Noble Audio Savant

General Information

Perhaps the most subjectively balanced in-ear monitor Dr. John has designed thus far, the Savant is a detail-oriented IEM with a solid low-end and clean highs. Savant is an expert at playing a large variety of genres well, making it a versatile addition to any collection or standalone piece.

Latest reviews

Takeanidea

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Dynamic sound even from a smartphone - fits well into my tiny ears - great details especially on voices - isolates well
Cons: Forward sounding signature will take some adjusting - no mic
My friend @Krisman is on a quest to find the perfect IEM. During this exhaustive search , he bought a beautiful pair of Noble Audio Savants.
Savantsbestpic.jpg
 
Recently we did a swap where I sent him my sennheiser IE800s and he kindly sent me these to try. I have had them for 2 months and it is high time I sent them back. Today is the last day I shall have with them so I have put them through their paces for one final time. And what a test it will prove to be.....
Comparisonnotips.jpg
 
Introduction
 
The Noble Audio Savants are Universal In Ear Monitors. The Noble website offers very little info on these , but does have some pretty gorgeous ones on offer for £599. The Savant has a detachable cable design with a Westone style 2 pin connector. There is a red and blue colour coding to show which driver goes in which ear. Memory wire helps to lock the ft into place. There is a clear plastic tube after the Y connector to pull the cables under the chin or up around the shoulders dependent on your preferred fit.The cable is a twisted braid style with no mic attachment. There is sheafing by the jack plug and the plug itself has a straight bottom and a rounded top. 
 
Build
 
Here is the bit where I talk about everything from looks to microphonics to isolation ; all the stuff that we need to know to see whether we headfiers can live with this for a long time to avoid the on sale items being even more clogged up.
Plenty of attention to detail has gone into these as one would expect from Noble. The finish on the ones Kris bought are exquisite.
Savantsshinyview.jpg
 The cable looks quite similar to many designs on the market costing quite a lot less than these. 
 
ScreenShot2016-11-20at13.12.41.png
 
Nevertheless they look great , are of a strong construction and complement the looks of the Savant nicely. There is a considerable amount of microphonics from the cable . The memory wire and plastic tube pretty much cancel this out. The cable stays tangle free. The driver shape even fits my relatively small ears . I would be surprised if anyone had a problem with these being too big. The fit protrudes out from the ears and there some shuffling around is needed. Once you've hit the sweet spot , you should be there for the entirety of your session. The nozzles are markedly angled. This is usual for In ears this high end of course. Not all are however ,  and each manufacturer seems to have variations in the angles they put in. Isolation is pretty good - should be tube or bus resistant but certainly they won't be tube proof. You will still hear road noise and rumbling noise if you take these out and about. Comfort is great - I had no issues wearing these for hours and hours , they fit well around the ears , there is nothing pressing where it shouldn't be and as light as the design is , the top of the ear supports what little there is. 
 
The sound quality comparison supertest
 
Cases.jpg
 
I have a few IEMs meself , not necessarily because I am in search of the perfect IEM. I just seem to love buying them and I can never get enough. Anyone else have this strange obsession? I have gone through most sensible layers of the market , from £10 to £600. These are the higher end of the price scale ; the big hitters. The 4 suspects above are from left to right  - Sony XBA4ip , Sennheiser IE800 , ACS ENcore Studio Pro and Noble Audio Savant IEMs. Another one was added at a later stage.
 
Casesopened.jpg
 
Showing the magic that lies therein and revealing very little about which one is the more costly ; the fighters take their towels off prior to flexing their muscles.
 
Comparisonshowingcables.jpg
 
Another late entrant - the oBravo erib 2a shown at the bottom amid a glorious mess of cables drivers and tips, the scales are reading a combined weight of a few thousand £s.....
 
Comparisonnotipscloser.jpg
 
Comparisonnotips.jpg
 
Comparisonshowingtipscloseup.jpg
 
Comparisonshowingtips.jpg
 
Lots to get through here but this is a Sunday . there's always time on a Sunday.....
 
Supertest Introduction
 
All IEMs tested work perfectly well through a smartphone. I plugged each into my Motorola Moto G4 and hot swapped as quickly as efficiency would allow. Each hot swap had a Noble Savant listen after it. After all , I own the other IEMs so the Savants deserved as much of a chance as they could get. I guessed that they were likely to be  at a disadvantage because they were the newcomers. All of my test music is available on YouTube. You will hear it exactly as I heard it by clicking on the videos supplied. They are all Vinyl recordings.Most are not exactly recent - I was in my 20s when most of these were made.  All the vinyl recordings have been prepared with great care , on great equipment. I am not saying that Vinyl is better than a CD but a click or 2 will give you an interesting experience whatever your opinion. The 2nd test was done using my Macbook Pro Retina and the Chord Mojo. Hot swapping was even even easier using this method as 2 IEMs can be plugged in at the same time. 
 
The Supertest gets underway
 
With many thanks to YouTube and all those who take the time to showcase some amazing kit my test takes very little time to set up. 
0.jpg
0.jpg
0.jpg
0.jpg
0.jpg
0.jpg

 
 
Yes,there is the odd crackle. One of the tracks is even recorded using an external mic. That one is perhaps the most interesting listen of them all. So here we have a mixture of Full Orchestra to Prog Rock to Disco. Plenty of genres to test bass mids highs soundstage  and detail.
 
Noble Audio Savant
 
The focus of my attention here. I have been listening to these for a number of hours by now. So , after this listening, this is what my ears can tell you about their Sound Signature. The Savants have a punchy forward sound. By this I mean that I feel when I listen to them that is sounds like someone has a Graphic Equaliser and has pushed the sliders in the middle ranges up a notch or 2. I find it quite hard to follow a vocal , to remember the words of a song. I put this down to recording techniques which are so sophisticated they flood the brain with so many different things happening at the same time. Forward mids therefore can be a godsend to me . The Noble Savants deliver a beautiful mid presentation and I find they are one of the easier headphones I have yet heard to follow a vocal track on. Particularly on the Chord Mojo , where there was more refinement present than through my Smartphone, the mids were not fatiguing. Extended serious listening through my smartphone - yes , the Savants just became too much after a while. But whilst commuting , this trait was not present . The Savants were able to push themselves to the forefront and made a long trip seem much shorter. There was a midbass warmth , even on Classical tracks and this is something I love too. I like a sound signature that has a nice soft glow to it. There was little visceral kick in the bass , but I found the low end was linear enough to suit my tastes. The high end resolution of the Savants was only very slightly rolled off in my opinion. There was a feeling, less so with the Mojo , that the soundstage was being artificially stretched if felt like the Savants were a little lacking in the high end. This was my first proper evaluation of the Noble Audio Brand. I was extremely impressed. I tell you  - the first time I put them on , I had one of those moments. My jaw dropped , I could not believe how good they sounded from my Moto G4! I'm sure you are all aware by now that first impressions must be judged against the test of time - which is why the Supertest may find flaws I overlooked due to new toy syndrome. I have had some of my other IEMs for over 3 years. The fact they haven't been on Ebay or Headfi for sale forums testifies that I rate them highly. Could the Savants prove themselves amongst my favourites? 
 
Vs Sony XBA4ip
 
The XBA4ip has a lot going for it. I got it for a bargain. It has 4 drivers. It has a tangle free free cable. It has the best phone mic of any of my IEMs. Six months ago I found out how to get the drivers to stay in my ears using a simple soft plastic wing and a hollow silicon tip. They are now performing at their best. Before this I thought they were a pretty good match for almost any Universal I had heard up to then. The Sony's excel in their linearity ; they feel like they're trying to accurately portray the music rather than putting their own stamp on it. 
Sonybarrelvsavant.jpgSonydriverangle.jpgSonynozzle.jpg
 
 
 
SonyvSavant.jpg
Hot swapping with the Savants revealed a steely sound to the Sony's. The signature felt a little too crisp and slightly hollow sounding in the mids. The highs on the Sony's are more prominent than the Noble's. The soundstage on the XBA4 was larger but not by a huge margin. The punch on the bass of the Sony's was certainly faster than the Savant. My IEM of choice here for sound quality would be the Savant's , by a large margin. Such a pity that they don't have a mic cable , and now I've got them working properly , the XBA4ips are on and in perfect position in a couple of seconds. 
 
Vs. oBravo Erib 2a
 
The subject of a previous rave review , I still love these. I've had them for 7 months now. My ears pick up on a juicier midbass than I first noticed and perhaps the light airiness I mentioned in my review after so many 100 hours , I might be tempted to change to a slight hollow edge to the mids and uppers range. The treble is a planar magnetic driver. The upper reaches are well catered for in the oBravos , much detail is evident , a bigger soundstage and a more live feel to the music than the Noble Savant has. Overall , perhaps the oBravos might be described as slightly more fatiguing than the Savants. Given the price is £20 less than the Savants currently on offer at Noble's website , the addition of the midbass , the superior soundstage and detail and the mic cable which has no microphonics present - I still prefer my oBravos to the Nobles. 
Eribdriverangle.jpgEribnozzlesize.jpgEribsidevsavant.jpg
 
 
 
EribtopvSavant.jpgSavantsvErib.jpg
 
Vs. Sennheiser IE800
 
I reviewed these at length before sending them off for @Krisman to have a listen to . The Sennheiser had too many fit issues for Kris to seek out a pair for himself , but I think he was pretty pleased with how they sounded. I'm unsure as to how many drivers the Noble Audio Savants have - possibly 2? ; the Sony's have 4 Balanced armature driver and the oBravos are a dual driver hybrid design. The Sennheiser has one driver. It is described as an Extra Wide Band Transducer Driver. The IE800s are by far the tiniest IEMs of 5 on test here. They are also the heaviest.... The signature of the IE800 is a rich detailed one which extends far enough into the highs to give an impression of a wider soundstage than any of the others herein. They have a really stiff kevlar cable which is too short and too heavy and has no mic on it. The tips can't be replaced by any other design - there is a patented twist lock fit to the Senns , so don't lose them . A replacement set will set you back £40. Having tried custom earsleeves for them , complys , everything! the best sound I have heard is always from those annoying twist fit tips. For as long as they stay in my ears that is....
The Noble's do not have the bass impact of the IE800s. The detail in the mids is superior from the Savants but there is simply more polish finesse and more happening in the mix with the IE800s. There is no fatigue with the Sennheisers , yet they reach further into the frequency range than even the oBravos. The Noble Savants are a class act of that I have no doubt. The IE800s are in a class above the Savants in their sound quality. They , for Universal IEMs , in my opinion , are World Class.
IE800driverangle.jpg
 
Vs. ACS Encore Pro Studio Custom IEM
 
Universals at the price level of the Savants will come up against low to mid tier priced Customs as competition. A Custom In Ear Monitor has an exact fit , giving amazing isolation and comfort and probably needing much less volume level to drive them. ACS makes 3 Customs - the single driver Evoke, the 3 driver Evolve and my Encore which is a 5 driver 3 way crossover monitor. The signature of the Encore has a bass which hits hard, lots of detail and slightly rolled in the highs, producing an intimate soundstage. 
The price of the Encore's currently £749 is a little high compared to the Savants. In my opinion if you are prepared to go through an ear impression and the wait for a pair to be custom built to your preference - the Encore's are worth all that extra hassle and that extra money too. The Encore's hit harder , have plenty of detail and put many a full size headphone to shame. The only IEM I own that can compete with these is the IE800. They absolutely wipe the floor with the IE800s in the bass detail and impact. 
ACSnozzlecomparison.jpgEribACSSavnts.jpg
 
Conclusion
 
I think we can now rank these 5 for the following
 
Bass
 
1 ACS Encore - lots of impact
2 Sennheiser IE800 - lots of midbass warmth
3 Noble Audio Savant - decent midbass warmth
4 oBravo Erib 2a - slightly artificial sounding midbass warmth
5 Sony XBA4ip - linear sounding bass some might feel is bass light
 
Mids
1 Savant - voices are so much easier to follow
2 IE800 - silky detailed 
3 ACS Encore - enough space to easily pick out the electric from the acoustic
4 Erib - slightly hollow but nicely prominent
5 XBA4ip - accurate but a slight steely sound 
 
Highs/Soundstage
1 IE800 - the undisputed King here
2 Erib - Planar driver technology - it works
3 Encore - slightly rolled off but lots can be heard up there
4 Savant - not as fatiguing as the Sony
5 Sony - slightly fatiguing compared to the best 
 
Practicality-(Build,Price,Versitality)
1 Sony XBA4ip - cheapest,mic cable,tangle free,easiest fit
2 Encore - custom build quality
3 Erib - detachable mic cable ,easy fit
4 Savant - beautiful, snug fit
5 IE800 - they look nice at least
 
The lowest points win - 
9 ACS Encore Studio Pro Custom
10 Sennheiser IE800
12 Noble Audio Savant
13 oBravo Erib 2a
16 Sony XBA4ip
 
I am very thankful to @Krisman for his loan and I hope we can both bring you more reviews from our IEMs in the future. I enjoyed the Savants very much and although the initial wow factor has been somewhat watered down by the giants in this supertest, I'd recommend them to someone looking for a special looking pair of IEMs who really seeks out a vocal (Sade, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, Sting etc). These could be right up your street
Hawaiibadboy
Hawaiibadboy
Very nice review. like the style! Good track selections too.
Krisman
Krisman
Excellent review Trev! :)
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
Thanks very much guys. It's a labour of love! I think it looks like the Savants have been replaced already and they're just selling the remaining drivers albeit in some really amazing finishes. Things move so fast with most of these companies don't they?

pkcpga

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Details, balance sound, great vocals.
Cons: A little less punch in the bass, bass can be too quick or abrupt.
I am by no means an audiophile just someone that apreciates music. I'm newer to IEM's and have never found one that's just perfect for me yet, but have many headphones I love. The Noble savant's come pretty close, if they were able to gain a little sub bass and not roll off the bass as much, they'd be pretty much perfect. The vocals are clear and transparent and highs are present with detail without becoming overly bright. Overall the savant's are very easy to listen to for long periods with many different music styles, maybe with the exception of anything that is very bass heavy since the savant's are not great with sub bass or extended bass. If I'm in the mood for more bass I use my sennheiser ie80. The savant's have much more refined sound than the ie80's with a more forward, detailed and clear vocals. I'm using my headphones with a grado amp and grado adaptor. For my sound preference my favorite headphone is grado gs1000 with my sennheiser hd800 coming In right behind.
The Noble savant's fit very well and are very light in weight compared to the sennheiser ie80 and shure 535. The tips that came with the savant's I found to be unusable, the silicone tips were too soft and not rigid enough to stay in my ear. The supplied foam were either very small sized one or a very large sized one, seems to be missing the medium size. I found the comply foam tips worked best.
The Noble savant's I ordered were the wizard edition and they were very nicely made with an interesting plate on them. I ordered the Wizards mostly because they were in stock over the aluminum ones, but once I received them I was happy I did, they are incrediblely light weight and their shape is very comfortable. Also stays in place well with a proper fitting tip, this makes for my first IEM that I can listen to for an extended period of time without any ear pain. After having these I'm not sure why Noble would switch to a metal exterior unles it's a cost savings, I can't imagine they are nearly as light or comfortable after trying other metal IEM's.
I'm planning on trying out some other cables in the future to hopefully gain a little bass without losing their great details and vocals, any suggestions?

Update pairs better with my dragonfly than my grado amp, better bass and slightly less bright.
LikeABell
LikeABell
Rather than spend hundreds of dollars on cables, I would suggest trying different tips to alter the sound.

Thanh Nguyen

New Head-Fier
Can't find another in-ear better than Savant in this price range.
flinkenick
flinkenick
Very informative, especially the argumentation and comparisons with other iems that led you to this conclusion. Looks like you spent a great deal of effort in coming up with a well thought out and unbiased review.
jrfmd
jrfmd
+1
d marc0
d marc0
That's a very bold statement to make, I hope it's a fact that you don't have much access to other IEMs. Don't get me wrong, I like the Savant too.

Comments

There are no comments to display.
Top