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NanoHiFi PNH-220 In-Use and Sound Quality Tests

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While the fit and finish of the actual NanoHiFi unit was fantastic, in use it was even more impressive. I may not of liked how the menus worked or some of the other functionality, but I loved how it responded to me. When you switched to an input, or turned the NanoHiFi on, it didn't blast you with the last volume. Instead, it slowly raised the volume to the last setting. While it didn't give you a lot of time to stop something that was going to be very loud, it felt very polished. The same would happen when you powered down the unit. The volume would turn down as it displayed a "Good Bye" message.

my ears ran out of headroom long before the NanoHiFi....

While the Bluetooth was finicky to re-pair, when it was connected it worked great. The FM antenna was powerful enough to pick up stations even when I had it deep in a room and behind a dresser. The USB interface was basic (Track 1, Track 2, etc. with no meta data) but worked. Same with the CD. When I docked my iPod Touch, I could use the remote to skip songs and navigate playlists. Oddly, the NanoHiFi had to be on to charge the iPod. Most docks will charge even when the unit isn't on (as long as it has power).

nano_apart

Grilles as far as the eye can see

Sound

nano_speaker2None of this makes a bit of difference unless the NanoHiFi sounds good. And it does. With bass that belies it size, the NanoHiFi will fill your office or bedroom with sound. At volume level 12 or so. Why is that important? It maxes out at 30! Do you have a great room with some room on top of your cabinets? The NanoHiFi can fill it. Do you have a two-car garage converted into a game room (and if so, why?), the NanoHiFi will eat it for breakfast with headroom to spare. Does it hit down to 80Hz cleanly? Yes. Will you be happy with how it sounds not only for the time being but for the foreseeable future? I think so.

I tested the NanoHiFi with a variety of music. I listened to Rock, Jazz, Showtunes (don't judge me), Rap, and much more. There were definitely some low notes that weren't coming through but, realistically, I didn't expect them to on a unit this size. What I did expect was distortion and clipping at higher volumes (and sometimes lower volumes). I experienced none of that. My ears ran out of headroom long before the NanoHiFi.

If I had to pick a word to describe the sound of the NanoHiFi it would be "rich". Lush would also work. The sound quality was stunning out of such a small system and I quickly found myself immersed in the music. With a desktop system like this, I'm not so worried about strict linearity. Sure, that's important, but with a system that is likely to be non-optimally placed, I'm more concerned with how well it performs regardless of placement. I put the NanoHiFi in large, open rooms. I had it on the floor, on a counter, and on a desk. I stuck it in an alcove in a bedroom with the speakers shoved into the corners (technically my wife did that but whatever). Basically, I tried in a lot of different placements and the result was always the same - the NanoHiFi sounded great. The midrange, in particular, was very smooth and pleasant. With the different modes you could boost the highs or the bass to offset placement issues. All in all, however, I kept the NanoHiFi set to 'Flat' and would occasionally engage the bass boost. This is a system that is going to sound good no matter where you place it.

nano_bag

I much prefer the bag - keeps the cables in and plenty of storage

Conclusion

I may have my quips with the interface and remote of the NanoHiFi, but it is clear they got the most important thing right - how it sounds. Rarely have I been so impressed with a product. At $480, the NanoHiFi PNH-2200 isn't cheap and at this price it is hard to give it a very high value rating. I question the inclusion of the older, 30-pin connector for their dock. But with Bluetooth, it doesn't really matter - as long as you can get it to pair. The fit and finish of the box may be great but interacting with the NanoHiFi is more frustrating than it should be. When it is playing, however, you're going to forget all that. You'll be far too busy wondering how NanoHiFi got such good sound in such a small package.

NanoHiFi PNH-2200

MSRP (as tested): $479

nano_together

www.nanohifi.com

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Network FeaturesStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStar
Ease of SetupStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStar
Remote ControlStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
SoundstageStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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