REVIEW: SOUND BY SWEDEN NITRO-X WIRELESS – Noise-canceling headphones have become very popular in recent months. The range has also exploded, and it is striking that good noise cancellation is no longer the domain of Bose only. More and more affordable NC headphones are appearing, such as this Swedish Nitro-X of considerably less than 200 euros.
Do you have to spend 300 euros and more for a good noise-canceling headphones? A while ago the answer may have been “yes”, but now you can also find cheaper headphones with noise cancellation that perform quite well or even very well. With these affordable models you usually miss functions that not everyone finds important, such as augmented reality audio (such as with Bose) or sensors that compensate for air pressure during flights at high altitudes (such as with Sony). And then you have headphones like the Nitro-X that we look at in this review. For just under 180 euros you get a device that looks sober but still has a number of remarkable features. For commuters and travelers, the excellent battery life is a plus, for discerning music lovers the unusual presence of a cable from a well-known name in the hi-fi world: Supra. No coincidence, of course, because the builder of the Nitro-X Wireless is Sound of Sweden, a spin-off from Jenving Technology, the Swedish manufacturer that releases the Supra cables.
Portable for hours
The fact that the Nitro-X is a bit cheaper than major rivals, is only noticeable at the checkout. The headphones present as a solid product, largely finished in plastic but also with metal elements. You can fold it into something compact and the driver housings rotate 90 degrees so that the ear pads fit perfectly against your ears. You can make all these movements without creaking or few other noises, which gives us a positive impression about the build quality. And the finish? Sound by Sweden opted for a matte black color that enhances the discreet and modest appearance. Pretty nice, although with intensive use you will notice that prints of dirty fingers show.
When we saw in the specifications that this device promised an autonomy of 28 hours (with Bluetooth and NC, without NC it is 35 hours), we feared that it would be heavy headphones. After all, the batteries needed for that very long autonomy contribute significantly to the total weight. But at 285 grams, the Nitro-X is even a bit lighter than a number of affordable rivals, although there are also high-end models that weigh even less. In practice, we experience these Swedish headphones as comfortable to wear, partly due to the comfortable padding on the inside of the headband (something that bare audio viewers appreciate even more) and the thick ear pads. With those pillows, there is also more to it than you might think when you see them. The Nitro-X presses a bit more on the ears (which provides good passive noise isolation) and the cushions are made from an artificial leather clone. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but with these properties you can usually count on some extra warmth to the ears. Can never be avoided completely because you cover part of your heat-producing body (and your head plays a very important role in it). But the Nitro-X is not that bad. According to Sound by Sweden, this is due to the use of BreathTex on the outside, a material that would breathe better (and therefore cool down). Can never be avoided completely because you cover part of your heat-producing body (and your head plays a very important role in it). But the Nitro-X is not that bad. According to Sound by Sweden, this is due to the use of BreathTex on the outside, a material that would breathe better (and therefore cool down). Can never be avoided completely because you cover part of your heat-producing body (and your head plays a very important role in it). But the Nitro-X is not that bad. According to Sound by Sweden, this is due to the use of BreathTex on the outside, a material that would breathe better (and therefore cool down).
Thanks to those ear pads, the lower weight and the ear pressure that is just fine-tuned (for our head shape), we experience the Nitro-X as very comfortable. Our favorite in this area remains the DALI IO-6 , but it costs a bit more. For a longer train ride or an intense open-office wrestling match with a deadline just flew by in the words of Douglas Adams with a whoosh sound, the Nitro-X seems fine.
Simplicity is good
Many noise canceling headphones come with an app in which you can set all kinds of things. The Skullcandy Crusher ANC, for example, comes with an app in which you can tune the sound through a personal hearing test. With others you have extensive equalizer settings. Not so with the Nitro-X. There is no app and the controls on the headphones themselves are minimalistic. On the positive side, all buttons are real, physical keys, so you can operate everything, even in cold weather and with gloves. You switch on the noise canceling function with a slider, so you don’t leave it on unintentionally and the battery is drained. The noise canceling on the Nitro-X is also on or off. If you want adaptive noise canceling with multiple levels, then you have to look for a more expensive product. The question is whether you need that.
The Nitro-X also comes with a solid case so that you can easily transport the headphones, with room for the charging cable and the audio cable that you can use as a backup to drain the battery even less.
As we already mentioned, this cable is made by Supra. Given that using a cable with wireless NC headphones does not happen that often (but it does, for example, if you want to use the in-flight entertainment system on an airplane, because then Bluetooth is not an option), we do not think this is so important now. But it is a nice extra.
SWEDEN NITRO-X WIRELESS: Effective noise canceling
Just like earlobe, you can always expect a bit of soft noise with noise-canceling headphones when there is no music playing and you are in a quiet environment. It is usually not really bothersome; in a noisier environment and when you listen to audio it usually escapes your attention completely. Still, we are very pleasantly surprised if the Nitro-X has very little trouble with this. The noise is very quiet and non-existent when the noise canceling is turned off. The noise canceling itself also makes an impression, especially if we take the price tag into account. The good passive isolation already works fine, if you switch on the active NC, ambient noise is very well eliminated.
Since long train journeys and intercontinental flights are not on our menu for a while, we turn to a four-hour YouTube video of a train journey through a snowstorm. For ASMR enthusiasts but a higher volume, also provide an accurate simulation of the typical sounds that you would rather not hear while listening to music or watching a video. Without playing audio we only hear the higher sounds of the train ride, with an album by French techno artist Rone at a normal listening volume it is completely gone.
We also continue to watch ‘The Old Guard’, the prestigious Netflix action movie starring Charlize Theron. In the emotional conversation around a campfire, in which Matthias Schoenaerts explains the downsides of immortality, those high-pitched train noises are more disturbing. But it does not hinder intelligibility.
The sound quality can also charm us. With a mobile headset there should always be some extra bass, but with the Nitro-X it is not too thick. It makes electronic music such as Rone or Colin Stetson’s eccentric ‘Never Were the Way She Was’ (with Sarah Neufeld, the violinist of Arcade Fire) in impressive, but not exhausting. The soft folk pop of Big Thief can also be heard on the Nitro-X, perhaps not with the fine detail or the largest spatial reproduction that we know from the IO-6, for example, but in an easy listening way that lets you listen in a relaxed manner. .
The Nitro-X is very modestly equipped in terms of functions, but it does well in the areas that really count. The noise canceling is good and the sound quality is fine, with no bloated bass or lack of detail. Where the Sound by Sweden Nitro-X really scores are the good wearing comfort and the excellent autonomy that is supported by a fast charging function. These are NC headphones that only need to be connected to the charger every now and then. And there’s the price tag – it’s great for what you get.
SWEDEN NITRO-X WIRELESS: PLUS POINTS
- Excellent balance between price / quality
- Superior autonomy
- Physical buttons and easy to operate
- Comfortable ear pads with little ear build-up
- More balanced than many other NC headphones
SWEDEN NITRO-X WIRELESS: MINUSES
- No fine-tuning app
- Only SBC