The Family’s Brother Plus
- Analytical, technical, resolution and detail extraction capabilities, even improved.
- Superior texture in the lower area.
- Enormously accurate, it takes monitoring to a new level in its price range.
- Improved cable, superior construction, while maintaining comfort and hardly increasing weight.
- Extremely easy to move.
- The analytical capacity can be overwhelming.
- Despite the quality of the lower zone, they are not IEMS for bass-heads audiophiles.
- They can be brilliant, even tiring for listeners sensitive to high mids and early highs.
- The carrying case could be thicker to store IEMS more easily and securely.
Link to the Store
Only two months after analysing the fantastic NM2, NF Audio is working hard to develop a new model, based on the name, the NF AUDIO NM2+. And I say that they are based only on the name, because the sound has no similarity in its profile, but deepens in the spirit to unite monitoring and very high fidelity. To this end, the dual magnetic circuit has been improved, with a dynamic drive unit designed with a double cavity. This provides better management of air pressure, to provide fast and smooth movement of the diaphragm. This results in better clarity, clearer sound, a powerful low zone and a wide stage. This time, the capsule is made of aircraft-grade aluminium, to achieve the best precision, thanks also to the 5-axis CNC technology. In addition, the capsules have a different, thinner design, which allows for deeper insertion, without losing the comfort of their predecessors. Of course, the cable has also been improved and for this occasion, a 5N structure Litz cable, made of silver-plated oxygen-free copper, with up to 280 cores, which has very low impedance and a reduced film effect, is included.
All this and much more technology has been used to offer the new NM2+. I will now try to describe them in more detail.
- Driver type: MC2L-1OII, double-cavity dynamic driver, double magnetic design. 5u polymer composite diaphragm
- Frequency response: 9-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB/mw
- Impedance: 18 Ω
- Acoustic insulation: 25dB
- Distortion: <1%.
- Jack: 3.5mm Audio, with 6.3mm Audio adapter
- Capsule Connection Type: 2pin 0.78mm
- Cable: Litz 5N oxygen-free copper, silver-plated.
The presentation is still the classic cubic box that opens in two halves and its interior is clearly inspired by a Compact Disc. Its dimensions are 145x128x83mm and its weight is 300g. On this occasion, the box has the colours of the NM2+, including the blue dot with the brand logo inside, which also stands out on the capsules. This time, the letters of the model and series are very large and striking. A real photo of the product could not be missing either, in the upper half of the main face. The box comes completely sealed in transparent plastic. Once the cardboard is removed, its interior is opened in two halves. On the left side, there is the CD, the mould that contains the capsules. Under it, there is the round blister pack containing the silicone tips and, finally, the cable. On the right side, there is the manual and under it, the zippered transport case, which NF Audio is used to, made of a strong, dark grey fabric, with the logo silk-screened in black, in the centre of the upper side. As a summary, the complete content is:
- The two capsules of the NM2+.
- The Litz 5N oxygen-free copper cable, silver-plated, with a 3.5mm audio plug.
- Three pairs of white silicone tips SxMxL balanced.
- Three pairs of black silicone tips SxMxL bass.
- Zippered case.
- Adapter for 6.35mm plug.
In this model, despite the fact that the packaging has not changed in its form, it gives the impression that more attractive colours have been used, as well as larger letters. Another important fact is the substantial improvement of the new cable, silver-plated, thicker, with better feel, construction and handling.
Construction and Design
It is clear that this is a product considered more premium. The NM2+ is made from aircraft-grade aluminium, painted in silver grey, light and very bright. A 5-axis CNC has been used to machine them, giving the capsules a more precise, resistant and lighter manufacture, thanks to the quality of the aluminium used and its alloy.
The shape follows the trail of the NM2, being very similar, but gives the impression that the base of the nozzles has been slightly stylised, achieving a thinner column. Both the size of these nozzles and their length are the same as their predecessors. They have a height of 3.5mm, a smaller diameter at the base of 4.75mm and a larger diameter at the outer crown of 5.35mm. Both are covered by a perforated metal grid.
The surface of the capsules has a micro texture and the separation of both sides can be seen, without implying any degree of weakness. The outer face has two levels, the outer part protrudes, while the central one is slightly depressed. The NF logo is inscribed in the centre. At the top of the edge of the capsules, there is the 0.78mm two-pin connection. This is a rigid, transparent plastic plate, which is superficial and oval in shape. This means that it is advisable for the cable pins to have a female sheath, which is compatible with this shape. Very close to the connector there is a hole and continuing downwards, along the same edge, you reach the blue point, a small inscribed circle, inside which there is also the NF logo, surrounded by cyan ink. On the other side of the connector, also following the edge, are inscribed the letters indicating the channel (L and R). Finally, on the lower edge, the letters «NM2+ MONITOR» are inscribed. And finally, there is another small hole on the inner side, at the foot of the nozzle column.
An improved version of the MC2L-1OII magnetic dual circuit driver has been used in this model. The two high-performance magnets provide a magnetic flux of more than 1 Tesla. The diaphragm, made of 5u polymer, is lightweight, of medium rigidity and has good elasticity which improves its performance. Inside the capsule there are 4 micro-shock absorbers, to adjust the air pressure balance of the front and rear cavity. In addition, the MC2L-1OII uses an integrated tuning PCB. The internal acoustic structure, combined with the metal reflective cavity, brings precision, finesse and stability to the overall sound.
The NM2+’s cable has also been upgraded, of course. This time it is a 5N Litz cable made of oxygen-free copper and silver-plated, to improve the film effect and reduce impedance. It consists of 4 strongly coiled strands, which give rise to a soft, shiny, almost white cable, with a very suitable thickness and very manageable, as well as little winding. The cover of the plug has not changed with respect to the other models, being cylindrical and grey, except for the flat part where the brand name is inscribed. The splitter is a black plastic medal, with the logo on both sides. The pin is metallic, with two holes inside. The two-pin connector is covered by a rigid, transparent plastic sleeve. This sleeve is angled and has the classic separation from the vertical axis. The cables coming out of these connectors are protected by a semi-rigid and transparent sheath, which shapes them over the ear.
The overall construction of the capsules is clearly superior and their silver colour enhances their beauty. The new cable represents a clear and necessary improvement, both in quality and in handling. The price increase is justified in this respect alone, compared with the NM2.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
Like the rest of the brand’s IEMS, which have a very similar shape, the fit is very good. Even on this occasion, the fact that the column of the mouthpieces is more stylised, favours a deeper insertion and the possibility of using different silicone tips, giving more play for the Tip Rolling. The fitting is still durable, with remarkable hold and no discomfort. There is hardly any friction with the ear parts. The insert, which is slightly deeper depending on the tips, increases the level of insulation (depending on the manufacturer, up to 25dB). Also the comfort and fixation feel improved, compared to the rest of their brothers.
With regard to the wire, the connectors have the same shapes and the detail that separates them from the head. Despite the fact that the cable is thicker, it is very manageable and there is no noticeable increase in weight.
Really very comfortable.
The profile of the NF Audio NM2+ differs from the lighter W of the NM2, being neutral-bright, because of its clear presence in the upper mids and first highs. In this way, its sound has an analytical tendency, but without being totally surgical, predominating the clarity, the air, the cleanliness, without forgetting a good texture, precise and fast, in its low zone.
The lower zone has a slight emphasis on the middle zone, but without neglecting the sub-bass, allowing the range to present a common depth, which the NF IEMS I have analysed never suffer from. In spite of this, the whole offers a good linearity, without a clear enhancement somewhere. Their relation, with respect to the rest of the bands, is downwards, without them feeling completely anaemic in this sense, nor are they lacking in presence. The bass is very expressive, fast, with a great texture and a clearly neutral colour, but perfectly drawn, although placed behind the voices, to give an example. In this way, its recreation is contained, distinguished more by its technical capacity than by an expansive development of greater length. Despite the depth, the amount of air moved is quite permissive with the rest of the sound, without its presence implying notoriety in the overall sound. This means that the planes, despite the excellent definition and detail, are not shown to the naked eye and their stratification is less three-dimensional. Thus, LFOs produce a limited immersion effect, generating a more contemplative area, which can be perceived at a certain distance, making it difficult for those people who demand a more enveloping and impressive area to enjoy. And going into the subject of hitting, this has almost no gumminess, showing itself to be highly tight, dry, perfectly contained and packed. The development is not energetic, but short, with a cold tendency, perceptible depth and fast vanishing. The pity is that its presence is not greater to enjoy, in the foreground, its remarkable virtues.
The midrange stands out free from any low-frequency pollution, especially because they predominate over them, not being mid-centric, but neutral in sound. The bright trend is evident in the clear emphasis on the upper part of the central range. The tone does not suffer from this characteristic, nor does it appear unreal or forced, keeping the timbre within a natural, but fresh range. The clarity is excellent and the sound is extremely clean, spacious and open. This is why the voices look resplendent, stellar, full of definition and detail. It is tremendously simple to isolate them from the rest of the elements, since their recreation is almost unique, but complete and technically enriched. As great IEMS monitors, the ability to break down all the nuances throughout the performance of the voices is absolutely revealing, demonstrating their enormous analytical capacity, without making the sound completely aseptic and lifeless. Its character is cold, yes, but very enjoyable, because the result is clearly rewarding and pleasant in that respect. On the other hand, the place they occupy is neither wide nor narrow. And it cannot be said that their representation is completely focused, nor that their presence is prioritised over the rest of the elements. They just keep their space well reserved, but like the rest of the instruments. It could not be otherwise, since monitoring does not understand favouritism in this sense.
But, as with all enhanced upper-middles, there is one snag that we all know and that the NM2+ try to minimize with their technical ability and enormous resolution: hearing fatigue. Wheezing turns into detailed nuances, but so much definition in this high end of the media can overwhelm those who love softness and warmth. In that case your best allies will be a good copper wire, narrow channel tips and warm sources, to give the NM2+ a deserved chance, or you won’t know what you’re missing.
As I previously pointed out, the spatial arrangement of all the elements is a priority in these IEMS. The importance, both of instruments and voices, as well as the details, nuances and description of their journey and recreation, is what differentiates these IEMS from many others, in their price range. The NM2+ have a great democratic capacity to offer the same level of effort in all these aspects, and can be enjoyed both separately and together. But if there is one thing I must highlight, it is their descriptive capacity during the reproduction of voices or instruments, being enormously qualified to extract in time, all the existing nuances from the beginning to the end. And this is not a virtue that is easy to possess, since others prefer to mask their limitations in this aspect, under a pleasant but insufficient smoothness. This time, the NM2+ are there to offer the good and the bad, you just have to accept the challenge of what their quality proposes.
The highs are tuned as a long, dry, precise, concise, thin, fine and sparkling echo. In spite of its clear presence, its persistence is low, as its speed is very high and its sediment zero. The demonstrated technique is of very high resolution, offering an unheard of precision, which it executes without bothering, in spite of its manifest closeness and expressiveness. The NM2+ are capable of recreating extremely complex and high-pitched passages, with a remarkable virtuosity, where others appear excessive, they respond with precision and definition, offering a clearly reliable and exact response, without being excessive, much less irritating. This virtue manages to redefine those «complex» songs, in a new opportunity to rediscover.
It is not necessary to emphasize that the amount of detail, at the micro and macro level, as well as the capacity of revealing nuances, is almost excellent, in the line of the extension of the treble, capable of filling with air a scene in itself, open.
As I have finished the previous point, the amount of air favours, together with the clarity and openness of the sound, that the scene is eminently wide, semi-spherical, thanks to the good dose of height that the NM2+ enjoy. The separation is also expressed at a high level, which gives the elements within the image that individuality they enjoy. The positioning is efficient and effective, without the scene being drawn in a very volatile or ethereal way, but rather defined and with a determined and realistic origin. The result is a broad reconstruction, with a natural tendency, a dark background and clearly perceptible separation, but without being overwhelming, without that «out of mind» feeling, maintaining an analytical realism within a logical scene.
NF Audio NA1
The NM2+, in my opinion, should be called NA1+, because they really are an improvement on that model. They follow in their wake, with a very similar, but more refined profile. The NA1’s are warmer, with a more present low zone, perhaps a little slower and with a more noticeable deposit. The NM2+, on the other hand, is geared towards brightness, aimed at reproducing more detail, reflecting more nuances and offering a higher resolution sound, as well as improved technique.
The warmth favours a more full-bodied male voice in the NA1. There is more relaxation in this aspect and also in the midrange in general. They sound wider, sweeter and softer. In contrast, in the NM2+, clarity is a degree, both voices and instruments have a more marked definition. Because of their more analytical character, the NM2+ are more expressive, with a superior ability to pick out details and separate notes. This makes everything sound finer, with more light, with a higher resolution drawing. The NA1s are softer, with a slightly darker colour and less inclined to over-expression, which makes them more relaxed and, for some, even more pleasant.
The lower area feels deep, less coloured, but slightly less precise. The bass in the NA1, floods the scene more, feeling wider and larger. The lower zone of the NM2+ is colder and drier, behind the mids, but with a very delicate and descriptive texture. Overall, the bass in the NM2+ is more accurate, despite a slightly more coloured tone on the cold side.
In the upper range, the NM2+ have a clear advantage in their resolution and interpretation of the notes (although this is already noticeable in the other ranges, too). The power of the NM2+ to accurately reproduce the high notes is superior. I don’t want to say that the NA1’s are bad, at all. In fact, I’m happy to make this comparison so that I can recover the sound of the NA1s, as an initial, sweeter and softer, bassier version of the NM2+s, capable of offering a sound that sticks to my ears. But in the NM2+, the high end is simply a step beyond even many other IEMS in the range.
The NM2+, thanks to its superb monitoring features, makes the sound more open, clear and separate. They are able to introduce a lot of air between the notes, and you can see the darkness and silence between them. All this makes the scene bigger, especially in terms of width and even height. The NA1, don’t stay short, but, certainly, the separation is a little lower and the scene feels smaller, although the depth is very good, maybe better.
In terms of ergonomics, the NA1s have a longer nozzle column, which allows deeper insertion and adjustment further away from the ear parts. The NM2+, are more compact, remaining more attached to the ears, achieving an insertion that ranges from superficial to medium. With this, the fixation is higher and I would consider them more suitable for more active activities.
NF Audio NM2
The NM2 are the rogue brother of the NM2+. But he’s a very stylish scoundrel, not just any hooligan, but he’s the leader, the one who’s least dirty… In terms of sound, this analogy refers to the lower area of the NM2, which is really overwhelming in terms of presence and clarity. With a W-profile, its bass is ultra-deep and powerful, a delight for bass lovers. Such a pronounced focus on the sub-bass is the main difference between the two models. Beyond the mids, the tuning is very similar, but not the technique, which is perceived as improved and increased in the NM2+. They are the elegant and brilliant brother of the family, the exquisite, the refined, the outstanding, the professor, the one who puts the dots over the i’s. The level of monitoring demonstrated in the NM2, acquires a higher level in the + model. The clear reduction in the sound pressure of the lower zone allows the middle zone to be released, bringing the range forward, but without losing any quality in the developed bass, even gaining in quality, precision and texture. In this way the sound feels wider and more expansive, allowing details to flourish more easily, further enhanced by a more refined and improved technique. This is evident in the upper zone of the NM2+, where they reveal themselves arrogant with respect to their brother, raising their chin and looking at them out of the corner of their eye… they are + for a reason. The highs, already very good in the NM2, are here surpassed in definition and resolution level, reaching the optimum level for monitoring.
The scene, wide in both, also improves in the +, thanks to the aforementioned clarity, liberation, greater separation and sense of openness offered by the NM2+. Which siblings are you staying with? It’s not clear to me… The best thing is that, having both, I can choose without mistake. But, it wouldn’t be wrong to meet the brother in the middle… Will he be the next NF Audio?
NF Audio continues to show its expertise to each new product it introduces, in a clear upward trend that seems to have no end. And this does not mean that the price rises too much, something that makes it difficult, both for the progression itself, and for the competition… Is it possible to do better for this price…? Without doubt, it is quite difficult… But it seems that they succeed.
The NF Audio NM2+ is not just a simple iteration of the NM2, changing a couple of things and that’s it. It is a product with a different tuning, with a neutral-bright tendency, with a softened low zone in presence and with a clear analytical vocation. But, in addition, there are several improvements to emphasize the monitoring capacity of the current model, starting with the construction of the capsule and the material used, a new version of the driver used and the redesign of the inner cavities, as well as a silver-plated 5N Litz cable. The result could not be more accurate: NF has created one of the dynamic IEMS with the most analytical profile I have ever tested, without losing its naturalness, nor offering an artificial tone. On the contrary, the effort to recreate the music as it is really produced, is the idea of the brand. The rest you have to discover for yourselves… and it won’t be little.
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate
- JWD JWM-115
- Tempotec Variations V1-A + Earmen Sparrow
- Earmen TR-Amp
- xDuoo XP-2Pro