(Last Updated On: July 12, 2020)

Led by former Knowles employee, Casey Ng who participated in NuForce NE, HEM and Primo line-ups development, NXEars Basso addressed the “occlusion effect” which all audiophiles are facing with their proprietary technology.

Thank you, Casey Ng, from NXEars for sending me the Basso. The products were provided to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

NXEars is formed by a principal acoustic design team that has won over 25 International Audio Awards. They desire to solve an issue faced by a lot of audiophiles – the Occlusion Effect (OE) that everyone is facing but nobody has a solution until now.

The occlusion effect is the sensation of increased loudness (sound pressure level), especially in the low frequencies. A person experiences self-generated sounds (vocalization, chewing, swallowing, walking, and the like), when the ears are covered (occluded).

After a long period of study and research, NXEars has developed a new and proprietary acoustic/mechanical innovation – Aperiodic Ground Loading (AGL) to mitigate this problem. The excessive pressure buildup in the ear canal can be channeled and dissipated back to an acoustic ground state.

Basso is one of the models that NXEars utilized AGL. With quad balanced armature (BA) drivers design and real copper faceplate, Basso can produce a clean and neat bass response. We will take a look at this model in this article!

NXEars Basso

NXEars Basso

"The semi-custom acrylic shell and sturdy MMCX connector show a high level of maturity from NXEars in manufacturing high-quality IEMs, despite the fact that they are new in this industry. All the aspects are well considered when designing the Basso and there are no flaws in the end result."

Pros:

  • »High quality semi-custom acrylic shell
  • »Deep insertion and good isolation
  • »Sturdy MMCX connection
  • »High quality stock cable and storage case
  • »Deep and well-controlled bass
  • »Astonishing soundstage and staging
  • »Warm and neutral mids
  • »Well-extended and sparkling highs

Cons:

  • »Less detail retrieval in the mids due to smoothing effect

Unboxing

Basso comes in a white box with the NXEars logo printed. At the back of the box, the selling points of NXEars IEMs are listed – this is a “one-for-all” sleeve because the selling points listed are applicable to all models.

Outer sleeve of the packaging
Outer sleeve of the packaging
Outer sleeve of the packaging
Outer sleeve of the packaging

Removing the white sleeve, the Basso is packaged in a black hard box. At the bottom of the box, we can find a sticker with the model name and serial number printed.

Serial number and model name are printed on the inner hard box.
Serial number and model name are printed on the inner hard box.

Opening the box, the internal is splitted into two – the upper section is occupied by Basso while the bottom is occupied by a leather hard case containing accessories. The hard case caught my attention immediately – a very classy design and spacious for IEM storage. Underneath the Basso, there are five pairs of ear tips – three pairs of silicone and two pairs of foam.

Basso and storage case
Basso and storage case
There is a quick start guide included in the packaging. Spend some time reading the guide; there is plenty of useful information like burn in, attaching MMCX and choosing a suitable pair of ear tips.

Here are the accessories that can be found in the leather case:

Storage Case
Storage Case
Accessories in NXEars Basso's packaging
Accessories in NXEars Basso’s packaging
The storage case is sufficient for me to store Basso and SR15. Good combination for travelling
The storage case is sufficient for me to store Basso and SR15. Good combination for travelling
The stock SPC cable
The stock SPC cable
8 SPC wires are braided neatly.
8 SPC wires are braided neatly.
MMCX and 3.5mm jack of the stock cable
MMCX and 3.5mm jack of the stock cable

Technical Specification

  • Driver configuration: Quad balanced armature (BA) drivers – dual lows, single mids, and single highs
  • Connection: MMCX
  • Cable: Silver-plated oxygen-free copper (SPOFC) cable or mono crystal 6N (99.9999% pure) copper cable (with USD$50 top up)
  • Sensitivity: > 100dB/mW (based on the Quick Start Guide)
  • Impedance: 25 Ohms @ 1kHz
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz

Build

I’m sold on the physical appearance of the IEMs when I opened the box. Despite being a relatively new company, NXEars showed a high level of maturity in building the IEMs in terms of the tangible build quality. The shell is made of acrylic, I believe it’s 3D printed. The surface is smooth and free from bubbles in the shell. The semi-transparent shell allows users to look into the driver configurations in the IEMs.

As mentioned in the introduction, the Basso features a real copper faceplate. The red NXEars’ logo is printed on the copper faceplate, resulting in a classy and modern feel. Besides aesthetic features, the copper faceplate acts as a foundation for solid bass lines.

NXEars Basso with copper faceplate and acrylic shell
NXEars Basso with copper faceplate and acrylic shell

With two of the largest Knowles’ woofers installed in Basso and the aid of copper faceplates, NXEars aims to provide clean and neat bass response to users.

On top of the shell, Basso utilizes MMCX port for cable attachment. The MMCX port is flushed, without any protrusion. When the cable is attached to the shell, it gives a satisfying “click” response to the users. I did several cable matchings with upgrade cables like Effect Audio Eros II and ALO Smoky Litz – all of them connect well with Basso’s MMCX port.

MMCX port on top of the shell
MMCX port on top of the shell
Basso with Effect Audio Eros II
Basso with Effect Audio Eros II

The nozzle is in one-piece with the shell and is relatively longer. It provides a deep insertion for me. The nozzle is covered with metal mesh with a small ‘A’. I guess this refers to NXEars’ proprietary AGL technology.

side view of the nozzle
Side view of the nozzle
Front view of the nozzle. The alphabet
Front view of the nozzle. The alphabet “A” can be seen.

Technology

Driver

NXEars utilizes Knowles™ BA drivers for all of their current models. Hugh Knowles, the founder of Knowles™ invented the micro BA driver and spearheaded the innovation ever since. With a long history and experience in this industry, Knowles is now the world’s largest manufacturer and designer for BA drivers.

Each Knowles BA driver is well designed to match the desired outcome. NXEars leverages the quality mindset of Knowles in designing their models by using only Knowles BA drivers.

Aperiodic Ground Loading

NXEars’ patent pending “Aperiodic Ground Loading” (AGL) design allows NXEars IEMs to project an surrounding headroom which aids in detail retrieval and long-term hearing comfort. With this implementation, you will be free from the typical stress and listening fatigue of other IEMs.

According to NXEars, users are going to be surprised by the over-the-ear headphones feeling in NXEars IEMs, thanks to the AGL technology development and implementation.

Fitting and Isolation

As mentioned in the build section, Basso has a longer nozzle which offers a deep insertion. This aids to provide a better isolation and eventually improves the passive noise cancellation. Passive noise cancellation is essential for me especially when I am commuting. I am glad that Basso is a great travelling and commuting companion for me.

The shell is semi-custom like which also helps to improve the fitting. There is no pressure hotspot on ears when wearing. I can easily have it in my ears for hours without getting tired or irritated.

Sound Analysis

To analyse the sonic performance of Basso, I paired it with my Lotoo Paw 6000, Astell & Kern SR15 and Lotoo Paw S1. The finding is parallel for all three pairings. Stock cable is used to construct this review to ensure the sonic quality is not tilted due to cable effect. Basso can be easily driven by my digital audio players (DAPs) without need to toggle them into high gain mode.

Astell & Kern SR15 with Basso
Astell & Kern SR15 with Basso
Lotoo Paw 6000 with Basso
Lotoo Paw 6000 with Basso
Lotoo Paw S1 with Basso
Lotoo Paw S1 with Basso

Sound Signature

Basso has a unique and rare sound signature – warm in the lows and mids while having the brightness in the highs. I would call it a warmly bright IEMs – seems contradicting but it fulfills both adjectives in the term. It has warm lows and mids while the highs are sparkling bright.

I am attracted to this sound signature – it has a good balance between muddy warm and analytically bright. It hits the sweet spot with natural timbre in bass and mids with addition of well-extended, spacious and airy highs.

It seems to be having a surround system with a woofer and tweeter in this pair of IEMs.

Astell & Kern SR15 with Basso
Astell & Kern SR15 with Basso

Soundstage

The soundstage of Basso is wide and deep. The dual Knowles largest BA driver contributed to the depth in the soundstage. The soundstage is three-dimensional with this depth. Within the period of reviewing, I didn’t feel any congestion.

In fact, I auditioned for two live albums from Taiwanese rock band, Mayday, and complicated rock tracks can be presented accurately. With the accuracy and precision in positioning, it well reproduces the feel of being in the concert. I really enjoy myself with my Basso on when listening to live concert albums.

NXEars Basso
NXEars Basso

Lows

Basso has a warm bass. The attack and decay are slower as compared to typical full BA drivers configured IEMs like QoA Mojito. It reminds me of my Campfire Audio Nova – warm bass in a dual BA drivers IEMs. The bass is full-bodied and deeply extended. As mentioned, it has contributed to the three-dimensional soundstage in Basso.

After talking to Casey, this effect is known as “bass-bloom” – NXEars wants the bass to sound realistic, such as the radiation of a cello, or the 2nd wave of impact from a double bass that radiates and wraps the listener. I’m glad that they did it and I can experience the effect.

The bass is clean and neat even with the slower speed. It’s not as bombastic as compared to typical dynamic driver powered IEMs, such as the Sennheiser IE400 Pro. For bassheads who like more rumbles, Basso might not satisfy your needs. The accuracy in bass results in a transparent presentation and overall sound signature. There is no bleeding towards the mids.

NXEars Basso
NXEars Basso

Mids

The mids exhibit warmth from the bass. It has a natural and accurate timbre. Vocals are presented smoothly, emotionally and lively by Basso. This is one of the reasons why I like to listen to live concert albums with Basso on – it always brings the stage to me, with realistic mids.

The vocals are smooth – detail retrieval is not the key factor in the formula here. The selling point for Basso in mids is definitely the warmth and liveliness.

As compared to a lot of my full BA drivers powered IEMs, Basso does not stand out in terms of fidelity in the bass. A lot of them, such as Sony’s IER-M7, are giving clear and transparent presentations in the mids. However, there is always some dryness in the mids due to the focus in detail retrieval. The mids in Basso is focusing on reproducing a lively presentation, just like the mids in Avara Custom AV3 and Simgot EK3.

NXEars Basso on SR15
NXEars Basso on SR15

Highs

The highs of Basso shine the most. It’s very energetic and well-extended. It has a very good presence in the full-bodied, rich mids and lows. Cymbal strikings are crispy smooth – very natural. The soaring highs in Basso matches well with the warm bass and mids – just like a home theater system with a woofer and tweeter.

The amount of air and space injected in the highs factor the fidelity in the overall presentation. These characteristics actually prevent Basso to be overly warm and muddy. It balanced the warmth from the bass and results in a neutrally balanced sound signature. Like I mentioned, it has a unique sound signature – with two contradicting signatures blending well together.

NXEars Basso on Lotoo Paw 6000
NXEars Basso on Lotoo Paw 6000

Comparison

Sony IER-M7

Both of the models are powered by quad BA drivers. In terms of build, Basso is definitely more eye-catching compared to IER-M7 with its copper faceplate and semi-custom acrylic shell. Because of this shell, the fitting of Basso is better as compared to IER-M7, too.

The other selling point of Basso in this comparison will be the MMCX connector. Sony always tends to use a recessed MMCX, this will leave a space around the connector if you are using the conventional MMCX cable.

In terms of sound, IER-M7 is more neutral and darker compared to the Basso. Basso has a more energetic profile. The bass in the IER-M7 is of the same quantity compared to the Basso, but in terms of quality, Basso is the winner. The bass is cleaner in Basso. You are going to experience more significant distortion from the looser bass of IER-M7.

NXEars Basso (left) vs Sony IER-M7 (right)
NXEars Basso (left) vs Sony IER-M7 (right)

Moondrop Blessing

The Blessing from Moondrop is a hybrid IEMs – combination of dynamic and BA drivers. It is brighter overall compared to the Basso. Both of them are energetic but Basso is slightly more reserved in terms of presentation. The sound signature is not as engaging and maintains a distance from audiences. This ensures audiences are less likely to get fatigued because of the overly engaging sound signature.

The bass is leaner in Blessing despite it being powered by a dynamic driver. This reduces the warmth in the presentation and results in a more analytical sound signature in the Blessing. For those who focus more on details retrieval, Blessing will be a better choice for you. Basso is taking a different approach here – focus more on neutrality and connection between notes. The presentation is smoother and more neutral in Basso without a doubt.

NXEars Basso (left) vs Moondrop Blessing (right)
NXEars Basso (left) vs Moondrop Blessing (right)

QoA Mojito

Powered by 6 BA drivers, QoA Mojito could be one of the most reserved IEM in terms of tuning in my collection. The extension in the bass and treble are very limited to prevent overly bombastic bass and piercing highs. This makes Mojito a good pair of vocal referencing IEMs.

If Mojito is a vocal referencing IEMs, then Basso will be a studio referencing IEM. It has good emphasis in all the aspects – bass, mids and treble. No one is left out here.

Both of them are having a neutral sound signature. In this comparison, the uniqueness of Basso is more obvious – the bass and mids are warmer compared to Mojito, while the treble is brighter. The overall presentation is more energetic with Basso.

With the more engaging sound signature, Basso is definitely a winner because of its ability to win audiences’ hearts in just a few mins. Mojito will be a more suitable choice for those who have lower tolerance in bright treble.

NXEars Basso (left) vs Queen of Audio (QoA) Mojito (right)
NXEars Basso (left) vs Queen of Audio (QoA) Mojito (right)

Verdict

The NXEars Basso is definitely a good addition for IEMs within USD$500 with its unique sound signature. The semi-custom acrylic shell and sturdy MMCX connector show a high level of maturity from NXEars in manufacturing high-quality IEMs, despite the fact that they are new in this industry. All the aspects are well considered when designing the Basso and there are no flaws in the end result.

With the implementation of AGL and non-tiring sound signature, Basso can definitely stay in my ears for hours without any irritation. With the deep insertion by the semi-custom shell, it’s now my great companion for commuting or working in the office.

NXEars Basso is retailing at USD$499 if you opted for SPC stock cable. For those who like to have mono crystal 6N copper cable, the price will be USD$549. You can purchase it from NXEars official website. The shipping fee varies, depending on your residential country.

NXEars Basso
NXEars Basso