From the moment it first appeared on the market, NuForce’s late, great NE-7M in-ear headphone/headset become one of Playback’s favorite “go-to” products in the world of affordable in-ear headphones. Now the delightful NE-7M has passed from the scene, but the great news is that it has been replaced by something—well, actually two things—that are even better: namely, NuForce’s all-new NE-700X in-ear headphone ($65) and NE-700M in-ear headset ($79).
Since I’ve been focusing on other classes of headphone products of late, it had been a while since I had taken out my trusty pair of NE-7M to give them a critical listen. Before jumping into this review to evaluate NuForce’s newest affordable yet still high performance offerings, I decided to go back to the fountainhead, as it were, to re-familiarize myself with the original NE-7Ms. And when I did so, they certainly did not disappoint; I’ve felt from the beginning (and still feel) that the NE-7M offered a wonderfully natural, reasonably detailed, and surprisingly full-bodied sound—a sound few other in-ear ‘phones in or near their price class can equal. Imagine my surprise, then, when the new models proved to sound better in every way than their predecessors, and with only a very modest increase in price.
Has NuForce got a new pair of budget-priced classics on their hand? We think that they do.
Consider this in-ear headphone/headset if: you seek an in-ear headphone that arguably represents the point of diminishing returns. Relative to the already quite good NE-7M, the new NE-700X and -700M offer better resolution and definition, more extended treble response, and more accurate and thus more neutral tonal balance overall. To state things bluntly, we’ve yet to hear better for less, which means that—by definition—this NuForce pair offers terrific value for money.
Look further if: you were hoping for world-class in-ear headphones for chump change; while the NE-700X and -700M are very good, today’s best mid- and top-tier designs are better still (though in terms of value these new NuForce models are hard to beat). Also look further if you want ‘phones that, like the original NE-7M’s, offer an extra touch of bass enrichment; the NE-700X and NE-700M dispense with extra bass “oomph” in order to produce a more accurate sound overall.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced headphones)
• Tonal Balance: 9.5
• Frequency Extremes: 9.5
• Clarity: 9.5
• Dynamics: 9
• Comfort/Fit: 10
• Sensitivity: 8.5
• Value: 10
Below, we’ll list features that apply to both the NE-700X and NE-700M, with a small section to highlighting additional features provided by the NE-700M
• Machined aluminum earpiece housings (or “chassis,” as NuForce would call them), said to “minimize vibration and resonance.”
• Earpiece signal cables feature subtle, color-coded collars to indicate which is the left or right earpiece (red collar = right earpiece; black collar = left earpiece).
• 8mm, titanium-coated “wide-range” drivers.
• Fitted with three-pin (stereo) 3.5mm mini-jack.
• Fitted with inline omnidirectional mic equipped with a multifunction, single-button call answer/end switch.
• Call answer/end switch functions during phone calls:
⇒ Press once to answer the call.
⇒ Press again to end the call.
• Call answer/end switch functions during music playback:
⇒ Press once to pause playback.
⇒ Press twice to skip forward to the next track.
⇒ Press thrice to resume playback.
In my original review of the NuForce NE-7M I wrote that it was “balanced just slightly to the warm side of neutrality” and offered “an audible, though relatively unobtrusive, touch of bass forwardness.” I also ventured the opinion that those familiar with headphones on the NE-7M’s price range would “immediately be struck by how smooth and nuanced the NE-7M sounds.” I then went on to say, “Don’t be fooled by the NE-7M’s modest price; its overall sound would put it right in the hunt with many models twice its price.” Well, the simple fact is that the new NE-700X and NE-700M preserve everything we loved about the NE-7M, while improving upon their predecessor in several musically important areas.