Review: Lear NatroSound NS-U1 – Sound All Around

Disclaimer: LEAR provided this a sample, free of charge, for the purposes of this review. The Lear NS-U1 NatroSound sports two dynamic drivers and goes for about 200$ USD (1688$ HKD). You can find out all about it here: LEAR NatroSound™ NS-U1.

Relevant links:
Lear BD4.2 – The Dynamic/BA Dually
Review: Campfire Audio Andromeda – Topping The Maker Game
Jerry Harvey Audio – Roxanne
Review: Future Sonics G10 – Bassy Done Right

Not sound

LEAR NS-U1 NatroSound is wild. Each earphone is the size of a small strawberry, and fits about as well in the ear. But at roughly 200$ USD (1.688$ HKD), it’s a lot of earphone for not that much money.

It comes with two cables, one dual-wheeler with analogue controls for M. Bass (Mega Bass?) and NatroSound, and one with mic and a play/pause remote. Inside each earphone are two drivers per channel – and whatever stuff it took to get the NatroSound circuit to work. The NS-U1 is a big earphone. So is its unwieldy carrying case, which closes via a sturdy bayonet-mount. It comes with five pair of ear tips, three silicon and two foam. The box is similar to but larger than the one that came with Lear’s incredible BD4.2

LEAR NS-U1 (3 of 10)

I have a few problems with the dual-wheeler cable:

1- it bends too easily when adjusting the control mounted on the fascia

2- the N.S. attenuator on my unit isn’t well calibrated, so when engaged, one channel is louder than the other

3- in order to engage the N.S. switch you have to use a finger nail; the case is flimsy enough that a simple rubbing motion sinks the face in and your thumb may just ride right over the entire thing.

Both units use the same quad-prong cable, which isn’t compatible with anything I know of. If you break your cable, that’s it. You also lose the ability to engage the NS-U1’s biggest selling point: passive cross-feed with any source. Luckily, the cable is pretty sturdy, if a bit uncomfortable for glasses wearers. The four-pin connector juts out a bit too much from the ear before bending backward. If you have small ears, it will stick way out. Its pins are tough. The rubber sleeve has that new q-Jays thing going on, which means that it should last. And the plug is L-shaped, though almost reedy thin. The body isn’t as solid as it should be. Its plates shift a bit when you put a lot of pressure on them. And there the gaps between plates vary in width from earphone to earphone. (Lear noted this on their website.) 

LEAR NS-U1 (1 of 10)

The NS-U1 is the biggest-fitting universal-only earphone have used. Ever. It’s round, so it won’t poke anything, but it really, really fills out the ear. Personally, I get blisters when using it. My ears take Campfire Audio’s Andromeda with no problem. They take the ToGo!334 easily. The universal version of Jerry Harvy’s Roxanne

was another thing, but then again it shoehorned a custom earphone into universal form.

Sound and more after the jump:

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

3 Comments

  • Reply May 27, 2016

    Barun C

    Great read Nathan. The article read like you had heard the NS-U1s and formed an opinion and then again when you came back for a listen your opinion had progressed in a different direction due to the fact you were acclimatized to the IEMs sound signature, although size remains an issue. I have listened to the JH Angies once and thought it was too big for my ears and they were always sticking out.

    BTW three mentions of Andromeda, has it overtaken Grado GR10 and ATH CK-10 in terms of your all time favorite Universal IEMs already?

    • Reply May 27, 2016

      ohm image

      Acclimatising to the NS-U1 took a little time. Not too long, but my first impressions weren’t nearly as good. A while later and ‘wow!’ I got it.

      As to Andromeda, etc., the reason I mentioned it so often is more to do with size. But also because it has extremely deep mids and while NS-U1 isn’t nearly as detailed in the mids, it has an expressive and wide midrange. I’d love for an earphone the size of the CK10 or GR10 to sound exactly like the Andromeda. Not going to happen. Which is why I’m very glad the GR10 is right up my alley.

      • Reply May 27, 2016

        Barun C

        The size does matter, (That’s what she said!! ) when it comes to IEM fit issues. I’ve started using an IEM for my daily commute, I got a few days back called the VSonic VC 1000 (Discontinued). And its fit is incredible, especially due to its size. Finally found an IEM which is also comfortable in the bed. It sort of looks like a not metal smaller & less thicker version of the MyST Nail 2X2.

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