Noble sent me these UIEMs for review. These headphones reside in their middle price-bracket, with 5 balanced armature drivers per side, and a focus on bass, as the name indicates.
I have spent the past two weeks auditioning these, and they have been my main portable driver for that time.
Fit and Form
These things are ear candy. Their anodized aluminum shell is beautifully designed, with what I think is the best implementation of the Noble logo that they could have included in this context. Everything feels extremely solidly built. No connection is loose, no cable unraveling, and the shell is damn near seamless. The color of these really pops in person, and I like it a lot. For the unassuming user, they may be a little bit over-the-top, but I had no issue making the statement that they demand.
They sit a little bit large in the pinna, but given that I comfortably use iSines with regularity, they weren't unreasonable to me. I also have fairly small pinna without much depth, so most IEMs sit further out than average. The connection of the two-pin cable into the shell of the IEM is absolutely solid, requiring considerable effort to remove. The cable terminates in a 1/8" auxiliary jack, which is unpretentious and completely satisfactory. It is twisted, splitting at a brushed aluminum, and thankfully very small, Y-splitter, with a small plastic retainer above to bring the two cables post-splitter to the desired height. At the connection to the IEMs themselves, the cable has heat-shrink conformed to the shape of the pinna, and I had no issues with long-term wear in terms of comfort as a result of their behind-the-ear design.
These are quite the fun pair of headphones. Beyond just that, however, where I often find myself perceiving a sacrifice in other sonic qualities when using a headphone similarly pleasurable to this, I struggled to find anything lost in this trade-off. The bass is most certainly emphasized, but the treble is airy and poignant, and the mid-range, if slightly recessed, is lush and dense. No detail is sacrificed, from tiny remnants of plucking on finger-style guitar to shallow breathes in between vocal notes.
The soundstage, while not massive, is certainly larger than most fully closed IEMs that I have heard. It has good depth and more-than-satisfactory width, especially in this form factor. Their imaging, however, is where they really shine. Each instrument and source of sound has its own place on its soundstage, with no bleed in between. The placement and field that is presented is extremely pleasant, and was one of the favorite points when constructing this review, as it gave me something to enjoy and appreciate that many headphones with this sound signature lack. Microphonics were relatively low, as a side point, which was appreciated.
Songs used: Three Ralphs by DJ Shadow, HUMBLE. by Kendrick Lamar, and I Never Woke Up in Handcuffs Before by Hans Zimmer
Wow. I could effectively go on for days about their bass response and presentation, and I just might. From the moment they got into my ears, I was more-than-pleased with it. The slam and ability-to-inspire-head-nodding that I noticed on "HUMBLE." the first time I listened to it through these was amazing. I always find it hard to answer the question, "What is your preferred sound signature?" as it completely depends both on my mood, and on the type of music that I am listening to at any given moment. However, whenever I find myself in the mood for bass, these are what I would reach for. The quantity isn't overwhelming whatsoever; it's just extremely well highlighted and presented. It is most certainly the primary focus of the headphone, but not without tremendous attention paid to the other ranges.
In reference to my comment above, about sacrifice in headphones with this sound signature, here is one of the finer points. These things are fast. It kept ahead of everything that I could think to throw at it. It's detailed, textured, and overall, beautifully done. I can't find a negative comment for this specific frequency range, no matter how hard I try, and I'm sure that was Noble's goal in designing these.
Key descriptors: fast, smooth, responsive, punchy, slamming, and headsmacking
Songs used: Hajanga by Jacob Collier, Look on Down From the Bridge by Mazzy Star, and Goodnight Kiss by Ibrahim Maalouf
This is another range without much criticism, though more than the previous. The mids are presented as slightly recessed, which makes sense given that target sound signature of these headphones. However, they are not recessed to the point of feeling distant or sounding veiled, its simply that they are not emphasized, like the bass and (to a lesser degree) treble are. In their quantity, they have great quality. Very, very few details are missed, to my ears. In "Hajanga", Jacob Collier's wide vocal range is presented front and center, catching every breath he takes in the recording, and all of the minute details and quirks that his voice carries.
Key descriptors: lush, detailed, and textured
Songs used: Ageispolis by Aphex Twin, Don't Wanna Fight by Alabama Shakes, and Deluxe Sake by Fybe:one
Here is the section with the most critiques. However, for those that have been reading the review thus far with the future intention of purchasing these, worry not; the critiques are not anything too bad. The treble is highlighted to a lesser degree than the bass. It is fast-paced and responsive. It presents the tracks that I usually use as a benchmark for treble with wonderful vibrancy. Every so often, I found that the treble got a little bit too poignant for my tastes. Interestingly, I'm not implying that it was sibilant. Although it infrequently became too forward for my tastes, it never got unpleasant, per se. Other than that minor gripe, it was very pleasant to listen to. Not analytical by any means, but enjoyable in a way that many other headphones are not.
Key descriptors: crisp, detailed, and articulate
Minutia and Miscellaneous
I want to commend Noble on the packaging for these headphones. Even the outer box is beautiful, with a really interesting, and I assume custom, texture. The carrying case included is a micro-sized Pelican 1010 case that gave me a whole lot of confidence when travelling with these. They included a myriad of ear tips, from standard silicon to memory foam tips, and a really nice pair of soft double-flange silicon tips. All silicon tips come in three sizes, with two of the memory foam. Also included is a relatively standard cleaning tool, a pair of stickers, a pair of silicon bands, and a carabiner. I actually initially had an issue with the frequency response when I first tried them with the memory foam tips that I usually prefer to use. The bass was over-emphasized, and the mids were far too recessed for my liking. However, upon switching to the previously mentioned double-flange tips, the issue was fixed, and this review reflects my use with those tips. From that, it's my advice that if anyone reading this does end up purchasing them, they should play around with ear tips before making any final calls on their opinion, as I noticed a very significant changes in FR upon switching tips.
Noble's website claims that this headphone "offers a refined audiophile take on electronic and bass-heavy music". I think this is a great summary. However, I'd extend it by saying that this headphone offers everything that I could look for in a bass-heavy configuration, without sacrificing a single bit of detail, quality of imaging, or any other quality that I look for when analytically listening to a headphone. They are musical as all get out, and supremely enjoyable to listen to. If you're a refined basshead, whatever that claims to mean, these are the IEMs for you.
Below is a gallery of all the pictures that I took of this product, including the ones above, and including those taken in the unboxing process when I initially received this product.
These headphones were provided to me for review by Noble Audio. I am not being paid by anyone to write this review, to endorse the product reviewed, or for the content that I put in the review.
These headphones were powered by an Astell&Kern AK Junior, a Google Pixel, a Neurochrome HP-1, an iFi iDSD Micro Black Label, and by whatever soundcard is in the motherboard of my computer.
I have had these headphones for about a two and a half weeks, and I have put about 60 hours of analytical listening through them during that period.