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Old 07-24-2011, 11:24 PM
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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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Old 07-30-2011, 03:36 PM
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I smell another front-pager there Bucky!!!
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Old 07-30-2011, 03:45 PM
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^ Nah...just my own humble impressions. You really should think about these Nuforce TDS - I think you would really love them.
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Old 07-30-2011, 03:47 PM
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Nice impressions/review. I would really have to think hard about getting a set of these. Those housings seem huge. However this provides me with what I look for in any quality review. Enough information to make a decision without turning it into a "look how brilliant my writing is" farce. Nice work.

Last edited by skip252; 07-30-2011 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 07-30-2011, 03:52 PM
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^ Thanks a ton skip252 - coming from you that really means a lot I tried to throw in as much stuff as I would like to read about [and tried to make it as relatively interesting to read as possible].

Done on the title.
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Old 07-30-2011, 03:57 PM
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It's good to hear about the build quality. If/when my NE-6's die again I would very likely buy these since they look like they were built stronger.

I guess these audiophile companies are pretty hit and miss.

NuForce: great IEM's, crap sources. . . (FWIR)
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Old 07-30-2011, 04:23 PM
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Lestatar my favorite reviews to read are the ones written without that front page cut and dry stuff, the ones written where you just cut lose. I feel you hit the nail on the head and I enjoyed the read, very nice review, thanks. Last but not least it does seem to me that your blackberry pics are improving ...

On a side note I cleaned up the bs from the thread on the late remarks (including mine), now you know for next time not to tempt us early

Edit: now that thread is clean, feel free to change the title to "Nuforce 700x Review," it's earned it's title
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Old 07-30-2011, 05:08 PM
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Nice. So how did you like the Earsonics? SM3 or SM2?
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Old 07-30-2011, 05:55 PM
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@Lestatar: I can't do iem's, ear infections bro. And believe me, I really wish I could. But, I can appriciate an excellent review - and that's exactly what you've done. Great job bro,...you really are more of an expert than you give yourself credit for.
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Confispect View Post
Nice. So how did you like the Earsonics? SM3 or SM2?
Didn't hear the SM2, only the SM3. My eventual purchase of these French things was really decided after dfkt's original review. I just now reread it and surprisingly, I found myself almost in total agreement with him - surprising because I actually noticed a lot of the same things he did.

I had em in for like 30 minutes. Mingos gave me a pair of foamy tips to use and I hated them, both the tips and the SM3. They sounded dull and the top end seemed very recessed. Then I asked for a set of silicon tips and things changed a lot, just as dfkt observed. Same gear, same song, 2 minutes apart and it was a whole new experience. This was the first confirmation to me that indeed, there is a difference I can perceive between [foamies and silicon] tips.

For me, the SM3 will be a learning experience. I love mids and highs and am wanting to round out my personal stable with top quality, attainable balanced armature IEMs. I want to understand better what an analytical IEM sounds like and hope to hear new stuff in my music. I also want to challenge my brain a bit - see if indeed I can train myself to listen to and enjoy a different sonic presentation since dynamic IEMs do seem to have a noticeably different sound signature [more prominent bass generally].

Yeah, so will be the Ortos EQ7 for sure and more than likely the SM3. Although the AudioTechnica BA stuff are not out of the running.


@TDS: Ah yeah, sorry man, forgot about that...my bad. But you got yourself some not too shabby fullsize cans there buddy. And thanks for the kind words - will never consider myself an expert on this stuff, but I do feel like I am starting to better understand some subtle differences in how I perceive sound and the sonic presentations of some IEMs.

Have learned so much here on ABi - of course, my wallet aches sometimes, just a little. 'Cause I really haven't made any "expensive" IEM purchases yes. My Panas were a steal at the J&R price of 75USD as you recall.
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Old 07-31-2011, 02:07 AM
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As far as your review.....



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Old 07-31-2011, 02:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lestatar View Post
Didn't hear the SM2, only the SM3. My eventual purchase of these French things was really decided after dfkt's original review. I just now reread it and surprisingly, I found myself almost in total agreement with him - surprising because I actually noticed a lot of the same things he did.

I had em in for like 30 minutes. Mingos gave me a pair of foamy tips to use and I hated them, both the tips and the SM3. They sounded dull and the top end seemed very recessed. Then I asked for a set of silicon tips and things changed a lot, just as dfkt observed. Same gear, same song, 2 minutes apart and it was a whole new experience. This was the first confirmation to me that indeed, there is a difference I can perceive between [foamies and silicon] tips.

For me, the SM3 will be a learning experience. I love mids and highs and am wanting to round out my personal stable with top quality, attainable balanced armature IEMs. I want to understand better what an analytical IEM sounds like and hope to hear new stuff in my music. I also want to challenge my brain a bit - see if indeed I can train myself to listen to and enjoy a different sonic presentation since dynamic IEMs do seem to have a noticeably different sound signature [more prominent bass generally].

Yeah, so will be the Ortos EQ7 for sure and more than likely the SM3. Although the AudioTechnica BA stuff are not out of the running.
I'd say I prefer the SM3 to the Pana but the Pana has a couple things about it I like also. One thing I want to tell you is I think it's good to move up the ladder but I think moving up slowly is the key. To get a whiff of a anaylitical sound presentation I'd start off with the Phonak,DBA-02, CK100 -just heard it last week can't stand it- just to name a few. The SM3 is much fuller and natural then all of those with a more balanced frequency response. Finally move over to the Radius DDM, -second one as well haven't heard it- and see what you think. Then Fx700, Monster Gold, MD, Cooper, IE8, Atrio MG7, Sony Ex10000.

I'd work on one IEM per week then jot down notes then repeat I find it easier to stick it in my memory by listening to testing material a hour each I can't stand A/Bing then switching then doing it all over again every 5 minutes. I rather create a imprint and then begin to jot off that.
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Old 07-31-2011, 03:11 AM
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^ @ Confispect, actually your post reminded me that you too are one of those guys whose opinions on this stuff I tend to put more weight to. You have clearly heard a bunch of these things. You have an engaging writing style - how about doing us a public service now and again and posting a bit lengthier opinion piece on some of this stuff, especially the higher end models?

More feedback on this stuff is always welcome, especially for folks thinking about/dreaming about top price point items.

Great tips all for me and yes, I do plan to move slowly in my education with IEMs. Your comments about the SM3 are pretty much again what I started to hear after that first sit down listen. Have not heard any Phonaks or those AudioTechnicas yet, but I plan to.

cheers and thanks man!
-les
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Old 07-31-2011, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip252 View Post
Nice impressions/review. I would really have to think hard about getting a set of these. Those housings seem huge. However this provides me with what I look for in any quality review. Enough information to make a decision without turning it into a "look how brilliant my writing is" farce. Nice work.
@skip252: A bit more on the housings of the Nuforce 700x. Indeed, even to the naked eye, they appear quite large. But if you notice the pics, the nozzle end actually is actually around the same length as the VBs. I just eyeballed the nozzles on the 2 and not surprisingly the VB diameter is a touch larger, which surely contributes to their awe-inspiring bass I would assume.

Which is another reason I remain so impressed with the 700x bass levels. Again, perhaps due at least in part to the titanium drivers?

Anyway, tough for someone to tell just from pics alone, but I just tried 1 of each in each ear. Strangely, though the 700x housing is larger overall than the VBs, the 700x insert deeper into my ear - meaning they fit more flush with my ear lobes than the VBs do. Because of that I am actually finding that the 700x feel more natural fitting in my ears vs the VBs.

FWIW, my friend.
-les
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Old 07-31-2011, 04:18 AM
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These do look very promising. You kind of compared them to the Pana's in this review and another thread but do you think the Nuforce 700x do anything better then the panasonics? Also, Is the detail and instrument separation similar between these phones or is one ahead over the other?
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:10 AM
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^ Well, I think the low bass reaches down further than the Panas. But other than that, I don't think I can say that these 700x do anything better than the Panas, at least to my ears.

As for instrument separation, again, the Panas I feel handle this a bit better - just a tad bit more clarity. But this is part of the reason why I feel the 700x is so good - separation is also quite good.

I used some complex tracks like stuff from Opeth and of course a few classical pieces. But I would never call either these or the Panas analytical. If you held a gun to my head, I would say for sure the Panas are more detailed, with superior imaging.

These are both quality IEMs IMO. Again, no expert, but to my ears, the 700x are quite good.

Best I can tell ya,
-les
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:44 AM
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Damn you lestatar! I had my mind and moolah fixed on getting the MEe CC51, and I was >this< close to getting them- and you had to come along and ruin it all! Back to the drawing board again. Its crappy enough that these two retail roughly around the same price.

I won't be able to sleep if I bought them CC51s, with such a praising review of the 700x floating around my head Dx

NOOOOOOoooo..

Psst, what about the warranty?
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:55 AM
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^ Glad to be of service buddy...

From the Nuforce manual:
Nuforce 12 Months Limited Warranty...

Usual legalese, but seems very reasonable.
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:10 AM
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Thanks for helping me get a better handle on the size of the housings lestatar. IIRC you've also had the Maximo iM390. I could wear those comfortably. Are these just about the same size? Not looking for exact measurements, just to the best of your memory.

Thanks
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:30 AM
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^ Actually skip252, I have the i490s, not the i390s. These:

http://www.amazon.com/Maximo-iM-490S.../dp/B000LFZ6OE

And yes, to my memory the Nuforce 700x housings are kinda the same size asthe i490s. Thanks for reminding me - they are indeed similar sized, pretty close and close enough for government work. They didn't make it with me to HK though so, out of sight, a bit out of mind. Sorry.

Now that I think about it, the 700x actually feel better. The stem from the wire into the housing is very soft and flexible, unlike the one on the i490 [you can see from the pics at Amazon].
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