NarMoo S1 Review

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NarMoo S1
Details: NarMoo’s second release and one of the most reasonably-priced dual-dynamic earphones on the market

MSRP: $89.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $33 from amazon.com; $36 from NarMoo.com with coupon code “THL”
Specs: Driver: Dual Dynamic (10 + 6mm) | Imp: 10Ω | Sens: 102 dB | Freq: 5-23k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: MEElec “balanced” bi-flanges, stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down (preferred) or over-the-ear

Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), shirt clip, and oversize zippered carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The shells of the S1 are aluminum, with build quality as good as any in the price segment. The strain reliefs are soft and flexible, protecting a glossy, internally-braided cable. This type of cable can lose some of its flexibility with time and exposure to sweat, but otherwise tends to be very reliable. As with the lower-end R1M model, mild driver flex is present
Isolation (3/5) – Average
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Quite noticeable when worn cable-down; can be improved with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (3.5/5) – As with NarMoo’s R1M model, the housings of the S1 are on the large side, but light enough to still be comfortable. With its conventional cable and soft strain reliefs, the S1 is easier to wear over-the-ear than the R1M

Sound (7.7/10) – While NarMoo’s entry-level R1M model features three different sound tunings, the dual dynamic driver S1 only has one configuration – enhanced bass. The 10mm woofers produce large amounts of both mid-bass and subbass – enough to satisfy even die-hard bassheads. Even when compared to other bass-heavy earphones such as the Sony MH1C and Nuforce NE-700X, the S1 sounds bassier, though also more boomy. Bass extension is excellent, but the mid-bass steals the show most of the time (the double-flange eartips I ended up using help a little in keeping it under control). As a result, earphones with similar low end power but less mid-bass – the RHA MA750 and Sony MH1C, for example – appear to have more prominent sub-bass than the S1.

The powerful low end gives the S1 a warm and rich tonal character. The midrange, surprisingly, is not significantly recessed and not at all thin-sounding. In comparison, the Nuforce NE-700X is less warm in tone and more mid-recessed. The low end of the S1 can be intrusive and sometimes bleeds into the midrange, reducing clarity. NarMoo’s entry-level R1M model, for instance, has better clarity when used on its less bassy settings, as do the pricier Nuforce NE-700X and Sony MH1C. However, the S1 is clearer and more natural in both tone and note thickness than the similarly-priced RHA MA350.

Strictly speaking, the S1 is a v-shaped earphone with more bass and treble than midrange. However, its top end doesn’t sound bright and remains smooth, especially at low-to-moderate volumes. Some harshness can be coaxed out at high volumes, but the S1 is still best characterized as a smooth earphone. The presentation, likewise, is capable and uncongested, especially considering how much bass the S1 has. Overall, it performs very well, sounding more spacious and three-dimensional than the pricier Nuforce NE-700X.

Select Comparisons

NarMoo R1M (black ports) ($25)

NarMoo’s first earphone, the R1M features a sound adjustment system with three pairs of interchangeable tuning ports. These ports most strongly affect the bass quantity of the earphones. The R1M matches the bass of the S1 most closely with its bassiest tuning (black ports). In this configuration, the R1M has bass quality comparable to the S1, though bass depth still seems just a hair better with the dual-driver model. The mids of the S1 are not as recessed, sounding more natural and maintaining clarity much better when the bass attempts to intrude. The S1 is a little brighter than the R1M, which has less treble presence and crispness. In the more balanced gunmetal and silver configurations, the R1M has a more neutral sound than the S1, with much less bass and a thinner note presentation.

Tekfusion Twinwoofers ($50)

Tekfusion’s Twinwoofers are among the bassiest earphones I’ve tried this year, but arguably go a step too far in the direction of warm and smooth sound compared to the S1. The Twinwoofers have a darker tonal character and sound a bit less clear in the midrange. Their bass is comparable in quantity to that of the S1 but seems more powerful still thanks to the more laid-back treble. The Twinfoors have a smoother top end while the S1 is brighter and thinner, but in a good way, delivering more detail and better clarity.

Brainwavz S1 ($60)

The identically-titled Brainwavz model is, like the NarMoo S1, a bass-heavy earphone. What’s surprising is just how similar these earphones sound – through the bass and lower midrange, the S1 matches the S1 almost note for note. The NarMoo unit is a hair bassier and bleeds slightly more up into the midrange as a result, but the difference is small. The NarMoo S1 does sound warmer overall and has a thicker, more full-bodied sound. The Brainwavz S1 has a thinner midrange with a brighter tonal tilt. It sounds clearer and has more treble sparkle than the NarMoo S1. However, its treble tends to be more sharp and sibilant, especially at higher volumes compared to the smoother, more laid-back highs of the NarMoo.

RHA MA600 ($80)

Another enhanced-bass option, the MA600 from RHA was downright disappointing in this comparison. The significantly more expensive MA600 has slightly tighter mid-bass with similar depth. However, its bass still gets in the way of its mids, which are thinner and more recessed compared to those of the NarMoo S1. The S1 has more full-bodied, more prominent, less veiled mids. Its warmer tone doesn’t stop it from matching the clarity of the MA600, which has more upper midrange presence, brighter tone, and thinner sound. The treble of the MA600 is also grainier compared to the smoother S1, and the presentation is not as spacious.

THL Recommended Badge 2014Value (8.5/10) – The NarMoo S1 is a dual dynamic driver earphone with a powerful, smooth, likable sound signature. While bass control and clarity are limited by the bass quantity, both still impress in comparison to other sets with similar tuning. The housings are on the large side, but very solidly built and comfortable except in small ears. Combined with a sub-$50 price tag, this makes the S1 an easy recommendation among bass-heavy IEMs.

Pros: Bass-heavy sound with surprisingly robust midrange and smooth treble
Cons: Some bass bloat/boom; mild driver flex 


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

19 Comments

  1. CT on

    Hey ljokerl……..could use a little help. I tried some IEM’s once, and I wasn’t sure I liked them so I returned them. Round two, I really want a pair, so I’m just gonna go cheap and live with it. I’m not a basshead at home, but for music on the street, it’s a must to drown out the surrounding noise. I’m looking to stay at no more than $50, but my main problem is the fit. The other IEM’s I tried, the “regular” bullet looking type housing would not stay in my ear, so I ended up keeping the Vsonic GR07’s because the housing could wedge itself into my ear. But the sound was not what I was looking for on that one. Are there any you can think of that don’t have the bullet housing that fits into some sort of under $50, very good bass – probably more mid bass than sub bass, as little harsh treble as possible, and good for all genres, I guess with an emphasis on rock and soul music?? I understand 50 bucks isn’t getting you much, but I do have headphones to fall back on, so I’m just looking for a respectable entry level IEM to be able to get used to, or not. Thanks man…………………CT

    • ljokerl on

      Interesting question.

      First, these (the NarMoo S1s) definitely have a conventional “bullet” housing, and a rather large one at that, so they won’t be any help.

      How about the Fidue A31s: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/fidue-a31s-in-ear-earphone-review/ . It’s not the clearest thing in the world (especially after a GR07) but it has a mid-bassy and extremely smooth sound signature that’s passable for $50. More importantly, it has a very unique form factor and is extremely tiny. You won’t have fit issues with them as long as you find tips that seal in your ear canals.

      My 2nd choice would be the HiFiMan RE300h (review coming soon). Again, very tiny earphones designed for a shallow fit with a unique housing shape. Treble is extremely smooth and inoffensive but they are not so much mid-bass boosted as just very forward through the mid/upper bass and lower midrange. Bass quantity is still well above neutral and clarity still suffers, but not as much as with the bassier A31s.

      • CT on

        Thanks alot. I’m gonna look into those two and maybe a couple others I’ve found, and just get something, anything, by the weekend. Thanks man.

  2. Shane on

    Hey joker. Have you by any chance heard the NarMoo B2M’s? I was wondering how you would compare them to the S1. I was really hoping to pick up the Yamaha EPH-100’s on your advice, but my budget just collapsed (car trouble). Anything you can recommend in the 40-50 range? I like enhanced bass to bass heavy. Mostly EDM kinda stuff.

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah, the B2M is a lot more balanced than the v-shaped S1. Not as bassy, but not lacking in bass. I’d probably still go S1 for EDM from NarMoo. Others to look out for depending on price/availability in your area: Brainwavz S1, Sony MH1C, Rock Jaw Alfa Genus, and also the surprisingly good-sounding ZipBuds PRO (http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/zipbuds-pro-in-ear-earphone-review/) if you don’t mind some cable noise. All have a good sound for EDM. The MH1C is a little more warm and smooth like the EPH-100, while the others are more v-shaped like the NarMoo S1. Generally both of these tunings get good feedback for EDM as long as they have deep bass (these all do) and a decent soundstage (these all do).

      • Shane on

        Thanks for the reply! I don’t know why, but I have a good feeling about the NarMoo for some reason. Read good things on HeadFi as well. I’m a little worried about cable noise on the ZipBuds because I walk 5 miles a day. I think cable noise might bother me. I also checked out the MH1C, but the only pair I saw on Amazon were used. I forgot about the Brainwavz. I’ll check those out too. Thanks again! At least at this price range I won’t be as disappointed if the sound doesn’t blow me away. Something to hold me over until I can get the EPH-100.

        Oh yeah, I also have been looking into Piston 2 and 3. I think I read you preferred the 2 overall? The design of the 3’s are really nice though.

        • ljokerl on

          For what you want the sound of the Piston 2 is much better than that of the 3. I tend to recommend more v-shaped earphones for EDM but the Pistons are very good, too.

          • Shane on

            I ended up ordering the B2Ms. While I listen to EDM most of the time I also listen to a lot of indie rock. I was afraid a V-Shaped headphone wouldn’t do indie justice. I thought sacrificing a little bass in EDM was worth having a good sound with my indie stuff. The B2Ms were delivered today but I haven’t been home yet. Hope I made the right decision. Any thoughts?

          • ljokerl on

            You tell me 🙂

            I haven’t reviewed the B2M in full but based on initial listening my first thought was that it might not be exciting enough to really do well with EDM. But, as an all-rounder it seems to be pretty good. Either way it would be helpful to know how you end up liking them.

  3. Ryan on

    I’ve had the S1 for several months now and enjoy it. I’m trying to find the next big step up for EDM. Heavy bass impact–ideally at moderate volumes for long listening sessions–but still good clarity. I’ve tried RHA T10i, Dunu DN-1000, Atrio MG7 (VitaSound) and Sennheiser IE80. RHA was kinda meh, Atrio had mediocre clarity, Dunu highs hurt my ears over time, and IE80 was nice but veiled and ultimately not worth the price tag. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Bass and clarity are always a tradeoff. The S1 does well on both thanks to the v-shaped signature, but as you discovered with the DN-1000 it’s easy to go overboard with the treble. The T-Peos Altone200 is in the same boat – great bass and clarity, but on the bright side and occasionally fatiguing. I guess you can also include the Sennheiser IE 800 (but not IE 80) in this category.

      On the other side of the coin you have bass-heavy earphones that are smooth, but end up lacking in clarity and perhaps sounding a little dull, veiled, or bloated. This is where basshead top-tiers like the Sony XBA-H3 and XBA-Z5 fall. Some earphones succeed in minimizing the “cons” of this type of sound – for example the BA-based EarSonics Velvet and to a lesser extend InEar StageDiver SD-3.

      PS I prefer the RHA MA750 to the T10i – it does a better job of compromising between the above two camps. You may like it better, too. Also, IMO the Yamaha EPH-100 is competitive in sound with the IE8, but at a lower price and with better value for money.

      • Ryan on

        Thank you! Any thoughts on the Audio Technica ATH-CKS77BK, 99, or 1000?

        Any info on the upcoming Atrio replacement for the MG7? I hear that’s coming out in the next several weeks.

        If you were to go for a true basshead earphone for just electronic music, would you recommend the Sony XBA-H3? I’m trying to stay under $200 and definitely staying under $300, especially if it’s for one genre.

        And thanks a bunch for all the hard work you do on these reviews and answering comments. I’ve read dozens of your reviews in the past few weeks.

        • ljokerl on

          No, no experience with those audio-technicas or any Atrios since the MG7.

          The XBA-H3 is good but as mentioned above it has some of the typical limitations of warm and smooth bass-heavy earphones. No way to really get around those with what I’ve tried in this price range.

  4. mateo on

    great review ;3 what would be your recommend if i have to buy a 50 dollars earphones, i am between this and the velodyne or can you recommend me other? I will appreciate
    thanks

    • ljokerl on

      Either one would be a solid choice. The Velodyne is more focused on deep bass, which allows it to be a little clearer but may not provide the type of raw impact people look for with truly bass-heavy earphones. It also has the mic/remote.

      The S1 is a little more focused on mid-bass impact and sounds bassier in the conventional sense. It also has a warmer tone which can sound more natural at times. It all comes down to listener preference but you really can’t go wrong with either.

  5. Jamz on

    Hey Joker,

    Thanks for the great and comprehensive review!

    If you were to compare the SoundMagic E10 phone to the Narmoo S1, what would you say is the main difference in sound characteristics? Is the S1 as wide and open sounding as the E10?

    Would you consider the S1 an upgrade over the E10?

    • ljokerl on

      Main difference would be the S1 being significantly bassier with a little bit of boom but no big drop in clarity and no huge midrange recession. It’s not as open-sounding as the E10, though – few things are. It is an upgrade primarily if you really value your bass and feel that you’re not getting enough with the E10.

  6. AndroidVageta on

    Nice review! I just recently got a pair of these off of HF and couldn’t be more happy with them. Even after owning CIEM’s costing hundreds of dollars I can’t help but be impressed with these. Sure they don’t do every perfect or anything…but for ~$40 I think one would be hard pressed to find anything better even for twice the price.

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