The Perfect Companion
- Very well tuned profile, providing a homogeneous balance.
- Quality of the sub-bass and its balance, with a close mid-range.
- Very permissive for long listening, both for its sound profile, as for the comfort and lightness.
- Lightness of the capsules.
- Comfort and ergonomics.
- Transport box.
- The wire is a little thin.
- The guides on the cable’s ear are not correctly shaped and can be annoying.
- A feeling of fragility, although, really, the construction is solid.
Link to the Store
Again, I’m about to review a new model of the headphone brand, from China, NF Audio. After the famous NA1, now they raise the bar, lowering the price, keeping the same driver, the MC2L-10 Dynamic Driver and creating a new capsule, built in high resistance polycarbonate. Following the philosophy of offering the best sound, combined with the greatest comfort, both the exterior and interior have been redesigned to maximize the qualities of the driver, along with better ergonomics and minimal weight.
These and other qualities of the NF Audio NA2 are explained below.
- Driver: double cavity dynamic driver
- Cable: 0.78mm 2pin 5N silver-plated OFC
- Frequency response: 10Hz-40kHz
- Max SPL: 125dB
- Sensitivity: 108dB/mW
- Distortion: <1%
- Impedance: 18Ω
- Sound insulation: 25dB
- Plug: 3.5mm
- Net weight: 300g
The NA2s still insist on their analogy with CDs and their case has similar dimensions, except for the depth (150x132x85mm). The predominant colour is black, followed by the colour of the capsules, this time green. The main side has a band of this green color, below a photo of the capsules, on a black background. Behind it come some descriptions and the name of the model, on a photo that enlarges the vertex of the capsules. After removing the wrapping paper, a black box is shown, which opens like a book. In the centre, in silver letters, the name and logo of the brand. When the box is opened, you can see the CD on one side, a booklet with instructions on the other. On this CD, a black foam disc, the capsules are embedded. Under it, there is another disc, with the silicone tips embedded in it. There are three pairs SxMxL, Balanced type, in white. Also, there are three pairs SxMxL, of the Bass type. Finally, on this side of the box, there is the cable. On the other side, under the booklet, there is a beautiful round box, for transportation, with grey textile coating and black logo in the middle. It has a zipper and is quite rigid. Inside it there is an adapter for a 6.3mm plug.
Good presentation, the box is not very big, two sets of tips that modify the sound. A 6.3mm plug adapter, a not very common accessory, which is appreciated. And a very well built transport box, different from many others that have the same shape. It’s certainly the best accessory that could come along.
Construction and Design
From NF Audio they claim to have a large database of ear and ear canal impressions, due to their years of experience, manufacturing high-end custom earphones. Thus, the design of the capsules, has changed between the NA1 and NA2 model. Not especially in the shape of the outer face, which looks very similar to that of the African continent, but in the inner face. Externally, the lower vertex, where the mouthpiece is, is somewhat narrower. Inside, the change occurs in the nozzle, which is more inclined and shorter. The base of the nozzle is also a little more flattened and does not have the bulge of the previous model.
There are two holes in each capsule: one, at the base of the nozzle, coinciding with the center of the driver. And another, at the edge, in line with the two-pin surface connector, 0.78mm.
On a construction level, very light, high resistance polycarbonate has been used, which has followed a frosting process, giving it that cloudy look, like a glaze. The whole capsule is made of the same material, including the nozzle, forming a single piece. The only other material is inside, the metal grid that protects the driver from external contamination. In the center of the external face is silk-screened the logo of the brand and on the side, is marked the letter of the corresponding channel, in big, the name of the model, next to it and the word «Music», under it.
It is available in three colors: transparent white, transparent purple and transparent green.
The cable is the same as the NA1 model, consisting of 4 braided strands, covered with black plastic. The two-pin connector is covered by a rigid, transparent plastic sleeve. This sleeve is angled so that it separates from the vertical plane that crosses the connectors. This way, it tries to separate the cable from the head, to provide a better fit over the ear. The cable, in the immediate area of this sheath, has a semi-rigid translucent plastic guide, to ensure its position behind the ear. The dividing piece is a black plastic disc, with the brand logo inscribed on both sides. The pin is an oval, metallic piece with two holes. The Jack connector is 3.5mm, gold-plated and its cover is a two-colour grey cylinder, with a lowered and polished face, where the brand name can be read. Finally, the cable has a personalized velcro strip, to pick it up easily.
The capsules are ultra-lightweight. At first glance they might seem to be fragile, but after handling them, this feeling disappears completely, since their construction leaves no room for doubt, nor is there any hint of weakness. In fact, polycarbonate feels rigid and durable.
The cable, this time, as the price is lower, is more in line with the quality/price of this model.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
As I said, its shape has changed, slightly, from the NA1 model. The insertion is not so deep, but the weight is minimal. The friction or contact with the parts of the ear, is almost nonexistent. The adjustment differs from the NA1, since the angle of the nozzles is different. But overall, NF Audio knows what it’s doing in this area, achieving, once again, excellent ergonomics.
The NF Audio NA2 has a slight W profile, with good balance in all ranges. Although, you could say, they have a good accent in the sub-bass area.
The lower area is characterized by the presence of the sub-bass. But, also, by its permissive capacity with the rest of the ranges. Emphasizing the sub-bass has good virtues, if they know how to conjugate, in favor of the profile: giving power to the low zone, gaining in depth; the interference in the mid-range is minimized and the sound gains in cleanliness and control. All this, it is clear, in the low zone of the NA2. The texture of the bass is smooth, with low roughness. It articulates quite well and has good dynamics and agility. The control, is appreciated in a remarkable way, giving to the mids, in particular, the voices, a desirable prominence. The low notes do not last longer than desirable, there is hardly any contamination in this aspect. It is true that the complexity is not very high and the lower zone tends to be reproduced in an orderly and simple way, but with a realistic character and a very adequate execution. It follows that, the profile is not low, but it will be highly recommended, for those who like mids, without giving up a low zone present and deep.
The greatest emphasis of the sub-bass, is noted in the hitting of the mid bass, whose power is not so remarkable, although it is enjoyable. This characteristic, softens the body of the low zone, relaxing the presence, offering a more balanced sound, little oppressive, more liberated and clear.
The central area is splendidly clear. There is no intrusion of the lower zone in it, hence the cleanliness in the range is high. Despite the sub-bass enhancement, the mids does not feel sunk. Moreover, there is a slight emphasis, at the high end of the central range, which brings brightness and light to the area. This quality also favours greater dynamism, without losing tonal balance. There is no darkness in the profile and its shape is defined as balanced and neutral. The mid-range is not analytical, nor predominantly warm, but seeks a balance, very appropriate, in light of describing its profile. The voices are projected clean and clear, with a medium presence. Its tonality has a tendency towards the high side, suffering, slightly, from a more complete body, presenting less pulp and flesh. Its texture is soft, with a simple descriptive level, but very correct and all-round. Wheezing is non-existent, so it is a very suitable IEMS for those sensitive to this effect.
The instrumentation is at the same time very decisive, firm and abundant. It also has a tendency to be soft, presenting a relaxed, peaceful, controlled and not very loud sound, but very musical and pleasant, being extremely ideal for very long listeners.
The trebles are on the soft side of the performance: projected in a simple but effective way; their level of refinement is pleasant, not at all strident, moderately detailed and lively. The presentation is not ambitious, there is no artificiality in its execution, so its reproduction does not exhaust, nor does it pierce. It has a good sparkle, but without extending to the most penetrating or annoying areas. As a good W earphone, it has a good and clear dose of air, providing notable audible benefits to the rest of the ranges.
The scene is described adequately wide, with a good level of depth, drawing a semi-oval stage, but with a limited height. The amount of air in the room produces a separation according to the width, with more lateral space than in depth.
The level of detail is more than correct. In spite of its softness in the execution, the high zone and the level of resolution, it favors an abundant recreation in nuances, but without deepening in the micro detail, since its analytical capacity is not high.
I start the battle with an opponent, who came on the market more than a year ago. Like the NA2, it also uses a dynamic driver.
The profile is similar, but the big difference is in the mids. The NA2 has a greater emphasis on the upper part of the central zone, which provides many sound benefits, compared to the U1. Due to the good tonal balance, which the NA2s enjoy, this emphasis never fails, as it is very well controlled. Its tuning is very mature in this sense. The U1s suffer from this light, in that high part of the mids, presenting drier voices, with less sparkle, somewhat opaque, limited. Meanwhile, the NA2, show a comparative exuberance, which is perceived in voices and instrumentation more complete, with a wealth of tones and nuances, more extensive and pleasant.
The lower area is very even, but the Anew has a very pure color and its texture offers a roughness that I find very attractive. It is clear that the bass of these U1s have a contrasting quality. In terms of tone, depth and definition, both are in a very similar range. But I find that the NA2, have more control, agility and speed in the execution, generating a more compact, tuned and tight LFO.
The differences in tuning persist in the high zone: it contrasts the dryness and the sharpness of the first highs, in the Anew, compared to some NA2, more balanced and coherent. The micro unbalance between the mid and high of the U1, is evident when compared to the NA2, generating a less natural and more forced sonority. It could be said that the tuning of the NA2, improves the possible imbalance shown by the Anew, in some phases of its frequency response. They also improve in the tonal section and the level of detail. On the other hand, U1s have a better capacity to reveal micro nuances, because their highs are sharper, causing a better analytical capacity, in certain circumstances.
In terms of scene, the Anew, are wide, but flatter than the NF Audio, whose recreation is more oval and has more height. The greater feeling of clarity, existing in the NA2, improves the separation offered by the U1.
On a construction level, the NA2 has a lighter capsule. However, both the design and the materials used in the Anew have a more premium character, as well as a better cable. Although, it is worth mentioning that they are more expensive, but they do not include a transport box, an accessory that comes with the NA2, which is fantastic.
One of the toughest rivals the NA2s can find is the TFZ No.3. In addition, both have a similar frequency response. Despite this similarity, the feeling of the lower zone differs, especially in its density, which is higher in the TFZ, which also gives it more body in the mids, but also more pressure in that zone. The other first sensation that comes out of the comparison, is the sensitivity, higher in the TFZ. They move more easily and that gives you a feeling of greater power. But this power is based on the greater density and pressure in the lower zone, caused by a lower response speed of the low frequencies. This makes the low frequency area feel more congested and contagious to the other ranges. The No.3s play the bass more widely, more raw, expanding it further, but with less precision and definition. In addition, their track is more persistent. The tone is very similar in both, but you feel more depth in the No.3s.
The mid zone of the NA2 is cleaner, more liberated. Without such an extensive and powerful lower area, the voices look clearer and more diaphanous, receiving a more natural prominence and a closer presence. In this way, a better appreciation of details and nuances is possible, throughout the vocal range. Perhaps, the only advantage in this aspect, is that the TFZ has a pinch of greater warmth, on the NA2.
In the mid-range instrumentation, the sensations are very similar: in No.3, the sounds of this range are less present, more hidden, far away. While in No.2, they are perceived without effort, with a more defined, explicit and resolute drawing; only, less warm, but with greater presence and closeness.
The first highs are more incipient and notorious in the TFZ, while in the NA2, they reproduce softer, not so sparkling, less present and somewhat wider. But this does not detract from the detail and liveliness of their sound, but it is more velvety, without sibilance and less energetic in this area.
The sensation of scene in both IEMS is similar, the greater density of the No.3 limits the perception of spatiality and separation, congesting the sound. The music flows more freely in the NA2, there is more air, providing a more marked opening effect. This freedom also allows you to enjoy a slight increase in the amount of detail and nuance.
The NF Audio NA2 is a safe bet, both for experienced audiophiles, who are looking for an all-round IEMS, with a sound signature, perhaps common, but very well tuned, and for those neophytes, who wish to enter the world of portable HiFi. NF Audio has created some very comfortable and light IEMS, recreating a profile that aims to cover a large number of fans. The three bands have a balance that allows them to be enjoyed, both individually and as a whole, achieving a synergy that clearly improves the result. The accent in the sub-bass zone; the clarity and balance of the midrange; the smoothness, detail and air of the high zone, conform a homogeneous and very appetizing balance, that will contribute hours of enjoyment, without offering fatigue.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate.
- Tempotec Serenade iDSD.
- Acmee MF-01.
- JWD JWM-115.
- AGPTek H1.