In this feature, we review the TRUTHEAR NOVA, which is a new and competitively priced hybrid 10mm dynamic and 4 BA driver universal IEM. It is priced at $149.99.
Disclaimer: This sample unit was sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. We thank Shenzhen Audio and TRUTHEAR for this opportunity.
To learn more about TRUTHEAR products we have previously discussed on Headfonics click here.
TRUTHEAR is one of the leading IEM manufacturers for the budget to semi-mid-fi segment with several notable releases including the very affordable HOLA which we reviewed at the start of the year.
Each of their releases has always been talked about while being accepted as a competitor to those in the same market.
Now with the NOVA being its most expensive IEM to date, does TRUTHEAR still compete while giving the best performance and price?
The TRUTHEAR NOVA IEM uses a hybrid driver configuration with a singly dynamic driver plus 4 balanced armature drivers combined with a newly designed 3-way crossover.
The NOVA uses a specialized 10mm dynamic driver. This new 10mm dynamic driver has extremely low distortion to give the NOVA better bass performance. Two balanced armature drivers handle the mids while the other two handle the highs and ultra-highs.
The NOVA has an impedance of 14.8Ω@1kHz and a sensitivity rating of 123db/Vrms making it a fairly easy hybrid IEM to drive from most sources.
The TRUTHEAR NOVA has an attractive blue shell design. It’s truly a blue IEM from its nozzle to even its cable.
Its faceplate has a wave-like design that resembles seashells with its unique patterns. This is a unique design for an IEM at this price point. Its shell doesn’t follow its unique-looking faceplate though. It has the regular uniform black shell as other IEMs do.
The nozzle is long as well and has a lip for tips. All tips will work fine with the NOVA due to the decent grip from the nozzle lip.
There are 4 vent holes near the 0.78mm connectors though. The 4 vent holes seem to be placed directly above the dynamic driver, which helps prevent pressure build-up.
As a whole, the NOVA is one of the best-looking IEMs at this price point. Its blue design is a treat to see how shiny and clean it is.
Comfort & Isolation
The comfort of the TRUTHEAR NOVA isn’t great. It will vary per person depending on its size. Its shell is undeniably large. It’s similar to how intrusive the Moondrop Variations is.
People with smaller ears will surely find trouble with this shell. Even as someone who has no trouble fitting IEMs, this still gets uncomfortable at times.
Both short-term and long-term usage will depend on how well you can fit the NOVA. If you can fit it well, you’ll have no issues with it, and the opposite if you can’t.
Meanwhile, the isolation of the NOVA is just okay. I wouldn’t use this for any passive isolation purposes or noise-filtering purposes.
Sleeping with the NOVA is a pain. The nozzle keeps moving around and doesn’t stay put. As a side sleeper, I could never get the NOVA to be comfortable. It doesn’t mold into my ears well and it causes pain to your ear if there’s pressure applied to it.
I tried commuting with it as well, but there’s poor isolation with it. A lot of outside noise gets in the way of when I play music or if I’m using it as earplugs.
There is a lot of variety with the TRUTHEAR NOVA’s tips. They didn’t leave us with silicone tips only.
Firstly, we have two sets of dual flange ear tips. Using this was interesting since this let me achieve an impressive deep fit with the NOVA.
My ear got itchy with its long-term use, but getting the NOVA’s bass was a great feeling. Daily usage of this with the NOVA will give the most optimal experience.
Secondly, we have regular foam tips. There’s only 1 set of it, so be careful using it as you might tear it. I wouldn’t recommend using this since it removes a lot of those sparkly highs. A lot of micro details get filtered out while using the foam tips.
Lastly, we have the regular silicone tips. We have three sets of it this time. They perform as regular silicone tips would. It’ll give you an average experience with the NOVA.
I would personally stick with the double-flanged tips for daily usage, but if you can’t use them, then the silicone tips should be your choice. I’d skip the foam tips since they give the least enjoyable experience.
The TRUTHEAR NOVA has blue and black cable. There will be varying thoughts about this design.
I enjoy this type of cable. It’s one of the prettiest cables I’ve used since blue isn’t normally used. It does have a lot of heft to it since it’s a 4-strand cable that splits into 2-strand. The wires themselves are cloth-like which makes them nice to hold.
Also, it doesn’t get sticky like other plastic cables. I prefer using this to other cables since it doesn’t interfere with or add noise to my daily usage. It also has a chin slider for those needing it. Overall, it’s a great cable that you should use daily.
Packaging & Accessories
Inside the box, we get the standard unboxing experience. We get the IEMs, the cable, the manuals, the tips, and the travel pouch in it.
Opening it, we get greeted by TRUTHEAR’s anime mascot in the box. It’s page-like unboxing where the mascot is on the left and the actual IEMs and accessories are on the right.
The travel pouch it gives us is made well. It has a large clip you can attach to your bag, which I like a lot. You can fit your IEM already attached to the cable inside of it. It also has a netted pouch you can put extra tips in.
You can also add a dongle inside but it will get cramped. Aside from that, the actual material the pouch is made of is great. It doesn’t feel cheap or pointy. It’s an excellent IEM travel pouch.
The following sound impressions were completed using a mix of a Colorfly CDA-M1P dongle combined with an Android smartphone and the new FiiO KA11 dongle.
To give info on my testing, my listening volume is normalized around 70db to 75db with no EQ applied. This is the most optimal volume I’ve found for testing IEMs.
Starting with the bass, all I can think of is how similar it sounds to the Moondrop Variations. Despite the two being in different markets and competitions, they strikingly sound the same.
The main difference it has is the bass quantity. There isn’t much of it that you can feel like the Moondrop Variations does. However, the TRUTHEAR NOVA’s bass is excellent. It delivers quality bass that has an edge over its other competitors.
There is no form of bass bleeding with the NOVA. This is clean bass that you will appreciate as a bass head or enjoy as a vocals-centric listener. This isn’t the groovy boomy bass that you’d expect from something like the THIEAUDIO Hype 2, instead, it’s the calm and tame version.
Bassy music is still enjoyable here, but if you’re coming from a bass-heavy then you would likely feel the NOVA is lacking here. If I am to find fault with its bass, I’ll have to say it needs more midbass. It has enough punch and rumble, but a little more would give the bass more life.
The midrange of the TRUTHEAR NOVA is a great match for my library. I heavily lean towards jazz, soul, and funk music. It gives that genre of music a lot of respect. The vocals are done well, but it does sound anemic for male vocals.
I hear male vocals thinner than I would like with the NOVA. I prefer hearing more of the vocal textures and micro details in it.
I do realize TRUTHEAR IEMs do female vocals well, but male vocals are left with the desire for more. This might be due to how the midbass is tuned. However, as said above, female vocals are excellent here. It has all the tonal accuracies you would need.
The timbre is reasonably accurate also. There isn’t much to fault it for since it does a lot of things correctly.
The vocals are forward, just the way I like it. Female vocals do sound a tad more forward than male vocals in this one. However, I would like a bit more note weight and heaviness in the vocals. I can’t deny that I hear thinness at certain times.
Switching to any IEM that has a lot more midbass, I hear the lack of note-weight richness with the NOVA. Though this might be a preference thing, this should be taken note of.
Detail retrieval of the TRUTHEAR NOVA is good, not excellent. Its detail retrieval isn’t planar level, just below it.
I get everything I would need for daily usage and enjoyment from the NOVA’s treble. The sparkle, the zero sibilance, and the detailed retrieval simply beat the competition.
However, the NOVA does lack things in the air region and treble compared to the likes of the Moondrop Blessing 3 or THIEAUDIO Hype 2.
Although these IEMs and the NOVA do not compete with each other, it’s still something I should say to give perspective.
When I say it lacks things in the air region and treble, I am pointing at the subtle eccentricities of the vocalist when singing, the light tapping on the drums that adds extra shimmer, the extra guitar harmonies, and many more.
I look for these things in my music, and unfortunately, the NOVA doesn’t have them. What it does give is excellent compared to the competition. I consider the NOVA to be a breaking point IEM that gets you the best treble performance for a hybrid before upgrading to a higher-end IEM.
Staging & Dynamics
Like its treble, the TRUTHEAR NOVA gives you competitive staging and imaging. Both imaging and staging aren’t compressed at all but still is an inside-head experience. Its staging is decently sized, but the imaging is accurate, and one of my favorite things about it in this category.
There is a sense of lower lows and higher highs on its imaging side. It successfully points to where the instruments, vocalists, and drums should be.
It doesn’t give you a 3D effect, but rather an enjoyable semi-spatial experience. To give a comparison, I would say the RAPTGO Bridge does staging better but the NOVA surpasses IEMs like the MOONDROP Kato, Tangzu Wu Zetian, and the THIEAUDIO Prestige.
Dynamics is a non-issue. Nothing is buried rather everything, the bass, the mids, and the treble, shines by itself and helps each other.