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Noble Audio Kaiser 10

Rating:
5/5,
  1. RichN
    Best CIEM's available
    Written by RichN
    Published Jun 22, 2014
    5.0/5,
    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.
    1. Ivabign
      Nice review. It's great when you can find a product that checks off all the boxes.
      Ivabign, Jun 22, 2014
    2. kh600rr
      great review, looks like you hit a home run with them.
      kh600rr, Jun 22, 2014
  2. Ultimate Mango
    A League of its Own
    Written by Ultimate Mango
    Published Feb 18, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Drop Dead Gorgeous, Sound to match. Highs like no other, deep bass, everything balanced in between.
    Cons - Brain burn-in definitely required.
    I am not an expert reviewer by any means, but these CIEMs are something special. The look, fit, and finish are truly extraordinary, these are not headphones but are ear-jewelry. 
     
    As for sound, these sound like nothing else I have ever heard. Particularly the highs are very, very good. They are bright and sparkly and revealing, well extended but never, ever harsh or sibilant. The bass is amazing, I swear you can feel it in your chest (for example, even watching movies unamped out of an iPad it has movie theater like bass). Mids are incredible as well, vocals are so well incorporated and where recordings are used with oversampling, doubling, or even where there are just multiple vocalists each layer can be clearly discerned. 
     
    I would highly recommend these to anyone with the means to attain them. Truly Summit-fi.
      Sorensiim and sq3rjick like this.
    1. audioops
      Can you elaborate on your experience with these and the brain burn-in?
      audioops, Feb 26, 2014
    2. diogodasilva
      Have you ever heard the Roxannes by any chance? how would you compare them?
      diogodasilva, Apr 10, 2014
    3. Ultimate Mango
      @audioops My experience with brain burn in was very positive. The K10s had so much more detail and high end than anything I had heard it took some time to get used to. 
       
      @diogodasilva I have not heard the Roxannes. It turns out that I was at an event where there were Roxanne demos, but I was oblivious to them since I only had a very short time at the event. 
      Ultimate Mango, Apr 10, 2014
  3. Kaisendon
    The one sound in my life
    Written by Kaisendon
    Published Nov 11, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - The IEM has a gorgeous finishing and fit is so perfect. Sound reverberates in your ear so naturally.
    Cons - I only have one pair of it
    The Noble Audio Kaiser 10 is the most perfect IEM I have ever heard, period.
      Number9redreD likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. RPB65
      C'mon, stop procrastinating! Get to the point! lol.
      RPB65, Nov 13, 2016
    3. Watagump
      Relax, my review was even shorter.
      Watagump, Nov 15, 2016
    4. Overkill Red
      5/7 perfect review
      Overkill Red, Dec 27, 2016
  4. WCDchee
    You're in for a treat
    Written by WCDchee
    Published Jun 16, 2015
    5.0/5,
    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.
     
    NobleK10.jpg
      Nicst3n likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. WCDchee
      Soundstaging improves quite a lot in all aspects, imaging becomes more accurate, airiness is quite exquisite, creating an open, and not overly airy presentation. Highs sparkle and extend quite a bit more bass tightens well but goes deeper and hits harder. Midrange has slight leanness to it with the truth but given that i found the k10 to have a slightly thick midrange, this matched up perfectly for me.
      WCDchee, Jun 18, 2015
    3. Uncle E1
      DITA Truth cables at the moment is still at the experimental stage.  There is only a bunch of them floating around with various CIEMs including the K10 above, MH335 and 1964 V6 :p
      Uncle E1, Jun 18, 2015
    4. earfonia
      Very good and unique review! Thanks!
      I agree on this: "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." For that reason I often avoid too many drivers configuration. I guess it is just difficult to have too many drivers coherently vibrate in exactly the same phase to avoid phase distortion.
      earfonia, Jun 24, 2015
  5. tin427
    Best balance between artistic and sonic performance
    Written by tin427
    Published Sep 7, 2014
    5.0/5,
    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.
    IMG_2232.jpg
    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.
  6. Thracian
    We have a new King in our midst.
    Written by Thracian
    Published Jun 5, 2014
    5.0/5,
    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.
            unnamed.jpg
     
     
     
    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.
  7. darinf
    Definitely a "10" for CIEMs
    Written by darinf
    Published Apr 4, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Incredible lows, lots of detail, actual imaging in a CIEM/IEM, silky smooth, BEAUTIFUL design, QUALITY craftsmanship, close to perfect
    Cons - Cost, CIEM's require impressions, can't let friends hear how good they are, resale value (but I would never sell them...)
    NBL0007_2012_crop_1200px.jpg
    First of all, full disclosure, I did not pay for these Noble K10's. I traded for work I did for Noble. 
     
    Given that, however, I think Brannan and John would want me to post an honest review rather than a biased review just to keep them as a client!
     
    With that out of the way, I have to say, these are the best CIEM/IEMs I have had the opportunity to hear. Am I just saying that for Noble's benefit, no, but you have to decide if you believe me.
     
    Appearance:
    I received these Wizard design K10 CIEM's in late 2013. They are obviously black carbon fiber faceplates with dark blue shells and a touch of glitter that seems to show up as different colors depending on the light. They are very clean and simple and I LOVE the way they look. Yes, they do remind me of some other CIEM's that use carbon fiber as their signature material. That's OK, I love the look. 
     
    The workmanship is perfect. I can't find any flaws anywhere. No bubbles, finger smudges, etc. Perfect.
     
    Fit:
    I had Brannan do my impressions, so obviously there was no problems with my impressions. The K10's fit me perfectly. They are really easy to pop in and and out, but stay in really well. They seal great too. I don't get any popping or change in the seal even when I open my mouth or chew, etc. But the best thing is that they are super comfortable. I can wear them all day and barely even notice they are there. That's really the whole point with customs. with any IEM or CIEM their performance is all about the seal. although you can get a good seal with universals, with properly fitted customs, there is no struggling with the seal. You just pop them in and you've got a perfect seal. Easy!
     
    Sound:
    I have a lot of different headphones and IEM's and one other CIEM, the Heir 8.A.
     
    First, I can easily say that the Noble K10's are the best CIEM/IEM I have heard. To me they are a big step up from the 8.A. The bass on the K10 is much tighter and controlled, but still plentiful. I am amazed at how good the bass is on these CIEM's. When watching movies, especially, the bass feels like it's shaking my body even though I know that's not possible. But lots of bass is no good if it's not controlled and tight. It's not just bass for the sake of having bass. It's simply perfect. Even compared to my other headphones, the bass is better on the K10's. (OK, so the other headphones i have are not known for having much bass such as Stax, HD800, Etymotic ER4S.)
     
    The mids are equally as good. Lots of detail, not too forward sounding, clean and smooth. Vocals, piano, guitar all sound very natural. Not much more I can say other than it sounds just right to me.
     
    On the high end of the spectrum, the first word that comes to mind is "smooth". No sibilance, but still lots of detail. However, this is one area where I think the Stax definitely come out on top. My tastes lean towards super detailed, airy high end like the Stax or even the Etymotic ER4S or the HD800's to some extent. But with all the high frequency resolution, I can't stand harshness or sibilance or etched sound. To me the Stax sound is perfect in that way. The K10's don't have that super airy-ness, high end extension. They have tons of detail. I can hear the brushes on cymbals, the lips of a singer, the drumsticks hitting the cymbals, etc. with the K10's, but they very top of the frequency range just isn't as present as my other headphones. As a byproduct, the K10's never sound the slightest bit harsh at any listening levels. Dare I say they remind me a little bit of a "tube" sound that just has that luscious, silky, smooth sound, yet still very detailed.
     
    But then when you talk about micro-detail like the ambience of a room or the imaging of a recording, the K10's are still somehow capable of all of that.  I don't really hear a lot of imaging per se out of any headphones or in-ears but I am used to listening to virtual speakers using my software to give me WAY more imaging than any headphone could hope to achieve on it's own. So when the image is collapsed down when I disable my software, then the contrast is so great, I find it hard to evaluate imaging in headphones. It's so much less, that I don't hear a lot of difference from one headphone to the next. However, with the K10's, I am not sure, but maybe I am hearing so much detail in the recording that on a well recorded track, I can really hear some imaging. Maybe the drivers are also so "fast" that they can accurately playback all the micro-detail. Regardless, compared to my other in-ears, the K10's do actually image. WIth Out Of Your Head software running, I thought IEM/CIEMs wouldn't work as well as an open set of full size headphones, but when there is a lot of speed and resolution, the "Out Of Your Head" effect works really well. 
     
    What else can I say... Whenever I listen to the K10's, they just sound right. They make me smile every time. I can count on them to do everything I ask. Tons of bass and punch when watching movies; tons of detail and speed when listening to music. They are certainly what I take with me on the go. OK, if I could only have one headphone/in-ear, I would have to keep my beloved Stax-009's, but we're talking about a $10,000 system. In any situation where I can't have my Stax, the K10's fit the bill perfectly. I am always "blown away" when I am on a plane with my K10's running Out Of Your Head on my laptop watching a movie. Having such huge 7.1 surround sound and bass impact on a plane makes me feel guilty that the other passengers can't hear what I am hearing!
     
    Thank you Noble!
     
    Gear used for evaluation:
     
    1. Stax 009
    2. Stax 407
    3. Sennhesier HD800
    4. Etymotic ER4S
    5. Heir 8.A
    6. Out Of Your Head software
    7. Vostok Sound ES-21 electrostatic amp/dynamic amp/DAC
    8. AK120
    9. HRT MicroStreamer
    10. Schiit Vali (with 75 ohm adapter for in-ear's)
      sq3rjick likes this.
    1. JACONE
      Thanks much for your review! I enjoyed reading it.
       
      Is your AK120 stock? I'm in the market for a CIEM and wondering  how the K10s pair with the AK 120. Your perspective would be appreciated.
      JACONE, Mar 8, 2015
    2. darinf
      Hi @JACONE
      Yes, my AK120 is stock. I know that the stock AK120 has a 3 Ohm output impedance which should be OK with the K10 being <35 Ohm. To me the pairing sounds great. I do most of my K10 listening with the AK120. It's a really portable but very high end listening experience.  But I nave not tried other CIEMs or other DAPs, so I have nothing to compare it too. I have used my K10's with a Geek Out 450 from my laptop without a separate amp and that is an amazing combo as well. I cannot hear the difference between that and the AK120, but TBH, I haven't really done a side-by-side comparison. When things are sounding that good, it's takes some time to figure out the differences since they are subtle.
      darinf, Mar 8, 2015
    3. JACONE
      Hi Darinf!
       
      Thanks much for your your response. 
      It's very helpful!
      JACONE, Mar 8, 2015
  8. nicoritschel
    Incredibly well balanced
    Written by nicoritschel
    Published Feb 11, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Versatile sound signature, excellent build quality
    Cons - $$$

     
    I received my K10s in mid December. Before that, I owned another pair of CIEMs (the Heir Audio 8.A) which I have since moved on from. The 8.A was John Moulton's original 8 driver design, with a relatively dark, bass-heavy signature.
     
    When purchasing the K10s, I was slightly worried that I may give up some of the sound that I loved so dearly. Man, I just didn't know what I was missing out on. The K10 can do everything that the 8A could do, plus more. The highs are incredibly well-detailed and non-fatiguing, the mids are incredibly natural, and bass doesn't overpower, but is still booming when the current track commands it.
     
    I've seen other reviews mention that the K10 has less bass quantity than the 8.A, but I have not found that to be the case. Sure, the sound signature is perhaps less dark overall, but far more natural, and the bass is not lacking in any way, shape, or form. I've yet to come across a recording where I've not been exceptionally pleased with the sound quality.
     
    Versatility is the name of the game, the K10s will pleasantly reproduce any recording you throw at them. With that said, it is very much so advantageous to feed them with a high quality sound source. I tend to only listen to ALAC files, through an HRT Microstreamer fed through Amarra, or through my iPhone 5s whilst on the go. 
     
    Fit and isolation is wonderful, as I had my impressions taken by Brannan from Noble Audio, free of charge. If you happen to be in Southern California, I would highly recommend having Brannan taking care of your impressions, as he knows to take impressions to Dr. Moulton's standards. I had some seal issues on my 8.A's, but my K10s fit wonderfully. 
     
    I will also note that build quality is second to none. My K10s are absolutely flawless, and beautiful to boot. I opted for a Wizard design, which was 100% worth it, especially since John took care of me with a design that I have still not seen on an IEM from Noble or any other company. 
      sq3rjick likes this.
    1. Sorensiim
      Great review - Good to see I'm not the only one going from the 8.A to the K10 and not really looking back. I still have my 8.A and for stuff like Daft Punk (especially the Tron:Legacy soundtrack) they are awesome - but the K10 just rules with ANYTHING. No matter what I throw at them, they just deliver, without ever breaking a sweat.
      Sorensiim, Feb 11, 2014
    2. sq3rjick
      Another 8.A -> K10 person checking in.  This is an excellent review! I think you've nailed it with the sound signature of the K10.  I think that the 8.A and K10 have similar bass, but the K10 brings together the whole picture.  The bass quality and quantity is the same, but you also have matching excellent mids and highs, so there's less overall emphasis.
       
      Your design is absolutely beautiful, by the way!
      sq3rjick, Feb 14, 2014
  9. ibbreezy
    Took a gamble on these and it paid off big time.
    Written by ibbreezy
    Published Jan 29, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Very versatile; genres and file types. Slamming bass, sweet mids and beautiful highs without the "daggers in ear" effect.
    Cons - I didn't order a Wizard design.
    These are my first CIEMS, and I took quite a blind plunge as I brought these when there were about 2 reviews. I've had them for just over 2 months, and my enthusiasm for them is as high as when I first got them.
     
    The other reviews are more in-depth/useful; I can only really echo what has been written about them.
     
    For me, the most notable things are that the bass slams very hard when needs be. The highs are extremely good, without any hint of piercing, that my old IEMS had. For me, this alone goes a long way to justify the price. I've never really understood soundstage before, so that will have to be covered by other reviews.
     
    The comfort and fit are everything I need. No longer do the units shift/ fall out of my ears when I'm walking.
     
    About the only thing I regret is not buying a Wizard Design. And this is even though I didn't buy it in the Black Friday sale, which is testament to the K10's quality. 
      sq3rjick likes this.
  10. Chevalierr
    Sweet mids, Bass when you need it and highs that don't kill your brain cells
    Written by Chevalierr
    Published Jan 29, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound: Awesome , Build: Awsome
    Cons - i can't share my bliss with the people around me....
    Got my set at the black friday sales and have been listening to em for almost a mth now.
     
    The mids are so smooth and vocal centric tracks thrive here.
     
    The bass comes a thumping when you need it.
     
    The highs are non-fatiguing.
     
    The thing that surprised me the most is really how well they isolate.
    This is my second set of CIEMS. My first CIEM had poor fit on the right side
    but this came perfect out of the box.
     
    when the music starts playing, i cant hear s**t from my surroundings and are extremely
    comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
     
    the build quality is astounding and they complied with my request to make the red a little darker.
     
    easily the best set of CIEMS of IEMS or "earbuds" that ive ever heard.
     
    Period.
     

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