Headphone Sessions 8/29/2012: Swedish Manufacturer NOCS It Out of the Park!

HeadRoom is overjoyed to have found and include the NOCS earphones and headphones to our line-up. The NS 200 Aluminum ($69.95), NS 400 Titanium ($99.95), and NS 800 Monitors ($199.95) are all single balanced armature designs, top performers at their price-point, have small, unassuming designs (great for under a helmet) and offer Apple control and mic. The NS 200 Aluminum also offers three mic/control designs to offer full compatibility with all smartphone types. The NS 700 Phaser ($99.99) earpad headphones are also top contenders under $100. [caption id="attachment_2497" align="aligncenter" width="480"] NS 200 Aluminum for iPhone[/caption]

 NS 200 Aluminum

 Since our review sample only included the 3-button design for HTC and Samsung GSII, we're going to assume that the sonic signature doesn't change with the different control options.

 With the exception of a bass response that can lean towards boomy and cause the highs to sound a little distant, these are an amazing set of sub-$100 earphones. The sonic signature lends itself to enjoyable and forgiving listening with lower quality mp3 files and streaming audio and matches very well with the brighter sound common to Android phones. That said, any bass-head is going to love these!

 We find the small size of all of the NOCS in-ears to fit our small-headed and small-eared reviewers well and the tip assortment allows those with larger ears to get a good fit and seal too. The small size also works great for motorcyclists and any other active listener who wears a helmet with full ear coverage. As mentioned, the NS 200 is available in two different 3-button control variations, one for iPhone, one for HTC and Samsung GSII, and a single button universal control for use with all smartphones.

[caption id="attachment_2498" align="aligncenter" width="480"]NOCS NS400 NS 400 Titanium[/caption]

 NS 400 Titanium

 We find the NS 400 an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a great sounding in-ear with Apple 3-button control and mic at $100. It easily stands up to, and in many cases stomps other offerings at the price-point in both comfort and sound.

 The fit is identical to the NS 200, however, the NS 400 Titanium design is heavier than the aluminum driver housing found in the NS 200. The sound, on the other hand, is a solid step up and is the reason they were ruled majority favorite of the Headphone Sessions review team. They still lean towards bass heavy, but are much tighter and more punchy than the 200's. The high frequency response is quick and detailed making for a clear presentation down through the upper mid-range. The middle frequencies down through upper bass is a touch scooped, which only aids in creating the lively and fun sound signature of the NS 400.

 The cables on all NOCS models are relatively thin, but the strain relief at the earphone seems like it would hold up to some abuse and the Kevlar cable reinforcement will assure it. Keep in mind, even the toughest headphones break (check out our video!), so a little care can go a long way toward preserving your headphones for years of enjoyment.

[caption id="attachment_2499" align="aligncenter" width="480"] NS 800 Monitors[/caption]

 NS 800 Monitors

 The tiniest of the NOCS in-ears are also the tightest sounding. The NS 800 are definitely the most balanced and neutral with natural highs, smooth mids and tight, controlled bass. In comparison to the lesser two models, the bass sounds like it lacks body, but to the audiophile's ear the NS 800 will certainly be the favorite. The bass response was compared to that of Etymotic, which tends on the lean side, but with more body and richness while maintaining similar tonal quality through the mid and high frequencies. Those of you who know the Etymotic presentation of mids and highs know how big of a compliment that is!

 The incredibly small design makes them perfect for those really small ears that just can't seem to get an in-ear to fit, and again, anyone needing something that will fit under a helmet.

[caption id="attachment_2500" align="aligncenter" width="480"] NS 700 Phaser[/caption]

 NS 700 Phaser

 If you are a dedicated reader of Headphone Sessions, or are an obsessed headphone collector like us, you know it's difficult to find good sound in a closed earpad style headphone. The NS 700 provides good sound in the earpad category with punchy, slamming bass and excellent detail through the highs. While the mids are slightly recessed and lack some life, they don't get too resonant or boxy sounding keeping an overall natural presentation.

 The design seemed durable to most of the review group, yet some found the wire style yolk to feel cheap and the exposed cables from the headband to the earcup a possible durability issue. Like the in-ear offerings, the NS 700 also has Kevlar reinforced cables, so they should withstand heavy use.

 The earpads seal nicely on the ear, which is often problematic with earpad styles. A good seal equals good bass and good isolation, both of which the NS 700 provides along with sleek style and iOS compatibility with 3-button inline control and mic.

 Swedish headphone manufacturer NOCS gets two thumbs up from HeadRoom on both sound and design and will be an easy recommendation at their respective price points.  For more information on the NOCS headphones, or any other headphone please call 1-800-828-8184. A headphone expert is standing by!

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