Nectar Hive Review The Beginnings As I took my first step into electrostatics I was afraid of what I would find. I have gone on my audio journey knowing what I wanted from the beginning. I wanted dynamic driver headphones to pair with tube amps. This has been my path my whole time inside of this audiophile hobby, but as time went on I started to wonder if I should have been more open minded about the headphones I purchased. Planars were a natural step with my curiosity and I demo’d some, primarily the Audeze lineup. I quickly realized that planars weren’t what I was searching for, so I turned my eyes toward the elusive electrostatics. After lots of research, I thought that they would be a waste of my money, since they seemed to be the antithesis of what I normally enjoyed, being bright, airy, and lacking bass punch. But something about the quickness and speed made me lust after them. I learned from @Gazny about a new “startup”, if you could classify it as such, known as Nectar Sound. They were producing electrostatic headphones out of their garage, but touted the experience of an electrostatic, while keeping the redeeming qualities in dynamics that I wanted, primarily impact and bass. I quickly reached out to Sajeev, the owner to inquire about his headphones, and upon talking to him learned that Bottlehead had created a tube energizer to match his headphones. I quickly pulled the trigger since it seemed to be exactly what I wanted, and with a higher end amp from Bottlehead it would be a good investment for other electrostatic headphones in the future. The price of the headphones are $600. After a couple of weeks, I was able to get my amp built and the headphones delivered. And now we are here for the review. I will be adding a review of the Bottlehead Tube Energizer to the proper thread, but since I have a lack of reference to know how it compares to other energizers, it will be more informational with less subjective bits. Disclaimer This is my first entry into electrostatics and as such I have a limited experience with energizers and electrostatic headphones. I will not be able to compare and contrast to other electrostatic headphones, and as such might be lacking a point of reference that one could attach themselves to. Due to this I have come to the conclusion to reference aspects of these headphones to my dynamic driver headphones, namely the ZMF Auteur and HD 6XX. These will not be a comparison on which is better, rather a way to keep a reference. I know that each headphone has a different use case, and as such they can not be compared fairly without bias. I have not been able to test the Hives on other energizers, so I can’t say with certainty which aspects of these headphones are the headphones themselves and which aspects are those being influenced by the tube energizer. YMMV depending on the energizer used. I will try to update as time goes on when acquiring other energizers and how this influences the sound. Review Source Modius SE -> Bottlehead Tube Energizer -> Nectar Hive Modius SE -> Asgard 3 -> ZMF Auteur/HD 6XX Build These are built well. The headphone is 3D printed, but with a “ABS Like” resin. This is claimed to be more durable than regular 3D resins used. When holding them they do feel quite robust, but I would be careful not to drop them. The headband is made from a nice mesh material, and the earpads are from Brainwaves, although these can be pad rolled, and a user has successfully been able to use ZMF pads on these. I have not tried this yet but will in the future. The connector is a standard STAX 5 pin that was sourced from Moon Audio. Bass This is the part that surprised me the most. I have done research on electrostatics and this is where many say they are lacking. This is not the case with the Hives. The bass is well extended, with slight rolloff in the lower frequencies but nothing that is dramatic. Bass has impact, and is well textured. Layering can get slightly muddled in complex bits. When compared to the HD 6XX, it extends much further, but has a similar feeling of slam and impact that the HD 6XX has on the Asgard 3. While not a bass can, it can hold its own and make me forget that this is an electrostatic. Mids The mids are an interesting aspect of the sound. I will touch a bit more of the separation but mids are given their own space to breath in the mix. It is not prominent or mid forward, but it feels that way occasionally due to the way things are spaced. Both male and female vocals are nice to listen to, but lack a sort of intimacy that the HD 6XX has, and lacks the liquidity that the Auteurs have. I would describe them as slightly dry in tonality, with the timbre to be too fast. It makes for an interesting experience, but slightly artificial sounding. The vocals could be seen as pretty neutral and real to life, but I am more inclined to favor vocals that are more seductive. Treble This was an area that I was a little afraid of. I hear that electrostatics are bright, but that is their redeeming quality. I would say that the Hives are not bright at all. They are airy, but nothing comes across as sibilant. The detail in the highs are very impressive. I think they did a good job in the highs. Timbre/Tonality I am not sure if these are the same, but I kind of lump them together personally. I found the timbre to have a very quick decay. This is quite a stark difference to my Auteurs that have a lustful seductive timbre. I can say I enjoy the Auteur more, but I do see the appeal of the faster transients and quicker decay. Tonality wise, the Hive are very clean. Throughout the whole FR, everything seems very clean, precise, and almost sterile? Not too sterile, there is a slight warmth to it, but it's ever so slight. Micro/Macrodynamics I found the dynamics, both micro and macro, to be very good with this headphone. I am not the most well versed in this aspect of sound description, but I didn’t feel anything lacking or noticeable when listening in regards to dynamics. Soundstage/Imaging/Separation Soundstage is quite impressive. It is larger than both the Auteurs and HD 6XX. If the HD 6XX is 70% of the soundstage of the Auteurs (which is what I found personally, if you find different, you can just scale the percentages based on what you think), then the Auteurs are 70% of the soundstage of the Hives. They seem to be quite expansive, not artificially so but enough where imaging and separation benefit greatly. Everything in the mix feels like it has its own space to breathe. Mids seem to be placed in the center and away from the music. Imaging is not blobed like the HD 6XX rather a clean sweep across the soundstage. I found this to both have depth and well as width. Due to the soundstage and good imaging, separation of instruments, noices, voices are very well defined. This is one of my favorite qualities of this headphone. Quirks These are not without their quirks though. One thing to be aware of is the ability for the stator to stick with changes in pressure. If you take off your headphones while they are energized it will create a sticking phenomenon with the stator and you will have to unplug the headphones and touch the 5 pins to get it to de-energize and unstick. This can be annoying if not known, but I have since learned that when I am trying to take off the headphones, I should unplug the headphones, de-energize, then take them off. This seems to be the best method I have found. Conclusion Overall I have been quite impressed with the Nectar Hives. I think it has been a good entry into the world of electrostatics and these have made me appreciate the electrostatic characteristics. I am now interested in how the other electrostatics are, and am looking forward to trying some offerings from STAXs in the future. I don’t like them as much as I do my tube amps and dynamics, and the ZMF Auteur and soon ZMF Verite Closed will stay as my go-to favorites and headphones I reach for the most, but I think that the electrostatics, and the Hives will have a place in my collection when I am looking for a different flavor than what I am normally used to. They aren’t my favorite in my collection, and probably electrostatics never will be, but they have found a niche part to reside in my collection, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.