Date: May 19, 2014
Author(s): J.D. Kane
Naming a product after a star might seem like a fine idea, but it brings along with it a slew of certain expectations. The Mionix NASH 20 namesake is a star in the zodiac constellation Sagittarius. So, is this stereo headset actually a star, or does it blow up like a supernova? There’s only one way to find out: Read on.
A couple of months ago we took a look at two pieces of Mionix gear, the Avior 7000 and the Naos 7000. We came away being very impressed with the Mionix wonder twins.
This time around, we have something else from Mionix. Instead of a gaming mouse, however, the company has sent Techgage its NASH 20 gaming headset.
As the “20” in its name might suggest, the NASH 20 is a stereo gaming headset. This is certainly no bad thing; I won’t shy away from any accusations that I have a strong bias for stereo headsets. But what about the “NASH” bit? I have to be honest and confess that I was intrigued by this part of this headset’s name. Perhaps the product webpage might shed some light on the question.
Thankfully, it does. According to Mionix, “NASH” is the third-largest star in the zodiac constellation Sagittarius. The company goes on to say that “Nash” is also “Arrowhead” from Arabic mythology. This choice of name, I suppose, is Mionix declaring that this headset is meant to hit astronomic performance expectations with an arrowhead’s sharpness and precision.
Name games are fun and all, but what’s a name if it doesn’t justify its claim to fame? At the end of the day, the NASH 20 will earn a name for itself through its performance. We’ll see how that all works out later on in the review.
For now, though, it’s time to have a good look at it.
Here is the NASH 20 in all its matte black glory. The coloration and the styling really seem a bit counter-intuitive to what one might expect of gamer gear. By this I mean that some companies give their products eye-catching color schemes and styling. Mionix, on the other hand, prefers to go against the grain, favoring understated colors and shapes. Again, I will admit to my own biases and say that I like the more austere, minimalistic aesthetic Mionix endows its products; indeed, we saw much the same with the Avior/Naos.
That’s not to say that the NASH 20 is totally bereft of color. On the outer surface of the headband, there is some branding in white and Mionix avocado green. The colors are a good-looking contrast to the matte black that dominates the headset, although the placement of the branding is still consistent with Mionix’s penchant for minimalism. I mean, it’s not like people are going to see that branding easily. I like that it’s “hidden” in plain sight.
Here is a close-up of the microphone boom. The boom is flexible, but doesn’t really retain bends as well as you might expect. It is not removable; however, it does swing up and down. When it’s in the up position, the mic is automatically muted. It’s a very elegant solution.
There is really nothing too radical about the NASH 20’s shape. It’s basically just a pair of radiused hexagons joined by the headband up top. I suppose the angular, L-shaped boom is a bit daring, but it integrates well with the rest of the headset’s looks. Perhaps the most noteworthy part of its visual presentation is the Mionix logo carved into each ear cup’s outer surface. Because of the NASH 20’s color uniformity, though, such decorations, even as big as they are, really aren’t as eye-catching as they might be, had they been presented in a contrasting color. It’s very much unlike a certain competitor’s aluminum armor plating on the ear cups. Call it boring, if you must; heck, call me boring for preferring Mionix’s understated sensibilities. I just think it’s refreshing for gaming gear to not be the PC peripheral equivalent of an attention-hungry strumpet.
Speaking of the ear cups, here’s an up-close look. Both are fully-adjustable and have memory foam cushions, ensuring a very comfortable fit. The same memory foam resides in the headband’s inner surface.
Here’s one last detail shot of the NASH 20’s ear cup. We’re looking at the small volume adjustment wheel at the back of the left ear cup. It controls the volume output level of the speakers. The speakers, incidentally, are 50mm DACT drivers which are angled for optimum playback.
Our final photo is a close-up of the audio connectors. Both connectors are the 3.5mm type and are the terminal ends of a 2m long braided cable. The connector with the pink rings is for the mic-in, while the one with the lime green is for the audio out. It’s all very normal and conventional, sure, but the execution is top-notch.
Now that we’ve had our little photographic tour of the NASH 20, let’s see how it performs, after which we’ll have some final thoughts.
I tested the NASH 20 over a period of nine days. Super-attentive Techgage readers might notice that that’s a shorter testing period than what I usually subject headsets to. The reason for compressing the testing time scale by roughly half is that I simply could not detect any changes to the NASH 20’s sound signature as I tested it. My usual finding with most headsets is that their audio output changes subtly with usage, with the character of the sound stabilizing around two weeks into testing; the NASH 20’s sound, however, simply didn’t change from my first listen. I can’t say why this is (perhaps Mionix “burns in” the headsets before they are packaged for sale), but it is a phenomenon unique to the NASH 20.
Whatever the case, I still subjected the NASH 20 to the same testing regiment and evaluated it on the same criteria as every other headset I’ve reviewed.
In terms of ergonomics, the NASH 20 is as good as they come. The entire unit feels light on my head, and the headband’s fit is just enough to keep it in place, even with fairly vigorous head movements. I like the memory foam on the ear cups’ padding as well. It’s very easy to keep the headset on for hours on end; your ears don’t get sweaty or irritated even with extended usage. Cable length might seem long at 2 meters, but with a velcro band on the cable itself to rein in the unneeded length, it’s a non-issue. The velcro band actually is a very thoughtful detail, an elegant solution to a potential problem for some folk.
As far as functionality goes, I tested the NASH 20 on a variety of devices to evaluate both its speakers and its microphone. The mic works as it’s supposed to. I don’t game online, but to test the mic, I used it on Skype on my test machine. My conversation partners reported clear output on their end as well as a lack of any weird or unexpected noises from the mic. The flip-up-to-mute boom also works as expected. I quite like the discrete volume control on the rear of the left ear cup as well. This feature, as well as the flipping mic boom, reveals how intelligent the NASH 20’s design is: Instead of putting these controls on the cable as quite a few gaming headsets do, Mionix hid them in plain sight. Mionix’s design philosophy is apparently governed by unobstrusiveness and stealth, but it is an approach that never sacrifices functionality and ease of use.
Sound quality-wise, the NASH 20 is quite good. As always, the basis for comparison are my own Shure SRH840 and Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro headphones. Both the Shure and the Beyerdynamic are monitoring headphones: They have flat-response speakers designed to play back recordings with zero treble- or bass-bias. So all comparisons are with the SRH840 and DT880 Pro.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
The NASH 20 excels in gaming. I tested it in a variety of shooters, including all three Crysis titles, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as well as some racing action with rFactor. These games produce a wide spectrum of sounds in their soundtracks. Bass response is very satisfying. Explosions sound big but never boomy, while the chirp of sliding tires is also very well-reproduced. Positional audio is also excellent; whether it’s the sound of rounds zipping around your character’s position, the quiet footsteps of enemies trying to flank you, or the roar of your car’s engine as well as the engines of your competitors fighting you for track position, the NASH 20 lets you know where everything is.
You get much the same effect when using the NASH 20 with movies. The opening sequence of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a very good scene to test audio systems with the abundance of sound sources moving all over the place. Positional audio again is excellent, as is the fidelity of the sound effects. The NASH 20, though just a stereo headset, is as brilliant for movies as it is for games.
In music playback, the NASH 20 has slight boosting in the treble and bass ranges, although the overall sound signature is what I’d call a bit cold. It’s not as if the bass boosting is inadequate; if anything, Mionix has done a good job of emphasizing bass without going overboard. It’s just that the prevailing impression the NASH 20 leaves is that the treble side of the output is just that little bit more prominent. It’s hard to explain why the sound is colored so, given that the NASH 20 is equipped with 50mm drivers, which is on the larger side of the scale for headphones. Mid-range frequencies don’t seem to be boosted, which is fine.
Let’s close things with some final thoughts.
I guess I’m the kind of user who tends to devalue such strict specialization. I like finding excellence in performance across several spectra. So when it comes gaming audio gear, I’d love to see that it works well not just for gaming, but for music and for movies as well. Oh, it’d be great if it was good to use for Skype or other voice chat programs too.
The Mionix NASH 20 is, as the company said, named after a star. After finding out all it can do, it’s appropriate to say that it lives up to its namesake. It’s a true star performer.
There’s really nothing all that negative to say about it. It’s ergonomically superb, as good as anything I’ve ever had perched on my melon. It’s as functional as headsets get, with a user-friendliness and accessibility to its features that are as well-designed as they are elegant. And in terms of sound quality, it’s almost as good as my favorite Techgage-reviewed gaming headset. Plus I should mention that its understated style and brilliantly executed design really appeal to me. To be that close to the top of the mountain is no small feat.
Mionix has set an SRP of $150.73 for its NASH 20; Newegg and Amazon both have it available at $129.99. Even at the lower pricing in the wild, this is a bit too steep a price for a stereo gaming headset. This is even more true once you factor in the fact that my choice for the top stereo gaming headset (that I’ve tested so far – I have another one to work on that’s next on my queue) is available for about fifty bucks less.
I’m so torn in rendering a final verdict for the Mionix NASH 20. My subjective side – I really pay close attention to it, to be perfectly honest – says that the NASH 20’s sheer performance is enough to earn it Techgage’s highest honors. But my objective side argues that it’s not all just about performance; there’s a cost factor involved as well. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a big surplus of disposable income to throw around. As painful as it is to write, the Mionix NASH 20’s pricing is the one thing that holds me back from giving it all of my love.
Make no mistake about it: It’s a true star. But perhaps that’s also why Mionix wants you to pay for a star, as well.
Copyright © 2005-2019 Techgage Networks Inc. - All Rights Reserved.