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Old 07-24-2011, 10:24 PM
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lestatar lestatar is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Hong Kong now, but NYC always
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Default UPDATED: Finally! My Impressions: Nuforce 700x

Coming soon! Here now!

OK peeps, FWIW, here goes my impressions of the Nuforce 700x IEMs. Pics first, some captions and then what I think/my breakdown at the end.

Gear used: Sony E345 16GB, no EQ; RB Fuze v2 8GB, no EQ

Musical selections: A whole bunch, across all genres I listen to including prog, metal, death metal, jazz, trance, pop, classical opera and vocals, instrumental guitar. Some artists showed up more often than others, purely for what I consider to be superior quality recording efforts: Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Joe Satriani, Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Fourplay, Sarah Brightman, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rush, Chemical Brothers, Photek and BT.

Encoding: All HQ LAME v2 or v0, no ReplayGain

Crappy photo excuse: Yep. Blackberry Bold 9700. I will never win any Ansel Adams awards, but I do think these pics came out not so bad, especially for the source.

Standard disclaimer: I ain't no pro with this stuff, unlike guys like dfkt, walkgood, adub and so many others whose opinions I respect and consider. But I am someone who knows what he likes to hear and has a sufficient enough basic audio vocabulary to try and stumble along here. But as always with this stuff, YMMV - we all hear things differently.

OK, enough CYA...


Pic1: The gorgeous Nuforce 700x IEMs. Very generous set of tips. Basically 2 sets each of large, medium and small. Tips are very good quality, no machining rough spots. Interestingly, these are the first set of stock IEM tips where the default installed mediums fit me perfectly - I normally find the largest tips fit my ears best, offering best tip seal and comfort. The Nuforce large tips actually were less comfortable to me. Color coded red IEM wires red = right is a nice touch vs impossibly small, tough to read L/R lettering.

Note: Sony Hybrids do fit on the Nuforce nozzles, which probably means that most other replacement tips will fit these guys as well, including the equally great Super.fi tips our dfkt loves.





Pic2:
Shots of the plug end, y-splitter and included Nuforce bag. Dig the tres schmexy brushed metal.




Pic3: The Nuforce 700x box front and an interesting booklet. It is around 30 pages long, in multiple languages and is the first booklet I ever got with any IEMs. Discussed inside are many useful tips for IEM listening, including warnings against excessively high volumes and brief overview on basic terminology like Soundstage, Clarity, etc...




Pic4: The back of the box, with specs.




Pic5: The lestatar Hong Kong IEM lineup. Left to right, the Nuforce 700x, Panasonic HJE900, Hippo VB, Maximo i590.




Pic6: Another shot of the lineup. Good enough for a comparison of the IEM housings for each I think. Tried to get the smegma off as much as possible.




Pic7: The lineup and a shout out to Mingos in HK, a place I will definitely be spending more time in.




Nuforce 700x impressions:

Gonna come right out and say it - after a week+ of intensive listening, I love these things. My initial feelings remain the same - the 700x slot right in between the Pana HJE900 and the VBs in terms of overall sound signature. More on this below.

Build quality:
These 700x IEMs scream quality.

I was initially a bit turned off by the "nu" logo so prominent on the IEM housings, but these things sound so good I don't mind. And in truth the logo is well done and not annoying. The fit and finish is top notch and the housings feel like they will last almost as long as my beloved Zirconium Panas - the housings seem like 1 carved piece of metal [prolly not, as I am guessing the seam is hidden behind the unique wrap-around rubber strain relief]. No creaking, no flexing of the housing. Nothing.

The housings themselves are the largest I have ever tried, but surprisingly, they feel great in my ears. I personally prefer IEMs that have a slight bit of weight to them [in my old school mind, weightiness = quality] and like my IEMs to fit firmly in my ears. The 700x scores hugely here for me. No sharp edges anywhere and I have been wearing these things alot.

The strain reliefs as you can see are also quite good. Nicely machined metal for the straight plug with pretty solid strain relief. There is sadly no sliding chin adjustment but there is an included shirt clip for those inclined [I am not and it is easily removed.]

The cord is nicely long, nearly identical to the VB and is a much nicer length than the one on the Panas [which is pretty much the main gripe I have with them]. The cord has a slight rubbery texture to it and is of average thickness/thinness. It does resist kinking and twisting a bit better than the VBs but not as great as the Panas and of course, the Pana cord has spoiled me for all other IEMs, with its nice thick feel.

Microphonics on the 700x are surprisingly minimal - perhaps due to the rubbery texture? Whatever, microphonics are certainly tolerable and is noticeably better than on the i590 Maximos with their cloth covered cord where microphonics can be quite pronounced.

For those inclined, the 700x can be worn straight down or over ear. I have yet to embrace the over ear style, but either way works with the 700x as the housing is neutral in this area.

Accessories and packaging:

Pretty good overall, especially for the price. Good selection and quality of tips. I prefer hardshell cases for IEMs, but even my beloved Panas only came with the same kind of drawstring pouch as the 700x. The box was nice and simple, and zero trace of impossible to open plastic packaging - no blowtorch required. The drawstring pouch is of a nice soft felt-like material and I like the added Nuforce logo on the drawstring closure [though I prolly won't be using the pouch at all as I have several small hardshell IEM cases at my disposal]. Clean, simple, elegant packaging overall, especially with the aforementioned sound booklet guide. Good job here Nuforce, but nothing outstanding.

But lestatar, how the hell do they SOUND??
Well, I said it already at the top. To my ears, the Nuforce are right smack in the middle between the Panas and the VBs in my stable.

A bit about the Panas and why I love them so damm much: to my ears, the Panas are the best combination of clarity, soundstage and overall presentation I have heard yet in a dynamic IEM - mind you again, I am no expert and have not heard nearly as much as others have, but I have auditioned a few over the years. The Panas do nothing bad and yet manage to do everything pretty well IMO - strong, clear mids and highs, excellent soundstage and depth and bass that gets down to respectable levels but is still fast and mud-free.

The VBs remain the bass champion, no question. But like I said before here on ABi, I was blown away by the VBs not just because of the chest rattling and fast, punchy, low bass, but also because the mids and highs were pretty respectable.

But now comes these Nuforce 700x.

No, they don't really get down quite as low as the VBs, but they come pretty damm close. In fact, I think the 700x bass/low bass is very similar to the sound I get from my 2 dot bass plate VBs, which I always felt was the best compromise between good sonics across the board and nightclub thumping bass. However, the 700x definitely beat the VBs in all the other categories for my ears. The 700x bass is very strong IMO - I feel it in my head and in my chest during fast double bass drum runs and very low trance stuff and dubstep recordings. Excellent resonance on the low end, strong rumbles all without sounding bloated and dull and slow. Crisp is the best way I can describe the 700x bass.

Mids are a bit more pronounced and forward on the 700x vs the VBs - guitars and vocals are stronger, punchier and more fun, highs are a bit less shrill than the VBs can be, but cymbal crashes and hi-hats resonate and cut through the mix on the 700x very well. Once again, crisp is the operative phrase here IMO.

The 700x seem to be a very very fast responding IEM, perhaps something to do with the titanium drivers dfkt mentioned. Dunno. Hopefully he might get a pair and we can have a real expert evaluation soon. There is zero driver flex when inserting the 700x - no crinkling or crackling at all.

So what does all this word vomit mean?
I am loving these Nuforce 700x. To me, the 700x are what you would get if you crossbred the Pana HJE900 and the VBs - a bastard lovechild which really combines many of the best elements of both parents.

Best part is the price - at around 60USD these things are an absolute steal IMO. You get fast, very low, punchy bass, crisp mids and highs, superior build quality and totally frickin' styling good looks. What more can you ask for for 60USD?

Are the Nuforce 700x the perfect dynamic IEM? No. But if you want a fun, extremely capable all around IEM, IMO you could do far far worse.

FWIW and cheers,
-les

Buckwheat has spoken - let the games begin!


EDIT SIDENOTE:
@dfkt:

I also had a chance to demo the Ortofon EQ7 for like 45 minutes in Mingos. IN-CREDI-BLE. The detail was simply superb - the best I have ever heard without doubt, even better than FinalAudio [which I AB'd at Mingos along with the Ortos]. But for sure not nearly as "fun" as my Panas or even these Nuforce - I kind of thought the soundstage of the EQ7 was a bit smaller than the Panas and the Nuforce and certainly the bass was solid on the Ortos, but without the low chest rumble of dynamic driver IEMs.

But I also made up my mind: I will be picking up a pair of the Ortofons eventually, along with a set of Earsonics, so I can have the brilliant clarity that BA IEMs seem to offer.

Your damm fault and I will be sending you pics of my burning wallet.
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IEMs:PanaHJE900|Nuforce 700x|HippoVB|iMetal590,i490|SM PL-21|CX300|EP630,Aurvana
Guitars:IbanezS540,JS1200|Ovation
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Last edited by lestatar; 07-30-2011 at 02:53 PM. Reason: thread title change...
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