Nectar Ambrosia Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by ChaChaRealSmooth, Aug 8, 2023.

  1. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF's Mr. Bean

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    *I've been way behind on these. Apologies to Sajeev and SBAF.

    Nectar Ambrosia Impressions
    PXL_20230808_213058857.jpg
    After the bombastic ortho called the Bee, someone pointed out to me that Nectar makes a dynamic driver headphone called the Ambrosia. I did wonder what I was about to hear; was this going to be along the same lines as the Bee (and maybe kind of like ZMF Atrium), or was I going to get something entirely different? Surprisingly, the answer is the latter; the Ambrosia can be summed up as a polite and gentle listen and compelling at its price point ($400 + shipping).

    Sonics

    The Ambrosia's FR seems to be somewhere along the lines of the ZMF sound; lush in the bass and mids, with a noticeable dip in the upper mids and a comeback in the mid treble. This contributes to the Ambrosia sounding a bit polite, although it is definitely not the only reason.

    The transients are where I believe the Ambrosia is a bit polite. While not necessarily slow, they are a touch rounded in character (my preference) and it doesn't have the slam of the Atrium. Compared to HD600, the Ambrosia is roughly in the same ballpark for both speed of the transients and the slam (i.e. a bit more speedy than the stock HD650).

    Stage-wise, it's kind of like the OG ZMF Auteur; a bit larger than the HD650, but not really more open-sounding. Now, I wouldn't say it sounds like a semi-closed, but the Ambrosia isn't like the near open-baffle Focal headphones. The one criticism I might have of the headstage is there doesn't seem to be much "depth" (if that even exists in headstage), but for me, it's good enough since the stage isn't some horrible two/three blob thing. And on that note, imaging is just kind of alright, although if you're a competitive CSGO player I wouldn't recommend this.

    As far as resolve goes, the Ambrosia is about on-par with the HD600/650, which is to say very good. It's a step behind the JAR600 here, but that's perfectly acceptable given the price point.

    Ortho lovers will probably dislike the timbre since the Ambrosia exhibits the grain that dynamics have (I like this a lot since I just love dynamic drivers). I'm not sure what the driver material is exactly in the Ambrosia, but it does not sound like a metal driver. Probably some plastic compound, and I'm not knowledgeable enough to guess.

    The overall only gripe that one may have with the Ambrosia is that it lacks "wow" factor. For reference, the Bee had that in spades, but it does need to be mentioned that the Bee simultaneously did have a lot of sins of commission. In contrast, the Ambrosia is relaxed and polite, but doesn't do much wrong. It's a case of picking your poison here.

    Amp Synergies

    My personal preference would say to pair the Ambrosia with chains that have a not-insignificant amount of drive and slam since I think the Ambrosia needs a little help to "get up and go" (and it will with the right amp). That being said, those that want an overall more relaxed listening experience will be just fine with things like SW51.

    Conclusion

    For its price, I think the Ambrosia is quite good and offers a relaxed listening experience, with considerations. I also really like the Nectar packaging and overall feel of the headphones; they definitely feel solid and a product you could buy off of a shelf versus something that looks glued together in a shed. Well done Sajeev!
     
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    Last edited: Aug 8, 2023
  2. ShaneD

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    I would agree on the sound. They don't stand out in any way to me. They also do not have any failings to my ear.
    They match nicely with my iFi and enjoy the bass boost.

    I am a little annoyed by the "friction fit" pads. They fall out pretty easily.

    I think they are a big step from up from the Bee's and are very stable/reliable.
    The Bee's are Awesome with the majority of my music, but they do go "wonky" with a minority of it. I can be cruising along on a cushion of sweet music for hours and then it goes off the road suddenly, depending on the tunes.
     
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  3. ShaneD

    ShaneD Facebook Friend

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    Used them a couple of times and I was pretty happy. On Sunday I wrapped up a run of eight straight days of listening. It has taken me a few runs through the rotation to appreciate these fully. They really do not have any flaws, IMO. I spent lots of time listening to new rock, classic rock, some blues/pop and lots of jazz. All instruments were presented properly, vocals were always clear and clean, the bass was substantial and they are bass boost/EQ friendly. With a touch of bass boost I was off and gone for days.

    The biggest surprises at the end of their turn were twofold:

    A) I didn't want to take them off. Usually after a week I am a bit bored and looking for a change. Not so this time.

    B) I put on one of my favourites, the HiFiman HE6se V2's. I usually look really forward to putting these on, but the change over did not go smoothly. For the first hour, the V2's sounded a little bright and a little thin. I had to up the bass boost and go to high gain with a lower volume setting (like 9:00). Which is sounding Awesome today! But I have never stayed with these settings before.

    I swap headphones every week and sometimes it doesn't go well. For instance, I will never again go from Focal Clear's to Grado GH2's. Never have the Grado's sounded more anemic!

    Anyway, I am just posting to say that I have underrated the Ambrosia's and I think they may be a keeper for the long term.
    They are number six on my list and climbing fast. IMO, a no-brainer at $399.00.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2023
  4. Northwest

    Northwest Almost "Made"

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    I’ve been dealing with brain fog, headaches and a lingering cough. I appreciate the loaner because I have wanted to listen to a Peerless driver-based headphone. Apologies for the late impressions.

    Qobuz->Eitr->MMB1 OPA2156->Piety->Nectar Ambrosia. Also used ECP Torpedo III, DNA Sonett 2,iPhone.

    I had some difficulty trying to describe the Ambrosia. My impressions wildly shifted depending on what I paired with it. It is sometimes less about itself and takes on the flavor of the audio chain.

    I was surprised how much I liked it just off an iPhone and wanted to use that as the baseline. It comes across as punchy, more neutral mids (compared than a HD600). The treble extends out far-real far and has this general sense of by the book clarity but does it without being piercing.

    I did not enjoy using the Ambrosia with tube amps. The Sonett 2/Ambrosia disagreed on the sound stage portrayal making it skewed. The Torpedo III/Ambrosia was like an over inflated balloon.

    The MMB1, Piety, Ambrosia was my favorite combination. The Ambrosia takes on the Piety flavor. The punchy bass I heard with the iPhone was replaced by a fatter, looser, weightier, tubey bass. The Ambrosia meshes with the piety mid-range taking on the tube flavor, but still retaining it’s own upper end clarity.

    I never really felt the Piety as particularly V-shaped on release (using MMB1/Piety/Vintage Sennheiser), but I can hear it when adding the Ambrosia into this combination. The treble stands out a little, but it was still really enjoyable. I wish I could try a Piety Maximus to try with it.

    The inner protective grill is made out perforated computer PCB material (FR4?). It’s a really nice design touch which lets you press fit in ear pads which is convenient. My impressions were based on the stock pads. For the loaner, Nectar also included perforated lambskin pads which knocks down the treble a touch and boosted vocal presence. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of the low-end vanishing.

    The Ambrosia is interesting. It’s the only example of a Peerless based headphone I’ve heard, but I can see why it has the reputation it has. It really responds to tuning and different audio chains. I think it’s a really nice option in it’s price bracket and from such a small company as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2024
  5. ShaneD

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    Mine only came with one set of perforated pleather pads. I recently bought a used set of DCA Ether angled leather pads for my HiFiman HE6se V2's after reading a lot of great things. Didn't really do anything for me as I preferred the stock.
    But then I read something about trying these pads in the Ambrosia's and I tried it. Wow! I am really preferring the solid leather pads. Sounding a little bassier and fuller as I recall. I haven't used them in a few weeks, but I am looking forward to trying them out again.
     
  6. Northwest

    Northwest Almost "Made"

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    I should have been a clearer. I was part of the Ambrosia loaner, and two sets of pads were included in it.
     
  7. Erroneous

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    I have not yet tried the pads that were not attached to the headphone when I received them. Here are some listening notes spread out over 2 sessions. Before the first one I knew basically nothing about this headphone. After listening I Googled to see what I was dealing with.

    From tubes: (DNA Stellaris)
    It's like a womb. Just super syrupy warm with bits of treble shining through to add a little definition & clarity to the warm hug.

    Definitely a flavor headphone but if trippy is a flavor you like then it could be worth adding to the arsenal.

    I have this and the Utopia both on loan at the moment and I would rather listen to the Utopia because it's much more revealing, precise and detailed, but I totally get it with the fuzzed out Dreamland the Nectar offers. If you want to get away from it all, these deliver in spades.

    Bass definition is deplorable. Mids definition is better (especially with female vocal jazz stuff) but expect lots of truncated spatial cues up top.

    The Focal Clear MG in my opinion committed all of its many, many sins in the same range that this headphone strangely kinda aces with the right music.

    The lack of any texture in the lows makes it feel all mashed together into a stew. This helps the trippy vibe though, if you're into that. Really adds to the fuzzed out character that makes this a solid flavor headphone.

    If I wanted a headphone to just get high and melt into the couch with, this would be a strong contender. It's ultimately not for me, but I get what it's trying to do and I think it succeeds. I respect that. Think Aeolus but turn that up to 11 and tweak it a bit then make it the Extended Play dub remix.



    From solid state (DSHA-3F):

    Still 100% a flavor headphone but it's spacious and once again super reminiscent of an Aeolus. It's a mood and when you want that experience it's worth it to have around, especially at $400 retail.

    Lows are a bit more defined but not exceedingly so. It's not the fuzzed out fever dream that it was from the Stellaris. It's still a great ride though as long as you view it within the proper framework.

    Honestly I think this is an easy grab at $400 if you are into the thing that it does. It's a fun thing and I like it, but I wouldn't have it as my daily or only headphone. As a flavor can though? It's great.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2024
  8. ShaneD

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    I pretty much agree with your review. I have been using them this week with an iFi Pro iCAN (touch of bass boost) and DCA Ether pads. Really enjoying them, although I must admit that I put them up for sale last night. :D
     
  9. Ishcabible

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    1C399B93-E1C9-4FED-AAB0-A75DE2A266FA.JPEG

    The Ambrosia's been an interesting experience for me. I happens to tick every box for things that bother me, but despite that, I can understand the appeal for something like this.

    I mainly used this with my Luxman L550A or Esoteric A100, both with an OPT headphone adapter like this: https://buyee.jp/item/yahoo/auction/j1117740037?conversionType=top_page_search I think resistors neuter the sound too much, and mine has an OI of 2ohms, which makes it a lot less problematic for low impedance dynamic headphones like this.

    The bass isn't very good, and it rolls off on my thick-haired head. The notes mush together too much for me and I was surprised at how much bass they measure with because I did hear more amplitude. This may be a function of the less than clear bass adding the impression of more bass than there actually is, possibly due to higher distortion (e.g. later SN versions of HD800 vs earlier SN HD800s).

    The part that I noticed immediately was how incredibly boxy they sounded. Boxiness isn't something I hear very often in headphones, so it stuck out to me within the first few seconds of listening. This is most likely due to the most elevated low midrange I've seen in a headphone in a while. It makes most music sound too congested for me, but at times it reminded me a little bit of the Harbeth M30.2s I demoed a few months ago. I didn't like them much for critical listening, but I can see someone liking this sound for a warm blanket kind of sound.

    The center midrange is very interesting for a Peerless driver design. One of the unifying traits I've heard in my own Peerless DIY things and with the Borealis is that there is a hump in the center midrange, which gives them a sort of Focal-ish sound. The Ambrosia, however, does the opposite: it actually dips between 800-2kHz, relative to the lower and upper midrange. This creates a more distant sound, especially combined with an upper midrange that, while not as recessed, still is lacking some ear gain relative to many other headphones.

    Unfortunately, the upper midrange reminds me a lot of the LCD-5 in that, despite not looking particularly elevated in amplitude, sounds incredibly nasal to me. The combination of the congestion and nasal character in the midrange makes a lot of music less than listenable for me, but I did think non-vocal focused EDM was kind of fun.

    The treble isn't really anything of note. I found it to be a little grainy, which is a trait I have heard with some Peerless designs I've made, especially if I have anything acting as a reflector right behind the driver. It seems that the gold mesh might be the culprit, though I obviously don't want to mess with it to find out.

    I measured the Ambrosia with my GRAS KB50X clone, which isn't exactly a 45CA, but much closer to what I hear between 300Hz and 4kHz than my EARS or flat plate rigs ever got. Outside of those ranges are too variable between people to consistently trust, but I hear it close enough with my ears:

    graph-30.png

    The other set of pads included (I think they're ZMF Universe pads?) helped a lot with the boxiness and dipped ear gain, but I noticed a sub roll off too much with them, and they lost what made them interesting and instead makes them sound like a headphone that needs more work.

    graph-27.png

    Additionally, I measured the Ambrosia with variable inline impedance to simulate FR changes with different OIs:
    upload_2024-3-2_17-41-12.png

    Like many dynamic headphones, the bass rises with higher OI, and this makes sense when you look at the impedance measurement, which I have taken:
    upload_2024-3-2_17-42-29.png

    The Ambrosia isn't particularly my cup of tea, but I do respect Nectar Sound for making something other than a boring, mediocre Harman Target derivative. Thanks SBAF for the loaner!
     
  10. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Introduction

    I am very pleased to get my hands on Nectar Audio's latest offering, the Ambrosia. I want to express my gratitude to the forum's loaner program for giving me the chance to evaluate these headphones.

    Knowing Sajeev set the price of Ambrosia quite reasonably (honestly compellingly), I was curious to see how it stacks up against competing products in similar price ranges. And because this is my third experience with Sajeev's products, I was quite excited about what sound he came up with this time. And I must say, Ambrosia deserves all my excitements, being the best tonality among his works.


    Design

    In terms of design and comfort, the Ambrosia uses solid materials, and the build quality is at least very decent for a sub-$500 product. It follows Nectar's signature design language, which is a plus (at least to me). The headband fits my big head very well, and although the weight is slightly heavy at 450g, it is well-distributed thanks to the large surface cushion and suspension on the top. The back of the baffle is quite exposed, giving it a very open appearance. However, acoustically, it might not be as open as it looks, with the sound leaning slightly towards the closed side. One unique feature I’d comment on is the ear pad binding mechanism, which relies on friction and wearing pressure, making swapping pads extremely convenient.


    Listening

    The loaner product came with two pairs of pads, and while I enjoyed both, my preference leaned towards the ZMF pads (less warm in lows, smoother highs) -- no idea which ZMF pads tho. I primarily paired the Ambrosia with the SMSL M500 mk3 dac-amp, but I didn't find much synergy with high-power amps like the Benchmark AHB2 probably due to already efficient drivers (I feel the same way with many other Peerless-based DIY/proprietary headphones).


    Sound quality

    Now, speaking of the sound quality, I was impressed with its modesty. The bass is warm and deeply extended, with a slight hump in the upper bass region. However, below a certain frequency, things suddenly become loose, reminiscent of how Sennheiser's 6x0's small drivers reproduce lows. The lower to upper midranges are well-balanced, a little sweet and lush, with a slightly suppressed upper midrange that doesn't compromise detail. I noticed nuanced peaks in the lower brilliance, which added a pleasant sparkle and spiciness at the cost of slightly grainy treble texture. The top end is acceptable but not very open or airy, which was a bit disappointing considering the Ambrosia's open structure.


    Vs Previous Nectar Headphones

    (Please be aware of recall bias in this section.)

    Let me compare it to other Nectar products. The Hive was often a bit too hot in the upper midrange, while the Bee was a bit too dark in the upper mids and highs. The Ambrosia strikes a balance closer to what I hoped the Bee would sound like. If I had to choose one among the three as a daily driver, I'd easily settle for Ambrosia. However, it's important to note that the Ambrosia doesn't have as solid and hefty bass as the Bee, and the Hive excels in staging, transient response, and resolution.


    Vs ZMF Auteur

    (Please be aware of recall bias in this section.)

    If you're familiar with ZMF products, "Auteur Jr" (by the way, it’s worth noting I mean Auteur OG rather than its ‘classic’ renewal) might best describe Ambrosia's sound signature. They share similarities in tonal balance (midrange and higher), staging, and even resolution styles. Please note that, in absolute performance, I recall Auteur still outperforms every single way: much better bass, lusher mids, better extended top ends, and so forth (albeit the difference varies across criteria). But at one third of the price, Ambrosia’s Auteur-ish sound quality/presentation is highly compelling.


    Vs ETA O2: Pick your poison

    While compatibility is somewhat questionable, I also compared the Ambrosia to the ETA O2, which has been my go-to pair of easy-listening headphones. Almost every shortcoming I listed for the Ambrosia was eliminated with the O2, particularly in terms of tighter, cleaner, and heftier bass and more spatial top ends. Tonally, the O2 was more obviously V-shaped, which I generally prefer.

    In contrast, I found that the Ambrosia did several things better. For example, when switching from the Ambrosia to the O2, I occasionally heard that piano and male voices were more present and moved upfront than what I would consider neutral. The cymbal's sizzles were often too much with the O2 when directly compared to the Ambrosia. Additionally, I found that the Ambrosia had a generally more refined midrange.

    I may still choose the O2 over the Ambrosia, not because the O2 outperforms the Ambrosia in every way, but because the O2 has more niche benefits to my liking and better complements my other audio equipment.


    Conclusion

    In conclusion, the Nectar Audio Ambrosia headphones offer an impressive tonality and sound quality for their price point. With a comfortable design, convenient ear pad swapping, and a well-balanced sound signature, they are a strong contender in the sub-$500 category (recall how few choices we have for those who cannot be content with Senn sound). While they may not be the most open-sounding headphones or have the most robust bass, the Ambrosia's overall performance makes them a worthy consideration for any audiophiles on the market of similar prices. For those who seek for full-sized headphones with a good balance between tonal accuracy and pleasing sound, Ambrosia should be auditioned.


    Measurements

    The results mostly reiterate my subjective evaluations above. Highlights below:
    - ZMF pads help cut some energy across entire bass regions.
    - Resemblance of FR to Auteur/HD650 is interesting.
    - Except for more attenuated bass, Ambrosia nicely sits between Hive and Bee.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2024

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