Noble Audio Kaiser Encore

General Information

THE ARTISANAL IN-EAR MONITOR SPECIALIST
Offering universal-fit and bespoke custom-fit in-ear monitors, Noble is revered internationally for its design aesthetic, craftsmanship, and exceptional sound quality.

KAISER ENCORE
The Encore retains the musical essence of the K10 and features a retooled midrange that provides additional clarity and more accurate tonal balance while still integrating seamlessly with the rest of the audio spectrum. Improvements in midrange response contribute to a larger soundstage and presentation compared to the K10 with more precise imaging and superior spatial representation.

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Pros: Sound quality. Comfort. Build
Cons: Pricing for it brand new is bonkers
Where to begin.
I've written a couple reviews here and there before. I'm a live sound engineer and a lighting designer for shows and concerts, and I'd like to say I'm an audiophile. My current headphones/earphones before this was my HD600 and Alclair RSM's (ciem).

Before getting my hands on the Encore, I was already searching for something different for my next purchase. I also knew i wanted it to be a TOTL iem, for some reason. And then i came across someone selling these Encore's for a disgustingly low price.

Disclaimer: I bought these used for around $700USD

How can I not get them?

I'll preface by saying this about them. They are NOT worth their full asking price of $1850USD. I think they're good, but not for that much raw dough. Maybe like just over $1000-$1200. That being said, these are by far the best IEM's i've ever listened to EVER. And for a thousand bucks, these are well worth.
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Build
They're great. Lightweight and made of metal all around. Super tight 2-pin connector for a secure cable. Nothing much else to say except top top notch construction. You can almost drop these and not have to worry about them. But also..don't do that. Cable is a good length with a good braid, but why are they so thin. I've seen and felt better from cheaper iems from China. They're also way smaller than I'd expect from a 10 BA driver system in each piece.

Comfort
I'm picky with my comfort, and as should be. If i can't wear them, then why bother listening to them right? But these are very comfortable for universals. My custom Alclair's are better, but that's an unfair comparison. The included tips are nice, especially the foam ones, but i settled on the smoky grey silicone tips. The foam tips have this oil-like texture that doesn't make them grippy and slides smoothly into my ear without having to compress them and wait 30 sec (looking at you comply). The isolation is good, nothing to write home about. The shape of the iem is actually very nice to my ears, very gentle and no sharp pains that some oblong iems have given me in the past. A bit cold when you first wear them though.

Sound

I used a mixture of my lossless files from my AK Jr.....and Spotify from my steinberg interface.

I know what you're thinking, i'm not giving the Encore's the love they deserve with a proper dac/amp/source or whatever. Sure. You're right.

But this is what i listen with everyday for ease of use/work and if the iems NEED it, then i consider that a negative aspect of them. BUT these still sound dangerously good from my sources. I used them with an iphone 6 and was astonished how much of it didn't change. Listening to them on the AK Jr and my PC just blow my mind......

Bass
Its at the right amount and its super duper clean. Lean, mean, what a dream. These are not bassy my any means, but they can kick when you want them too. The texture of each kick is just so real and the extension goes very deep. We're talking even bass all the way down to 25hz at the least (limit of my hearing). Listening to jazz, rock, or country the bass is very tame and controlled. Not loose or sloppy for even a second. Now pump in EDM, hip-hop, and dubstep, these bad boys can get thumping. You can actually get a rumble with these, all without losing any other frequency.

Example: Oi-1 by Biosphere
The bass hits from the start are so visceral and textured very nicely Smooth all the way down to 25hz. Maybe even below that. And when the high synths come in, it's separated very well.

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Mids
I think this is where the Encore's shine. And i mean truly shine. Vocals are even and smooth without being too thin or muddy. They also have just a bit of a bump in the upper mid-frequencies just to add a little bit of presence to the vocals. You can really hear them shine with female vocals. Clean, articulate, and detailed. This presence bump adds a lot of energy to guitars and snare hits too. Just enough excitement without sound unnatural or boosted. Guitars, both electric and acoustic, have a really surreal sound to them. I can't quite put my finger on it, but when i'm listening to rock or even metal, it sounds so detailed and crisp. It's almost like you can feel the energy from the performance. Same thing can be said for synths. Its so packed with detail that you can here every module of the synth and how it affects it. Just phenomenal mids.

Example: Highway Tune by Greta Van Fleet
The guitars are so REAL. They're so detailed and just fit so well in the mix. The texture of the guitar all the way to his vocals are perfect.

Highs
Detail and clarity for days, almost to a fault. I find i can't listen to these too loud for too long because highs can get a little fatiguing. It's not harsh at all, its not sibilant either. Its even with enough air and crisp to provide that feeling of being in the music. You can hear the breaths of each vocal line because of how transparent the Encore's are. Hi hats and rides are so natural sounding. Some iems out there are too dull that you lose out on a lot of the high hits of a drum kit, but these accurately reproduce hi-hats and cymbals so well. Even the kick drum's hit sounds very real. When it comes to EDM and trance, there is a lot of upper energy. Especially with some synthesizers, the texture comes out so well. Most of the time, these synths get smoothed out by the limitations of the headphone. But not the Encore's. You're gonna here that saw tooth wave in all its glory.

Soundstage & Imaging
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Its wider than my HD600's, which isn't much to say because the 600's are narrow as heck for on open-back headphone. It has a very nice soundstage for an IEM. Reverbs and delays can be heard leaving your head and echoing back at you. That's a testament to the Encore's detail retrieval and the soundstage. Imaging is very accurate. When i go back to some of my mixes, i remember shouting out "That's exactly where i want that to be heard!". Its almost surreal how accurate it can get.

Example: Bubbles by Yosi Hirakawa
Okay, its a binaural recording but WOW. You can pinpoint down to the cm where every sound is coming from.


Conclusion........
It's great, but don't buy it at full price. Detail monster, with nuetral/natural sound. If you're sensitive to treble in any way shape or form, steer clear. But if you're not and are looking for a versatile iem that can play any and every genre (and willing to throw a kidney or 2) then go for it.


APRIL-19-2020 UPDATE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So after a long period of time spent tip rolling, i have to complain a bit about how different tips affect the sound and their comfort. I usually wear medium tips for silicone and small/medium for foams. My left ear is larger than my right which can get frustrating sometimes.

Stock silicone (red) - I'll refer to this as the "default" sound. They're what i think Noble intended these to sound like. And this is how i judged them in my review. They are quite comfortable BUT like a lot of silicone tips they have a seem at the edge of the flange. This isn't something to worry about under periodic use, but it does become problematic after hours of use. I noticed that my ears would get sore because of this seem, so beware.

Stock silicone (blue) - These fit very poorly for me. I couldn't get a proper seal with any of the sizes they included. They didn't grip on to my ears and kept falling out. Your ears may differ.

Stock foam tips -
I really really wanted to like these tips. They had the formula to be a great foam tip. They had this oily texture to them that makes it super easy and comfortable to use, and they don't rid the highs as much as other foam tips. They sound just like the stock red silicone tips but with a tad less treble energy. Smooths out the mid range as well. However, they do not fit securely unto the nozzle at all. Which is just disappointing. Great isolation.

Stock double flange - Don't use these at all. They cut out a lot of low end and make them sound way too neutral. All bass slam pretty much disappears. They're also very uncomfortable with 2 flanges. Its like a seem, but worse. They isolate pretty well though.

Comply foam tips - So these were not comfortable at all. They start itching after a short period of time and the constant chore of squeezing them and waiting 30 seconds before they seal take away from the listening experience. They also cut off a lot of detail that the Encore's are known for. They can sound a little congested and way too smooth. Their lifespan is also very short if you're using them for long periods of time, everyday. Great isolation though.

Spinfit CP145
-
So far, these are by far my favourite. They affect the sound a little bit maybe. I think they add a little bit of mid bass, but i can't switch tips quick enough to compare accurately. You don't lose anything else in terms of sound. However the comfort on these are stellar. I first got them because they don't have a seem on the edge of the flange. This results in extremely comfortable listening sessions for hours on end. Isolation is similar to the stock silicone tips.
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Onik
Onik
is it comfortable than rosie?
nfslmao
nfslmao
a million times more comfy than the rosie. Rosie came with the worst stock silicon tips ever. They didn't fit properly, no seal, and the sizes were just out of my range. They're also heavier and insert deeper. This version of rosie has 8 drivers, and yet the kaiser is still smaller and lighter......
Pros: Intimate and exciting like a never ending first date on the town
Neutrality with a touch of character in all the best places
Well built and made to last
Cons: Expensive
The Noble K-10 Encore Universal
Redcarmoose August 23th, 2019


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Different from most reviews, I’ve had the Encore IEMs for years. After reading Pinky Powers review back in 2017; I somehow became inspired to give them a try. And honestly I’m not sure I can give the Encore a better review than what has already been written here.

Both PinkyPowers& Hisoundfi have done a perfect review and description of the K-10 Encore IEMs in my opinion.



K-10 Stands for 10 BA Drivers:

First came the Noble K-10. Then the remix......... The Noble Kaiser Encore which became a subtle retune of the K-10. Ok it’s not really subtle.......let’s get on with it.



Since the 2016 Encore release many new hybrid technologies have been introduced into flagship land. In 2018 Noble introduced the flagship hybrid Khan, Sony has released the flagship hybrid IER-Z1R.....the list goes on and on. So from a value perspective it’s a question if the Encore is still worth the $1850 flagship price? Also against what you would think........the K-10 Encore IEM doesn’t ever seem to be put on sale? All these years later and a new pair still costs $1850? If anything we do see special editions like the (lower resonance) brass limited edition Encore or all black Encore limited edition. There was even a dark blue “gun-metal” Encore limited edition. There are the red original Noble K-10 IEMs available for $900 on drop.com as I write.


Probably my only suggestion is to give the Noble Encore a quick listen. Is it worth the money? It’s a very capable IEM (even today) which offers a sound signature and technicality rarely found. Even now it’s many a members favorite IEM due to it’s uncanny ability to do all genres with it’s own charm and style. Keep in mind the Noble K-10, the Encore, Katana and Khan all come as CIEMs also.


The Noble Katana:
Upon the Encore release in 2016 there was also a co-flagship called the Katana. 9 drivers (not 10) and just a smidge smaller, the Katana offering a fairly robust contrast to the Encore. Strolling into an IEM shop you may not find a better boxing match contest to test what the Encore is able to do? Both heavyweights spar-off with a different style and approach. First off the Katana is slightly more reserved. The Katana still offers a warm response but has drawn in much of the bass boost and treble spike the Encore is known for. Both IEMs are a creative tune of neutrality with the Katana going even more flat. Though keep in mind; the people in love with the Katana are enjoying it’s own slight warmth and subtle bass emphasis as an artistic departure from analytical flat. In my extremely limited Katana experience, I found it’s signature to (by comparison) delineate what the Encore was all about. It’s the outer Katana metallic khaki color that ends up our fist sign of conservative emotion. Both IEMs are fitted with the amazing CNC aluminum universal shells, joined with 400lbs of joining together force. Strangely the Encore blue has a captivating effect on how the IEM sounds in the end. How is that?


Well the blue tone somehow helps the listener realize both the fluidness and coolness here. It’s almost as if the IEM was anodized orange; it would sound too warm? How can all this be? Well it’s taking place due to the perfect middle ground the Encore walks. It’s both cool and warm? It’s.......slightly cool and just ever so slightly warm! Ahhh........it’s cool from the frequency focus yet warm due to smoothness and a smidgin of “fuzz”..............more on that later. :)


The Sound:
The Encore has an ability to make music both detailed and relaxed. Overall the neutrality is showing detail across the board but any lack of detail may be coming from an endearing style of distortion. My God! ................distortion! Really?


Ok......don’t faint.
It’s simply a slight harmonic complexity surrounding the notes which seems to give both body and airiness. The information is there but could be described as a faint glowing of elements which makeshifts the Encore into both a listenable and forgiving experience. It’s this slight “fuzz” which ends up excellent with amplified guitars but also tends to make music sound live. This would maybe not work except for the imaging at hand. So due to how stuff is imaged in the soundstage/headstage...... the “fuzz” ends up being part of this hyper detailed experience. So what comes off as detailed and relaxed is also musical. And don’t take that relaxed as laid back and dark, as the Encore is anything like that form of laid back. So it’s this never ending relaxed display presentation which maybe makes the blue shells so apropos.



Treble:
“Strangely the treble is also void of some physicality which keeps it all the more listenable. IMO” “It’s the treble smoothness combined with fast agility which ends up being more of a bonus over time than you would guess. “


Our slight north of neutral treble boost comes off spectacular due to how notes are both separated and spread out among the soundstage. Maybe nowhere is the soundstage expansion more prevalent than in treble elements. So try to imagine almost infinite treble goings on, blanketed in some slight warmth then moving around at a super-fast pace, and you have an idea of the magic here. It reaches high but never gets sibilance like you would think this tone is capable of. It’s also the very definition of treble airiness probably due to the openness of everything? But no where else in the response is there more of a fishbowl on your head effect going on. Elements tend to go out front, then behind your ears and move forth far out wide. All this happens in a very cohesive and midrange connected manor contrary to how you may think. In fact even though the treble is very much a big co-star in this show, most are going to subconsciously think about these as midrange IEMs.


Midrange:
That’s right...... it’s a memorable midrange. It’s maybe the midrange your thinking about when you grab the Encore from a group of IEMs? And as stated before it’s the Encore which is taking concepts previously thought of as sonic deficits and making them sonic attributes. As on closer inspection these are not forward midrange IEMs in any way. They are also missing much of that lower midrange boost-and-bloat exploited by the mass market of cell phone IEM free-Bs. In the end it’s a pulled lower midrange which is drawing our attention to the more than adequate neutral midrange. And our sparingly provided lower midrange then offers a better window into the bass. Due to these new and different tunings we are treated with hidden bass. Again it’s just as much what is removed as to what is included.


Bass:
These are not bass head IEMs, though we also have discovered folks finding the Encore too bass-laden and recoil to straight-laced performers like the Katana. It’s simply the provocatively hidden bass which instigates the technicality here. It’s bass speed which starts to carve out detail, but It’s what’s taken-out in our close-to-neutral response...........that provides the room for the perception of grand detail. So I’m guessing the designer Dr. John Moulton was getting us this over-all tune-package in a successful attempt to make a well rounded IEM? And it’s a win-win as far as playing every genre of music. Though to be critical there is no replacement for dynamic driver bass with some electronic music. Generally speaking something like the Sony IER-Z1R is going to do EDM better. It’s just that some genres demand a physicality to the bass which ends as a reach for the Encore.


Remember too, the world is full of folks who actually prefer the speedy and detail laden bass the Encore is known for. It’s bass realm an area of which even though natural, gives special framing to the midrange and even treble. It would be easy to poke fun at the Encore for what it does wrong, except it really does nothing wrong. All these character traits are pulled off with such an amount of finesse and composure that it’s simply hard to find fault..........if any? If anything the tune here allows for a complete package. It’s the kind of playback where you can sit and listen to ten different albums and the IEM makes every album interesting and fun.


Bass quality is a big point of concern today in 2019 with so many hybrid contenders to choose from. It’s maybe also the most critical determining factor to question when wondering if the Encore is still a pertinent choice-option in the world of IEM flagships?


In defense, it’s more of a question of naturalness and unification of tone. It makes you wonder if you want something extreme or something which politely integrates all the sound spectrum. As always the Encore is going to appeal to the listener wanting neutrality with a hint of character. It’s character seems to make hard rock, metal and vocals in all forms of music playback something of a spectacle. In this day and age of new flagships every month it’s nice to find a classic which shows no glaring faults after the hype is over and dust settled down. If anything being able to use one IEM for years and years on end becomes the final test of quality.


Speakers:
I can’t help but think the overall effect is somewhat like speakers in a room. Missing is the lower midrange bass boost for the “room effect” but what’s left is like really really good fast near field monitors or better. Depending on the recording there can actually be an album mix once in a while that makes you close your eyes and imagine speakers.

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In Ending:

My road to success with the Encore was based on fit. That said it’s never possible to find an IEMs true potential without proper fit. To not have perfect fit is to not truly understand what music response a product is ultimately capable of. The above can not be understated. Though with correct fit the Encore ends up very easy to drive. It’s slight overall coldnesses actually will ask for warmer players. Playback files like 24/96 hi-res; with it’s inherent warmth, will do wonders to bring about an end-sound love affair. There is also a sense of spectacular IEM imaging and hi-res extension which will get the regular enthusiast to a profound place with the Encore. It’s like hi-res and the Encores personality were really meant to go together. Super detailed treble reaches can come off with finite detail, pin-point images then get musically placed in the harmonically enriched midrange. And if that midrange wasn’t enough by itself, the overall tuning then showcases what’s there by coercing your attention to what ends up important.


With what’s left out being just as important as what’s included, the Encore has the ability to become a timeless classic still doing magic tricks not offered in exactly the same way by any other IEM. I recommend the Noble Audio Kaiser-10 Encore wholeheartedly.



In conclusion the Encore is still very relevant in the market, though it’s own personal value to you would have to be 100% subjective. After years of use it’s never boring nor inept but continues it’s tradition of making the legendary Noble K-10 one step closer to perfection.


Equipment Used:
1)
Noble Audio Kaiser 10 Encore IEM Universal (Sony Clear Silicone Hybrid Tips)(HanSound Audio Zen 4 wire OCC litz copper cable terminated Furutech 4.4mm)

2)
Sony NW-WM1Z DIgital Audio Player (Japanese Tourist Edition) FW 3.01

3)
Sony NW-WM1A Digital Audio Player (Japanese Tourist Edition) FW 3.01

4)
Noble Audio Katana Universal (demo model) stock 3.5mm cable

5)
Sony IER-Z1R Universal IEM #124 (Sony Silicone Tips)(Included cable 4.4 Pentaconn to MMCX)

6)
Sony TA-ZH1ES DAC/AMP

Music Used: 80% 44kHz-24bit and above
Hard Rock, Metal, New-Age NeoClassical, EDM and Modern OST

Music Not Used:
Country Music, Opera, Jazz and Vocal


Disclaimer:
The Noble Encore was purchased from store stock at full price for this review. I’m in no way affiliated with Noble Audio. These findings are highly subjective and as so your results may vary.


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Pros: Retains some of the old K10 magic, whilst adding some neat tricks of its own.
Cons: Probably its price?
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PRE-REVIEW NOTES


The Kaiser Encore was provided to me as a sample for the purpose of this review.

I am a huge fan of the Kaiser 10. Those on the Noble thread who have seen my ramblings on the K10 would be fully aware of my fascination with its sound. My sonic preferences are mostly aligned towards a more midrange-boosted tonality, with a greater, accentuated low-end presence. The K10 fits that description pretty well, and boasts some of the best vocals in the industry, despite being several years old.

So, I was very intrigued when the Kaiser Encore was announced. A successor to the legendary K10? Well, count me interested. The hype was real; everyone on the Noble thread was convinced that this was the acclaimed heir to the throne. I was amongst those eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Fast forward a couple of months, and the very first time I tried them on was when I was in Tokyo in February. I brought my AK380 with me to the famed E-Earphone store and Akihabara, and I was ecstatic when I realised that the Encore was a recent arrival to the store’s demo floor. I immediately made my way to its listening booth (or space - it was shared with other Noble IEMs), took out the trusty Astell & Kern, and pressed play.

Suffice to say, I was initially shocked that this was supposed to be the new K10 - or an Encore version. It sounded nothing like its namesake, with a midrange that sounded thin and lacking in visceral body. I had my custom K10 with me at that time, and further comparisons with my unit and the store’s own universal K10 confirmed my worst fears. This was no improved K10; rather, it was a departure from that sweet, rich, coloured and wholesome sound.

So here I am, with a Kaiser Encore in my hands and some time to boot. Owing to my hectic work schedule, I could only make time for thorough listening sessions on weekends. Still, I took a fair bit of time to put the Encore through its paces, and I must say, I am now a fan.

So let's get to it, shall we?

SOUND

Soundstage & Imaging
Let’s start with the staging capabilities of the Encore, shall we? The original K10 sounded very intimate, but the Encore took that stage, and pulled it across all dimensions. The end result is a sound that promises a wider, deeper and higher 3-dimensional sound.

With the stage set, the Encore set about placing instruments and musicians in definite, coherent sections, and this effort translates into a very accurate and realistic imaging experience. I could accurately pick out the positions of that guitar solo, that thumping bass line, or that euphonic singer.

Thanks to the huge stage and some world class imaging skills, the Encore is effortless in its ability to articulate sounds. Vocals or instruments are clear, and are easy to spot, even when playing complex tracks from genres such as Happy Hardcore.

Bass
Now, on to the facet of sound that gets me hooked first, and keeps me lurking around for more.

The Kaiser 10 was fantastic at reproducing some great, textured lows. The Encore on the other hand, sounds very restrained in comparison. At first glance (or listen, for that matter), this is not an IEM suited to the particular tastes of bassheads. We require more thump, more oomph, more beats. Something to move your head to, to tap your feet along with. (MOAR BASS)

Still, I persevered, and decided to give the Encore a try with my dance tracks. I listen to a lot of dance music, and they usually sound better when a full, thumping bass line is omnipresent, giving the musical piece some added boost. To my surprise, and after some time, I might add, the Encore proved that it was equally as adept at reproducing lows as it did highs (more on that later).

Yes, the Encore doesn't have as much of that low-end presence as its older brother. If it lacks in quantity, the Encore compensates with some of the finest bass in the business. Extension is remarkable, going very low (or into the deep end) without any noticeable roll off. On my Hard Style and Hard Trance tracks, the bass line rumbles to the very end. Yummy.

Coupled with its far-reaching capabilities, the lows have equally good separation, and are audibly distinct from the registers of the lower midrange. It doesn’t bleed or obstruct the sound in general, offering a polite but fantastic low-end that shows up, and happily so, when the music requires its presence. Plus, it has good speed, balancing the twin aspects of resonance and decay perfectly.

Bass on the Encore is pleasant as it is, but scales very well when paired with amplifiers that boost the lower frequencies. I’ll get back to this later - I’m enjoying the Encores now.

Midrange
The star of the Kaiser 10 show decided to clone himself, tweaked it a little, installed some upgrades, taught him a thing or 2 about the power of the human voice, then sent him off to the burgeoning Encore party. That’s pretty much how I’d describe the Encore’s stellar midrange.

The K10 has always been the king of the mids, and Noble knew that they could never forsake its chief strengths. Hence, all of that awesome detail has been carried forward into the flagship, and further enhanced still. Call it the K10 on steroids, if you will. You hear everything better - That awesome guitar solo; The haunting vocals of your favourite artiste, The perfect unity of a band trashing out its greatest hits. The Encore does it all.

Tonality is both natural yet clear, offering a very organic sound that suits most genres perfectly (rock and pop are its greatest strengths, in my opinion). Vocals have always been the K10’s ace in the pack, and the Encore doesn’t disappoint, proudly bearing the hallmark of the famed Kaiser name. You get that weighted emotion and all of the sweet, nuanced accents. You could listen for hours.

Moreover, thanks to its slight emphasis on neutrality, the Encore’s mids have great articulation, with a less congested sound that readily provides an expansive and slightly airy presentation. Mind you, it doesn’t do a 180 degree turn on the K10 - Yes, you lose some of the intimacy, but you gain a lot in both clarity and transparency.

Treble
Frankly, I’ve always found the K10 a little weak in its highs. This was the only aspect of the overall package that was found lacking. It doesn’t overly detract from that great, hall-of-fame sound, but it’s something that could obviously be improved. Thus, step forward, Kaiser Encore.

I’ve always been very sensitive to overly strident treble, and I avoid, like the plague, earphones and headphones that are heavily treble boosted. My poor ears couldn’t survive those harsssssssssh soundsssss.

Thankfully, the Encore stays within my list of favourites by offering clear and detailed highs. You get to hear every shimmer in crisp, clear tones, without venturing into the dreaded Realm of Sibilance. Sparkle is also present in abundance, carrying a level of energy that balances the Encore’s powerful midrange.

Like its bass counterpart, the Encore’s extension into the mountainous highs are remarkable. It carries the treble, with all of its sparkle and zest, into the highest reaches possible. None of that roll-off nonsense here, just technical proficiency at its very best.

COMPARISONS

I’ll include select comparisons with some of my other IEMs here. I own all of these earphones, and they have been in my possession for at least a year and a half.

Noble Kaiser 10 (custom)
As mentioned above, the K10’s bass is the easiest point of difference here. It is simply greater in quantity, and offers a weightier low-end punch.

Thanks to its smaller midrange (in all dimensions), and with its boosted low end, the K10 sounds a lot more intimate. However, The Encore trumps it in all other aspects, though, with better extensions at both ends, an equally adept and articulate midrange, better imaging and staging qualities, and a far improved treble presentation.

Empire Ears Zeus XIV (custom)
The XIV straddles the fine line between the Encore and the original K10. It has a slightly greater bass presentation, and a smoother treble presence, but matches the Encore with its massive stage. Detail is also a strength of the Zeus XIV, providing clarity in abundance. The midrange of the Zeus XIV is a similar contender for the crown, with a tone that is both natural yet powerful.

This is a titanic fight between the 2, and I wouldn’t be happy if I couldn’t have both in my collection. They complement each other well. Both are aces in the technical categories; the Zeus being more powerful, and the Encore sounding a little more refined.

JH Audio Roxanne (custom)
Compared to the Encore, the Roxanne is dark, with highs that are smooth and a lot less prominent. Bass on the other hand, is a lot more noticeable, even at its lowest levels. I tend to keep the Roxanne at the 12 o’clock setting, and this is when it shines the best.

It has a silky smooth midrange that is at once intimate and magnificent. However, it concedes ground to the Encore in most technical aspects - The Noble flagship has greater clarity and detail and has far better imaging and separation capabilities.

CONCLUSION

Has the Encore dethroned the original Kaiser 10? Not quite, to be honest. You can see aspects of the K10 in the Encore, but the successor ultimately sounds very different. The midrange magic is back, but it brings along with it an enhanced and delightful treble section and a more reserved but refined low end. To top it off, other technical components of the Encore are several steps up the ladder from the K10.

This is an IEM that plays very well with a variety of sources. It is also friendly with a myriad genres. I’ve played so many songs and tracks on the Encore, but it has never once failed to astound me with its ability to sound magnificent. It’s no jack of all trades - It is a master in all.

So while I wouldn’t be replacing the K10 yet (I still LOVE its mids), the Encore serves as a great alternative for the times when I need a little more refinement, better technical wizardry, or a more lively treble presentation. And the times when I need these qualities are increasing by the day. It must just usurp the K10 one day.

GEARS USED

DAPs
Thanks to my extended time with the Kaiser Encore, I’ve had the opportunity to use it with a variety of sources. 2 of the more common ones are -

Astell & Kern AK380: This is my go-to portable source. It sounds straight up great with the Encore.

Astell & Kern A&ultima SP1000: This is the clearest, cleanest possible combination in my stable of gear, but it does sound a little too neutral for my tastes. The addition of an amp definitely makes things a lot more exciting.

Portable Amplifiers
The addition of an amplifier makes things a lot more interesting. My 2 favourite are -

ALO Audio Continental Dual Mono: I use this mainly with the SP1000. It adds some body and warmth to an otherwise superbly clean and detailed presentation.

ALO Audio Rx Mk3-B+:
This amp is semi-permanently bonded with the AK380. It adds some power to the DAP, and its bass boost function lends a hand when required.
Alexdre119
Alexdre119
As a semi-basshead myself, I found that the extension and clarity of the bass in my Encores disposes them to play very well with bass boost.
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
Nice review!

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