As a rule, I don’t recommend people insert 9 mm bullets in their ears. But MUNITIO has crafted a pair of exceptional speakers with a provocative design and name based on nine millimeter bullets/catridges, and it’s easy to recommend you stuff these in your ears. That’s because the sound is amazing and the fit options are superb. So, unlike a projectile, the NINES will do nothing more than pump some great sound.
Everything about the NINES has a tactical feel, from the name to the very design of the earphones themselves. Each earphone looks like a nine millimeter bullet casing with the actual projectile bullet removed; that’s to make room for what MUNITIO calls “Hollow Points,” which is their term for silicone eartips. Even those have a complex spiral design that mimics the grooves in a gun barrel. The headphone jack is made of a rough textured metal like the grip of a gun, while the included carrying case is made of ripstop nylon and has a D-ring attachment for added convenience.
The cord is even covered in a Kevlar cloth like a bulletproof vest, and MUNITIO has dampened the scratchy-cord noise with silicone sheaths on every connection point.
MUNITIO includes a pair of over-ear hooks that are completely removable, which is unique for in-ear headphones. The hooks clip on at the end of the earphone casing (where the rim of the cartridge is), and can rotate completely around the center of the earphone itself. I found the ear clips to be particularly innovative compared to other headphone manufacturer’s designs because they offered a unique second option for getting a better fit.
Most earphones come with the standard S/M/L tips (as do the NINES), but what if you can’t get a comfortable, secure fit with those? Some manufacturers attempt to solve the problem by including a plethora of tips with varying designs—like double-flanged or memory foam options—but those may still fail to help. For me, the NINES’ medium tips weren’t comfortable for extended use, but MUNITIO’s design allowed me to use the large tips with the ear hooks. The large tips proved most comfortable and delivered a better sound for some listening, but weren’t very secure in my ears. With the ear hooks, though, they stayed securely in place even when moving.
Looking Good, Sounding Better
The NINES come in three varieties, ranging from understated to blinged out. BLK is a subtle matte black, while GLD is a shining titanium-coated finish that looks like a Wild West solid gold bullet. SLV (the model I tested) is a less-flashy shiny finish that, one presumes, is useful for hunting vampires.
No matter which model you choose, the NINES deliver stellar performance with big, warm sound overall. As the name implies, the NINES feature 9mm drivers, and two bits of custom engineering to maximize the audio experience. The SoundFlow tuning enhances mid- and high-frequency performance, while the BassEnhancingChamber pumps out clear-yet-booming bass; both features deliver a cleaner, bigger sound than you might expect from such small drivers.
Overall performance from the NINES is truly spectacular. I used them at work with the Naturespace app, and by using the ear hooks and large tips I was able to place the drivers further away from my ears, greatly enhancing the 3-D effect of the Naturespace tracks. I also noticed that orchestral and symphonic music displayed a much wider soundstage when using the large+earhook setup, but electronic dance music had more bass when I used the medium tips (which place the drivers closer to the eardrums). This is another advantage offered by the additional fit configurations, so I encourage you to experiment to find the best combination based on your comfort and music tastes.
I got the NINES just in time for the release of The Mashup Radio’s Mash of the Titans 2, which afforded me a variety of options for putting these earphones through their paces. Anna Kendrick’s voice was smooth and clear in Some Nights I Miss Cups, while the bass in Break One More Lovestoned Telephone was tight and clear even up at high volumes. No matter what I threw at the NINES, they kicked it straight into my skull with aplomb, and they offer above-average noise isolation for in-ear headphones as well.
At $170, the NINES will not be in everybody’s price range. They are worth the money, however, as they offer a genuinely unique approach to fit and marvelous sound. The fit and finish is solid all around, and even where plastic is used, it’s not flimsy. If you’re looking to invest in quality sound in the sub-$200 price range, the NINES belong on your short list.
Provides: Earbud audio reproduction with iPod/iPhone remote and microphone
Minimum Requirements: Any audio source with a 1/8″ headphone jack. Remote functionality should work on most recent model Apple products.
Availability: Out Now