Indiana Line Nota 250, Nota 550 – Review – More than Meets the Wallet

Hey guys,

I remember how when I was a kid, I craved for a speaker system like Logitech Z-5500 and for it’s huge but bloated and uncontrolled bass quantity. Today I couldn’t listen to them as they don’t have a balanced sound at all in my opinion.

However, until now, I did’t find a budget  speaker system that could suit my needs.

Well, I think I hit the jackpot with the new Indiana Line Nota series.

Indiana Line has been founded in 1977 and since then has been working on providing good sound accompanied by appealing designs and at budget prices.

I have listened to some of the speakers from Nota series: Nota 250, and Nota 550.

I found both  to be excellent at their price ( Nota 250 : 180 Eur, Nota 550: 350 Eur) .

When I first saw Nota 250, I was impressed by the finish and by the looks. I asked about the price and I lowered my expectations, just to be extremely surprised while listening to them.

Indiana Line Nota 250

I even dare to say that these little bookshelves speakers give you a taste of high end sound and that they are the absolutely best buy for that price.

The build quality is very good with an impressive finish for that price.

The design was also something that draw my attention.

Sound Impressions

Let’s get to the sound.

The tests have been done with the Arcam FMJ D33 Dac , Naim NAIT 5i MKII Amplifier, Indiana Line Nota 250 , Indiana Line 550 & Chord Cobra VEE3 2 (dac to amplifier interconnects).

Indiana Line Nota 250

The room where the tests were done had ~16 square meters and 2.5 meters in height, perfect for Nota 250, but kind of small for Nota 550 which I think can perform better in a larger room.

Here are my impressions on a few songs:

Silent Strike – Asian Paper Circus 

Nota 250

I never expected this level of quality for these small speakers and I was very impressed by them. They pack a very good bass for their size.  They fill the room which is impressive at their size. This song is very energetic and very fast and the Nota 250 managed to pull through, transmitting the energy to the listener.

Nota 550

Compared to the 250, the bass had more body and weight, but it seemed a little lazier.

Infected Mushroom – Suliman

Nota 250

Again,  I looked at them and asked myself how they can pack that amount of bass. The song was full of energy and engaging with a very good PRAT.  The bass had a good punch, the sound was quite detailed and opened. I found myself moving on the song’s beat.

Nota 550

The bass is blowing you off the chair with 550. The transients were a little more lazy than with the 550 both as attack and decay but  the sound had a lot more weight.

Coldplay – Don’t Panick

Nota 250

The guitars were very present and detailed tickling your ears. The voice had a good extension but lacked some depth / texture. Again I was very impressed with them.

Nota 550

Again the bass was a lot more present, the sound had more depth but lost some of the energy of it’s little brother.

Leonard Cohen -Teachers

Nota 250

I love this song and I enjoyed it very much with the Nota 250 as well. The plucks of the guitars were again felt very well, showing good transient response and details. Leonard’s voice was clean and on a very well delimited layer, not blending in with the instruments. The sound was opened and with good imaging.

Nota 550

On this song the sound was very similar in both models, but seemed a little more detailed and the voice had more depth on 550.

Metallica – Devil’s Dance

Nota 250

Wow, these small speakers really know how to rock. I could feel the bass and guitars in my chest. I really loved this song with the Nota 250. The PRAT and energy was amazing and it made me head bang throughout the song.

Nota 550

The electric guitars were more detailed and had more texture with 550 . You could feel them both in your body even more than with the Nota 250.

Michael Jackson – Bad

Nota 250

The Nota 250 have a very musical sound which really invites you to dance.  Beware, you could find yourself moon-walking :) . Michael’s voice was very well delimited and layered and it sounded natural and clean.  The instruments were well separated and the sound was very airy. The sound was very engaging and fun.

moonwalking photo Moonwalk.gif

Nota 550

I missed the energy and prat of the 250 on this song. The bass went a little over the lower mids but I think it was the effects from the small room.

Johan Sebastian Bach – Sonata in C Major – Allegro

Nota 250

This was quite a surprise. I didn’t expect such large soundstage, such good details on the treble (without a tad of brightness). The separation of instruments was very good and very impressive for the price. I found myself  directing the orchestra while listening.

Nota 550

The sound seemed very similar to 250 on this song with the exception of some details and a bigger scene.

Summary

Bass

Nota 250

The bass was pretty impressive on the 250. Good depth, very good punch and decent control.

Nota 550

More depth, presence and body than on 250If you like to be blown off your chair, these are for you. I, however am  a fan of faster and more controlled bass.

Treble

The treble is very similar or the same in both models. They have very good treble with good extension and details without being bright.

Mids

The mids are quite rich and engaging on both models, but  clearer  on 250.

PRAT & Energy

Nota 250

I just loved the PRAT & energy of the Nota 550. It invites you to dance. I barely stayed in the chair while listening to them. They really know how to transmit the energy from the music to the listener.

Nota 550

The lazier bass takes some energy away from them compared to 250.

Transients

Nota 250

The transients on 250 are very good with good impact and not so fast but still good decay. The attack

Nota 550

The transients are slower than with 250 .

Musicality

Both models are very musical and invite you to dance, especially the Nota 250.

Soundstage and Instrument separation

Nota 250

I was amazed to see how well layered the sound was and how big the soundstage.  This was a pleasant surprise and made me love listening to classical music to it.

Nota 550

Very comparable to the 250 in this regard, but with a slight larger sound-stage. Also the instruments that have lower notes are not so well separated like on 250.

Conclusions

I was absolutely amazed by the performance of the Nota 250 and I never expected that level of quality at that price point. They were very musical and engaging making you get off your chair and dance.

They easily transmit the energy from music to you.

They performed greatly above their price, delivering incredible and unexpected quality. They really filled the room with their sound and I frequently asked myself how the heck they do that at their size.

Indiana Line Nota 250

After listening to the 250, I heard the Nota 260 and I must say that I wasn’t so impressed as with Nota 250 and Nota 550, but they are still very good for their price.

The Nota 550  on the other hand captured my attention also, but still preferred the little brother, because it’s sound is closer to my taste : faster & more energetic  . However I think it will be a hit for bass heads and people who want more body, presence & depth. I personally prefer faster and tighter bass. 

One thing that I have to consider is that the room might have been to small for the 550 and contained no isolation.  I think it needs a bigger room (>=20 square meters)  to really shine and get the energy the 250 have.

Indiana Line nota 550

Overall I liked them both and consider them to be very good value for the price.

I also got the chance to listen to the Tesi 260 from Indiana Line, the series that is above the Nota and I must say I was again very impressed.

It took every good quality from the Nota 250 and improved it, but I will tell you more about it in a full review of the Tesi 260, as I really felt that it also deserves a full blown review of it’s own.

Nota 250 Pros :

  • Good build quality and design
  • Very engaging bass with good depth, punch and decent control
  • Excellent PRAT and energy
  • Good transients with very good and energetic attack and not so fast but natural decay
  • Good soundstage and layering with good instrument separation
  • Good imaging
  • Very musical
  • Good details
  • Well extended treble without being bright
  • Extremely cheap for what it offers

Cons

  • none at that price

Nota 550 Pros:

  • Good build quality and design
  • Bass with good depth and body
  • Good imaging
  • Nice soundstage and instrument separation (higher than the lower mids)
  • Well extended treble without being bright
  • Price

Cons:

  • Lazier sound than 250
  • The bass could use more control but I think this would be solved with a bigger room  as the test room was kind of small for them

So considering the above, I must say that the Nota 250 are the clear winners for my personal tastes as I like more energetic, controlled & faster sound with faster decays.

However if you like more weighty sound, if you would like the electric guitars from rock to go through every bit of your body, you should look at Nota 550. Also if you have a bigger room the 550 would be your best pick and I think they would get much better and regain the energy back from the 250.

I think Indiana Line has done a great job with the Nota series and they deserve our full attention.

If you don’t believe me, go and addition them yourself at  jack-fi or to your nearest indiana dealer.

As for me, I am quite sure I am going to buy a pair of my own soon.