Indiana Line Nota 250, Nota 550 – Review – More than Meets the Wallet
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
Compared to the 250, the bass had more body and weight, but it seemed a little lazier.
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.
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.
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.
Again the bass was a lot more present, the sound had more depth but lost some of the energy of it’s little brother.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The sound seemed very similar to 250 on this song with the exception of some details and a bigger scene.
The bass was pretty impressive on the 250. Good depth, very good punch and decent control.
More depth, presence and body than on 250. If you like to be blown off your chair, these are for you. I, however am a fan of faster and more controlled bass.
The treble is very similar or the same in both models. They have very good treble with good extension and details without being bright.
The mids are quite rich and engaging on both models, but clearer on 250.
PRAT & Energy
I just loved the PRAT & energy of the Nota 250. 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.
The lazier bass takes some energy away from them compared to 250.
The transients on 250 are very good with good impact and not so fast but still good decay. The attack
The transients are slower than with 250 .
Both models are very musical and invite you to dance, especially the Nota 250.
Soundstage and Instrument separation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
Thank you for this review, very detailed and helpful!
Glad you found it helpful!
Thanks guy! Now i have an idea about the performance of this speaker (250); i have a cheap yamaha amplifier and a indiana line Basso 830, my room is 15mq, i have to do a choice: Nota 250 o 260? Thanks
Glad to be of help. Sorry for the long delay. Nota 260 would have a deeper bass and should be better for a room that size, but not 250 has a snappier sound, faster transients, while 260 has a slightly longer delay and deeper bass. 260 would fill the room better than 250 in your case, I think.
Hi. I came here looking for Indiana Line Tesi 260 reviews. They don’t seem to exist in english unfortunately. You mention listening to these aswell. Can you give more details please? I like their looks better than Nota series. They cost more, but are they indeed better? It is front ported (bass reflex) and also use a phase plug for it’s bass driver. Does that makes the bass suffer for clarity? Or is the bass decent on the Tesi 260 model? I couldn’t find any bassy song played on them on youtube.
I consider them as a cheaper alternative to the B&W 685 (version 1). Now I don’t necessarily expect them to be as the much more expensive Bowers, but how about comparing them to other well known affordable speakers like Dali Zensor or Monitor Audio Bronze series?
Sorry for the many questions, I’m kind of fond on them, and I don’t want to waste a good sum and be dissapointed. Thanks a lot!
“They cost more, but are they indeed better?” – great question, I wish I could find an answer…