NS Audio Does It Again…
- Enormous sound quality in all ranges.
- Great capacity of recreation of details and resolution.
- Excellent delicacy, naturalness and balance.
- Extremely comfortable.
- Very low weight.
- Very small size.
- The letters identifying the cable channel are almost undetectable.
Link to the Store
The brand from China, Nature Sound Audio, has launched a new version of its NS5 model, called MKII. As with the NS3 model, it can be chosen in a «Balance» or «Extra Bass» version. The model I’m going to analyze is the «Extra Bass», although this does not mean that it is a model focused on the low zone, far from it. This edition has a quite balanced profile, even more mid-centric than its little brother NS3 Bass Ed. For this second version of the NS5, we have used a 10mm dynamic driver that has a carbon nanotube diaphragm, 6µm thick. This driver provides a very low percentage of harmonic distortion, less than 0.03%. Other aspects that have been improved are the size and weight. Compared to the first version, the weight has been reduced by 60% and the size by 30%. This provides improved fit and ergonomics, helped, also, by its manufacturing process (a 5-axis CNC has been used), more accurate and with a more delicate and pleasant design. But not only the exterior design has been renewed, but also the interior, its cavities, have been revised. The rear cavity is semi-open and the front one is more precise. This results in improved performance in the low and mid ranges, creating a more natural sound experience. Likewise, the high frequencies are not attenuated and the sound insulation is better. The result is a more balanced sound, which has a full but smooth high range, with great analysis capability, resolution and detail.
- Driver type: Dynamic driver
- Frequency Response: 10Hz-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 108dB @1kHz
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Distortion Ratio: THD<0.03% (@1kHz)
- Connector Jack: 3.5mm
- Cable length: 1.2m
- Capsule Connection Type: 0.78mm 2Pin
The Nature Sound NS5 MKII Extra Bass comes in a white, almost square box, measuring 152x160x70mm. On the top side is the name of the brand, the model and a realistic photo of the capsules, in black and white. On the back side are instructions and recommendations for use, in English. There are also the specifications, the company address and the serial number, written by hand. On the side faces are the model features, on one side in English, on the other in Chinese. The outer box is a removable cardboard. Once removed, a matte black box appears, with the letters of the brand inscribed on the floor, both in the center and in the upper left corner. On the back side there is information in Chinese, also inscribed in silver letters. Once the box has been opened, the IEMS can be seen with their cable attached, inside a foam mould. Below this mould, there is another one where a round and metallic box is placed, in black, with the letters of the brand in white. Finally, in the last layer, there is a black cardboard box, inside which there is a bag with the silicone tips.
By way of summary, the full content is:
- The capsules.
- 1 cable of 2 Pin 0.78mm, 4 strands, with silver plated wires and gold plated plug, 3.5mm.
- 3 pairs of black silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of translucent black silicone tips, with blue inner core, sizes SxMxL.
- 3 pairs of white silicone tips, size SxMxL.
- 1 pair of bi-flange tips, white silicone.
- 1 round, metal box, with a padded fabric lining inside.
The content is quite correct. The round box is very suitable, according to the current trend. There are quite a number of tips, just missing foam tips, more sizes of bi-flange tips and, to put some other glue, tri-flange tips.
On this occasion, I consider that the size of the packaging is not disproportionate and keeps a good balance between content, quality and design of the presentation, size and materials used.
As an informative note, the cable that came in the packaging, is not the definitive cable. It was sent later.
Construction and Design
The capsules are very small, weighing only 7 grams each. Their external shape is similar to a tiny kidney. The outer face is completely flat. My unit is painted black. On the right capsule is written «5 MKII» in white letters and on the left capsule «NS». The two-pin connection is located at a vertex and is completely embedded inside the capsule. The thickness at that vertex is thin. There is a small hole on the inner side, close to this vertex. As the shape approaches the nozzles, the capsule becomes thicker, forming a large step. In it, halfway up, there is another hole. Finally, the nozzles form a single piece with the capsule. Its total length is 5mm and it has two diameters. The largest is located in the outer area and has a size of 5.8 mm. The smaller one, located at the base, is 5.4mm. The nozzle hole is covered with a metal grid that is not superficial.
The final cable has silver-plated wires, but its strands are fine, manageable and braided. The connector, the pin and the divider piece have metal sleeves. The two-pin connectors are protected by a white plastic sheath. On the divider piece you can read «NS audio», written in white letters. The letters «L» and «R» are inscribed in relief near the two-pin connectors at the base of the connector. They are very small and very difficult to distinguish. The correct connection is with that letter facing the mouthpiece of the capsule. Finally, the cable has a light plastic coating that is somewhat more rigid, so that it takes on the shape over the ear.
The design of the capsules is special, for being so small, it moves away from the semi custom shape that is so abundant lately. Although they are very lightweight, the capsules are solid and excellently constructed.
Adjustment and Ergonomics
Starting from a small shape and a very light weight, the fit is really smooth. The design stretches the mouthpiece, but the insertion is shallow, yet firm. This gives an idea that the capsules have been well designed, to offer a good fit within the ear canal, as well as offering a good seal and level of insulation.
The profile of the NS Audio NS5MKII Bass is quite balanced, with a slight mid-centric tendency. No one should think that the «Bass» header implies an exaggerated low zone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Its profile is practically flat up to 1.5kHz, then there is only a slight emphasis on the high mids, to finish with a gentle drop in the highs, with some extension in the upper zone.
To describe the sound, the definitive cable was used, which was sent later.
The lower zone has an exquisite linearity, starting from well below, where the deepest sub-basin is born. Then, there is no transition, since the bass is perceived as continuous, without ups and downs, without differences in presence or quality. As I said in the previous section, let no one think that «Bass Edition» implies bass enhancement in these IEMS. Their level always lags behind the mids, even the first highs. The area is therefore balanced, even above my taste. But if it had been more emphasized, these NS Audio would be cousins of the MKPs.
It seems that lately there is a manual to follow about how bass should be reproduced, in IEMS between 100 and 200$, because many have very similar qualities: speed, precision, detail, good lamination, control and depth. Some succeed, others fall short. The NS5MKII are among those that border on the excellent in these parameters, but with an almost neutral emphasis. Its perception is quite sensory, of a complexity that facilitates listening, as it is able to describe the area in a very precise and detailed way. The execution is fast and concrete, it does not last in the environment, it feels dry and short. But all the low frequencies are perfectly reflected, perceiving the movement of each blow: as it starts from the sub-bass, until it dissipates without leaving a trace. Pure delicacy and perfection in the execution, which gives a very natural color, nothing dark, nor colored, but genuinely organic, very deep and analogical.
The NS5MKII’s midrange are an explosion of light and clarity, but tremendously balanced. They have the great virtue of not presenting the voices above the rest of the instrumentation, but both are completely blended. Once again, the detailed virtuosity imposes its law on the mids, declaring itself especially revealing. Undoubtedly, they are star players of the range, since their perception is closer than the rest of the qualities. In this way, the nuances and micro details prevail over the music, giving it a special richness, apart from a very characteristic sonority. The voices are balanced, with a somewhat cold shade, but still, they feel quite complete, but never in the foreground, nor far away, just perfectly mixed, with good presence, much coherence, separation and compenetration with the rest of the music. The excellence of the dynamic driver persists, offering a spectacular analytical and resolution capacity, within reach of the best BA, but sounding clearly analog and natural, as it could not be otherwise, honoring the name of the brand. The instrumental separation is enormous, its performance is faithful, vivid and dynamic, neither warm nor cold, absolutely fresh and intoxicating. It has a characteristic spark that is instantly perceived, as if it were a declaration of principles, a sound signature that defines the NS5MKII as a very special IEMS.
The upper zone is another twist in the IEMS with controlled but highly expressive highs. Its definition is not simple and the NS5MKII benefits from sources that have a very competent high zone treatment. If the sources are simple, the highs will bring out their weaknesses, sounding harder or rougher. In qualified sources, the treble is simply beautiful, full of delicacy, naturalness and definition, with a lot of fidelity and that personal spark that characterizes his signature. As I said, the power of his expressiveness is great, offering details in a very generous way, with a lot of separation, excellent placement and precision in the execution. The ability to recreate all the high notes is impressive, besides, they are always respectful with their sonority: they sharpen when they should, extend when they need, soften when it is appropriate. In this way, his treble is multidisciplinary, capable of resolving any situation and expressing it in the best and most natural way possible, combining speed, quickness, smoothness, definition and an enormous capacity for resolution. They may not be the most extensive trebles possible, but I think they stop at such a sweet spot that to go any further would be a sin. Of course, these NS Audio have a good dose of air, it’s something you feel from the first note.
As I’ve said many times, I’m a lover of the low end, but with highs like the NS5MKII’s, it’s hard to resist.
The way the NS5MKII express the music, in such a delicate and descriptive way, is almost emotional: it seems that the sound will break at any moment, as it sounds fragile, at the limit of perfect and precious sonority. But the best thing is that this never happens and never disappoints, not even in the worst passages, these NS Audio don’t deceive. On the other hand, the scene is generated very easily, with a lot of air, providing an excellent stereophonic recreation, but without being totally involving in the 360⁰. Its image is presented with a lot of height, width and remarkable depth. The details are perfectly located at the front of the scene and are able to move from one side to the other, from left to right, from top to bottom, from near to far… but they do not manage to surround the listener completely. That’s the only problem I have with them, being very strict with them.
The separation is exceptional, the sound being highly clean and clear, with great distance between notes, excellent resolution and a great capacity to recreate a wealth of nuances with absolute precision and realism. All these qualities are at a level, which is almost amazing for their price range and used driver.
Mondroop Kanas Pro
Although their curves are similar, there are clear differences. MKPs offer a noticeably higher amount of bass, but less closeness in mid and high frequencies. Its lower zone is quite deep, as in the NS5MKII, but noticeably larger and more influential in the sound. The control of the NS5MKII, feels greater, with a faster and more compact punch. Its texture is smoother and its color is more neutral. In the MKP the texture is rougher, also coarser, but it is something that is characteristic of its greater presence. It is also worth mentioning that the warmth of MKPs starts at the bottom, but it is in the mid-range that this feeling is most evident, as it impairs clarity, in comparison to NS5MKIIs. The voices in the MKP sound narrower, with less nuance and brightness, also more isolated. The NS5MKII integrates the voices among the rest of the instruments to a greater degree than the MKP, offering a greater and closer presence. Their mids are richer, more vivid, dynamic, detailed and clearer, and have higher resolution. The MKPs are softer and more velvety, further away from the analytical capabilities of the NS Audio. Nor are they capable of revealing so many nuances, offering a quieter, gentler and more relaxed sound. Not that the NS5MKII are aggressive, at all, but they are more overwhelming and fuller, due to the greater amount of information they are able to offer. Almost everything described about the means of both IEMS, can be extrapolated to the upper zone. Just to say that the extension of the treble, in both IEMS, is practically the same. Although their incidence in the sound is not the same, neither their timbre nor their sonority. The treble in the NS5MKII are more delicate, fine and descriptive, capable of recreating more micro details, nuances and musical ornaments, where the MKP, only provide sweetness.
The sound of the NS5MKII is bigger, despite the reduction in the low zone, its richness offers a bigger scene and, what is more important, more full and complete, with more amount of air, more defined and ultra detailed.
On a constructive level, the MKP is a tank, whose capsules have a much larger size. The NS5MKII are tiny in comparison, and their adjustment is simple and they weigh absolutely nothing.
Finally, the MKPs move more easily than the NS5MKIIs, which require more energy to equal the volume.
The NS Audio NS5MKII Bass have a virtuous fidelity, perhaps they are one of the IEMS that more easily allow to reveal the potential of each source. The interpretation of the music by these IEMS is completely comprehensive, but at the same time natural, very delicate and harmonious.
They are extraordinary, with a profile that I never thought I would end up liking so much. Their extreme delicacy and richness of detail keeps me totally absorbed in the contemplation of all their ranges, none of them is wasted. They have the capacity of a multi driver BA, but their soul is pure DD, and perhaps that is where their true potential resides. Also, their size is tiny, how has NS managed to get such a small dynamic driver to generate music with such quality, clarity, neutrality, balance and passion? Yes, passion, because Hi-Fi is passion for music, true respect for the original source. And I think the NS5MKII is very close to that. That’s why NS Audio has done it again… Almost perfect!!!
Sources Used During the Analysis
- Burson Audio Playmate
- Tempotec Serenade iDSD
- ACMEE MF-01
- Tempotec Variations V1-A