Disclaimers: Nuforce provided this Primo 8 to me, free of charge. I took it.
I’m going to nip it in the bud: nuforce’s Primo 8 looks like a blue Giro’s Aspect road bicycle helmet. Nuforce tell me that they’ve got nothing against Giro, but the Aspect wasn’t their muse. They also say it’s not the first time someone has pointed that out.
As you know from the DAC80 review, my first Nuforce was the awesome budget NE7 earphone. It had a single driver. Nuforce Primo 8 has four – per side. It goes for 500$, and comes in a package that weighs about as much as a Giro Aspect. And, it comes just as well padded.
Primo 8 is a flagship product of a company that has just come into its own. From the first time you strip away its cardboard sheath Primo 8, and its accessories, look – and feel – premium.
Cue my first proviso…
‘Authentic’, ’premium’ are mendacities that never should be associated with the name of a product or service- unless that product or service is decidedly shit. Portmanteauing primo and premium into the name of a flagship earphone that costs as much as Primo 8 does isn’t exactly luxury.
If the Primo 8 earphone takes design cues from a road bicycle helmet, its cables take cues from a mountain bike. The guides are thick and chunky like a down tube. There’s a nub on each cable that prevents the MMCX cable from rotating away from the ear. Call it a cleat. And like a good, rigid frame, the ear guides amply support the earphone and cable system both on, and off the earphone. The net effect is that Primo 8 is, on paper, easy as hell to use.
Clever use of stress sheaths keeps the cable from fraying near the ear guides. I’ve not had the earphones long enough (nor braved Tokyo’s 36º+ degree weather long enough) to say whether or not the cable will hold up to the sweaty, oily, daily grind. I can say that they boast well-reinforced junctures, and where supplied, come with ample reliefs.
But like the cable that came with the Sleek Audio SA7, I half expect to be able to use it as a fishing rod in half a year. At the y-split, it lacks a sheath, and whitens when folded to stress levels. But I’ve seen worse. The neck cinch reminds me of the one that came with the Shure SE846.
While not unobtrusive, nuforce’s anchoring of the remote in the y-split is sensible, it not completely logical for the constant talker. The microphone is clearest when pinched between two fingers, like the captain of a spaceship from a 1980’s sci-fi movie. Or, like a fashionable cigarette. Take your pick.
The way I see it is this: if you’re paying 500$ for a pair of top-notch earphones, you’re probably more worried about the sound of your music, than the sound of your chit-chats with old blue eyes.
Overall, well done.
For a lad stuck inside due to ridiculously hot weather and the hyperbolic emission of carbon monoxide by lazy locals, it’s a relief to look an an earphone and think of my Marinoni. Rolling the Primo 8 around between my finger tips almost reminds me of racing up and down the clean, clear roads around Rumoi, and Vetlanda, and laughing in the clear air.
Oh Blue Helmet, aka Primo 8, I salute your fresh design.
Primo 8 wouldn’t be a 500$ earphone if it was molded, or carved, out of aluminum. The paint work is beautiful, and the body is robust. It is resistant to scratching, its body is extremely rigid, and its seams are tight.
But as well as Primo 8 is made, it’s its fit that really stands out.
In the ear – as long as you’re not cursed with laterally narrow concha bowls, Primo 8 defines comfortable. I say defines rather than redefines because I have had to rethink what I knew about fit. Evidently, I’ve a way to go. Properly seated, this earphone is super duper comfy. Even my wife, whose ears reject anything but Grado’s beautiful GR10, finds no fault.
Wait, I’m forgetting something: the cable.
As clever as it is, its muscular arms wrested my glasses off the bridge of my nose, and mushed them against my eyebrows. Fact. Away the stock cable. Non-glasses wearers, you may get on with the stock cable, but I wanted to burn it.
A simple change to low-profile Linum cables, and voila! Primo 8 morphed into the comfortableest multi-armature earphone I’ve ever put into my ears. So clad, it sits flat and secure. It has no hard edges, no sharp seems. Its insertion angle is the perfect compromise of security and ergonomics.
Still not with me? Go to your local candy shoppe and ask for a 1kg bag of liquorice jelly beans. Make sure they’re not Jelly Belly ones. Before sending me the package (I can’t get them in Japan), place the concave foot sideways against your concha. That, my friends, is the Primo 8.
Oh, and you can keep that bean.
Sound impressions on next page: