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A triple-BA IEM with a neutral sound

Massdrop x NuForce EDC3

Rating:
4.33333/5,
    • Massdrop x NuForce
    • Driver units: 3 balanced armature drivers per ear
    • Earphones matching: +/- 2 dB
    • Housing material: Lexan polycarbonate
    • Color: Smoky translucent blue/gray
    • Impedance: 16 ohms
    • Maximum input power: 2 mW
    • Microphone sensitivity: -42 dB +/- 5 dB
    • Frequency response: 20 Hz–40 kHz
    • Sensitivity (at 1 kHz): 100 dB +/- 3 dB
    • Cable length: 54.3 in (138 mm)
    • Connector: 2-pin
    • Plug: ⅛ in (3.5 mm) TRS (braided cable) or TRRS (remote/mic cable)
    • Remote/mic cable compatibility: Apple and most Android devices
    • Remote/mic cable functionality: Play/pause; start/end call; next/previous song; start Siri, Google Assistant, or Cortana (functionality varies between Android devices)
    • Weight, IEMs with braided cable: 0.2 oz (5.7 g)
    • Weight, IEMs with remote/mic cable: 0.3 oz (8.5 g)
    Included
    • 2 cables (one braided, one with remote/mic)
    • 3 sets of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
    • 2 sets of foam ear tips (M, L)
    • Shirt clip
    • Zippered carrying case

Recent Reviews

  1. Schwibbles
    Name Checks Out: A Great Every Day Carry IEM
    Written by Schwibbles
    Published Dec 12, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Neutral sound - excellent midrange
    Not fatiguing
    Comfortable w/secure fit
    Great (audio-only) cable
    Cons - Stock silicone tips are a bit too firm/hard
    Treble could be a bit more present
    Treble extension could be better
    Intro
    Disclaimer: The EDC3 were sent to me free of charge by Massdrop in exchange for an honest review. I will keep the review as fair and unbiased as possible. Thanks Christian!
    Also, this review is quite long as I may have gotten a little carried away when typing it up.
    I am sorry for any weird formatting issues you may come across as this is essentially a copy-paste from Reddit, where I originally wrote this review.

    My Preferences: I generally prefer a flat/neutral frequency response with a bit of extra energy in the upper midrange (+3dB above 4kHz) and sub bass regions (+3dB below 150Hz). I generally dislike any sort of midrange recession. The response of the Etymotic ER4XR, 64 Audio A6t, and Focal Utopia are good references for the kind of sound signature I like. An HD700 with Sonarworks True-Fi is generally my reference for a neutral sound.

    TL;DR: These are now my go-to recommendation for a neutral IEM at the $100 price point. They have an excellent, somewhat mid-centric sound and good accessories. On top of that, they're very comfortable and have a stable fit.

    The Non-Sound Stuff
    Packaging/Unboxing:
    The packaging has a nice, clean look to it. Inside the outer box are the IEMs and the carry case. With the exception of the medium silicone tips and audio-only cable which are pre-installed, all the accessories are inside the case. Overall, the packaging is very minimal which is fine for an IEM at this price point.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Accessories: I would consider the accessories that are included with the EDC3 to be above average. They come with two cables (one has a mic), 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L), 2 pairs of foam ear tips (M, L), a shirt clip, and a carry case.
    [​IMG]

    The audio-only cable that comes pre-installed on the EDC3 is excellent. It exhibits very low levels of microphonics, is very supple, does not retain its shape, and is tightly wound. On the amp-end, it is terminated in a right-angle 3.5mm jack that feels sturdy enough. I generally prefer a straight plug but I can't knock it for that because I know that's a preference thing. The IEM side is terminated in a standard 2-pin configuration. This is the only IEM around $100 that I can think of that uses a standard 2-pin connection. That is excellent news for anyone who likes to use aftermarket cables. Overall, this is one of the nicest stock cables I've come across on an IEM.
    The silicone tips feel pretty cheap. I'm not a fan of them. They are quite firm and have noticeable seams on the sides. While I could get a good seal with them and could not feel the seams once they were in my ears, they were generally uncomfortable because of how stiff they were. I quickly switched them out for some Spin Fits which greatly improved the fit and comfort. The EDC3 have a narrow nozzle - like offerings from Shure or Westone. Keep that in mind when you're tip rolling.
    The case is very nice. I love the look and semi-hard design. It should do a great job at keeping the IEMs safe while not in use. My only minor nitpick with the case is that I wish it was round or more of a square. The rectangular design means once the cable is coiled for storage, two sides are going to more squished instead of retaining the round, coiled shape. Again, this is a very small nitpick. The EDC3's case is much nicer than the ones that come with the Hifiman RE600v2 or Shure SE-215; both of which come in at the same price point. I will do more in depth comparisons with those below.

    Build Quality: The housings are made of plastic but feel pretty robust. The only seam-line on the housing matches up very nicely and isn't noticeable unless you're looking for it. The cable and case also feel high quality. I have no doubts these will hold up just fine to daily wear-and-tear and travel.

    Comfort/Fit: Comfort was just okay when I was using the stock silicone tips. As I said above, I quickly switched over to Spin Fit tips and comfort improved. With the Spin Fit tips, comfort is very good. I can easily have them in for a couple hours at a time. Besides the pressure created by the tips, they completely disappear once they're in.The stock, audio-only cable weighs next to nothing and they feel very light overall. I don't like memory wires or molded cables on the IEM-side of cables but the molded heat-shrink wrap on the stock cable is very well done and I don't have any complaints.
    Between the light weight, cable, and fit, they are very secure in my ears. They easily stay in during a run.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Sound
    Equipment Used: I used two different DAC/amps in my listening sessions: an iFi iDSD micro BL and a Soekris dac1541. Source music from Tidal.

    First Impressions: When I first put them in, I was not impressed. They sounded veiled and vocals sounded a little unnatural. I figured I'd set them down for a couple hours and get back to them later that evening. If you're a little disappointed at first, set them down for a couple hours and then go back to them. To be fair to the EDC3, I switched to them from the Utopia and that probably skewed my first impressions.

    Bass: (3.5/5)
    The first thing I noticed with the bass is how well it extends for a triple BA IEM. It goes down to ~30Hz. That being said, the sub bass impact sounds rather weak. I would describe the bass as neutral with a slight roll-off at the very low end. I would also describe it as typical BA bass in that it can hit the low notes but it does not have the natural decay or impact of that of a good dynamic driver. The bass feels very fast; almost a little too fast in terms of decay. This is something that most BA IEMs struggle with.
    Listening to beat-centric songs or songs with strong bass lines is a bit boring. While a lot of this is just the neutral sound signature, some of it comes down to how natural the bass sounds. If the bass produced by dynamic drivers sounds natural to you, then this IEM may not suit you. Also, if you prefer a bass quantity above neutral, the EDC3 is not for you.
    I tried using the bass boost on the iDSD BL and got poor results; the bass increased a little but not nearly as much as I would normally expect. The bass seemed to lose a little definition when using the bass boost which is something I've never experienced from the iDSD before. It seems as though the bass driver(s) in the EDC3 are not able to efficiently produce much more bass than they're tuned to. I have not tried EQ but I assume the outcome would be similar.

    Midrange: (4.5/5)
    The midrange is the star of the show here. The midrange is almost dead flat with just a slight hint of warmth to it. The midrange is clear and instruments sound very natural. Most vocals sound very nice as well. Some female vocals can sound a little veiled due to what I perceive as a dip in the upper midrange that hits its trough in the middle of the presence region (low treble). This is why I felt they were veiled in my first impressions. This is also probably why I hear them to be slightly warm. If the presence region was brought up a little, I'm sure I'd hear them as completely neutral. One of the songs where I really noticed this dip was The Other Side by Tonight Alive. What's weird is that I didn't really notice it as much with other songs by Tonight Alive. Because of the dip, vocals sound like they're back as a part of the music, rather than front and center where I normally expect them to be.

    Treble: (4/5)
    Following the dip in the presence region, the treble response sounds fairly smooth up to ~13kHz. There is a peak around 10kHz but it is small and does not create any sibilance. After 13kHz it seems to fall off quite a bit. It does go up to where I can't hear around 17kHz but after 13kHz it's pretty quiet. I would like a bit more extension into this high region. The treble sounds like it's a little held back, just below neutral. While these don't have quite enough quantity or extension for my taste, what the treble does do is provide a very smooth and completely inoffensive presentation. It makes the EDC3 a very comfortable IEM to listen to for long periods.

    Soundstage/Imaging: Soundstage is about average in width for an IEM; all of the sound is produced between my ears. Nothing sounds like it's coming from outside my head. Imaging is very good in that I can pick out instrument locations in that soundstage quite easily.
    The soundstage has much more height and depth than most other IEMs I've heard. It's almost like the inside of my head is a concert hall and the entire thing is being filled with sound: front to back and top to bottom. Most IEMs produce sound between my ears and it sounds like everything comes from a narrow band (vertically) in that area. I guess it's kind of hard to explain.

    Detail Retrieval/Other: The EDC3 are about average in terms of overall detail at this price point. There is a good amount of separation between instruments and they never sound congested. Isolation is good, but not great. It's not as good as I'd normally expect from an all-BA IEM but better than many hybrid IEMs that I've heard. It looks like there's a bass port in the housing, on the ear-side, near the cable connection. I suspect this is the reason for the lower-than-expected isolation. Still, they should isolate well enough for a daily commute on public transportation. I never use public transportation so it's hard for me to say for sure. For example, they isolate a lot better than my FLC 8S which I have used on a subway before with satisfactory results.

    Comparisons
    Shure SE215 ($99): The SE215 are much bassier and have a warmer sound overall. In comparison, the SE215 sound a more congested and don't have the same sense of naturalness in the midrange that the EDC3 have. The treble on the SE215 is a bit more recessed and doesn't sound quite as accurate.
    The accessories that come with the EDC3 are nicer. The EDC3's cables feel higher quality and I would consider the 2-pin connection a step up from the SE215's MMCX. The EDC3's (semi) hard case will actually protect them instead of the soft case the SE215 come with that allow the IEMs to be crushed. Build quality (longevity) is similar but I think I'll have to give it to the EDC3 because the housings feel just a little bit nicer and it comes with a second cable. As I said above, the EDC3 case offers better protection and if you use it, it should keep them from being damaged - even if thrown under other objects in a backpack.
    I find the EDC3 to be much more comfortable with a better fit. I use the same exact Spin Fit tips on the SE215 and I find that it's harder to get a seal with them. The SE215 housings don't fit my ears as well as the EDC3 and I notice a bit of discomfort after about 15-30 minutes of use. For me, the EDC3 win this in every way. However, if you prefer a bass-heavy signature to a neutral one, the SE215 are more likely to please you.

    HifiMan RE600S Songbird V2 ($99): The two of these IEMs actually sound somewhat similar. Bass response is about the same in terms of quantity but the quality is a little better on the RE600S. The RE600S's dynamic driver produces a more natural sounding bass response and has better sub bass impact. The midrange on the RE600S sounds a bit cooler. I would say it is slightly cool of neutral about the same amount that the EDC3 is slightly warm of neutral. The treble is where the biggest difference occurs. The RE600S comes off as a little brighter and takes more of your focus than on the EDC3. IMO, the bass and treble are better on the RE600S while the EDC3 has a better, more natural sounding midrange. I'd say sound quality is about the same on both.
    Soundstage is similar but the RE600S doesn't have as much height or depth to the sound. Overall detail is about the same but the RE600S sounds like it beats the EDC3. I think this is because the treble takes more of your focus. Generally speaking, people perceive more treble as more detail.
    Build quality is far better on the EDC3. The fact that the EDC3 has removable cables is enough reason alone to buy it over the RE600S. The EDC3's cables are much nicer.
    The RE600S is more comfortable than the EDC3. The housings are even smaller and lighter with the added bonus that they can be worn over or under the ear. The biggest reason I find the RE600S more comfortable is that I can use my normal UE (900S) silicon tips on it. Those tips fit me better than the Spin Fit tips. The stock tips that come with the RE600S are higher quality than the ones that come with the EDC3. The only thing the RE600S does substantially better is the packaging and unboxing experience. While this is a very minor thing, opening the RE600S is an experience and the leather-bound box makes you feel like you're opening something special. Still, it's not a reason to buy it over the EDC3.
    This matchup is much closer, with overall sound quality being about the same. However, the difference in build quality and the removable cables make the EDC3 the clear winner.

    Conclusion
    If you're in the market for a neutral IEM around $100, look no further. The EDC3 is an IEM that isn't the best at any one thing but does everything well. It is the most well-rounded IEM less than $300 I've had the pleasure to own in terms of sound, comfort, build, and accessories.
    Massdrop hit the mark in trying to make a great Every Day Carry IEM.
    The midrange is the best part of the sound and it isn't perfect IMO. It could use a little more energy in the upper midrange and presence region. The dip in that region can make some vocals sound a little veiled but I don't notice it most of the time. What's odd is that I don't fully love any one part of the sound but when I put them in, I don't want to stop listening to them. They have a very relaxed, sweet sound that is very pleasing and easy to listen to. They are not fatiguing in any way.
    The EDC3 are now my most-likely-to-recommend IEM at the $100 price point and, if you can, I highly urge you to give them a listen.
    Side note: For the number rankings, they are rated out of 5. 5/5 being the best sound quality possible in the sub $100 category.
    I'm giving them 4.5/5 because the sound, fit, and accessories are all excellent.

    I originally wrote this review almost two months ago (for Massdrop and Reddit) and since then, the EDC3 have been the IEMs I reach for the most out of all my options. I use them almost every day.

    Songs listed below are just a few of the MANY tracks I listened to with the EDC3:
    Snuff - Slipknot
    The Other Side, Without You - Tonight Alive
    Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
    Come On - Green River Ordinance
    Best Days - Graham Colton
    Tarova - Snarky Puppy
    Rack City - Tyga
    Superstition - Stevie Wonder
    Aliens (her er jeg) - Ina Wroldsen
    Mahna, Mahna - Cake
    Strobe - Deadmau5
    I'm Comin' Over - Chris Young
    Your Shirt - Chelsea Cutler
    Nobody Compares to You - Griffin and Katie Pearlman
    Cool - Rachel Reinert
    I O U - You Me At Six
    God of War - Bear McCreary
    Bird on a Wire - Jennifer Warnes
    Not the American Average - Asking Alexandria
    Used to You - Dagny
    Keep Lying - Donna Missal
    Rebecca - Pat McGee Band
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  2. Cinder
    Massdrop x NuForce EDC3 Review: Naturally Neutral
    Written by Cinder
    Published Jun 19, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Smooth sound signature, lots of midrange expression, tonally neutral, good accessory package, nice construction
    Cons - No treble "sparkle", only available through Massdrop's drop system
    [​IMG]
    Massdrop x NuForce EDC3 Review: Natural Neutral Beauty
    NuForce is no stranger to the audiophile industry. A sub-brand of Optoma, Nuforce has released a complete lineup of compelling IEMs, from the HEM2 to the Primo8. They’ve partnered with Massdrop for the second time to bring the EDC3 (Every Day Carry 3) to the market. It features three BA drivers per side and a mostly-neutral sound signature intended to show you your music just the way it was recorded.

    You can find the EDC3 drop page here, on Massdrop. Note that you’ll have to log in to see prices during an active drop. The EDC3 will be available for $99 once it drops.

    About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:

    • My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
    • I have a mild treble sensitivity.
    Source: The EDC3 was powered like so:

    HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones

    or

    Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones

    or

    HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones

    or

    PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones

    All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.

    Tech Specs
    • Drivers: 3 BA per ear
    • Driver matching range: +/- 2 dB
    • Housing material: Lexan polycarbonate
    • Impedance: 16 ohms
    • Microphone sensitivity: -42 dB +/- 5 dB
    • Frequency response: 20 Hz–40 kHz
    • Sensitivity (at 1 kHz): 100 dB +/- 3 dB
    • Cable length: 54.3 in (138 mm)
    • Weight, IEMs with braided cable: 0.2 oz (5.7 g)
    • Weight, IEMs with remote/mic cable: 0.3 oz (8.5 g)
    Sound Signature
    Sonic Overview:

    The EDC3 was made to target a very specific type of sound signature: bearably neutral. What that means is that the EDC3 is as flat as can be without sounding dead and dull. The midrange is very linear, having only a small bump in the 3KHz region. Bass is less emphasized than the midrange by a small amount, and treble is generally in line with the 2KHz component of the midrange.

    Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy, Little One. Show Me How To Live (Live at the Quart Festival)

    The EDC3’s treble is energetic but inoffensive. Instead of heavy-handed and simplistic boosts to the treble that are often found in “pro” or “detailed” IEMs, the EDC3 uses a very careful combination of subtle recessions and peaks to bring out the most detail from the treble as it can. High-hats and cymbals sound distinct and well defined, even in live-recordings such as Show Me How To Live. You can make out a ton of detail in the applause too.

    Within In One Ear, each treble-bound detail I looked for was clearly defined. The high-hats, amp buzz, and even subtle breathing in the bridge were easy to make out from the din. But above clarity, the EDC3’s treble is very cohesive both internally and within the overall context of the sound signature. Lots of treble detail and tonal articulation doesn’t come at the expense of timbre and sibilance with the EDC3. In fact, I found the EDC3 to be completely sibilance free in my tests, including poorly mastered songs such as Satisfy.

    Midrange: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams, Too Close, Little Black Submarines

    The EDC3’s midrange is very linear, with some bumps in the upper midrange to add clarity and prevent that “veiled” sound one might get from a completely flat midrange. The mids are also quite forward, making them essentially in the front of the sound signature; a boon to fans of instrumental and vocal detail. Massdrop and NuForce did a great job making the midrange both tonally accurate and highly resolving. It even performs significantly above many of its peers in this price. You’d be hard-pressed to find any IEM at the pricing bracket that has a similar sound signature, let alone one that resolves better than the EDC3 does while doing so.

    Speaking of instrumentation, the EDC3 does a great job resolving complex textures and tones, especially concerning electric guitars and drums. That’s not to say that the EDC3 won’t do justice to acoustic guitars and other strings: those are often times enchanting as well. In general, I struggled to find songs that sounded bad or paired poorly with this IEM.

    The 4 kHz–6 kHz range, the part of the sound signature that causes sibilance if left unchecked, is very well modulated, extracting much of the potential vocal clarity that one can from a triple-BA setup of this caliber. The EDC3 is rather impartial when it comes to portraying vocals, though it does present male vocals as a tad thin. A 2 dB bump to the kHz range via EQ completely fixes this problem though.

    Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)

    NuForce and Massdrop were not aiming to create a mainstream (read: bassy) IEM with the EDC3. Clarity and coherence were valued at the expense of impact and rumble. Whether or not that tradeoff is worth it is a personal choice. While I find myself gravitating towards bassier IEMs in general, I find the EDC3’s relaxed and recessed bass response to be somewhat refreshing. The reduction in low-end emphasis gives the mid-bass and lower midrange a lot of room to express detail; stuff that you likely wouldn’t otherwise be able to hear with such sonic subtlety in a more bass-aggressive scenario.

    These tuning choices express themselves negatively for genres like dubstep, assuming you listen to it primarily for rumble and drop impact. You can hear all the samples, even down to the 20Hz range, with relative ease, they just don’t hit you like they might through a more V-shaped IEM. Again, whether or not that’s a good thing is a value judgment you’ll have to make for yourself.

    The mid-bass and sub-bass are fairly well synergized, though bumping up the sub-bass by about 2 dB more would definitely add more to the “depth” aspect of the sound signature.

    Packaging
    [​IMG]
    Build
    Construction Quality

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    The EDC3’s driver housing is made of a hard translucent black plastic. It is made up of two pieces that look to be sealed together using a combination of friction and a small amount of glue.

    [​IMG]
    The top of the shell features an extruded 2-pin connector. The EDC3, being a NuForce product at its core, still uses their semi-proprietary cable connectors.

    [​IMG]
    The inner face of the shell has “EDC3 written on the right shell and Massdrop’s logo on the left.

    [​IMG]
    The EDC3’s nozzle is long but thin. This makes it particularly suited for deeper insertion and better overall passive sound cancellation. Now, there is a filter in the EDC3, but it is located near the middle of the nozzle. Given the odd positioning of the filter, I suspect it is used for tuning in addition to blocking debris.

    [​IMG]
    The cable is braided in a standard chain geometry. It is made of plastic and is very “soft”. It holds no body and is barely microphonic in extreme cases (such as while running).

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The 3.5mm jack and 2-pin connectors are housed in a hard shiny black plastic while the Y-splitter is built from a soft semi-matte plastic. There is adequate stress relief all across the board on this cable, so durability should be a concern. And should something happen to the cable, you can always purchase a new one.

    Comfort

    The EDC3 is very comfortable. I can get a good seal using silicone eartips and deeper insertion levels. I can also get a good seal with the foam eartips, though they rebound a bit too fast for me to able to reach insertion levels at the same depth that I could get with the silicone eartips. Depending on your ear shape, you may even be able to wear the EDC3 while laying down with relative comfort.

    Accessories
    [​IMG]
    Inside the box you’ll find:

    • 2x spare pairs of silicone eartips
    • 2x pairs of foam eartips
    • 1x extra TRRS cable
    • 1x semi-hard carrying case
    The EDC3 is well equipped. In terms of eartips, it has something for pretty much everyone. Unless your ears are very small it’ll be easy to get a good fit with the EDC3’s eartips.

    The extra cable is a nice touch, one that comes straight from NuForce’s HEM lineup. So whether you have DAP that isn’t compatible with TRRS or want to use the EDC3 with your phone to make calls, you’ll be covered by this accessory package.

    Comparisons
    1: Alpha and Delta D6 ($95)

    The D6 is far brighter than the EDC3. The D6’s upper midrange is more pronounced, while its lower-midrange is more recessed. It has a grainier and less smooth sound signature than the EDC3 as well. The EDC3 has a somewhat more emphasized lower midrange, while the D6 has a greater rumble in its sub-bass. The D6, given its dynamic driver, decays more realistically than the EDC3 does.

    2: Brainwavz B200 ($120)

    The EDC and B200 are fairly close in sound signature. The B200 has a more prominent upper-treble and a more textured lower-midrange, but ultimately has a less cohesive sound signature than the EDC3. It’s lower midrange is less pronounced than the EDC3’s by roughly 3 dB. The B200 is like a more V-shaped version of the EDC3.

    3: NuForce HEM6 ($350)

    The HEM6 is a completely different IEM: it is more than triple the price and targets a wholly different sound signature. In comparison, the EDC3’s midrange is much more forwards, its bass is more recessed, and its timbre is far more “open” and less sharp. The HEM6 also boasts a better level of detail retrieval, though this is 100% to be expected given the gargantuan price differences. So at the end of the day, this comparison isn’t really fair; I just thought it’d be interested to see how the EDC3 compares to part of the main NuForce lineup.

    Summary
    The EDC3 is a very interesting IEM. It targets an uncommon and rarely found sound signature at a relatively low price. A pretty good accessory package, solid construction, and above-average sonic performance make it one of the better options available in this price bracket. So if you are in the market for a neutral-leaning IEM that doesn’t skimp on its physical appeal, definitely consider the EDC3.

    As always, happy listening!
  3. ejong7
    The Value Companion : Massdrop x NuForce EDC 3
    Written by ejong7
    Published Feb 13, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Clear and smooth midrange. Wide range of accessories.
    Cons - Slightly recessed treble. Currently only available by drop system.
    DISCLAIMER
    The Massdrop x NuForce EDC3 was sent to me Christian from Massdrop in exchange for an honest review.



    INTRODUCTION
    Established in 2012, Massdrop (MD) is a company with a simple yet important concept: It’s a ‘community-driven commerce’, which gather ideas from its end users, off it which they would learn and determine products of interests for the general public. From there, they would work towards negotiating and organizing group or bulk purchases to allow end users like us to be able to purchase desired products at a discount. In recent time, MD’s Custom Products department has gone one step further by collaborating with the best companies from the audio industry to produce MD exclusive products that promises a great bang for your buck.

    I have previously worked on a couple of MD tuned pieces from many companies, such as the Massdrop x Noble X, the Massdrop Plus and most relevant to this review, the Massdrop x NuForce EDC (EDC). The EDC, or the Every Day Carry, was designed to be a unit in which we can easily carry around every day (as its name would suggest), thus able to be used in many areas and situations though still maintain the audio quality and performance that is staple to the MD house of products. I found the EDC to sound incredible for its $59.99 price tag, and have since recommended it to many people as a possible option for their first take on the in-ear side of the audio industry.

    Moving forward to February 2018, MD, in collaboration with NuForce, will be releasing the second unit in the EDC line of products, the Massdrop x NuForce EDC 3 (EDC 3). Unlike how its name suggest, the EDC 3, was designed as a complementary piece to the superb EDC, promising to provide an alternate sound to appease a different section of the audiophile community, while maintaining the same physical form factor that has been widely praised on the EDC. How does it fare? Read on to find out.



    INFO + SPECIFICATIONS

    Unlike the previous EDC, which used a dynamic driver configuration, the EDC3 uses 3 balanced armature drivers per ear design in a single bass, dual mid/high configuration. The IEMs are matched to within a 2dB difference, and have a frequency response between 20 Hz and 40 kHz. Its sensitivity is rated at 100 dB, give or take 3 dB, at 1kHz paired with an impedance rating of 16 ohms and a maximum input power of 2 mW. It’s fairly easy to drive and I had no trouble with it while using my mobile phone.

    The EDC 3, when equipped with its braided cable, weighs 5.7g. The figure increases to 8.5g when the unit is equipped with its mic cable. Speaking of the mic cable, it is compatible with all Apple devices and most of the Android devices. The microphone sensitivity is rated at -42dB, and can be used for some basic player control and call control plus starting your voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana.

    The EDC will be sold at $99.99, a $40 increase from the previous EDC. The accessories provided with the EDC3 is exactly the same as its predecessor, so the price difference It’s a significant jump considering that it’s close to a 50% price increase on the original, but still (now barely) reigns under the $100 price range. As always, the unit is subject to the drop system utilized by MD, which may not be your best friend in terms of availability. However, judging by how the EDC is being handled, it’s safe to say that there will be a couple of drops throughout the year, so those who missed out can still get it at a later date.



    ACCESSORIES & OPTIONS
    I received (what I believe is) a pre-production sample but it looks to be very close to the end product, barring any major changes.

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    These are front and back shots of the packaging which came with the unit I received. The packaging was a little crumpled due to mishandling from my country’s customs.

    The EDC3 is packed similar to the EDC, that is inside a cardboard based box, perhaps wrapped in a layer of thin plastic. I say perhaps as mine was opened by the customs prior to receiving it, hence the slight damage to my box as seen in the pictures above. This should not be an issue with your purchased unit, as unreleased products are more prone to such treatment.

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    Here are the contents I found within the box, which houses the IEMs and its carrying case which contains the extra accessories provided.

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    Here is a breakdown of the content one would receive when the EDC 3 is purchased: The unit equipped with braided cable, an extra mic cable, a shirt clip, an array of tips and a carrying case. Picture credits to the Massdrop team.


    Removing the packaging box reveals a cardboard cut-out that houses the IEMs and its zippered carrying case. The carrying case is nicely sized to fit into most pocket but would provide some form of protection to the unit but not from heavy damage.

    Inside the carrying case, one would find the array of accessories that are included with the units, including 3 sets of silicone tips in S, M and L sizes and 2 set of foam tips in M and L sizes. The case also holds the extra mic cable and a shirt clip, while the unit was already equipped with its braided cable.

    Both the braided cable and mic cable are about 54’’ (138cm) in length and is of the 2-pin configuration, with a 3.5mm single ended jack at the end. From what I could tell, the 2-pin configuration is of the more conventional 0.77mm diameter 2-pin type, so custom cable swapping remains an option, though you do lose out on compatibility with the stock NuForce cables.

    Shrink wrap is used for its cable guide, not memory wire. Therefore, wearing them straight down isn’t ideal ergonomically. I personally prefer memory wire as I like having the option of adjusting the cable guide according to my preference though this seems to be a popular choice now, especially for those who are wearing glasses.

    I’m pretty surprised to see that (AFAIK) Lightning and USB-C based cables will not be available add-on options for the time being, considering that it is an ongoing trend or movement. Regardless, I’m still a firm believer in the conventional 3.5mm jack (I’m looking at you Apple) and am not affected by this. Yet, those who use iPhone 7 and up would probably be less inclined to the unit, unless they use it with their Apple provided adapter.

    All and all, you’ll find that the comprehensive array of accessories, more so than most other products of this price range, would cover most of your needs on a day to day listening activities.

    BUILD QUALITY
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    These are high quality photos of the EDC 3. Picture credits to the Massdrop team.

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    These are my own (less than professional) personal shots of the EDC3.

    Similar to the EDC, EDC 3 uses a Lexan polycarbonate material for its housing in a smoky transparent blue/gray colour and a much darker take of the same transparent colourway for the body. In fact, in terms of size and shape alone, it looks identical next to the EDC, except the fact that it’s etched with ‘EDC 3’ this time around. I’m a big fan of the colour way it to look very simple and sleek overall.

    With my previous experience from the EDC, the housing proved to be quite sturdy and resistive to scratches. Therefore, the EDC 3 should last you a pretty long time unless it was mishandled.



    SOUND QUALITY
    Evaluation Process

    The EDC was burned in for at least 150 hours before any critical evaluations were 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:

    • Chord Mojo

    • iBasso DX90

    • Questyle QP1R

    • Calyx M player

    • Samsung Galaxy S8
    One thing that I would like to strongly emphasize upon is that all listening sessions were conducted with the braided cable equipped. Another variable that I maintained constant throughout my listening sessions was the use of silicone tips that were provided only due to comfort reasons. No tip rolling was made with the provided foam tips or any third party tips available in the market.

    Initial Impressions
    Upon first listen, the EDC 3 has an overall warm sound signature. The bass is lifted beyond neutral to give a satisfying thump for your music’s lower region notes, never threating to enter the realm of ear bleeding excessive bass. The mids are the star of the show, clear yet smooth, lush yet detailed. The treble is below neutral but there’s more than enough air to go around most music.

    Detail, except the midrange, does not come aggressively on you but was sufficient for me on a casual listening basis. Soundstage is deep though not very wide.

    Burn-in helps smoothed out the sound of EDC 3. However, don’t expect to have a leaps and bounds improvement experience from the unit post burn-in.

    Sound Signature
    The EDC 3 takes an overall warm and smooth sound signature. This is an alternate, and I would say trending, take on the ‘all-rounder’ sound signature, in contrast to the previously favoured V-shape sound signature. Specific to the warm tonality of EDC 3, it produces a sound that is mid focused, added bass and has just enough air to disqualify it from the realm of sounding dark.

    Bass on EDC 3 is north of neutral, with the elevation in the region primarily present on the mid bass. The bass comes in rich and full but not necessarily thick. Focusing on the subbass, there’s a nice weighty feel to it. It comes across punchy but stays far away from the line of boomy bass. In fact, the sense of control within the region is exceptional, so the bass does not feel intrusive or bleed into other regions.

    To me, mids are the main highlight of the piece. EDC3’s mids are clear and arguably the smoothest and most detailed of its 3 main sound regions. It is forward in nature, yet it’s lush and articulate throughout. Vocals, both male and female, were an absolute bliss to listen to on EDC 3. The instruments within the region are also well represented in its tonality, with each note coming through with an organic touch.

    Treble presentation was perhaps the most underwhelming of the 3 main regions. The treble is sufficiently airy but is a touch recessed and has a slight roll off specifically at the top end. However, my main gripe is its interplay with the other regions, as the forward mids seems to overshadow the highs, making it sound more recessed than it actually is. It does hit the nail on the head when it comes to smoothness, as I found no sibilance or harsh tones coming from EDC 3, maintaining a sense of sweetness throughout.

    EDC 3 will not scream ‘detailed’ to you. Except the midrange, I found the detail level in the other regions to be adequate but not exceptional. Its soundstage, although average in depth, is wide especially at this price point, does help provide a more realistic presentation. It also fare fairly well in terms of its sense of rhythm and timing, ensuring that the music come through in a highly organic manner.

    In addition, I found that the EDC 3 responds well to better amplification. It does not require a whole lot of juice to run, though it certainly up its game with more power.


    COMPARISONS
    For the comparisons below, I compared the EDC 3 to my Periodic Audio Mg (Mg) and the Massdrop x NuForce EDC (EDC). If you do wish for some comparison notes with the other IEMs I have in my arsenal, please do let me know in the comments below, though I doubt it will be a fair fight as the price range might be quite far apart.



    Periodic Audio Mg (Mg)
    The Mg currently has a MSRP of $99, so is priced much closer to the original MSRP for the EDC 3, which is at $99.99

    Let’s start with a comparison of their physical properties. The Mg uses polycarbonate for its main housing, so it should inspire a similar if not higher level of confidence for its durability and toughness when compared to EDC 3. While EDC 3 has to be worn over the ear, a choice between a straight down or over the ear wearing style could be made with Mg. Furthermore, Mg has fixed cables attached to its housing, thus unreplaceable which does not play well with the fact that its stock cables are flimsy and feels fragile. On the other hand, EDC 3 has replaceable cables which allows for a cable fix or a cable upgrade.

    Moving on to the sound, EDC 3 has a warm sound signature whereas the Mg has a sound signature that leans towards brightness. In terms of the bass, EDC 3 has a noticeable bump to it while Mg has bass that is closer to neutral. I feel that EDC 3 has a more enjoyable bass presentation of the two, as it sounds more exiting with its harder bass impact and increase in quantity. I found the EDC 3 to perform better in the quality department as well, with more detail and extension when compared to Mg.

    Both share a smooth, forward midrange, with EDC 3 most aggressive of the pair. I found the Mg to be smoother the two, though EDC 3 triumphs Mg in terms of lushness. Considering both units’ detail level within the region is on par with each other in my view, I felt that preference for either is a complete toss up and will differ from one person to another.

    When it comes to highs, Mg with its elevated, more extended treble is my preferred sound. While I found the EDC 3’s treble to be a touch recessed and lack energy in comparison, some may find the Mg to be bright or harsh. Soundstage is wider on the Mg; however it lacks depth when compared to the EDC 3.


    Massdrop x NuForce EDC (EDC)
    The EDC is sold on MD’s site for $59.99, $40 cheaper than the new EDC 3.

    EDC and EDC 3 are almost identical in their physical form factor. Both are constructed into identical shapes with the same material. There are only two differences between both units in this area: a slight colour palette swap and a different model number etching on the body of the IEM.

    In terms of sound signature, EDC lean towards a V-shaped sound signature whereas EDC 3 has an overall warm sound signature. Both represent a slightly different take on a sound signature aimed at the general consumer market.

    EDC has a higher emphasis in the bass region compared to EDC 3. Bassheads will appreciate the harder hitting, thumping bass on EDC, especially with its added quantity. Regardless, I still found EDC 3 to be my preferred taste on bass as I thought it was more controlled and detailed of the two. Bass extension is roughly equal across both units.

    They both also have contrasting takes on their midrange. Whereas the EDC has a smooth yet relaxed midrange, EDC 3 has an equally smooth and forward definition of the region. In my opinion, the EDC3 is clearer, richer and more detailed in this region, and certainly plays up more to my preference.

    The treble region brought about the most interesting comparison between both units. In one case, when focused upon, EDC 3 has an airier and slightly brighter top end than EDC. However, due to the different ‘balance’ achieved by both units, the midrange presence in EDC 3 made the treble feel more recessed than it should. In the other case, EDC has more of a roll off at the top end though the interplay and balance between its treble and mids made me feel that the treble had more energy and more zing to it. Truth to be told, I actually sort of preferred the EDC’s treble.

    In terms of soundstage, I felt that EDC 3 had it wider by a touch. Depth of soundstage of the two is on a similar level. I also felt that there’s an improved detail level throughout the frequency range from the EDC 3.


    CONCLUSION
    Yet again, MD has pushed the boundaries in delivering outstanding performance at an attractive price point with the EDC 3. That is a strong statement, considering $100 is no longer a price range that is saturated with below par options which are less than competitive in terms of both sound a build quality. As a matter of fact, the EDC 3 has certainly qualified and deserved its spot on the list of recommendations for people working on the aforementioned budget; a list that I felt previously added the EDC last year.

    EDC 3, with its warm sound signature and amazingly compact form factor, will surely be a hit with both new and veteran audiophiles alike, especially for those who are looking for an everyday piece of that sound signature. The midrange is absolutely the star of the show, bringing forth a beautiful combination of clarity and smoothness in the region that is almost unrivalled within the price range. A comprehensive range of accessories to support the unit is also a huge factor in increasing its allure towards all its potential buyers.

    On the downside, and this should be gathered as my own personal taste, the treblehead in me would tweak the treble and increase its quantity, even if it’s just by a little. Secondly, being that EDC 3 is a piece targeted for everyday use by anyone, I would love to see the unit be available for purchase on demand, so hopefully MD will stock up a few units and make that option available after the initial drop.

    Like its predecessor, the EDC, EDC 3 is an amazing product which delivers outstanding sonic performance and delivers an amazing overall package for a unit that, this time barely, stays within the $100 price ceiling. It is a great choice for people who are starting out and are aiming for a warmer tone, and also act as a good ‘complementary’ pair with the original EDC to obtain contrasting flavours of IEMs that are built solidly and highly portable for everyday use. Even though I have a few pair of IEMs that outperform yet are more expensive than the EDC line of products, I still find myself grabbing one or the other when I’m off for a quick listen. Hence, I would highly recommend for everyone to get either for keeps within their collection, or potentially start building an arsenal of their own.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ejong7
      Of the list, I'm most familiar with the Plus. Do you think the Plus do your music justice?

      If you think the Plus Is on a good level, then perhaps then the V shaped regular EDC is a better choice. If you think the Plus, is a on the bright side, maybe the warmer EDC3 may be better. I feel that the EDC3 works best with vocals, and instruments like guitar that resides around the upper mids lower treble area.
      ejong7, Mar 20, 2018
    3. gemmoglock
      Thanks @ejong7 I have heard the plus, but found the air of the treble just a tad lacking. It is very smooth and coherent but I would prefer slightly more air and sparkle (not sibilance) up top. How does the EDC3 compare? I don't need MD+ levels of bass as I was surprised it actually does a little more than my PX :)
      gemmoglock, Mar 21, 2018
    4. ejong7
      If you found the Plus lacking then I would suggest you go for the regular EDC.

      The EDC3 is more tamed, and may not have enough sparkle for your taste.
      ejong7, Mar 21, 2018

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