NF Audio NM2 Review: Looks Can Be Deceiving

  • Great balance across the spectrum
  • Excellent price to performance ratio
  • Naturalistic timbre

  • Cheap looking shell

Founded in 2014, NF(Near Field) Audio is a brand from China that produces in-ear monitors in both custom and universal fit. They got popular through their NA and NM series of IEMs that utilizes a single dynamic driver, but they also have IEMs with balanced armature and electrostatic drivers. The NM2 was released way back in 2020, yet it seems that it is still a great option for the price until now. The NM2 currently retails for 99 USD, and was provided to me for free by KeepHiFi in exchange for this review.

Driver unit: MCL2-10 dynamic, dual cavity (diameter not specified)
Impedance: 18 ohms
Sensitivity: 108 dB
Frequency response range: 10 Hz - 40 kHz

Poco X3 paired with FiiO KA3, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The NM2 comes in a pretty unique packaging. The box is sleeved but only one side is open. The accent color of the box depends on the color variant of the earphone. In my case, I chose pink, so the box was also pink. The inner box opens like a book. On the left side, there is the instruction manual, and underneath it is the round hard fabric case that contains the 3.5 mm female to 6.35 mm male adapter, and a pair of a super small widebore silicone eartips. On the right side, there are the earphone inserted in a circular foam, and made to look like a compact disc. Underneath, there is a circular card that holds two sets of silicone eartips in three sizes. An "atmosphere" set which has wide bores, and a "balanced" set with regular size of bore. Lastly there is the cable with a velcro strap and a plastic cap for the plug.
The shells are made of transparent resin with a smooth and glossy surface. The faceplate sports the NF Audio logo. It is barely noticeable but right blow the female pins, there is a small vent. Another vent is present at the rear side of the shell. The medium-length nozzles are equipped with a recessed metal filters and a lip to hold eartips in place.
The cable is a 4-core silver plated oxygen-free copper. It is slightly on the thin side but construction feels good. Some microphonics can be heard but nothing major. It is light, very soft and has great flexibility. The male 0.78 mm 2 pin connectors are made of plastic, the splitter is made of hard rubber, while the chin slider and the 3.5 mm gold plated plug are made of metal.
Now let's get to the sound.

The lows also have a smooth and clean texture but with an almost neutral attack. Subbass has a slightly above average depth with an adequate level of decay. Midbass is average in weight and is placed at just the right spot along with the subbass.

Overall, the lows of the NM2 exhibit a very dynamic approach where the rumble is impactful when the track calls for it, and takes a step back when not needed.

The mids are placed at the center and reproduced with great transparency. Vocals have an above average level of articulation. Both the lower and upper mids are average in terms of note weight. However, there is a small bump in the upper mids that give extra energy to the female vocals and highlight to guitar and pianos.

Overall, I consider the mids of the NM2 to be an all-rounder since it sounds great for most genres. Depending on the track, the boost in the upper mids can sometimes give a hint of aggressiveness although it is very minimal.

The highs are presented in a neutral manner. Treble reach and its accompanying decay is average. Having said that, subtleties are still fairly easy to pinpoint. The splashing sound of cymbals and lead guitar overtones sound detailed and crisp.

Overall, the NM2's highs are balanced in such a way that it doesn't come across as too sparkly or too tame, yet it maintains its presence well and doesn't get drowned out by neighboring frequencies.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The NM2 has an average size of stage. The height partially expands more than the width. Instruments sound airy, spacious and well separated and the resolution in the imaging is really, really good. Accuracy is great as well as the clarity. Instruments sound airy, spacious and well separated. Congestion is very minimal even in busy tracks.

NF Audio NM2 (1 DD, 99 USD) vs. TForce Yuan Li (1 DD, 119 USD)
These two are not far from each other in terms of price and overall sound signature, but the Yuan Li is a lot harder to drive than the NM2. The Yuan Li has the bigger sounding lows. Subbass has more depth and cleaner in texture with the Yuan Li. It has a louder rumble, although the difference is very, very small. Length of decay is just about the same. Midbass impact and weight are identical but slightly more forward in the Yuan Li. With the mids, the difference is also really, really small. The Yuan Li only has partially more energy in the upper mids and slightly better transparency. Other than that, they are identical. In the highs, the decay is equal but the Yuan Li has a very slight, almost unnoticeable edge in the reach. As for the soundstage, they have the same expansion in the width but the NM2 has a bit more height. Imaging, instrument separation and layering are also identical.

Many have pointed out that the NM2's shells doesn't look all that impressive given its price tag. They are absolutely right. NF Audio could have improved it especially when similarly priced IEMs come in fancy, elegant looking shells. But what the NM2 lacked for the aesthetics, it made up for the sound quality extremely well. Despite being released a few years ago, the NM2 remains to be a great option until today for its respectable sonic performance.

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