One Plus is Enough
- They combine analytical capability with a touch of softness and warmth.
- The driver behaves fast in all bands.
- They are not as fatiguing due to their greater musicality.
- Remarkable ergonomics.
- Quality construction.
- The frequency response is almost the same as that of the NM2+.
- The greater smoothness subtracts a point of texture from the sound.
- It is not as sensitive and requires a little more power.
- The carrying case could be thicker to store the IEMS more easily and safely.
- The packaging is repetitive of the previous models, only the colours change.
Link to the Store
There is little or nothing left for me to say about NF Audio that I haven’t said in my many previous reviews of their products. So I will now introduce the new model, the subject of the current review. These are the NF Audio NA2+, siblings of the NM2+ and cousins of the NA2. Or the other way around. In my opinion they are more similar to the NM2+, both in sound profile and construction. This new model uses a dynamic driver called the MC2L-1OM, which uses a dual magnetic circuit design. Two high-performance neodymium-iron-boron magnets provide a magnetic flux of more than 1 Tesla. It also uses a higher precision integrated tuning printed circuit board, which is more stable and reliable and has a better tone. The dynamic unit has two cavities, to control air pressure more precisely, resulting in smoother diaphragm movement and greater detail. And speaking of the diaphragm, it is made of 5μ polymer, lightweight, medium rigidity and high molecular content. As usual, the NA2+ comes standard with a silver-plated, oxygen-free copper wire in Litz structure, with up to 280 cores. If the NM2+ had a blue top, the NA2+ comes with an orange top, giving an idea about a warmer profile than its sibling. Do they achieve this, are there differences between the two, what do these new NA2+ look like? In the following review I will try to answer all these questions and many others.
- Driver Type: Dual-cavity dynamic driver
- Frequency Response: 9-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 107dB/mW
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Max SPL: 125dB
- Distortion Ratio: <1% Distortion Ratio: <1% Distortion Ratio: <1
- Acoustic Isolation: 25dB
- Jack Connector: 3.5
- Capsule Connection Type: 0.78mm
- 5N silver plated OFC cable.
- Box Dimensions: 145x128x83mm
- Net Weight: 300g
Admittedly, NF Audio’s packaging is not very varied. Except for the colours, you could say that it is pretty much the same as for the NM2+, NM2 and NA2. Once again, it is the classic cube-shaped box that opens in two halves and the interior is clearly inspired by a Compact Disc. Its dimensions are 145x128x83mm and its weight is 300g. The external colours vary from the darker grey of the case to the off-white of the top and the lettering. On the top there is a real photo of the capsules, with their cable, on the front side. The orange dot with the NF Audio logo is in the lower right corner. On the back, at the top, is the model name, in large print, which belongs to the «Music Series». Below, on an orange background, are the specifications, in Chinese and English. The box is completely sealed in clear plastic. Once the cardboard is removed, the inside opens in two halves. On the right side is the CD, the mould containing the capsules. Underneath, there is the round blister containing the silicone tips and, finally, the cable. On the left side, there is the manual and underneath, the zippered carrying case, to which NF Audio has become accustomed, made of a strong, dark grey fabric, with the logo screen-printed in black in the centre of the upper side. In summary, the complete contents are as follows:
- The two capsules of the NA2+.
- The Litz 5N silver-plated, oxygen-free copper cable with 3.5mm Audio plug.
- Three pairs of black SxMxL Balanced silicone tips.
- Three pairs of white silicone tips SxMxL Atmosphere.
- Zippered carrying case.
- Adapter for 6.35mm jack.
There are some slight differences between the NM2+ packaging: the inside has changed sides and what was on the right is now on the left and upside down. The lettering is still large, the external design has different colours and the Bass tips have disappeared to make way for the Atmosphere tips. Otherwise, the rest of the accessories are the same. I should comment that there is little variation in this respect in the NF Audio packaging.
Construction and Design
Again, both the design and construction of the NA2+ are very similar to its NM2+ sibling. Its external colour is darker grey and the top with the brand’s logo is orange.
The NA2+ is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminium, painted in a dark, but glossy, grey. For their machining, a 5-axis CNC has been used, giving the capsules a more precise, stronger and lighter construction, thanks to the quality of the aluminium used and its alloy.
The nozzles have a height of 3.5mm, a smaller diameter of 4.75mm at the base and a larger diameter of 5.35mm at the outer rim. Both are covered by a perforated metal grid.
The surface of the capsules is micro-textured and the separation of the two faces can be seen, without implying any degree of weakness. The outer face has two levels, the outer part protruding, while the central part is slightly depressed. The NF logo is inscribed in the centre. At the top of the edge of the capsules is the 0.78mm two-pin connection. This is a rigid, transparent, shallow, oval-shaped plastic plate. This means that it is desirable that the cable pins have a female sleeve, which is compatible with this shape. Very close to the connector there is a hole and following downwards, along the same edge, you will come to the orange dot, a small inscribed circle, inside which is also the NF logo, surrounded by that orange ink. On the other side of the connector, also following the edge, the letters indicating the channel (L and R) are inscribed. Finally, on the lower edge, the words «NA2+ MUSIC» are inscribed. Finally, there is another small hole on the inside, at the foot of the nozzle column.
Internally and on this occasion, the dual-circuit magnetic driver used is called MC2L-1OM. It uses two high-performance neodymium-iron-boron magnets to provide a magnetic flux of more than 1 Tesla. The diaphragm, made of 5u polymer, is light, of medium stiffness and has a good elasticity which improves its performance. The dynamic unit has two cavities, to control the air pressure more precisely, resulting in smoother diaphragm movement and more detail. The cable is the same as that used for the NM2+: a silver-plated oxygen-free copper cable with a Litz structure, with up to 280 cores. It consists of 4 tightly wound strands, resulting in a smooth, black cable, with a very adequate thickness and very manageable, yet not very windable. The sleeve of the plug is unchanged from the other models, being cylindrical and grey, except for the flat part where the brand name is inscribed. The dividing piece is a black plastic medal, with the logo on both sides. The pin is metal, with two holes inside. The two-pin connector is covered by a rigid, transparent plastic sleeve. The sleeve is angled and has the classic vertical axis spacing. The cables coming out of these connectors are protected by a semi-rigid and transparent sheath, which gives them an over-ear shape.
Very little variation on its brother NM2+, only the darker grey colour of the capsule, the orange taupe and the black cable. Successful model, not to be changed.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
Same shape, same ergonomics. This will be a cut and paste from the NM2+ review. The fit is very good, with insertion ranging from shallow to medium. Ample possibility of «Tip Rolling». Durable fit, remarkable hold and no discomfort. Hardly any rubbing against the ear parts. The slightly deeper insertion, depending on the tips, increases the level of isolation (according to the manufacturer, up to 25dB). The comfort and fit are as good as those of the NM2+.
Regarding the cable, the connectors have the same shapes and the detail that separates them from the head. Although the cable is a different colour, it is still very manageable.
The profile follows that neutral/bright trend, with a clear enhancement in the upper mids and first highs. The bass is quite linear, with a slight accent in its centre. The audible top end is very well represented, with a large extension. The sound is not as analytical as that of its NM2+ sibling, but neither could it be described as warm. But it is actually a bit more musical and not as cold as the NM2+. Nevertheless, it still retains a high degree of precision and resolution. It also remains clear, transparent, with more air, even, fast and with a remarkable texture.
The low end of the NF Audio is almost canonical. In the + series its emphasis is more controlled, presenting a rather lower sub-bass, with the band being more linear and slightly accentuated in its centre. In the overall sound, the incidence of the lower range is slightly higher than neutral, but its quality and performance cannot be overlooked. The speed and rapidity of the decay are the sections that make the range canonical, at the level of control and execution. The level of precision, together with a very realistic and musical sonority, make the bass qualitatively excellent. And even with such high levels of technicality and soft dominance, the texture is still perceptible, as is its descriptiveness and expressiveness.
In no case do the basses take precedence over other musical strips, but this does not imply that their presence is residual. The only pity is that their predominance is not superior, because it limits their enjoyment and when you want to enhance them, it is necessary to resort to volume, but with care, as the rest of the ranges are more protagonists.
The bass is not so cold, it has a more neutral tendency in its colour and timbre, without any colouring whatsoever. Pure notes sound realistic, although the sub-bass below 40Hz is lighter. The punch is dry, restrained and tight, very controlled, with a medium but obvious depth. There is no aftertaste or contamination towards the midrange. So this is a reference low end, with a certain level of musicality, a lot of technical quality, totally audiophile grade.
Continuing with the characteristics of the + series, the midrange continues to stand out, although this time its performance is not as analytical. A slight hint of musicality has been added, but it still displays a high degree of transparency and clarity, the result of those enhanced high mids. In my opinion, the splendour of the mid-range is somewhat more restrained and not as explicit in detail, nor in analytical ability, but the representation is softer compared to the other NM2+ model. This makes the mid-range an enjoyable and less demanding range for our ears, giving them a break by not providing as much explicit information. In this aspect, the micro-detail is not as evident, but comes across as more natural, playing to create a less strict ambience. The elements are still concise, but less penetrating. In this way, vocals feel with a point of sweetness, within their specific light and spice. The sense of ultra-definition is not as apparent, and despite the concise drawing, there is a final relaxation in all elements. The edges are not so straight, nor the spaces so defined. There is no blending but the silence is not so absolute. The prominence of the notes persists and they are absolutely perceived, but they are faintly threaded together. Their placement still stands out but they don’t remain as focused, but possess a little more life and movement, a hint more soul and passion.
The body of the instruments and voices is a little thicker, but never dense. Their space in the sound spectrum is still thin, but with more flesh. The descriptive effort still allows for a very democratic and equal level, when it comes to showing instruments, voices, details and nuances. In this way the elements are shown on fairly close, but not mixed or overlapping, levels of planes. All of them enjoy their real protagonism and their space is that which corresponds to them, but they are neither omitted, nor hidden, nor delayed or overexposed. Once again, the virtue of the NA2+ is still the maximum representation of all the elements, without losing coherence or overwhelming, occupying as much space as possible, so that they can be distinguished individually, but with a touch more musicality.
The high end is the pinnacle of the NA2+’s technicality. Their timbre is bright, though not out of realism as their speed tones down their echo. They feel shimmering and crisp, but not very persistent, which also helps to create a cleaner, less saturated space in the high notes. They don’t feel as penetrating and the added musicality makes them less cutting. They are not as dry, but still retain prominence and virtuosity, which performs a dual function: expressing the purely high notes with great definition, resolution and naturalness, as well as helping to provide a much richer, more nuanced and harmonic ride on the other elements.
The upper zone is extended, airy and protagonist. Its presence is undeniable and may be excessive for delicate ears. But it’s a very high quality range, excited and present, which expresses itself with vehemence, but without losing an iota of technique.
The level of separation is large, with a clean background. The placement of the elements is precise and well spaced from each other. The sound is very clear and transparent, with a defined reconstruction. The music feels present and close, there are few distant elements and there is no high depth. The musical distribution is eminently frontal and with good height. The sense of laterality is prominent and the stereo recreation also stands out. The sound is not very enveloping or ethereal, though, despite the noticeable sense of air and surrounding separation.
NF Audio NM2+
Externally, they are very similar, with a different colour, clear grey for the NM2+, blue top and white cable. Internally, the driver used for the NM2+ is the MC2L-10II, while for the NA2+, it is the MC2L-10M. The specifications change from 18Ω, 108dB/mW for the NM2+, to 32Ω, 107dB/mW for the NA2+. You can see that the NM2+ is more sensitive and actually quite noticeable when connected to a source, less power is needed to move them.
On paper, the NA2+ are a more musical version of the NM2+. And in reality, they are. The NM2+ have a more analytical and cooler profile, within a very similar profile and frequency response.
The low end of both is very similar, but I find that there is a point of greater texture and roughness in the NM2+, something that adds extra appeal. On the other hand, the bass timbre of the NA2+ is slightly warmer and deeper, with less colour, darker and also a bit wider.
In the mid-range, it becomes more noticeable which way each is going. While the NM2+ excels in its coolness and analytical ability, as well as its great separation, detail and level of resolution, the NA2+ replaces some of that technicality with a delicate, thin blanket that envelops the music, bringing a hint of softness and musical continuity. While even silence is more descriptive on the NM2+, that background is untextured and not as clearly perceived on the NA2+. One of the great virtues of the NM2+ is the power to shred a great deal of detail on the surface of instruments and voices, something that is not true of the NA2+. In that sense, the NM2+ are more critical of recordings as they are able to strip any composition bare, extracting all the detail and nuance, being sharper and more thorough than the NA2+, which are slightly more permissive and melodious. The cooler, more excited timbre in the treble is also more clear in the NM2+. The notes also reach higher, being thinner, sharper and crisper, with a sparkle superior to the NA2+. The timbre is also warmer on the NA2+, as is generally the case, and its flare is more muted and dry. The treble shines brighter on the NM2+, especially in the first half.
I find more separation in the NM2+ as the notes are thinner and thinner, giving more space to the silence and the gap between them. Its higher level of dissection gives it this advantage, although the sense of air seems more evident, everything has an influence. The subtly more nuanced sound of the NA2+ is less expansive and seems to take up less space and spread out to a lesser degree. The technical evidence of the NM2+ seems to give it a superior and somewhat more enveloping sense of scene, flooding the listener with more detail and nuance, vaporising more of the soundstage. It also feels more precise and concrete when it comes to placing elements three-dimensionally and it is easier to guess where they are coming from in the scene.
Individually, the NF Audio NA2+ are very good IMS. But their great enemy is in the family itself. Coming from a technical powerhouse like the NM2+, whose capabilities are above and beyond its tuning, the NA2+ brings little change in this regard and adds a hint of smoothness to the sound. If NF Audio is not going to offer superior technicalities to the NM2+, it could have enriched the NA2+ with a different tuning, adding, for example, a little more meat in the low end and upper mids. But it hasn’t and has created a very similar curve, but with a slightly warmer timbre and a smoother, more musical presentation. Those looking for a bit of smoothness to the NM2+’s crystalline, analytical presentation are in for a treat. While those who were looking for a little more juice, some real musical difference, will be a little more disappointed with the end result. And it’s all the «fault» of its NM2+ sibling, because it’s not easy to make IEMS with the technical and musical qualities of the NA2+. But…
Sources Used During the Analysis
- HiBy R3 PRO.
- Tempotec Sonata E35.
- Earmen Sparrow.
- Earmen TR-Amp.
- Hidizs DH80S.
- Hidizs S9 Pro.
- E1DA #9038D.
- Burson Audio Playmate.
- S.M.S.L Sanskrit 10th MKII + iFi ZEN CAN.