Audio IEMs Reviews Universal-Fit

Nuforce Primo 8: A Leapfrog to the Top?

Suitable for Mainstream Music?

Nuforce has made it clear that rather than going for hardcore audiophiles that spend thousands on their portable equipment, they’re targeting the wider market with the Primo 8. While it’s certainly the right business decision to make, but as mentioned, gobs of bass just don’t come out of this IEM — it’s most certainly going to lose out in bass response to almost any Westone earphone and the mainstream listener believes in hearing a robust bass line.

So will the Primo 8 fly off the shelves?

Well, I certainly hope so, but sadly, I have some doubts. A couple years ago, I found the TDK BA200 (review here) to be one of the best dual driver IEMs around that superseded the capabilities of many triple driver earphones. It was not only very pleasing to listen to, but also an incredible performer when measured with an artificial ear.

While it was critically acclaimed by audiophiles, something about it lacked mass appeal, however, and the BA200 never did the kind of sales numbers it hoped and was eventually thrown into bargain bin department stores like Ross and Marshalls for liquidation. While Nuforce is certainly doing a much better job in the marketing department than Imation ever fared with TDK, I fear Nuforce might find itself in a similar quandary.

IMG_9974a_mini

Thus, it’ll really come down to how far the general consumer has come with respect to their tastes. If it remains heavy-handed, then the market will still gravitate to offerings from Westone (which has introduced increasingly bass heavy offerings of late), but with sufficient experience and education, the public will come to realize that the Primo 8, with its mild bass response and phase-flat center image, allows you to hear and appreciate more of the music more often.

Regardless of whether you’ll end up enjoying Nuforce‘s newest baby, the Californian firm should be lauded for releasing a product that’s well thought-out in execution, from technical ability to a mature-leaning sound philosophy. I can only hope that others will appreciate the Primo 8 as I did during my brief three-week loan of the product; it’s not without its flaws, but given it’s Nuforce‘s first go at this segment of premium IEMs, I’d say they’ve done a great job with the Primo 8.

Bravo, Nuforce!

For more information on the Nuforce Primo 8, please visit: http://primo8.nuforce.com/

Many thanks to Wolfgang, who was incredibly helpful and patient with me during the course of the test period. He’s since departed from Nuforce, but his dedication remains greatly appreciated and I trust the rest of the Nuforce staff takes on the same attitude.

 About Mr. T

Mr. T is an in-ear fanatic by day, and writes SOAP notes by night. He pities the fool who actually has the patience to read through his stuff.
(Full Author Bio)

4 comments

  1. I’m sorry to mention this, but your comments on the recessed upper midrange and its effect on vocals are contradictory and don’t make sense. Female vocals are very much in the midrange/upper-midrange area, and a recessed upper midrange will make them sound distant or “veiled,” not “very forward” as you say. An example of that effect would be the UE900. It’s measurements, in Inner Fidelity, clearly show a large scoop in the upper midrange, and one complain about them is also that female vocals sound distant. I think you need to learn exactly where the upper midrange is, or else learn what “recessed” means (it’s the opposite of forward).

    So this leaves me wondering whether your description of these IEMs as a whole is accurate or not.

    Like

    1. For in-ears, my personal distinction between lower and upper midrange is this: lower midrange is 600-2.5k, while upper midrange is 2.5k to 4.5k, and a provision for a “central midrange” area between 800-1.5k. This distinction is determined by a general survey of vocal formants, fundamentals and harmonics, but divided by the way the average human HRTF works (which usually exhibits a peak at 2.5-3 kHz, and increases most dramatically starting from about 600-800 Hz).

      You can do an experiment yourself, and EQ down 3-4kHz by 6 dB, while boosting 800-2k by 6 dB (a 12 dB swing should make things pretty obvious) — you should very clearly hear that vocals are some how “brought forward” and that they sound “full”, but because harmonics and secondary formants are recessed relative to their fundamentals and primary formants, these vocals will sound “dulled” and slightly too “warm”. This psychoacoustic effect should work on any in-ear that doesn’t have significant midrange coloration by itself.

      As to the UE900, the big difference is that the very low reaches of the midrange (or the upper lows, if you will) are greatly boosted compared to its somewhat even “central midrange” region. Male vocals and instrumental fundamentals will overpower female vocals, which begin a little higher up.

      Keep in mind that lower treble will also affect the way voices sound; extra transient “spikes” in the sibilance regions of 6-8k will often give vocals a delineated “clarity” but do not contribute to the “body” and “fullness” of the way voices sound.

      That’s why most telephony applications have a minimum of 400 – 4000 Hz, but for clarity, these frequencies are extended to 200 – 8000 Hz to cover a wider range of fundamentals and harmonics. Even then, voices don’t sound completely realistic.

      Hopefully, this clears up the way the Primo 8 was described in the review.

      Like

    2. For in-ears, my personal distinction between lower and upper midrange is this: lower midrange is 600-2.5k, while upper midrange is 2.5k to 4.5k, and a provision for a “central midrange” area between 800-1.5k. This distinction is determined by a general survey of vocal formants, fundamentals and harmonics, but divided by the way the average human HRTF works (which usually exhibits a peak at 2.5-3 kHz, and increases most dramatically starting from about 600-800 Hz).

      You can do an experiment yourself, and EQ down 3-4kHz by 6 dB, while boosting 800-2k by 6 dB (a 12 dB swing should make things pretty obvious) — you should very clearly hear that vocals are some how “brought forward” and that they sound “full”, but because harmonics and secondary formants are recessed relative to their fundamentals and primary formants, these vocals will sound “dulled” and slightly too “warm”. This psychoacoustic effect should work on any in-ear that doesn’t have significant midrange coloration by itself.

      As to the UE900, the big difference is that the very low reaches of the midrange (or the upper lows, if you will) are greatly boosted compared to its somewhat even “central midrange” region. Male vocals and instrumental fundamentals will overpower female vocals, which begin a little higher up.

      Keep in mind that lower treble will also affect the way voices sound; extra transient “spikes” in the sibilance regions of 6-8k will often give vocals a delineated “clarity” but do not contribute to the “body” and “fullness” of the way voices sound.

      That’s why most telephony applications have a minimum of 400 – 4000 Hz, but for clarity, these frequencies are extended to 200 – 8000 Hz to cover a wider range of fundamentals and harmonics. Even then, voices don’t sound completely realistic.

      Hopefully, this clears up the way the Primo 8 was described in the review.

      Like

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