This pair of shiny in-ear headphones comes to us straight from Sweden, home to Swedish House Mafia - one of many. It's the place where good sounding headphones are born. Did we mention Ikea? Yeah, things just got serious. Nocs' aluminum NS200 had already left us impressed so we've got very high expectations from the NS400, Nocs' intermediate in-ear offering made out of titanium for extra durability and of course good looks, to sound even better. Saying there's an abundance of in-ear headphones out there is an understatement. Choosing the right pair is no easy task, but weighing in price, sound quality and features is the key to choosing the a solid performing pair to make you enjoy your music. The NS400 just might have a check mark besides each of these wanted points. We find out after the cut!
Out of the box the NS400 come in the traditional Nocs sealed individual packaging that you need to open up like a delicious chocolate treat. Inside the accessory sleeve, you'll find a plethora of silicone tips in small, medium and large sizes and a small shirt clip. With each size, you get an extra pair in case you lose a few on the way or just want to lend them to a friend to have a listen with their own clean ear tips. Nocs hasn't spared any ear tips with the NS400 but we are lacking a storage case to keep everything stored and protected. A simple storage like the one included with the NS200 would be more than sufficient to keep all these extra tips from scattered all over the place very quickly. You'd only expect more accessories to be included when going up the line as with any other pair of headphones more notably from Jays. Hey, at least Nocs made a white NS400 version to go a along with your white iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Who doesn't like a small, full featured 3-button remote and mic with their in-ear headphones? I certainly see it as a must have to easily control the volume of my music and movies I watch on a daily basis. The 3-button remote and mic on the NS400 hasn't changes from the NS200 and still looks plain yet gets the job done in a simplistic form and is compatible with all iOS devices, Macs and iPods. Android users have this NS200 model with Android-only compatible 3-button remote and mic. Nocs doesn't have NS400 or NS800 Android-compatible models.
We've yet to see a highly coveted, fancy 3-button remote and mic like the one found on the a-Jays Four. As for the mic quality when making phone calls and Skyping with buddies and colleagues, the NS400 are just as good as any other respectable pair in the same price range and offer a clear audio quality with the minor drawback of background noise being picked up as usual.
But that's not all that hasn't changed from Nocs' lower end model. The NS400 are essentially the same exact in-ears only put inside a different body. This time a body made from titanium. The NS400 will run you $99 while the NS200 are priced at $69. It's certainly disappointing to see a hike in price only to get a different type of metal and finish without improving on features or specs. You'll be getting the same 8mm dynamic drivers tuned as the same exact frequencies as the NS200. The difference in sound is very miniscule and really relies on how much you've "burned-in" the audio drivers for.
Both the NS400 and NS200 greatly improve after burn-in time of at least 40 hours and open up to their full hidden potential otherwise unnoticed when listened to right out of the box. As always, you must give headphones such as these time to settle in before making the final decision. It's not always convenient but it's most definitely worth it.
Besides having a strikingly beautiful machined titanium finish, the NS400 have a warm and balanced sound full of richness that's hardly distinguishable when comparing them to the NS200. At $99, the NS400 seem under-priced for what they give in regards to sound quality. Mids are impressively detailed and clear while highs are even clearer with a boost of treble to help bring out vocals as if you've been listening to your music at a live concert. Bass can get deep and thumpy when called for so you won't feel like you're missing out on the action. Again, because these have a more balanced sound, bass isn't overpowering nor does it drown the mids and highs. With that said, bassheads might not feel like they've been injected with a large enough dose of their daily bass fluids.
Having been made out of solid titanium housing, there's no arguing the NS400 are built solid and made to last you a long time. What wasn't very impressing is the audio cable. Thin, fragile and not tangle-free. Not to mention it's on the short side, and while that's perfect for portability, it isn't all that ideal for home and office use. Again, for the upgraded price, we at least expect additional accessories like a cable extender for more versatility and a tangle-free audio cable.
With three different sizes for ear tips, lightweight of the titanium housings, the NS400 are extremely comfortable to wear all day long with no discomfort whatsoever. The stock silicone ear tips are ok for mildly blocking our external noise. Throw some Comply foam tips on these babies and you'll be blocking out background noise creating a custom seal and increasing the performance.
Should you still get these over the lower end NS200? Unless you really like how the NS400 look, we say nay nay. Nocs has already set the bar high with its lower end in-ear headphones that you're better off saving some cash and going with the NS200. They sound just as good and you'll be thanking us for introducing one of the more affordable priced in-ear headphones on the market that give you a big bang for you buck with hidden epic potential. We're sure Nocs' higher end NS800 will outperform both and can't wait to give them a whirl.