I certainly didn’t come from the space race timeline nor have I witnessed significant space exploration milestones in my lifetime until now. When I first heard of the Astrotec brand, it got me thinking that maybe they are making equipment using space tech because you know, Astro plus Tec or maybe not but one thing is for sure, their products are “celestial-bodies” inspired especially their earlier iterations with the shimmering and rounded edges. What we have now to realview is the Astrotec NG30, their entry level dynamic in-ear earphone. Thanks to Astrotec for providing the realview unit in exchange for honest opinions, you can check out their official online store, Astrotec, in case you’d want to grab one. The NG30 sports a single 10mm Dynamic driver which is a DuPont multi-layered coated diaphragm and a CCAW light mass voice coil, along with these the rest of the NG30 specs are 16 Ohms, 110db Sensitivity and a Frequency Response of 8Hz-27KHz. Astrotec is quite buzzing right now with a lot of products about to be released and let see if they can build upon the NG30 on the entry-level market.
Packaging and Build Quality
Let’s once again mention that this IEM is priced at $29.90 but when you see its packaging and presentation, you’d have mistaken in to be within the $50-60 range. The packaging is a glossy dark gray box with orange accents and labeled on the cover is Astrotec’s branding and the NG30 name along with their slogan “Explore real music”, perfect for a realview, right? The backside showcases the earphone specs and the company details. Opening up the box shows the NG30 covered with an opaque plastic cover along with the foam insert as a cushion, underneath the foam insert is where the magic happens.
Astrotec has managed to cramp a gray pouch which is built great and works awesome. They also included a silicon ear guide, 3 sized silicon tips (S, M, L) and black foam tips. The NG30 housing is a bullet-type 2-piece aluminum which had a dark hue of gun metal to them, it is robust yet had at least 2 nicks on them out of the box. There is a vent on the underside right next to rubber housing for the cable. It was easy to hold and use with the ear tips providing all means of isolation and seal so choose what’s best for you.
The cable is supple and doesn’t tangle at all when stored on its pouch, microphonics however is easily observed on the NG30. Thankfully there is a chin slider on the cable and the right-angled 3.5mm gold-plated plug also has great strain relief. With all these accessories and build quality and at the price of $29.90, the NG30 is already a winner.
Not really having heard of any Astrotec products before except for some which I already forgot made the NG30 their introduction for me as to what they can do, this time on the entry level audiophile market. The NG30 right off the box sounded smooth and mellow when I used my OnePlus 3T device for the 1st week that I had it. I also used an Opus 1, Sony ZX1, Ibasso dzero mk2 and the Sony CAS-1 to test how it scales. I had the Shawn Mendes “Handwritten” album in 16/44 FLAC on my OnePlus 3T and the NG30 sounded mellow on the midrange and on the highs with the low-end being the prominent frequency rearing its head all over, Shawn Mendes’ “Something Big” track sounded dynamic and full while clarity and detail retrieval took a back seat. It was great to find out that the NG30 can sound good on a mobile phone, warm and mellow that is. For the rest of the realview, we would be using the stock foam tips and the Opus 1.
The low-end performance of the NG30 was tested with Anathema’s “Distant Satellites” in 16/44 FLAC. The steady influx of the bass frequencies has a tight presence and creates a soothing feel that is steadily felt more than it is heard. Transitioning into “Cymatics” by Nigel Stanford in 16/44 FLAC which by the way has a great video that I would recommend you check out as well, the bass impact had good grip and was right on point in speed and the bass decay didn’t overcast to the lower midrange. The NG30’s performance on the low-end over multiple sources clearly cuts through to reveal that it is the leader of the band.
Dire Straits’ “Brother in Arms” in 16/44 FLAC took the stage for NG30’s midrange examination. The male voice in here sounded clear, guttural but still pleasant and airs out a rumble which is nice to be this audible on the NG30. Guitar plucks are clear and distinct with a soft hollow effect. The upper midrange delivery is crisp on the snare hits giving a good upper frequency coherence. Trying out Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” in 16/44 FLAC gives out a breathy response with the female vocals turning clear and gentle sounding. The NG30 works well with both the male and female vocals and the upper midrange is also clear enough to please the ears.
I summoned Candy Dulfer’s “Lily was Here – Live with Dave Stewart” in 16/44 FLAC to try out for the upper frequency diagnosis and they obliged. The treble presentation on the NG30 is controlled quite well yet with a dialed back definition which I hoped wasn’t the case since the low-end of the NG30 already resonates well. The snares and cymbal crashes are crisp which doesn’t sizzle and doesn’t sound too musical. I would have loved for a more definite detail retrieval yet the NG30 still does the job.
Soundstage and Imaging
The NG30’s low-end, midrange and upper frequency coherence showcases a rather narrow soundstage which is intimate yet not congested. Instrument separation and imaging is notable with a toned-down clarity thus attributing to the overall NG30 warm and cozy sound signature.
Astrotec has been around for some time and has already released a number of audiophile products and with their NG30 offering for the entry level audiophile market. They are hoping that it gains traction to its users for their upcoming releases. The NG30 is built cleanly and had no major aesthetic flaws. The cable although a bit microphonic works wonderfully and doesn’t tangle which is a big plus since it sports a non-removable configuration making replacing the cable a non-option when it breaks. The sound is enjoyable on a daily basis and will do good for casual listening. The accessory set is stellar along with the included black foam tips which complements the NG30 quite well. You’d be hard pressed to find a $30 IEM with the smooth sound profile of the NG30 and still get a complete accessory set that you can indeed use for the exact purpose you’d cop the NG30 yourself, to enjoy music effortlessly.