Published on November 27th, 2016 | by Greg0
NuForce HEM6 IEMs: Triple Drivers For Better Sound
Now that the chaos of the biggest shopping day of the year is past us, we can return a measure of sanity to holiday preparations. Instead of trying to find the biggest and craziest discount and rushing to grab it, hopefully we’ll be able to focus on quality, finding and suggesting some of the best gear out there. Often, the products we recommend are a little bit under the radar, companies with smaller marketing budgets, no TV commercials or celebrity endorsements, and that typically means more money for R&D and components- better products for the same price.
NuForce is now owned by a fairly large company, Optoma, but you could be forgiven for not recognizing the name. They produce a pretty wide range of higher-end audiophile-grade and professional equipment, and the best part is that they have brought some of that recording studio technology into a pretty affordable line of in-ear monitors, the HEM series. Each of the four models, from the HEM2 to the HEM8, feature largely similar features and aesthetics, and are distinguished primarily by the number of drivers. The NuForce HEM6s boast three total drivers in each earbud, and prove again that in-ear options can compete handily against their on-ear and over-ear brethren in any competition for sound quality.
Inside the package are the fairly standard trio of differently-sized silicone tips, plus two sizes of Comply memory foam earbuds as well, for better isolation. NuForce also went the dual-cable route, which we’re starting to see more and more and really appreciate- one removable cable for straight audio purists, and another which has a microphone and remote for use with mobile devices. A small carrying case, cleaning tool, and 1/4″ adapter are included as well, a nice and pretty complete set of accessories. The HEM6s were surprisingly comfortable, and fit nicely without tugging once you’ve figured out the slightly-unusual cable route over your ears.
For years, on-ear and over-ear models offered a pretty compelling quality gap, using the additional space and weight to enhance reproduction. But that’s no longer the case, and except for the lowest bass, these held their own in terms of range and sonic quality. Offering lighter weight and thus more portability, they’ve proven quite durable over weeks of use. You might wonder why you would want three drivers, but the difference is pretty clear- more isn’t always better, of course, but these can reach frequencies as high as 40,000Hz, double that of most IEMs.
Whether your average person will be able to hear that far is a different story, but it seemed the extra range allows a little more space in the overall sound signature, making for a top-notch soundstage. Transient sounds, like the quick tap of a snare drum, released faster than many other sets for more authentic percussion. We loved the extreme transparency- almost high contrast in the details, if just a touch warm and bright. Of course, you’re paying for the privilege of those extra drivers and the impressive feat of making the tiny package work so smoothly together- the HEM2s start as low as $129 and the HEM6s as tested will run about $279 online and in stores.