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Nocs NS400 review: Nocs NS400

Nocs NS400

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read

In case you've never heard of Nocs, it's a fairly new Swedish company that makes a growing line of earphones, headphones, and in June, a set of Apple AirPlay-compatible speakers. The earphones reviewed here, the NS400, are a midrange model that retails for around $79.99 online.

Nocs NS400 (titanium/black)

Nocs NS400

The Good

The <b>Nocs NS400</b> earphones have a stylishly simple design and offer very pleasing sound for their price. They also have an integrated iPhone/iPod-friendly remote and microphone for making calls.

The Bad

Folks with deeper ear canals may have a harder time get a comfortable fit and tight seal.

The Bottom Line

The fairly affordable Nocs NS400 earphones offer a simple, sleek design and strong performance for the money.

The NS400 comes in a white or black version, and its simple, stylish design is highlighted by a sleek metal housing made from titanium (the step-down NS200 has an aluminum housing). The specs also list the earphones' diaphragms as being "titanium coated."

The earphones comes with the usual three sizes of silicon eartips (small, medium, and large). There's no carry pouch or case included, though you do get a little clip for attaching the cord to your clothing. The company says that cord is reinforced with Kevlar.

The one feature bonus here is the integrated inline remote and microphone and you'll notice that the NS400's packaging is stamped with the Made for iPhone, iPod, and iPad icons. That means the remote is design to work with iOS devices. You can still use the microphone for making calls on other phones but the remote may not fully function.

The Nocs NS400 come with three different size silicon tips and have a titanium housing. (The black version is shown here.) Sarah Tew/CNET

As I said, I thought the design of these earphones is pretty sleek. However, I did have a couple of small gripes. The first is that since these earphones are kind of small (they're nice and lightweight), those with deeper ear canals may have a harder time getting a tight seal. I was able to get a tight seal and relatively comfortable fit with the largest silicon tips, but I had a little bit of a hard time jamming them into my ears because the cord, which sits at a right angle coming out the bud's housing, prevented me from pushing them in deeper.

The integrated remote and microphone. Sarah Tew/CNET

While my review sample held up fine over the week that I used it, I was a little concerned that if I tugged really hard on the cord, it might be a problem because the connection to the earphone didn't seem incredibly sturdy. But Nocs does say these earphones are durable, so maybe I'm just being paranoid (when earphones tend to break, it's at the point where the cord connects to the earbud).

Not only are the NS400s aesthetically pleasing, but they also offer very pleasing sound for their price. They're nicely balanced with good clarity and ample but not overdriven bass (that's why I describe them as well-balanced). Like a lot of other earphones and headphones that offer a flatter, natural sound, they're designed to work well with all kinds of music. I ran my usual eclectic mix through them -- everything from John Legend to Flo Rida to Wilco and a bit of Foo Fighters -- and came away feeling I'd come back to these earphones after my test run.

It's also worth noting that the microphone performed well -- I got no complaints while I was doing my test calls, and most callers said my voice came through loud and clear.

Our take

Overall, the Nocs NS400s are a solid set of earbuds for the money. You have the highly rated Klipsch S4i in this price (it retails for closer to $99) and this model offers sound that's nearly as good but they arguably aren't quite as comfortable to wear. Still, so long as you don't have extra deep ear canals, I have no problem recommending the NS400s.

The Nocs NS400 is in the middle of Nocs' line of earphones/headphones. (The white version is shown here.) Sarah Tew/CNET

Nocs NS400 (titanium/black)

Nocs NS400

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7Value 7