Table of Contents
I don’t even know how to introduce the NiceHCK brand. It’s one of those “if you know, you know” things that’s kind of weird to explain because they’ve existed in this limbo of hype and obscurity, wherein they have amassed a legion of die-hard fans yet remain practically hidden to the greater audiophile crowd.
If you haven’t read my Moondrop S8 cliffnotes, I’d suggest you to do so because it gives a bit of background on what I’m about to say. NiceHCK, in my eyes, have always been the stereotypical “shoot from the hip” kind of chifi company, churning out vast quantities of mediocre products that makes me question their competency and even lose respect for the chifi industry as a whole.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the DZ7. Or the DT600. Or the DB3. Maybe the NK10. Or the DZ12, the DN4 or the Bro. More likely than not, you don’t even know a single one of these products and I’m just a madman rattling off random alphabets and numbers, not realising that one of those names was something that I made up on the spot.
My point is, there has been a reason why NiceHCK IEMs have horrible longevity in the IEM world. A vast majority of their products are these mediocre to average IEMs that simply cannot stand up to the tests of time, and their lack of brand presence compared to the new kids on the block such as Moondrop and Tin HiFi are just testaments to that.
Now I don’t know if you’ve heard of the original NX7, because I sure haven’t. So imagine my surprise when I was offered the Pro edition for review. Was I supposed to know about the NX7? I thought to myself as I made a quick Google search, realising that the NX7 was actually released very recently (just mid of last year). An update less than half a year later was not a good sign in my books.
I go into this review skeptical and ready for critique. I sure hope this is NiceHCK’s redemption.
Driver configuration: 4BA + 2DD + 1Piezo
This NX7 Pro was kindly provided by HiFiGo.
Signature & Tonality
The NX7 Pro’s filter system results in some rather significant changes to the overall signature and tonality of the sound, so here’s a brief breakdown of the three:
- Stock filter: V-shaped, decent midrange tone
- Blue filter: Midrange is smoothed out a little more, contrast between midrange and bass is increased resulting in a more bassy, more V-shaped sound relative to stock
- Red filter: Probably the NX7 Pro in its most “raw” state, with the most midrange emphasis and peakiness. An unexpected side benefit is that treble response sounds a little more tame in this configuration.
For the purposes of this review, I will be testing the NX7 Pro with the blue filter. While I find that the blue filter helps with the midrange tone a little, the bass can bleed slightly though it’s somewhat counterbalanced by the NX7 Pro’s liberal treble response.
Speaking of treble response… this is probably going to be the NX7 Pro’s most divisive aspect. I’ve made no secret of my disdain (or at the very least, a reluctant tolerance) of the “piezo tweeter”, a driver that I like only slightly more than the Sonion electret tweeters. Most implementations of the piezo tweeter can be a little hot and zingy for some (notable recent examples being the Noble Khan and HYLA IEMs), and ultimately a little unnatural given that such implementations tend to prioritise definition and sparkle over a natural timbre.
The NX7 Pro is an extreme example of overdone piezo treble, bearing the nasty qualities of a 7-8kHz peak followed by a subsequent peak at 14-15kHz (which is the second harmonic of the first). This results in a rather sibilant presentation that is, to put it bluntly, piercing. Hi-hats and cymbal also sound a little splashy, probably not because of any weird ringing quality in the transients but rather in the unnatural harmonic emphases.
Overall, while I find the midrange tone near-impeccable and the bass response forgivable (but not excellent), the treble is where I dock majority of the points for the NX7 Pro’s overall tonal score. And while I acknowledge that there may be people who would like the NX7 Pro’s treble presentation… I can’t really account for outliers in a general review like this.
Tone Grade: C+
As I’ve mentioned, the piezoelectric tweeter trades off tonality and timbre for a greater focus in definition and speed. So in that regard, the NX7 Pro can at least differentiate itself as a sort of technical-type IEM. However, as I would categorise “timbre” as under the technicalities umbrella, this is more-or-less a “giveth and taketh away” situation wherein the piezo tweeter doesn’t really end up as a net positive overall.
The overall resolving ability of the NX7 Pro is alright, nothing beyond the expectations of its price bracket. The bass response keeps up surprisingly well with the rest of the frequencies despite the emphasis, and I’d attribute the bleed issues more as a tonal issue rather than an attack/decay one.
Imaging-wise… average. As usual, don’t be alarmed since 80% of IEMs are “average” to me in terms of soundstage size and positional accuracy.
Technical Grade: B-
At $130 (with a street price of roughly $100), the NX7 Pro at least manages to carve out some sort of niche for itself in terms of its piezo presentation and midrange tone. I wouldn’t consider the NX7 Pro particularly technical nor well-tuned at its price, but it does okay.
At the very least, it’s “worth the price” if you have determined that its signature is for you.
Value Rating: ★
The NX7 Pro is one spicy IEM that requires due consideration of one’s own preferences and tolerances before pulling the trigger. The filter systems don’t address the glaring piezo treble issue, so buyer beware.
If you like your treble sizzingly spicy, the NX7 Pro is a pretty decent budget hybrid that could satisfy your inner basshead at the same time.
In case you didn’t know yet, I’m currently crowdfunding for some upgrades to my headphone measurements rig. I’ve almost hit my goal too, so take a look!