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Noble 6

Posted

Pros: Dynamic and detailed sound that avoids any harshness, Comfortable and secure fitment, Fantastic accessories package

Cons: Not for those looking for a linear or neutral tuning, Two pin connector is not recessed into the housing, Pricey for a universal IEM

 

At the time of the review, the Noble 6 universal was was on sale on Noble Audio’s website. Here is a link to their listing of the product:

 

http://nobleaudio.com/en/shop/universal/

 

Introduction

My Head-Fi journey continues. Between going to shows and writing reviews I’ve had opportunities to try some pretty incredible earphones and sources.

 

One of the most popular earphones these days is the Noble Savant. When my buddy Zach brought a pair over to try out, there was no denying that it sounded pretty incredible. The Savant midrange and treble is darn near perfect in my opinion. Despite this, for my preference I felt they were a slight bass boost away from being elite.

 

A few days passed, and the Savant sound was still pretty fresh in my mind. I was asking around to fellow audio enthusiasts if they knew of anything with Savant-like midrange and treble but also a boost in lower frequencies. Of the people I asked, nothing really came to mind. I eventually decided to email Noble directly, asking them if they had anything like this. I figured “what the heck, it’s worth a shot, right?”

 

Shortly after my email I got a response from Brannan over at Noble headquarters. He suggested the Noble 6 would be something to check out. Although the Savant sound is a memory at this point, I’m blessed to be able to share my time with the Noble 6. It’s an epic earphone for sure!

 

Disclaimer

I was given an opportunity to review a Noble 6 sample in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with Noble Audio. I would like to take this time to personally thank Noble for the opportunity. Brannan, I’m looking forward to checking out the Noble booth at Axpona this spring and listening to the rest of the Noble lineup!

 

My Background

I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…

 

There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, Amplifiers and Earphones that intrigues me, especially if they can be had for low prices. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I will discover that one new gem that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones, ranging from from dirt cheap to higher end products. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and have a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.

 

I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they are ergonomic, and the sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have owned and used.

 

REVIEW

The Noble 6 comes in a premium textured black box with a glossy black noble logo printed across the front.

 

The back of the box has a brief description of the Noble 6 sound, a barcode and a hand written serial number in the upper left corner. The sides of the box features the Noble crown and “Wizard” logos.

 

Opening the box, I was greeted with some noble stickers and a velvet drawstring bag. Underneath these items, there was a premium black Pelican case.

 

Opening the case, I was greeted with some small ziplock bags which contained the earphones and accessories, a carabiner, and premium certificate of ownership and some custom Noble bands for binding your DAP and DAC/AMP.

 

Specifications and Accessories

 

Specifications:

*Six balanced-armature drivers per side

*Impedance < 30 Ohms

*Noble universal form factor

*Hand assembled and matched

*Detachable cable with industry standard two pin configuration

*Gold pentalobe screws

 

Earphone and Accessories:

*1x Pelican waterproof airtight case (gloss black)

*2x Noble stickers (gloss white)

*1x velvet drawstring bag (black)

*1x pair Noble 6 earphones (L & R channels)

*1x black braided Noble Audio 2 pin connector with memory wire (1.3 meters)

*2x Noble Audio rubber banding rings for stacking portable devices (black & white)

*1x earwax cleaning tool

*3x pair gray/red silicone tips (S,M,L)

*3x pair blue/black silicone tips (S,M,L)

*3x pair Sennheiser-ish dual silicone tips (S,M,L)

*3x pair memory foam tips (S,M,L)

*1x certificate of ownership

 

Housings

The Noble 6 has a lightweight plastic housing with a gloss black finish. The inner part of the housing connects to the faceplate via three gold screws. A Noble logo is printed into the plastic faceplates with an eggshell-like finish.

 

The nozzle is slightly wider than the average universal in-ear monitor, but not wide enough to make tip rolling difficult. The end of the nozzle has two openings at the end to transmit sound. The cable connects via a two pin port on the upper portion of the housing. One red flag for me was the fact that this connection isn’t recessed into the housing. One wrong move that puts too much tension on the connection, and there could possibly be problems. Handle your Noble universal with a reasonable amount of care, and you shouldn’t have this issue.

 

Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs

The Noble 6 has a black braided cable that is pretty fantastic. It’s a quad braided cable from the jack to the Y-split, then a dual twisted cable from the Y-split to the two pin connector. It has a small amount of spring and memory, but not enough to say it’s an issue. The two pin connector at each channel leads into a inch and a half of memory wire that works well with the Noble 6 housing to provide owners with a secure fit. The Y-split is a clear piece of heat shrink tubing that splits the braiding. A clear plastic chin/neck slider works well to snug the earphones into a secure fit. The cable jack is a straight design 3.5 mm gold plated jack with a slim profile metal black jacketing and rubber strain relief.

 

Functionality

The Noble 6 comes with a plug and play cable. There is no microphone or remote included. However, the removeable cable makes it possible for owners to purchase an aftermarket cable with this option. They can be found for as low as twenty dollars, with premium cables costing many times more.

 

Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation

Noble 6 is an over the ear fit. They have a pretty decent shape that should fit just about anybody’s ear. The various assortment tips gives users lots of options. There’s enough tips to say that there’s something for everybody. Find the right sealing tip, pop them in your ears, adjust the memory wire, snug them into place with the chin slider and enjoy. Microphonics are minimal thanks to the over ear fitment. Isolation is superb for an in ear monitor.

 

Sound Review

I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-G3 with the latest firmware for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or Sony Walkman F806/Cayin C5 amplifier for a high fidelity portable use. For desktop use I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a HIFIMEDIY Sabre ES9023 USB DAC/Bravo Audio Ocean Tube amplifier with a Mullard 12AU7 tube for higher impedance, and a Fiio E18 USB DAC & Amplifier in both high and low gain. Both were run at 24 bit, 96000 Hz. I also tested them with other DAPs and amplifiers as well. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.

 

I used my usual same songs for testing gear:

“Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)

“Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)

“Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)

“Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)

“Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)

“The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)

“Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)

“Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)

“One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)

“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)

“Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)

“And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)

“Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)

 

Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to assess and break down the gear’s response.

 

Source Selection

These are some very sensitive earphones. To put into perspective, I wasn’t able to turn them up past ½ way up on my LG G3 before they reached unhealthy listening levels. I heard some very faint background noise when using the N6 with anything more powerful than a smartphone.

 

You DO NOT need a powerful source to drive the Noble 6. However, a high quality source or DAC will help maximize your listening experience with them. They sounded great with my Shanling H3 in low gain, or on the Ifi micro iDSD when ran in the highest sensitivity settings. The bass forward tuning and relaxed treble will make them forgiving with low bitrate files and poor recordings, but they will also upscale incredibly well. Improving resolution with a neutral and high quality source greatly improves separation and reveals just how clear and detailed they can be. Warm sources will make the Noble 6 sound a bit bloated and unresolving at lower frequencies. Listen to your highest bit rate files on your most neutral sounding DAP and you will be rewarded with great sound quality.

 

Sound Signature

The Noble 6 is a warm and somewhat bassy tuning with relaxed and extended treble presence. They have a good sense of soundstage depth along with a mid bass punch and timbre rich lower midrange. This is all done without sacrificing resolution.

 

Bass

Bass on the Noble 6 is authoritative and forward in nature. Sub bass tones are a step back from the mid bass boost, but is also responsive and has a good sense of extension and depth. Mid bass kicks like a mule but is high resolution. It has a solid punchy feel to my ears but is also very responsive. The overall feel is powerful and dynamic. It’s a good amount of bass slam for an in-ear monitor, and borders on falling into the “basshead audiophile” category. I actually enjoy it quite a bit because I get dynamic driver slam with armature accuracy.

 

Midrange

Lower midrange carries on from where the midbass leaves off. It’s forward in nature and packs a fair amount of timbre and warmth. Vocals have a warm tilt without sounding unnatural. Bass guitars are forward, while lower piano notes and guitar chugs are robust. Male vocals really pop, especially deeper male vocals. As things transition from lower midrange to upper midrange, the forwardness begins to subside. Upper midrange on the N6 is more relaxed. Because of this vocals on a whole have a smooth finish and female vocals don’t seem to project on the same level as male singers. The midrange tuning makes the overall feel powerful and polite at the same time.

 

Treble

Treble on the N6 continues the somewhat downward slope while maintaining a nice amount of extension and detail. If there’s one the the Noble doesn’t have, it’s sibilance. The N6 tilts more towards the darker side of neutral without losing its extension. Cymbal crashes have a very smooth feel. Something I think that is really special about the N6 is its ability to give you all the details and cover the entire upper frequency range while being very relaxed at the same time.

 

Soundstage and Imaging

The N6 has good depth to its sound, but the overall feel is a somewhat intimate soundstage. This is because the lower frequencies are in larger proportion as compared to the higher tones. Imaging is decent and improves with more neutral and less powerful sources and higher bit rate music files.

 

Comparisons

 

Unique Melody Miracle V2 Universal ($1000 USD on many sites)

The Miracle V2 is a six driver universal in-ear monitor that has taken feedback from its original version and tweaked it to a new build and tuning.

 

Comparing the two, the Noble 6 is definitely the bassier and warmer earphone of the two. The Noble 6 take a more midbass forward approach as compared to the more sub bass focused sound of the Miracle V2. Miracle V2 is more thinned out and linear through the midrange. Both earphones have a relaxed upper midrange and treble response, with the N6 being just as extended, but a bit more subdued.

 

I give Noble an edge in accessories. Their pelican case is more travel friendly than Miracle V2’s metal cannister. Tip selection is somewhat similar in terms of what is offered, with the N6 offering a few more pairs. Miracle V2 offers a ¼ inch adapter and airline adapter, while the N6 doesn’t offer either.


 

Oriveti Primacy ($299 to $399 USD on Amazon)

Considering the price tag of the N6 I thought it might be a nice comparison to put them up against one of my favorite mid-fi earphones, the Primacy. Primacy is a hybrid design with impressive ergonomics and sound quality.

 

Comparing the two, the N6 is smoother and more musical. N6 carries slightly more detail throughout the entire sound spectrum, while the Primacy carries slightly more linearity and sparkle at upper frequency ranges. Separation of sounds is slightly better on the N6, while the Primacy sounds on a whole more natural and airy.

 

Noble gets the advantage in terms of accessories, with the Primacy getting an edge in build quality thanks to their all metal housings.


 

Conclusion

The N6 is a musical and detailed earphone with plenty bass. They provide a powerful sound with smooth yet extended upper frequency response. The meaty midbass and lower midrange will give your music a dynamic boost. The relaxed upper frequencies provide a complementary and fatigue free listening experience.

 

When trying to give a star rating to the N6, I think we need to break it down to demographics of sound preferences. Thinking along the lines of someone who prefers a more linear sounding earphone, I give them four stars. Thinking along the lines of someone who enjoys a more musical and dynamic sound, I give them five stars. Considering all preferences, I give the Noble 6 four and a half stars, as it is a median between the two preferences.

 

If you are looking for an endgame dynamic and musical tuning with a detailed upper frequency response that avoids being harsh, consider the N6 from Noble Audio.

 

Thanks for reading and happy listening!

Posted

Pros: Great all-around.

Cons: Le Bass

 

(copied and pasted from the thread)

 

 

Intro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noble Audio is the new brain child of John Molton, who is known around these parts as the Wizard. Formerly of Heir Audio, his CIEM designs are usually his calling card. However, his initial universal-fit 4.Ai and 3.Ai, and 5 designs saw a good deal of success. With his new company, he has revamped expanded the universal line to include the 6-driver iem that is the focus of this review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finish/Fit/Accessories/Miscellaneous 

 

 

 

The Noble 6 is a rather understated looking iem. It's a classy shade of black, with a logo that is maybe even more understated. The other iems in the universal line also follow this aesthetic design, with the exemption of the screw colors. The Noble 6 is distinguished by gold-plated screws.

 

Fit is straightforward, the same as his previous efforts with Heir Audio...comfortable. But the nozzles are larger than average, which may prove iffy for smaller ear canals. For instance, the Comply 500 series has to stretch a bit to fit.

 

As for accessories, the Noble 6 gives up nothing. Along with several different styles and sizes of tips, the package comes with two bands for holding daps/amps together, a wax cleaner, and car stickers (I think that's what they are), all packaged in a nice little otterbox-style case. A small carrying case would have been nice though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple extra things:

 

1) The cable is simply the most supple and luxurious feeling I've seen on an iem. It has sufficient weight without being remotely heavy, and it's incredible supple and flexible. The only downside to this cable is that the plug doesn't fit into my freakin' phone case. Come on, people. It's 2014. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY! :etysmile:

 

 

2) The non-recessed connectors worry me somewhat. I just don't see myself laying on my side with the Noble 6. I think recessed connectors would have shielded the pins from potential damage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound

 

 

 

 

Gear:

 

I tested the Noble 6 with a 6th gen iPod Classic , a Sansa Clip+, my desktop sabre DAC, and my iPhone 4, all out to a Tralucent T1. I ended up just using the headphone out of my iPhone 4, as it seemed to be the most linear.

 

 

Test Tracks:

 

Rivers and Roads - The Head and the Heart

 

 

 


Roots Rock Reggae - Bob Marley

 

 

 


Bronte - Gotye

 

 

 

 


Give Life Back to Music - Daft Punk

 

 

 


Dirty Paws - Of Monsters and Men

 

 

 

 


Stand By Me - Ben E. King

 

 

 

 

 


Blind Faith - Chase and Status

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The general sound signature of the Noble 6 isn't what I'd describe as neutral. The thing that struck me when I first listened to the Noble 6 was the sheer bass quantity. It's definitely the most emphasized part of the signature to my ears, and contributes to the overall sound of the iem.

 

I ran some tone sweeps, and if I were to draw a FR graph of the N6, it would start with boosted mid-bass, with sub-bass rolling off below 25 hz, leading up to an even lower midrange, followed by downsloping upper mids that are clearly quieter than surrounding frequencies. The highs pick up and extend past 16 kHz without issue.

 

In other words, the N6 is a warm sounding iem with boosted midbass/and upper bass, even lower mids, a relaxed upper midrange, and smooth, extended treble.

 

I'll start by saying the Noble 6 is a great iem, but I have to point out the negatives first...well, the negative (singular): the bass, the N6's achilles heel.

 

I'm not really a lover of bass-light iems, as I believe bass is as important as mid and higher frequencies. It gives rhythm to music and life. That said, the N6's bass presentation is a bit of a let down compared to the awe-inspiring mids and treble. I mentioned earlier that the mid-bass is the most present frequency. To put it in perspective, it has almost as much mid-bass as the Sennheiser IE800 has sub-bass. This can be somewhat exacerbated by the slightly intimate sound stage. For the quantity, it's reasonably tight. Still, it lacks the top tier control and texture that an iem in its range should have. Thanks to the bass quantity and relatively laid back midrange, I also don't find the N6 ideal for low volume listening (around 2-3 volume steps on the iphone). At those levels, The sound is a bit too warm and seemingly congested. I thought it was a power issue at first, but it persisted with the Tralucent T1 attached.

 

With that out of the way, we can discuss what makes the Noble 6 excellent.

 

I think my favorite part of the sound signature is the treble. It's not so much the amount of treble, but the sheer refinement that went into it. There's a lack of any sibilant peaks, cymbal crashes are never harsh, nor do any metal instruments have unnecessary bite.

 

Vocals are also truly wonderful. Voices are tactile, refined, and display the dynamic capabilities of the N6. I've owned and heard a number of iems that I'd consider great with vocals, and the Noble 6 places itself in that group. The IE800 is still king, but this isn't very far behind, and well in the company of the TG334, ASG-2, and Flat-4 when it comes to making voices sound ethereal. The downside is the laid back upper mids that can take away the extra oomph from some female vocalists. For instance, the N6 doesn't quite transmit the gravitas of Whitney Houston's higher notes. They've very much there and do not lack detail, but they're not as "sweet" as they could be (to steal tinyman's terminology).

 

As for sound staging and imaging, the Noble 6 is quite precise with where it places cues. There's no confusion as to what instrument is here. I did mention earlier that the soundstage is more intimate than I'm accustomed to, but it's not enough to call it overly small.

 

The last point I want to touch on is the Noble 6's sheer resolving power. It's very impressive. If it's there in the recording, the Noble 6 will show it. No, I didn't have any cliche moments where I heard things I've never heard before (the UERM took care of that for me), but I never once looked for a familiar detail in a song.

 

 

 

This is more or less my introduction to the Noble 6. I will be updating the post below with some comparisons to the Aurisonics ASG-2, the Earsonics S-EM6, and possibly the AKG K3003 in the next week or so, as I like to have a baseline when evaluating gear.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Noble 6
Description:

Our flagship universal IEM, the Noble 6, is an adaptation of the present four-driver design. With the addition of two unique drivers, the low-end is considerably filled out while soundstage has expanded building upon what is already a natural, airy, space. Mids and highs were not disregarded in the design process either, the Noble 6 is characterized by smooth mids and highs with great extenion at the top end.

Details:
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