quite certain about that. The mediums section is where I like the Nair the most. Vocals are presented in a agreeable forward manner with the right amount of presence and great textures to them. So, what’s not to like about the Nair? Nothing if you are craving a neutral and slightly mid-centric signature. Really, get a pair. It’s that good.

Graph Nair
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I earlier mentioned my father showing up on a week-end and while we were talking about music, I told him that I would like him to listen to something. I know his musical tastes and just plugged the Nair to his iPhone 12 and said go on, try this. He’s not an audio aficionado and music freak as I am, but he truly enjoys music and still buy records with 64, mostly via Apple Music nowadays (nobody’s perfect haha). Thing is, I let him alone listening to his music for approx. 20 minutes and before I was able to ask him if he likes the Nair, he almost screamed (collateral damage with great isolation): « What is that? I hear everything! The vocals! The singer sings for me, I am not in a venue or part of an audience, he is « here » in front of me. And the fit, he continued. This is amazing, I almost don’t feel anything in my ears. He finished by « on dirait un bijou » ! It looks so nice. I want it! » The most expensive IEM he ever had is a pair of wireless Apples earbuds, but he did not cough while me showing him the bill. He said « sold, no way I go home without these ». Fair enough, they are yours, I said. Nicola was very helpful and comprehensive after I told him about this unexpected episode.

This sweet family story around a set of IEM doesn’t answer the question, why is the Nair not the perfect IEM? Firstly, as always, perfection is the first name of the Utopia family. Skip the concept, keep your distance or wear a mask. More seriously, I am an auto-proclaimed non-neutral signature fan. I am ok with a slight V-shaped sound and a W-shaped well done, though. A bit of warmth and absence of brightness at the cost of treble quantity or sparkle is perfectly acceptable too. The Nair is not the perfect IEM for me because I like another kind of presentation and I don’t listen to the kind of music this IEM is aimed at, according to Nicola. I miss some rumble and quantity in the bass, even in the BA’s world, but it is tight and perfectly controlled. If you are into classical, big ensemble and vocals, not caring much about bass impact, the Nair might be the IEM you were waiting for.

// THE CLARIDEN //
The Clariden seems to be considered as the young brother of the Nair, even if it is equally priced. Based on the graphs, you might have noticed the differences between both Gaudio IEMs. Report and impressions posted on the dedicated thread on HF or on different platforms tend to agree on the fact that the Nair is a mature neutral sounding IEM, while the Clariden doesn’t get the love his fraternal twin receives. Different tastes and individual preferences behind this statement. Most of what I have read are honest and structured explanations about the Clariden being disjointed or uneven in its tuning.

Graph Clariden
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Well, I have another take on the Clariden. Once I put the Clariden into my ears, which I did after listening to the Nair, I got the impression that Nicola tuned the Nair first, and then decided to make a « funnier » or warmer version of it. Is it the reason why the Clariden lies in the shadow of the Nair? Difficult to answer, but I instantly felt at home with the Clariden, a warmish V-shaped signature, which pleased my ears and matched an important portion of my audio library. Not as « technical » (oh how I hate that word) as the Nair, the Clariden is the siren who looked into my eyes and invited me to follow her in the continuum of my own audio journey. Switching back and forth between the Nair and the Clariden reinforced my impression about the Clariden being « the man in black » vs. the Nair. Was the Nair meant to rule and the Clariden to serve? Not quite. The Clariden plays back Electronic, Pop, Rock and modern music better than the Nair. The mids are not too recessed as it seems (with the right tips) and the details are all there. The bass is what you can expect from a BA, namely good impact and sufficient quantity without sounding too dry and offering decent decay. Some see a big gap between the Nair and the Clariden, I hear a different tuning, but the same dedication from Nicola to make both of his babies sounding very good, or at least as good as he could. The Clariden is on my shortlist for my next purchase, but I wish I could get a custom version of it, which is, at the moment, not possible. A custom version likely would increase mids presence and fullness, which would make me the 1st to buy one. As per today, in my book and with my music in general, the Clariden is a better version of the Nair. I am not a salmon swimming against the stream (well, not all the time), but my ears and what I felt listening to the Clariden are sufficient to fully stand behind this statement.

Finally, both of the Nair and the Clariden come with a Satin Audio Hyperion cable. A solid addition to an already nice-looking and complete package.

TIPS AND TIPS
The Nair and the Clariden come with 5 pairs of Final E-tips, from the SS to LL size. Everyone should find a pair that suits their ear canals among Final’s offering. These tips are generally appreciated from the community, mostly because they allow a nice fit and represent a good compromise overall. Not too expensive and really solid. Gaudio could have come up with something worse. Well done! In my case, I preferred the JVC Spiral Dots over the Final E-tips with both IEMs, especially with the Clariden. The wide aperture of the JVC tips reduces the W-shaped sound signature a little and allows the Clariden to « breath » a bit more, smoothing the W, thus making it very appealing with a lot of music genres.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON DERBY
The comparison session between Gaudio and P-EAR-S. Two Swiss companies, working with max. 3 balanced armatures and showing intensive work behind the tuning of their respective IEMs. I have met the guys behind P-EAR-S in March 2020 in their premises in Ins (Bern). 3 hours of bliss ending up with the making of my UT-3, a TOTL 3BA CIEM that still sit at the very top of my driver’s hierarchy. Being able to directly fine-tune the sound via the UT-125 interface was the icing on the cake. Covid-19 oblige, it was not possible to meet Nicola in person, but I really wish to shake his hand at some point. He is a fantastic guy to deal and to communicate with. Nicola is not the kind of guy to rest on his laurels. He is ambitious and highly dedicated to his work. Be prepared, because if the Nair and the Clariden are his first efforts, I cannot imagine what’s coming next. Without repeating what I have told in the introduction, I surely would like to see Gaudio offering a hybrid solution with a single DD and 2 or 3 BAs. I am dreaming of a CIEM. Anyway, at the moment, audio enthusiasts should be very happy to have the Nair and the Clariden as available alternatives.

Thinking about this comparison section, a football match between two local teams on a moist Sunday afternoon quickly came into mind. I am not saying that Gaudio and P-EAR-S are in a competition. But they are anyway, implicitly. Knowing we have 4 different IEMs in this comparison, I will try to make this head(s)-to-head(s) as concise and informative as possible.

The P-EAR-S SH-2U is a 2BA slight warmish IEM. Bass is impactful enough, even considered the graph, but don’t expect any subbass rumble or anything spectacular in that register. It remains a pretty good and tight BA bass. The mids are fantastic. They have been tuned to convey emotion, especially in the vocal department. Full and inviting signature here. What the SH-2U offers in coziness, it takes it back in clarity, instrument separation and imaging. It cannot be denied that this IEM has been tuned to please the ears with a coherent sound reproduction. Keep the bass flat, the mids « above or on the line », tame the treble just a bit. Fine-tune and work on the BAs to ensure sufficient detail retrieval and you get a great companion for smooth and fatigue-free listening sessions. I purchased the SH-2U after the UT-3, because I wanted this alternative in my collection.

Graph SH-2U
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Switching from the SH-2U to the Nair or the Clariden invites the listener to trade the aforementioned coziness for transparency and class-leading detail retrieval. Add top-notch instrument separation into the mix, and the warmish SH-2U gets less love immediately, because Gaudio’s aluminum mini-speakers take you deep down into another trip, where everything breaths and pulses. It’s like opening the window in a bedroom you have slept in. The bedsheets are still warm, full of your own scent and it was nice to spend the night there, but the fresh air coming in wakes up your senses. Now that you are awake, you won’t stay in this room anymore and you most likely will take an invigorating shower or a hot coffee/tee to get the day started. And, at the end of day, you want to go back in your bedroom, because you have got enough of the day and need some rest in your nest. This simple analogy to say that both of the Nair and the Clariden offer what the SH-2U does in a pure technical point of view, but add un-je-ne-sais-quoi in the whole presentation, which allows a delicate yet very open playback of your music.

The Nair has better detail retrieval than the SH-2U, but the mediums quality is about the same. The bass has more quantity on the SH-2U, but it is tighter and better controlled on the Nair. The treble is a bit on the brighter side on the Nair, but not harsh, with great extension. Regarding the treble, the SH-2U warmth is nowhere to be found here. Beware badly or averagely recorded music, the Nair is not a forgiving IEM. The SH-2U, in my opinion, is and will remain a great IEM, but not as good as the Nair at the end of the day, even if I am more into warmish or slight dark signature as IEMs go.

The Clariden is closer to the SH-2U as the Nair is…but both Gaudio’s IEMs are much more alike at the end. SH-2U’s mids are a tad fuller than the Clariden’s ones, but the bass is better rendered and controlled on the 3BA set. The treble from the Clariden is not very different from the Nair. Once more, detail retrieval but also imaging are on another level on the Clariden.

Finally, the built quality, the package and the accessories from Gaudio’s offering is a real step-up compared to the P-EAR-S SH-2U (not displayed here).

This is a difficult comparison for me to do. The P-EAR-S UT-3 not only is a CIEM. It’s a CIEM you can fine-tune yourself with an ad hoc interface, the UT-125. If you want to experience more about the UT-3, its tuning and where to find the UT-125, feel free to go on my profile, in the review section, and read my impressions about the UT-3. I actually recommend it, so that you can fully understand what I am talking about from now on. If you are running out of time or are lazy to do so, no problemo, read between the lines, it will do the trick. Maybe.

Graph UT-3
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Midbass. I like a bit of midbass in BA-only IEM as the graph above shows it. If I want real good subbass, I reach for my Final E5000 (Xelastec tips and 4.4 silver cable), get the Chimera amp ready and put it at good temperature, stack the DTR1 and boombadaboom, I have all the thunder I need (dixit Rebecca from the Banshee TV-show). Midbass, this is what I am missing on the Nair and just a bit on the Clariden. I can be a funny guy at times, yes for real, I swear, so a bit of fun in my sound is not out of place, hence the midbass. Apart from it, the UT-3 is a resin shells CIEM from the best quality imaginable. The gap between the aforementioned SH-2U and the UT-3 is real, soundwise and built quality wise. It would be unfair to compare fit, isolation and comfort between the UT-3 and the Gaudio’s, because P-EAR-S just nailed it in that regard and Gaudio still has to come out with a CIEM program. However, the Nair and the Clariden are CIEM-like earphones and even if the premium aluminum shells are somewhat cold to the touch, the fit is just sensational. Nicola took his time and did extensive research before going into production. Chapeau.

I won’t reiterate how the Nair and the Clariden sound within this comparison, you should have gotten it by now. Detail retrieval level is one the best I have ever experienced, layering and separation will put a smile on lots of faces and the slightly warm V-signature from the Clariden finished me off while the neutrality from Nair will get the approbation from the ones digging this kind of signature.

The UT-3, now, does what the Nair and the Clariden do, but add more weight into the bass/midbass register. The Clariden actually is not far behind, but the CIEM fit helps getting more impact out of the UT-3. The same scenario applies regarding the mids. The UT-3 have its mids presented a bit more forward than the Nair, but it’s not night and day, far from it, even if the graphs show something else. The Clariden is the warmer set out of the three, the Nair the most neutral and the UT-3 the best compromise with an energetic and lively presentation. If I had to rank them, it would be 1) UT-3, 2) Clariden and 3) Nair. UT-3 and Clariden are very much alike actually. The Nair is a « technical » achievement and might be the best out of the three IEMs for most of the listeners. My tastes and preferences are what they are and, for the time being, the UT-3 is the one to beat.

JUKEBOX AND GEARS
  • Calyx M DAP (best match with both of the Nair and the Clariden)
  • Dethonray DTR1 DAP (on the brighter side in both cases)
  • Dethonray H1 USB DAC/AMP (as good as the Calyx M with the Clariden, almost as good as the Calyx M with the Nair)
  • Dethonray HA-2 AMP (just to too bright out of the DTR1)
  • Romi/LessFox BX-1 AMP - now sold - (smooths out the DTR1’s presentation)
  • Phatlab Chimera AMP (too powerful for both, but still nice and very detailed at low volume via the DTR1)
  • iPhone SE2020 (both sounded good with Tidal Master, and not bad at all with Bandcamp)
I would have liked to listen to the Clariden with my new amp, the Romi BX2+ stacked with the Calyx M.

Please find below a non-exhaustive list of the music I have listened to with the Nair and the Clariden:

• Alpha Blondy / Masada (African pop)
• Dykehouse / Midrange (Instrumental pop/rock)
• Merz / Loveheart (Male vocalist)
• Alva Noto / Xerrox vol. 4 (Electronic)
• The Sight Below / It All Falls Apart (Electronic)
• Yagya / Rigning (Dub Techno)
• Massive Attack / Blue Lines, Protection & Mezzanine (Trip-Hop)
• Dire Straits / On Every Street (Pop/Rock)
• Roxy Music / Avalon (Pop/Rock)
• Depeche Mode, Live in Berlin (Pop/Rock)
• Simple Minds / Best Of (Pop/Rock)
• Melody Bardot (Female vocalist)
• Pink Floyd / The Later Years Box (Pink Floyd)
• Kate Bush / Hounds Of Love & The Sensual World (Female Vocalist)
• Jono McCleery / Pagodes (Male Vocalist)
• Johnny Cash / The Legend (Johnny is one of a kind)
• …and Sting, Interpol, Kraftwerk, Simply Red, London Grammar, UB40, King Creosote, Boards of Canada, The Black Dog, Aaron Neville, Björk, REM, Aphex Twin, AC/DC, Manu Katché + French artists and some OST (Blade Runner, Interstellar, Inception, Hannibal, Twin Peaks & Rain Man), etc…

Please also check my Bandcamp profile, a part of my Electronic/Ambient music library can be listened to on this platform.

ADIOS, CIAO, BYE BYE & AU REVOIR
Not giving the maximal score to these two fantastic sounding IEMs would be harsh, because I truly enjoyed listening to music with them. Excellent sound reproduction and tremendous built quality. Still, both of them are not sounding « better » than my CIEM, but they are costing 50% less and I had the opportunity to partially tune the UT-3 myself to my liking. It’s an uncommon and unique privilege. However, the Clariden (with the JVC tips) sounds 90%ish as good as my UT-3, it’s a phenomenal performance!

Keeping the « Schmerzgrenze » under the USD 1K mark is remarkable from Gaudio. The whole package is high-level and anyone craving for a neutral and detailed sound signature should definitely give a listen to the Nair. Need some « oomph »? Give the Clariden a chance, they fit like a glove and you get what you are aiming for, meaning an engaging yet refined W-shaped experience. In this case, and depending on your ear anatomy, getting a pair of JVC Spiral Dots might bring the Clariden to the next level. Worth the try, really.

Finally, I am praising Nicola Gianotti’s dedication into designing and manufacturing such beautiful and great sounding IEMs. What a first effort! Impressive. I wish him all the best and I am impatient about his forthcoming IEMs. Gaudio’s offering undoubtedly deserves your attention.

PS: Don’t leave the theater too soon, there might be some hidden scenes after the credits. Finish your popcorn. Yes! All of it. Here are some tracks I loved listening to with the Nair and the Clariden (here in YT quality only):

(Clariden)

(Nair)

(Clariden)

(Nair)

(Clariden)

(Nair)
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jwbrent
jwbrent
Great job on the review! Ever since I owned a pair of Nagra VPA mono-block SET tube amps, I’ve lusted after other swiss-made gear!
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This is it @jwbrent! As a Final Audio’s sound aficionado, you surely would be enthusiastic about the Nair or the Clariden.
NewEve
NewEve
Most of what I have read are honest and structured explanations about the Clariden being disjointed or uneven in its tuning.

Well, I have another take on the Clariden.

Still early days of my time with the Clariden and Nair, via the Dethonray Honey H1 (which simply is marvelous and both IEMs scale really well).

So far I wholeheartedly agree with you. Compared to my Campfire Audio Andromeda Gold (also an all-BA IEM, albeit with 7), to my ears, the one being "disjointed" or "uneven" in its tuning isn't the Clariden.

I am, so far, extremely surprised by the both the Clariden and Nair and seems to disagree with most of what I read about them so far, in a good yet (again) surprising way. I really wasn't expecting this.
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ryanjsoo

Reviewer for The Headphone List
ryanjsoo's Reviews
GAudio Nair Review – Swiss Utility
Pros: Class-leading design and excellent build, Highly linear tuning, Dead neutral tonality, Satin Audio cable
Cons: Limited bass extension, Will be too dynamically flat for some
TLDR –

If you’re looking for a neutral, accurate sound without a fatiguing top-end and value build and ergonomics, the Nair is certainly a strong investment.

Introduction –

GAudio is a new kid on the block from Switzerland who definitely deserves your while. The company is hugely ambitious, their first product release already aiming sites on market leaders. The company design and build all of their products from the ground up. I had a wonderful time getting to know the brains behind GAudio, Nicola, who was very open with their process and receptive to feedback – he definitely gives off mad-scientist vibes so you know he’s onto something good! It is this mentality that underpins their designs and the results show in the finished product. Welcome the Clariden and Nair, GAudio’s first earphones. Both sport gorgeous all-metal shells alongside a 3-BA design. The Nair reviewed here today, is the more reference offering of the two while the Clariden offers a more engaging tuning. From the outset, the package is highly enticing, with a focus on refinement over bulk specification. The shell design and inclusion of premium Satin Audio cable are an indicator that Nicola has very serious intentions in the high-end audio space. As we’ll see, it’s the small touches that make this a convincing package.

The Clariden and Nair are available on GAudio’s website for €759, you can read all about GAudio’s designs and treat yourself to one here.



Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Nicola from GAudio very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Nair for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. I paid a reduced cost for the earphones in return for honest evaluation and will attempt to be as objective as possible.



Specifications –

  • 2 Acoustic paths
  • 3 Way-System – 1x Bass, 1x Mid, 1x high
  • Impedance @1kHz = 26ohm
  • Impedance average = 25ohm


The Pitch –

3 Drivers – 3-Way


Both earphones are designed to sing from a wide range of sources and avoid hiss with an average 25-ohm impedance. The design has been tuned in both frequency and time domains to match Nicola’s vision – this was a prime reason behind the choice to use a lower driver count.

Satin Audio Hyperion

Both GAudio in-ears include Satin Audio cables from factory. Satin Audio are renowned for their excellent value custom cables and the Hyperion exemplifies this with a reasonable $70 USD asking price. It’s super light with 28AWG wires and features 7N SP-OCC pure SPC conductors with Type 2 Litz geometry. Individually enamelled strands promise no oxidation over time while proprietary TeCu connectors promise enhanced conductivity over standard brass and bronze. All the bells and whistles of a good custom cable are here from factory including a tough Nylon damping core and Cardas solder at all terminations.



Unboxing –

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The GAudio packaging is very appealing with a magnetic split-fold box that opens to reveal the earphones within protective foam inlet and leather carrying case below. GAudio includes 5 pairs of Final Audio E-tips out of the box which is a huge plus as these tips are some of my personal favourites both from a sonic and ergonomic standpoint.

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In short, the stem is flexible to conform to the bends of the user’s ear canal without obstructing the sound tube-like Spinfits for a more transparent sound and stable fit, excellent stuff. GAudio includes a nice acrylic tip holder to keep things organised. In addition, the user will find the Satin Audio cable and cleaning tool. It’s a very premium and professional experience.



Design –

Surely, the Nair represents one of the most visually appealing earphones on the market. The shells are a gorgeous 3-piece aluminium design – an ebb and flow of curves. They pursue a pseudo-custom design with anti-helix fin for fit stability and elongated nozzles for a strong seal and consistent sound. The shells are relatively light but perfectly sturdy in the hand and the only hint that this product isn’t from an industry veteran is the very slight mismatching of the faceplates and shells. That said, this did not cause discomfort for my ears and Nicola has made it clear that the tolerances are closer on each subsequent batch. An acrylic window denotes the model, the Nair being white, the Clariden being black. These are undoubtedly some of the nicest universal shells currently on the market.
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The earphones employ a 0.78mm removable cable system and, as aforementioned, Satin Audio’s Hyperion is included in the box. Though I am not familiar with the original cable, no corners appear to have been cut for mass manufacturing. The cable is thin and light but sturdy with well-anchored terminations and even some visible strain relief. The wire is highly compliant with zero memory and good tangle resistance too on account of a slight springiness. There are no ear guides but a kink just above the connectors that routes the cable over the back of the ear. It is supple enough not to spring over, achieving flawless comfort and stability. Altogether, a highly premium package from an upper-midrange IEM.



Fit & Isolation –

Another highlight of the Nair is its fit which, much like its design, is some of the best I’ve come across. The long nozzles are very well-angled which positions the slightly wider housings neutrally in the ear. The fin does indeed aid fit stability with a very locked-in sensation once fit. I didn’t experience any issues with seal nor comfort, with no hotspot formation over time, they were a great complement to my daily productivity at home or a portable companion when on the go.

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What helps with this versatility is their excellent passive noise isolation. The long nozzles promote a deep fit which, in culmination with a dense metal and fully-sealed design, produces some of the best isolation I’ve experienced from a uni. With foam tips, these isolate almost as much as a custom, it’s terrific. If I have one caveat it’s that the nozzles are on the larger side which does limit fit depth to some degree. However, I didn’t experience any issues with fit stability or comfort because of this. The GAudio IEMs are ergonomically excellent.



Sound –

GAudio Nair

Testing Methodology: Measured using Arta via IEC 711 coupler to Startech external sound card. 7-9KHz peaks may be artefacts/emphasized due to my measurement setup, less so with deep fit. Measurements besides channel balance are volume matched at 1KHz. Fit depth normalized to my best abilities to reduce coupler resonance. Still, due to these factors, my measurements may not accurately reflect the earphone or measurements taken by others.



Tonality –

The Nair has been frequently dubbed as a neutral to reference IEM and I would agree with this statement. It is a touch vocal focussed but, overall, achieves very strong balance and linearity. It doesn’t trace the Harman or Diffuse-field neutral curves but is a rough appropriation of the later with a slightly different midrange tonality. Otherwise, the Nair simply comes across to me as a very tonally clean and balanced earphone with minimal colouration. Sweet and simple, one for the purists.



Bass –

Those looking for a fun signature promptly look away, the Nair is without emphasis of any kind. Rather, its bass is very linear and, in terms of quantity, appears a touch laid-back relative to the midrange to my ears. This means the voicing too, is quite neutral, where a similar style of earphone such as the CFA Ara might draw a bit more attention with bolstered fullness. In return, there is a complete absence of any bloat, bloom or tubbiness and the timbre is very accurate. However, don’t expect bass to ever steal the show nor drive the sound; it is not anaemic but slightly lean with a greater focus on control and agility overpower and warmth. Bass qualities are essentially what you would expect from a midrange BA earphone – that is to say, desirable in terms of detail retrieval but without anything special otherwise.

The presentation is quite typical of the BA earphones of old with limited sub-bass extension producing minimal pressure and a slightly more diffuse slam, defined but slightly diminished rumble. Still, mid-bass is very punchy as notes retain adequate body and weight. They are highly clean and defined, presented with a quick, sharp attack and similarly, rapid decay underpinned by high driver control. In turn, the Nair delivers excellent separation and pace alongside an aggressive texture. Its agile bass is easily able to dissect complex tracks and retrieve fine details in the mid-bass region, though it does lack some depth and drive on bassier tracks.



Mids –

The midrange is naturally voiced and, similar to the low-end, presented in a very neutral and accurate fashion. There are slight deviations from perfect neutral to my ear, perhaps relative to an Etymotic earphone. In particular, the centre midrange peaks around 2.5kHz as opposed to 3kHz. As a result, vocal size is slightly increased and extension is a touch reduced. Some may prefer this as vocals come across as slightly smoother and denser, while positioning remains accurate; neither too intimate nor laid-back. As vocal size is slightly increased, they do tend to take precedence over instruments in both the bass and midrange.

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However, all are presented very accurately with superb cleanliness. The tone is dead neutral and articulation, which multi-thousand-dollar earphones often fail to nail, is almost perfectly faithful to the source material. I do hear slightly thinner vocal body as a result of their slight enlargement with only a touch of bolstering around the lower-midrange to compensate. In return, vocal definition and cleanliness is outstanding as is layering and clarity without sounding upper-midrange dominant in any manifestation. This is a naturally voiced and highly accurate midrange rendition with excellent resolving power.



Highs –

Isolated peaks begone, the Nair is linear, even and gradual in its tuning. The lower-treble is especially even-metered and sits in harmony with the midrange. In turn, treble instrumentation is portrayed with accurate body and texture, notes have a pleasing attack and decay naturally too. Cymbals I found to be especially flattered with heaps of texture. Meanwhile, strings and percussion appear accurate and natural too. There isn’t a whiff of aggression or enhanced crispness here, the experience is very well-considered for those wanting an accurate rendition over an energetic one. That said, it’s higher up where we see some limitation of that 3-BA setup, this earphone does not provide the same level of end to end extension as some earphone around this price range – some of which are quite exceptional.

Though the middle-treble too appears well-metered to me, clean but with ample headroom, the extension is not outstanding and there is minimal sparkle at the very top. Listeners will still find a well-layered presentation here and one that balances air and contrast well. The Nair has excellent foreground detail retrieval and a highly accurate portrayal of instruments. However, in its pursuit of realism, sacrifices the additional energy, headroom and sparkle that makes high-end IEMs sound so romantic and magical. This is surely a matter of preference as I don’t find too many earphones here to achieve both accuracy in the lower-treble and energy higher up. So take into account your which you’d like for your listening experience before your final purchase decision.



Soundstage –


The soundstage presentation is, in turn, not the most expansive but roomy enough to avoid ever sounding claustrophobic. There is expansion just beyond the head in width and appeasing projection of depth too with accurate positioning of vocals. Imaging I feel will be a highlight, the transient response is quite clean and directional cues are well represented. Localization is flattered by an accurate portrayal of distance on behalf of the Nair’s very accurate portrayal of volume and size. It isn’t holographic but very stable and well-layered. Separation is also strong throughout while upholding good coherence. So though not the largest presentation, the Nair’s sound is very well-organized and structured which does aid the discernment of smaller details.



Drivability –


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The Nair has a 26-ohm impedance and unspecified sensitivity though it is roughly on par with most other high-end BA earphones. As such, it doesn’t require an external amplifier to reach high volumes but its impedance is high enough that it isn’t excessively source sensitive when it comes to output impedance and hiss. I think Nicola has done a pleasing job here at making an earphone that’s quite easy to drive and live with.

Output Impedance Sensitivity

26-ohms is on the higher side, especially for a 3-driver setup and Nicola did specify to me that the earphones were designed to be as source agnostic as possible. And when comparing between the Shanling M2X (1-ohm) and Hiby R6 (10-ohms), I was impressed at how similar the presentation was. Sure, the Hiby was a touch fuller in the bass and vocals were slightly more laid-back as well, however, the treble was very similar as was extension in either direction. The Nair isn’t completely source agnostic like a flat-impedance design but will be forgiving of sources with up to 3-ohm output impedance with only mild changes above.

Driving Power

The Nair doesn’t require much power, it is efficient while not being too sensitive to hiss. The M2X and DD TC35B were both almost silent with minor hiss only audible on the very lowest volume on the M2X, essentially unusable unless you’re superhuman. However, this also meant that stepping up to my desktop THX 789 setup didn’t yield huge benefits which is both a pro and a con. Accordingly, the Nair doesn’t scale up much with higher-end sources. It does sound a bit more linear and the presentation becomes slightly wider from the desktop source, but for the most part, it is not too discerning.

Suggested Pair Ups

As always, this will depend on personal preferences, but at the very least, GAudio has made it easier to source match here. The earphones don’t mind a slightly higher impedance or noise floor and don’t lose too much resolution and width from portable sources either. Tonality wise, I enjoyed the generally warmer AKM sound as provided by the M2X which provided a bit more warmth in the bass alongside a slightly crisper treble. This added a bit more engagement into the Nair’s otherwise very flat sound. The Hiby R6 took the warmth a bit too far, the bass becomes slightly woollier. Neutral sources like the iBasso DX200 are also desirable albeit a bit sterile at times for my tastes. This will depend on implementation, but in general, early ESS sources did not possess the best synergy as, though revealing, they did skew the tonality too lean.



Comparisons –

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Audiofly AF1120 MK2 ($699): The AF1120 MK2 sports a 6-BA setup with Butterworth filter. It has a very balanced sound but strikes as more neutral/natural with its warmer tone. The AF1120 extends similarly and the quantity is similar as well. However, the AF1120 introduces a warmer mid-bass, creating a slightly fuller presentation. It is also quickly decaying though the Nair has a cleaner tuning and is more defined. The AF1120 has a slightly more natural presentation to my ears while the Nair is more neutral, trading timbre for detail. The midrange is more open on the AF1120 MK2. It has less body in return for greater extension and clarity. This is counterbalanced by its warmer mid-bass that creates a warmer midrange alongside smoother articulation due to a lower-treble trough.

Meanwhile, the Nair offers the objectively more accurate timbre, being more linear and cleaner in tone, in turn, a bit more resolving. The AF1120 MK2 has smoother articulation so it offers a more coloured presentation and, to me, a more inviting tone while retaining a natural voicing. The treble is more linear on the Nair once again and detail retrieval is better in the foreground as a result. The AF1120 MK2 has a little more headroom and air albeit minimal sparkle as well. The Nair has a larger soundstage, specifically wider, while the AF1120 mk2 has slightly sharper imaging. The Nair is more separated while the AF1120 MK2 is more coherent with its warmer sound and generally fuller note structure.

NXEars Opera ($799): The Opera has a less orthodox tuning but strikes similar overall balance. It’s meatier 8-BA setup is phase-coherent delivering outstanding imaging. The Opera has a larger bass with greater balance between the sub and mid-bass. Neither extend especially well but the Opera comes across as fuller and substantially more robust and weighted. It has similar speed and definition, but the timbre isn’t quite as accurate, the Nair also has a slightly cleaner mid-bass which gives it a slight advantage on busy tracks. The midrange presentation is also quite different. Although both are natural, the Nair is cleaner and more linear while the Opera is again, more robust. The Opera is more full-bodied and a touch warmer, it is smoother but also drier and more truncated sounding.

Both have accurate articulation to me, the Nair comes across as more accurate in timbre overall while the Opera lies on the musical while achieving a natural voicing. The top-end is substantially crisper on the Opera and this is likely why its upper-midrange is denser to compensate. It has better detail retrieval but also thinner instrumentation, the Nair offering more accurate body and decay. The Opera has greater extension and headroom, though neither possess much sparkle. The soundstage is also similarly sized on both, the Opera offering more holographic imaging with quicker, sharper transients while the Nair possesses slightly more accurate positioning. The Nair has a slight leg up on separation as well due to its cleaner tuning.

Astrotec Phoenix ($799): The Phoenix offers a substantially more engaging and fun W-shaped signature with a hybrid DD + EST driver setup. The low-end immediately is much more prominent with substantially greater sub-bass extension and quantity. It delivers a more muscular rumble and slam alongside a fuller, but also tubbier mid-bass. The Phoenix is well-controlled but still quite slowly decaying compared to the Nair. When it comes to detail the Nair has a good advantage, being much cleaner in its tuning in addition to much quicker attacking and decaying. The presentation is very different. The midrange is more upper-midrange biased on the Phoenix and its vocals sound a bit more strained as a result. However, it is a bit more full-bodied than the Nair due to its much larger bass.

Meanwhile, the Nair is a bit more natural and more accurate in timbre. The Phoenix actually has smoother articulation which helps to round off its forward upper-midrange though the Nair comes across as the more linear and resolving performer here, the Phoenix a more engaging. The top-end is much more aggressive on the Phoenix. It has substantially higher detail retrieval and stronger extension with greater headroom and sparkle but also thinner and sharper instrumentation. The Nair is more accurate in terms of quantity and it has much more instrument body. The Phoenix has a larger soundstage in turn, both width and depth. The Nair images better with its more linear tuning and it also has better separation.

Campfire Audio Andromeda 2020 ($1099): Earphone manufacturers certainly should be very careful pricing their earphones. The Nair sits in striking distance to the big Andro and likely at the same price if the buyer is willing to go with a second-hand option. In summary, the Nair is a less technical earphone throughout but it does provide notable benefits with its more linear tuning. The low-end is fuller and warmer on the Andro. It has better extension with more punch in the mid-bass and a weightier sub-bass slam. The Andro sounds more engaging and dynamic but also more bloated due to its fuller mid-bass, the Nair being more defined and discerning of small details. The midrange is warmer and fuller on the Andro, a bit more laid-back relative to the Nair. The Nair has a more linear and accurate voicing where the Andro introduces more colour.

Despite the tone, articulation is also much different, having more emphasis on the Andro and more accuracy on the Nair. This means the Andro sounds glossier and more open but is also more prone to sibilance on poorly mastered tracks especially. The treble tells a similar story, being more aggressive on the Andro and more even on the Nair. The lower-treble is much crisper with more aggressive attack on the Andro and it is more detailed at the cost of losing some body and texture. The Andro has an airier background with much more sparkle that draws focus to its stronger extension and resolution. The Nair is cleaner while the Andro reinforces its stronger technicals with its more energetic tuning. The Andro has a larger soundstage in all aspects and sharper, more holographic imaging while the Nair is more stable with better separation.



Verdict –

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Earphones like this are tough to review because they don’t really warrant much compliment nor are they easy to criticize. For the Nair excels with versatility, delivering a reasonably uncompromised experience throughout. The build is excellent, the ergonomics superb, even the cable and ear tips are premium, further enhancing this impression. Sonically, we observe a similar conundrum. There isn’t anything wrong with the tuning beyond whether it matches your personal preference. It is very balanced top to bottom and accurate in tone and timbre. It isn’t the best-in-class technically, possessing neither the sparkle nor the bass extension to best its peers. However, it does have the most accurate tuning of them all. The Nair is not an earphone that excels when reviewed but it might just be one of the most perfect IEMs to live with day to day. If you’re looking for a neutral, accurate sound without a fatiguing top-end and value build and ergonomics, the Nair is certainly a strong investment.

The Nair is available from GAudio (International) for €759 at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with GAudio and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.



Track List –

Ariana Grande – thank u, next

Billy Joel – The Stranger

Bob Seger – Stranger in Town

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Dire Traits – Communique

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

Joji – Sanctuary

MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

Nirvana – Nevermind

Phoenix – United

Suggi – cheer up!

The Cranberries – Something Else

The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks

The Shins – Oh, Inverted World
MrDelicious
MrDelicious
I think you mean Swiss.
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