It was only last month when Nocs released its exquisite NS600 Crush in-ear headphone only to win our coveted Editors' Choice award, and now it's time to move on up to even greater things. Nocs' new NS700 Phaser are an on-ear pair of headphones that promise powerful sound, extreme durability and superior comfort. Doesn't that sound good already? Well, we've put the NS700 Phaser thru a lengthy real world testing to find out what sticks and what doesn't. To find out, the full review is waiting for you just down below!
What's inside the box you ask? Nothing but a beautifully presented minimal interior unboxing experience. No strings attached and no useless obstacles to get in the way. That and you'll also find that the NS700 Phaser come included with a fabric-made drawstring carrying pouch to keep them in while not in use. How useful is a soft pouch in keeping these headphones protected? Minimal.
A pair of NS700 Phasers will run you $100, putting them right at the starting point of mid-range solid performing on-ear headphones such as the AIAIAI Capital and Logitech UE 4000; to name a few. Both strong competitors, each with its own respected unique style and features. But enough of that, the NS700 Phaser are amongst the most deceiving headphones to be made. At first glance, the design isn't what you would call original. In fact, my first impressions of the NS700 Phaser was that they look very generic. The styling is simple to the point of looking unimpressive or different from most of the latest headphones we've seen so far.
Walk into an Urban Outfitters (also known as hipsterhaven), or look up cheapo and inexpensive on-ear headphones and you're bound to find a bunch of on-ear headphones that look vaguely similar to the ones Nocs designed. Urbanears Plattan much? Coincidence or not, we don't really care. Because what really matters is the small details that reveal themselves at closer inspection. The Phasers are available in black, gray and in this deep red with contrasting black accents we've got in to review.
Low and behold, the NS700 Phaser actually aren't remotely associated with your run-of-the-mill generic headphones. While they still feature a somewhat cheap looking metal wire construction and basic ear cup enclosures with no fancy articulating hinges, the built quality is actually high enough to justify the price tag. The entire exterior is coated with a matte rubbery coating which is soft feeling and gives the headphones a better look and feel that boosts the generic-like assumption towards a more positive side. Little details like the rubber left and right indicators, leather ear pads, and the smooth rounded construction give the NS700 Phaser a touch of quality and minimalist attention to detail. The headband is made from a very durable TR90 nylon material by Dupont which is to say won't snap in half when stretched.
The headband is also very different and unique. It's made out of thick rubber which surprisingly isn't soft or padded feeling. Instead it's designed to give traction to the headband keeping it from sliding about. And that's exactly what it does. As much as uncomfortable these may look and sound, I was really happy to find out that with hours and hours of prolong use, the NS700 Phaser were still comfortable to wear without hurting my ears or the top of my head. And that's duly because of the fact that there's very little down force and tension put on your ears while the soft memory foam leather ear pads maintain a comfortable seal that will block external background noise quite well. Sound leakage has also been kept to a near silent amount thanks to the seal created by the circular leather on-ear pads.
As far as features go, the NS700 Phaser headphones lack a foldable design and the basic detachable audio cable. But what you do get is a one-sided cord attachment, Kevlar reinforced tangle-free cable and a lightweight 3-button remote with mic that's only compatible with iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad. If you didn't know, you can use the slim remote and mic to answer calls and basically use the NS700 Phaser as a headset. Call quality is nothing too extraordinary, but it definitely does the job. The mic audio quality is clear, however, you're going to need to raise your voice to be heard loudly as the pick-up isn't very sensitive. This is a standard Nocs 3-button Apple controller meaning that you've got the ability to bring up Siri and of course adjust the volume and music playback. Buttons offer superb tactile feedback and as always are a pleasure to use.
They say don't judge a book by its cover, well that is exactly what I did and I got slapped hard back to reality when I first played a track using the NS700 Phaser headphones. The sound quality is nothing short of impressive. Very well balanced with a sound signature that's leaning towards a warmy natural sounding performance. The 40mm dynamic drivers bring out a spacious depth in the music and when putting a track like Gods & Monsters by Lana Del Rey, the separation between the vocals and the instruments is greatly noticeable which is also why rock sounds very good. The high end sound extremely clear with plenty of treble and the mids aren't as perfect yet crisp with decent forward detail.
The NS700 Phaser are a bit underpowered and need to be cranked up with volume juice like someone that desperately needs a gimmicky energy shot. The bass response is buttery soft and although it slightly hides in the background, becomes present at mid-level volumes. Put on a bass kicking track such as Mercy by Kanye West - and the NS700 Phaser will impress you with great quality, thumping bass. Not as Beats thumping, but then again we are talking about a well balanced sound signature which the Phasers pump out. Highs, mids and lows are all tastefully present and hard working.
Nocs may be an indy newcomer audio brand building its reputation and street cred, we're impressed each and every time we grab one of the company's latest offerings. The NS700 Phaser are deceivingly good. Natural, well balanced sound meets a durable unsuspecting clean design. If you're looking to spend not more than the asking price, then these will be a very good pair to get with quality sound to back it up. The Danish rival AIAIAI's Capital are a close alternative at the $100 price range offering a distinct urban Ikea-like design with a very similar built quality and sound characteristics, albeit with some drawbacks including discomfort. While we couldn't recommend the Capital, the NS700 Phaser on the other hand have got our general recommendation.