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Nocturnal Hybrid IEM and cable Tour.

  1. goodvibes
    A Nocturnal IEM and cable tour has begun with shotgunshane as first member after myself to receive them. 

    Here's a list of members on the list to receive these so far:





    After the 1st couple reviews, more US members can be added.


    The items on tour are the Nocturnal Hybrid IEM $580 with copper cable, $599 with the hybrid cable and $669 with the 8 core copper cable. My personal preference is the $599 setup. Let's call it the proto-1 until it gets a name.



    The cables separately are $40 for the copper. $65 for the hybrid and 140 for the 8 core copper but check the website as prices may have changed since i got these on loan some months ago.

    website www.nocaudio.com





    order website http://store.treoo.com/main/shop-by-brand/n/nocturnal-audio.html


    Link to my earlier review:  http://www.head-fi.org/t/728396/nocturnal-hybrid-iem-top-quality-design-at-a-great-price

    Larger version of these pics are there as well




    This last pic is for full disclosure. My review did not have this mod but I added a small bit of very open foam for a small bit of damping under the nozzle screen. more openthat is commonly used but I had it around and wasn't looking for a significant change. Before this they were not as zippy as many other well reviewed TWFK equipped units I've auditioned but I'm just generally not a twfk kind of guy. This was clearly not 'too' hot for me but I prefer things a bit more even. Other cables' sigs would have accomplished this as well but the idea here is value and using $300-$600 silver/gold cables would defeat the intent.
  2. shotgunshane Contributor
    Thanks to goodvibes for including me in the tour!
    The Nocturnal Audio hybrid is a nice looking UIEM.  The gold and black carbon fibre faceplate looks great and reminds me of 'tiger's eye'.  The colored rings around the vents help denote left and right quickly.  On the downside, the housings, while having a small footprint, are very deep/thick and the nozzle angle is quite awkward for me to get an proper fit.  Almost none of the supplied tips worked for me, except the meelec trips.  Since those become annoying after a while, I decided to try some of my own tips.  Comply was about the only tip that allowed me to achieve a decent fit fairly easily.  Aesthetically they stick out a good bit from the ears, much more so than most UIEM's I've tried.  I hope Nocturnal Audio can work on the overall shape and fit of the housings before officially releasing it; it's really the only thing holding it back IMO.
    The tour supplied cables are all pretty flexible with good ergonomics and apparently of excellent value, based on the pricing goodvibes has mentioned.  The silver and copper hybrid is easily the best pairing of the 3- the other two copper cables sound pretty similar to me and both seem darker, with less treble emphasis than the hybrid.  I certainly wouldn't mind owning a Nocturnal Audio hybrid cable sometime down the road.  I also tried an Estron Linum BaX cable, which I found to sound very similar to the hybrid and offer a feeling of cable invisibility (Linum cable review here: http://cymbacavum.com/2014/09/24/estron-linum-balanced-2-5-trrs-think-thin-then-think-thinner/). 
    The Nocturnal Audio hybrid sounded great on any source I tried- iPhone 5s, AK240 and iPod Shuffle (1st gen).  They synergy was surprisingly excellent and very fun with the Shuffle.  The overall signature is a mild V, or perhaps U, shape, and in fact reminds me a lot of the Tralucent 1+2 in overall SQ.  Bass is plentiful, digs deep with nice texture and very good rumble.  Mids are relaxed and take a slight back seat but vocals do not get lost in the mix. Treble has plenty of sparkle but never sounded harsh or piercing to me but can tend towards excessive brightness in some masterings.  Instruments have nice timbre- distortion guitars have fantastic bite, cymbals have a nice brassy tone, kicks have enjoyable rumble and drums have very good snap.  Soundstage is airy and open, and the V signature lends it a nice forward projection.  As nice as the staging properties are, I feel it falls a bit short of grandeur and immersion I remember the 1+2 having but then again the Nocturnal Audio hybrid looks to be half as expensive.
    Overall sound quality is excellent and one of the better V/U shapes I've heard.  It's really, really enjoyable and a nice change of pace from the more neutral choices I've accumulated lately.  If Nocturnal Audio can improve the overall fit this UIEM, at $600 with hybrid cable, it would be easily recommendable to those looking for top tier sound without a 1k+ price tag.
  3. HiFlight
    I received the Nocturnals as part of the tour and had a chance to listen to them from my DX90 & DX100 as well as from my Tera-Player. I found the overall build to be quite nice as well as the included cables, however one all-copper cable had already started to show a pretty marked greening, which did not affect the performance.

    I found the fit to not be the best for me partly because I have one ear canal that makes an abrupt turn at an unusual angle. This caused some difficulties in getting a good seal with the included assortment of tips. Part of the fault is my ear, the other might be that the angle of the nozzle is not optimum for many users as it seemed to be different from my other universals.

    Overall, I found the SQ to be quite V-shaped with deep, rumbling bass that frequently sounded like a high-quality sub-woofer that is set a bit too high and often drew my attention to it. I would prefer good bass that doesn't call attention to itself. Mids seemed to be recessed in comparison to the highs which frequently sounded sibilant even with my better recordings. I did not find the headstage to be as expansive as I would prefer.

    At first listen, there is quite a WOW moment, but over time, I don't think this is a phone that I would really feel an attachment to and listener fatigue would likely always be an issue with me with these phones. My feelings are probably in a large part the result of the Nocturnals not really being suited for the genre's of music that I most often prefer. I think they would probably do well with rock and EDM.
  4. Idsynchrono_24
    Noc IEM: A review
    *History, Mencian wisdom, and a procession of clowns*

    Comedian Carlos Mencia 
    I think it was Carlos Mencia who said that. The aforementioned quote isn't meant to elicit anything meaningful, it's just stream of consciousness placeholder text. Mama said there'll be days like this.
    Anywho, I suppose I should preface this review by stating that I'm not an audiophile. Not the first time someone's made this admission, nor would  it be the last, but in my case, I think I mean it. I once confessed to a fellow HFier that some of my favorite moments in audio were spent rockin out to the stock speakers in my 09' Sentra. Truly. And that sits low on the ladder of audiophile sins I've committed. HRTF? Que? That's like TGIF right? Driver extrusion? Now I'm just picturing Jeff Gordon bein defenestrated through a windshield at the Indy 500. My daily DAP is an iPhone. Nah, make that my main DAP. I listen to 320 and lower (!) quality rips, and to top it off, I've grown hopelessly jaded by the overall monotony of this hobby. There's this sense of same-yness brought about by same-y tech, and same-y tuning that just elicits a general sense of meh from me. I know right? ****'s anathema to audiophilia, makin me like, the least qualified individual for this... ever. But c'est la vie; que sera sera; them's the breaks.
    So, just to get all chronological for a sec: one night, SGS up and extends the offer to review this mysterious new phone from Nocturnal Audio - supposed to be some new upstart or something - Goodvibes says it's pretty good. A few minutes later and I'm perusing Noc's site, where it dawned on me that I was possibly already acquainted with Noc's handiwork. Of course. I'd purchased a hybrid upgrade cable from a guy named Zack on HF once upon a time ago. Damn thing looked like it meant business too - handsomely braided, silver and copper core, right angle Oyaide plug, wood splitter... plop that baby down on a table at a meet and watch as others solemnly nod in acknowledgement. Insta-nerd cred and you barely break a Ulysses S. Grant - a winner is most certainly you as they unwittingly fall for your trap card. And while some of the players in the cable game mean to rip the very lint out of your pockets, Zack priced his work within the realm of (in)sanity. Don't Oyaide right angle plugs cost like... twenty-five bucks all on their ownsome? How was he even makin money off of these? Sweatshop labor coupled with economies of scale? So cue my burgeoning interest when it's revealed that Zack was the grand orchestrator behind Noc's spectral curtain.
    Of course, this was not to last.
    I go about my business, actively ignoring the tour thread and the PM thread so as to not color my impressions when SGS happens to message and inform me that the Noc was headed my way.
    It's like a baby 1plus2 with awkward fit”
    God damn it. So much for being in the dark about it all. Great. The 1plus2 was an IEM I never actually got along with. So with this preconception in mind, I was crestfallen from the start.
    I try to push that spoiler out of my head and resume livin. Gotta “keep on, keepin' on.” Couple of weeks later and without fanfare, a package shows up at my house. Oh yeah. Nocturnal Audio. That thing. I tear open the package and am met with the sight of your standard otterbox case, jampacked to the gills with an assortment of cables, tips, and the phones themselves. The whole shebang reminded me of a tiny car overflowing with an endless procession of clowns:

    We got Boffo, Homey, Pennywise, Bozo...

    the Joker, Krusty, Ronald McDonald...
    Cool. Baby 1plus2? I'm in no hurry to get acquainted. I go about my business and take a rain check.
    Later that night, I'm manning the stove, overlooking a violently churning pot of red sauce when I experience a bout of fridge logic. The NocOh yeah, that thingI could be listenin to it right now. I plug it into my iPhone, scroll through some albums, and queue up some tunes.
    So what's the short of all this? For all you jittery, TLDR; types - well, my “executive take” is this: I shoved and shoved em in my ears (seriously, the fit is prodigiously awkward for me), and sometimes, they'd emit something pleasurable. Other times, I'd just be frustrated. More on that in a bit.
    *The Goods, NASA doohickey, figurative cheeseburgers, and latent urges*
    The Noc shipped with three cables –

    a sensible $40 copper option

    a super sized $65 silver/copper hybrid option

    and a mack daddy deluxe $140 4-core copper option
    Workmanship on all 3 is solid, showing a gradual increase in attention to detail the more skrilla you shell out. My personal favorite is the $140 one, if only for the ergonomics of the cable, and the mondo nerdy plug. Seriously, **** looks like it belongs on some NASA space doohickey or some ****. The cable is fairly heavy, but quite supple and slightly tacky to the touch. It's braided with the same sort of loving care that brings to mind that summer that you spent sittin behind Elena in Trig class and took note of her flaxen tresses, all carefully wound up, and it killed you inside that you lacked the requisite cojones to act upon your latent urges... But I digress. It's worth noting that this particular cable seems to be susceptible to the same sort of verdant mutation that other copper cables are prone to. Anyhow, since I'm not a huge cable guy, I chose to roll with this one for the majority of my listening sessions and forego the others. It's what Bruce Banner woulda done. 
    As for the Noc itself?


    Aesthetically, Nocturnal pays homage to Tralucent's 1plus2 in a way that's about as subtle as Leatherface lopping off his victim's heads so he could wear their faces. It's got this Vern Troyer masquerading as Mini-Me thing going for it I guess. Chiseled by the hands of Hephaestus, this is not. Perhaps more problematic than its less than chic appearance is that in aping the 1plus2, it's also inherited some of its flaws. If I were to categorize phones like the FX850 and H3 as “hugelarge,” then I guess I'll coin the term “tubbywide” for the Noc. Yes, like the 1plus2, the Noc is indeed like a lil' teapot, all short and stout. So the result of allegorical homeboy scarfin too many figurative double cheeseburgers is that it juts out from one's ears, and attaining a seal may result in rolling through every tip at your disposal. I had to settle on Aurisonics' large Sure Seal tips cause its tackiness helped to grip the inside of my lug holes. Otherwise, the whole contraption threatens to worm its way loose thanks to the short length of the nozzles.
    Another knock against the Noc is that it shares Tralucent's predilection for cable ejection:

    insert Elmer's here
    I don't recommend makin cable swapping any sort of ritual as the right side of my sample pair sports a disconcertingly loose fit. Aside from that, the Noc's faceplate (like the 1plus2) seeks to mimic the luxury of carbon fibre but largely falls flat, as the resulting facade is lacking in that material's textural and optical dimensionality. From a distance, it's pleasing, but scrutiny results in the illusion dissipating like some plasticky oasis. Finally, the finishing of the nozzle leaves something to be desired as it's coarse and has some traces of what appears to be adhesive residue around the circumference of the grill. If you're tryin to holla at the shawties... I'm not sure that a Noc acquisition would score you that date for winter formal. 
    Edit - 11/12/2014: I've been alerted by Goodvibes that the rough appearance of the nozzles was entirely his fault and that the finish on the Noc prior to tour members receiving it was of excellent quality. Still not gonna score that date cuz

    Stacy? Will... wil-y... you go to the da-dan - yousmellnice
    Ewww... no! Jessie has a dreamy motorcycle and a K3003!
    *Listening impressions*
    So earlier, I'd alluded to the fact that my listenin sessions were largely a mixed affair no? How'd I arrive at this conclusion? Through the wonderfully rote process of A/Bing. I decided to bring out every phone in my disposal to assess the Noc, but then decided that this was stupid and wound up selecting two out of my league of extraordinary phones. First up is the triple BA threat, the UERM, which serves as my baseline for neutrality, and second, is the dynamic “tone-master,” the FX850, which I'll rely upon for some timbral comparisons. Listening was done on an iPhone 6 and a Geek Out 450 with 320 AAC files. I listen at about 30-45% on the iPhone's volume depending on how sensitive a phone is. 
    If I had to establish some sort of tonal profile for the Noc, it'd be as follows:
    1. V shaped
    2. Bass: Great extension, articulate, mondo amounts of deep bass
    3. Mids: Dry, reticent, muted mids, slightly elevated upper midrange
    4. Treble: Sizzly and bright, elevated from 6 – 11 khz.
    5. Detail: Good - nearly great, fair sense of macrodynamics
    6. Stage: Forward. Nicely sized, with at times, great sense of placement 
               but oftentimes sorta falling victim to the dreaded blob effect 
    *Pop, Abercrombie swag and invisible carp*
    Of course that doesn't really tell the whole story, as I've got nits to pick with just about every aspect of the Noc's presentation.
    I suppose my major bone to pick with the Noc is that for all of its bravado, it usually fails to hold my attention. It's paradoxical in that sense, but hey, a recessed midrange'll do that (and I do love me some midrange). Like, take MIA's “Paper Planes” for instance, wherein the sub bass hits with palpable heft but also towers over everything else. MIA is so buried in the mix that I have to continually pump the volume to bring her to the foreground, which... in turn, bumps the sub bass to intolerable levels. Yes, it's undoubtedly “fun,” as the deep bass has this slightly lingering quality where it decays just enough to alert you to just how huge it can get, but more often than not, that just comes across as a bit obnoxious
    The Noc is like that egghead who one day thought it'd make him cool if he learned how to “dougie,” then, in his newfound state of freshness, proceeded to loot the local Abercrombie for some pink and chartreuse polos and layers em with the collars popped. He initially comes across as flashy til time reveals that he's still Clarence from Trig class who never learned to talk to nobody. Never socialized, and by that, I mean he can't get intimate with you. How can he? He's coated in a polyester shell for Christ's sake. Ain't nothin gettin through those layers 

    Noc... we gotta talk
    All I wanna know is, can you come a little closer?”
    So in an attempt to coax some intimacy from the Noc, I queue up Tegan and Sara's “Closer.” Does it succeed? No dice. The vocals have got this muted dullness that feels like they're being sung from under a pile of itchy Woolsworth sweaters. And while you can allay this issue of hoverhanding detachment by again - pumpin' da volume - before you know it, you're just listening too loud friendo. The thinnish vocals just feel out of proportion with the heavy beat of the bass. The Noc usually has Tegan and Sara placed dead center, trapped within the confines of your head, or arrayed to the side of your ears, and while there's a good sense of space along the X axis, the Y and Z of it all remain oddly lacking, resulting in a pretty flat image. It's like when you stare at one of those "Magic Eye" stereograms as a kid, hoping to see a moose or a carp emerge from the ether, and all you end up accomplishing is becoming crosseyed and feelin like a jackass.
    Once (track 2) “Goodbye, Goodbye” comes on, the truth of how loudly I was actually listening, rises to the fore, as I'm positively crushed by the sub bass of the beat. At 1:07, Tegan's vocals take center stage for a verse, and for a moment that's supposed to center on her, it comes across as altogether too flat and ho hum. The relative proximity of vocals on the UERM really serves to highlight the disparity in vocal reproduction here. Now, it's perhaps worth nothing that the guitarist Les Paul has apparently contributed to designing some byzantine complex underneath Capitol Studios, and that this unique space along with its renowned acoustics is possibly reflected in the UERM's recreation of space and decay. So perhaps UE's triple threat has an unfair advantage here as vocals often come across with a degree of vitality.
    On Beach House's “Lapis Lazuli,” the Noc comes across as kind of hollow, with a tinny reproduction to the keyboards, and while surprise, surprise, the kick drum has a solid sense of heft to it, the stage is lacking in height and feels kind of parochial in scope. For a song that's pretty much supposed to elicit a sense of scale and grandeur, the relative dryness of the vocals coupled with the laid back mids kind of sucks all of the awe and beauty out of it. And while the following track, “Other People” has a really great sense of forward projection to the vocals, the individual elements feel overly separated and almost quarantined from one another. This really does come down to the Noc's pseudo 1plus2 presentation. And here, I'm really at a crossroads between my preference for intimacy vs. a perhaps more accurate, spatial representation. (not that the UERM is wanting for space or anything)
    *Strings and Chicken pickin' *
    Continuing on that tangent - we have Nobuo Uematsu's classic “Fisherman's Horizon,” recorded live from the Distant Worlds tour. Like the erstwhile 1plus2, the Noc does a fantastic job of replicating the feel of a live performance as it's actually able to put some distance between you and the performers. This forward projection results in a convincing portrayal of the venue, but again, there is that pesky conundrum of authenticity vs. emotional involvement. In this case, the Noc's reticent mids again fail to move me, whereas the UERM is able to capture the celestial nature of the choir. In terms of parsing detail, the UERM best captures the multidimensionality of the vocals. Its ability to portray the choir as a collective sum of voices makes the Noc sound downright flat by comparison (the FX850 comes in at a respectable second). However, both the Noc and UERM fail to convey the rise and fall of volume with as much verve as the FX850. If forced to pick a victor here, I'd have to select the FX850.
    Next up on strings and things is Philip Glass' “Osamu's Theme – Kyoko's House,” a jazzy little ditty, fusin chicken pickin' and classical. Here, the Noc is able to recreate a great sense of space, and the air and shimmer on the ride and crash is mighty convincing. No issues with limp-wristed, chopstick wielding drummers here. However, the strings just feel thin and consequently, a bit shrill. So while things are technically sound, that elusive sense of delicacy and nuance is simply nowhere to be found. Oh wait, there they are, on the FX850.
    *Electronic and Cyberdyne's Folly*
    So, at this point, things are kind of neither here nor there. The Noc churns out a commendable level of performance if not exactly the most compelling. All the requisite detail, space, and extension boxes have been checked, while I penciled in “N/A” under the “emotional” category. As my friend Vwinter once said about another particular phone, “it's like the Terminator of IEMs.” So, with that said, are there any glitches in this proverbial timelord's programming? About that...
    So against my better judgement, I decided to queue up Ratatat's “Dura,” and in that instant I realize that I've made a huge mistake. The sub bass thump is like... comically huge. If the FX850 is “hugelarge”, then this is like seismically “gordoenorme” with a side of “Dios mio” levels of thump. The harpsichord that's played on this track sounds incredibly frail juxtaposed against the world ending levels of bass. The result is just a touch unbalanced. A touch. Elsewhere, the UERM manages satisfying sub bass impact without downright smothering the harp like a boss. Had me sayin hasta la vista to the Noc.
    Okay, so electronic... not exactly off to a rolling start, but I'm not givin up yet. Next up is the dearly departed Crystal Castle's “Baptism.” Again, the bass is huge, impactful and perennial in its presence. If you wanna feel like you're at the Roxbury, this is your phone. Luckily, the bass has a great sense of texture. This is why we're all fans of dynamic drivers right? Well, it's too bad then, that the highs and mids are being funneled out of a pair of armatures, cause the withdrawn mids make Alice Glass' vocals and the synth stabs during the chorus come across as dry and piercing. And before the song even finishes, I think to myself, “I can't finish this album on the Noc.” The overbearing wub of the beat coupled with the emphasized highs is simply too fatiguing. These are two examples where the tuning of the drivers comes across as diametrically opposed, resulting in an incongruous experience. Seems like Cyberdyne's got some calculations to do.
    *Punk and Peanuts*
    Next on the agenda is Ging Nang Boyz' “Ai-s-h-i-t-eru tte yutte yo ne,” which is hilariously poorly recorded. Anything even vaguely resembling an instrument is fuzzed out and clipped to the point of near indistinction. I know. Why even bother? Well, I once solicited some advice about a phone from our resident sharkanoid Muppetface, and she dropped some wisdom that really stuck with me:
    There's a reason audiophile companies and some enthusiasts will only use classical music or a girl strumming a guitar and quietly humming. It's mostly in the midrange, so those genres are least likely to sound offensive initially on just about *anything.* However, it's these types of [modern] genres that actually push a headphone to its limits and lets you test its mettle.”
    Punk as **** Romy. So what MF was gettin at, is that a brazenly calibrated U-shaped sig would present its worst side with boosted recordings. A more meticulously tuned phone would allow one to listen comfortably for greater durations. I dunno about you dear reader, but I don't intend to only listen to Jazz at the Pawnshop and Jewel or some ****. I came to get down, and occasionally get dirty.
    And while something like the UERM or LAB I will actually transmute the Boyz' chaotic wall of noise into something eminently musical, the Noc is sadly incapable of the same feat of alchemy. Everything sounds compressed, stifled and flat, and Mineta's vocals sound like they're being funneled out of a tin can on the end of a string somewhere far, far away until you crank it up to 11. What's up with these mids yo? It's like Linus carrying his corny blanket around everywhere.
    *Rock, kitchen bobbin' and Jenny Craig*
    So now that we've about run the Noc through the ringer, is there anything that they just flat out excel at? Well, turns out ol' Clarence would later go on to nose through his dad's LP collection and discover his calling as a rocker. Cause as it'd turn out, the Noc is here to rock.
    The first couple of kick and snare combos that open up QOTSA's “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” are downright teeth rattling. There's just insane low end impact from the drums, while the hi-hat has a satisfyingly crisp sense of sizzle and definition. This one two combo drives the song forward with a sickening verve. And that guitar riff? Excellent growl and body. You could practically feel the strings reverberating here.
    Moving onto (QOTSA'S) “If I Had a Tail,” again, it's the one two punch of the snare and kick that gets you groovin. You want PraT? Here it is, punching a hole in the side of your head. With that said, the rasp of the hi-hat when it closes does come across as too hot. There's an impressive sense of layering when the chorus explodes out the gates with the guitars buzzing away at the sides and the drumkit riding above the chorus. There's more energy here than the more exacting UERM is capable of doling out, however, that first guitar solo does come across as a bit tinny sounding and lacking in fullness. Same applies to Josh Homme's vocals.
    I start to wonder to myself whether the augmented low end would be altogether too reverberant and lumbering for something like System of a Down's “Prison Song” only to find myself eating those words. From the opening notes, the drop C riffs are massive, deliciously chunky, and exert bludgeoning force. The bass lines have palpable heft but not at the expense of articulation, and Serj's barking vocals are for once, not overwhelmed by the maelstrom around him. The Noc's presentation is certainly interesting here, with the forward projection feeling like it produces a vanishing point of sorts with the guitars arrayed to the side, the drums in the center and the vocals behind them. The UERM presents this track as a wide, towering wall of sound, without that sense of depth in front. There's much more detail to Serj's vocals on the UERM due to its midcentricity, and while you'd be forgiven for thinking that the UERM isn't capable of doling out the aggression, it totally is. Still, credit where it's owed, as the Noc held its own. 
    Things aren't quite as successful with At the Drive In's “One Armed Scissor.” Yeah, yeah... Pairing an aggressive sounding phone with aggressive sounding music doesn't always yield the best results, and while this may seem like specious reasoning, sometimes 2+2 is just friggin' 4 and not a 5. It's a secret to no one that the treble here is on the cusp of being too bright and while the drums and bass are once again presented with plenty of foot stompin' oomph, Cedric's vocals feel reedy and frail. I've noticed this trend with the Noc, wherein vocalists who sing in a higher register, like Mr. Zavala('s tenor) here, (or Mr. Bob Dylan, or Mr. Asai Kenichi) come across as altogether too nasally due to the Noc's tonal focus being toward the upper mids/treble. This shift results in notes that lack the harmonic support you'd hear on something like the UERM, Rockets, FX850 etc. I dunno bout you, but I liked Ced's voice before it dialed Jenny Craig.
    Before I move on, however, I decide to throw on some BORIS. It's in caps so you realize that we're talkin about the BORIS that makes you wanna writhe out of your clothes, flip over all the furniture, defecate in the middle of the room and smear your greazy detritus all over the walls. I did no such thing of course and politely bobbed my head within the safe confines of my kitchen. Boris' rawkously titled “Pink” explodes out of the Noc with all of the world shattering force that the band is renowned for. However, the party is cut short once those problematic cymbals enter the picture. The FX850 doesn't exactly fair better since the guitars border upon piercing. And while the UERM is most resolving of the monolithic wall of sound, it feels too much like the band is in the studio instead of scorching the earth and summoning Satan. The Noc does have a tendency of coming across as a bit muddy when the band is running at full bore due to its unapologetic low end emphasis, but it's also the most energetic and satisfying listen of the bunch.
    *Blues and the Borg*
    So now that science has summarily determined that the Noc does indeed go to eleven, and my ears have stopped ringing, I decided that I could perhaps do with something a bit more gentle. On Wilco and Billy Braggs' “California Stars” we continue the Noc's winning streak with another commendable performance. From the opening guitar chords to the moment Jeff Tweedy enters the picture, everything rings true, and my mercurial feelings towards the quirky imaging finally settle as the stage coalesces into something resembling a venue. It isn't until the vocal overdubs come in that things grow a touch indiscernible. The UERM is able to effortlessly parse the backup vocals, whereas the Noc requires a bit more concentration. So... Unless you absolutely must have those 15 spare brain cells available to plot out the rest of your shopping list while separating Jeff Tweedy from Jay Bennet, I'm gonna file this under the "first world problems" category. 
    So just as the Noc seems to be settling into a groove, it decides to go all bipolar on me with Cat Power's “Lived In Bars.” Dry. Dry. Dry. If the UERM's rendition is dripping in warm, inviting ambience, then the Noc sucks that all out and deposits its performers into something resembling an anechoic chamber. The delicate nuances of the sax are smothered, and Chan Marshall's smoky, come hither vocals feel simultaneously wispy and hard, sounding like some member of the Borg who took online courses to become a chanteuse at the University of Phoenix and got like a C- or something. So while the notes would reach me, the intent behind them, never would. Is Chan Marshall a member of an ancient subterranean reptilian race? She is in the Noc's bizarro world. In the words of Roger Ebert, “I hated, hated, hated this” 
    *Jazz and a landslide*
    Unfortunately, this general dryness continues on Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' “Moanin'” as the Noc provides its Saharan take on the seminal jazz hit. A lot of the ambience that's present on the UERM and FX850 is conspicuously absent here. And while the Noc seemed content to revel in its bombast on earlier tracks, it oddly enough, offers the most polite rendition of our three phones. About the only thing of note, is that when it comes to the contrabass, the Noc probably offers the most depth to that particular instrument. However, the excess bloom and reverberation causes it to lose out in articulation to the UERM, feeling veiled in contrast. Meanwhile, the FX850 is beatin the pants off of both em. You wanna feel the air flowing through the valves of a trumpet? You wanna feel the rapturous cascading force of Art Blakey's sticks brutalizing the snare? You wanna bear witness to every nuance on the keys? The FX850's got this **** down on lock. Neither of its square competitors are quite capable of showcasing this track's micro and macrodynamics nor do they share its timbral accuracy.
    *Hip Hop/R&B and Richard Dawson*
    In an effort to salvage things, I think to myself, hey, how bout some good ol' fashioned, clean, hippity hop music. That low end oughtta make things extra swell. So we enter the 36 chambers with Wu Tang Clan's eponymous hit “Wu Tang Ain't Nuthing Ta F' Wit.” And just as I surmised, the bass indeed sounds like its being reproduced by a sub woofer. Thankfully, klaxons aren't goin off in my head as it's being caved in by excavatory bass; it isn't overbearing for once - however, the tonal shift away from the midrange robs the song of its potent verbal delivery. Prepare for the boom? Never felt it breh.
    Finally, at long last, I arrive at Janelle Monae's “Give Em What They Love.” With the amount of rote, nigh on ritualistic listening I'd done, I feel like I've ascended a proverbial Mt. Doom and am all but ready to cast the Noc into the flames of Mordor. A/B. B/A. A/A. B/B. Sometimes I'd forget what was which. So about now, we all oughtta know what to expect. The track sounds densely layered, with a great sense of placement to the performance within. Janelle's voice virtually materializes before you, sounding raw and screechy. Prince's guitar solo fairs better in that the nasally quality of the highs lends it this great wailing quality. And when the brass enters the picture, it straight up dominates the recording. Survey says? Eh, I'll take it.
    *Nebulous Conclusions and Swedish Pop*
    So now that I've purged myself of the Noc - those of you who didn't bail out by wing of golden eagle by just reading the executive take, thank you for indulging me, and a thank you to Goodvibes for the opportunity – I shall repair to my couch and watch "You've Got Mail" on Netflix. Cause baby, it's about feeling, and in this digital age, when everything feels like a cold facsimile of something else, it's comforting to be able to switch your brain off and just connect to something. That's not meant to be an allegory or anything. Or maybe it is. A/B. B/ A? Now we're old and grey. I forget.
    audionewbi and fnkcow like this.
  5. cn11
    I would suggest this review for front page material!! Nice work man...
  6. goodvibes
    Please note that the grills and glue that you mentioned were removed and reattached by yours truly. That condition is completely my fault and would not be part of a new pair, if that ever exists. They looked perfect when I 1st received them.
     Other than that correction, thanks for the reviews. Like you guys, I'm not that into U shaped phones but I get it. I'm a JH13/UERM kinda guy myself and prefer that take to these or 1+2s etc as well but found these to be competitive at $600 in overall goodness and musicality and better than other some other well regarded U shaped things (many that are considered 'natural'). I suspect you may have the same issues I have with natural vs neutral descriptions as used by many. Like you, I found the Hybrid cable a to be a significant preference over the other 2 on this device. I do think that the cables sounding this different gives some indication that they do have good clarity. Oh, and I think the cheap copper cable is a steal for other devices with the right character. Lots nicer than similarly priced OEMs. I realized I haven't commented on the sound in this thread so I thought I'd add my 2 cents. That and for future reviewers to make certain to try the triple flange tips I included. I think they're best for both secure fit and sound.
    None of this contradicts your reviews. Thanks for the efforts even though I have no idea if these will ever exist. I haven't been in contact with Zack for quite some time with a few tries. I don't have his direct email but the links should still work great for anyone interested in cables. 
  7. Idsynchrono_24
    Thanks! Glad to be done as I've mentioned lol 
    Ah, that actually comes as a relief. So why'd you pry them off? Anyway, we're in total agreement here. I think I mentioned a few times that they do tick off all of the requisite things that audiophiles tend to appreciate, although I can't say that I find the sound to be "natural" as it's too colored at times. As HiFlight noted, these phones would suit someone lookin for a dose of excitement, and would pair well with genres like rock, electronic, and film soundtracks. Their larger than life renditions can be captivating and a hell of a lot of fun for sure. And I did try the copper cable briefly, but after I noted the looseness of the cable sockets, I figured I'd best leave it well enough alone.
    Did not try the hybrid, but Cn11 seemed to note that it sounded better to him as well when he briefly switched between that and the 4-core. And yep, Zack does great work with his cables for sure. I suppose I should disclose that the hybrid cable that I'd bought from Zack some time ago had a weak point of sorts near the strain relief. I'd talked to another HF-ier about it and she too had a pair that was on the fritz and had to be replaced. This new batch of cables seems to be improved in that respect since the wires themselves seem much more pliable and less prone to cracking or breaking. I still remain in awe of how Zack is able to price his work so competitively, dude must rent Santa's elves during their downtime or **** 
    Edit: Also, I thought it was really interesting, talkin to Cn11 when we met up. I specifically didn't relay much of any info to him about the Noc so I can gauge his reaction to it and the first thing he told me was that these phones were actually quite reminiscent of the REF-1 to him. If that's the case, then I must say, I really do prefer the 1plus2's signature to that of the REF-1. If Zack does get around to tweakin the voicing before release, then attenuating the deep bass would be my first suggestion for a leaner, quicker note, which... hilariously enough, would probably result in these phones sounding very, very similar to the 1plus2... 
  8. goodvibes
    You'd be surprised how much the hybrid cable takes it in that direction you'd like. If you ever tried the VG 1+2 with an OEM or all copper cable, you'd get where I'm coming from. That said, I don't think they're as good as 1+2s either but closer with the right cable. All should give their sonic impressions with the hybrid cable from here on out. I'd have reviewed exactly as you did with the copper cable. Like I said, I don't know if these make production but Zack said he could sell it with the hybrid for $600.
  9. james444 Contributor
    I second that. Amazing writeup, congrats! You have a way with words that's rarely found on this forum. [​IMG]
    Hmm, maybe you could arrange those cable pics horizontally and evenly spread, instead of vertically? I think that would look much nicer lol [​IMG]  (inside joke)
  10. shotgunshane Contributor
    Wow, that SGS fella elicited a GD. What an awful scoundrel.

    I have to agree with the Goodvibes on the hybrid cable. It was enough of a difference to go from meh to enjoyable.
  11. Idsynchrono_24
    Never tried the 1plus2 with a copper cable as the one I had came with the Silver/Gold cable. The sense of forward projection on the 1plus2 is the most pronounced of any IEM I'd ever heard, and it was pretty jarring coming from phones with a more all encompassing, monitor like sound. I'd often wonder how I'd feel about it, were I to hear it now, and the Noc has kinda cemented for me that it's just not my thing. I do have a Sony Z5 coming in shortly, and I plan to meet up with Cn11 so he can check it out. I'll try to give the Noc a spin with the hybrid cable at your behest if he still has it then 
    LOL. Let's not get into any more of this table business. I've had enough of these cell values thank you very much. 
    You're probably right... :l 
    He is but one of many, now that we've a whole rogues gallery assembled. 
  12. Cotnijoe
    Id that was one hell of a fun read there haha. Great write up!
  13. vwinter
    Wisdom imparted on him from all those years working in an airplane parts factory no doubt.
    That writeup dropped so hard that my brain rattles. Yes still. It's effin ringing.
    It really gets to the heart of what it means to enjoy music and how these wonderful little things that we mostly obsess over here are our ride to that promised land. The front page isn't worthy.
    For posterity.
  14. eke2k6
    The Fedex man just handed over the tour package. 
  15. Idsynchrono_24
    I'd be curious about your thoughts on the Noc vs. REF1. I haven't heard the REF but I've got a sneaking suspicion that the Noc sounds pretty similar going by your descriptions of the REF

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