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Nan-6 Planar Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 6 4.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 36 24.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 82 56.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 22 15.1%

  • Total voters
    146

dlaloum

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There are heaps of products, both in audio and elsewhere, that copy much of another design.

At the extreme, a Chinese car manufacturer (Cherry I think from memory?) - built a car to blueprints stolen from Ford.... down to the error in the blueprint!

However, if you look at any product family - the same will be true.... someone comes out with a product - several people then issue their variation on the theme...

Some of those variations are very close - but IMO, as long as they do not try to pass them off as the other brand, and there are design efforts to improve the product (improvement might be changes that make it more economical... potentially degrading core performance) - then these are legitimate new products.

Sure, this appears closely derivative to the He6 - but no one is claiming that it is in fact a copy - there are performance differences ... and there are clearly construction differences too.

Perhaps a separate thread on the benefits and costs of Intellectual property protections, and where the lines should be drawn would be appropriate...?

I find it interesting, that China far more closely reflects the ideology of the libertarian free market in this sense, than America, the purported protector of free market principles, does. The role and value of intellectual property laws, and whether/how they are of value to society - and therefore where such "lines" should be drawn... is a topic of perpetual interest.
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Nan-6 Planar Magnetic headphone. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs S$999 (US $750).
View attachment 210002
Other than the cheesy logo and rough finish of the metal parts, the headphone "looks the part" as our British friends would say. It is exceptionally comfortable and fit on my head nicely. A pair of velour pads and what looks to be half a dozen filters also come with it. I stuck with the unit as shipped (as shown above). There is no documentation with the unit so I don't know what the filters do (if anything different).

A high-end looking balanced cable comes with the unit.

The claim to fame of this headphone is that it is supposed to be clone or close to Hifiman Susvara/HE-6 at a much cheaper price.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was superb once I expanded the headband to near max.

Nan-6 Headphone Measurements
As usual we start with the headphone frequency response as comparison to our preference curve:
View attachment 210003

Compliance is decent from 150 Hz to about 1.5 kHz. Outside of that range we have some deficiency. There is fair bit of roughness in the measurements and one channel deviates from the other in the 2 to 3 KHz region which may indication lack of production quality assurance.

Here is the response of Hifiman HE-6 by the way:
index.php


There is better channel matching but the HE-6 has that notch around 7 kHz which the Nan-6 remedies.

Relative response shows that we don't have a lot to fix:

View attachment 210004

Distortion was impressively low at my two lower measurement levels:
View attachment 210005
View attachment 210006

We will have to boost a couple of regions though so there will be some degradation in practice.

Typical of this class of headphone/driver, impedance is low and flat:
View attachment 210008

You need a high current headphone amplifier to drive the Nan-6 given the very low sensitivity:
View attachment 210009

Finally, group delay is messy which likely goes with the roughness in the frequency response:

View attachment 210010

Nan-6 Headphone Listening Tests
I unplugged my everyday Dan Clark Stealth headphone out of my RME ADI-2 DAC/Amp and loss in output level was quite apparent. The Nan-6 is about half as sensitive. I could drive it to everyday listening level at max level but bass response was anemic. So I fed the output of the ADI-2 DAC to Topping A90 and now I could drive them well enough to clear ear cobwebs. :) I was however surprised that I could get the drivers to crackle pat 3:00 o'clock. Based on distortion measurements, I did not think I could overdrive them. So maybe I was past 114 dBSPL. :D

Anyway, without EQ the sound is pleasant and definitely usable. Add the bit of bass boost and especially the 3 kHz raise and the sound opens up subtly but nicely.

Edit: forgot the EQ curve:
View attachment 210100

You have have very dynamic response with more open air. Spatial qualities are excellent with EQ and just a bit less so without. Other than needing a bunch of power, there was not much to complain about. I wanted to sit there and keep listening but had to stop to take picture and post the review....

Conclusions
Objective flaws in response of the Nan-6 is easy to identify and fix. Once there, the sound is excellent if you have a powerful and clean headphone amplifier. You can use lessor amplification but you won't have any headroom to enjoy the bass response (with EQ) that this headphone can deliver. Whether it is close to the headphones it is supposed to clone, I let you all argue that. :)

I am going to recommend the Nan-6 headphone and especially so with equalization.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
HI,

Maybe I missed it but I did not see the data...
I scanned the curves so the scores are approximative roughly within +/-2points (from the other scans I have done).


Here are some thoughts about the EQ.


Notes about the EQ design:


  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169 NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
Good L/R match.
Deep notch at 10k that drags down the score.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 71.9
Score Amirm: 78.1
Score with EQ: 80.8

Code:
Nan-6 Planar APO Score EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
June012022-104822

Preamp: -5.1 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 33.67 Hz Gain 5.28 dB Q 0.24
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 172.99 Hz Gain -3.42 dB Q 0.62
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 614.66 Hz Gain -1.03 dB Q 4.91
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 930.77 Hz Gain -0.79 dB Q 4.88
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1642.19 Hz Gain 2.75 dB Q 2.36
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 2300.64 Hz Gain 4.42 dB Q 2.50
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 3384.36 Hz Gain -2.16 dB Q 5.15

Nan-6 Planar APO Score EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.png


Edit:
For the RME users (DSP with 5 PEQ), dropping PEQ #3 and #4 yields a score of 80.3.
 

Attachments

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PeteL

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It’s difficult to get excited about a knockoff at this price. Hard pass here.
What makes this one a knockoff? I find so many headphones got that kind of Esthetics?
 

Maiky76

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Strange. I could swear I had attached it but it is not there. Just added it to the review. Sorry about that.

Thanks

I scanned the curves so the scores are approximative roughly within +/-2points (from the other scans I have done).

Here is the updated score card with the actual data.

Score no EQ: 71.7 was 71.9
Score Amirm: 77.6 was 78.1
Score with EQ: 80.2 was 80.8
Score with RME: 79.8 was 80.3

Nan-6 Planar Frequency  Real Data.png
 

Phoney

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I don't really recall seeing Electrostats being measured here on ASR? Are electrostats generally free of the High Q Fine Grass I was talking about above 1kHz?

EDIT: Solderdude found some Electrostat measurements in the post after this one. That Stax (elecrostat) has a bit of High Q Fine Grass above 1kHz, but not as much as a typical planar. Maybe it's the High Q Fine Grass that negatively effects your experience in the Susvara, or maybe it's not.....I think that's the reason for me not being able to get as much clarity out of the HE4XX even when tonality sounds right, but I can't really know for sure that's the reason. If I tried loads of planar headphones and kept coming to the same conclusion then that might help....but that's not gonna happen......it's interesting though that Dan Clarke decided to rid the Stealth of the high Q fine grass.....actually Dan Clarke's Aeon RT didn't have a lot of fine grass either (https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?attachments/dan-clark-audio-Æon-rt-measurements-closed-png.106154/ ), perhaps Dan Clark also think the High Q Fine Grass is detrimental.

He6se with EQ had really good clarity to my ears. Probably the best that I have heard in a headphone. I believe that one has some high Q fine grass above 1khz too. Electrostats is hailed by many for its clarity, but I am yet to try those.
 
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abdo123

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@amirm the bass EQ looks a little weird, why not use a simple Harman Lowshelf at 100Hz? seems like the textbook thing to do.
 

derKoekje

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I'm interested in these headphones. For the price they seem awesome. And they're quirky, a bit unconventional (despite the 'off the shelf parts'). I like quirky. The only thing I'm worried about it is driving them, what are the chances that the WA-7 can drive them decently enough? And if not, what would be a cheap-ish method of driving them?
 

Robbo99999

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He6se with EQ had really good clarity to my ears. Probably the best that I have heard in a headphone. I believe that one has some high Q fine grass above 1khz too. Electrostats is hailed by many for its clarity, but I am yet to try those.
There's a lot to drill down into which would take some extensive controlled testing to really ascertain if High Q Fine Grass does or doesn't negatively impact the listening experience. So I certainly can't say one or the other.....it hasn't negatively affected your listening experience (that you know of).....it's a hunch of mine, and it'll probably stay that way (a hunch).
 

peterq

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I talked to Nan when he was designing the headphone. He is a guy who know how to repair planar headphone including hifiman, audeze and abyss. He decided to clone he6 initially while he did some tuning to make frequency response looks like susvara more or less.
Now I think he is trying to clone 1266. That's the problem of all Chinese producers, if you don't have a high price tag thing to copy, you cannot sell your product with good price although the quality is good.
 
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solderdude

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I see it as a similar attempt as the Verum headphone.

I don't mind a 'copy' when it is (much) cheaper and of similar, or even better, quality and is sold as such with a clearly different brand name on it and clearly being marketed as a an 'inspired by' product and not mass produced by a large company.

A true mass produced copy intended to fool people into believing they got a good deal on a current product is what I would call an illegal copy and there are plenty of those floating around and owners being oblivious they did not get the real deal. Some of the reviews of the original (but copied) product may even get unwarranted negative reviews based on poor performing copies.

Warranty, quality control, availability of spare parts, shipping (and return shipping), only 1 supplier and resale value are things that would keep me from buying them.
Then again, warranty, quality control, availability of spare parts is also an issue with some of the larger brands.
 

peterq

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Yup, from what I know, Nan is the only person behind his product. I won’t worry about the warranty of Nan6 right now since I believe the skill of Nan and the customer numbers are limited, but to support mass production is another story.
 

nyxnyxnyx

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In china I think there are a few brands/companies started with making clones of popular products. I remember gustard h10 is a great attempt at re-making the famous vioelectric v200. It was sold 3 times cheaper than the original and I still remember some people on head-fi who HAD the V200 but also bought the H10 and commented that kinda cannot tell one from another. That seemed like a mass-produced product but I don't know if people were complaining.
That was the days before the surge of SINAD race though, so maybe there were less "competent" choices -> people are more attracted to the H10.
 

deafenears

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Didn't HiFiMAN start off as clones or similar to Audeze? Have a look at the early HE5s with the wooden cups comparing it to the earlier LCD-2s - cups, yoke, headbands.

Oh wait... HiFiMAN are still cloning, HE-R10P.
 

maxxevv

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I think it must be made clear that Nan-6 is not pretending to be some established brand. They are using design cues found on some popular headphones no doubt but then again , its not a direct replication either. The headband part is probably a side effect of the enormous manufacturing base in China. They are probably just taking wholesale whatever good quality headband the specialist manufacturing plants are offering to them at a good price. And the plant doing that may just be the OEM for Audeze for all we know.

But its must be lauded too that in their listing description, they mentioned that their target sound profile was the Hifiman HE-6. And looking at the measurements done here on ASR, they have done a remarkable job getting really, really close ! So it was not a botch job trying to sell a lookalike headphone to the unknowing public. there's real engineering work being done to bring these headphones to fruition. Albeit some shortcuts were taken in the aesthetics side of things.
 
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