Pros: Naturally neutral tonality, imaging, resolution, instrument separation, details retrieval, bass, dynamics, 3 years warranty, customer support
Cons: Power hungry and source dependent, not cheap, not for portable use. To some it may be a con - odd "steampunk" design. For others there is a wooden version.
My first acquaintance with Snorry products happened a couple of years ago, that time it was SI-1 mk2.
I was quite skeptical on the performance of those not very expensive planar magnetic headphones.
That time I had HD800S in combination with Violectric amp and DAC. I also had closed planars from MrSpeakers in my home collection.
I could never imagine that these headphones could fully replace the top-end Sennheiser headphones.
I ordered them on my friend’s advice who highly praised Snorry for its natural sound. But I couldn't believe that I can get good sound for such money. I thought that it was not a big risk taking the price into account.
Some time later I came to the conclusion that Si-1 mk2 fully met my requirements. They did not give a huge soundstage and resolution of HD800S, they did not sparkle with highs but they sounded more natural in everything. They were producing excellent quality bass, which I could not get in the hd800s.
A bit later there was an information that Sergey worked on a new flagship. Several pre-production units were made. One of them came to me.
For more than a year I have had these headphones. During that time they went to Snorry for upgrades several times.
As a result pre-production NM-1 became the main and the only headphones for my desktop application. I also keep Si-1 mk2, as they are more for portable use when I leave the NM-1 at home.
Type of transducers: non meander, planar (patent RU2717699) Magnetic system: double-sided, high-power neodymium magnets Acoustic enclosure: open Impedance: 40 Ohm Sensitivity: 95 dB Frequency range: 5-35000 Hz Weight: 500 grams
The key point here is a patent for a so called “non meander” technology.
I asked Sergey (aka Snorry) to explain to me the meaning of “non meander” technology in a simple way without going deep into scientific or engineering discussions. What is the difference with a regular planar-magnetic technology?
Here is his explanation - “Briefly - in this design the resolution is higher due to the reduction of mutual interference from closely spaced groups of tracks with the opposite direction”. Not sure if I correctly translated all what he said but my conclusion is that this is all about headphone resolution.
NM-1 come in a nice portable case with a 2 m “Snorry advanced” cable inside. It is 2x mini XLR to 6.3 mm in base, but it can be 2 x mini XLR to 4 pin XLR if you need a balanced connection to your system. You need to inform Snorry in advance.
I don’t have a detailed information about the cable structure but it is the cable that makes NM-1 sound like NM-1. I tried a couple of other cables with them and always went back to the original one – it just sounds right!
The headphones carry a certain “steampunk” design with ear cups made of carbon. I personally like it, but for those who are for a more classical view there is a wooden version available.
The mechanism over the head band looks a little bit odd but works just fine. These little cylinders create a good pressure (not too tight) to hold the headphones on your head steady and tight enough.
I feel comfortable using them for long listening sessions. It’s very individual after all.
The manufacturer speaks of a minimum 2 watts per channel but from my experience the more the better.
In fact, the selection of a decent and powerful source for these headphones is a never-ending process. The only limitation will be your budget and taste. That time I had Violectric hpa v181 which drove the HD800S perfectly but did not cope with the NM-1.
At the end I chose a combo from Burson Audio (as one of the best price/performance combination), with Composer 3XP as a DAC (in pre amp mode) and Soloist 3XP as an amplifier (in hp power amp mode). I love how this whole combination sounds together.
Burson Audio combo gives a close to neutral, slightly smooth in a good way, transparent, and detailed sound without being too analytical.
The combo gets the signal from my Roon Server (Intel NUC on ROCK) via Audioquest Cinnamon type C- type-C cable.
Oyaide Tunami TERZO V2 is used for interconnect XLR cables.
Additionally Burson Super Charger 3A is used for Soloist as an advanced external power supply unit.
I also had a chance to plug NM-1 into some other sources like Niimbus US 4 , Violectric DHA V590, SPL Phonitors, MS Audio Laboratory (by the way, FHA 1.3 is a decent amp for its money). NM-1 also sounded perfect with Niimbus but the amp is not the most cheapest on the market as you know
I had a chance to listen to one DIY tube amplifier of a local enthusiast, which also positively impressed me. If the budget allows, a good tube amp can be a nice addition to a SS amplifier to experience the NM-1 from all sides. They do play well with a good tube amp too.
To my ears the tonality is neutral, or let me call it naturally neutral. It is not “cold” sounding and emotionless. It keeps “life” in the sound and everything you hear sounds natural without any coloration at the same time.
The first thing you hear is resolution the headphones provide.
The sound comes out freely with no hint of any congestion, bringing a lot of air between instruments. Needless to say that instrument and channel separation is also great.
Detail retrieval is at a very high level. No complaints from my side. All nuances are very well defined, delivered and heard.
The second key point of NM-1 is a "full-bodied" sound, ie. the sound has weight, the notes have weight. No matter if it is a double bass or a guitar with distortion or cymbals, you get a complete picture of what the instruments deliver.
Bass is linear, clean, tight and fast. Basically, it is very well shown on the FR curve.
The images are large and very well 3-Dimensionally defined.
The sound stage is large enough, maybe not the largest on the market as with HD800S or 1266 but it is definitely above the average.
It was not my intention to compare NM-1 with some other TOTL planar magnetic headphones on the market, as to make a detailed comparison you need to have all these headphones at home at the same time. I had a chance to go through some TOTL Audeze and Abyss planars in parallel with NM-1 but that was not enough to draw any serious conclusion.
For me personally NM-1 can play in the Top Of The List league…