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NICEHCK N3

Rating:
3.07143/5,
  1. Wiljen
    NiceHCK N3, a first step toward a piezo future
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Mar 29, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good build quality, peizo treble is well behaved and may hint of things to come.
    Cons - odd shape may cause fit issues for some, lacks coherency, spikes in the mids and lower treble need clean up
    [​IMG]

    NiceHCK N3

    Disclaimer: Jim at NiceHck was kind enough to send the N3 at a substantial discount for review. As with most of my review samples, it will likely go to either the schools or the hospital when the review is completed. This way either it introduces good earphones to the next generation of music lovers (band and choir students) or it goes to someone who can use it to enjoy music and audio books while recovering. This allows me to review a great many earphones without the questions of conflict of interest that sometimes arise.



    Unboxing / Packaging:

    The outer packaging is a slip-cover with an inner paperboard box holding the N3 earpieces in the top 2/3 and hiding the cable and accessories in a box in the lower 1/3. The complete kit consists of the earpieces, three sizes of silicone single flanged tips, the cable, and a cable tie. No shirt clip or case is provided with the N3.

    NiceHCK-N3_box_front.jpg NiceHCK-N3_contents.jpg NiceHCK-N3_box_internals.jpg NiceHCK-N3_box_rear.jpg



    Cable:

    The cable provided with the N3 is silver-plated copper in a smoked housing. Fitting are gunmetal colored on the jack, splitter, and slider with black MMCX connectors at the upper end. The jack is of the 90º style I find preferable with the a solid metal casing and good strain relief. The splitter is matching metal with NiceHCK imprinted on it and N3 imprinted on the chin-slider immediately above it. At the north end, the cable does have pre-formed earhooks but does not have a memory wire. The mmcx housings are thick and sturdy and the connections take some force to make. Overall, I find the cable to be good and much less tangle prone than that which came with the DT6 (my other current piezo review).

    NiceHCK-N3_jack.jpg NiceHCK-N3_mmcx.jpg NiceHCK-N3_splitter.jpg


    Build/Fit:

    THe N3 has a machined aluminum alloy housing in a bar shape. The exterior of each has NickHCK printed in the mid section while the interior of the bar is imprinted with L/R markings although it be impossible to switch the two unless you were going to ear them tip down. Nozzles are straight inward with no forward rake and have a pronounced lip to hold tips in place. Perhaps the most unique feature is the U shaped interior of the shell which makes it fit very differently than most iems. For me, the rear of the N3 sits at a near 45º angle upward from the lead edge. Forcing the N3 to try and sit flat in the ear is not a comfortable option as the rear arm of the U presses firmly against my ear. I also found that with the vent being in the shallow portion of the U, it is possible to block the vent depending on how these are worn.

    NiceHCK-N3_nozzle.jpg NiceHCK-N3_vent.jpg

    Internals:

    The N3 uses a dual layer 10mm dynamic driver paired with a piezo-electric driver to handle the upper frequencies. Nominal impedance is listed as 55Ω with a sensitivity of 100dB/mw. As I have found with other in-ears featuring Piezo elements, the N3 needs more power than the specs suggest in order to operate at its best. Coherency suffers as power goes down as the dynamic seems to drop off more rapidly as power decreases than the piezo. With higher power output, the drivers are more nearly the same level and overall transitions between the two are less easily detected. I would recommend not attempting to use the N3 from a smartphone or tablet as neither will be particularly good pairings. I found the xDSD and Xduoo XP-2 both worked well between a phone and the N3 to provide the best results.

    [​IMG]

    Sound:

    The N3 is tip sensitive and, for my tastes, ships with tips that do not complement it well. I found the narrow bore tips to push the mid-bass forward, and strengthens an already over-exuberant treble. I found whirlwinds or Spiral-dots worked much better to tone the mid-bass back a bit and give the mids a bit more room to breathe. Treble splash was still present and I suspect the tips did almost nothing to it, but it did allow other things to come closer to meeting it which makes it seem a bit more in balance.

    Also of note, it was suggested that the N3 needed considerable burn-in (to the tune of 150 hours). I ran the FR both before and after doing that length burn-in and found any differences to be within the expected standard deviation between runs. Take that as you will, but to my ears, it did not change appreciably and the graphs seem to bear out that same observation.

    [​IMG]



    Bass:

    Bass extension on the N3 is good, but not exceptional as it drops off rapidly below about 70Hz so anything centered above that sounds good while tones centered below that sound anemic at times. Sub-bass quantity is limited but can be brought forward with some EQ tweaks. Mid-bass is a bit more forward, but also somehow overly clean and not as engaging as expected. The mid-bass is not as well textured or detailed as I would prefer and quite frankly when I had read the specs regarding the carbon nanotube dual driver, I expected better. I know the technology is capable of it, but this particular version is either not tuned to do so, or not designed well. Overall, the lows on the N3 are pretty pedestrian and somewhat forgettable.



    Mids:

    Mids start out well as the lower mids follow from the bass with a clean transition and show a bit better timbre and detail level. Unfortunately, that takes a turn as you reach into the upper-mids and lower treble where it hits a big spike that makes vocal shouty at times. The problem here is the “at times” as if you tune the mids using EQ you sometimes get better balance, and at other times the vocal disappears behind other things. I found the spike made some vocalists sibilant and others excessively nasal sounding. The same was true for most strings and brass as they came off as either overly aggressive or unnaturally thin. Male vocals present a particularly interesting phenomena where when singing in the lower registers (chest voice) the vocalist appears to be behind other instrumentation, then when they climb into higher registers (head voice) they take a sudden leap forward. The N3 has the odd distinction of both being too recessed and too forward for vocals.



    Treble:

    Here again, we have mixed results. The lower treble has a spike that dominates the rest of the treble range and gives the N3 a really unnatural and harsh tone at times. Female vocals that border on sibilant anyway, will go into full fledged ear-shredding mode and cymbals become indistinguishable if played quickly as the hits all run together instead of being distinct. To make matters worse, decay of the lower treble is slow so those harsh factors extend out and tend to have a linger impact. As we move above the spike, the upper treble first takes a nosedive and produces a considerable trough at about the 7kHz mark. Some energy is brought back at about the 12kHz mark which helps give the N3 some air at the top end which would otherwise be lacking. Again, depending on which range the upper harmonics fall into, an instrument may show air and sparkle, or it may fall dead flat to the ground depending on whether it hits the peak or the trough.



    Soundstage / Imaging:

    Soundstage may be the single best thing about the N3. It is slightly wider than deep, but has good dimensions both ways and gives a very open feel in the overall. Things like the Cowboy Junkies Trinity sessions really highlight the depth and width of stage and are indeed impressive. Layering and imaging are also a mixed bag. With most tracks, instrument separation is good and lends to easy placement of instruments on the stage. As tracks get really busy, the N3 becomes overwhelmed and the imaging falls apart.


    Thoughts / Conclusion:

    The N3 seems like a lot of experiments in one package. Shape is the first and is a mixed result. For some it is comfortable, for others the lip at the rear pushes against the ear and makes long wear uncomfortable. The Piezo-electric driver is another experiment, and another mixed result. Whether the spikes are inherent to the drivers used or a product of the combination of drivers, crossover components, and housings remains to be identified. It would not surprise me if the 2kHz spike was a resonance between the piezo and the housing while the 4kHz seems more likely to be inherent to the driver itself. Either way, these unfortunately overshadow the occasional flash of something good underneath. My hope is that NiceHCK will take what they have learned with the N3 and move forward to produce an N4 and N5 that move the state of the design forward and into territory where it can be recommended as I do think it shows a lot of potential.

    images

    1. NiceHCK-N3_bottom.jpg
    2. NiceHCK-N3_box_side.jpg
    3. NiceHCK-N3_featured.jpg
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  2. Dsnuts
    NiceHCK N3
    Written by Dsnuts
    Published Mar 21, 2019
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Build, Price, scalability to amplification, unique hybrid design
    Cons - Uneven treble, uneven mids, disjointed coherency, boxy stage, needs a long burn in
    The Chi Fi scene for earphones is vibrant with new designs coming out of China with regularity now a days and NiceHCK has been in the forefront of some creative designs. The read here is about the new NiceHCK N3. Currently being sold for $59 on NiceHCK web site. Here. Also being sold on Amazon. Here.


    I was provided a sample for review purposes. For a period of 1 month I have exclusively listened to the N3. These are my thoughts on the newest design from NiceHCK.
    DSC06611.JPG

    The N3 is a new design incorporating 3 drivers per housing. While this is a common driver count now a days, it is the materials used for the drivers that the N3 uses that are intriguing. Dual 10mm carbon nanotube dynamics and a piezoelectric 7 layer ceramic tweeter taking care of the highs in a small compact over the ear design set with mmcx connectors.


    The N3 is my first ever piezoelectric ceramic earphone that I have heard so I was enthusiastic to hear the results with the combination of the dual carbon nanotube dynamics working the bass to mids portion of the sound. Makes for a newer hybrid combo that should peak some interest among enthusiasts.
    DSC06606.JPG

    So there is a clear disclaimer about the N3. Jim at NiceHCK suggested 150-200 hours of burn in for the sound to be correct and I have to agree. The N3 out of the box is a bit cringe worthy. It is not a sound anyone will admire. It was boxed in and had a strange tonality to it. Piano sounded dull and muted. Vocals sounded off especially male vocals. So off to the burner they went. It took almost 2 weeks of burn in for the sound to actually change/ to become correct. If you are a non believer of burn in. Your gonna have to skip on these earphones as they will and do sound terrible out of the box. Onward and upward.


    Build of the N3 is good a solid smaller rectangle like shaped earphone with a protrusion facing toward the outer ear. Made of aluminum alloy milled with CNC processing for precision cut lines.The housing of the earphones is very solid and surprisingly smaller in form and shape for iems that houses 3 drivers. I am a bit torn on the design of the housing. It is much more solid than anything plastic for example but at the same time the short nozzle and the 90 degree angle make them to be a bit too L in shape. Not as ergonomic as it could have been. The design gets a plus for being solid but they don’t scream high end in looks to me. Of course it is not supposed to be right? Just a missed opportunity is all I am saying. It has an original housing lets put it that way.
    DSC06612.JPG

    The included tips are functionable but I am sure you can find better tips to use for these from your collection. Coming with just 4 pairs of silicone tips. A small treasure trove of tips you won’t find here. The Cable that it comes with these are a decent silver coated copper variety mmcx cable complete with ear guides. Made of copper and nothing out of the ordinary. You get an exotic hybrid earphone but yet once again included accessories is at a bare minimum. Enthusiasts does what enthusiasts do. Highly recommend tips and cable rolling to get the best out of the N3. Even suggested by Jim himself. Now onto the review.


    Fit. They fit comfortable on my medium sized ears for the most part and the large included silicones provided a good seal but was not exactly optimized for the sound on the N3. I ended up using my faithful JVC Spiral dots with much better results. Even though fit was much improved I still have to fidget with the housing on the ear to position them correct for a tighter seal and better sound.

    DSC06608.JPG

    With the nozzle having a short 90 degree angle to the inner ear canal I can see some ear shapes not meshing so well with the housing shape and design on these. I feel the design of the housing would have been better if the angle was not so 90 degrees but less angled for a more ergonomic fit using a slightly longer nozzle in conjunction for a deeper tighter seal in the ear. Small details is what separates a successful universal design. For the most part these will fit most folks but I can clearly see how they can improve the design of them to fit more varieties of ears.
    DSC06609.JPG

    Specs are as follows:

    1. Product Name: Original NICEHCK N3 In Ear Earphone
    2. Brand: NICEHCK
    3. Model: N3
    4. Earphone type: In-ear
    5. Impedance: 55Ω
    6. Earphone sensitivity: 100 dB/mW
    7. Frequency range: 20-22000Hz
    8. Plug Type: 3.5mm L Bending
    9. Cable Length: 1.2m±3cm
    10.Color: Gray
    11.Whether with cable: Yes
    12.Earphone interface: MMCX connector
    13.Driver unit: 10mm Dual Carbon Nanotube Dynamic Driver+Piezoelectric Ceramics Driver Hybrid 3 Units (3 driver units each side)

    DSC06616.JPG

    Sources used for the evaluation with a large library of music ranging from modern to classical.
    Shanling M3s, Shanling M5s, Fiio X3ii, Ibasso DX90 w PB3 amp, IFI Ican amp, IFI Black label.


    The N3 is not as easy to drive as most iems in the price bracket they scale well to more powerful equipment. They are easy enough to drive out of a cell phone but does need more volume than more sensitive iems. N3 does benefit from source matching. They sound better with more neutrally tuned sources my DX90 and Shanling M3s both showed good synergy with the N3. Out of my BL the N3 clearly benefit from more power and showed that they do scale well. Throwing out more stage and a more fleshed out dynamic sound as a result.
    DSC06614.JPG

    As most NiceHCK tuned earphone goes. Their house sound incorporates one part balance a good amount of bass and usually a non fatiguing treble end. I am very familiar with this tuning in many of their earphones. The house tuning formula is yet on display once again on the N3.

    With equal parts emphasis on bass and upper mids/ lower treble the N3 has a W shaped Fr with emphasis toward upper mids. The N3 can be interpreted as a V shaped Fr but due to the large dip in the mid treble area vs the upper mids I feel these are more closer to a W than an V. It has decent layering and transients yet instrument separation ends up being average. The treble end of the N3 I was excited to hear since it is the first time I have heard a Piezoelectric ceramic used for treble.
    DSC06607.JPG

    While treble for the most part has a non fatiguing presentation in the overall mix and has good speed the meat of the treble end Fr is a step below the upper mids and bass end in emphasis. Your gonna hear vocals and guitars come in nice and clear but high hat notes bells and chimes come slightly muted. Treble shimmer is at a minimum here as well. Upper treble extension is good and show a good amount of air in the upper registers but that mid treble dip brings an inconsistency to the treble and the brilliance end of the N3.

    The treble is there for most tunes but is missing breathe and shimmer that I want to hear for Jazz rhythm sections and more importantly treble tonality which has to be correct for a more complete sound was just not evident. Thus the Piezoelectric ceramic tweeter implemented in the N3 does not impress. There seems to be a disconnect between the treble driver and the rest of the sound. Anything with energy and speed be it Megadeths Kingmaker or Charles Mingus Boogie stop shuffle. If you raise the volume on the source most of the music would raise in volume accordingly but the treble end stays at roughly the same volume. Don’t know if it is due to the treble driver possibly needing more power vs the dynamic drivers. Or if it is due to the large dip in the mid treble frequencies or both. Cohesion is the one aspect that is very important for hybrids and these just don’t seem to have it.


    Truth be told, it is more difficult for earphone designers to get the treble end correct than the mids or the bass end. It is a fine line between being non fatiguing and having the right amount of presence. I give credit to the makers of these earphones for giving it a go but the treble on these are not amazing. This is the area that I feel is the weak spot of these earphones. And this is the area that is supposed to be something new and special due to the material. As they are, it is serviceable yet unbalanced and dull at the same time. I think these would have had a more natural cohesion without using the piezoelectric ceramic here as implementation of them seems experimental.


    Mids are also uneven in that there is more emphasis in the upper mids vs the central to lower mid section perhaps to give a better sense of stage and more presence to vocals. As a result most instruments in the mix has a slight step back in the track while anything bass emphasized will be more forward. Stringed instruments and female vocals seems to benefit the most from the upper mids enhancements. Overall mids definition is good on the N3 but only after the necessary burn in. Vocals have good presence but at the same time instruments that are supposed to be in the mix seems a bit more distant at times. Imagery of the mids are ok but again a bit inconsistent here due to how the focus of the tune is portrayed. Slower ballad stuff seems fine but anything with energy especially rock and metal is very uneven sounding.
    DSC06613.JPG

    Bass of the N3 has slightly more sub bass emphasis over mid bass. Bass has never been an issue for the carbon nanotube drivers and i don’t see it being a problem here. However there is a bit of bass bloom that is noticeable on bass rhythm sections and or Bass driven tracks. Bass emphasis has a bit of a sub wooferish appeal in that it is not the tightest or the most textured of bass notes. The thicker bass notes have no problems reaching the deep sub notes but bass tone is not the best. It shows spunk when needed. Bass genres does fine here with texture and refinement being ok at this price range of earphones. The bass end can be enjoyable with a faster speed than most dynamic drivers with a good sense of rhythm and pace. With bass bloom being apparent it can and does overshadow the mids at times making vocals and instruments sound a bit drowned out in hip hop tracks. Truth be told I like my hip hop tracks to sound a bit loose like this anyhow. For the most part however it stays put and has good authority when called for.
    DSC06610.JPG

    Overall sonic qualities of the N3 is passable given the price to own a pair but there is so much competition in this price range now a days. Even though this is a unique hybrid combo and delivers for the most part for its price, these feel and sounds more like an experiment than an actual full fleshed out product. The piezoelectric ceramic tweeter here seems to struggle in balance and presence where needed combined with an in your head average boxy like head stage. Somehow I feel a more spacious housing and a smoother a more balanced tuning curve could have benefitted the sound NiceHCK is going for here. Taller than it is deep with a not so wide a stage. Making them sound a bit closed in as a result. For a unique hybrid combination I feel these aren’t a complete fail. They will get you into your music especially for bass genres but for them to truly sound exceptional they have to have a lot more going for them over the myriad of others being sold at this price range.


    Potential is evident on these especially when using an amp and better cables but I would love to see NiceHCK bring out one of these being a more complete package and with a better designed more ergonomic spacious housing. The saying less is more could actually apply to the N3. More drivers in the N3 does not mean these are going to be better than a single well tuned dynamic earphone. It would have been something very special if NiceHCK pulled off this one of a kind hybrid with mastery of sound and form but, there has to be a starting point. I have no doubts NiceHCK can make a great sounding earphone. And I hope to see a NiceHCK N3ii perhaps.
      B9Scrambler, Otto Motor and DannyBai like this.
    1. Otto Motor
      You listened to this one for a month exclusively?
      Otto Motor, Mar 22, 2019
    2. Dsnuts
      I try to really get into the earphone to get to know the sound when doing a review. This one took a while since It took almost 2 weeks of full burn in to sound even remotely correct. I was listening to my others at that time but once I started listening to these I gave up listening to my other in ears just to hear what these can do. I got used to them only to hear inconsistencies in my test tracks.
      Dsnuts, Mar 22, 2019
      Otto Motor likes this.
  3. Otto Motor
    NiceHCK N3 Review: Silicon Carne
    Written by Otto Motor
    Published Mar 21, 2019
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent build; good depth of soundstage; good tech idea.
    Cons - Aggressive, unbalanced sound that gets quickly fatiguing to my ears.
    IMG_0189-800x445.jpeg

    SPECIFICATIONS

    • Product Name: Original NICEHCK N3 In Ear
    • EarphoneBrand: NICEHCKModel: N3Earphone
    • Type: In-ear
    • Impedance: 55 Ω
    • Earphone Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW
    • Frequency Range: 20-22000Hz
    • Plug Type: 3.5mm L-shaped
    • Cable Length: 1.2m±3cm
    • Color: Gray
    • Earphone interface: MMCX connector
    • Remote: No
    • Driver Unit: 10mm Dual Carbon Nanotube Dynamic Driver+Piezoelectric CeramicsDriver Hybrid 3 Units (3 driver units each side)
    • Price: ~$60
    • Purchase link aliexpress: Here
    • Purchase link amazon: Here

    INTRODUCTION


    The NiceHCK N3 is a beautiful earphone with impeccable CNC-machined metal housings and a great cable, which has a round cross section (it is not braided). The box contains the bare minimum including four pairs of rubber tips. And, for the first time in my experience, I received a NiceHCK product does not come with a protective case.

    [​IMG]

    The earpieces fit me comfortably well but I had sound problems (boomy bass) with the included rubber tips — the N3 worked well for me with the large Knowledge Zenith starline tips. I also tried foams but they sucked too much life out of the sound while also trimming the rough edges a bit.

    I first used my iPhone SE and the audioquest dragonfly dac/amp attached to it, which produced sufficient power to drive the N3…but also a harsh, congested sound. I then switched to my MacBook Air with the Schiit Fulla dongle amp, which improved the imaging (which would have been the case with most other earphones, too, as the amp is a notch up compared to the dragonfly).

    [​IMG]


    TONALITY

    My tonal preference and testing practice

    The tuning is a classic V-shape with a frequency response typical for budget earphones.

    The bass is reasonably well extended but could be a bit more focused, faster, and layered — and therefore less boomy and dull, which would also improve clarity. Both male and female voices, although having a good depth, are thin, over-accentuated and therefore rather sharp and aggressive, and the degree of both increases into the upper midrange [2-4 kHz] where guitars can sound shrill and ear-piercing. Some female singers appear to croak rather than sing and even the audience’s applause can be very unpleasant for my ears. The midrange simply lacks volume and smoothness and the sound appears artificial and forced. Treble sensu stricto is actually ok as a drop above 4 kHz adds some relaxation. The 12-15 kHz peak attempts to add clarity and pretend resolution but all it does is contribute to throwing the overall image out of balance.

    The soundstage is rather deep but also unusually narrow. The timbre is unnaturally metallic: a classical orchestra sounds electrically amplified. In the big picture, the sound is not balanced or cohesive and quickly fatiguing to my ears. The N3 masters most things with great difficulty. To be brutally honest, I would not spend any money on it.


    CONCLUDING REMARKS


    The N3 surely is an interesting experiment with its piezoelectric drivers and its high 55 Ω impedance. It is also built very well and comes with a great cable. Unfortunately, this experiment needs being sent back to the drafting table to produce a more balanced, pleasant, and less fatiguing sound with a more natural timbre. I look forward to a retuned, improved version.


    DISCLAIMER

    I received my unit from NiceHCK Audiostore for a few pennies (and will give it to charity). The sole purpose of this review was to independently test the N3’s technical and practical capabilities.

    My generic standard disclaimer

    About my measurements


    [​IMG]
      slapo likes this.
    1. NymPHONOmaniac
      Have you try DT6???
      NymPHONOmaniac, Mar 21, 2019
    2. Otto Motor
      Soon! Presently stuck in Canada customs. Totally different FR.
      Otto Motor, Mar 21, 2019
  4. B9Scrambler
    NiceHCK N3: Shows Promise
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Mar 21, 2019
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Fantastic build quality and fit - Above average isolation - Sound stage
    Cons - Uneven tune - Unique presentation of each driver type doesn't mesh
    Greetings,

    Today we're checking out an interesting new earphone from NiceHCK, the N3.

    NiceHCK is an online retailer that started developing earphones and other products under their own brand, conveniently named NiceHCK. They have recently seen a massive jump in popularity in online forums thanks to what feels like a big push to get their products into the hands of reviewers. I was given the opportunity recently to check out their triple hybrid, the P3, and really enjoyed it. With an attractive design, a full accessory kit, and a unique signature that pushed vocals to the forefront, it was a quality product and made for an enjoyable listen.

    The N3 we're looking at today is a hybrid too. However, instead of the usual dynamic driver plus balanced armature setup that is so very common, the N3 tries something new; a dynamic driver, piezoelectric ceramic driver setup.

    While the N3 doesn't nail the fundamentals for me, it is an interesting product that I hope NiceHCK continue to develop and eventually perfect. The potential is there for something great. Let's take a closer look.

    Disclaimer / Trigger Warning:

    Thanks to Jim with NiceHCK for arranging a sample of the N3 for the purposes of this review. The thoughts here are my own subjective opinions based on time spent listening to the N3. They do not represent NiceHCK or any other entity. At the time of writing the N3 retailed for 59.00 USD. You can check it out on AliExpress or Amazon.

    Following this review, my sample will be generously donated to a fellow Head-fi'er in another country so as to spread love and cheer throughout the world. Oh, and to avoid bias. You can't keep samples and remain unbiased. Shame!!

    Sources:

    Despite it's high impedance the N3 isn't particularly difficult to drive thanks to it being reasonably sensitive. That said, amping and/or source with a strong output is suggested to get the most out of the piezoelectric tweeter which sounds especially tizzy through something like your average smartphone or a budget DAP like the Ruizu X02. I also recommend pairing it with something neutral to warm since the N3 is quite bright and upper mid forward. My preferred pairings were the HIFIMAN Megamini or F.Audio S1 which could run the N3 ampless with no issues. I also used it with my TEAC HA-501 desktop amp, a ZiShan DSD or my LG G6 running source duty.

    Personal Preferences:

    I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. My preferences for earphone tuning are quite relaxed and as such their is no one signature I look for. The HiFiMAN RE800, Brainwavz B400, and Massdrop x MeeAudio Planamic are examples of earphones with wildly varied signatures that are enjoyable for different reasons. I generally listen at very low volumes, so keep this in mind when perusing my thoughts on how an earphone sounds.

    Specifications:
    • Driver: 10mm carbon nanotube dynamic + Piezoelectric ceramic tweeter
    • Frequency: 20-22,000Hz
    • Sensitivity: 100dB
    • Impedance: 55ohms
    P1000387.jpg P1000388.jpg P1000390.jpg

    Packaging and Accessories:

    The N3's packaging follows the current trend of a white, sleeved cardboard box. The front of the sleeve displays a digital rendering of the earphone along with the usual branding and model information. Flipping to the back you find the specifications listed in three languages. Sliding off the sheath sees the interior items protected by a clear plastic sheet under which the N3's ear pieces are on full display, safely nestled into a foam cutout. In a separate Nice HCK branded cardboard box are the accessories. In all you get:
    • N3 earphones
    • MMCX silver plated copper cable (1.2m ± 3cm)
    • White single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
    • Green single flange tips (m, preinstalled)
    Overall the nice packaging provides a satisfying unboxing experience. It looks good, is easy to open, and doesn't generate a ton of waste. The accessory kit is lacking though, especially after reviewing the less expensive P3. No case, no foam tips, no bi-flange, all of which were included with the P3.

    Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    The N3's machined aluminum alloy shells are very well put together and more than acceptable for the price. The surface is very smooth with slight marks from the machining process visible on the face around the edges of the recession that contains the laser etched NiceHCK logo. Seams are visible but not intrusive. On the inner side you find small protrusions to help lock the ear piece into the outer ear, as well as a small vent the helps reduced the mild driver flex. L and R markings are also in place to ensure you know which side is which. Metal grills are neatly installed inside each nozzle to prevent dirt and gunk from getting inside and hindering driver performance. Lastly, the MMCX ports found up top are flush with the housing which offers protection from bends since the plugs sit flush with the housing. The N3 is nicely built, without question.

    I've heard rumblings about the cable being mediocre, but I don't agree. It actually reminds me of one of of my favourite cables which can be found on the Penon BS1 Experience and Light T2. While reminiscent, it is not quite as good due to some persistent bends that refuse to straighten out. Otherwise, the cable is plenty flexible, resists tangles, and is generally quite easy to manage. It like it. The hardware is solid too with a stylish metal, 90 degree angled jack with an extension to accommodate cell phone and media player cases. The y-split and chin cinch are metal too, and branded with the NiceHCK and N3 designations. Leading up to the earpieces are preformed ear guides, not memory wire. The shape and level of stiffness holds the cable in place very well, even when I'm shaking my head around like a maniac. Cable noise isn't an issue either. The MMCX plugs are made from a stiff rubber, and curved to lets the cable move naturally around the ear. I have nothing against this cable and think it's a perfectly suitable pairing for the N3.

    Comfort is top tier with the N3. Despite the odd shape it fits naturally and being so light, pretty much disappears for me. The absence of any sharp angles or edges even lets me lie on my side with them in place. Now, they are on the long side being a low profile design, so I can see them not fitting well in ears with a small external auditory canal. Otherwise, these are very nice to wear for long periods, for me at least. As always, your mileage may vary.

    Isolation is actually quite good. I was surprised at how well external noise was tamed, from the snicking of my keyboard to cars driving by. I didn't have to raise the volume much at all in the local Tim Horton's to drown out those around me either. Pretty impressive for a shallow insertion, ventilated earphone.

    P1000392.JPG P1000402.JPG P1000405.JPG

    Sound:

    Tips: The N3 is quite tip sensitive. I found that small bore tips, like those included, brought up the mid-bass a bit too much for my liking, and exacerbated the treble splashiness. Moving to a wide bore set, like the bi-flange pair sets that come with the ADVANCED M4 helps a lot. It evens out the bass and cleans up the treble slightly. I used the bi-flange set for my testing.

    When the N3 first arrived I ran it through a frequency sweep and it was immediately apparent that it was a roller coaster. Onto the “burn station” it went for the prescribed 100-200 hours of burn in. Despite this, while the N3 has its strengths it unfortunately comes across quite disjointed with the dynamic and piezoelectric driver fighting each other.

    Treble in particular is a mixed bag. Lower treble is greatly emphasized giving the N3 a gritty, unnatural sound that can be quite harsh. This is exacerbated by how loose and splashy the presentation is. Cymbals are a wall of noise and lack any sense of definition. More often than not, individual strikes meld into each other as noticed on Run The Jewel's “Get It” and King Crimson's “Cat Food” (live version sounds especially nasty), especially if performed in quick succession. The decay seems unnaturally slow. As we enter the upper treble there is a huge dip in emphasis followed by a fairly sharp rise. This means the N3 shows sparkle and shimmer on some instruments while others are dull and lifeless, and/or less audible than they should be so they get lost in the mix. It all sounds very uneven, and to my ears unpleasant.

    The mid-range sees similar issues with a huge upper mid spike that makes vocals shouty and inconsistent. Sibilance is also a problem. Running it with Jessie J's “Bang Bang”, vocals overshadow the beats and Nicki comes across overly nasal which is a big no no. It's not all bad though with the digitized guitars on Calyx & TeeBee's “Long Gone” sounding crisp and full. Calyx's vocals work too with his dense tone being a touch leaner than it should, but still reasonably full-bodied and satisfactorily textured. Timbre, unfortunately, comes across way off with most instruments sounding light and unnatural. The pianos in Muse's “Exogenesis Symphony Part 2” lacks weight and feel too far back in the mix. Bellamy's voice is also too forward early on, and as the tracks picks up around 2 minutes is overshadowed by all the extra instruments that show up making the track a wall of noise.

    At least the N3's bass is good, right? Well, it's okay. Extension is decent with the opening thump on The Prodigy's “Thunder” displaying an appropriate level of visceral feedback, though the deep tone in the opening of Kavinski's “Solli” is nearly absent. Mid-bass isn't the most impactful but produces a decent thump on Evil Nine's “Crooked”. Texturing is lacking with notes that should be very dynamic and grungy feeling overly smooth and sterile, something I was not expecting from a carbon nanotube dynamic. JVC's application of this driver is much more detailed and crisp, from the budget friendly FX40 to the dual-dynamic FXT90.

    Sound stage with the N3 is great with it producing a wide open feeling with excellent width and slightly less impressive depth. With the right tracks it absolutely shines. However... toss a busy track at the N3 and it doesn't do so well. The closing jazz explosion of King Crimson's “Starless and Bible Black” completely overwhelms the N3 where it closes in and becomes mighty congested with instruments blending together into a dense, burnt, over-seasoned chilli. With something more straightforward, such as Infected Mushroom's “Avratz” the N3 retains an open feel, layers are well defined, and individual elements nicely separated.

    Overall the N3 is a swing and a miss to my ears. The treble presentation is uneven, splashy, and routinely sounds tizzy and confused. There are glimpses of brilliance in the mid-range with some vocalists sounding quite good, but the odd timbre and generally shouty nature more often than not ruins a track. The bass is fine with decent impact and satisfactory extension that really only feels like it is lacking every once in a while. Clarity and detail isn't particularly outstanding or class leading either which would have made me more forgiving of some of the other issues. The biggest qualm I have though is that the tonality between the piezoelectric and dynamic drivers is just so very different. The dynamic has a much warmer, more organic presentation that contrasts heavily with the piezoelectric's cold, dry tone. They simply don't sound like they belong together which leaves the N3 sounding disjointed and confused. The general tune is the other major qualm I've got with the N3. It took a while to put a finger on what it reminded me off, but eventually it clicked; the RHA CL2. Looking towards measurements, I can see why. Unfortunately for the N3, it doesn't benefit from being a single driver and the cohesiveness that comes with it. The CL2's oddities can mostly be EQ'd out, something I was not able to manage with the N3.

    P1000399.JPG P1000406.JPG P1000407.JPG

    Final Thoughts:

    I wanted to like the N3, I really did. The first time I heard a ceramic driver in the RHA CL1 I was blown away by the crispness and detail it provided. Given the price difference I was not expecting the N3 to perform up to that level, but I didn't think it was unreasonable to expect something a little more impressive than your average dynamic driver or balanced armature. But alas, it was not to be.

    In summary, the N3 is nicely packaged with a sub-par accessory kit. It is beautifully built with a nice cable, is comfortable to wear for long periods, and it isolates surprisingly well for a shallow fit, vented design. While the driver tech is nice to see and should move the budget segment forward as other brands take note, in the N3 the application is lacking and feels unfinished or at least underdeveloped. At this point I'd say to keep an eye on the tech and wait to see if NiceHCK revisits the piezoelectric design with a future product. They've got the right idea in doing something different, but the N3 just doesn't warrant serious consideration in it's current form. I'd personally recommend picking up the P3 over the N3. It's cheaper, has a more consistent and enjoyable tune, and you get a slew of accessories. It is a much better value in my opinion.

    That said, if you're interested anyway and have some cash to spare, maybe you'll get more enjoyment out of the N3 than I did? A number of members in the Head-fi community are certainly enjoying theirs, so maybe you would too.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
    Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
    King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
    King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
    Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
    Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
    Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
    Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
    Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
    The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
    Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
    Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
    Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
    The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
    Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
    Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
    Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
    Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
    Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)
  5. loomisjohnson
    A Work in Progress
    Written by loomisjohnson
    Published Mar 21, 2019
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Very detailed, revealing high end; superior build and comfort
    Cons - Odd, somewhat incoherent tuning lacks midbass presence; high end can sound blaring/strident
    Among the morass of interesting new releases in the same ($60) bracket I chose these because the (unusual) listed 55ohm impedance would trigger the high impedance mode of my LG V30 (the touted “piezzoelectric ceramic driver” sounded like mere adspeak to me). Very nicely metal build; I absolutely love the compact sleek shape which provides for great fit and good isolation. These sounded veiled and almost bassless OOTB; after burn-in and switching to foams, things started to normalize—the signature becomes sort of reverse-L shaped, with sculpted, modestly deep (though not impactful) subbass and recessed thin midbass. Mids become prominent and rich-textured with good clarity while extremely bright, aggressive high end is the auditory focus. Attack transients—drum heads and reeds—are very detailed and very fast, and there’s a lot of sparkle, but the treble has an unnatural sheen and these make horns and electric guitars sound blaring and strident at times. Soundstage seems fairly narrow and low, but has good depth (it sounds like you’re listening in a long hall), and instrument placement is very accurate. Surfacially, these remind me of the Vivo XE800/Vsonic GR07, which also tune down midbass and emphasize a bright, highly detailed highend, but the Vivo is more coherent—you’re conscious of listening to component parts rather than an integrated whole with the N3. In part my less-than-glowing impressions may be due to the fact that the N3’s signature is so antithetical to the typical V-shape (or even the more balanced approach of the Tin T2)—it’s a very unique tuning. However, these are just a bit off and haven’t grabbed me viscerally, although there’s enough buried potential to suggest that future iterations might produce a better outcome.
      trellus and Otto Motor like this.
  6. NymPHONOmaniac
    Delicate and Capricious Singularity
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Mar 17, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Immense soundstage with holographic projection, great imaging, smooth but detailed, transparent sound, upper treble brilliance, construction and design
    Cons - Dry bass, hollow timbre, thin mids, soft attack, unbalanced, hard to drive
    NICEHCK N3 REVIEW :

    P1011060.JPG

    SOUND: 7/10
    CONSTRUCTION: 9/10
    DESIGN: 8.5/10
    VALUE: 6.5/10


    Piezo electric transducer driver aren’t new in audio world, in fact, piezo electricity laws was discover in 18th century and first apply for practical use with sonar devloped for submarine of World War 1. However, the introduction of this type of drivers into audiophile world was sparsely use in the last decade, especially in Hybrid form, because piezo drivers are more adequate for treble and high frequencies soundwave, where it can go up 100khz (wich is usefull more appropriate for hydrophone than one driver iem).

    Now, very lately, we see this piezo drivers being introduce in multiple of Chi-fi iem from different pricerange. The DT6 is an example of great achievment with this hard to tune driver using one piezo, one dynamic and one balanced driver, but NiceHCK decide to create its own N3 model in a different way using one dual nanotube dynamic drivers and a big 7layers piezo electric driver import from japan. The nanotube drivers being know for great conductivity and piezo for extended crips treble, i was very curious to try this hybrid combination.

    Because of this particular drivers implementation, I consider the N3 hard to drive. They have quite a high impendance for iem wich is 55ohm and rather low sensibility wich is 100db. Out of my rather powerfull (for its size) Xduoo X3ii, it sound dull and thin. When I use the Xduoo X20, soundstage open ALOT. From first I hesitate between categorizing the N3 as Mid centric or W shape, but what impressthe most is sure soundstage size and airy presentation, this do not sound like typicale IEM at ALL! Still, I will try different pairing and amping, as these look sensible to this factor.

    You can find the NiceHCK N3 for 59.99$ HERE

    AMAZON: www.amazon.com/dp/B07PBB3CNR

    DISCLAIMER: I would like to thank JIM, for selling me the N3 at a very discounted price while I was shopping in its store. Having bought litterally hundred of iem, earbuds and headphones in my life, I can easily keep my honnest subjectivity fully objective here and i'm not affiliated to JIM, I don't even know if JIM is a human or a robot or a half-human-half-cyborg.


    P2260774.JPG


    CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN & ACCESSORIES :

    P2260761.JPG P2260763.JPG
    UNBOXING is nothing to get excited about. So, this time accessories are minimal, but at least of good quality. No protective case, but a real NICE cable, feel sturdy and its a beautifull SPC with good quality L jack. Sometime we get bad cable with chi-fi, niceHCK isn’t an exception as even the one with M6 was so so and strangely affect sound quality. Now, even if I do not measure this cable, I feel it sound right, so its the one I will use Alway for N3.

    P1011067.JPG P1011066.JPG P1011065.JPG P1011064.JPG
    CONSTRUCTION is nice and very sturdy, the polished metal is well stick togheter and must of all, it-is-comfortable. Well, for my ears, sure, there no other way than wearing them over ear with this design but it slip the the ears naturally.
    P1011063.JPG P1011062.JPG

    DESIGN is great and comfy, wich surprise me because I was thinking the N3 will be too big and bulky. Form factore of housing is well thinked and will fit even better than more life-like ear shaped uiem.

    P1011070.JPG P1011072.JPG



    SOUND IMPRESSIONS:



    P1011069.JPG


    The N3 aren’t your normal U shaped sounding earphones, even if yeah, the bass is pumped up and upper treble is emphased, how it present sound is not easily categorizable due to smooth timbre of lower treble and extra brilliance and details of highs.
    While this give excellent grip to upper range instrument like guitar, banjo or harp and feel lightier in texture for piano or violin, this make for a strange mix of organic and opacity where the bass feel well extended but dry and thick, mids have a fowarded aproach with emphasis on upper mids but lack lower timbre and highs are effortlessly extended.
    In fact, what hit you first with the N3 is how the soundstage have an holographic presentation and impressive tallnest, making whole music play around you as never before. Only this impressive sound projection worth the investment, but this only if you can drive them properly with a powerfull DAP.

    SOUNDSIGNATURE is V shape with bodied lower end but soft mid bass, wich make it lack energy in punch when you need hard hit but will do well with kick that need sub for its slam. The mids are slightly recessed, especially in lower region near mid bass (250hz-1khz) and have smooth but thick timbre while the highs are extremely resolved and have more brilliance than sparkle.

    SOUNDSTAGE is Hall like, around your head, open and airy, it’s near cavernous because of lot of deepness and some echo from sub and treble. Height is impressive and deepness is above average without being mezmerising due to so so clarity.

    SUB is dry but well bodied and have good slam, it lack grip and texture and can feel out of control sometime, but the weighty presentation give extra enjoyment for electronic, less so for acoustic bass where it feel it lack finess and definition. As well, it can mix with mid bass and make separation in this region less accurate.

    MID BASS is soft but quite fast, wich is strange, but in complex drum track it keep up with fast kicks even if it sound subdued and shy. Due to this approach, it do not bleed on mids but feel tamed nad lacking a little energy in attack.

    MIDS are well centered and have some thinnest to them that give extra transparence and permit better separation with other layers. Timbre lack texture and have extra presence in upper mids wich help attack and grip in this region for instrument like violin or saxophone. Vocal have an intimate yet quite clear presentation but lack widness and fullness wich make them sound little breathy. There no sibilance whatsoever, and the butter smooth presentation would please some female signers fan as it do not feel very recessed for a bassy earphone.

    TREBLE is organic and full of brilliance in upper range, lower treble is softer than middle and upper one where it feel more crips and revealing. We have an analytical approach with upper treble but it do not feel too fowards or agressive, but airy and sparkly. Imaging is quite impressive in term of horizontal or vertical presentation, less so in term of deepness. Without sounding congested, N3 can have difficulties with transient response between 2 drivers.


    AMPING is suggested for the 55ohm N3 and will make them sound more balanced and around your head, if the N3 sound boxy it isn’t normal. Mids have more presence with my powerfull Ibasso DX90 at high gain than with Xduoo X3. I do not suggest to use the N3 with a smarthphone.

    EARTIPS I use is KZ starline with big hole tha fit perfectly the N3. The stock eartips aren't really adequate, so I suggest you try to find eartips that will permit perfect secure fit for your ears.



    COMPARAISONS :

    VS BQEYZ BQ3 (2DD+3BA) :
    P1011058.JPG
    BQ3 have a smaller soundstage with clearer deepnest.

    BASS is more punchy and tigher, but have less pumped lower end, still, clarity and texture is better than N3. MIDS are more recessed with the BQ3, but clearer and less breathy, they feel more natural than N3. TREBLE of BQ3 is more agressive and dig more details but can have metallic presentation sometime, where the N3 feel very resolved but more natural and laidback with more decay to it. Overall presentation of N3 is airy, detailed and delicate with extra sub bass while the BQ3 is fast, agile, edgy and punchy.



    VS TinAudio T2 :
    P1011056.JPG


    SOUNDSTAGE of T2 is similar in widness and airyness but feel less deep and tall. BASS is more bodied and better controled and have similar soften mid bass but with more texture. MIDS are brighter and more present and feel in front row while the N3 vocal presentation is more centered and intimate. Vocal have more accurate timbre and tonality than N3 as well but are more sibilant in upper mids too, while the softness of N3 mids lack in fullness it still is more permissive and gentle to the ears than T2. TREBLE is more emphased in lower and mid section (6-12khz) and feel more linear than N3 with its upper range emphasis (10-16khz). Imaging is a little better with N3 even if less detailed than T2, it is especially hearable when multiple instrument play at same time in fast music like progressive rock, symphonie or jazz, here, even if N3 feel slighlty darker in timbre, its transparent layering help to not congest.




    PAIRING :

    P1011050.JPG

    The NiceHCK N3 will shine with powerfull DAP or DAC-AMP that have a high level of clarity, very low THD and energic dynamic. My favorite pairing is with the Ibasso DX90 and Xduoo XD-05, while the Xduoo X20 lack a little energy and Xduoo X3 or X3ii lack a little power.






    CONCLUSION :


    P1011055.JPG

    The NiceHCK N3 is a boldly conceived earphones that have the merit to offer a unique sound that no other earphone on the market have. The Soundstage is just mesmerizing as well as level of transparency of sound layers, this type of airy immersive musicality can be a delight with some music. Even if I find N3 quite capricious about music and audio source pairing, I can’t be indifferent to this addictive audio experience that can magicaly happen time to time, should it be with classical chamber orchestra that will be ultra realistic sounding or IDM that will sound extremely holographic, the sound experience can be very rewarding and fascinating. Still, the overall balance and especilly timbre of bass and mids is a serious drawback that mess with overall clarity potential of this otherwise excellent earphones. I would suggest the N3 to earphones collector that search a new unique flavor with incredible imaging capacity and overall smooth rendering wich will be perfect for treble sensitive audiophile as well. I do not suggest it for people that search bright, punchy or mid centric earphones or for an all arounder, because as said....

    N3 is delicatily capricious.

    And precious.

    P1011051.JPG

    For more review and audio lucubration, please give a look to my website NO BS AUDIOPHILE

    images

    1. P1011054.JPG
    2. P2260775.JPG
      trellus, B9Scrambler and HungryPanda like this.
    1. MrMajony
      Equinoxe :) , Good review.
      MrMajony, Mar 17, 2019
      Nymphonomaniac and HungryPanda like this.
    2. HungryPanda
      Great review exactly what I'm hearing. I really like these earphones and I cannot believe how comfortable they are
      HungryPanda, Mar 18, 2019
      Nymphonomaniac likes this.
  7. darmanastartes
    Brilliant
    Written by darmanastartes
    Published Mar 9, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - extremely detailed, fastest drivers I've heard at this price point, build quality, channel matching, detachable cables
    Cons - aggressive upper midrange, cold lower midrange, lacks bass authority, incoherent without powerful source
    DSC01250.jpg
    INTRODUCTION/DISCLAIMER:

    The Nicehck N3 is an in-ear monitor with a hybrid driver configuration (10mm carbon nanotube dual diaphragm dynamic + piezoelectric ceramic) that retails for approximately $59 at the time of this review. I purchased the N3 from the Nicehck Audio Store on AliExpress for $1 with the expectation of a fair and objective review. The N3 is available for purchase on Amazon.
    DSC01199.jpg
    SOURCES
    I have used the N3 with the following sources:
    Hidizs AP60II > Nicehck N3
    Windows 10 PC > JDS Labs The Element > Nicehck N3
    Windows 10 PC > Hidizs AP60II > Nicehck N3
    Pixel 3 > Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle > Nicehck N3
    I have tested these headphones with local FLAC, Spotify Premium, Youtube Music, and Qobuz Studio.

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
    DSC01094.jpg DSC01104.jpg DSC01116.jpg

    The N3 comes in a small rectangular white box. The box pictures the Nicehck N3 on the front and lists technical details of the IEMs in Chinese, English, and Japanese on the back. The package includes the earphones, a detachable SPC cable with MMCX connectors, one set of white silicone ear tips (S, M, L), and one pair of grey silicone ear tips.

    BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN
    DSC01163.jpg

    The N3 has an all-metal housing using CNC’d aluminum alloy. It has a flat-ish spade-shaped exterior face with a shallow-scalloped section. The Nicehck logo is printed in white across the scalloped part of the exterior face. The interior body of the N3 has a shallow U-shape with a small lip at the top of the interior face and the nozzle on the lower side. A L/R indicator is printed on the interior face. Each earpiece has a single circular vent on the interior face of the housing. I occasionally experienced mild driver flex when inserting the left earpiece. The nozzle has a lip for securing ear tips and a cheese-grater style nozzle cover.

    The cable is clear plastic-sheathed sliver-plated copper with black plastic housings for the MMCX connections and a metal and clear plastic L-shaped housing for the 3.5mm jack. The MMCX housings have markings to indicate left and right, but they are hard to see in low light. The cable has pre-formed ear-guides without memory wire. There is a chin-adjustment choker. There is strain relief at the 3.5mm termination. The cable resists tangling and is non-microphonic.

    COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION
    DSC01182.jpg
    The Nicehck N3 is intended to be worn cable up only, with the IEM nested between the tragus and antitragus of the ear. The inner face of the housing curves around the crux helix of the ear. Comfort is excellent. It is easy to get a secure fit with a variety of tips. Isolation is above average.

    SOUND
    DSC01195.jpg
    The Nicehck N3 has a bright, upper mid-focused tuning.

    Sub bass is extended but not elevated. Mid-bass is even less prominent. There is more rumble than slam. However, the bass response is lightning-fast for a dynamic driver with regards to both attack and decay. Bass texture is dry and clinical.

    The lower mids are recessed, leaving male vocals dry and without warmth. Upper mids are far more prominent with an abundance of presence that often strays into sibilance. Female vocals can be too breathy.

    Treble is clarity-focused, with incredible detail retrieval and satisfying sparkle. The treble is energetic rather than smooth. There is a huge amount of air. Transients are articulated with astonishing dexterity.

    Imaging is impressive. Instrument separation is above average for the price point. Soundstage width is average but soundstage depth is considerably deeper than average.

    MEASUREMENTS
    N3.jpg
    My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface at a resonance point between 7.5 and 8k. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing and without compensation. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.

    EQ
    The N3 benefits greatly from the following EQ settings, graciously provided by Head-Fier gazpl and iteratively refined by me.
    freqdbq
    250+1.00.7
    500+2.00.7
    750+1.00.7
    2000-5.03.0
    4000-5.04.5

    These EQ settings bring some much-needed warmth to the lower midrange and take the edge off the peaks in the upper midrange.
    N3 EQ.jpg

    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING


    With a sensitivity of 100dB and an impedance of 55ohms, the N3 needs a powerful source to sound its best. Smartphone headphone outputs and dongles struggle to deliver adequate power to the N3. Without a dedicated source, the N3 does not sound coherent. I had good results with my Hidizs AP60II on high gain. The N3 does not hiss.

    COMPARISONS
    Nicehck N3 ($59) vs Meeture MT3 (dual diaphragm dynamic driver) [$67]
    N3 vs MT3.jpg
    The N3 have similarly upper-midrange focused frequency responses, but differ in some important ways. The two IEMs have similar sub-bass extension but the MT3 has more of a mid-bass hump. However, the MT3 struggles with bass articulation, with the bass coming across as flabby in comparison to the N3. The two IEMs have similarly cold lower midranges. The MT3’s upper midrange, while equally aggressive, is less peaky compared to the N3. Despite this, the N3 has much better detail retrieval. The N3’s treble is much more energetic, with greater sparkle and more air. The MT3’s treble is grainy in comparison, especially at higher volumes. The N3 has quicker treble transients. The MT3 has a larger soundstage. Imaging and instrument separation are similar. The N3 is much harder to drive. The MT3 does not need a powerful source to sound its best. The two IEMs are similar with regard to comfort and fit. The N3 has more premium housing build quality, but I prefer the MT3’s braided cable. The N3 comes with a zippered case but the MT3 comes with a greater variety of ear tips.

    CLOSING WORDS
    DSC01196.jpg

    The N3 are a polarizing set of IEMs. They are astonishingly detailed but are bright out of the box and will not appeal to treble-sensitive folks or people who need a lot of bass. However, EQ will go a long way towards correcting the N3’s cold lower midrange and strident upper midrange. The materials used in the N3’s drivers are a revelation as far as speed and detail retrieval at this price point. Build quality is great and channel matching is spectacular. Recommended with reservations.

    images

    1. DSC01189.jpg
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