Noble Audio Kaiser 10

Average User Rating:
5/5,
  1. WCDchee
    5.0/5,
    "You're in for a treat"
    Pros - Coherent, tonally accurate, expansive, coherent staging
    Cons - slight lack of treble sparkle
    Disclaimer: I bought this K10 during the Black Friday Deal in December last Friday. This review is written purely out of my desire to share my impressions on the K10. The K10 has fast become one of my favourite earphones. However, due to the price of the K10, as well as the level on which I am expecting it to perform, I am going to be rather harsh on any possible issues the K10 might have. This review is completely subjective though, and do feel free to disagree.
     
    Just a little background on how I came into possession of the K10. Up till the point that I decided to purchase the K10s, the Dita answers were my only high end pair of earphones. However, make no mistake about this, I had spent lots of time trying extensively many of the top of the line custom in ear monitors from the leading brands like JH, UM, UE, ACS and Earsonics, among others. Most custom in ear monitors however, left me extremely disappointed. Many of them were technically capable, with a good level of detailing and perhaps wide soundstages. However, I found many of them to have poorly controlled resonances leading to large amounts of colouration. Tonally, many of these multiple BA earphones just didn’t quite cut it for me. I’m sure many people would disagree with me on my assessment of the tonal quality of other CIEMs, but again that’s subjective. When I listen to violins on my earphones I want them to sound like what I hear when I listen to a live orchestra, and I guess that’s what I’m looking for. Different people hear things differently though and I wouldn’t fault anyone for liking something different from myself. For myself, I could never listen to something that doesn’t sound right tonally, no matter how good it might be technically.
     
    The K10s were the first multi BA earphone that really did that for me, sure it has its own character and its own take on tonality, but it was close and accurate enough that I could enjoy the tone and move on to appreciate its other qualities.
     
    For the purposes of this review, I have chosen to pair the K10s with the Dita Audio truth cable, which I have found to pair excellently with the K10. I will elaborate more on the differences which the truth cable brought about and what you can expect of the K10 on the stock cable. Bear in mind though that the K10 scales up very very well. Pair it with a good cable and you will be very surprised. (I know this isn’t a review of the truth cable, but boy does it sound good. I wasn’t really a believer of cables in the past, but the truth interconnect singlehandedly changed that. Having compared the truth to many of the top cables from PW audio, plussound, whiplash, and DHC, including and not limited to the DHC complement 3 and 4 cables, I think that the truth pulls ahead of the competition, and is one of the best earphone cables at any price)
     
    Sound
    As noted above, the following impressions are made with the truth cable pairing.
     
    The K10s have a definite tilt towards the warmer side of things. They aren’t dead neutral like the UERMs, yet they retain a good amount of accuracy. They are detailed and highly resolving, but aren’t the slightest bit clinical or analytical. I have found them to be very versatile, handling most genres very well. The K10s have a big, authoritative, expansive sound. I listen to a lot of classical and broadway music and I find these traits to be very important. The K10s are able to portray the huge scale of a large orchestra or choir very well, sounding full and impactful with lots of power.
    The highs of the K10s are pretty well extended they provide a nice amount of sparkle and are present enough to give a defining edge to the various sounds in your music. The highs are never harsh, always retaining a smooth, gentle touch, and are thus a really good, non-fatiguing listen. They won’t present the finest details straight to your face, but if you really want to find them, they will always be there. They aren’t the most shimmery and sparkly highs, but they definitely have enough that they don’t sound muffled or veiled. If you’re looking for extreme clarity, detail and very sparkly highs, the K10s probably won’t do it for you, but for most people, the K10s would definitely have enough sparkle.
     
    The midrange is probably one of the best traits of the K10s. It is rich and lush, with a nice fullness to it. Both male and female vocals sound pretty amazing on the K10s, with a lush and warm feel to them. Instruments also benefit from the quality of the midrange, having a fuller, more well-bodied sound to them. The midrange of the K10 is one of the best that I have heard, it is full and rich without being overly coloured, maintaining a strong sense of accuracy that many of the richer and fuller sounding earphones tend to lose.
     
    I have often found the bass of BA earphones to be lacking. Most of them I find to be lacking in extension, and even if they extend well they are rarely ever as natural as well implemented dynamic earphones. The K10s are probably the first BA earphone to change that. The bass extends impressively deep, with a good, strong sub bass rumble that even some of the better dynamic earphones lack. The bass is thunderous and strong when called for, but never bleeds into the midrange and always remains controlled. It has a good amount of slam, not the most powerful, but good enough for me. The decay of the bass is not extremely fast, but it does have very slight and natural bloom to it. It is deep, tight, and impressively extended, with a natural decay and a good slam, and is probably among the best of low ranges that I have heard in a BA earphone.
     
    The K10 has a good, expansive soundstage, definitely on the larger side. It is wide, deep and high, and gives a very accurate portrayal of the soundstage. A lot of earphones with a larger soundstage tend to push instruments out in an unnatural manner, having them all sit very far back. With the K10, however, different sounds are placed very well in the soundstage. Sounds that are supposed to be near will be near and those that are supposed to be far out will be far out. This creates a very coherent, well balanced and natural soundstage in all 3 axes. The K10 layers and separates very well too. Different sounds can be heard in distinctly different points in space, and in distinctly different layers. This also contributes to the coherency and the naturalness of the soundstage. What I like about the soundstaging properties is that it never once, for all its technical ability, sounds clinical. A lot of earphones with tip top imaging and separation have a common flaw. Sounds often radiate from a single point, and that really isn’t the most appropriate portrayal of music to me. With the K10, while imaging and separation are precise, each sound occupies its own substantial space and that gives rise to an uncanny sense of realism.
     
    How does it sound without the truth cable though? The K10 on the stock cable is warmer, thicker, and smoother. A lot of people like the sound of the K10 on the stock cable, but personally, I found it to be slightly lacking in extension, and a tad loose in the bass. Bear in mind though that this is really only the case because of my personal preferences, as well as the type of sound that I’m used to. I like a really really sparkly sound, and am somewhat more tolerant to sibilance than a lot of people. I’m also more used to a more reference-type sound signature. With the truth cable, I find the K10 to have just the right amount of airniness, but on the stock cable, I find myself looking for a tad more airiness. The soundstage on the stock cable is also not as expansive as it is on the truth cable, but bear in mind that it remains impressive on its own right.
     
    Now is the K10 the best earphone that I’ve ever heard? Well I wouldn’t say that. Hearing preferences are all subjective after all, and while the K10 would definitely make a lot of people happy, it definitely has its flaws. Personally, I would like it if the K10 had a better extension on the highs with more sparkle. That’s the one gripe I have with the K10. The truth cable definitely helped a lot with this, but given how much I love my sparkly highs, I could still do with more. That is, however, really a matter of personal preferences, and I wouldn’t really list that as a huge flaw.
     
    All in all though, the K10 is really a mightily impressive earphone, among the very best in my opinion. It is not cheap, that is for sure, but should you decide to get it, you are truly in for a treat.
     

    Nicst3n likes this.
  2. wofsie
    5.0/5,
    "Saying K10s Are the Best is an Understatement!"
    Pros - Beautiful design, excellent sound, solid isolation, comfortable even with small ears in customs.
    Cons - Waiting for them to arrive after placing the order.
    While I have owned several universal IEMs from various brands, I always felt I was missing something by not having a set of customs made.  I did my homework and started reading tons of reviews of all of the latest and greatest CIEMs on the market.  I kept coming back to Noble and the reviews of the K10 all seemed to say similar and consistent positive things.  So after finally getting impressions done and talking with Brannan, I made my order for a set of CIEM K10s.  Being the impatient person I am I paid the extra to have my set expedited, and even though they were done in lightening speed, the waiting was a killer.  Brannan and Sunny at the lab in China were amazing in answering my emails and both were exceptionally patient with me and never seemed annoyed by my being a pest in asking "Are they done yet?"  Finally I got the photos and they were gorgeous.  I choose a Wizard reprint with a few specifications for color changes and the pictures were amazing, but not even close to how beautiful my K10s are when they finally arrived.  Upon opening up the pelican like case I was in awe of these tiny little works of art.  I'm not sure how long I stared at them before I snapped out of it and plugged them into my AK240 to have a listen.  Well the sound is even more amazing then the K10s are to look at!  Everything I had read about the Noble Kaiser 10 CIEMs is true.  No matter what music genre I threw at them the sound was perfect.  Jazz and classical had instruments with various sounds that I had never heard before.  Vocals were crisp and balanced with the instruments.  I am not someone who has ever done a review with the technical words for IEMs so I will leave that to the professionals.  What I can say is that I have never enjoyed my music nearly as much as I do now that I have my K10s.  Music is just that much more fun to listen to.  I have other IEMs that are more analytic in hearing distinct instruments and vocals and if I am focusing I certainly have clarity with my K10s.  But mostly I just close my eyes and hear all there is to hear in whatever I am listening to and I am enjoying the music.  That is perhaps why I feel my K10 CIEMs are the perfect IEM.  Perhaps the only drawback there is in owning a pair is once you have them there is no going back.  I simply adore listening to music with these and there is no other IEM that I own that even comes close to the perfection of hearing the music.
    I did have problems with the fit in both ears but particularly the left.  After sending photos to Brannan and Sunny I had to have another set of impressions made and send those along with my K10s back for a refit on each ear.  That was painful after listening to music with them and I had withdrawal until they were refitted and returned to me.  Yet again the customer service and communication was excellent and the refit was worth the wait.  My K10s now fit like a glove with no break in the seal no matter what I am doing and the sound is even better.  All I can say is if you are going to have one pair of CIEMs and want something that will give you musical ecstasy in addition to being a work of art, the Noble K10 is the perfect CIEM.
  3. mscott58
    5.0/5,
    ""Oh, so good!" - Noble Audio Kaiser 10 CIEM Review "
    Pros - Amazing sound, compact package, beautiful artistry, complete coherence, solid customer service, true TOTL CIEM performance all around.
    Cons - Pricey (but well worth it), can't share CIEM experience with others (clearly not unique to Noble), pretty long wait (again, well worth it).

     
    If you told me that my review of a pair of headphones would somehow combine golf, science-fiction, sorcery and a supersonic jet I’d say you’re crazy. But then again if you told me I would spend $1,599 on a pair of IEM’s and consider them a bargain I’d also say you were off your rocker (and my wife would agree). But that’s where I find myself, so here we go…let’s jump into the seemingly random (and long) walk that is my review of the Noble K10’s.
     
    But first, let’s go back in the time machine. In the late 90’s I had the honor of attending the Western Open at Cog Hill Country Club outside of Chicago. I was still in a field sales job and got to go see a major golf tournament and call it work – good times! At this tournament I saw Tiger Woods during his prime when he was winning majors left and right. He just made it look easy – showing true mastery of his skill. Golf is an incredibly difficult sport, and playing at that level and winning consistently is nearly impossible, but somehow Tiger did it, almost effortlessly (well, back then at least he did). The Noble K10’s are like Tiger in this regard, they’re effortless in their ability to do their job nearly perfectly. Taking 10 BA’s per channel and making them work together so coherently and precisely is a nearly impossible task, but somehow Dr. John has done it. You would never be able to guess the number of transducers in these IEM’s, but in the end all that matters is that they combine into one graceful and cohesive world-class package that makes beautiful music. The K10’s exhibit Noble’s true mastery of the craft of IEMs, reflecting the many years their key players have worked in this field. Like Tiger (at least back in the day) Dr. John and team rule their game. Add on top of this the detailed artistry of the “Wizard” and it’s a one-two punch of audio impact, both sonically and visually.
     
    And speaking of Wizardry, how many of you remember the small handbag that Hermione Granger carries at times in the Harry Potter series? Through the use of an “undetectable extension charm” (yes I’m a geek, in case you didn’t know that already) her little bag can carry anything, no matter the size or weight. A complete library of books? Check. Dry clothing to change into after getting wet by jumping off a dragon into a lake? Check. Anything fits in there. The same appears to be the same with the K10’s. Besides being able to fit 10 BA drivers into each earpiece, which is a bit of magic itself, listening to the Kaiser’s makes you feel like the whole spectrum of instruments, even the largest ones, have somehow been crammed inside these gems, against all laws of mechanics (maybe quantum tunneling?). Queuing up “Life During Wartime” from the Talking Heads’ amazing album “Stop Making Sense” I was hit out of the blue by the kick-drum that enters suddenly during the keyboard intro. Even though I’ve heard this track hundreds of times, I was still struck by it - the drum as portrayed by the K10’s rocks you both in terms of impact and texture, but somehow doesn’t overpower the great stereo imaging of the keyboard riff. Putting on my LCD-3F’s for comparison I find the ability of the K10’s to convey this passage to be very nearly (but not quite) at par with the Audeze’s. How the heck do they do that? How does Dr. John fit that much musical magic into such a tiny space? Instead of quantum mechanics does he use the same charm Ms. Granger applied to her purse? He is a Wizard as well after all.
     
    Anyone who looks at my hard-drive of FLAC files or my list of most-played Tidal tracks (hey, get off my computer!) knows that I listen to a very wide range of music, alternating between Rammstein’s “Sonne” to Miles Davis’ “So What” to Royksopp’s “Skulls”  to Duncan Sheik’s “Whispering” from Spring Awakening to The Chieftains “The Magdalene Laundries”. I love them all, and many, many more. The K10’s play them all well. I don’t find myself reaching for a different HP when I want to listen to a certain type of music. In fact another reviewer of the K10’s talked a lot about their ability to show the “space between” (which I agree with in terms of special sense), but be clear there is no space between the frequency bands. This is one coherent whole, and playing all of these different genres highlights that whatever is in the recording the K10’s will show – good or bad. In fact the times I’ve been disappointed by a sound coming out of the K10’s I’ve gone back and confirmed that the recording or other equipment was at fault (or my body, as one time I was sure I had a problem with my right earpiece, but it turned out to be a piece of ear wax rattling at a certain frequency – gross but it can happen!). The K10’s just show (their version of) the truth. Why the qualifier? They are voiced, so don’t expect “reference” neutrality, but boy-oh-boy are they fun to listen to.
     
    Back to the Audeze’s for a moment. Why am I using them as my primary point of comparison? Why not other IEM’s? Well, a few reasons. First the K10’s simply left my trusted old Etymotic ER-4S’s in the dust – no comparison (although at $300 the Ety’s are still a great value). Secondly I know my LCD-3F’s very well. Third, how crazy is it to compare the K10’s with a full-sized (oversized some would say) open HP such as the reference LCD’s? This is no David versus Goliath. This is Goliath versus Goliath’s slightly younger and smaller brother – it’s a fair fight. Although to be clear, the use-case of these two TOTL offerings are completely different. The K10’s are “closed” (they’re deep in your ear canal!) versus the LCD-3F’s “open” structure. Both clearly have their strengths and weaknesses. I can easily travel with my K10’s (in case you didn’t know the LCD-3’s are not really portable – and yes I’ve seen it done) and not bother anyone (well, besides people wondering what those things stuck in my ears are!). But then again at home I’m am completely in my own little universe and cannot hear anything that is going on around me when wearing the K10’s, which can be good and bad. What? The kids were crying? Sorry honey – I had my Noble’s in. With the LCD’s I radiate a lot of sound from the cans, but then again I can still hear a bit of anything that is going on around me, assuming it’s pretty loud or the music is pretty quiet.
     
    While on the subject of using the K10’s while traveling, one quick piece of advice: when you’re on a plane and listening to the K10’s be sure to let those sitting next to you know that you’re going to be off on another dimension, oblivious to anything and anyone around you and to poke you if they want to talk to you or warn you of any impending doom. Simply put with the K10’s on you will be off the grid. This is actually a great thing during boarding as it makes the process so much more enjoyable. Put an audio-induced shield up around you to repel the stress radiating from everyone else trying to cram a 150 pound duffle bag into the overhead bin or deal with a screaming 10 month old with an ear infection. Leave me a message, I’m not here - I’m in my “happy place” thanks to my friends from Santa Barbara.
     
    Let’s jump once again back to the K10 vs. LCD-3F in terms of SQ comparison and specific tracks. The mids on the Nobles are very good, although they lack that certain fine “magic” and deep emotion of the LCD-3’s that made me pick the -3’s over the –X’s. But hey, I don’t know of any HP for under $5K that matches the LCD-3’s in this area. On the whole I’d say the Kaiser’s are quite close to the LCD-3 experience, around 90% of the SQ on whole. I could easily live with the K10’s if I had to (and I would pick them as my only headphone if I could only have one) but luckily I don’t have to. J Getting this close to Audeze’s  TOTL is an amazing feat given the difference in size and portability. Regarding a few of my reference tracks. On Peter Gabriel’s “OVO”, Track 12 “Make Tomorrow Today” has an intro that builds with keyboards and then the bass kicks in, followed by an acoustic guitar and then some type of whip-like sound comes out of nowhere. This jolted me out of my work, even sitting in a busy and loud Starbucks in Manhattan. Moments like this happen all the time and the K10’s again excels across the audio spectrum. Similarly on Gabriel’s “Growing Up” from “Up” the stings in the intro grab deep into your soul and then the rest of the sounds layer on with great texture and refinement. Great stuff. On Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, there is a slight difference in drums, with the K10’s being just a little less textured than the LCD-3F’s, but still highly engrossing. Again this is saying something given the size difference and also Audeze’s reputation for kickin’ bass (pardon the pun). However, on “Lithium” the K10’s reproduction of the cymbal shows a bit more air and space than the LCD’s. Score one for little brother Goliath. On the bass line in the second half of the song was awesome on the K10’s, but on the LCD-3’s it was exquisite – we’re really splitting hairs here. The LCD’s and the K10’s each have their own type of magic, but only one has a “Wizard”!
     
    Also be forewarned and ready to jump back on the equipment merry-go-round once you land a pair of the Kaiser’s. In my progression up the portable chain, I started with the Dragonfly, then boosted that with the addition of the Headstage Arrow 4T. Then I got the Fiio X3 and was happy with that. However, when I plugged the K10’s into the Fiio I was left wanting more. After researching all sorts of portable amps I had the brain-fart that I still had the Arrow 4T in my drawer. Pairing the Arrow with the X3 was much better, and then when I added an ALO SXC22 mini-mini cable things tightened up even more. Most recently I swapped out the Headstage for a Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII and once again the K10’s showed the jump forward in SQ. If you’re not familiar with the Leckerton, look up Nick’s little masterpiece – it’s really amazing (at least as an amp, I don’t utilize the DAC section of the UHA-6S/MKII). Others have said it, and I’ll wholeheartedly agree – the K10’s scale beautifully and will take advantage of whatever you throw at them up the chain. I’m now more eager than ever to get my LH Labs Geek Wave XD128 Ultimate Signature DAP as I’m sure that whatever Larry Ho’s portable wonder ends up being my Nobles will keep up and take full advantage of their Geeky goodness.
     
    But wait, you say, you haven’t talked about the super-sonic jet yet! (assuming you were paying attention at first and haven’t given up his death-march of a review yet). So where’s the analogy? Like the SR—71 Blackbird super-jet the K10’s appears to gain power with time, moving faster and faster (or in this case getting slightly louder and louder) when they’re in the zone. This is the first headphone where I find myself turning the volume down slightly versus turning it up while listening. Many headphones sound good when played at a higher volumes (hence the importance in dB matching during comparison tests) but it takes real engineering and finesse to make something sound good at lower levels. And that’s just what the “No-bull” team has done.
     
    Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t send a shout out to Dr. John, Brannan, Sunny and the rest of the Noble team. They’re not only great at what they do, they’re also good people. All of my experiences with them have been first rate. No rock-and-roll divas here. Just solid people making and selling extraordinary audio gear.
     
    And yes, as I’m finishing writing this review I’m wearing my K10’s and my LCD-3F’s are staring at me with a little hint of jealousy, awaiting their turn. Don’t worry kids, daddy has enough love for both of you.
     
    Well done Noble, well done. Very highly recommended. 
    knopi, xxxfbsxxx, ken6217 and 5 others like this.
  4. Loquah
    5.0/5,
    "Noble Kaiser 10 - In-Ear Perfection"
    Pros - Detailed sound, smooth sound, great bass, excellent bass and treble extension, build quality, design options
    Cons - None (so long as you can find the dough)

    Overview

     
    [​IMG]In the world of personal audio, the ultimate sound experience generally comes from custom molded in-ear monitors (CIEMs). In recent times, top of the line (TOTL) CIEMs have gone from 3-6 balanced armatures per side to 10 and even 12 BAs per side. The Kaiser 10 is an example of a 10 driver CIEM and has 10 individual drivers in each ear-piece – a pretty awesome piece of spatial design, but also a challenge of epic proportions when it comes to ensuring that all of those drivers are delivering their frequencies in time with and in support of the other drivers in each ear piece.
     
    One of the largest challenges of any multi-driver setup (including speakers) is to have each driver deliver its optimum frequencies without interfering with the frequencies coming from the other drivers. A speaker manufacturer faces challenges with 2-3 drivers so imagine what happens when you get 10!! Add to that the challenge of placing the drivers at slightly different distances from the sound outlets and the possible timing / phase challenges this presents and getting everything right to the level expected of a flagship CIEM becomes a daunting prospect.
     

    Specifications

     
    Not much is published about the Kaiser 10’s specs, but what we do know is that they have / are:
     
    1. 10 drivers per side
    2. 4-way design (e.g. bass, mid, lower treble, higher treble) – the exact arrangement isn’t specified by Noble, but this example is a guess based on the Noble website info
    3. Approx. 35 ohm impedance
    4. 4-wire braided cable (silver plated copper) with 3.5mm plug and industry standard 2-pin earpiece connectors
     
    The Kaiser 10 is named after a mysterious team member at Noble known as Kaiser Soze. The design has apparently been in the works (or maybe even on the shelf / back-burner) for a number of years, but was recently brought to life by Dr John Moulton, Kaiser Soze and the team at Noble.
     
    At $1599 USD, it’s a serious investment into an audio device so it needs to perform at a level suitable for the pinnacle of this hobby – they’re big shoes to fill…
     

    The Custom Process

     
    I won’t spend much time describing this process because there’s a lot of info out there about what’s involved in the process of buying custom in-ears (including this video), but I would like to briefly highlight the process and where Noble might differ slightly.
     
    • Decide on the brand and model you want to buy – sometimes without even hearing them
    • Get instructions from the manufacturer about how to get your ear impressions taken (different brands like the impressions done differently)
    • Go to a good audiologist, one who does impressions regularly, and get them to fill your ears with goo (temporarily)
    • Send your impressions to the manufacturer
    • Wait
    • Wait some more
    • Try to forget you ordered customs
    • Wait some more
    • Receive your customs and hopefully enjoy a perfect fit first time around (if you read my Miracle review you’ll see that this doesn’t always happen)
     
    So, you see, ordering a set of customs is as much an exercise in delayed gratification and the taking of calculated risks as it is an exercise in purchasing audio excellence. It’s 100% worth the effort though if you choose right, and that’s a function of knowing what you like and don’t like before you pull the trigger. For example, I knew as I purchased the K10s that I wanted a CIEM that was resolving and detailed, but not analyitcal – I wanted musicality and realism first and foremost. I wanted to feel like I was sitting at a live performance or recording every time I put these in my ears.
     

    How Noble Differs

     
    Most CIEM companies allow some degree of customisation in terms of colour choice and artwork for your CIEM shell and faceplates. Noble offer this with even more options than most brands, but they also offer a whole different level known as Wizard designs.
     
    [​IMG]Dr John Moulton has earned the moniker, The Wizard, because of his amazing aesthetic designs on CIEMs. To see some examples of these, take a look at Noble’s Instagram feed. When you order a Noble CIEM you have the choice to pay $200 extra and have a “Wizard re-print” which is a recreation of a past design, or you can $400 and have a unique design crafted for you by The Wizard . You can offer some preferences (e.g. blingy, conservative, lots of blue, something quirky, etc.) or you can just kick back and let The Wizard work his magic. Personally I went somewhere in between because I discovered that Dr Moulton could work with some stones so I hunted down a stone / crystal with significance to me and asked for it to be incorporated in a design of his choosing, but something not too flashy. The results, as you’ll see, are astounding and beautiful!
     
    The level of customisation at no extra charge for a set of K10s is industry-leading in my experience and the option to go to the “Wizard design” level is great for those who love something unique and amazing. There is even a Prestige range which is essentially a K10 set inside a shell made using high-tech machining that allows the use of solid pieces of wood or other materials and can even result in some wood / acrylic hybrids that look spectacular. You pay a mighty premium, but the result is visually jaw-dropping.
     

    Delivery, Packaging & Accessories

     
    So far we’ve been on a high note so I’m a little sad to say that there is at least one fly in the ointment…
     
    Receiving your K10s could be an underwhelming experience to some. I was blown away by how fast they arrived after being dispatched from the factory in China, but upon opening the cardboard box, things were a little less impressive.
     
    [​IMG]Other than foam packaging, inside the cardboard box was a pelican-style hard case inside a Noble-branded cardboard sleeve. After removing the plastic sleeve, the hard case displayed a Noble badge and my name branded into the plastic of the case. It’s utilitarian and basic which can be a bit of a let down when buying a premium product. Putting our consumer needs aside for a moment though, Noble gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t. When it comes to customs, you don’t really need the sexy packaging to keep for resale because they’re not generally not worth reselling. I think Noble’s packaging approach is perfectly fine, but it might not meet your default expectations so please go in with your eyes open – you won’t be getting a sexy, silk-lined box with crystal paper weight and metal owners card. You will however be getting some seriously sexy CIEMs though so there’s that…
     

    Accessories

     
    [​IMG]Upon opening the Noble hard case you’ll be greeted by your new CIEMs, a high quality, lightweight braided cable (the black one in the pics) with angled 3.5mm jack, two black Noble elastic bands, a plastic ownership card, and a standard CIEM cleaning brush. Nothing special, but once again everything you need and nothing you don’t.
    The cable is similar to the Westone Epic cable, but offers 4 independent strands braided together into a tight, but flexible braid. The rubber bands are your standard type band for strapping together a portable audio brick, and the cleaning tool is the same one as I’ve seen everywhere else.
     
    As you can see in the picture above, the top of the lid gets a few indentations from the CIEMs when you store them because the case is just big enough for the CIEM shells, but I don’t ever get the feeling that there’s pressure placed on the CIEMs when closing (although I am also always very careful and gentle).
     

    Build Quality & Fit

     
    I had lots of troubles when I bought my first customs, the UM Miracles, but I learned from that experience and was very careful to keep my head super still during the ear impression process. Even with the perfect impressions (second time around), my Miracles were never quite perfect and used to break the seal when I made certain movements so I expected a similar experience with the K10s and was OK with that idea so long as the seal breakages were no worse than the Miracles.
     
    [​IMG]As it turns out, my expectations from a custom fit were set way too low coming from the Miracles. The K10s fit like a glove and fill my ears perfectly in all areas – both inside the canals, but also where they sit in the outer section of the ear. Until trying the K10s, I didn’t know what a quality custom fit was really all about. I can eat, walk, tilt my head, yawn, and all sorts of other things without disrupting the seal created by the K10s – they’re perfect!
     
    In addition to the perfect seal and comfort from the K10s, they are impeccably finished and beautifully polished. The thin layer of crystal placed in each faceplate is enclosed in a flawless bubble of clear acrylic which is polished to a glass-like sheen and creates a depth that you can just gaze into – the pictures don’t do it justice.
     
    The shell of my CIEMs is a translucent, deep purple which is equally well crafted and polished. You can’t see much through the shell due to the dark colour, but what you can see is neat and well-arranged in terms of both drivers and wiring.
     
    The Noble crown logo is printed onto each shell (in a turquoise colour in my case) and The Wizard’s signature is printed onto the faceplate of just one CIEM.
     

    Sockets

     
    Noble uses the industry standard 2-pin connector which is flush mounted (not recessed like my UM Miracles were). At first I was disappointed to read that Noble used flush mounts (I hadn’t seen it), but seeing how well the socket is built into the shell of the K10s makes me realise the reason for the decision. With a recessed socket, the acrylic “walls” where the cord / plug inserts are a weak point and can look a bit shabby, but with the flush sockets, it all looks sturdy, solid and beautifully finished.
     

    Sound

     
    As with any audio gear, this is the part that really matters. We’ve already established the immense challenge of getting 10 drivers, or 20 if you count both sides, to truly sing as one and the expectations from a $1600 earphone are understandably high so I think I was holding my breath a little when I first inserted the K10s in my ears and pressed play on my FiiO X5…
     
    …the result was underwhelming…
     
    Yes, I was honestly not impressed. “Sure, they’re good” I thought, “but they’re not $1600 good”. In my mind I was comparing them to my recently acquired Shure SE846 and could honestly have been quite happy with just the SE846 and $1600 back in my pocket.
     
    If you’ve read other reviews of the K10, you might be asking yourself right now “What’s wrong with this guy’s ears?” Everyone else raves about these earphones so what was I hearing (or not hearing)?
    I had this sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t hearing the best of the K10s. Something told me that they had a lot more to give so I started playing with different sources and discovered the true cause of my disappointment – not the K10s, but the source I was feeding them with.
     

    Quality of Source

     
    [​IMG]What I have come to love (very quickly) about the K10s is that they sound good from any source I’ve tried – they’re not at all fussy about the source and won’t berate you with sibilance or shoddy frequency responses even if you plug them into a sub-par smartphone. However, you don’t buy the K10 to have them sound good, you buy the K10 to have them knock your socks off, and for that you need a quality source.
     
    Let me clarify, the K10s will sound good with everything, but their performance will be restricted by a lesser source more than any other headphone / earphone I have ever experienced. When I said earlier that the K10 left me wanting more, what I meant was that they left me wanting more from my sources so I could really hear just what these little gems were capable of, and boy did they reward me!
     
    The FiiO X5 is a very good source and worth every penny. With every other IEM / headphone I own, I felt like I was listening to a world-class setup (when combined with my E12DIY amp), but somehow, the K10s were whispering in my ear when I was using the X5 stack – they were saying, “We could do more, you know.” I’m so glad I listened to that “whisper” and switched over to the Shozy Alien as my source as well as changing op amps in the E12DIY amp to maximise the sound for the K10s. Changing sources unleashed the magic of the K10s, namely their incredible ability to create a spacious, accurate soundstage with the greatest coherency of sound I have heard from anything short of perhaps Audeze LCD-2s or Sennheiser HD800s, but I’ll return to that comparison a little later.
     
    The reason I have spent a bit of time discussing sources here is that I have read a number of discussions comparing the SE846 and Noble Kaiser 10 with people saying that the K10 isn’t really much better. My experiences have me thinking that people with this experience perhaps haven’t had the benefit of a top quality source. After a great universal earphone like the SE846 stops improving with different sources, a world class CIEM like the K10 still has more to give. (For the record, I still love the SE846)
     

    Bass

     
    The bass from the K10 is perfect – yes, perfect.
     
    [​IMG]I raved about the bass from the SE846’s in my review of those, but the K10 takes it one step further, in my opinion. The K10s offer a shade less quantity of bass overall, but provide even better quality, clarity and texture in the bass than the SE846. The K10s actually dig a little bit deeper, but aren’t quite as full in the mid-bass region.
    The bass from the K10s is deep and thunderous when the recording calls for it, but the bass is perfectly balanced with the rest of the sound spectrum. I would describe the K10s as having neutral bass from a ‘perception point-of view’. In other words, while a frequency response chart of the K10s might show a lift in the bass region, my perception of the bass from the K10s matches very closely with what a live recording sounds like. In that respect, the K10s and SE846s are very similar with the SE846 having just a touch more overall bass energy, particularly in the mid-bass.
     
    Apart from slightly lifted bass to create that realistic, live sound, the K10s have the purest bass I’ve heard from an earphone and easily rival full-size headphones with their bass performance. As is my normal practice, I fired up my favourites playlist to listen to while I wrote this review and on Michael McDonald’s song, I Want You, the bass guitar sounded extraordinary. It was clear, present and audibly defined within the overall performance, but still a completely coherent part of the performance.
     
    The bass from the K10s sounds effortless, the same way it sounds coming straight from the instrument playing it live. Noble use two huge bass drivers in the design of the K10 and you can hear the ease with which these jumbo balanced armatures handle the challenge of creating subtle, textured, and sustained bass notes. The bass is endlessly clear, clean and textured no matter what you throw at it. Rumbling bass sends quivers into your eardrums while tight, punchy bass notes snap and crack with energy and impact – no matter where a recording sits on the continuum of speed, power, and grace, the K10’s bass drivers take it all in their stride and create a completely believable experience.
     

    Mid-Range

     
    [​IMG]The mid-range from the K10 is a little drier than something like the SE846, but it’s still weighty and realistic. Despite an overall warmth in the sound of the K10s, the mid-range never comes across lush or creamy, but it also never strays into cold, analytical sterility. No, the K10 walks a very fine line to create an accurate, reference quality mid-range that is also immensely enjoyable for long, long sessions of listening.
     
    Both male and female vocals have plenty of realism, texture and clarity. The mids aren’t placed in a spotlight like the SE846 or FitEar TG!334, but they’re definitely good enough to attract your attention without needing to be highlighted in the tuning of the earphones.
     
    Every instrument you hear through the K10s sounds real – they just sound right. Whether it’s a violin, a guitar, a cello, or a drum, the K10 provides just the right balance of attack and decay to sound real and lifelike – as if the instrument is hovering somewhere inside (or just outside) your head. It’s quite uncanny how lifelike the sounds coming out these little acrylic shells are. In fact, I regularly hear something from the K10s that I think has to be a real sound from the outside world, but then I remember how extremely good the isolation of outside noise is with the K10s and realise that it was a sound in the recording.
     
    I’m listening to It’s a Hard World by Supertramp right now and the vocals, trumpet, cymbal strikes and guitars are beguiling – more please!
     

    Treble

     
    Descriptions of the K10’s treble still elude me – even after many weeks. Listening to music with the K10s (I haven’t tried a frequency sweep) has me often thinking that the treble is a little rolled off, but then I hear air and details in the music that can only be conveyed with excellent treble extension. I can only make 2 conclusions about the treble from the K10s without getting into objective measures which aren’t necessarily indicative of the subjective enjoyment so here go my subjective conclusions:
     
    • The treble is a touch lower in intensity than the mids and bass, but it is fully extended
    • The treble is perfect
     
    Yes, I said the “P” word again, but you’ll have to get used to that when discussing the K10s I expect.
     
    The treble from the K10s is smooth, but don’t mistake that for smoothed-over because it certainly isn’t. What’s amazing about the K10s is the way they convey all of the details, but never get edgy, even on shabby recordings. You’ll hear that it’s a shabby recording, but your ears won’t be bleeding from knife-like treble spikes. This was the most impressive thing to me when I reviewed the Noble PRs and it seems that Dr Moulton has treble tuning down to a fine art based on this repeat performance with the K10s.
     
    By now a new track was on from my playlist – My Man’s Gone Now by Miles Davis and Gil Evans – and it showcased nicely how beautifully balanced and refined the K10s’ treble is. I could hear each brush on the drums, right down to the individual textural differences of each stroke, and I could hear when the recording levels of the brass section got a bit hot and distorted at the edges, but the whole thing still sounded wonderful. It’s like the K10s are the zen masters of earphones – they don’t judge anything in the music, they just accept it as it is. The K10s won’t chastise your ears for listening to a poor recording, they’ll just honestly let you know that there’s an issue here and an issue there, but without any drama or judgement. Just like a zen master, the sound from the K10s “just is”.
     
    EDIT: I’ve come back to address the topic of treble a second time around because I think it’s difficult to capture the K10’s treble qualities in verbal descriptions. After thinking on this review overnight I felt like I needed to better clarify and describe the treble with some more concrete comparisons. I returned to the SE846 with both the blue and white filters and I also compared the K10’s treble to the HD800. The results are a clearer picture of why the K10s sound so wonderful. Where the SE846 (blue filter) rolls off a little too soon for those who want air and space in the sound, the K10’s treble continues to extend up into the higher registers where the subtlest of cues reside. Unlike the SE846 (white filter) though, this treble doesn’t seem like it includes any spikes – it is smooth and so can sound rolled-off at first, but if you compare it to a rolled off ‘phone you will hear a distinct difference and realise that the K10 has all the information, just without any spikes.
     
    Comparing next to the HD800s, the HD800s initially sound a bit brighter and more detailed in the treble, but further listening shows that they have a slight emphasis in the mid treble (around 6 kHz according to various graphs), but not any significant extension beyond what the K10s offer. In other words, the K10s have all the information in the full treble spectrum, but none of it is emphasised so coming from a ‘phone with any treble lift (HD800, T1, FIDUE A83, etc.) you might find the K10 to sound a bit too smooth, but it’s all there – I promise – and it’s the lack of emphasis that allows the K10s to be so marvelously revealing and transparent, and yet completely non-fatiguing.
     

    Imaging and Staging

     
    [​IMG]I might never have declared this outright before, but staging and imaging are my top priority in audio gear because that’s where the magic happens. If you get everything else right, but the image is flat and/or narrow then you’ve achieved nothing more than reproducing a recording. Create a lifelike sense of space and image though and you’re now recreating music that sounds realistic with an atmosphere / ambiance that is magical – that’s a miracle!
     
    You’ve probably guessed from my lyrical opening to this section that the K10s are just as adept at imaging and staging as they are at everything else. Well, that’s almost true…
     
    I should have held back before on the use of the “P” word because if the bass, mids and treble from the K10s are perfect then I’m not sure how to describe the imaging qualities they create because the overall result is even better! The imaging from the K10s is spectacular – better than anything else I have heard, including the masters of imaging themselves, the HD800s. The K10s don’t quite match the HD800s for size of stage, but in terms of clarity of image and general sense of space around instruments they could be twins. In some ways I actually find the placement and precision of the K10s to be slightly better than the HD800s, possibly due to the fact that the K10s deliver the sound straight to the ear canal without any chance of unwanted resonance and reflections around the outer ear and side of the head.
     
    With the K10s, every instrument in the auditory landscape is perfectly placed and perfectly connected within the overall auditory picture. The coherence achieved from these two sets of ten drivers is simply breath-taking. It’s very easy to forget that you’re listening to a recording via a set of earphones when you’re using the K10s – it’s more like a tiny band has found its way to a live performance inside your frontal lobe.
     
    Size-wise, the stage projected by the K10s extends beyond each ear by about 1cm or so and projects forward into the forehead to create an oval-shaped space with no real gaps or holes. The stage isn’t huge from the K10s, but it is incredibly spacious – like a tardis. Every instrument is clearly separate and distinct from every other instrument, but not in a disembodied way – it’s hard to describe. The overall sonic picture is 100% coherent – everything fits together seamlessly – and yet, at the same time, you can clearly hear each instrument on it’s own. This is what I love most about the K10s. They don’t try to sound extraordinary by highlighting anything. Instead, they just present everything with precision and honesty and let you hear what you want to hear – it’s all there for you to take in as a whole or to focus on piece-by-piece – it’s up to you.
     

    Quick Comparison

     
    [​IMG]Coming from the outstanding SE846, I was keen to really compare these two as some of the best offerings on the market. Keep in mind that I am using a universal SE846 (not available as a custom, but there are silicon sleeves available which essentially turn the SE846 into a custom). For both earphones I am using high quality, copper litz cables and an identical source so the following comments are based solely on the performance and characteristics of the earphones themselves without the influence of different cables or sources.
     
    The SE846s really hold their own in this comparison, especially when you consider that you can pick them up for around half the price of the K10s. The bass from both earphones is imposing and powerful, but I was surprised to hear that the K10s actually created an even deeper, stronger sense of rumble and texture on one of my test tracks – A Thousand Years by Sting. Of course, tip choice with a universal earphone can change the quantity of bass so it’s possible that they could be equals on quantity, but the textural quality won’t really change with tips and that gives an edge to the K10s.
     
    The overall tuning of the bass is slightly different between the SE846 and K10 with the SE846 having more mid-bass impact and power than the K10s. As to which is better, that’s up to your personal tastes, but I prefer the more open sound created by the K10s with their slightly lifted sub-bass and closer-to-neutral mid-bass.
    The mid-range and treble set these 2 apart a little more than the bass. The SE846 offers the more beguiling and seductive mid-range presentation and are truly world class in that regard. The K10 is no slouch in this department either, but is less liquid and lush than the SE846. Once again, this will be a case of preference and it’s important to recognise that you can’t affect one part of the frequency response without it significantly altering the overall presentation – for instance, in isolation I prefer the mid-range from the SE846, but if those same mids were added to the K10 it would completely destroy the magical balance struck by the K10’s tuning. If you want lush mids, you have to sacrifice in other areas.
     
    [​IMG]The treble is really where the greatest differentiation lies in my opinion. The SE846 has an edge to the treble that holds it back from being truly perfect. As I said in my review of the SE846, it is so close to perfection that it doesn’t really matter, but if I’m doing a comparison of two awesome earphones it’s always going to come down to the little things and the SE846 just can’t match the K10’s proficiency and refinement in the treble. The SE846 does have the ability to be tuned using its filters, but the treble is never as good as the K10 and always has a slight edge to it that can flare up on some recordings. While the K10s don’t sound quite as airy as the SE846 in its most “trebley” setup, there is never any sense of darkness or thickness to the sound and its effortless refinement is just so enjoyable. To my ears, the treble from the K10s sits somewhere between the blue and white filters on the SE846.
     
    The K10 also has a delicacy and refinement to its sound that the SE846 just can’t quite match and this brings with it the coherency and realism I spoke about earlier in the staging and imaging section.
     

    Comparison Summary

     
    To summarise my experiences I’d say that the SE846 and K10 are both amazing and deserving of flagship / TOTL status as universals and customs respectively. If money, resale value and the ability to share the sound with others is no object then the K10 is a clear winner on the grounds of better texture in the sound, sharper imaging, and more refined treble, but it’s not a smack-down. This is a hard-fought win; a score of 18-21 in a game of pick-up (first to 21 wins). If you have limited funds for an earphone purchase or you highly value the benefits of a universal then the SE846 might be a better option.
     
    To my ears, the Kaiser 10 is hands-down the better earphone, but the SE846 is a proud runner-up.
     
    Note: The K10 is available as a universal, but I can’t comment directly on the sound of it and would be amazed if it can match the amazing comfort of the SE846.
     

    Overall Summary

     
    [​IMG]There’s a reason everyone is raving about the Noble Kaiser 10 – it really is that good!
     
    This is an earphone that is so perfectly balanced in it’s sound and design / build that it truly disappears and leaves you with nothing but the music and a smile. Not lacking in anything and not showcasing anything, the K10 really is the zen master of CIEMs and “just is” as it honestly and accurately conveys every sound, every nuance, and every emotion of the music without judgement and without opinion. While other earphones might strip away the bass to show you more details, or emphasise the mids to create more emotions, the K10 lets each track speak for itself and it has the full range of frequencies covered so skillfully that it convey whatever message the artist was trying to convey. Thunderous power through to fragile delicacy, the K10s have it covered, but not altered.
     
    The Kaiser 10 is quite unique in that it’s completely happy with a basic source, but has endless potential to deliver when given the right setup. There’s no punishment for using your phone, but there are endless rewards for treating it to a great DAP or DAC and amp.
     
    If you have the funds and want the best, I have no hesitation in recommending the Noble Kaiser 10, and having heard the Noble PR and now the Noble K10 I would highly recommend any potential CIEM buyers to head straight over to www.nobleaudio.com to see what they have to offer. Even if the K10 isn’t for you, the quality, attention to detail and masterful tuning I’ve seen so far from Noble tells me they’re easily a manufacturer of choice in the current CIEM market.
    Note: Thanks to @zilch0md for tweaking this image of mine to it's peak potential
  5. VisceriousZERO
    5.0/5,
    "The K in K10 stands for "Kicks ass""
    Pros - Amazing mids, perfect highs extension, just-right-when-you-need-it bass, Works with any genre, Scales well with any cable and source, Wizard designs
    Cons - Not for those seeking crystal-clear clarity, It’s gonna be damn hard to find something to replace it once you have it
    Intro:
     
    Its no secret that my favorite CIEM in my collection as I write this review is my Noble Audio Kaiser 10. From the moment I saw them to that first time I put them on and played Rage Against The Machine’s Remastered “Take The Power Back” I was hooked. I’ve had my Kaiser 10s for almost a year now and they still remain my favorite. I’ve had plenty of different CIEMs in the past year but the Kaiser 10 is what I always come back to.
    Honestly in the beginning I didn’t really think that Noble’s new 10-driver would be anything as I don’t really care much for the “driver war”, but as my friend soullinker20 continuously badgered me to try it, I went ahead and contacted The Wizard over at Noble through head-fi.
     

     
     
    Ordering Process:
     
    The ordering process for the Kaiser 10s was pretty straightforward, with me messaging Wizard on head-fi and getting referred quickly to Brannan to smooth out the process. I ordered a Rush-order Wizard Design, with the only requests being my logo on the right IEM and to “make it Noble”. I received photos (mildly stifled a squeal at how amazing they looked) and the CIEMs themselves soon after and immediately listened to them with my then go-to DAP, the AK120.
     
     
    The Build Quality and Accessories:
     
    I’d proudly say that Wizard’s designs are the most beautiful in any CIEM ever. I have two Noble CIEMs (as of the writing of this article), the Kaiser 10 and a Wizard Design Noble 4S and they are both still the most stunning CIEMs in my collection. Build quality is very high, not FitEar-quality but high enough. The case that they come in are a long Noble hardcase containing the IEM, some Noble bands, an earwax cleaning tool and a Noble ownership card. There was also a sticker that came with it with Noble’s logo and webpage (which is now on my car).
     

     
     
    The Gear:
     
    I will be using mostly the Noble Kaiser 10’s stock cable and throw in some thoughts with it on the Linum Estron and the Null Audio Silver. Listening is mostly done on an AK240 and a Tera Player, though I have used other sources and DACs, like my 15” MacBook Pro and Surface Pro 3 with the Chord Hugo and others. I use different types of files, from PCM to DSD.
     
     
    Sound Quality:
     
    As someone whose only Wizard experience before the Kaiser 10 was listening to the Heir 5.ai, I didn’t know what to expect when I received my Kaiser 10. I certainly did not expect it to consider it the best IEM I had ever heard (Especially as I had also just received the then-brand new JH Audio Roxanne, and owned some of the considered best CIEMs [MH335DW and Hidition NT6-Pro]) but I was dumbstruck at how great they sounded. Not wanting to pass judgment too quickly I kept listening...
     
    ...for a year. And I’m still constantly surprised by how much I love the Kaiser 10s. Here’s why:
     
     
    Listening to:
     
    Vocals are one of the most amazing things to listen to with the Kaiser 10s. Going through tracks like Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl Is Mine” and even with Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb’s “Guilty” you can clearly distinguish the vocals from the instruments, and even feel the natural highs of the vocals being presented, without becoming piercing. Even particularly sibilant tracks like The Cab’s “Endlessly” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Take The Power Back” are listenable because the tuning of the high drivers are just right.
     
    Instruments are also very well presented and well distanced from the vocals, nothing sounds “muddy” to my ears even when I listen to very fast metal like “Bullet Dance II” on the Blazblue Chronophantasma soundtrack. Each instrument is rendered in a different layer that is very lush and just a joy to listen to. Even with classical pieces the instruments are rendered in a very satisfying manner.
     
    One thing to note with the K10s is how effortless it seems to take any genre. One recent discussion about the Kaiser 10 is its bass-reproduction capability and I can heartily say if you want bass you’ll get bass. I tried the K10 with a few bassy tracks and even some where the bass is not very apparent. On Daft Punk’s “Around the World” you can definitely feel the bass and sub-bass, but it is very controlled and not as thumpy as something like the Rhines Stage 5 or the MH335DW. I don’t really look for bass in my IEMs so I don’t have much to compare to. Switching to a track like “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, the bass guitar is very prominent and delivers the bass in a very satisfying way, in a way that does not cover up the vocals but successfully portrays each part of the music. Listening to the live Jazz recording of Jazz at the Pawnshop’s “Over The Rainbow” is another incredibly excellent example of how the Kaiser 10 shines as the smooth sax is rendered with much emotion, while the people talking in the background can still be heard and it really makes you feel like you’re in the Pawnshop as Arne Domnerus’ group plays.
     
    I’d say that the Kaiser 10 is the most “balanced” in terms of how it can manage any genre of music and will greatly be enjoyed by anyone who just wants to relax and listen to their music. I would not recommend it for anyone who’s after clarity, for monitoring, as they are essentially crafted for the simple joy of listening to music. I don’t believe its the most honest out there as the king of clarity for me will always remain the Hidition NT6-Pro. If you’re aiming for clarity go for the NT6.
     
     
    In Conclusion:
     
    I’d pick the Kaiser 10 as my favorite CIEM any day. I own very many CIEMs of varying tastes and styles but the K10 is my clear favorite when I just want to listen to something on the road, or in the office, or anywhere really. I’ll heartily recommend it to anyone willing to have one of the best all-arounder CIEMs out there. The only difficulty with this is actually trying to listen to something else after you’ve heard the K10s. At least that’s how I see it. I still switch amongst my other IEMs but my K10 is always with me and I don’t see myself getting tired of them anytime soon.
     
    May Noble continue to create more amazing IEMs and with those crazy wizard designs I really do think the Wizard is an actual Wizard (that came from the moon).
     

  6. EllisU
    5.0/5,
    "So good, you'll want to cuddle afterwards. "
    Pros - Perfectly cohesive sound.
    Cons - Customization process could be a bit more customer involved.
    At long last, I have finally gotten around to writing a review for my Kaiser 10 IEMs. I am sure you all have been slouched with glassy eyes at your keyboard, ear molds in hand, waiting for my comments before choosing your next musical ear plugs. My love for humanity hopes you haven’t. And my apologies in advance for the lengthy read. I wrote this in Starbucks with too much coffee in one hand and too much time in the other!
     
    First of all, you should know that I do not consider myself an audiophile. Heck, I don’t even really know what that means or what paperwork I need to fill out for such certification. That said I have always found myself on the same never-ending quest for sonic bliss, a quest (curse) I believe most of you share. Like many of us, I started with entry-level products and quickly moved my way up. I burned through Sennheiser’s, Klipsch’s, Shure’s and a pair of R0s from Hifiman.
     
    At each step, I found new things to like but was never fully satisfied. In audio terms, the highs of what was good about a product were always overpowered by the lows of what was not. While I know it was probably wholly psychological, it’s like the flaws in each product got louder the more I listened; At some point, shortcomings were all I could here.
     
    Then, like skipping ahead in a movie to the part you know is coming, I decided to just go ahead and buy what I knew I would eventually buy anyway; a pair of high-end customs. So, like all of you have done at some point, I spent a pathological and lifestyle-cramping amount of time on head-fi researching my options and settled on what was then JH Audio’s top-tier product, the JH16s.
     
    Oh holy Christmas nuts, the sound was amazing. I had finally found what I was looking for.  My quest was at once over. While the rest of you scrambled for the end of the rainbow, I had the (waxy) gold already in my ears.  So, with the exception of some brief research on amps and other peripherals, I logged off of head-fi and, well, joyfully forgot about you guys for a few years.
     
    Then, the inevitable happened…One of my JH monitors disconnected from its cable, slipped between the seats in my jeep, and fell through a drain hole onto the asphalt below. Don’t you just hate when that happens?
     
    So, I logged back on to head-fi to find the latest and greatest ear drug. My first stop was with JH, as I had been happy with my 16s.  Unfortunately, due to some issues I don’t feel the need to discuss on here, I decided to look elsewhere. About that time, I received a PM from Brannan introducing me to Noble Audio. Before I knew it, and with all the contemplative effort that goes into buying a box of tic-tacs at the check out counter, I was all in. What can I say…Brannan could sell underwear to a nudist.
     
    So, I sent my impressions to Noble and waited with all the patience of teenage boy on a promising prom night. I emailed Brannan relentlessly. I am not going to lie, the wait time, while falling within the build time stated by Noble, was excruciating. Luckily, Brannan was always quick to respond and never seemed irritated, though I am quite sure he was. Hell, I was irritating me.
     
    Then, at long last, my wife called me to say my “ear thingies” had arrived at the house. So, I walked out on a client, raced home, declined hugs from my children, hushed my wife with a finger over my lips (the couch ain’t so bad with great headphones), and retreated to a locked room with my shiny new K10s.
     
    I plugged the phones into my Ray Samuels P-51 mustang on a line out from my ipod and just listened. I had prepped myself to go in with no expectations, good or bad. In other words, I didn’t want to find the music – I wanted the music to find me. I think many of us are guilty, at times, of knowing what we will hear before we actually do. We read reviews about house signatures, look at response curves, and mistake the subjective comments of reviewers as objective truths. In the end, I think we can influence the sound we hear more than the balanced armatures that produce it.
     
    Back to the K10s….
     
    So, I tried as best I could to not search for anything specific in the sound of the K10s. Simply put, I didn’t WANT to hear anything when I pressed play for the first time. And guess what? I didn’t. Nothing about the K10 sound jumped out at me. Nothing. Nothing was in abundance. Nothing was lacking. Everything was there, just as it should be. Like a completed puzzle, the pieces were no longer individual, but were perfectly blended together into a single greater image.
     
    It found it so refreshing to NOT hear the (fill in the blank frequency range) everybody else said would be so amazing, as I had in all the other products I sampled along the way. I mean think about it, if product X has amazing highs, doesn’t that mean the other frequencies fall short? Or, at the very least, it means the quality of one range is noticeably different that the quality of the others, though they may all be superb.
     
    There wasn’t too much bass, there wasn’t too little. The highs were there in spades, but in no way distinguished themselves from the lush frequencies beneath them. Simply put, the sound was seamless. I actually had trouble singling out specific frequency ranges because they blended so smoothly into the ranges around them.  The sound is all there exactly as it should be. And it is magnificent.
     
    I have to be honest; I really didn’t expect to enjoy the k10’s more than I did my JH16s, but I do. Of course, I don’t have my JHs anymore for a direct comparison; so pointing out specific improvements over the JH sound would be based entirely on what are certainly distorted recollections. I can say with confidence, however, that my K10s are more listenable than my JHs for extended periods of time. I never have that “time for a break” feeling that I had every once-in-a-while with the JHs. And trust me, as a dissertation-writing Ph.D. candidate, I spend a bunch of time listening to loud music in a quiet library.
     
    So, I ran the K10s through their paces, using the same lineup of music I have used for all of my IEMs. My usual round-up includes artists like Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, Deadstring Brothers, Johnny Lang, and the Old 97’s. And I swear….please don’t judge me for the coming cliché… it was like I was listening to some of the tracks for the first time. Just saying that makes me throw up in my mouth a little, but it is true. In fact, I hauled off a spent a small fortune on new high-res music just to put the K10s through their paces. Like a driving a 911 Turbo, you are always looking for new turns to see how the equipment handles. The handling of my K10s has not yet disappointed me.
     
    To anyone on the fence about the K10s, I offer the wise counsel of one of America’s most distinguished heroes, David Lee Roth: Go Ahead and Jump. You will not be disappointed. The sound is exactly what you want, where you want it. Of course, maybe I’ll lose a K10 in another tragic jeep mishap one day and be proven wrong by the next great thing, but until then, I firmly believe the K10s are as perfect as possible.
     
    Oh…and if you happen to be a nudist, I heard Brannan has a new line of underwear for ya.
     
    Andy

    Axesd, melkenshawn, d marc0 and 8 others like this.
  7. tin427
    5.0/5,
    "Best balance between artistic and sonic performance"
    Pros - Beautiful finish, Balanced yet fun sounding, Good Isolation, Can customize your own or by Wizard.
    Cons - Some might find Bass heavy, Not a "Revealing Everything" monitor.
    I got this marvelous K10 on last year black friday deal with a 20% off.
    At that time there are two options comes in my mind. 
    The 12 drivers JHaudio Roxanne, and the 10 drivers Noble Audio Kaiser10.
    Since at that time the Roxanne is at pre-order state so K10 is the one that have some reviews to read.
    After reading Sorensiim's review and his extraordinary set of K10, I just cant leave my eyes off that design.
     
    There are tons of design options of Noble CIEM which is very rare in audio industry. 
    Most of the company can design the artwork or the material of the faceplate and part of them can choose the color of the shell. 
    At that moment, there is still limited preview of Wizard design (If i buy the K10 this year I would definitely go for an Wizard rebuild or new Wizard design),
    I design that on my own. I choose every option I can take and place the order.
    After some hours or maybe 1-2 days, an email shown up.
    Nancy from Noble just give me some advice for my design. WOW.
    That is top notch customer service. The company can just leave the options I take and make the CIEM.
    But the Nancy just understand how can make my design better and give advises.
    These kind of process just making me feel confident on Noble.
     
    And here is my K10.

    Bad photos but the phone really looks good.
     
    And after the artistic things, here comes the sound signature and quality.
    The K10 is a versatile monitor. You can get a linear response from this phone which means the presentation of music is true to your source.
    K10 can be used on any source and sounds good. But it just sounds better if your source is better.
    The bass is full of excitement. On bass heavy genre like metal or hardrock, you can have a head-banging time with K10.
    The mid is transparent but adding a touch of warmth which gives the vocal a nice lush feeling. 
    The treble is quite a surprise. Since I upgraded the K10 from the Westone 4r. The bright-yet-not-piecing treble really shines.
    Non-fatigue treble is quite a hard department on IEM, but Noble just make it right.
    The imaging are precise and the micro-details are there.(though not as much as my HE560) 
     
    After getting the K10, I have audited some others CIEM in market like the fitears, 1964s, UEs or the JHaudios, most of them are just on-par or hairy ahead of the K10 under several departments.
    Vocals on fitears, bass from JHs, or stage performance from VE/Rhines. The K10 just got a balance between all of the things.
    I would say this CIEM is for the people who want a "All-in-one" solution.
    kurochin likes this.
  8. Headiest
    5.0/5,
    "My First CIEM"
    Pros - Lows, Mids, Highs, and Everything in Between.
    Cons - Price
    Customer Service:
     
    Let me start by mentioning what great customer service Noble has.  Everyone I talked to was very timely and helpful whenever I had questions or concerns before, during, and after my K10 purchase.  This has easily been one of the best purchase experiences I've ever had.  Noble, keep it up!  
     
    My Experience:
     
    I am not an audiophile.  My earphone experience is as follows:  Klipsch S4 -> Westone W4 -> Noble Kaiser 10.  I have always listened to 320 mbps + files out of my iPhone 5, so I have no experience with high end DAP's or amps, although these CIEM's have me saving for an AK240.  
     
    NOTE: Be careful! It's a slippery slope into the world of high end audio.
     

     
     
    Sound: 
     
    For a CIEM with 10 drivers, the K10 provides a spacious and cohesive presentation.  Clarity is astounding.  I am still amazed at how well this CIEM accurately reproduces recordings.  Coming directly from the Westone W4, the K10 sound is on the thicker side and may take some getting used to, but once you do, you will never want to go back.
     
    Lows:
         
    The K10 can hit like a champ, but only if the recording asks for it.  Mid and sub base are spot on.  I couldn't imagine any more, and I wouldn't enjoy (as much) any less.  The base does not audibly bleed into any other frequency range.
     
    Mids: 
     
    The mids are "lush" (I didn't know what this meant until I had a listen).  Everything comes through crystal clear and slightly thick.
     
    Highs: 
     
    The highs on this CIEM are incredible.  They are sparkly, shimmery, and beautiful.  Where other headphones struggle or are sibilant, the K10's reproduce high frequencies with no perceived effort at all.
     
    Summary:
     
    These CIEM's cost 1600 USD!  I was initially hesitant to buy them, but in the end they are completely worth it.  If you are new to high end audio, as I was, the K10's will introduce you to a whole new way of your enjoying music.  I've had the K10's since February, and my enthusiasm is still as strong as the day they arrived at my door.  
     
    I look forward to seeing how well these gems scale with a high quality source and will update this review accordingly.
  9. RichN
    5.0/5,
    "Best CIEM's available"
    Pros - Very balanced sound, superb workmanship, excellent fit and comfort
    Cons - None
    [​IMG]
     
    Hi all, I guess I'm a Head Fi posting newbie, though I've been soaking up the reviews and forum posts for a couple of years. I've been in the pro audio business working with recording studios, Artists, Producers and Mixers for the past 20 years here in Los Angeles. I spend a lot of time in control rooms and have listened to some truly amazing sounding monitor systems. But my job involves a lot of travel around the world so I started looking for a great sounding in-ear monitor, with good isolation that could come close to the performance of a decent set of studio monitors. I started with the good old UE Triple Fi 10 with comply tips and wore out a couple of pairs of those, but was never really satisfied with the scooped mid freq response of those. 
     
    I listened to a lot of IEM's at trade shows and none of them really stood out and provided the sound I was used to in a studio monitor or a decent over ear headphone. I happened to meet Brannan from Noble at one of the shows and took a listen to his demo's. He happened to have a set of Noble 4's and 6's. I talked him into letting me hold on to them for a few days to evaluate. One thing I should mention is I must have pretty unusual ear canals because I really could not get the old Noble tips to seal so well and consequently I wasn't getting quite the low end I hoped for. I put on a pair of large comply tips and got the seal I was looking for. The Noble 4's were immediately an obvious step up from the TF10's - very flat, with a really nice high mid that gave a good presence to vocals, but they did not have quite the bass extension I was looking for. The Noble 6's had that extra low end bump and maybe a half octave more in the bottom end that I was looking for and still had the same presence on top. I was quite pleased with the performance of the 6's, though I wasn't quite getting the ultra high end "air" I heard on near field monitors. 
     
    I used them extensively for a couple of weeks and was pretty set on a pair of Noble 6's in the universal fit. Brannan happened to touch base with me and mentioned that he had a set of demo's on the K10 that I should check out when he was next in LA. It literally took 30 seconds of listening to these and I was blown away. They seemed to have much tighter bass than I had previously heard in any IEM and I was finally getting that high end air on the vocal. Wow - these are it and they were also very efficient - the iPhone easily drives these things. One immediate thing for me was that they have a very smooth response, with none of the harshness around 3-5KHz that a lot of IEMs seem to have. But they have a very extended high end so you can really hear that breathy 12kHz that a lot of mixers put on a lead vocal to add that presences and breath. The more I listened the more I liked them. 
     
    Not being available in universal fit, Brannan shot my ears and said it would take a few weeks to make the custom K10's.  These would be my first Custom IEM;s and I really was not at all prepared for the difference. With the universals, I would constantly be rotating and pushing them in as they gradually became unseated. Did I say I have funky ear canals? Every few months I was ordering another batch of comply's because they only seem to last a few weeks. The first time I put in the custom K10's, I immediately noticed the drop in ambient level - wow these things really do get over 20dB of isolation and a great seal.
    The fit was incredibly comfortable. But the biggest surprise was the low end in these things. I have spent years with universals and its been a constant challenge getting a great seal to really experience the low end they are capable of. The K10 customs low end was a night and day difference compared to even the universal version of the K10 demos. You may all know this already, but for any first timers - get the custom fit versions - it is a huge difference.
     
    I won't talk about soundstage because I really don't understand how an IEM in a sealed environment 1/2 an inch from each eardrum can possibly have an effect on imaging :0
    All in all - I think if you are looking for coloration then you might want to look elsewhere. I personally want to hear something in an IEM that is as close to pair of near field studio monitors like a Genelec or Adam or JBL LSR. So far these are the closest thing that I've heard. I want to hear it the same way the mixer heard it - no more or less bass, no more or less top end
     
    Anyway, I've had these things for a couple of weeks now and I adore them. I can listen for hours on end without fatigue and they sound amazing with well recorded and mixed material. Some folks have mentioned the low end is tight but not maybe for bassheads. Well I really like a good extended bass and I'm hearing the same woof on a well mic'd kick drum that I hear on a pair of big Augsperger studio monitors, though I might not be getting it in the chest.. The low end is great and I couldn't imagine wanting any more. The high mids are very smooth without that harsh 4kHz bite that keeps you from cranking a lot of IEMs. If I could nail it down, I'd say I'm getting that extended low end and a smooth over 12K high end, that I haven't heard yet on other IEM's. As others have said - they are kind of expensive - but these are the first IEMs that I look forward to putting in my ears and listening. 
     
    Rich Nevens
    Audiophile1811 and Sam Edwards like this.
  10. Thracian
    5.0/5,
    "We have a new King in our midst."
    Pros - Excellent Treble, Mid and Bass. Wide soundstage and good seperation.
    Cons - None, Nil, Zilch on sound. More accessories would be nice. Say, amp bands?
    The Sovereign King.
     
     
    Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Noble Audio in anyway. This pair of K10s was NOT provided by Noble and was purchased with my own funds. The following reflects my thoughts on the K10s using my own systems. Your own mileage may vary.
     
     
    Noble what?
     
    For those not familiar with what Noble is, well, they are a boutique company based in Thailand and China that craft exquisite Custom In-Ear Monitors. The brainchild of The Wizard, the K10s is the flagship model of Noble and represents the pinnacle of portable audio beside the JH Audio Roxanne, Fitear 435 and Unique Melody Mentor. In addition to the K10, Noble offers a whole range of different IEMs and CIEMs such as the Noble 4, 8C and 5S.
     
    Right. Now that you know a little more of what the Noble is, lets get down to business.
     
    Lets get Accessorizing!
     
    What do we get out of the box? Well, pretty standard stuff. You get the usual Otterbox case, earwax removal tool, a Noble warranty card and your pair of customs! Oh, and stickers! Coz everyone loves stickers! The cable is by far the most interesting accessory though. More on that later. If I had to be picky, the only fought I could find with this was the apparent lack of -insert lack of “noble” prize joke here-…
     
     
    The Voltage Transferring Mechanism Thingy.
     
    Hey look! Later wasn’t that much later now was it? Anywayyyy, if this cable seems familiar to you, then well that’s because it is. It’s made of silver plated copper and is exactly the same cable as the Magnus upgrade cable provided by Heir Audio bar the pins and termination jack. In this case, the pins and jack is both molded in plastic, with the jack molded in a 45-degree angle as opposed to the metal barrel pins and Neutrik jack from Heir Audio.
     
    While I’m not going to comment on the sonic qualities of the cable coz well, erm, this is not a cable review, I however, will comment on the external qualities of the cable. It’s tough. There. That’s it. Ok, really tough. It has gotten accidentally snagged on a door handle or two, survived a sneak by my cat and being stuffed into my bag as I ran between lectures. Comfort wise, it’s a light and supple cable that barely feels like it’s on your ears. Memory wire could have been a little longer but it’s a stock cable so I wont complain! (Although I am…)
     
    Anywho, I hear Noble has a contest going in their Facebook page to guess the strength of their cable! Good luck!
     
    Build Quality

    One of the best darned finishing on a pair of customs I have ever seen. Lacquer used really gives a nice texture to them. They don’t just feel like hard acrylic but slightly textured. Glitter was evenly applied and as far as I can tell, there are no air bubbles in sight.
     
    As for fit, the first pair of K10s that came had a slight fitting issue with my right ear. They just wouldn’t get a seal no matter how I twisted it. Left ear was perfect though. So I shipped them off for a refit, which rectified this issue. These now fit like a glove and I only lose the seal when I smile or laugh. So yeah, top notch built quality as far as my pair of K10s goes.
     
    Design wise, I’ll let my K10s speak for themselves as well as Nobles designing prowess.
           
     
     
     
    The Sound.
     
    As much as I would like to start this portion of review off on a high, I’m afraid I can’t. The K10s just did not wow me on first listen and it seemed anticlimactic and underwhelming when I first put them on. One could argue that I had too much an expectation for these and yes, you wouldn’t be wrong. Maybe I’m too used to the 8A that I have, but, these are $1,599 CIEMs and I just expected a huge wow factor from the beginning but all I got was something really bland.
     
    With all that said, I hope that didn’t put you off from the K10s. These, after just a few hours of listening, really showed it’s true nature. And boy, was I sorry for even doubting them.
     
    Let’s start from the top of the frequency spectrum shall we?
     
    Treble is fantastic. Being used to a warmer sound signature, ALA LCD2s, HD650s and my 8A, the K10s was a real step up. While some IEMs make you wish you hard more treble as they roll off fast or the fact that they sound muffled, these simply do not. Not only do they extend very high without sounding harsh, they do so with resounding clarity. Piano’s have a nice extension and decay to them, as do cymbals. Many a time I have heard headphones that do not accurately reproduces how a cymbal sounds. The K10s does it expertly with finesse. Cymbals crash loudly with authority and clarity that never sounds harsh to the point of causing discomfort nor does it sounds muffled. Yes, I am one of those who are sensitive to peaky treble and no, the treble output here does not bother me one bit.
     
    Midrange wise, they sound extraordinary. These are mid centric CIEMs and they do not disappoint. They sound north of neutral but far less than that of the syrupy mids of the 8A. Coupled with a good amount of detail to them, every pluck of a guitar string sounds loud and clear and every crackle in a vocalist’s voice easily picked up without sounding thin and dry. Female vocals really excel here, sounding clean and spacious, with a good amount of air in them. In short, you really get enveloped in a swirl of mid rangy goodness.
     
    Part of why I wasn’t wowed in the beginning might be due to the K10s bass response. Tuned differently than its siblings, the bass here is a little shy and only rears it’s very beautiful head when needed. When it is needed however, there is nothing shy about its bass. It’s excellently controlled and very precise. When compared to the 8A, which uses the same number and type of drivers, one will start to appreciate its precision. Not only does it almost match the 8A’s output it does so without even bleeding into the midrange nor does it start to sound loose, something that I found the 8A suffered from. Impactful, thunderous and accurate, three words I find myself repeating all too often. I love the K10’s bass response.
     
    Soundstage on these is really wide. They really give the sense that you are enthralled in the middle of a concert. You will NEVER feel congested with the K10s. Imagining you are in a concert; you can feel the music in front of you and as it extends toward your sides, with the bass exploding right behind you.
     
    Separation of each frequency range is excellent and never does one frequency intrude on another. Instruments as well do not sound congested and can be easily picked apart from the music distinctively. It is this separation that causes the K10s to sound less coherent than other CIEMs such as the Westone ES5. Nonetheless, they still sound fantastic and you probably won’t even care about them not sounding coherent! I know I didn’t.
     
    It’s all these points that really make the K10 very enjoyable to listen. They aren’t what you would attribute a fun sounding CIEM as they lean towards being slightly neutral. Most likely, this is why I wasn’t wowed at the very start. However, after using the K10s for close to 5 months, you really start to appreciate the way these sound. Switching away from these to say, an 8A, a pair of UM3X+3 or, the Tzar 350s, there would always be something missing from my music that makes me yearn for the K10, be it its controlled bass or its ever so spacious midrange.
     
     
    Truly, one only starts to appreciate and miss something when it’s gone.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Test was done using an DX50, AK100 and AK240. All 3 were tested with an SR71B and E12. Single ended output from all DAPs including the AK240. I've only just received my balanced AK240 cables and have not have the time for a proper sit down listening session.
     
    MORE PHOTOS INCOMING TOMORROW. My camera is outta juice and phone's do not do these justice.

    AegisYeo likes this.