NF Audio NA2+

KutuzovGambit

500+ Head-Fier
Incremental improvements on an already astonishing technical foundation
Pros: Technicalities which rival even the best hybrids at the price point and beyond
Excellent detail and texture throughout the frequency range
Nearly 3D-holographic presentation
Bass is very tight, fast, and linear
Good amount of air in the upper regions
Improved tuning balance from the NM2+, especially in the slightly less aggressive upper mids
Superb build quality
Good comfort and ergonomics
Cons: Analytical approach of the NM2+ is retained at the expense of musicality
Dryness to the sound detracts from a natural presentation (especially in the treble)
Energetic upper mids/lower treble might be too much for some
Sensitive to insertion depth and angle
Tangly stock cable
Introduction: In an industry characterized by ever-increasing driver counts — not to mention novel driver types such as piezoelectrics and ESTs — the past several years has nevertheless seen a welcome renaissance of single-DD IEMs. Last fall NF Audio made one of the more widely-praised contributions to this renaissance with the NM2+, a bright-neutral monitor with astonishing technicalities for a sub-$200 IEM. Now they are back with the NA2+ — this time in their “Audio” series rather than the “Monitor” series of the NM2+, denoting a focus on musical enjoyment rather than analytical prowess. Though apparently the NA2+ has been selling well in Asian markets, it has garnered significantly less attention elsewhere than its older brother. How does it compare to the NM2+? Read on to find out.

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I would like to thank Penon Audio for supplying a review unit of the NA2+ in exchange for my honest opinion.

The MSRP remains at the same $169 as the NM2+. Specifications are as follows:
  • Driver: dual cavity dynamic driver
  • Frequency response: 9Hz-40kHz
  • Sensitivity: 107dB/mW
  • Max SPL: 125dB
  • Impedance: 32Ω
  • Sound insulation: 25dB
  • Distortion: <1%
  • Connector: 3.5mm
  • Cable: 2pin 0.78mm 5N silver-plated OFC
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Packaging & Accessories: NF Audio continues their compact disc-inspired packaging theme, but this time in a smart black/orange color scheme that denotes the “fun” presentation to which the NA-series aspires (in contrast to the silver/black scheme of the NM2+’s packaging). After removing the slip cover from the relatively large box, it opens book-style to reveal the IEMs in round CD-shaped foam on the right side, while the left side presents us with an informational booklet. Underneath the booklet is a round hard shell carry case, while underneath the CD-style foam are accessories including a wheel of tips and the stock cable.

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Altogether the included accessories are as follows:
  • 2-pin 0.78mm (QDC) to 3.5mm cable
  • 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
  • 4 pairs white “atmosphere” silicone tips (SS/S/M/L)
  • 3 pairs black “balanced” silicone tips (S/M/L)
  • Hardshell carry case
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NF Audio continues to impress with its attention to detail in both packaging as well as accessories. Everything one needs is included in the box, and the quality of everything is quite satisfactory (aside from the somewhat tangly nature of the cable). I conducted my review using the stock cable and black “balanced” tips, although I did try various third-party cables and tips as well before settling back on the aforementioned stock options as providing optimal sound quality and comfort.


Build & Comfort: One of the major improvements from the NM2 to NM2+ was the transition from resin shells to aluminum housing, and the same upgrade has been made in the case of the NA2+. The build quality of the IEMs is superb, I have absolutely no complaints here and expect them to hold up without issue for a long time to come. Comfort is likewise excellent despite the medium-long nozzles, even over very long listening sessions. There is no driver flex at all, however the isolation of double-vented shells is merely average.

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One caveat however is that, like the NM2+ before it, the NA2+ is very sensitive to insertion depth and angle. While I often use straight 2-pin cables even with QDC-style IEMs for reasons of comfort, in the case of the NA2+ this resulted in a lot of glare in the upper mids which went away entirely when I switched back to the stock cable, with its QDC connectors and rather tight ear guides ensuring that the IEMs retained optimal insertion. While individual ear anatomy is of course highly variable, I strongly recommend experimenting thoroughly with fitment for this IEM.

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Initial Impressions: Although unfortunately the NM2+ was sold on earlier this year in order to fund another purchase, it was my daily driver for the better part of a year and so of course is the main reference for my impressions of its younger brother. And all in all, the two have far more similarities than differences, most notably sharing some of the best technicalities in the sub-$200 price bracket — even holding their own against very competent $300 hybrids like the LZ A7. While both are tuned quite closely, there are a few slight differences: the NA2+ has a slightly more linear bass response, just a touch more warmth and body in the lower mids, and slightly tamed upper mids. In addition it has noticeably more soundstage depth, leading to a more 3D-holographic presentation and an accompanying reduction in congestion as compared to the NM2+.

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Signature: The NA2+ can be somewhat chameleon-like when it comes to identifying a sound signature, and I think this will greatly depend on each individual’s frame of reference for neutrality. I could see it being categorized as anything from “U-shaped” to “mildly V-shaped” to “bright neutral” to “neutral with bass boost”. Personally I would probably call it U-shaped, with a modest amount of linear bass boost along with a moderate elevation in the upper mids descending into slightly accented lower treble. The graph indicates a pinna gain nearly as massive as that of the NM2+, but (given proper fitment as noted above) I never heard the glare on the NA2+ that I sometimes did on its older brother — though the upper mids remain unquestionably energetic.


Bass: I recall the biggest surprise of the NM2+ for me personally being its astoundingly high-quality bass, and thankfully this is retained in the NA2+. This is definitely a case of quality over quantity, since the NA2+ hews far closer to neutral in the lower registers than do nearly all other IEMs. The bass is exceedingly tight and fast for a dynamic driver, and is quite well-extended. I would even say that it is more textured than its older brother, and indeed is perhaps the best-textured bass I have heard, period. The linearity of the bass response means that is is not quite as prominent in the overall presentation as the NM2+ was with its mid bass bias, despite sharing a similarly light overall quantity. I would personally have preferred a bit slower decay in order to attain greater musicality, but for those seeking an analytical presentation the low end of the NA2+ is just about as good as it gets.


Mids: The lower mids are similar to the bass in that they are quite close to neutral but with a hint of warmth and added body, a bit more so than on the NM2+ leading to a slightly more intimate presentation than on the latter IEM. Texture and detail are once again superb, and the midrange overall is still quite open despite the bit of added warmth. The upper mids are (as previously mentioned) definitely elevated, although again not quite to the same degree as the NM2+. And to reiterate, after achieving proper fit and insertion I never found the upper mids troublesome in any way, although the NA2+ will never fall into the category of “laid back and relaxing.” Female vocals remarkably are not significantly emphasized over male vocals, and despite the copious pinna gain there was no sibilance whatsoever due to a rather massive scoop around 7k. This scoop does mean that certain harmonics seem to be lacking at times, leading to the occasionally flat voicing of an instrument here or there which is somewhat out of place given the overall energy in the region. Yet I do not know if there was any other way to avoid the fatigue that the upper mids would otherwise have induced.


Treble: The treble continues with the energetic theme set by the upper mids, but in a decidedly even and non-peaky manner which retains plenty of detail and sparkle without becoming harsh. Extension is quite good, especially for a single-DD, and there is a lot of air in the presentation. However, the extremely rapid decay leads to an overly dry presentation which at times prevents the treble from maintaining the kind of naturality that I like to hear in the best dynamic drivers — cymbals, for example, often take on a brittle air, being robbed of proper reverb.


Soundstage & Technicalities: I have not heard any dynamic driver in the price range achieve anything close to the level of technical prowess of the NA2+, and in fact I think it plays on the same technical level as the $660 Oriolus Isabellae. The soundstage depth has increased relative to the NM2+, ameliorating the only real deficiency in the latter’s staging. Combined with excellent imaging, the presentation is now nearing 3D-holographic levels, an astounding feat for a budget-to-mid-tier single dynamic driver. Resolution is quite high, again especially given that it is working with only a single driver. Layering and instrument separation are likewise quite well done, standing up effortlessly to anything I threw at it. As a technical IEM the NA2+ continues on the path blazed by its forebear the NM2+, and despite its being a single DD it nevertheless plays with the best of the hybrids at its price bracket and beyond.


Conclusion: I think it is fairly clear that every change made from the NM2+ to the NA2+ is indisputably an improvement. Yet herein lies the rub: in the grand scheme of things they are all fairly minor changes, and in my opinion this IEM is much more an “NM2++” than it is an “NA2+”, especially as the overall presentation is still far more analytical than musical — despite the changed moniker. I think this is a fairly significant missed opportunity for NF Audio, and even if they had simply retained the tuning of the original NA2 while incorporating the significant upgrades in technicalities and build quality of the “Plus” series I think they would have had a real hit on their hands.

As it is, I would recommend the NA2+ over the NM2+ in basically every instance. Those looking for a superbly technical single DD at an astonishingly reasonable price need look no further than the NF Audio NA2+.

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Audio Fun

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Overall tonality
Class leading technical performance
Realistic timbre
Clear yet vividly
Clean yet punchy bass
3D holographic imaging
Soundstage
Build
Fit and comfort
Cons: Strong upper midrange & lower treble emphasis are just not appealing to everyone
Stock cables same as its cheaper model
Introduction
NF Audio is the Chinese company founded in 2014, they are specialized in the CIEM and recently they were focus on the UIEM products that is more affordable price. In this review, I am taking a look at the NA2+, which is the successor of the NA2, and it is currently the flagship of their single DD IEMs lineup along with the NM2. The retail price is $169USD, and the driver configuration is single DD.

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Disclaimer
I would like to thanks Yihua Chen form Aoshida Hifi for given this opportunity, and the review will be based on my honest opinion through the music I listen to.


Package & Accessories
The NA2+ come with the moderate sizes box, there are the brand name, model name and IEMs illustration located at the front cover, whereas the specifications at the button. There is the black box with the brand logo in the located at the middle removed the cover. After the box is opened, one side of it has the IEMs sited in the foam, with the ear tips contained underneath. Moving on the other side, the user manual with the carry pouch underneath, which contains the cable and other accessories.

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Accessories list:
1 pair x NF Audio NA2+ In-Ear Monitor
1 pcs x Detachable Cable with 0.78mm 2-Pin Connector
4 pairs x Silicone Atmosphere Ear Tips
3 pairs x Silicone Balanced Ear Tips
1 pcs x Carry pouch
1 pcs x 3.5mm to 6.3mm Headphone Adaptor

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The accessories come with the NA2+ is pretty good for its price. The hard shell carry pouch it come with is well build and feel solid, there is the brand logo located at the front.

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The NA2+ come with two different types of ear tips, which are balanced-black ear tips; amto-white ear tips respectively to provide the best sound and fit. There are also the nicely made 3.5mm to 6.3mm headphone adaptor included.

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The NA2+ come with the 4 core twisted cable, it has 3.5 mm straight connector in matted metal finished with branded logo. It features the 0.78mm 2 pin connector with L&R to indicated left and right. The Y-splitter are in silver metal shell in matted finish, where the 2 pin connector are finished with plastic housing. There are cable slider in transparency plastic shell finished. It is overall solid and flexible cable.

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Design & Build & Comfort
The NA2+ has semi-custom shells design. The shell and faceplate are in the gray color which is fuller made with metal. There are NF audio branded logo engraving on the faceplate, while the word “NA2+ Music” are located at the bottom of the IEMs. There are left and right indicators sported at the rear side of the shells. The vent are located on the top of the shell, along with the orange dots that have the NF audio branded logo next to it.

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The build quality on the NA2+ is outstanding. The IEMs are made with two pieces of metal, the faceplate and the shell. There are all made with Aeronautical-grade Aluminum alloy cavity material and processed by High-precision 5-axis CNC machine. There are no shape edges or glue around the gap of the shell. The filter on nozzle are made with metal to prevent from the ear dust. The 2 Pin female connectors are tight, and the connector do not have sign of wear and tear after I swapped few times of cable.

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The fits on the NA2+ is outstanding, thanks to its semi-custom shell design. The nozzle has moderate length, so it can fit pretty stable in your ears. The isolation is above average, and thanks to the vents there are no pressure build up after a long listening.

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Technical specifications:
Frequeney response range: 9-40kHz
Maximum SPL: 125dB
Sensitivity: 107dB/mW Distortion:<1%
Impedance: 32Ω
Sound isolation: 25dB


Sound

Paring

I pair up with the stock cable and atmosphere ear tips, as the balance ear tips sound a little bit harsh in the upper midrange, and run through my music library on the Fiio M11 and Topping E30.

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Overall tonality
The NA2+ has a mildly U shape tonality, it is presented in vividly yet clear, and smooth manner.

Bass
The bass is slightly warmer than neutral and it is well controlled. It has good levels of sub bass extension with moderate decay speed, which is more pronounced than mid bass. The bass has above average impact and punch with moderate amount of rumble. On the other hand, the bass has good level of speed and control, while the detail retrieval and clarity are really well. It is overall clear yet well textured bass.

Mids
The midrange has a slightly warmer than neutral tonality. There is an clear yet vividly presentation. The lower midrange has moderate amount of bodies presented in clear yet clean manner. The upper midrange has great emphasis and slightly more pronounced than lower midrange. The upper midrange sound vividly with good levels of transparency and without sounding harsh (but a bit edgy).The detail retrieval and clarity are both great.

Treble
The treble is towards the bright side, it sound generally smooth, but it still can cause fatiguing for long listening sessions. The lower treble has good amount of energy and brightness, there is also good levels of control. The upper treble is well extend, there are good amount of airiness and sparkle on the top end. The detail retrieval and clarity are really good.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage is pretty wide with good levels of depth.
The imaging is 3D holographic.



Comparison
Audiosense AQ3 ($169USD)

Bass
There are more sub bass and slightly more mid bass on the AQ3. The bass has warmer and fuller tone in AQ3, where the NA2+ has clearer and relatively cleaner tone. There are clear sense of punchy and slam on the NA2+, while the AQ3 sound life less in comparison. The NA2+ provide better sense of control and has tighter presentation, where the AQ3 has heavier weight and sound thicker. The detail retrieval and clarity is better on NA2+

Mids
The midrange on both has fairly neutral tone, but the NA2+ has brighter tonality. The lower midrange sound fuller and warmer on the AQ3, where the NA2+ sound leaner and clearer. The upper midrange sound smooth and relatively more laid back on AQ3, where the NA2+ sound more vividly and lively. The detail retrieval and is better on NA2+.

Treble
The treble has brighter tonality with better sense of extension on the NA2+. The lower treble has more energy and sound brighter but edgier on NA2+, while the AQ3 sound smoother and laid back-ier. The upper treble has more airiness and sparkle on the NA2+, where the AQ3 is rolling off and sound bit life less. The detail retrieval and clarity is better on NA2+.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage is wider and deeper on he NA2+.
The imaging is better on NA2+.


IKKO OH10 ($189USD)

Bass
There are more sub bass and mid bass quantity on the OH10, which has fuller rumble in presentation and extra sense of extension. The bass on the OH10 has thicker tone and provide extra sense of slam and punch, where the NA2+ has clearer tone and provide better sense of tightness and control. The bass has more weight on the OH10, where the NA2+ has less impact. The detail retrieval and clarity is tad better on NA2+.

Mids
The midrange on both has fairly similar V shape tonality, both sound clear and vividly with great upper midrange emphasis. The lower has slightly more texture on the NA2+, where as the OH10 has less lushness and has extra sense of clarity. The upper midrange both sound vividly and lively, the OH10 is tad more spacious in comparison, on the other hand, the NA2+ sound tad more intimate and slight fuller. The detail retrieval and clarity are both great.

Treble
The treble on both has again fairly similar tonality, both are well extend and sound vividly and spacious. The lower treble has extra sense of energy on the NA2+, which make it sound brighter but edgier compare to smoother OH10. The upper treble both have good levels airiness and sparkle, but the OH10 feel more spacious on the top end. The detail retrieval and clarity is tad better on OH10.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage is wider on the OH10, but deeper on the NA2+.
The imaging is tad better on the NA2+


NF audio NM2+ ($169USD) Just a brief comparison, as I sold it already.

They both sharing extreme identical tonality, which are well tuned V shape with a tad warmer than neutral tone, also have a same characteristics on the upper midrange area. The bass has slightly more weight with tad more texture on the NA2+, where the NM2+ sound clearer with extra sense of tightness. The midrange has fairly similar tonality, the NM2+ sound relatively brighter and more open, where the NA2+ sound relatively less vividly and feel more intimate. The treble area has not different between both of them in term of extension and airiness. The NM2+ has slightly more emphasis on the lower treble region, which has edgier sound compare to relatively smoother NA2+. The detail retrieval and clarity is tad better on NM2+, which take more emphasis on upper midrange. The soundstage is wider on NM2+, but tad deeper on NA2+. The imaging are on par.




Conclusion
The NF audio NA2+ has a class leading build quality, and the design of it is pretty cool as well. The sound of it inherit their house sound signature with fairly vividly upper midrange and boosted lower treble in the presentation. The technical performance is outstanding on the NA2+, especially the soundstage and imaging, I am truly impressed by how well it done in this price. But, the sound of NA2+ just not for everyone. Thank you for reading. Happy listening as always!!

NF audio official website: http://www.nfaudio.cn/en/index.html
NF audio NA2+ product page: https://www.aoshida-audio.com/products/nf-audio-na2-1
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Audio Fun
Audio Fun
Cheers!!
Malfunkt
Malfunkt
Really want to hear both NA2+ and NM2+. Great review!
Audio Fun
Audio Fun
Thanks for reading! Unfortunately, I believe NF audio only have few dealer in Asia area which were have the demo units in the store. But I can tell that the NA2+ is a better tuned NM2+ IMO.
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