NUD: Enya Nova U Concert 23" OUD: Anuenue Dream C4 Concert

ailevin

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The Enya carbon fiber plastic composite in 23" concert size arrive from Amazon this afternoon. Since I already had purchased the Anuenue before I found UU, and since I wanted to compare these two, I decided to tag along a brief Old Ukulele Day (OUD) review. The Anuenue has been and continues to be my go to concert though I primarily play tenor these days. In terms of price and Amazon delivery, it might be more fair to compare the Enya with my Donner concert. But I rarely play the Donner, and if we were traveling, it would be the Anuenue that would come along. Also, in terms of fit, finish, setup , and playability, the Enya is more in the class of the Anuenue.
AnueEnyaFront252580.jpgAnueEnyaBody252580I.jpgAnueEnyaBack252580.jpg

The Enya was $70 including tax delivered. It came with a case, a strap, spare strings, and a capo. It has a sound port, strap buttons, compensated saddle, radiused fretboard. This has been reviewed extensively, and I won't redo a full description of the specs and features. The good reviews plus the current discount were my motivation. This latest version has side fret markers and a single shoulder strap on the back of the case, so it appears that Enya reads online reviewers and responds quickly. The scale is 16", halfway between typical concert and typical tenor. The ukulele is well balanced and feels reasonably light when playing it. I like the thin body. The neck is very nice and smooth and has a fairly full C profile. The transition from neck to headstock is also smooth and comfortable. I do find the fretboard a bit narrow in first position. All around it's comfortable to play and it is no way feels like a toy. In fact, it feels quite solid, well put together, and durable. After all, durability is its major selling point. I've seen reviewers complain about the stock fourocarbon strings being floppy and not high enough tension. I think they are just fine and compared to my other ukuleles they are not the lowest tensions string that I have (that would probably be Uke Logic low tension). At any rate the strings are not an issue for me, though I am likely to restring it in low G. Enya makes a flourocarbon low G that is compatible. I also may try replacing the high G with the spare C string and tuning it to low G.

The sound is surprisingly good--perhaps I had low expectations even with the good reviews. The sound is also rather different. The volume is good, the sustain is good, and the articulation is very good. The tone is treble forward, but somewhat mellow and not the least bit harsh. I would call it very round or bell-like, and it has a slightly synthesized sound with a purer set of harmonics than what I am used to from a wooden instrument. The nice thing is that the fundamental really rings out and gives a definiteness to the pitch of the note. I think that the flourocarbon works well with the non-wood soundboard. I find the sound very pleasant; it really doesn't sound like any of my other ukuleles.

I don't know whether it is the narrower fretboard (nut), closer string spacing, or radiused fretboard, but I have some finger placement problems when I switch from one of the tenors to the Enya. I had thought it might feel more natural than switching to the Anuenue, because the Enya scale is closer to tenor than the Anuenue. Once again, this is a brand new instrument, so perhaps I just need to get more familiar with it. I would say that the playability of the Enya is considerably better than either of my mass produced ukuleles (Donner and Hawaiian Ukulele Company). The action is set fairly low with no buzzing or muting. The harmonics ring clear on all the strings at 12th and 7th fret. Fifth fret is tougher, but that is generally true. The instrument plays very in tune up the fretboard and string to string. It is 13 frets to the body and with the Les Paul shape the entire fretboard is very accessible. I'm not sure how I feel about the radiused fretboard. I don't find barre chords dramatically different than on other well set up instruments. It could be all in my head, but the C string seems high off the fretboard and may contribute to some of my finger placement problems.

The Anuenue was purchased from the Ukulele site, and with full setup, spare strings, a gold wound low G, a humidfier, strap buttons installed and a strap it was around $350 shipped. It came with a nice Anuenue gig bag. It has Acacia laminate back and sides and solid cedar top. Once again, you can get sound samples and discussion of features on TUS, so I won't go into great detail. From both sound samples and reviewer comments, I thought I wanted to get a cedar top rather than a spruce top, and I was immediately pleased with the C4. As you can see from the pictures it has a more traditional ukulele shape and a pretty classical look with the abalone around the sound hole and rosewood binding, bridge and fretboard. The scale is 15" and it has 14 frets to the body. I think it weighs a little less than the Enya, but the main impression holding it is that it is less dense. I definitely prefer the placement of the strap button on the heel of the neck better, though I rarely play with a strap at home. The fit and finish is very good and the setup was excellent as usual from TUS. The C4 has Anuenue stock flourocarbon strings except for the added Uke Logic gold low G. The string tension seems similar to or slightly higher than the Enya.

When I pick up the C4 after playing a tenor, the main thing I notice is the difference in finger placement due to smaller fret spacing. It takes a little adjustment, but the neck, transition to headstock, and fretboard (nut) widths feel very comfortable and familiar. Compared with the Enya, the transition is easier here because running through a few scales and chords I get adjusted to the scale and have little problem with spacing. It feels like less of a hand adjustment. I am also just more used to playing it even though I don't play it all that often.

The sound of the C4 is very much what I expected when I ordered it. It has good volume and articulation, with a woody sound that puts emphasis on the midrange. I have not tried a spruce Anuenue, but I did compare laminate concerts by Kala in solid spruce and cedar tops. The spruce had an edge in volume, but the cedar sustain was just as good and the sound was a little less bright. I'm not sure why, but the spruce sounded a bit more guitarish and the cedar a bit more like a ukulele to me. Sound comparisons are a bit difficult becuase of the high G low G difference, but the C4 edges out the Enya in volume and sustain. The Enya has similar or better articulation. The tone of the C4 is richer and more complex and I prefer it. The C4 also shows a greater range of tone possibilities when strummed or picked in different places and at higher and lower volume. The Enya has pretty much exactly the same tone and volume on each string. This balance is better than the C4 and something I identify with more expensive instruments.

My conclusion is that while I prefer the C4, the Enya is a terrific value and does an excellent job of keeping up given its intended use as a durable travel and outdoor ukulele. I am sufficiently impressed that I am going to order the 21" version as well to see which I prefer for travel. In a sense, the pictures tell the story pretty well. The C4 looks classical, wooden, elegant, old school, while the Enya looks modern, industrial and even high tech, rock 'n roll. I prefer the classical, buy my seven year old granddaughter insisted on putting the strap on the Enya and slinging it like an electric guitar.
 
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Like you I lean towards more a traditional look, and have landed on a cheap(er) wooden instrument for travel (Ohana). After trying all sorts of plastic ukes, I finally figured out that my kind of travel doesn't require a bombproof uke, i.e., a laminate uke will survive just fine. Although if Enya made a more traditional style nova (no cutaway) I'd probably buy it... just not into the mini-Les Paul look for ukes. FYI, the nova mini/soprano is supposed to have slightly wider string spacing than the concert.
 
I totally agree that the Enya Nova is a terrific value. I bought mine (concert) from Amazon pre-Christmas for $64.00. I was very surprised at how good it sounded. For a carbon/plastic uke at that price point my expectations were lowered and I went into it thinking that it will sound "good enough" to meet those expectations. I found that I didn't have to settle at all for it sound-wise. It sounds and plays like a uke that would demand a significantly higher price.
 
That Enya is interesting. I have occasionally thought an outdoor ukulele would be nice to have, but the price was somewhat off-putting for me. But this is much more doable.

Several of the amazon reviews indicate the frets wear pretty quickly. I wonder if that's an issue they have resolved?
 
That Enya is interesting. I have occasionally thought an outdoor ukulele would be nice to have, but the price was somewhat off-putting for me. But this is much more doable.

Several of the amazon reviews indicate the frets wear pretty quickly. I wonder if that's an issue they have resolved?
outdoors were once a good deal but prices have gone up over the last few years; my first second generation soprano was $115 shipped, now they run $145 (although strap buttons are now included). pretty sure the fret wear of plastic ukes is an issue limited to wound strings and those containing metal particles, haven't noticed any reports with plain old nylon or fluorocarbons.
 
outdoors were once a good deal but prices have gone up over the last few years; my first second generation soprano was $115 shipped, now they run $145 (although strap buttons are now included). pretty sure the fret wear of plastic ukes is an issue limited to wound strings and those containing metal particles, haven't noticed any reports with plain old nylon or fluorocarbons.
On the amazon reviews for the Enya, there are a few that specifically say they either didn't use metal of metal embedded strings, or that the wear happened with the factory strings. Could've been a batch issue as well.

Its inexpensive enough it would be worth a gamble, IMO
 
There are Enyas with metal frets and plastic frets. My tenor has metal frets. I also changed the strings to Uke Logic Soft Tension High G Pink.
 
On first sight I thought you'd gotten a new Oud :)

outdoors were once a good deal but prices have gone up over the last few years
Is the price increase recent? I think the carbon tenors were $205 when I got mine 5 years ago.

Wayback Machine to the rescue: my memory was close but incomplete. The tenor carbon nickels were $198 ($205 for gold) in October 2018. Soprano nickels rose from $95 earlier in the year to $105 in October (+$10 for gold tuners).

That's a big price difference from the Enyas, but you're comparing made in the USA with made in China. The Enya's look is polarizing, but they come in fun colours (I kind of want an orange one to match my car). Disappointingly, Outdoor looks to have dropped to blues and greens and purples and now list only clear, brown, and carbon.

I liked the Outdoor's sound quite a lot once I put Worth Browns on it. I haven't played or really listened to an Enya Nova to compare.

my seven year old granddaughter insisted on putting the strap on the Enya and slinging it like an electric guitar.
And there you go. You'd have to be heartless to argue with that!
 
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