You might know Questyle from their various DAC/Amp combos. Now, Questyle is asking one question, what if a pair of IEMs had their own built-in DAC/Amp? The NHB12 is a pair of IEMs that are made specifically for Apple devices, meaning they all terminate to lightning. However, the NHB12 features its own DAC/Amp, that promises higher-end lossless sound quality. While you can get lossless music from nearly every wired IEM, the NHB12 establishes itself as a “true lossless earphone,” one of the first of its kind. Is the NHB12 all that different from other IEMs in this $349 price range?
What You Get
- NHB12 Earphones with true lossless DAC/Amp
- Carrying case
- Five sets of silicone ear tips
Look & Feel
What makes the NHB12 such an interesting product is its choice to still have a detachable 2-pin cable. You can easily detach the NHB12 from its marketed features, and just use them as a simple IEM with the right cable. Out of the box, the NHB12 is a different thing, requiring you to primarily use it with your iPhone. The physical CMA SiP DAC/Amp is placed like how a built-in mic would be implemented on a pair of earphones. What the NHB12 reminds me of the most is the Beyerdynamic Xelento, mainly due to its silver casing. Everything about its design and comfortable fit gives you the appearance of a great IEM, except it terminates to a lightning connector.
The NHB12 houses a 10.2mm dynamic driver, with a custom voice coil. Its built-in DAC/Amp uses ALAC lossless compression, which is the same CODEC that Apple Music uses. With it, you’re able to listen to hi-res audio up to 24bit 192kHz.
At first, I wasn’t blown away by what the NHB12 was offering with its soundstage. It takes a while to bloom into its potential, not being the widest from left to right. Vertically, the imaging can feel quite narrow too, but nothing ever feels squeezed together. In fact, the space that the NHB12 provides you is very breathable. It features a surprisingly open headspace that feels floaty, adding to the immersive of the soundstage. You get the sense that your music is wrapping around you almost like open-back headphones, just not quite as freely. The NHB12 does a lot with its restricted space though, offering holographic, bubble-like imaging that enhances the depth of this soundstage significantly.
With this bass, you’re really going to need the right track for it to make an impact. You can call it a dynamic response, but I’d rather have a consistent body of tone here. Most of the bass comes off as sparse, with unconcentrated details that appear a little underpowered. Certain heavy electronic and Hip-Hop tracks bring out more of a sub-bass foundation for the lows and give the sound signature more weight. The NHB12 is capable of being punchy in the mid-bass and even provides some gripping grooves in its timbre. Everything is mostly clear and easy to comprehend, but sometimes it just doesn’t come into form.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much clarity is offered in the midrange. It might not be the most detailed timbre in this price range, but everything it reproduces comes through very naturally. There’s a nice scale to the instruments, complimented by the room supplied by the soundstage. Each sound element might not possess much specificity but does take on an identifiable shape. You’ll also get some very realistic vocals that provide the best transparency that the NHB12 has to offer.
Much like the mids, the highs won’t showcase any accentuated details, but its surface is super smooth and full. It rarely goes outside its boundaries, never inflicting brightness or piercing textures. With this response, the highs still never feel like they’re lacking anything. Certain coloration that could enhance immersion might not be there but still propagates with height and naturalness in the sound signature.
The Questyle NHB12 is a very interesting product, but it’s really just a good pair of IEMs that are specifically made to enhance the quality of your iPhone audio. With its detachable cable, the NHB12 isn’t restricted to being just that. That brings some more value to the product, but as an IEM made for the iPhone, it still succeeds. I would like to see just how good the NHB12 can get with other cables/DAC/Amp combinations, but they still offer a great sound, and style, and fit right out of the box for a good price.
|· Soundstage depth
· Clear mids
· Smooth highs
· Punchy bass
· Metal casing
· Comfortable fit
|· Inconsistent bass texture
· No Type C version
The Questyle NHB12 is available at Audio46.