06
Jun
IMG_6144

I reviewed the Nocs NS200 earbuds a little over a year ago. At the time, the 200s were the company's only Android-friendly offering. I was pleasantly surprised with the audio quality and comfort of the NS200s, especially given their reasonable (for a more serious product) price of $70.

Well, now I'm back with another Nocs product: the NS400s. The pair I'm reviewing also costs $70, a $10 premium over the "universal" NS200s. (Nocs sells 'universal' versions of the NS200 with a single button for $10 less than the Android-specific version with 3-button support for some devices. There is no "Android" 3-button NS400. Yes, it's a little confusing.)

wm_IMG_6159

What's new? A tangle-free flat cord - which makes for a big durability upgrade over the rather fragile NS200s. There's also 90-degree angled stereo plug to keep that cable in place. The sound of the NS400s gets a bit of a boost, too, but I'll talk about that in a bit.

The Basics: Nocs NS400 (Universal)
  • The Nocs NS400 are an entry-level premium in-ear headphone manufactured by Nocs SE. They're from Sweden! 8mm dynamic drivers with titanium diaphragms push sound to your ears. This "universal" version allows basic one-button inline control and call functions with most Android and other smartphones.
  • Cost: $70 (at Nocs' website), available in white or black.
  • Why you should care: The NS400s offer incredibly pleasing sound at a very pleasing price - Nocs has a product that I expect goes toe for toe with big name buds costing nearly twice as much.
  • Random but cool: The earbud housings are made of aluminum.
The Hardware

The basic design and shape of the NS400s is nearly identical to the NS200s, sans flat cable and angled plug. I love the understated, all-black look of Nocs earbuds, and the insanely lightweight driver housings. The addition of a no-tangle cable does seem to have added some free-hanging mass to the NS400s, though, and they aren't so light as to be forgotten, as the NS200s were. These are still an extremely svelte set of earbuds, however, so it's more like stuffing a body in the trunk of your Lotus Elise than it is hitching up a trailer to your minivan... if that makes sense.

wm_IMG_6147

As a result, the NS400s are still very comfortable, and pretty decent at maintaining a seal even while in motion. The new flat cable does produce more noise, though, and that could be a concern for active listeners.

The NS400s come with three eartip sizes to choose from, and should accommodate most aural orifices. The standard size fit me just fine.

The universal single-button answers and ends calls, and pauses and plays music. It seems to operate - albeit in this limited capacity - with reliability.

wm_IMG_6150 wm_IMG_6156

The Sound

The sound is largely reminiscent of the NS200s, and when you're paying only $10 more for a comparable NS400 flavor, that makes sense. There is no specific information available explaining how the NS400s have been improved in the audio department in comparison to the NS200s, but my guess is that it's just tweaking and tuning of the existing components.

As a result, I would say the NS400s have a noticeably more "S" curve-y sound signature. Bass is decidedly more prominent than in the NS200s, one of their few shortcomings, though not so much as to become annoying. That is to say, there is good bass presence, but it's not like they're trying to emulate on-ear headphones, a task most IEMs typically fail at. Fidelity, though, seems pretty similar to my ears. If they do provide more detail or nuance, I'm not hearing it.

wm_IMG_6163

Highs appear to be a bit louder, which goes back to my S-curve evaluation - these feel more tuned for pop and hip hop than the NS200s were. Still, I think anyone putting these on after living with your average $30-50 earbuds most of their life will be blown away. The fidelity, wonderfully clear soundstage, and impressive instrument separation of the NS400s, like the NS200s, completely belies their price. These truly are amazing little earbuds, and if my comparison to the NS200 sounds "meh," that's only because Nocs already had a fantastic product to start with. They're just brilliant.

Overall, is there $10 more sound here? I'd say it's a fairer assessment that there is $10 of different sound.

The End

The Nocs NS400s are another exceptional product from a company that immediately won me over when I tried the NS200s last year. The NS400s are really just the NS200s but a little different, though in ways that some folks may prefer. Personally, I'd stick with the 200s - the cord noise on the 400s bugs me, and I'm not entirely in love with the new sound signature. However, I think that the 400s are probably a better choice for most people - they're more durable, and provide a 'Top 40 friendly' sound right out of the box. The changes, though, aren't huge here, and Nocs isn't pretending they are. You pay $10 more for a headphone that is worth, if you find it to suit your needs, worth $10 more. I can respect that.

You can get the NS400s on Nocs' website, here.

wm_IMG_6167

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • skeeterfood

    I still love my NS200's that I won from you guys! Too bad I could never get the NOCs app to give me the full 3 button control on my LG Optimus V. Works fine as a single-button headphone without the app though.

  • Ben Freund

    How loud is the cord vibration when you are walking around?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      If you're listening to music it's not bad, probably unnoticeable at all but low volumes. But it's when the music is off that it annoys me.

  • Nick

    Does anybody know if these earbuds are water/sweat resistant, or know of another alternative that has said feature?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      These aren't specifically, no.

  • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

    I will never buy any earbuds that cost more than 25 bucks, no earbuds last more than 6 months, hell, 3 months is expecting too much, they're disposable items with no property resembling durability.

    Perhaps I could buy a set of expensive wireless headphones, the problem is Bluetooth also sucks.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I've had my NS200s over a year, and my Etymotic hf2s, Yeah, no earbuds last more than 6 months.

      • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

        Good for you, but since your usage pattern is a complete mystery to me, as well as how you treat your earbuds, personally, I have no interest on wasting a second of my life taking care of them), moreover, since I don't believe most people take good care of them (as I think you do), I highly doubt your experience matches at all the experience of most buyers.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          That's nice. Then why did you even read this review?

        • Anthonydotcom

          Why are you so mad? Dude was just saying that he takes care of his stuff, as I do. My headphones would break if I didn't handle them properly, but I do, and I would spend that much on headphones. You were stating it as fact, when it's merely your own personal experience. I don't baby my headphones, I just don't treat them like a throw away accessory.

    • Andrey Savin

      My JVC XtremeXplosives earbuds which also cost $70 are almost 8 months old (bought October 12, 2012, still have the receipt). I was actually advised that these wouldn't last me too long by the sales rep. I use them every single day in all sorts of environments and they have never given me any trouble. Not to mention they sound incredible.

      http://www.amazon.com/JVC-HA-FX3X-Xplosives-Extreme-Headphones/dp/B009UVILNS

    • Sqube

      I don't want to be presumptuous, but your buds might last longer than six months if you stopped abusing them like unloved stepchildren.

      I don't break headphones, personally. I lose them. I can't remember the last pair I had that didn't last at least a year, and I make it a point to pay at least $20 for them. The difference in sound quality is noticeable unless your source material is trash.

  • Anthony Carbonaro

    Still not enough to move me away from the Monoprice 8320s. Honestly the best price/sound ratio for nearly any headphones. -- http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=108&cp_id=10823&cs_id=1082303&p_id=8320&seq=1&format=2

    • Anthony Carbonaro

      Though I will say that they're not as comfortable as they could be, but most earbuds aren't particularly comfortable from what I've worn.

  • Ryad El-Dajani

    I bought the NS400U about 2 month ago for 60€. Had 10 in-ears over the last 7 years from 10 to 100€ and the Nocs are the best in-ears I've ever had. The sound is exceptional outstanding in almost every situation (in public, at work, biking). For me, it needed some training on how to place the buds correctly into my ears.

    Unfortunately I'm not able to manage the volume, as long-pressing gestures are overwritten by the Android system for Google Now since 4.1 (this really is crap!).

    The hardware itself is outstanding of that price. Can suggest them anybody!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Yep, I really can't stress enough how excellent these sound for the price. They're an absolute bargain for what Nocs is asking, and they're also one of the coolest-looking sets of earbuds on the market. If it were Senn / Shure selling these, they'd probably MSRP for 120-150, easily.

  • http://jesuiscontentducontent.tumblr.com/ Yod-b

    My problem with tangle free cables is that they're horrible for activities. I have an a-JAYS One, which is really similar to this, and it can't be used properly. It just falls off my ears when I move normally. Walking - maybe it works, but with biking (what I do all the time) I really have to fix it somewhere, since the weight pulls it off. Running? I'd never try it. So tangle free cables? Good - in theory...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      The flat cable has never been worth the tradeoff in weight / added noise for me. I guess it's better for people who really abuse their headphones, but I don't, so a traditional cable has always been fine by me.

      • http://jesuiscontentducontent.tumblr.com/ Yod-b

        So at the end I just ditched my Jays and bought a Sennheiser yesterday. Well, it's not tangle free, but unbelievably light. It's like nothing is in my ear, just music. Lovely experience! :D

  • Justin Shulman

    Bought a pair a few days ago from the local apple store. Sounds pretty good, but i cant get them to fit nicely in my ears, they seem to fall out when i'm active. Tried multiple size tips, but cant get that tight fit like i have with my RHA ma450i's. I think it may have to do with the flat cable...

    Beautiful, nice sounding headphones, but beauty is only half the battle. May have to make a return.

    • JT_daniel

      Try out some custom foam tips.

      • Antti

        I have the same issue. Does anyone know where to get compatible custom tips/buds?

  • Tobias Johansson

    Does anyone know if these work with Nexys 5 and Lollipop? For answering and and all that.

Quantcast