The Nerva X packs 10 drivers per side, but the only specific details known are that there are specially vented drivers designed to work with the silver housing effects on the mid frequencies.
As stated in my previous review, the UERR, there will now be scores assigned.
Honestly, what I remember when I first received the Nerva X was how heavy it was, and how it could be easily scratched if one isn’t careful. Silver is pretty soft, so do treat it with care and keep them separately.
But well, this is a review on its sound so, warm neutral. The bass, especially the mid-bass, had a noticeable presence and thickness to it. Mid came across as clean and dry. I’d started listening off the bat with a silver cable, as I believe the stock copper cable does this iem no justice.
The sub-bass has a good rumble, an issue I find with many pure BA iems. It does decay pretty quickly, preventing the bass from turning muddy. While it doesn’t go extremely deep, it does go deeper than the average BA without losing out on clarity and resolution.
Compared to the QDC Gemini, I personally find the Nerva X capable of going slightly deeper. But to be fair, the Gemini’s weak point is mainly the bass extension.
The mid-bass was excellent. Fast but full-bodied slams combined with a quick decay, betraying the fact that it is a BA. It is also well-balanced with a slight push, giving the Nerva X a dose of fun without overflowing into the mids.
High clarity, lovely mid-bass texture, and great control. Besides lacking the depth of a dynamic driver and having a better-articulated rumble (it is good, not great), the Nerva X does superbly well in the lower-region.
There is a slight emphasis in the mid-lower bass region, pushing it slightly forward and deviating from a boorish flat-neutral.
The highlight of the show. Vented balanced armature drivers have often been more of a gimmick, with questionable effects given how BAs work. I do not know the internal arrangement of the Nerva X, and neither do I want to break mine apart.
But one thing I can definitely say is, the Nerva X’s mids are definitely unique in the sense of tonality and texture. You have BAs, Dynamics, tube amps and then you have the Nerva X. There is a noticeable emphasis in the mids as if it is trying to tell you to take note of it.
Nerva X has a dry after-taste sensation, much like a Shiraz due to its quick decay. It is full-bodied and well-controlled for sure, with clarity and coherency that caught me by surprise. Unlike other types of new drivers like electrostatics which sound great but fail to mesh well, the vented BAs in the Nerva X has a different texture from regular BAs in the mids, yet blend in with the bass and trebles naturally. Much better than some pure regular BAs, if I may add.
The soundstage is comfortably large with great separation. The mids are generally closer in the center and feel more distant towards the upper-mids.
Due to the tuning, emotions feel strained and the Nerva X isn’t able to easily bring out nuances in vocals. This makes it feel more analytical than musical, though not to the extent that it feels dead.
The intimacy of the vocals can initially feel odd due to the dryness which makes it feel sterile. But the clarity and coherency are top-class up close, and even though I love my mids to be more emotional, I feel the trade-off is still acceptable.
There is a noticeable roll-off in the top-end, kind of reminiscent of the UERR. With no sibilance and focus on clarity, the Nerva X gets on the right track here.
The trebles, despite the roll-off, remain energetic and somewhat vibrant. The headroom felt average, and I didn’t get an airy spacious feel. The soundstage, however, was still plenty wide, which avoided a bottleneck.
Detail retrieval was great, with dryness in the lower trebles turning silky in the upper-end. Overall it was interesting sounding, and honestly hard to judge as good or bad. I did enjoy it personally, though I believe it is unlikely going to be a tonality widely loved.
Hyla seems to have thrown all caution to the wind when they made the Nerva X. I enjoy seeing such gambles hitting the market as they may become the next gem.
Nerva X has a focus on clarity and cohesion and is willing to sacrifice some dynamism to achieve so. I personally find it still sufficiently emotional, and more preferable for a critical listening session than musical-focused iems such as the Roxannes.
Oddly enough, it doesn’t really get fatiguing or boorish to listen to even for long periods despite what its tonality may suggest. As of writing this, I’ve just passed my 3rd-hour tonight listening to the Nerva X non-stop, a perfect accompaniment as dusk settles.
Overall score: 8.4/10
Nerva X is a unique entity. Due to its build and vented BA drivers, it is difficult to draw direct comparisons to competitors. Its price tag is also somewhat inflated by the silver shell, which without doubt looks exquisite. Scratches and minor dings only serve to give it more character over time, a trait of silver products.
Do I feel that it is justified by the price tag? If one loves the design, then it may be worth it. But sound-wise the Nerva X is up against really strong competitors at its price point, such as the VE8 and QDC Anole VX. But the Nerva X still sounds great on its own regardless and isn’t simply a gimmicky release.
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