Review - Moondrop Chu (sub 50€)

Review - NF Audio NM2

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 

The NF Audio NM2 have been sent to me by KeepHifi in exchange for the publication of this review. They have not requested anything specific but I will include the link to the NM2 on their site as always, as it is the least I can do.

As always, I will try to keep this review as sincere and unbiased as possible but it is always good that you consider the fact that these IEMs have not cost me anything.

The NF Audio NM2 can be found on Keephifi here: https://keephifi.com/products/nf-audio-nm2

(as always, this is a non-affiliate link, more info can be found here)


Intro…

NF Audio is a brand that I have never tried before and to be honest, know very little about. I actually like it when I receive stuff that I know nothing about as I avoid some expectation biases and it is always fun to assign a price to something in my mind and then see how far I am from reality when I finally check the price. In this case, I was actually quite close with my guess which was fairly close to their retail price of just over 85€ (I actually guessed around 90 to 100).


Presentation…

The presentation for the NM2 was a little different to the usual packaging from other IEMs. They arrive in a fairly large box, which is actually a lot taller than I would expect and the box opens in two halves, top and bottom, or left and right (once open).

On the right side, at first I thought it was a CD that they had included, as there is a circular piece of cardboard covered foam that contains the IEMs and actually looks quite a bit like a CD. Under this disc, NF Audio include multiple sizes of two different types of tips, labelled as Balanced and Bass.

In the left half of the box, we find the user manual and under that we have a round transport case with the NF logo and the cable inside.

I would say that NF audio include the expected accessories with a set of IEMs at this price range and I don’t have any complaints about content or presentation. Yes, it could have been simpler, but the only thing that is really overdone is the size of the box, which at least makes it stand out from the norm.


Build and aesthetics…

When I first removed the IEMs from the packaging, I couldn’t believe how light they were. They also have an aesthetic to them that doesn’t really stand out as being high quality. I mean, in comparison to other sub 100€ IEMs, the IEM shells are rather simple transparent plastic that remind me quite a bit of the shells used on models like the TRN MT1 or the CCZ Melody.

This is only an aesthetic thing though, the actual shells seem to be very well built and do not show any signs of flaws that would hint at reduced durability. They are also, as I just said, extremely lightweight. That means that they are a great option for long sessions, if you find them comfortable.

I say “if you find them comfortable” as I am unlucky enough to not find them extremely comfortable. While there is nothing really strange about their shape, they are just the correct size to put pressure on the upper part of my ear, making me feel discomfort after longer sessions. They are not extremely uncomfortable, I can wear them, but they do tire my ears.

One other thing that stood out to me is the cable. It is a simple “twisted” cable that is rather thin but seems to be decent enough, very similar to a few other cables I have received recently. However, the memory wire is the springiest and snappies I have come across. It literally acts like a spring and clamps down behind the ear. This hasn’t caused me any discomfort but was certainly strange the first time I put them in. This cable will guarantee to not move while jogging, dancing or even sky diving!

I did actually choose to move on to an aftermarket cable and swap out tips, opting for using the Xelastec in order to improve comfort slightly and also, in my opinion, removes just a touch of top end (more on that in a moment).


Sound…

I must start off by saying that the sound also surprised me, as it wasn’t what I expected after unpacking them. I expected another run of the mill V shape with decent enough capabilities but nothing out of the ordinary in comparison to so many other sets.

However, what I was greeted with was a very clear, non bloated, detailed sound. I have since taken a look at the website for the NM2 and I see that they are marketed as being for monitoring. Although I haven’t been on a stage lately, I can actually see these working well as monitors, not only due to their sound but also due to the passive isolation they have (and of course the cable ear hooks which will keep them in place while headbanging!).

Starting off with the subbass, I find that there is a decent extension that is fairly well balanced with the rest of the bass frequencies. I would say that the NM2 manages to keep the presence of the low end without putting a specific focus on mid bass or subbass specifically.

These are not IEMs for those looking for a eardrum tickle but they do make sure that the lowest of notes are present and well defined. 

In the midbass area, things remain rather similar. The bass does not take over the low end, nor is there any noticeable bleed into the lower mids, but it does give enough presence to bass guitars. I spent an afternoon listening to Dire Straits and I must say that the NM2 made it very easy to appreciate the work of John Illsley (the bassist, or that guy with the guitar missing a couple of strings as he is known by many) without him becoming the centre of attention and detracting from Knopler’s guitar playing or anything else. In fact, the song “Money For Nothing” from the live album “On The Night”, was presented in a wonderfully balanced way during the guitar solo, where the guitar was extremely enjoyable without overshadowing the bass at any moment.

But… this does not mean that they are light on bass or on subbass for that matter! When a track calls for it, there is plenty of bass on tap. I moved from listening to Dire Straits on to some Hip Hop (I forget exactly what, I think I was just on shuffle) and the bass hits completely surprised me, reminding me that the low end is there if the song needs it. 

I also need to stress that the bass is clear and defined but will show any issues with recordings. In other words, if the track in question has too much bass, or bass that is not well recorded, the NM2 will not only not fix it, it will actually highlight the issues.

Moving into the mids, there is a bit of a dip in the centre of the region, however, as both the bass and the higher frequencies are well balanced, there is no sensation of this taking anything away from the performance.

The higher mids are rather present and, if these are going to have a negative reaction from anyone, it will probably be the high mids that are the culprit.

It is not that the high mids are bad, or extremely boosted, it is that they present the same issues as the bass frequencies. They are present in a way that balances them well with the lows, on a well recorded and mastered track. On a track that presents some harshness or excess in these frequencies, or even a lack in other frequencies, then the NM2 can once again highlight the problem. 

This is a good thing, the fact that they are well balanced on good recordings, if you listen to good recordings of course. If the music you listen to is not so well recorded, or is overly sharp in the higher mids, then I think you will find that the NM2 are not really suited. 

The higher frequencies are not the most extended but are good enough to not make me feel like there is anything missing in the higher range. They don’t have the top end sparkle and air that some other contenders do, but that is mainly due to their tuning and focus on the lows and higher mids.

As far as detail, I have already said that these are decently detailed IEMs. They do a good job of separating layers and instruments, allowing you to focus on details of different instruments and their playing, without difficulty.

The sound stage is not huge but is slightly above average, with the placement and use of the available space being good, allowing enough room for things to spread out. I have especially enjoyed some of the multi-mic’d (well recorded) live performances.


Conclusion…

When I opened the NM2, my mind automatically thought that it would be another run of the mill tuned economic IEM. I was surprised at what I actually heard when I started listening, as it certainly isn’t just another run of the mill tuning. 

The tuning is far more balanced than I expected and it comes with very competent technical performance, along with a soundstage that is very acceptable. I can see that the NM2 would actually perform well as a monitor, but it is also capable of being a very enjoyable, not necessarily boring.

The shell design might not be the most exciting but its extreme lightweight makes it great for longer sessions. I do experience a little uncomfort over time due to fit being just that few mm off for my personal anatomy, however, that is something that is totally personal and if it is not the case with your own ears, then these would make great IEMs for long sessions and also while on the go, due to the decent isolation also.

All in all, I must say that the NM2 is a decent IEM for the price it sits at.