NCM Bella


New Head-Fier
Pros: Deep bass, crisp treble, technical performance
Cons: Universal version housings are rather large, May sound too aggressive for some

Introduction: I had heard of NCM before through some blog posts and other reviews, though I'd never had much experience with their products personally. However when I learned about their flagship IEM, the 9 driver hybrid beast that I would know to be the Bella which costs about 1000USD give or take, I was extremely interested. Nguyen (Ng-Wen) Custom Monitors is a relatively small custom in ear monitor company based in Vietnam, that offers a variety of different products and services, ranging from relatively affordable single driver models, to the hybrid behemoth I have been lucky enough to review, as well as repair and reshelling services to boot. I talked in depth with the NCM in my earlier feature here. Now let's talk about the Bella, the crowning jewel, the pinnacle of their lineup, up to this point at least, the Bella is the IEM that will encapsulate the essence of their philosophy of tuning, and what does that essence manifest to be? Well how about 1 10mm dynamic driver paired with a whopping 8 balanced armatures, that would be enough for one top of the line IEM in itself! But I digress, we know it's not a numbers game, and the devil is in the details of the implementation, so how does the Bella measure up? Read on to find out.

Disclaimer: I received the Bella Universal as a loaner unit. After I completed my review I forwarded them to another party who requested to loan the unit. I did not receive compensation for this review, monetary or otherwise, and all thoughts are my honest impressions on the product.


1 10mm Dynamic Driver
8 Custom Balanced Armature Drivers
20Hz-20KHz Frequency Response
3 Bore Design
4-way Crossover
32 Ohms Output Impedance
114db Sensitivity

Packaging and Accessories: The Bella arrived to me in a simple brown cardboard box. Opening that up reveals the a Pelican-ish type black case with a stylized NCM logo on top that has a reflective silver finish. The case is shockproof and has seals to protect it from the elements, coupled with 2 latches and some holes to hook up carabiners or something similar to it. Opening the case shows a soft foam lining on the bottom half and a zipper pocket containing all the accessories on the bottom.
Speaking of accessories the Bella has a good smattering of accessories. Included come the 6.5mm adapter, a cleaning tool, a velour soft pouch with the NCM logo stamped on in reflective silver and a selection of tips ranging from classic wide bore silicon tips, "whirlwind" tips, double flanges, and foam tips.
Overall the Bella comes with a nice range of accessories and should just about fill every need someone could think of, and the tip selection is a nice touch because they are primarily a CIEM company.

Build and Fit: Moving on to the build the universal Bella is primarily comprised of two parts both being acrylic. The main shell, and the face plate. The main housing is done in clear acrylic and taking a look up close, reveals some small bubbles but overall a solid acrylic shell. Looking closer you can see the stainless steel lined bores and the individual cores of the wrap that forms it, on the other end there lies a rather large cutout for the dynamic driver, covered in a fine steel mesh, this allows the driver to breathe, minimize driver flex and still keep the inside of the IEM free of debris the last detail of the outside is the Bella inscription on each IEM filled in with gold paint, a nice classy touch that fits with the overall scheme. Peering inside the shell nothing looks out of place though it does look understandably busy due to the simple fact that there is just so much drivers and wiring going on. The black face plate on this unit, is very simply, but is smooth and the seams are all built to very nice tolerances. Now for some obvious caveats, likely when you order these yourself whether custom or universal, but especially if custom it will have even better finishing given that this unit has already seen the world and had some hard knocks, additionally you will have a variety of customization options at your disposal when you order the Bella, from shell color to pattern to prints, it will definitely go beyond just a plain black and clear color scheme.

The cable that comes with the Bella is the usual fare for CIEMs, and it is a black four core cable, this one of the 2-pin variety. NCM has added some nice touches with the chin cinch and Y-split being fashioned out of wood, and done in a orange hue, with NCM engraved and filled in with black to complete the look. This is a welcome departure from the plain jane looks of most custom works, to the downright barebones implementation of others. The cable itself is soft enough, doesn't seem to have much memory or spring, and feels generally sturdy with the low profile, but straight barrel 3.5mm plug, and the someone oddly shaped ear guides pre-formed with molded shrink tubes, however this could be a quirk due to the intended shell being customs. The touches here show what NCM can offer to customers in terms of off the beaten track optimizations and leaves a solid, if not good base for the performance of the IEM stock.

The fit on these obviously applies for the universal model, as the custom models will have exacting fit to the users specifications. But back to the fit on these models, the IEM itself is quite large, both in overall shell size as well as the size of the 3 bores, but this is all understandable as there isn't much wasted space due to the sheer number of components contained within. The effects on fit however are rather simple, the Bella will protrude slightly from the outside of the ear, almost irrespective of the ear size and depth of the wearer, and tip choice will be affected due to the very thick bore diameter. That coupled with the weight may lead to eat falling out from those with shallow and small ears if not worn properly, so it is definitely something to keep in mind when deciding if one would get a custom or universal configuration. The fit is probably the only real glaring issue you could take from the Bella, and even then it feels somewhat unfair to take it against NCM due to their CIEM background.

Sound: As is usual I tried the Bella from various sources, ranging from more conventional sources like the 3.5mm jack of my Alienware 17 R3 laptop, and my LG G6 with the stock DAC setting, to an intermediate source like my FiiO Q1 Mk II DAC/Amp, up to an ifi Audio xDSD, and my Hiby R6 with and without the IEM match at both settings to paint a more complete picture of the sonic landscape of the Bella. The Bella exhibits scaling to a degree where better sources seem to give better control to the balanced armatures, leading to a fuller, crisper sound all around. Some sources some very light hiss could be heard when nothing was being played. There seemed to be some relationship between the Bella and the stock 10 Ohm output impedance of the R6, lending to a slightly brighter sound stock, an IEM match restored the sound to the base signature with plenty of headroom to drive the Bella to good listening volumes even with the "ultra" setting. The overall signature reveals itself to be a mild U-shape exhibiting slightly boosted bass, and treble relative to the mids, that while a step behind in the presentation, I wouldn't consider "recessed" in the typical way that it is understood. What I mean by this is that while the bass is deep with good amounts of slam and rumble, and the treble has a pleasant crisp aggressiveness(more on those below), the mid-range sticks closer to the neutral side of things whilst avoiding being drowned out due to the technical performance it exhibits in the mid-range area.

Bass:First of the subbass response delivered has good extension, that exhibits good rumble on deeper bass cuts on "Love" by Lana Del Rey providing good texture with minimal distortion for an IEM while still delivering speed that is about average and a slightly slower decay typical of the expectations from dynamics. The midbass frequency exhibit the most of the boost providing for a satisfying slam especially on songs with a skew towards electronica type bass, like that of "Hotter than Hell" of Dua Lipa whilst still retaining enough control that leaves a good sense of control to not bleed into the mids. The 10mm dynamic driver delivers an overall sublime bass response fitting the overarching theme of the signature due to delivering deep rumble, coupled with just enough slam to distinguish itself and please even those with a bass preference without dominating the overall sound.

Mids: The vocals on the Bella for the lower notes have good thickness, with Michael Buble sounding appropriately full, without going overboard on syrupy lushness, instead there's just enough texture and detail to show the nuances in his delivery and tone that improve the the emotional conveyance of his voice. Vocals on the upper range, are a bit more forward in comparison, with the upper mids having more aggression, whilst still showing the nuances well, for example on Amy Winehouse tracks the difference can be palpable when she does runs up the vocal register, with a noticeable increase in forwardness as the runs progress. Guitars are delivered well with good note definition and proving capable of delivering the nice twang on blues tracks, while other instruments like the piano at this register similarly shows that the each note can hold distinction. The mids reveal a performance that as previously said leans closer to neutral but sets itself apart with detail, and texture.

Treble: The Bella has notably aggressive treble, so those with sensitivity to treble might want to look for a more relaxed option. However those that aren't will be rewarded with a distinct crispness with the delivery of the treble, what while I wouldn't call natural, is on a level of engagement that just captivates my ear. Cymbals aren't harsh but just have a satisfying crash that pulls your attention to them for that split second, listening to the New Japan Philharmonic reveals a beautiful sparkle and shimmer. Violins and trumpets are on full display, and all the while, it will not exhibit sibilance except when it reveals a song to be naturally sibilant in the recording, there is definitely no chance of hiding a song via a veil in the tuning. There is a lot of air in the head space due to impressive extension and clarity that is almost addictive in the quality. For me definitely one of my most favourite aspects of the Bella without a doubt.

Presentation: The Bella excels at technical presentation, with a solid left to right stage, expanding squarely outside the ears, and an impressive depth staging being capable of presenting a nice 3D space overall. The layering likewise is notable due to the ability to have well defined notes and sounds from various instruments even in the busiest multi instrumental arrangement, rarely if ever have a familiar or expected sound to get lost or "crushed" within the mix. Detail retrieval is exceptional as I touched on earlier, with the clarity that just ties the whole sound signature together, without the technical aspects the aggressive tuning implemented would just fall short in every aspect and would seem brash and disjointed, but it doesn't and it's great that it doesn't.

Conclusion: It isn't everyday I get such opportunities to have a flagship like the Bella, not just in the sense of price, but also the tier it resides in for a small manufacturer like NCM, their greatest delivery of a product up to this point to their consumers, something that would be representative of them, but the Bella definitely feels like it is on that scale. Even in the universal form, the near madness of the driver configuration performs great, it's well rounded and is a fantastic daily driver, and with the addition of the customization options, it's no wonder NCM is gaining recognition with artists in its home, and I wouldn't be surprised if it starts to extend beyond Vietnam. The Bella is powerful, the sonic delivery gives aggression in all the best ways, just drawing you in with the sound and will take you for a ride at mach 5. Listening to it gave me a lot of excitement and grin from ear to ear, and I can imagine it will give you a similar feeling if you get to try one. With powerful bass, well defined mids, and crisp and shimmery treble, dipped in clarity, the Bella by NCM is an experience, and an experience I hope more people get to try. I'll miss it once I ship it to the next lucky ears to get their hands on it, and I hope those ears are be yours.
Interesting, I had never heard of them here in Europe. Through with channel were you able to purchase them?
Nice review, Face. Keep it up!