A place to discuss the Nectar Hive Estat!
The Nectar Hive
The Nectar Hives has taken a new step into the DIY Headphone market and has made a good impression in the estat(electrostatic headphone) world. To top it with a cherry on top, a fantastic entry-level price to hook anybody who has not tried estats.
Nectar started as a DIY STAX Headphone Amplifier and has morphed into a Headphone DIY/Maker.
The maker behind The Nectar Hive is Sajeev Ranasinghe who has a fantastic background in Electrical Engineering and an excellent reputation for his DIY ESTAT AMP’s, REF: https://forum.bottlehead.com/index.php?topic=12157.0
The first version of the Nectar Headphones began as The Pollinator. Through community feedback, we have a new revision in improving comfort.
These updates have given us the Hive.
The focus of the Hive has been purely on community feedback, and the improvements he made to these headphones are truly remarkable.
Style - Open Back
Driver - ESTAT
Bias Voltage - 580v
Price - $599.99
Schiit Bifrost 2 -> iFi iCan Pro -> iFi iESL.
Main Stack driving this:
Music container: FLAC
Music Player: Roon
Yosi Horikawa - Vapor (Whole Album)
Yosi Horikawa - Letter (Awesome Imaging and Dynamics/Stage)
Yosi Horikawa - Bubbles (Awesome Imaging and Dynamics/Stage)
Sorrow - Carpe Noctem (Whole Album)
Sorrow - Homesick (Fun display of soundstage vocals and bass. Wait for it 1:08)
Massdrop X Koss ESP/95X Headphones
Massdrop X Koss ESP/95X Energizer
Build Quality and Comfort:
The build feels solid and well made. The texture on the stators is on point. The Hive headphones are made from SLA 3D printed “ABS-like’’ material. The only downside is that they do feel fragile to an extent.
Closer look of the ear cups:
The headband material is comfortable and feels well built; the stator color gives a fantastic definition and accent to the headphones. The plug and cable feel well made, the plug itself is a Moon-Audio “Stax” plug.
I am a person that puts comfort high on the list as I believe that if you don’t feel comfortable, you won’t enjoy your experience. With that said, they are lightweight and comfortable for extended use. I listened for several hours with minimal discomfort, no hot spots, nor fatigue.
Compared to the Koss ESP/95X, the Hive headphones have more clamp, so the Koss clamp wise is better is also liter; Koss gets the upper hand here.
By nature, electrostatic headphones do not give you a propulsive bass or impact in the lower regions; this is natural for this technology. This is where I got impressed with the Nectar Hives because they pack forward and natural bass with a touch of impact, enough to enjoy what you are listening too. If I was to guess an FR(frequency response) where they excel in the lower regions, around the mid-bass (In between 60Hz-200Hz) to the higher side of the bass FR.
Listening to songs like “Homesick” by Sorrow, the hives provide an exciting fun experience as the synergy flows very well, making the headphones come alive.
During the comparison, the Koss ESP/95X held their own but lack impact and forward bass to create an impact.
Annotation: While they do not produce bass like a Dynamic or Planar Magnetic headphone, they do hold their own in the estat category. Well done Nectar, Well done.
Mids, Highs, and Speed:
No disappointment here, Mids and highs are pronounced and present throughout your experience, giving you a great sense of speed.
Listening to “Memorial” by Russian Circle can show you the capability of the speed, though I have to say that at times the highs did peak a bit too much for my liking; this was only present on metal/rock type of songs like the one listed above and another example was “Tunnel Blanket” from This Will Destroy You.
Soundstage and Imaging:
For the most part, this is where electrostatic headphones excel above and beyond most other headphone technologies. The soundstage was very well displayed, showing me where each instrument needed to be with great separation songs like “Letter” by Yosi Horikawa is an excellent example of this. An awesome song that also displays the image very well is “Bubbles” by Yosi Horikawa. The tonality was where it needed to be to display the image you are looking for in your songs. The image was in front of me. I felt near the stage but not as though everything was stacked on top of each other. It was the experience I wanted to see in my songs.
Compared to the Koss ESP/95X The Hive had the upper hand on the depth of soundstage and image layering. The Koss had a wider soundstage due to the nature of the cups.
The Nectar Hive has won a place on my line up; these headphones are full of fun, giving you enjoyment at every level of your musical experience. At the same time, they can sting a little in the highs with certain songs. However, it’s not enough to say these are bright, which is a description that often gets misused. Detail, separation, and imaging are part of how well the highs/mids and even lows play with each other. Detailed headphones can come off as forward, but Nectar seems to have found the right level.
Up Coming Review after @DEXCOM7 's review
Thanks for posting this. If @ValentineLuke 's critique of @DEXCOM7 's and @dncnexus 's reviews warrant, they could be my next headphones. Looks like I could get the Hive and Schiit Bifrost2 for the price of just an SR-L700. Almost enough to soothe my inner tightwad.
Now if Congress can just get busy sending out stimulus checks.
And since he seems to paint them himself, maybe I could order purple.
These look interesting as hell. The amp pairing might break the price point depending upon what it needs.
The FR for his other estat didn’t knock my socks off but I’d rather see what the impressions are anyway. I’m always hoping for an economical game changer.
Judging from the talks between me and @DEXCOM7 I don’t think you are gonna be disappointed!
Excellent review @DEXCOM7!
These look very interesting and are something I’d like to hear in the future. Having the creator on your livestream was very insightful, and gave me greater interest to hear them.
Thanks for the thorough review.
I am getting them in this week so will be writing up a review and include timbre in.
I guess I’ve applied to become a provisional member of the Hive Gang.
When I talked with Sajeev, I had hoped that he could paint the plastic/printed stuff purple instead of black because well, @DarthPool, He thought I meant the stators. After clearing this up, I found that there were one or two pairs somewhere with purple stators, but they were all gone. There was one pair of blue… I went for it and got lucky.
Here’s what Sajeev said:
Got very lucky and FR turned out quite excellent the first try so it was a fast build. About as good as it gets really. L and R are only 0.09dB apart!
And he sent the above picture, fresh off the Ears.
I haven’t hooked them up yet. I can move the iFi xDSD to take output from the Mac Mini and route it to the Mjolnir-modified Stax SRM-T1S, but the Bifrost 2 is due to arrive tomorrow, I think. Along with my wife’s new iPhone, so I might even be too busy.
I have balanced leads on the way, and I was planning on running balanced from the Bifrost2 to the Stax amp, and unbalanced to my Lyr 3.
I will be able to compare the old STAX SR-5N normal bias to the new Nectar Hive. From the chart above and the descriptions, I think I will be happy with the bass extension.
It will probably take me some time to post more than a few first impression observations as I’m changing more than one thing at a time.
Very nice! Love the blue look on these! Happy to see more people get these!
Thank you! I have two nb Lambdas and might sell one to get a Nectar hive. I’ll always have at least have one or two estats in my stable…
Finally set up after some trials and tribulations. Not sure I’m fully tuned in. Anyone who’s used these for a while, please let me know about break in.
Was sick for 2.5 days after a couple of vaccinations, so even though I had all the pieces, I had no energy or patience to put things together. Plus, I wanted to clean up the area. Although it goes into a rat’s nest of wires at the UPS’s the rest is at least presentable. Jeffrey Dyson made me some custom 18" silver-plated XLR cables as Schiit was out of them. Using the PYST USB cable.
I can’t tell if I like the Bifrost2 yet. I need to move the Lyr3 over to the same area, so I can listen to usual headphones. The new Bifrost2 was hooked up to the Mjölnir-Audio – modified STAX SRM-T1S. I fiddled with various switches and eventually got audio going to my old STAX. That done,
I plugged in the Nectar Hives.
Plenty of volume, that’s certainly not a problem with this setup. Over the first hour or so they seem to be sounding better. At first I thought they were a bit tinny - something I did not expect either from the FQ charts or what other people have said. Bass was there, but did not seem to be very present. We’ll see what some time does for them.
I did try @Torq 's test track, Trentmøller’s “Chameleon”, just to see if the bass was there. It was, but not like with the Lyr3/Sennheiser HD-6xx combination.
Worse, I was getting some dropout - pauses using Tidal directly on the Mac Mini. I realized that at some point, I had disconnected the Mac from ethernet, and it was using wi-fi to the router. So I fixed that. Then I re-started the Mac and fired up ROON instead of going direct with the Tidal player.
Since the Bifrost2 does not do MQA, I set it up in ROON with no MQA support, exclusive mode. Then I decided to try a little EQ. Right now I have +6db dialed in starting at 50hz with a .75 Q and +3db at 110 hz, also with a .75 Q. Finally -2 db at 2000hz with a Q of 1.
This sounds pretty damn good. Sometimes a test album suggests itself, and Pink Floyd’s Meddle spoke up. It’s way too soon to do much critical listening, but at least things seem initially sorted.
Nice, glad you were able to get it all sorted out! I still am waiting for my energizer so I got the hives chilling next to me begging to be used.
Can’t wait to see your next impressions!
The energizers don’t sound as good as regular amps. I have an SRD-6 that I used for years. It wasn’t until I got the tube amp that I realized what I had been missing.
Sajeev, if you’re reading, you really should sign these things somewhere. And maybe keep serial numbers. Unless you’ve hidden the markings.
I guess I used the wrong word. I have a Tube Amp/Energizer coming for them. The Bottlehead Tube Amp/Energizer. So hopefully it pairs well.