Nobsound NS-01E review – tiny box with a big sound

PRIME AUDIO 2016
Our Score

Hi folks. Today we’re taking a look at the tiny Nobsound NS-01E headphone amplifier. Before we get started here’s a little background.

From the Doukaudio website: “Shenzheng Cavins Technology Co.,LTD has been established since 2014.. We are devoted to design and research of hi-end level of audio equipments under our own brand name Nobsound and Douk Audio with our intellectual property rights. We are striving to build classical extraordinary audio equipment with cultural connotation and propel national audio brands worldwide and pace up with the rest of the world.”

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for the purpose of this review. I’m not affiliated with the company in any way and all opinions and observations here are my own, based on my experience with the product. I’d like to thank Nobsound/Doukaudio and Vivian for the opportunity to test this product.

Doukaudio website: http://www.doukaudio.com/

Nobsound on Amazon

NS-01E on Amazon

Specifications
  • Output power: ≥1100mW (32Ω)
  • Adapter Headphone Impedance: 18-600Ω
  • Total harmonic distortion: <0.005%
  • SNR: ≥110DB
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-30KHz
  • Volume: (W)50×(L)50×(H)30 mm {1.97 x 1.97 x 1.18 inches}- 65mm height when add tube and feet
  • Net weight: 80g
  • Color: Black & Silver & Purple

Packaging and accessories

The Nobsound NS-01E comes in a tidy little white box with gold print on the top. Inside is the amplifier which is protected by a soft white foam, a power supply and a user manual.

Nobsound NS-01E Nobsound NS-01E Nobsound NS-01E Nobsound NS-01E

Build and use

Small is an understatement, this thing is tiny. Nicely crafted from machined aluminium everything is well finished and put together. Starting with the most obvious part – the top, you can see the large, gold colored volume knob that bumps up and down in increments. Diagonally opposite is the star of the show, the little JAN 6021 vacuum tube surrounded by protective plastic discs.

Nobsound NS-01E

On the front side are the 3.5 mm input and output jacks.

Nobsound NS-01E

Moving around to  the back we find the 6V DC power input and the bright red power button.

Nobsound NS-01E

So that’s all there is to it. As you can see it’s a really simple device. I have the silver/white version but the NS-01E also comes in black and purple. Everything feels solid, there’s good resistance on the volume knob which moves in tactile bumps. Plug in the power supply, your source, whether it be a phone, DAC, DAP or computer and hook up your earphones, headphones or amplifier and you’re good to go.*

*The manufacturer recommends you power the unit on for about 15 seconds prior to use, obviously to let the valve warm up to operating temperature.

There’s a blue LED under the valve which may appeal to some and the valve itself glows a mild orange when powered on. Personally I find the blue and orange combination quite pleasing to the eye. The unit gets a little warm when in use but you can comfortably touch or pick it up without fear of burning yourself.

Inside are two Texas instrument NE5532P OP amps:

Nobsound NS-01E Nobsound NS-01E

The Nobsound NS-01E really surprised me the first time I hooked it up to my system. This thing is loud! I’ve no idea how they managed to pack so much power into this minuscule unit but its got some serious grunt. How much exactly do you ask? Enough to make your head explode like a melon under a sledgehammer if you’re not careful. Using the line out from the FiiO X1 II 9-10 o’clock was adequate with the Ultrasone Performance 860. At 12 o’clock I was in fear that my head would implode under the SPL. It was the same when using it as a pre-amp to my Pioneer receiver.

Sound

Equipment used for testing

Foobar2000 > Micca OriGen+ > NS-01E > headphones/amplifier

Foobar2000 > Arcam irDAC-II > NS-01E  > Ultrasone Performance 860

FiiO X1 II line out > NS-01E > headphones/amplifier

NiNTAUS X10 > NS-01E > headphones/amplifier

So how does it sound apart from big? The Nobsound NS-01E gives sound a sense of energy, sort of like you’re sitting on top of a live volcano and just waiting for it to erupt. Low notes dig deeper, mids become a but more full and highs get some extra sparkle. Everything stays remarkably clear and gains some vibrancy.  The most noticeable areas are the bass and treble which both seem to gain more change than the mids. Crash cymbals seem to extend a bit further and take on a real live performance feeling.

It takes away some of the studio’s clinical presentation and gives you a closer to live sound. Overall things sound a little warmer without losing any of the separation or detail present in the recording. It’s not a huge difference and only noticeable if you’re really looking for the changes.

Nobsound NS-01E

Conclusion

Priced at $48.30 on AliExpress and $50 on Amazon this little fella easily falls into the budget amplifier category. What you get for your money is a well-built, compact and capable little powerhouse of an amplifier. This would be perfect for anyone looking for something with a small footprint – perfect for the desktop or use in a limited space. Some may just need some extra volume that their source can’t provide and the Nobsound NS-01E has truckloads of that.

These should have enough grunt to drive just about any headphone. Others might like it for that extra touch of warmth and analogue presentation that only tubes can provide. At this stage, I can’t really find any faults with the Nobsound NS-01E because it comes in a neat little package and does exactly what it says on the box. Recommended.

Reader Score
[Votes: 0 Average: 0]
Founder of Prime Audio
  1. Hi Jose and thanks for your comment. The NS08E has a bigger, bolder sound with richer 2nd harmonics. The sound is slightly more analogue compare to the NS01.

    Personally, I prefer the sound of the NS08E, but the NS01 is a great option if you want something small enough to take anywhere with you.

  2. Excuse me. What is the especific diference betwen Ns01 and Ns08 about the sound? I want to know wich is better? Regards.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Stories
Hidizs EX-01
Hidizs EX-01 review