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.
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’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.
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.
Value (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