Pros: warm signature/ detailed/ artwork
Cons: extra bass might be not for everyone
This is a review of the Noble 8c, an eight drivers 4 ways ciems.
You could check the specs on the noble web site.
Please be kind in your critics, as this is my first review ever, and that English is not my first language.
I purchased the 8c on the noble website. The website in itself is very well organized and the ordering process was quite straightforward. I chose a personal design, but for 300$ more, you could count on the wizard's talents to craft you a unique ciem ( take a look at noble's facebook— the man in an artist).
Before I bought the 8c, I asked many questions and sent many — probably too much — emails to the noble crew. Brannan, John and Nancy were very helpful, always patient and very nice to deal with. By purchasing a premium product, you will also purchase premium services.
I opted for the rush order option, being way too impatient to wait for 3 to 4 weeks. My 8c were built in 4 days. Very impressive! I received pictures of the finished product soon after.
2) Package, design and fit
Noble used ups as a carrier and the delivery was very fast.
The 8cs came in an otterbox with my name etched on it. In the box: plastic bands to hold your dap and/or dac and amp together, the proverbial cleaning tool, a sturdy looking cable (Magnus), and the ciems themselves in a little plastic bag.
I chose amber for the shells and face plate. The shells are filled with golden nuggets— beautiful effect—, and the faceplates are translucent so I can see clearly the drivers inside.
The texture of the ciems is very smooth, smoother actually than my previously owned Miracles. They fit very nicely and snugly, but protrude quite much from my ears. Once in place, the effect is not ridiculous though — as opposed to when I was wearing the UE triple-fi which made me look like the Frankenstein creature.
4) The sound
I will begin to describe the bass of these things, as it was the first thing that jumped to my face the very moment I tried them on.
The only other ciem I've own was the Miracle. Their sound signature was U shaped, with a slightly recessed mid-range, shimmering highs, and very tight and defined bass. The miracles are very cleverly tuned, but their bass becomes quite lean and maybe too neutral when outdoors; I wanted something beefier in this department. Well...I got that with the 8c.
I was somehow underwhelmed the first hours of my listening sessions. If I enjoyed the extra bass oomph, I found it way too strong, if not bloated. But I decided to wait for a while — didn't have much choice but to wait — and gave me some more time to get used to this new sound signature. Now, I don't know if burn-in is relevant regarding ciem, and I won't dwell on this issue. Nevertheless, I'm a strong believer in "mental burn-in". Considering that I came from the miracles, an almost polar opposite beast, I gave myself more time before jumping to any conclusions. And I did right.
I wouldn't know how to describe the change I heard. The bass settled down a little, became tighter and more defined, but always as present as before. It had textures, details, and impact like I never heard before except on headphones (the hd-650 came first to my mind for reasons I'll explain later).
When outdoors, I can hear clearly this frequency range, which has much better presence and authority than the Miracles.
The mids were the thing that disappointed me the most at first.
I heard loud and clear the bass and the highs, and felt the sound signature looked like a basin or a bowl, with the vocals and mids at the very bottom of this curve. But for this too, I decided to wait before drawing any conclusion.
It took me more than a week to realize the mids were not at all at the bottom of anything, but that they had a different character compared to my old miracles. They are not emphasized per se, or placed forward in the mix, but are in line with other frequencies. I found female voices were more convincingly portrayed than male voices, but that could be debatable.
Voices seemed veiled at first, but became clearer and clearer. To be honest, I don't think the 8cs are clearly superior in this regard compared to the Miracles, but they got nothing to be ashamed of. They are well defined, clear enough and located nicely in the whole mix.
I think John and his team has achieved quite a feat there. Why... Because the 8cs are warm, with thunderous bass, and yet, the treble and high notes are clearly heard. The 8cs are detailed, and everything I was able to hear on the miracles, I hear on the 8c. Of course, these highs won't be as bright as on the Miracles, but they are there. The only difference between these two, is in the way the treble is presented. Highs are smooth but very well and convincingly portrayed. The 8cs have actually 4 drivers dedicated to this frequency— probably to compete with the 2 gigantic bass drivers that you could see on my pictures.
I like the trebles very much. They are smooth — I already said that — but with a nice presence. You won't miss anything in this frequency range, but know that if you prefer brighter trebles, you should consider another option ( probably the k10). I never had the chance to hear the heir 8a, but I heard that John has increased of a few db the highs in the 8c and considering the result, I think he did a very, very fine job.
I will compare once more the 8cs to the miracles.
The Miracles are well known for their wide soundstage, and I wouldn't say the 8cs have a narrower one. But the 6 drivers miracles presented the music quite differently. I had the feeling with them of an almost surround effect. The stage was round, almost spherical, and the sound was "airy" with an almost ethereal character. The 8cs are quite different. The soundstage hasn't got this rounded and spherical character anymore, but is more linear, flatter. I'll try to be clearer here:
The miracles: spherical, surround-like effect, airy
The 8cs: Flatter, less round, and with a more emphasized stereo effect.
Just a matter of taste.
5) Pairings and musical preferences
All of my testings have been done with lossless files, a clas -r dac, and the Ray Samuels 71b.
I've recabled the 8cs and listened to them balanced, but that would probably be interesting to hear them in se someday.
I have a very eclectic music library, ranging from dubstep to classical.
The 8cs are ideal with rock and pop music ( not to mention dubstep, of course), and they add a "romantic" nature to the classical orchestras with their enhanced bass response. I'm not sure though that they should be the first choice, if one listens to this genre only, as I feel the instruments placement are not the most realistic. But they still remain excellent, even in this genre.
The 8c is a stellar performer. These are very capable ciems, with an incredible bass response, beautiful mids and surprisingly good highs, considering their warm signature.
They remind me of the sennheiser hd650. The hd650 were at their time lauded headphones, but some considered them as veiled. I wouldn't call the 8cs veiled though, but they share with them the same "romantic" flavor, with smooth highs and impactful bass. I would be curious to have other opinions on this comparison... I also heard the heir 8a were somehow comparable to the audeze lc2, and would like to know if some had also the chance to compare these two.
If you got questions or remarks, don't hesitate