Massdrop has been killing it with their headphone collaborations lately. The Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX are, in my opinion, the best deal in audio right now (can’t wait for the HD 6XX drop? Get the Sennheiser HD 600, which are the same headphone). The company also has me drooling over the Focal Elex, but I can’t justifying dropping that much when I already own the excellent Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro.
On the more affordable end of the spectrum, there’s the Massdrop x NuForce EDC3. This updated version is slightly more expensive but features a more neutral presentation, according to NuForce.
Over the course of testing the EDC3, I came away very impressed by what NuForce managed to produce for $100. In my opinion, these headphones are deserving of their “every day carry” moniker and I highly recommend them. Here’s why.
The NuForce EDC3 feature earbuds with angled tips and they make for an extremely comfortable fit. Out of the box, the medium silicone tips were a bit too big for my ears but swapping in the small silicone tips made the headphones fit like a glove. One nice little visual detail is the smoked earbud housings, giving you a glimpse of the triple balanced armature drivers.
The reason why the EDC3 are so comfortable is because of its over-ear cable, which helps keep the earbuds in place while also cutting down on cable noise. Thankfully, the EDC3 do not exhibit much cable noise, even with the included braided cable, which isn’t always the case with cables of this type.
Speaking of cables, NuForce includes two cables: one braided TRS and one TRRS with an inline mic and controls for using with a smartphone. Swapping cables is super easy, and opens up the ability to use aftermarket cables, though the included cables are more than capable already. There’s a single-button remote on the non-braided cable, which is a bummer as you can’t adjust volume from the cable. I understand that a single button setup makes Android and iOS compatibility easy, but when 1MORE can support both Android and iOS with its 3-button remote on the 1MORE Triple Driver and 1MORE Quad Driver headphones, it’s annoying not having it.
Both cables are terminated in a right angle plug that has “Massdrop” printed on both sides. I much prefer right angle plugs as they protect the headphone jack on smartphones from being stressed, so it’s nice to see that included here.
Since I haven’t heard the original EDC, I can’t comment on how they compare. However, I found the sound of the EDC3 quite appealing because of its neutral balance and relaxed presentation. Bass has good impact and extension, mids are outstanding for vocal music, and highs are just a bit rolled off. While I enjoy sparkly highs, I find the EDC3’s highs more forgiving than something like the RHA S500u.
The way NuForce tuned the EDC3 is quite interesting as nothing stands out. Some headphones have great bass, sparkling highs, or an impressively wide soundstage. Having nothing stand out is not a knock against the EDC3, but very good complement. For a headphone aimed at being worn everyday and for extended periods, you want that balanced and slightly rolled off highs so you don’t get fatigued. Compared to the 1MORE Triple Driver, I prefer the better tonal balance of the EDC3 as the 1MORE push the mids back too much to my liking.
While soundstage is just OK, I was impressed with the imaging of the headphones. I could place each instrument in the orchestra or jazz ensemble without problem. I wouldn’t go as far as to say sound is too far “in your head” but higher-tier headphones do a better job of providing an in-the-room listening experience. Music sounds just a bit “small” to my ears.
Amplification helps a bit with dynamics, bass impact, and opening up the soundstage but the EDC3 sounds good out of most smartphones. I paired them with my OnePlus 5T and didn’t rush to get my Fiio E18 DAC/amp; music sounded great out of the phone as the EDC3 are quite efficient at 16 ohms.
Taking price into consideration, I’m truly impressed with what NuForce was able to accomplish with the EDC3. The sound is balanced, ever slightly dark, and dynamic. They obviously can’t dig for details as well as higher end headphones but for $100, these earbuds are truly impressive. I honestly don’t have much to knock about the headphones, and the negatives I’ve found are just nitpicks.
I love the NuForce includes a variety of tips and two different cables. While the braided cable looks cool, I couldn’t discern a sonic difference between the two. And since I actually take phone calls on my phone, I’m going to keep the cable with the mic on my pair.
Do I recommend the Massdrop x NuForce EDC3? Absolutely. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that does everything well, these are it. Massdrop has them on sale for a limited time so don’t walk. Run.