NiceHCK NX7

disclaimer:   bought at NiceHCK when released so no disclaimer needed.   Arrived 8/5.

 

Unboxing / Packaging:

Packaging of the Nx7 is typical for Nicehck, white outer box with open face cardboard box inside.  The front has announces the make and model while the reverse shows more detailed specifications.   Inside we find the earpieces nestled in a foam tray with a box below housing the accessory kit.   The kit is comprised of cable, cable tie, 6 sets of silicone tips (SML) in two styles and a cloth carry bag.   I will say the kit is more in line with the newly lowered price than with the initial pricing as no hard case, balanced cable, shirt clip, or additional items were packaged as would be expected in a flagship model.

 

Build/Fit:

Shells are a three piece affair with a metal outer shell, a clear plastic inner shell and a brass nozzle.   Having removed one of the metal faceplates, you can see that the underside is recessed and that the internals actually are not entirely contained by the inner shell.   The inner shell is smoked transparent plastic with a single vent behind the nozzle directly over the dynamic driver.  Nozzles exit the lead edge with an upward rake and a pronounced lip.  The rear of the shell has L/R indicators as do the hoods on the cable for easy mating.    The bi-pin connector is mounted about 2mm above flush but unlike some is unobtrusive enough that non-hooded cables can be used if desired.

Fit is good as the shells are not overly large and the teardrop shape is pretty standard.  With the tip-up only style cable, weight is a non-issue, and standard tips give lots of options for finding good fitting options.

 

Internals:   

The Nx7 is a technology dog and pony show with 7 drivers per earpiece.  Each ear has 4 balanced armature drivers, a 10mm dual diaphragm graphene coated dynamic driver, and a piezoelectric ceramic driver.    having failed to find any information on what balanced armatures are used, I attempted to remove the faceplate to see.  Unfortunately, as seen below, that got me a great shot of the crossover, but told me little else about the internals.

Nominal impedance is listed as 55Ω with a sensitivity of 108 dB/mW.  This is right on the borderline of what the LG phone can handle if forced into high output mode and is probably best reserved for higher powered sources as I found it to be poor when used from phones or tablets.   The Nx7 needs the additional power to bring the drivers into proper phase as it sounds considerably more coherent when driven from something like the xCAN than when driven by a cellphone alone.

 

Cable:

The cable is a standard length (1.2m) cable terminated with a 90º 3.5mm TRS jack.  Cable is a 4 wire twist (double helix, each pair twisted and then pairs twisted together) in brown casing up to the small black plastic splitter, then exits as two twisted pairs as it continues northward.  A chin-slider is provided immediately above the splitter.   Terminations at the earpieces have pre-formed earhooks and blakc plastic housed .78mm hooded bi-pin connectors.   A cable tie is also provided to round out the package.  Overall the cable is usable, but less than expected in a flagship level product as it comes closer to resembling the typical KZ cable than it does the typical NiceHCK upgrade cable or other high end offerings.    At this price point, I think including the upgraded cable would be a welcome addition.

 

Sound:

First off, some discussion of tips is warranted.   I tried several tips during my listening sessions with the Nx7 and found it’s signature could be altered, in some cases significantly depending on tip style.  I had initially thought that with its bright personality a Comply or other foam might be in order, but those did little to improve the treble and did too much at the low end for my tastes.  I found the best synergy with narrow bore silicones as the wide bores tended to accentuate the low end more than I find appealing.

 

Bass:

Sub-bass extension on the Nx7 is quite good, but may go unnoticed at first as it is largely overshadowed by the top-end.  Sub-bass roll-off doesn’t become noticable until one reaches the low 30Hz/ high 20Hz range and provides good rumble when called upon.   Mid bass steps back from the sub-bass emphasis but still has good solid thump while retaining good control.  Speed is good with attack being slightly faster than decay (Speaking of the bass here as speed gets faster the further you go up the scale and actually passes the point where it no longer sounds natural a bit above the region being discussed here).    Bass texture is good, but not spectacular but detail is above average for the price point.   Not a great basshead choice for sure, but bass is probably  the best tuned region of the Nx7’s signature in my estimation.   Bass is very responsive to EQ and can be pushed considerably forward for those who desire more rumble and thump.  I found the XBass function of the Ifi products worked quite well for this.

 

Mids:

The lower-mids are inline with the mid-bass and are subject to some mild mid-bass bleed and then climb fairly rapidly as you move into the mids and lower treble.   It is rare for me to say this, but I find myself wishing the Nx7 had a bit more mid-bass bleed as it would add a bit more warmth for a fairly sterile sounding signature.   Unfortunately, because of the recessed lower-mids, lower range vocals tend to feel a bit more distant than their higher pitched counterparts.  Strings also suffer a similar fate as some sound forward and others slightly recessed depending on pitch.  Overall, even with the forward push,  mids come off as a bit thin and electric guitar tonality is a bit sharper edged than it should be.   The upside, is mid details are reasonably good and the signature is fairly clean with little overlap or thickening as tracks get more complex.   Acoustic guitar, especially in the upper registers is very clean and detailed with good tonality. Overall, I’d wish for a bit fuller mids with a bit more lower-mid presence.  The Nx7 Shines with acoustic guitar and female vocal mixes. I particularly liked a couple of Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham tracks that combined the two.

 

Treble:

Treble really needs to be divided into several discussions.   The lower treble region is not atypical of NiceHCK’s other recent BA offerings.  The Piezo-electric super tweeter on the other hand is primarily designed for extending the range above and beyond what the BA offers and is responsible for the sizzle and air at the top end.   Without knowing exactly the cross-over frequency between the balanced armatures and the piezo, it would be easy to assume that either the Piezo is crossed too low or the BA is overly forward in the mix.  I have to say going in I was a bit worried about the Nx7’s use of the Piezo element as the N3 had a been a bit of a hot mess and my hope was that the Nx7 wasn’t simply a re-use of that same tuning.   The good news is it is not.  The upper treble is well tuned to add that last bit of detail that is offered by being able to reproduce harmonics of higher pitched instruments.    Luckily, it doesn’t dominate or become the focal point of the signature.   Having said that, the lower treble does dominate things more than it should.  The lower-treble is forward and has a couple peaks and valleys that make the Nx7 less than polite and slightly grainy at times.   The 4kHz and 7kHz peaks dominate the treble signature and are easily identified as the fatiguing elements.   After the 7kHz peak, the signature falls off fairly rapidly with a gap between 7.5kHz (or so) and 13kHz where the Piezo element introduces itself.   Cymbals sound a bit unnatural due to the peaks and valleys and while air is good, sparkle can come across more as sizzle at times.   (The attack on a harsh snare is a good example of this).    I Found the Nx7 top end is not as responsive to EQ as the low end and while some of the 4k and 7k spikes and the dip in-between can be EQ’d to a more level response, it cannot be made dead flat in that region.

 

Soundstage / Imaging:

Soundstage is deeper than it is wide with some sense of height but would benefit from a bit more height and a bit better width to depth ratio.   Because of the shape of the stage, seating the orchestra at times arranges instruments behind one another rather than beside each other as is technically correct.  The upside is layering is good and instrument separation is good so although technically incorrect, the sound is still fairly clean and crisp.    Imaging suffers a bit from the stage shape and the issues defined above and at times spatial cues are perfectly delivered but at others they come across as awkward or just plain odd.  Footfalls in the distance for example sound like they are coming from two distinct locations at the start of Billy Squier’s  “Rock me Tonight”.  The knocking on the door on “All Night Long” alternatively sounds really clean and well delivered.

 

Comparisons: 

The Nx7 Started out at a price point of $125usd when first introduced and has since dropped considerably to an average asking price of $75usd on Aliexpress.   Having bought mine early on, I had planned to compare it with other products in the $125 class.  Instead, I have made my comparisons based on the current price point as I think does the readers more good than sticking to my original plan.    Some of these are in my personal collection, but haven’t been reviewed yet so they can be thought of as sneak previews of upcoming reviews as well.

 

NiceHCK ~ M6 / DT500

The M6 and DT500 are NiceHCK’s two closest competitors to the Nx7 in their own stable both in driver count and in price tag.  The M6 is a 6 driver (2DD/4BA) model, while the DT500 is a 5 driver (All BA) arrangement.    Out of the box, the M6 has more bass and less control over it than the Nx7.   In order for the bass on the M6 to compete with that on the Nx7, the BGVP vented filter must be used.    This resolves some of the looser bass of the M6 but still leaves it falling behind the Nx7 in control as the driver speed on the Nx7 is better than that of the M6.   The DT500 has the reverse issue.  It has good control of the bass but lacks the extension and slam of the Nx7 with its dynamic driver.   Moving up, the DT500 takes the point for mids.  The DT500 is much closer to neutral than the M6 or Nx7 and has fuller mids than either.  At the top end, we have three very different animals.  The M6 has a lower treble emphasis but rolls-off fairly early, The DT500 has better extension and remains closer to neutral without the big lower treble push of the other two.  The Nx7 has the best extension of the three but technically has a couple voids at levels below its top end.   My leaning is toward the DT500 as it comes closer to neutral across the board but it is also the least engaging of the three.  For casual listening, I’d consider the Nx7 an improved M6 in control and detail level and the M6 a slightly less detailed Nx7 with better mids and improved imaging.

 

Yinyoo ~ Topaz/ D2B4

The D2b4, much like the M6 above needs the addition of the BGVP vented filter to do its best work.  For purposes of this compare, I am assuming that filter is in use.   The D2b4 comes close to matching the extension of the Nx7 at the low end but again lacks the level of control.   Both can go deep, but the Nx7 can do so with a clarity the D2b4 lacks.  Mids are a wash between the two as neither is particularly the strong suit but the D2b4 has a tonality I prefer as it is a bit thicker and warmer when compared to the Nx7.  Upper range again the Nx7 shows off more detail and a bit more upper reach while the D2b4 rolls-off at roughly the same point as the BA in the Nx7 but lacks the Piezo element to extend above it.  Overall, I like the Nx7’s control, but wish it has mids more like that of the D2b4.  The Topaz is similar to the d2b4 with the vented filter installed but has a bit cleaner bass presentation and a bit thinner mids by comparison.   The Topaz and the Nx7 are similar in sound signature except for the top end extension which goes to the Nx7.

 

Thoughts / Conclusion:

The Nx7 is a technological tour-de-force with 7 drivers of 3 different types per earpiece.   Like most technological wonders, some elements are better than others and some of its features will very likely trickle down into other models.   We have seen the Piezo element improve from the N3 to the Nx7, and I hope we will see it again in another refinement of the design as it does a good job in the Nx7 of introducing some air to the top end and some additional detail.   The Bass driver in the Nx7  is also an element I hope to see make it into additional models as it has great extension and good slam and rumble when called upon without over-reaching.   That leaves the balanced armatures in the middle ground that are the most established of the 3 elements used, and unfortunately the poorest of the three in tuning.    Overall, those willing to EQ the Nx7 get a very good in-ear for very little money, those unwilling to use EQ will likely find the mids a bit thin and the treble uneven and sometimes a bit harsh.    The treble shy will need to EQ the top end considerably in order to enjoy the Nx7.   As an evolutionary step from the N3, I see great progress in the Nx7 as it is a much more cohesive product,  I still think it is a generation or two away from being fantastic, but we are seeing progress toward it.     Without EQ, I’d give the treble 6.5 points as detail and extension are better than average.  With judicious EQ, the treble can be brought to a 7.5 for those willing to make the adjustment.   With a couple EQ tweaks, this can be an elite offering in the <$80 range.

NiceHCK Nx7

6

Packaging

6.0/10

Build Quality

6.5/10

Accessories

5.0/10

Sound Quality

6.6/10
  • 7.5/10
    Bass - 7.5/10
  • 6/10
    Mids - 6/10
  • 6.5/10
    Treble - 6.5/10
  • 7/10
    Soundstage - 7/10
  • 6/10
    Imaging - 6/10

Summary

Pros:  Technology tour de force with 3 types of drivers, much more coherent than predecessor, good detail and dynamics.

Cons:  Shell is more reminiscent of budget offerings than flagships as is cable, bright, uneven treble, and thin mids.