NICEHCK N3 REVIEW :
Piezo electric transducer driver aren’t new in audio world, in fact, piezo electricity laws was discover in 18th century and first apply for practical use with sonar devloped for submarine of World War 1. However, the introduction of this type of drivers into audiophile world was sparsely use in the last decade, especially in Hybrid form, because piezo drivers are more adequate for treble and high frequencies soundwave, where it can go up 100khz (wich is usefull more appropriate for hydrophone than one driver iem).
Now, very lately, we see this piezo drivers being introduce in multiple of Chi-fi iem from different pricerange. The DT6 is an example of great achievment with this hard to tune driver using one piezo, one dynamic and one balanced driver, but NiceHCK decide to create its own N3 model in a different way using one dual nanotube dynamic drivers and a big 7 layers piezo electric driver import from japan. The nanotube drivers being know for great conductivity and piezo for extended crips treble, i was very curious to try this hybrid combination.
Because of this particular drivers implementation, I consider the N3 hard to drive. They have quite a high impendance for iem wich is 55ohm and rather low sensibility wich is 100db. Out of my rather powerfull (for its size) Xduoo X3ii, it sound dull and thin. When I use the Xduoo X20, soundstage open ALOT. From first I hesitate between categorizing the N3 as V shape or W shape, but what impress the most is sure soundstage size and airy presentation, this do not sound like typicale IEM at ALL! Still, I will try different pairing and amping, as these look sensible to this factor.
You can find the NiceHCK N3 for 59.99$ HERE
DISCLAIMER: I would like to thank JIM, for selling me the N3 at a very discounted price while I was shopping in its store. Having bought litterally hundred of iem, earbuds and headphones in my life, I can easily keep my honnest subjectivity fully objective here and i’m not affiliated to JIM, I don’t even know if JIM is a human or a robot or a half-human-half-cyborg.
CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN & ACCESSORIES :
UNBOXING is nothing to get excited about. So, this time accessories are minimal, but at least of good quality. No protective case, but a real NICE cable, feel sturdy and its a beautifull SPC with good quality L jack. Sometime we get bad cable with chi-fi, niceHCK isn’t an exception as even the one with M6 was so so and strangely affect sound quality. Now, even if I do not measure this cable, I feel it sound right, so its the one I will use Alway for N3.
CONSTRUCTION is nice and very sturdy, the polished metal is well stick togheter and must of all, it-is-comfortable. Well, for my ears, sure, there no other way than wearing them over ear with this design but it slip the the ears naturally.
DESIGN is great and comfy, wich surprise me because I was thinking the N3 will be too big and bulky. Form factore of housing is well thinked and will fit even better than more life-like ear shaped uiem.
The N3 aren’t your normal U shaped sounding earphones, even if yeah, the bass is pumped up and upper treble is emphased, how it present sound is not easily categorizable due to smooth timbre of lower treble and extra brilliance and details of highs.
While this give excellent grip to upper range instrument like guitar, banjo or harp and feel lightier in texture for piano or violin, this make for a strange mix of organic and opacity where the bass feel well extended but dry and thick, mids have a fowarded aproach with emphasis on upper mids but lack lower timbre and highs are effortlessly extended.
In fact, what hit you first with the N3 is how the soundstage have an holographic presentation and impressive tallnest, making whole music play around you as never before. Only this impressive sound projection worth the investment, but this only if you can drive them properly with a powerfull DAP.
SOUNDSIGNATURE is V shape with bodied lower end but soft mid bass, wich make it lack energy in punch when you need hard hit but will do well with kick that need sub for its slam. The mids are slightly recessed, especially in lower region near mid bass (250hz-1khz) and have smooth but thick timbre while the highs are extremely resolved and have more brilliance than sparkle.
SOUNDSTAGE is Hall like, around your head, open and airy, it’s near cavernous because of lot of deepness and some echo from sub and treble. Height is impressive and deepness is above average without being mezmerising due to so so clarity.
SUB is dry but well bodied and have good slam, it lack grip and texture and can feel out of control sometime, but the weighty presentation give extra enjoyment for electronic, less so for acoustic bass where it feel it lack finess and definition. As well, it can mix with mid bass and make separation in this region less accurate.
MID BASS is soft but quite fast, wich is strange, but in complex drum track it keep up with fast kicks even if it sound subdued and shy. Due to this approach, it do not bleed on mids but feel tamed nad lacking a little energy in attack.
MIDS are well centered and have some thinnest to them that give extra transparence and permit better separation with other layers. Timbre lack texture and have extra presence in upper mids wich help attack and grip in this region for instrument like violin or saxophone. Vocal have an intimate yet quite clear presentation but lack widness and fullness wich make them sound little breathy. There no sibilance whatsoever, and the butter smooth presentation would please some female signers fan as it do not feel very recessed for a bassy earphone.
TREBLE is organic and full of brilliance in upper range, lower treble is softer than middle and upper one where it feel more crips and revealing. We have an analytical approach with upper treble but it do not feel too fowards or agressive, but airy and sparkly. Imaging is quite impressive in term of horizontal or vertical presentation, less so in term of deepness. Without sounding congested, N3 can have difficulties with transient response between 2 drivers.
AMPING is suggested for the 55ohm N3 and will make them sound more balanced and around your head, if the N3 sound boxy it isn’t normal. Mids have more presence with my powerfull Ibasso DX90 at high gain than with Xduoo X3. I do not suggest to use the N3 with a smarthphone.
EARTIPS I use is KZ starline with big hole tha fit perfectly the N3. The stock eartips aren’t really adequate, so I suggest you try to find eartips that will permit perfect secure fit for your ears.
BASS is more punchy and tigher, but have less pumped lower end, still, clarity and texture is better than N3. MIDS are more recessed with the BQ3, but clearer and less breathy, they feel more natural than N3. TREBLE of BQ3 is more agressive and dig more details but can have metallic presentation sometime, where the N3 feel very resolved but more natural and laidback with more decay to it. Overall presentation of N3 is airy, detailed and delicate with extra sub bass while the BQ3 is fast, agile, edgy and punchy.
SOUNDSTAGE of T2 is similar in widness and airyness but feel less deep and tall. BASS is more bodied and better controled and have similar soften mid bass but with more texture. MIDS are brighter and more present and feel in front row while the N3 vocal presentation is more centered and intimate. Vocal have more accurate timbre and tonality than N3 as well but are more sibilant in upper mids too, while the softness of N3 mids lack in fullness it still is more permissive and gentle to the ears than T2. TREBLE is more emphased in lower and mid section (6-12khz) and feel more linear than N3 with its upper range emphasis (10-16khz). Imaging is a little better with N3 even if less detailed than T2, it is especially hearable when multiple instrument play at same time in fast music like progressive rock, symphonie or jazz, here, even if N3 feel slighlty darker in timbre, its transparent layering help to not congest.
VS SENFER T6 :
SOUNDSTAGE feel deeper but less airy and wide than N3.
BASS is more full bodied and punchy with slightly less prominent sub but better separated low frequency range. MIDS are more fowards and fuller sounding, they have an immersive presence with richer timbre. TREBLE is more balanced and less upper range emphased, wich give better overall resolution but less decay and sparkle with micro details and mettalic percussion or instrument. Overall, the N3 is smoother sounding and give a more relaxed presentation with less agile tuning as well, while the DT6 excell in every aspect and feel mid centric with an energic bass presentation.
The NiceHCK N3 will shine with powerfull DAP or DAC-AMP that have a high level of clarity, very low THD and energic dynamic. My favorite pairing is with the Ibasso DX90 and Xduoo XD-05, while the Xduoo X20 lack a little energy and Xduoo X3 or X3ii lack a little power.
The NiceHCK N3 is a boldly conceived earphones that have the merit to offer a unique sound that no other earphone on the market have. The Soundstage is just mesmerizing as well as level of transparency of sound layers, this type of airy immersive musicality can be a delight with some music. Even if I find N3 quite capricious about music and audio source pairing, I can’t be indifferent to this addictive audio experience that can magicaly happen time to time, should it be with classical chamber orchestra that will be ultra realistic sounding or IDM that will sound extremely holographic, the sound experience can be very rewarding and fascinating. Still, the overall balance and especilly timbre of bass and mids is a serious drawback that mess with overall clarity potential of this otherwise excellent earphones. I would suggest the N3 to earphones collector that search a new unique flavor with incredible imaging capacity and overall smooth rendering wich will be perfect for treble sensitive audiophile as well. I do not suggest it for people that search bright, punchy or mid centric earphones or for an all arounder, because as said….
N3 is delicatily capricious.