NF Audio NA1 IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

NF Audio NA1 IEM Review

 

Introduction:

NF Audio is a Chinese earphone brand of Shenzhen Ningfan Acoustics that was founded in 2014. NF Audio is producing CIEM’s and Universal IEM’s with Dynamic Driver, BA Driver or Hybrid Driver configuration like BA + ETS (electrostatic driver).

The NA1 that I will now review for you is a Universal IEM with 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin connectors and with the so called MCL2-10 Dynamic Driver that uses bilateral voice coil that should effectively reduce distortions.

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank NF Audio for providing me this sample via Penon Audio for review purposes. I am not affiliated with NF Audio or Penon Audio beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.

 

 

Price:

The MSRP price for the NF Audio NA1 is 169,00 USD and can be purchased under the link below;

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The NF Audio NA1 has a nice & pretty unique rectangular box in black color which looks like a portable CD player. On the front of this box is a window where you can see the NA1 monitors that have been putted on to this CD like foam part.

After you open the top cover you will see a cardboard with retro styled player buttons like play, fast forward, record, etc. that follows the same design language.

 

The box of the NF Audio NA1 contains the following contents/accessories; 

  • 1 pair x NF Audio NA1 In-Ear Monitor
  • 1 piece x Detachable Cable with 0.78mm 2-Pin Connector
  • 3 pairs x Silicone Bass Ear Tips
  • 3 pairs x Silicone Balanced Ear Tips
  • 1 piece x Cleaning Tool
  • 1 piece x PU Protective Case
  • 1 piece x User Manual

The NF Audio NA1 came beside the detachable cable, with 6 pairs of silicone ear tips (bass & balanced) that is put in to plastic separators/holders.

The package includes also a cleaning tool (brush) and a pretty nice PU protective case that is of high quality.

 

 

Design, Fit and Build Quality:

The monitor shell of the NF Audio NA1 is a combination of 2 main parts, the faceplate and the rear body with all internals.

On the front of the monitor is the faceplate which is made of a 5-Axis CNC engraved aviation grade aluminum material that is available in red, grey and blue like my review sample. On the top of the faceplate is the NF Audio logo that is printed in white color.

The main body on the other hand is made of medical grade resin in semi transparent black color, which is produced with a so called UV resin 3D printing process. On the rear side of this part is a vent with a metal plug, while you can find a second bass vent near the sound nozzle.

Here is also the slightly angled metal sound nozzle in silver color that features a fine woven metal mesh on the top to prevent the insertion of ear-wax, dust, etc.

On the top of the monitor housing is the 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin female connector that offers a fairly tight connection.

The shape and size of the NA1 monitor shell is pretty comfortable to wear, while the isolation is on an average level, which is sufficient for noise environments like bus, train, etc.

The overall build quality of the NF Audio NA1 monitor shows a high grade of workmanship like the rest of the product.

 

 

 

The Cable:

The detachable cable that came with the NF Audio NA1 has a nice twisted profile and is made of a 4 core, Silver Plated Oxygen Free Cooper (OFC) cable with 5N purity.

The cable wire material fairly soft TPU coating in black color which shows a pretty low amount of microphonic effect.

The 2-pin male connectors have transparent plastic housing, where you can find the left and right markings. My only complain about he cable are this markings which are not very visible.

The cable features also transparent heat-shrink ear guides.

This cable has a metal chin slider in silver color and a Y splitter which is made of a soft black plastic material that sports the NF Audio brand logo.

The gold plated 3.5mm unbalanced (3 pole) headphone plug has a straight profiled housing that looks very robust thanks to the metal material and plastic strain relief. This headphone housing sports the description NF Audio.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:
  • Model              : NA1
  • Driver              : MCL2-10 Double Cavity Dynamic Driver
  • Impedance     : 18Ω
  • Freq. range     : 9 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Sensitivity       : 110dB/mW
  • Distortion        : <%1
  • Max. SPL       : 125dB
  • Isolation          : 25dB
  • Connector       : 0.78mm 2-Pin
  • Cable Specs   : N5 Purity Silver Plated Copper Wire (OFC)
  • Cable length   : 1.2m

 

 

Drivability:

The NF Audio NA1 is an easy to drive In-Ear Monitor with an impedance of 18 ohm and sensitivity of 110db. My Samsung Galaxy S9+ Smartphone was able to drive it to pretty loud volume levels.

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

IEM’s              : NF Audio NA1, Campfire Audio Comet, TFZ MyLove III
DAP&DAC’s  : Hidizs AP80 CU, iBasso DX160, FiiO M11 Pro

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Wav 24bit/88kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Elton John – Your Song (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Black Star (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Unplugged Album (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlude (Live) (Flac 24bit/88kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • No Doubt – Hella Gut (Spotify)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Twerl – Lishu (Spotify)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Wav 16bit/44kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Photek – The Hidden Camera (Spotify)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory (16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (MP3 320kbps)

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The NF Audio NA1 shows in general a neutral and bright tonality. The bass is fast and detailed; the midrange is fairly neutral & clear midrange while the upper midrange and treble is pronounced.

PS: I have written my NA1 review after a burn-in process of 80 hours and with the stock “Balanced” silicone ear tips which are included to the package.

 

 

Bass:

The NF Audio NA1 is an In-Ear Monitor that separates the bass layer by layer and the fact that the bass are fast, tight and neutral makes it to a quite detailed IEM in this region.

NA1 has a good subbass depth with a soft tonality, while the intensity is on an average level. The subbass effect is not very pronounced due to the fairly soft character which is the main reason why this region doesn’t stands out in the overall presentation.

The bass of the NF Audio NA1 is very fast and detailed with a performance that is above its price range. It shows in general a mildly accented and pretty linear charter, while the overall bass intensity are neither too little nor too high in its quantity due to the reference type of tuning.

The midbass region of the NA1 has again a reference type of emphasis and intensity, while it is slightly more pronounced than the subbass area. The midbass emphasis for drums, snare drums and bass guitars in genres like metal music is quite sufficient, while it is on an average level for edm, dance or trace music.

 

Lower Midrange & Male Vocals:

The lower midrange of the NA1 shows a good harmony with the bass. It has a neutral tonality and good depth, while it is neither too upfront nor recessed. The lower midrange is slightly less pronounced compared to the upper midrange but the fact that this area has good clarity and resolution is an advantage for male vocals that do sound pretty detailed.

Male vocals may sound clear, but a little dry and body-less, as there is not enough flow of warmth from the lower midrange.

 

Midrange:

Although the NF Audio NA1 does not have a very aggressive midrange presentation, it does also not sound too soft. The overall midrange presentation is bright, fairly neutral and transparent. The tonality is slightly thin while the general detail retrieval is quite high. The level of airiness and transparency is on a good level which makes it to an ideal In-Ear monitor for those who do love a spacious and airy midrange tuning.

 

Instruments:

The NF Audio NA1 has in general a pretty neutral and close to reference instrument tonality. Instruments do sound quite detailed and transparent, while I found the NA1 very successful in terms of instrument / vocal separation, instrument positioning / separation and clarity.

For example, the contrabass have a good depth, while the spring tractions are not too thick. They do sound quite detailed and successful, except of a slightly amount of thickness and warmth.

Other instruments like drums have a good intensity and there is only a slightly sharpness in faster drum passages. Bass guitars are successful in terms of depth and extension and are pretty controlled in fast passages without to show remarkable mixing.

 

Upper Midrange & Female Vocals:

The NF Audio NA1 has a fairly pronounced, neutral, slightly shiny and upfront upper midrange presentation. The upper midrange is very airy and detailed, and the transitions can be slightly sharp or soft, depending on the record quality, but doesn’t sound very aggressive or piercing in most cases.

Female vocals are quite transparent, spacious and airy. They are complete in terms of extension and detail retrieval thanks to the fairly strong upper midrange character. From jazz vocals to pop vocals, from soprano to trance vocals, all are quite transparent and detailed. Since NA1 is an IEM that requires good recording, it does not hesitate to show any sibilance that is a part of the recording.

 

Treble:

The NF Audio NA1 has a good treble intensity with a neutral, airy and slightly bright tonality, while it doesn’t sounds too sharp or aggressive like IEM’s with an analytical tuning. The treble extension is a bit short in cost of the good control, while performance in terms of detail retrieval and speed is above its price range, which makes the NA1 to a great choice for treble lovers.

The treble intensity drops from the lower midrange to the upper midrange in a controlled way, which means that the upper midrange is less highlighted and detailed compared to the lower midrange. The NF Audio NA1 is in general pretty successful in the treble range, while the brightness and quantity can maybe slightly too much for treble sensitive listeners.

 

The Soundstage:

The NF Audio NA1 is a quite successful In-Ear Monitor in terms of performance for instrument separation and placement. The horizontal soundstage expansion is pretty good for an IEM at this price level while the depth of the stage is on an average level.

 

 

 

Some Comparisons:

NF Audio NA1 versus Campfire Audio Comet:

The Campfire Audio Comet has a warmer and softer tonality compared to the NF Audio NA1 that shows a brighter and neutral tonality. The Campfire Audio Comet shows more subbass depth and midbass intensity than the NA1, while the bass of the NA1 is in general tighter and superior in terms of speed, layering and control.

The Midrange of the Campfire Audio Comet is fuller and warmer in tonality, while the NF Audio NA1 shows a slightly dryer and more natural presentation, with a better level of detail retrieval and clarity. The Comet shows a better performance with male vocals due to the better lower midrange depth, while the NF Audio NA1 is the better choice if you listen mainly to female vocals, due to the higher level of clarity/transparency and resolution of the upper midrange.

The upper midrange and treble region of the Comet shows a warmer and softer tonality, while the same regions of the NA1 are more highlighted. The NA1 has also the upper hand in terms of treble extension.

The soundstage of the NF Audio NA1 shows a better performance in terms of stage width and airiness. The Campfire Audio Comet on the other hand is slightly better in terms of soundstage depth.

 

 

NF Audio NA1 versus TFZ My Love III:

The general presentation of the TFZ My Love III is slightly warmer than neutral and shows a strong subbass presence, with pronounced upper midrange and a quite forgiving treble range.

The TFZ My Love III has in general a warmer and fuller tonality compared to those of the NF Audio NA1. TFZ My Love III has the upper hand in terms of bass depth and quantity, while the NF Audio NA1 is slightly better in terms of overall bass speed.

NF Audio NA1 has an advantage when it comes to the overall vocal performance due to the more forward/highlighted midrange tuning. Male and female vocals do sound more transparent and neutral, while the TFZ My Love III shows a warmer and more musical tonality.

When it comes to the treble range I can say that the NA1 has the upper hand in terms of treble extension and detail retrieval, while the My Love III offer smoother/softer and fatigue free listening experience.

The soundstage of the NF Audio NA1 is more expansive and airy compared to those of the TFZ My Love III which has the upper hand in terms of soundstage depth.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

The NF Audio NA1 is a very capable IEM in terms of sound quality with its fast and controlled bass response, the transparent and detailed midrange presentation and a treble range that shows a pretty good performance for a product at this price range. The attractive packaging and a set of useful – high quality accessories are also some nice additions to the already good sound performance.

 

 

 

Pros & Cons:
  • + Neutral sound character
  • + Bass speed and control
  • + Midrange clarity & detail retrieval
  • + Nice Build Quality & Accessory Package
  • – Maybe a tad too neutral for genres like pop and electronic music
  • – Lower midrange depth

 

 

 

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