Welcome to my Cliffnotes, a series where I push out rapid fire opinions of some of the IEMs I’ve heard but can’t be bothered to fully review. Thus I won’t get too in-depth, nor will I be too formal and technical. Less analysis, more… from-the-heart if you will.
Noble is a company that has been a cult favourite on Head-Fi for years. Headed by the personality that is John Moulton, they are one of the few high-end audio companies that have managed to break into mainstream consciousness. Their Head-Fi product thread remains one of the most active threads on the site, though mostly revolving around worshipping the company and being Moulton’s personal gif dump, but I digress.
With their highly acclaimed K10 and K10 Encore showing their age in recent times, and the Khan being unable to reach the heights of its predecessors, it seems that Noble’s future now rests on its lower-end models. Also note that apart from the three being discussed today, I am missing the elusive M3 which I can’t find a demo to listen to… yet.
It’s no secret that the IEMs that aren’t the K10 variants, the Khan or the Katana, aren’t very popular or well-received. Can Noble’s newest entries carve out a name for themselves, outside the shadow of the “Big Three”?
Noble Falcon TWS
Product page: https://nobleaudio.com/en/shop/wireless/
Driver configuration: single DD
Now this is a pretty surprising play by Noble.
I’m not going to lambast an audiophile company for going the TWS route because, hell, everybody’s doing it. It’s a popular format and the Falcon will most likely outsell everything else Noble offers in terms of sheer volume.
Since this is the great Noble we’re talking about, let’s just dive into the sound. It has easily the most un-Noble sound signature out of their entire lineup: an extreme V-shaped response only rivalled by Master & Dynamic’s MW07 but just a bit better done. Make no mistake, this is a product purely meant to pander to the masses rather than the audiophile crowd, so in that regard I think Noble has at least succeeded. Nothing else much to say, it’s a pretty generic TWS IEM that doesn’t have any exceptional or outright terrible qualities. Except the charging case.
The charging case feels so god damned cheap that it makes me wonder who in their right mind would think that this is a luxury product by an established brand. I hardly ever talk about build quality so you know it’s serious when I do; the build of the Falcon TWS is flimsy, fragile and something I’d expect more from the likes of KZ and QCY than Noble Audio.
With great brand power comes great expectations, and the Falcon fails to live up to the image Noble has painstakingly cultivated. Feels like a bandwagon cash-grab that doesn’t even compete well with budget offerings in the highly saturated TWS market.
Noble Savant 2
Product page: https://nobleaudio.com/en/shop/universal/
Driver configuration: 2BA
The IEM community veterans would probably remember the Savant from a controversy surrounding its driver count. Long story short, Noble marketed the Savant whilst simulataneously hiding their driver count, and so people got mad when it was revealed that Noble was charging $600 for what was essentially a very basic two driver setup.
The Sage followed after as an update to the Savant. At this point I guess everyone already knows that the phrase “bang for your buck” is not in Noble’s vocabulary, so I didn’t really see much backlash during its release.
So, how is the Savant 2? To keep a long story short, it’s dull. It’s bland. It’s not terrible, but it’s not good. The tonality is fine but overly-warm and thick, and so lacking definition. It’s not very detailed and would be something you’d expect out of a beater pair of earphones. But at $500, it’s anything but a beater for the average wallet.
But how is it against its predecessors? It’s been a while since I’ve tried the original Savants, but I have tried the Sage recently so I guess that comparison will do. The Sage is certainly the better IEM overall since it’s less blunted and dull with a better upper midrange tonal balance, but it’s also $100 more so you can’t really make the whole “it’s better value” argument at that point.
The Savant 2 is the perfect representation of Noble’s brand image. An earphone that works better as eyecandy than it is actually being in your ears.
Noble Tux 5
Product page: https://nobleaudio.com/en/shop/universal/tux-5/
Driver configuration: 1DD + 4BA hybrid
My summarised opinion on the Tux 5 is as follows: it is a pretty good hybrid but it is severely overpriced.
The Tux 5 has the quintessential “U-shaped” response which emphasises sub-bass and upper treble, though in this case at the expense of scooping out the mids. The midrange isn’t bad but rather just positioned further away from the rest of the frequencies, and I think that’s fine from a tuning perspective. The treble is a contentious point as some ears have opined that it gets sibilant and sharp, but it doesn’t offend me personally. Though it’s straddling the line for sure.
The bass, while extremely boosted, is free from bleed and smearing. The Tux 5 can certainly be classified as a basshead’s IEM and it will throw rumble right in your face without mercy, and so it is exactly the kind of bass that tickles my own personal fancies.
But at $1,300… no. That’s close to Solaris money there; and for the performance that the Tux 5 is hitting, it’ll be lucky to be competitive at $500.
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My usual thanks to my loyal supporters and shoutouts to my big money boys: