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Noble Audio Savant

Rating:
4.30769/5,
  1. Brooko
    Noble Savant - Detailed, Vivid, Refined
    Written by Brooko
    Published Aug 3, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality, superbly detailed and vivid SQ, frequency balance, comfort, good isolation, replaceable cable, accessory package
    Cons - Cable can be microphonic, subdued and rolled off sub bass
    savant29.jpg
    For larger views of any of the photos (1200 x 800) - please click on the individual images

    INTRODUCTION

    I’ve been lucky on my Head-Fi journey to meet and converse with some wonderful people who share my passion for the hobby. Among this group is a chap you all know as d marc0, and recently he asked me if I’d like to participate in a tour involving the new Noble Savant – a universal multi-BA IEM which Noble has released recently. Having never heard any of Noble’s offerings, but knowing that they have a wonderful rep on the forums for their customs (especially the TOTL K10), I immediately said yes, and have been looking forward to their arrival. So 10 days ago, I received the Savants, and since then I’ve been putting them through their paces as much as I’ve been able to.

    For those who don’t know anything about Noble, I PM’d Dr. John Moulton, and he graciously supplied me with a little bit of information, which I’d like to share with you. John (AKA Wizard) is a qualified Audiologist, and originally practiced in the US for several years (also owning his own hearing aid company). He then moved to Thailand (working for another hearing aid company), and while he was there, he further honed his skills, and learnt all he could about CIEMs, circuitry etc, and began building rapport with suppliers. He also built a product line, wrote some website content, and essentially had all but established a new company ready to start. At that stage he met Brannan Mason, and the two became friends.

    After launching a CIEM company, Brannan joined with John and help to distribute products and also assisted in sourcing supplies. After about two years it became apparent to John that he needed to strike out on his own, and so he and Brannan formed Noble. In a relatively short time, they have built a formidable product line which is recognised throughout the audio community as having very high quality sound, and (in the custom line) incredibly unique and striking designs.

    Their latest release is the Noble Savant, and this is the universal model I will be reviewing. The model I have is the entry level Savant Universal, priced at USD 599.00.

    DISCLAIMER

    I was provided the Noble Savant as part of a mini-tour organised by d Marc0. I’ve now had the Savant for approximately 10 days, and I’d estimate I’ve probably spent around 40 hours listening time with the Savant before I started writing this review.

    I am not associated with Noble in any way, I am receiving no form of compensation for this review, and this is my subjective opinion of the Noble Savant. At the conclusion of the review, they will be sent to the next person on the tour.

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

    I'm a 48 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (Fiio X5ii, X3ii, LP5 and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5ii/X3ii > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs - and at the moment it has mainly been with the Dunu DN-2000J, Trinity Delta, and Dunu Titan. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.

    I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).

    I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 48, my hearing is less than perfect.

    Over the time I’ve had them – I’ve used the Noble Savant from a variety of sources, but for this review, I’ve mainly used it with the iDSD (home), and straight from the headphone-out socket of my Fiio X5ii and also my iPhone 5S. Although I have tested them with an amplifier (E17K, E11K, and of course the iDSD), I do not think they benefit from additional amplification (at least I have noticed no remarkable improvements). In the time I have spent with the Savant, I have noticed no change in the overall sonic presentation – but I have noticed my own impression of them change (brain burn in).

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

    THE REVIEW

    Point to ponder ….. why “Savant”? The literal meaning is ‘learned, scholarly, wise’. Perhaps it could also be extrapolated to refined and cultured?

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES

    The Nobel Savant arrived in a plain outer box, simply printed with the word Noble and the Noble logo printed centrally on the top cover, and the model and serial number (216) in the top left. Opening the outer box revealed John’s “Wizard” signature on the inside front panel, and the Noble printed sleeve (which reminds me very much of the HD600’s marbling), over a simple but rugged Pelican case. Also included in the box are two Noble logo stickers.

    savant01.jpg savant02.jpg savant03.jpg

    Outer Noble box

    Inner sleeve

    Inner sleeve and stickers


    Opening the Pelican case reveals the Savant, and accessories, all nicely packaged in clear snap lock bags, and also two Noble branded bands (for either securing your case, or could be used strapping n amplifier to your DAP of choice).

    The case itself is beautifully lined with soft foam inside – perfect for transport. But at 135 x 95 x 40mm, it’s not exactly pocket friendly. Whilst I have many of my own portable carrying cases, I do think it is one area which Noble missed – a smaller portable carry case (even if it was just a soft leather zip case) for day to day carrying. Something to think about for the future perhaps?

    savant04.jpg savant05.jpg savant07.jpg

    The Noble pelican case

    Bursting with accessories

    Full accessory range



    EDIT : I see other review samples include a soft drawstring pouch – so looks like Noble have already solved this one J. There was unfortunately no pouch with this tour unit.

    The rest of the accessories are generous and include:

    1. Two Noble stickers
    2. Two Noble black bands
    3. A very nice Noble ownership card
    4. A cleaning brush
    5. 3 sets (L, M, S) foam tips
    6. 3 sets (L, M, S) dual flange tips
    7. 3 sets (L, M, S) silicone hybrid tips
    8. 3 sets (L, M, S) silicone hybrid tips (different style / bore)

    savant08.jpg savant09.jpg savant10.jpg

    The Noble registration/info card

    Generous tip selection

    Tips in profile



    Perhaps the only other thing I would have included would be a 3.5-6.3mm adaptor, and maybe an airline adaptor as well. I know on my recent trip around the world, the airline adaptor I had was invaluable.

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    (From website + information from John)

    Type
    Multi BA Universal Fit Inner Ear Monitor
    Drivers
    Multi BA – number unknown
    Frequency Range
    Not stated
    Impedance
    < 30 ohm
    Sensitivity
    Not stated
    Jack
    3.5mm gold plated, straight jack
    Cable
    1.25m twisted pair spc tinsel cable
    Weight
    Approx 15g (including tips and cable)
    IEM Shell
    ABS moulded plastic
    Passive isolation
    Not stated – but very good


    I did ask John directly about the number of drivers, but whilst he was happy to disclose that the drivers are indeed BA, he was not forthcoming with the number / configuration. It makes a good mystery / talking point. My personal thoughts on this are in the final summary.

    FREQUENCY GRAPH

    I asked John about graphs for the Savant, and it is Noble’s policy not to disclose, or comment on any graphs. As part of my reviewing, I like to get as much objective data as I can, so I used my trusty calibrated SPL meter, and a series of fixed test tones, to plot out a rough frequency graph so I could relate what I’m hearing to the graph, and also do the same when making comparisons to other IEMs (later in the review).

    EDIT : 6 Sept
    I've removed the original measurements and graphs. I was never happy with them, as they did not match what I was hearing. The sub-bass is a bit rolled off, but not to the extent of my original measurements, and I suspect my coupler was faulty. The new measurements were taken with the Veritas system. I took 2 series of 5 measurements (through the ARTA software). New graph is below.

    savant.png

    What I’m subjectively hearing is an extremely clear and vivid mid-range, with good rendering of detail, and relatively subdued low end with a bit of roll-off in the sub-bass. The mid-range has the most focus, but (for me anyway) there is enough mid-bass to feel that the overall signature lacks very little (only really the very low bass is subdued). People who enjoy a bassier signature may not likely feel fulfilled with the Savant.

    BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN / MICROPHONICS

    The overall build quality of the Savant is excellent. John and his team at Noble really know what they’re doing with their IEM shells.

    The Savant shell is moulded from two pieces of ABS plastic, the main body, and a rear face plate. The two pieces are joined by rose gold miniature screws. The entire unit is very smooth, with no rough edges, and the only visible seam is between the main body and rear plate. As this is a multi-BA IEM, there is no sign of porting (not required).

    savant14.jpg savant15.jpg savant16.jpg

    The Noble Savant shell

    Backplate

    Side shot showing seam and nozzle lip



    The body measures 21mm in length and 16mm wide at its maximum points. The body is approximately 11mm deep. The nozzle protrudes approximately 7-8mm from the main body, and has dual bores. All of these measured elements flow into one another for a seamless design, which looks, and is, both super comfortable, and very sturdy.

    The cable connectors are a standard dual pin, and very tight fitting. They require some effort to remove, so I doubt any owners will have issues with loose cables any time soon.

    savant17.jpg savant18.jpg savant20.jpg

    The Wizard signature

    Beautiful moulding makes fitting a breeze

    The standard 2 pin connector



    The cable itself is approximately 1.25m long (from jack relief to moulded ear wire), is a twisted pair, and according to John consists of SPC tinsel with a proprietary sheathing material. It has a tested pull strength of 150lb, and like the rest of the Savant, is both robust and practical. The cable is very flexible, has no memory (except at the formable earhooks), and most people will really love it. At the IEM junction (from the 2 pin plug), there is a 4cm length of mouldable wire which can be shaped as an earhook. This is both a brilliant length, and very sturdy. The Y split is a simple affair – just a piece of clear shrunk plastic. Above it is another clear plastic tube – which slides to become a neck cinch. This works surprisingly well – simple and practical. The jack is straight, quite small, 3.5mm gold plated, and has good strain relief.

    savant11.jpg savant12.jpg savant13.jpg

    The cable is very strong and flexible

    3.5mm straight jack

    Y split and chin cinch



    Overall, both the build and design is wonderful ……. except for two very small issues I have with the cable. My first is microphonics – the cable has quite a lot. They disappear to an acceptable level when the cinch is used and the cable is tucked inside clothing – but it’s there and it’s noticeable (depending on the clothing I’m wearing). If you’re wearing ribbed clothing or zips, the microphonics can become audible. The second issue is with the mouldable ear hooks. I wear glasses, and there is audible transmission of noise whenever the glasses come into contact with the outer covering of the hooks. Both issues can be minimised, and at least if I was buying the Savant, I could easily swap the default cable out to something with a slightly more clothing/glasses friendly outer sheath.

    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

    For my physiology, the actual shell of the Savant is perfect. It exactly fits my ears, and the outer face plate (once fitted) does not protrude at all past my outer ear. The Savant is probably one of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve ever worn, and they simply disappear once I have the fit adjusted completely. I have no issues with sleeping, or lying on my side with them.

    savant21.jpg savant22.jpg savant23.jpg

    Dual flange tips

    Spinfits

    Spiral Dots



    As I’ve said many times in my other reviews, I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't fit overly well. I have a selection of tips I try with every earphone I test, and rarely do I find an earphone where I get perfect sealing with most silicone tips – until now. Again, I’m not sure if it is the design perfectly meshing with my personal physiology – but I was able to get dual flange, single flange, Spinfits, SpiralDots, and even Ostry black and blue tips all fitting perfectly. I had no Comply 500s – but I had some 400S sports tips, and was able to (eventually) jam them on – and they ultimately were my preference – but this would be the first time so many tips have fit naturally with my ears and given me such a good seal (and amazing comfort). The only tips that refused to fit were my Sony Isolation tips (wouldn’t fit the nozzle).

    savant24.jpg savant25.jpg savant27.jpg

    Ostry Blues

    My Favourite - Comply "S"

    Tip fit is seamless, and nozzle angle perfect for me



    Isolation is really good, and I’d have no issues at all using these on a flight. The universal fit for me would be very close (or perhaps better) than the Shure SE series. Quite an achievement. There was also no issue for me with excessive vacuum or pressure.

    SOUND QUALITY

    The following is what I hear from the Noble Savant. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my Fiio X5ii as source, and Comply S400 tips.

    Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.

    Thoughts on Default Signature
    I fell in love with default signature of the Savant from first listen – it’s almost like it was designed for my particular tastes. The mid-range is very clear, very clean (and quick), and very vivid. In many ways it reminds me of my old B2, or maybe even a more vivid Shure SE425, but with a far better tuned upper end. With both of those earphones, the mid-range was exquisite, but the bass rolled off early, and that is kind of what I’m hearing a bit with the Savant.

    Saying that though, the bass that is there is clear, fast, and doesn’t feel excessively weak, or anaemic to me. There is enough mid-bass thump to be interesting, but the lower bass rumble is definitely toned down.

    Overall Detail / Clarity
    As usual, I started with my standard go-to tracks (“Gaucho” and “Sultans of Swing”), and the immediate impression with both tracks is one of clarity, very good instrument separation, and good portrayal of underlying detail. The bass guitar is there in the background, and seems nicely balanced with the vocals and other instruments. Cymbals are coming through clearly with nice shimmer and decay. Saxophone is gorgeously vivid on Gaucho, and Knopfler’s lead guitar in Sultans has impressive crunch. There is nothing I would change with either track – just a very enjoyable and vivid listening experience.

    Sound-stage & Imaging
    The Noble Savant (to me) don’t have a huge width or depth of stage – even with the binaural track “Tundra” – but then again most IEM’s struggle to get out of head. The Savant do go slightly out of head (a feat in itself), but where they excel is in the extremely precise imaging, and to me this is often far more important. The staging with this track is definitely circumaural and, because it’s not too expansive, is utterly believable.

    McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” is up next, and the Savants are wonderful with this track. Stage size is once again intimate – Loreena is quite close, but the piano and cello are both playing a little further back. Again more importantly the overall imaging is again stunning – I can picture where everything is playing. The overall tonality is also very good, and I’m loving the way Loreena’s vocals are presented by the Savant. The applause at the end of this track can sometime involve the listener when the earphones manage to convey a connection via soundstaging and imaging (it’s why I use this track so much). With the Savant, I’m not right there in the crowd, but the applause is believable and the track overall was immensely enjoyable.

    My last test was with Amanda Marshall’s “Let It Rain” and this presentation is brilliantly vivid with the Savant. This track does tend to be slightly holographic in overall presentation, and the Savant did capture this rather well – an intimate overall presentation, but flowing around me. Once again – the vocals were sublime.

    Bass Quality and Quantity
    Already, before I’d started critical listening, one of my questions was going to be how low the Savant could go with more bass focussed tracks. So my first test was Mark Lanegan’s “Bleeding Muddy Waters”. It is a track that exposes any sign of muddiness or bass bleed very quickly. The bass response of the Savant was really good on overall quality – quick, and accurate. Mark’s vocals had great clarity, and decent texture, but some of the visceral slam I usually get with this track was missing. It was still enjoyable, but I know how it should sound – and the Savant wasn't quite able to portray everything I know is there in the track.

    Next up was my sub-bass test, so I switched to Lorde’s “Royals”. This time it was more noticeable – the sub-bass was barely there, and on this track, it should be rumbling. There is some mid-bass thump, and again Ella’s vocal presentation is gorgeous. But most lovers of this type of music will be looking for the low bass, and the Savant is not delivering.

    I also tried some Trance with AVB, and also Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”. Both had very vivid and clear vocal presentations, and to be fair to the Savant, the mid-bass has enough thump to be very enjoyable, but there is no doubt that there is some low end missing. Bass lovers may not be fully satisfied with the Savant.

    Female Vocals
    Anyone who follows my reviews will know that around 60-65% of my music is made up of female artists. So the presentation of female vocals is very important to me. The Savant had struggled a little with bass presentation, but everything I’d heard so far indicated it was going to excel with female vocalists. This was part of the critical review I had been looking forward to.

    My first test is always Agnes Obel’s “Aventine” which tends to expose if the upper mid-range is too laid back, or again if overly forward. With the Savant, Obel’s vocal presentation was magical, gorgeous, everything I could want in an IEM. Very smooth, very euphonic – my only qualm would be that when the cello kicks in, it’s just a little soft (doesn’t have the depth I know is there).

    London Grammar was next and I could have listened to the whole album track after track. Hannah’s voice was clear, clean, and wonderfully balanced. In fact flicking from track to track, every single female artist was utterly brilliantly portrayed with the Savant. For my personal tastes, I haven’t heard a better IEM (to date) with female vocalists (ie vocal presentation only). Even Feist and FaTM had enough mid-bass impact to maintain dynamics, but both could have used just a little more oomph in the low end.

    Gabriella Cilmi’s “Safer” gave me the usual goose-bumps, Norah was stunning (another one I could have listened to for hours), and as I stated earlier, the Savant just kept hitting home runs with all my female vocalists, track after track.

    Male Vocals
    I next switched to Rock music – mainly to test male vocals. For the most part I found the Savant very enjoyable. Yes, some of the bass impact was a little polite (but that’s what EQ is for right?). The clarity through the mid-range continued to be hugely enjoyable. Guitars had crunch. Micro details were there in all of their glory. Acoustic music in particular shone – and especially some of my classic rock (Hotel California was sublime). But at the other end of the spectrum, vocal centric rock ballads were also brilliant with the Savant – especially Alter Bridge’s “Broken Wings”, and Seether’s acoustic cover of Pearl Jam’s “Immortality”.

    My litmus test (as always though) is Pearl Jam. Amazing detail, good texture in Eddie’s voice, but possibly didn’t have the overall depth in his vocal range. I guess you can’t have everything when female vocals are handled so well. Still a good presentation – just not the best I’ve heard.

    Genre Specific Notes
    My next task was to put the Savant though some other genre options.

    First up was a little Alt Rock, starting with Floyd’s classic “Money”, and continuing through to Porcupine Tree’s “Trains”. Both were really good, amazingly so. One of the things my own particular Alt. Rock preferences require is absolute clarity for the sheer variety and number of transitions with different instruments. Both tracks had plenty of dynamics, and the Savant made both tracks a joy to listen to. Wilsons voice in particular seemed to fit with the Savant really well.

    For Jazz and Blues, once again the clarity and imaging was a potent combination. Portico Quartet’s “Ruins” was ethereal, and in particular the presentation of cymbals and sax was captivating. I also switched to “Steepless”, and Cornelias vocals in combination with PQ’s Jazz Fusion style was simply magic. Miles was toe tappingly engaging, and “So What” had me closing my eyes with a smile on my face.

    Moving to Blues and for the first time I found the Savant a little too hot. I tried Beth Hart’s “Live at Paradiso” album (it’s recorded overly hot anyway), and the Savants just proved to be a little too detailed with this particular recording. So word of caution if you have overly bright recordings – the Savant can deliver quite brutally. Switching to Bonamassa though (his combination of vocals and guitar) was once again sublime. His live performances with the Savant could easily have had me forgetting the review and just listening to track after track.

    Bass heavier music like Rap, Trance and EDM were once again where the Savant just never really exceled like it did with acoustic and vocal centred music. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was in a word anaemic, and although Little Dragon was still catchy and enjoyable, clearly some of what makes it so dynamic was missing.

    Pop and Indie were both really good – Adele was stunning, and even Coldplay was quite engaging. Likewise, my Indie tracks – being largely vocal centric – shone with the Savant. In particular Ayla Nereo’s voice soared with Wildlight’s “Dawn to Flight” – smooth and dreamy, but again it was just missing a tiny bit of lower bass that would have made the track perfect.

    The last stop for me was Classical, and here the Savant shone again for the most part (at least for my tastes). In particular string ensembles (either quartets, or full orchestra) were uplifting and mesmerising. Where the Savant struggled a little (again just IMO) was with solo piano and solo cello. There just wasn’t the depth of timbre and low tones. Kempffs rendition of Beethoven’s Sonatas and Zoe Keating’s performance with cello were both good, but strangely missing something. On the other hand, Netrebko & Garanca’s duet from Lakme was breath taking – just sheer vocal harmony and brilliance.

    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

    The Noble Savant was easily powered straight out of the portable devices I have, and I haven’t experienced any issues with the iPhone 5S, or any of the Fiio Daps. With “Sultans of Swing” on the iPhone 5S I’m using around 1/3 volume. With Fiio X5ii on low gain, using the same track I’m comfortable at 30/120. I did try amping with the E17K, but noticed no obvious signs of sonic improvement.

    EQUALISATION

    As you may have picked up, for my own personal tastes, I would usually prefer just a little more sub-bass. So with the Fiio X5ii I raised the sub bass sliders and replayed Lorde’s “Royals”. While it was possible to elevate the sub-bass a little, I couldn’t quite achieve the definition of sub-bass I’m used to with some of my triple hybrids. So while the Savant responded well to EQ, it’s not going to turn these into sub-bass monsters. But it was very easy to increase the bass impact overall – and for tracks needing just a little more dynamic bass response, the Savant did actually respond pretty well.

    I didn’t touch any of the other frequencies though, simply because the Savant mid-range is (to me) as close to perfection as I have heard.

    COMPARISONS (subjective)

    I thought the most interesting comparisons I could make for anyone reading this review would be to put the Savant up against my favourite multi driver hybrids. So using my X5ii I engaged a splitter and attenuator, then with an SPL meter, matched each pair of IEMs (using fixed tones) to within 0.2 dB. In each case, the Savant at $599 is up against far cheaper options – but this might be valuable for someone looking to take a step up.

    savant26.jpg


    Noble Savant $599 vs Trinity Delta $140
    Both have very good build quality throughout – with the Savant being slightly more robust overall. I actually prefer the Delta’s cable, but the Savant’s body shape. The Savant has far better isolation. Sonically the Savant is clearer, and slightly more vivid. Comparatively the Delta has much more bass impact, but it feels slightly boomy, and is not as fast as the more nimble Savant. The Delta is smoother overall, and whilst the Savant is more vivid and euphonic, it is also a little more thin through the lower mid-range.


    Noble Savant $599 vs Altone 200 $185
    The Savant takes top marks on build quality, and overall fit, although the Altone 200s are also very comfortable. Both have very euphonic and vivid mid-ranges, but the Altone200 does not have quite as much balance or body in the mid-range, and has more bass impact – particularly sub-bass. Both are quite quick. The Savant overall sounds richer and has better balance.

    Noble Savant $599 vs Fidue A83 $270
    Both have very good build quality – but again the Savant has that superior robustness. The Savant also fit better and more easily than the Fidue. The first thing I noticed with the A83 was that compared to the Savant it is noticeably V shaped. Both are very vivid in vocal presentation, but the Savant is quicker, cleaner, and more refined. The A83 is slightly thinner / etched with female vocals, and overall the Savant sounds far more natural.

    Noble Savant $599 vs Dunu DN-2000J $330
    Again – both have very good build quality, and although the Savant would probably be once again more robust, I have no issues with either for overall build. Once again I prefer the DUNU cable (it has virtually no microphonics) over the stock Noble cable. The Savant is more comfortable and easier to fit. Both have a very similar mid-range, with the Savant being ever slightly more vibrant and euphonic with my female vocalists, but the DUNU not far behind, and in contrast the DN-2000J seems slightly better with male vocals. The DUNU has far better bass – in impact, extension, speed and definition. Both have impressive clarity. There is more similar with the two mid-ranges than different, with the biggest contrast being the bass, and the 2000J being slightly brighter.

    Overall – in all of the comparisons, on complete package (build, fit, and sonics) – but disregarding value, the Savant would be my preference over all of my hybrids except the DN-2000J.

    VALUE (subjective)
    The Noble Savant has an RRP of $599 and for what it brings to the table in terms of overall package, and especially the mid-range tuning, I don’t regard the asking price as being excessive. When I first heard the Savant, and marvelled at its glorious mid-range, I know that in the back of my mind I was pondering what I could sell in order to purchase a pair. Fortunately after critical listening and comparison I may have tempered my initial reaction a little (especially after comparison with the 2000J). However the Savant is a superbly built and sonically brilliant IEM, and I do feel it is worth its asking price.

    NOBLE SAVANT – SUMMARY

    Well my 10 days with the Savant are now up, and I’d like to profusely thank John, Brannan, and d Marc0 for giving me the opportunity to put them through their paces. It has been an absolute privilege to spend time with them.
    The Noble Savant is an extremely well built and designed IEM with a vivid and compelling mid-range – which IMO is one of the best I’ve heard with female vocals. It is very detailed, very clear, and images superbly. Its sonic weakness is in bass extension – but there is enough mid-bass impact to counter this to a certain extent.

    The Savant is a joy to fit, and isolates superbly – and the one personal negative I have is with the cable (microphonics) – but this is simply a matter of swapping an alternate cable out – so not a major issue.

    On the value stakes, the Savant, while not cheap, does justify its price IMO as an overall package.

    I mentioned above that I would comment on the drivers – and this is just my guess. The speed and vividness of the mid-range reminds me very much of a far better tuned Fischer DBA2. The lack of overall bass extension, and subsequent roll-off also points to having no dedicated bass driver – so my guess for configuration would be a dual BA set-up. I guess time will tell how close I am.

    Finally, I will add that John’s “Wizard” nickname is well given. The driver tuning on the Savant is truly exquisite. I wish I could keep these.


    savant28.jpg
      svetlyo, natto, justjag and 11 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. WhatToChoose
      Very comprehensive review, as usual! I did find a few points intriguing, however.
       
      I noticed that you mentioned that the cable is microphonic, and the IEMs are easy to sleep in. Now, I do not know if the Savant dimensions equal those of the Noble 3 classic (which I own), but on those, there are absolutely 0 microphonics below the cable cinch (and barely any above), and I have no problem wearing them with glasses in terms of noise.
       
      However, I cannot sleep in these because they are quite wide. Don't get me wrong though, they are exceptionally comfortable, but I cannot lay on my side with them.
       
      Any ideas? Especially about the microphonics, since the design that I have used has none.
      WhatToChoose, Sep 19, 2015
    3. Brooko
      It's possibly the way we wear them - could be the different materials in our glasses - and also the clothes we were wearing at the time..  But for me the microphonics were there.  Cinch the IEMs down, and tuck the cable under clothing and they pretty much disappeared.  As far as sleeping goes - that'll be down to physiology.  I'm a big unit (just on 6ft) relatively large ears.  The don't extend past my outer ear.  No issues with sleeping.
      Brooko, Sep 19, 2015
    4. groovyd
      you nailed the driver count
      groovyd, Sep 19, 2015
  2. tl13m
    Good sound but poor build
    Written by tl13m
    Published Jul 9, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Clarity, balance sound, nice highs, comfort
    Cons - Poor build for the price tag
    Preface:
    I'm not a native english speaker, please do forgive my bad english [​IMG]
     
    My Savant is an universal fit version, not a master piece CIEM version.
     
    Packaging and Accessories:
     
    This is my package with "box" serial no. 107 or 207. I'm just realy dont understand why they give the box sn instead engrave it on the housing???
     
    The pouch was missed in my package (in Cotnijoe review, he report missing tips and cleaning tool). I'm not using it anyway so not important to me.
     
    NobleSavant01.jpg
     
     
    Build, Design, and Comfort:
     
    - The design and comfort are excellent, it's very light and fit me very well, I can wear it all day long (with glasses). Very good isolation (the L red tip give good seal, however the M and S got leak. BUT the M JVC spiral fit perfectly)
     
    - The build quality is the biggest disappoinment of the Savant for $599 price tag:
     
       + Housing: it look like a $5 head phone with cheap plastic. It has a slight chip/crack on each housing, i thought my unit got damage during the assembling process so I return it to the shop. The seller show me another pair, but they all got the same problem.
     
    NobleSavant02.jpg
     
     + The Wizard signature make it look more bad. If I dont know it have the signature from website, I might think the seller give me a second hand iem with heavy scratch on it [​IMG]
    NobleSavant03.jpg
     
      + The cable wire is nice, very flexible. However, both end connection and Y split look very cheap compare to other iem (Eg. Brainwavz B2)
     
    Listening Impressions & comparison:
     
    The savant is fit my sound preference: bright, clear, quality bass, extend high. I'm enjoy "see" through the music.
     
    - Brainwavz B2 ($150 - $200; 2 BA, plastic housing): the Savant easily smoke B2 in terms of clarity, bass and space.
     
    - Sony H3 ($300 - $400, 1 Dynamic + 2 BA, plastic housing): my H3 have Fiio silver cable upgrade, it improve alot from stock cable (I got Dunu  2000 before, after H3 cable upgrade, i sold 2000). The Savant win H3 on clarity and extend high, H3 win on bass department.
     
    - JVC FX 850 ($400, 1 Dynamic, Wood housing): Savant win on clarity and extend high, Bass: 850 > H3 > Savant. The fit of Savant look less geek than H3 and 850 [​IMG]
     
    - Primo 8 ($500, 4 BA, plastic housing): my Primo 8 have double tips mod (stock tip combine with JVC Spiral), this mod help improve the balance and clarity. However, it still slight muddy compare to Savant. Both have very good isolation.
     
    - ATH CRK-10 ($300, Dual Dynamic, Titanium housing): my friend borrow this pair so no comparision, but in my memory, Savant should perform better in clarity and treble extension, CRK-10 should better in bass.
     
    - Philips S2 ($100, Dynamic, Copper housing): my friend also borrow this pair so no comparision. The S2 very bright and clean, good soundstage. However it slight suffer from sibilant (might be due to poor cable) and difficult to fit (housing design and short nose, fit problem can be solve with double tips mod). I'll recable this baby and see how it can compete with Savant.
     
    - ATH M70x ($300): this is a fullsize can but it has very similar sound to Savant (my other fullsize: HE 560, Philips X2, Oppo PM3). The M70x slightly better Savant in clarity, extend high, airy, soundstage. If you like Savant sound signature and want it in a fullsize, I'm hightly recommend M70x to you [​IMG]
    20150708_103023.jpg
     
    Ending Thoughts
     
    Noble is well known with CIEM market but if they wish to compete lower market ($500 tier) as universal fit, they should pay more extension to the housing material and production quality control (physically). It would be nice if Noble can provide a set of spiral tips instead give a bunch useless silicon tips.
     
     
    Update 1: Paint jobs
     
    1. The cheap look of standard savant make me itchy so I paint it , here is the new look [​IMG]
     
    NobleSavant-afterpaint.jpg
     
     
    2. Expensive or not?
     
    IMO, it's interesting to know no. driver in Savant, not because the sound, but to see how reasonable price? Many iems today price around 50 USD - 150 USD per BA drive count.
     
    So if the savant have:
     
    >= 5 drivers: really good price
    4 drivers: same as the flagship K10 U @ $1599
    2- 3 drivers: rip off
     
    Waiting for someone reveal it [​IMG]
     
    Update 2: Reversed double flange tips mod
     
    The double flange tips supplied with Savant very soft, however it cant be fit properly.
     
    This simple reverse mod make it has very good seal & comfortable. Much more  enjoyable as the Spiral tips
     
    Savant-reverseddoubleflangetips.jpg
    1. View previous replies...
    2. groovyd
      OP makes a reasonable remark regarding the injection mold 'scar' and signature at this price point and I agree having felt the same  disappointment in fit and finish when mine arrived considering the price.  I didn't see these marks in the promo photos or i may have thought twice about the purchase.  I also agree the signature does not turn out so well with this grade of construction and perhaps should be reserved for the $799 model and up as it qualifies as a step up in aesthetics which sounds like is the point of having tiers.  In any case the sound is great and I enjoy listening to them but I don't think it is too much to ask for a non-scarred finish for a $599 injection molded product.  When I purchased mine I didn't realize there was a mark at all and that it even could be avoided by paying more.  I might have chosen that option had I known. 
      groovyd, Aug 12, 2015
    3. tl13m
      @ Groovyd
      As rule of thumb when see any advertising: "These images are for illustration purposes only" :)
      tl13m, Aug 13, 2015
    4. FullCircle
      Regarding drive count and price:
       
      A.   Noble doesn't sell drivers, Noble sells earphones (custom and universal)
       
      B.   If you would like to purchase raw drivers, you can contact www.mouser.com or www.digikey.com
       
      C.    The ER4P is a single driver product, and retails commonly at 300$.
              The ES846 is a 4 driver product that retails at 1,000$ (250$ per driver)  
              The  X10 when first released retailed at 350$ (single driver)
              The  X5 when first released retailed at 250$ (single driver)
       
      Under your classifcation system, they are "rip off" products.  
       
         There are many examples that indicate driver count doesn't mean diddle in this industry as price extremes can be found from very  expensive to dirt cheap. 
      FullCircle, Aug 13, 2015
      tamio likes this.
  3. Cotnijoe
    Noble Audio Savant: I'm In Love
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published Jul 7, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Solid Build, Amazing Tuning, Beautiful Sound
    Cons - Minor Imperfection with Build
    Introduction:
    The newest member of Noble Audio’s line of IEMs, the Savant, has taken Head-Fi by storm and has caught the attention of many eager Head-Fier – myself included. Noble’s reputation for revolutionizing the CIEM industry into an artistic statement is nothing short of legendary at this point, and Noble has secured itself a very solid fan base all over the world for offering both an aesthetic look and a good sound in an IEM.
     
    When I saw the announcement for the new Savant, I reached out to Brannan of Noble Audio with an interest in getting a review from him. Seeing how the pre-order of the Savants are in insanely high demand (wait time for them are around 6-8 weeks now I believe), I wasn’t expecting much out of my request.  To my delighted surprise, Brannan reserved a set of the Savant for me and sent it my way all while treating me with the highest of respect that has made Noble such a well-trusted and welcomed company in the Head-Fi community. I would like to give a big shout out and thank you to Brannan for his patience and generosity throughout the process of making this review happen.
     
    While I very much appreciate Noble’s enthusiasm and fantastic customer service (I’ve interacted with them multiple times now), my role here is of course to give an objective look at the new Savant and to give an honest review of them – and that’s exactly what I’ll do. I hope this review will be helpful for those on the fence or interested in the Savant, and give those already on the waitlist for them some insight on what kind of product they’ve just purchased!
     
    Packaging and Accessories:
    The package the Savants (and all Noble IEMs) come in is quite small. It’s smaller than it has been in the past and I was told they’ve changed up the overall packaging, but I’m not sure when. Instead of having lots of extra foam that give the packaging bulk, the package is now just the otterbox case with the Noble cover over it. Noble’s presentation has always been very good and the new packaging is certainly up to standards with what you expect from Noble.
     
    Opening up the otterbox, you see that everything inside the packaging is organized into small plastic bags (with the exception of the rubber bands). Inside, you find the Savant, Noble Cable, two Noble bands, two Noble crown stickers, as well as a sexy ownership card with brushed aluminum texture on it. Something new that Noble also included is a really nice small pouch for your IEM. It feels nice and has the Noble name and logo on it.
     
    However, there were two things missing from the packaging that I was expecting. There wasn’t a cleaning took in the box and, more importantly, the tips were missing! It’s just a minor slip up by Noble but no big deal for me. I have plenty of cleaning tools here from having owned a few IEMs, and being a previous customer of Noble, I already have all the tips they offer.
     
    In a very Noble Audio fashion, the product has a simple yet beautiful presentation.
     
    FullSizeRender3.jpg IMG_01012.jpg
    The Box: Open                                                                          Closed​
     
    FullSizeRender4.jpg IMG_0102.jpg
    What You Get Inside
     
    Build, Design, and Comfort:
    The Savant is actually the first Noble IEM I’ve had in my possession that isn’t a Wizard designed acrylic IEM. So this is my first experience with Noble’s generic universal line. Like any sane man, I obviously prefer the gorgeous Wizard design over the much simpler universal design, but I can honestly say that they’re not bad. They have a fairly low profile while still looking quite nice despite lacking the Wizard’s flare.
     
    The housing of the Savant feels sturdy while remaining incredibly lightweight, allowing the housing to sit in my ear and simply disappear. The great comfort allows me to use the Savant for hours and hours on end with absolutely no issues at all. After being in the IEM game for so long, the Wizard certainly knows how to make a hell of a comfortable IEM. One thing I did kind of wish for is a slightly longer nozzle. Overall I feel that the insertions of Noble’s IEMs are just a tad shallow. From my past and present experience with Noble’s products, I’ve felt that they sound better with a deeper insertion. In addition, the shallower fit of the Savant means that its noise isolation is fairly average. It’s certainly more than enough to get me through the subway or everyday commute, but it’s still a way off from my custom IEMs.
     
    The Savant joins the K10U and special Wizard designed universal as one of the IEMs that is worthy of having the Wizard’s signature on it. Unfortunately, it seems that the Wizard’s signature wasn’t etched into the housing of the Savant very well. It looks a little as if it’s been scratched off a bit. It’s a bit of a bummer to me that the one imperfection on the shell of the Savant is the Wizard’s signature.
     
    Besides that, the housing of the Savant is both attractive and comfortable but does lack the incredible quality that you get from a Wizard design IEM.
     
    Besides the aesthetics of Noble’s IEMs, the other notable design that Noble has under its belt is its cable. The Noble cable has gone through a few iterations now, and with each iteration, Noble has managed to make it even more portable and ergonomic. Along with CustomArt’s stock cable, the Noble cable is the best stock cable in the industry – and I say that with confidence. While CustomArt’s stock cable holds my number 1 spot for the most ergonomic cable (that thing is absurdly flexible and retains absolutely no memory), the Noble cable comes incredibly close to it in terms of ergonomics while feeling much sturdier. Cable noise is also kept at a minimum. The Noble cable is just everything someone can dream of in a portable cable. It’s incredibly flexible, sturdy, and low profile. I’m also a big fan of the new straight 3.5mm jack that replaced the old 45 degree jacks. The jacks feel sturdier than their older counterpart and look much nicer as well.
     
    As expected of an artist like the Wizard, who needs to look at every little detail of his beautiful designs, every aspect of the design of the Savant has been considered, making the Savant an IEM that doesn’t sacrifice its practicality for its looks and sound.
     
    FullSizeRender6.jpg
    The Housing Showing the Imperfection of the Wizard Signature
    (Hard to See... I Used an iPad For This Picture)
     
    Listening Impressions:
    So I’ll come straight out and admit that while I’ve always loved the design of their IEMs (who doesn’t?), I’ve never really been a fan of Noble’s IEMs. I’ve owned quite a few Wizard IEMs now and have auditioned the K10U on multiple occasions, but nothing has been a keeper for me. I liked all the Noble IEMs I’ve tried, but unfortunately they just weren’t for me – including the K10U (What? Blasphemy!). The Savant changes that story though. The Savant is the first Noble product that I like and would like to keep in my collection. In fact, I really like it – more specifically, I’m seriously hooked on its sound. Noble Audio has created a strong and loyal fan base throughout the past couple of years, with many owning multiple Noble products, and I can finally say that, after all this time, Noble’s finally got me. I am a fan of Noble Audio.
     
    The majority of my listening was done with the Noble Savant connected to the iBasso D14 "Bushmaster" DAC/Amplifier playing music from Foobar via USB. The D14 is a very good device and pairs beautifully with the Savant. Music of all different genres were used in my listening impression and music quality of 320 kbps and up with the exception of DSD were used. Another thing to note is that I've put a pair of spinfit tips on the Savant. The spinfits provided the Savant with extra comfort as well as a better sound - in particular a more extended bass.
     
    Noble Savant with iBasso DX90 and D14 "Bushmaster"
     
    Bass
    The bass of the Savant is very well balanced and has just a touch of emphasis to it. Bassheads will have to look elsewhere, but for those who enjoy a more neutral bass performance, you’ll find that there is a whole lot to love here. The bass is tight, clean, articulate, and possess some fantastic dynamics that allows it to pack a good amount of punch when called for, while pulling itself back when it should – something I hear people say all the time, but rarely actually hear implemented well.
     
    Bass extension is fairly good on the Savant, but I do find that it struggles to replicate sub bass textures just a bit, as the Savant does struggle a bit below 30 Hz. However, the bass of the Savant is still well-rounded and certainly doesn’t feel that it’s lacking a low end – it would just be more correct to characterize it as being nimble and clean rather than full-bodied and rumbly.
     
    Midrange
    Oh my… where do I begin. For the lack of a better word, the Savant’s midrange just sounds so right to me. Lovers of vocals would be making a huge mistake not to give the Savant a serious consideration. I find the vocals to have fantastic detail, focus, and balance – never sounding too forward or shouty, but also never sounding too relaxed either.
     
    What made me seriously love the Savant is the midrange. What baffles me is how fantastically detailed the midrange is without every sounding analytical in the slightest bit. On the contrary, Savant is beautifully smooth sounding. The midrange is balanced and accurate. Those looking for a lusher midrange like you find in the K10 will have to look into something like the N6. Rather than having a more lush and prominent lower midrange, the Savant has a slight kick to its upper midrange, which I find helps it to make detail more prominent and noticeable. While you don’t quite get the dynamics of a full size headphone where you can feel the texture of each instrument, the texture of the Savant is nonetheless incredibly natural and instrument separation is on point as well.
     
    The Savant performs well on a technical level, but I can’t forget to mention that the Savant is an incredibly musical IEM and has got me completely hooked on its sound. Its ability to present detail effortlessly and its fatigue-free sound completely won me over – and I can’t emphasize that enough.
     
    Treble
    The high end of the Savant presents a nice amount of sparkle that remains quick and controlled no matter how complex the music may get. The treble is well detailed and textured, but never sounds harsh. Extension is also fantastic, giving the Savant just the right sense of air to make it sound natural and expansive without sounding artificially so.
     
    Soundstage and Imaging
    One of the first things many people have noticed when auditioning the Savant is that it has a very nice and expansive feeling soundstage. In particular, the Savant has a wide soundstage with very precise imaging. However, being an IEM, it’s still somewhat limited to what it can do just by its form and design, and it becomes apparent that the Savant lacks quite a bit in height when compared to some of my full size open headphones. Putting things back into perspective though, the Savant’s soundstage is wonderfully capable for an IEM, allowing it to be one of the most realistic IEM when playing binaural recordings (most IEMs seriously suck at producing the effects binaural recordings are trying to create).
     
    Summary
    While I personally love the tuning of the Savant, it has a lot more going for it than just a neutral and revealing, but musical, tuning. The Savant has a beautiful and coherent sound that does a lot well. It’s difficult to find anything to really nitpick at it especially when its sound is so attention grabbing.
     
    While the Savant is neutral with just a hint of a U-Shape, I found the Savant to work fantastically well with more genres than I had expected. The Savant is absolutely beautiful with acoustic and classical music, and sounds very good with pop, rap, hip hop, rock, and more instrumental or percussive music as well. The only time the Savant leaves me wanting is with music that really demands a big bass. I do feel the need to EQ the bass up every now and then with some electronic music, for example.
     
    Generally when writing review, I’m able to write more and explain certain issues I hear with an IEM. With the Savant, I seriously don’t have much to say.
     
    Comparison
     
    Noble Savant and Earwerkz Supra 2
    I hold the Supra in very high regard – it offers an amazing amount of detail with a very neutral and balanced sound at an incredible price. Ever since owning the Supra, I haven’t been very impressed with many IEMs. If you haven’t caught on yet… I was very impressed with the Savant. The signature of the Savant and Supra are honestly quite similar, with the Supra being slight more U-shaped, but the Savant is just so effortless in comparison and has a refinement that the Supra doesn’t have.
     
    The Savant has a better extended and faster bass that makes the Supra sound a little uncontrolled in the bass. In addition, the Savant has a more detailed and natural midrange that makes the Supra’s midrange sound overly thin in comparison.
     
    The sense of space that the Savant is able to produce is also miles ahead of the Supra. Soundstage is the Supra’s Achilles heel, and it’s something the Savant is very proficient at. While both IEMs have a good treble extension and a good sense of air, the Supra sounds a bit congested when put up against the Savant’s more expansive soundstage.
     
    Overall, the Supra sounds analytical, and almost a little cold in comparison to the Savant’s musical and smooth sound. Despite that, the Savant handily beats the Supra in its ability to present detail, and is just a more enjoyable listening experience despite how good the Supra is. Costing a little over 100 dollars than a custom pair of the Supra 2 (430 + ~50 for impressions), I think the Savant is a serious contender for being one of the best value in an IEM despite its fairly steep price of 600 dollars, and might just dethrone my Supra 2 as the best value IEM available on the current market (in my opinion at least).
     
    FullSizeRender7.jpg
    Noble Savant and Earwerkz Supra 2
     
    Heaven VII and Noble Savant
    The Noble Savant is perhaps one of my top choice and recommendations for a neutral, yet musical, sound that is also a fantastic all-rounder when it comes to both listening and design. Comparing the two, the Heaven VII has more of an upward tilt, with less bass and slightly more forward midrange and lower treble. The Savant does have a more present upper treble though.
     
    Of the two, the Heaven VII is the more detailed IEM, and basically on all fronts. The Savant has a great sense of detail and smoothness that makes the Savant musical yet detailed. The Heaven VII is tuned to have a drier sound which allows it to have a level of detail and texture that the Savant can’t quite compete with. When listening to the Savant, the music sounds like a good recording. But with the Heaven VII, as I’ve sort of covered earlier, it has a level of realism that makes the instruments sound very life-like, so that it doesn’t just seem like a good recording (or bad recording I guess). The Savant is able to come closer to the Heaven VII’s realism when connected to the Essence III, but never quite matches it.
     
    I also have to emphasize again how incredibly good the separation, imaging, and soundstage of the Heaven VII are. The Savant, again, has a very nice and spacious soundstage for an IEM using BA drivers. The Savant has a clean and very enjoyable sound. The Heaven VII, on the other hand, is just an incredibly technical IEM. Separation is so incredibly good and the imaging is laser precise in its more spacious soundstage. When comparing the two with the D14, the Savant can even sound a bit congested in comparison to the Heaven VII, as its smaller soundstage and more prominent low end shows with the D14.
     
    While the Heaven VII has certainly impressed with me sonically, unfortunately the Savant still takes the cake as my first recommendation for a well-rounded IEM – for multiple reasons of course. First off the Savant is more suited to be the genre master. While neither are true genre masters, I actually found both to be quite satisfying with most genres. But I do find the Savant to be better with more genres in terms of its tuning. Secondly, and more importantly, the Savant is just worlds ahead in fit – to me at least. The Savant has had its share of people with fit issues, but it’s a pretty small handful of people. I’m pretty confident that maybe 90% of people will find the Savant more comfortable. It’s significantly lighter, has a lower profile and snug fit. The over ear design also has lots of benefits such as reducing cable noise. I’m able to wear the Savants upwards of 6 or 7 hours with no discomfort, while 3 hours is probably my limit with the Heaven VII.
     
    For these reasons, I see the Savant as the better choice for a larger variety of genres as well as a larger variety of environments or uses. However, if you’re in an environment where you’ll remain fairly stationary (at work, or your desk), I think the Heaven VII will give you more than what the Savant can offer.
     
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    Noble Savant and FAD Heaven VII

     
    Ending Thoughts:
    I seriously love this IEM, and I think Noble has a huge winner in their hands. The Wizard nailed the tuning with the Savant and I know it will please many many people – not just me. In addition, the Savant doesn’t sacrifice musicality by any means for a neutral and detailed sound. I don’t know how the Wizard did it, but he accomplished both with the Savant and seriously nailed it.
     
    Some has described the Savant has the “baby K10,” or something along those lines. I personally do not agree. The K10 is a thicker and richer sounding IEM than the Savant, while the Savant opts for a more open and natural sound. Rather than being the baby K10, I see the two as fantastic complements to each other, and I certainly do not see the Savant bowing before another IEM. Both IEM certainly has its merits, and the K10 certainly has the number 1 IEM ranking to show for it, but I very much prefer the Savant to the K10. For me, the natural yet exciting sound of the Savant is just to die for. It’s something a lot of IEMs have come close to, but none have quite executed like the Savant.
     
    For those on the waitlist for the Savant, be patient! Your patience will be rewarded! There’s a reason why the Savant sold out in a blink of an eye and now requires a wait time that you only ever see when ordering a CIEM. The Savant is seriously something special.
     
    The Savant is one of the best IEMs that I've heard at any price point. Along with the Jh Audio Angie and UE Reference Monitor, it's on my list as one of my top 3 favorite IEMs of all times. Superhero or sidekick? Superhero.
      warrenpchi, jjacq, d marc0 and 4 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Cotnijoe
      Hmmm interestingly... After thinking about it for a while, i cant think of any headphone im familiar with that has a similar sound presentation to the savant.

      When im out and about, i run the savant with my DX90 and it sound great, although not at the level of when i run it with my D14 or my asus essence III (which pairs surprisingly well qith the savant). Ive also paired it with my HTC One M8 before. The savant never sound bad to me, but it certainly scales well.
      Cotnijoe, Jul 10, 2015
    3. Ethereal Sound
      Well that sounds encouraging. I am now seriously considering getting one...I currently have had a heir audio 4.ai for a while and I think this would be a good upgrade. I had considered the K10 but if the savant is as organic and musical as you claim, I doubt the K10 is $1000 better than the savant.
      Ethereal Sound, Jul 14, 2015
    4. Cotnijoe
      @Ethereal Sound That's good to hear. If you enjoy the sound of the 4.Ai, then the Savant is definitely more similar than the K10 is. Of course its all personal preference. I personally enjoy the Savant more than the K10 despite it being 1000 dollars more. That's a very personal statement though, as there are a ton of people that love the hell out of their K10s as well! Just good to note that the Savant is good enough that the K10 doesnt just completely stomp it like the Savant cant even come close to the K10.
      Cotnijoe, Jul 14, 2015
  4. Sorensiim
    Sidekick or Superhero? Your call.
    Written by Sorensiim
    Published Jun 4, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great clarity, superb, forward mids, very nice highs
    Cons - Bassheads could be left wanting

    Savant universals, with “Wizard Design” faceplates.
     
    The Noble Savant is an IEM available as a $600 universal and as a $1600 custom “Prestige” version. The Savants use the same (tiny) acrylic housing as the rest of the Noble universal lineup and can be used with a wide selection of tips. For me, the medium foam tips gave me the best combination of reliable seal and comfort. Like the Shure “Olives”, the foam is closed cell so you can clean the tips rather than having to throw them out when the gunk and wax builds up. Both the universal and Prestige custom version uses standard 2-pin connectors for the detachable cables. I tested the Savant using the balanced output from my A&K AK120II with a Linum Super Balanced cable as well as with the Noble BTS connected to my Android phone. Source material was 24/192 FLAC, Spotify streaming and everything in between.
     
    After two years of using my $1.600 ($1.900 if you count the Wizard design option) Noble K10, the Savant is the first headphone to impress me. Sure, when I bought the Philips Citiscape Uptown for $20 on sale, I was impressed by the sound quality you could get at that price - But the Savant demands respect regardless of the price. The fact that it comes in at a cool $1000 less than the K10 is just a bonus. Will they replace the K10 for me then? No. But this is the first time I’ve actually bothered to carry a second set of headphones to supplement the mighty K10. The thing with the K10 is that it does just about everything really, really well. Highs that just keep going without ever being shrill and thunderous lows that never encroach on those lush, rich creamy mids. Add super high resolution and you have a headphone that makes you get lost in the music, leaning back and just enjoying the flow.
     
    20150604_111143_3.jpg
    AK120 II -> Linum Super Balanced -> Noble Savant
     
    But sometimes you need something else. Sometimes you don’t want to lean back and relax but instead you want to hear Skin sitting on your lap and singing 5 inches from your ear on the acoustic recording of Tracy’s Flaw. Sometimes you want to hear just exactly how badly out of tune the piano was during Keith Jarrett’s legendary Köln concert in 1975. Or maybe you remember hearing Fink perform Yesterday Was Hard On All Of Us at that small venue and you want to recreate the sense of hearing him pick the strings just 3 feet away. What you want, then, is the Savant. Compared to the K10, the Savant has a more forward presentation of mids and treble and is lighter on the bass. Not that it can’t do bass, you just have to bump the EQ a bit if you like your music thumping. While not a great fit for bassheads, the Savant excels with vocals, acoustic and classical music - or anything else that benefits from clear, forward mids and great resolution.
     
    Speaking of resolution, the Savant likes a good source. It’s still very enjoyable for streaming Spotify 320kbps from your phone, but like the K10 flagship, they scale very well. Even using my phone (HTC One M8 and LG G4), it was very obvious if I was listening to 320kbps Mp3 or a lossless FLAC version of the same track. With the mids and highs being more forward and “in your face” on the Savant than on the K10 also makes them less forgiving.
     
    “Hey, I’m not a basshead, should I pick the Savant over the K10?” Well, that depends. The K10 wins on soundstage and imaging, but the Savant rules vocals and acoustic recordings. Sure, the sound is more in your head with the Savant, but there’s also $1.000 more left in your wallet. Unless, off course, you opt for the $1600 Prestige option and get a set of Savants carved from a single piece of acryllic-infused wood or maybe the “Carbon Glass” or “Space Zebra” options are more your cup of tea? I wear my IEMs all day at work, so the added comfort of customs makes a huge difference to me, compared with universals. Not that the universals feel bad, but after a couple of hours you’ll start feeling them.
     
    [​IMG]
    Savant universals with the (brilliant!) $99 Noble BTS
     

    Conclusion

    My taste in music is eclectic, to put it mildly. Within the space of an hour I can jump from Beethoven to The Prodigy to Rammstein to Ben Howard. For the past two years, the K10 has been The One for me. It could do everything and do it well, so I rarely bothered carrying other headphones. But then came the Savant… And while the K10 is still my top pick for a do-it-all headphone, the Savant has become my IEM of choice for music like Daughter, Ben Howard, Agnes Obel, Keith Jarrett and Fink. For me, they’re the perfect sidekick to the K10 but if your music tastes revolve around piano, acoustic guitar, strings, woodwinds and well-recorded vocals, the Savant could very well be The One, a Superhero in its own right. 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Sorensiim
      Thanks for the feedback, guys!
       
      @Wyd4 directly compared with a cheaper BT option, the Sony SBH20, the BTS has noticeably better clarity and a cleaner bass response. Great for portable use with lossless files on your phone! 
       
      @Mfalcon Same as all the other Noble universals, so it's pretty good once you get them to fit just right with a comfortable-yet-sealing set of tips. I still prefer my CIEMs for all-day duty, but I have no problem wearing the Savant for a couple of hours or 3.
      Sorensiim, Jun 11, 2015
    3. tl13m
      Hi Sorensiim,
      Which one have better  clarity, details and high extensions? Savant or K10U?. I audition Savant yesterday, it sound very similar with my Audio Technica - M70x (happy with it right now, just wish it have a little more bass impact). If the K10U have same ore better clarity, details and high extensions, I will go for K10U as it seem has better bass. What is your recommend? Thanks
      tl13m, Jul 8, 2015
    4. Takeanidea
      Great review Soren! Still have the DX100. Had that BTS but sent it back - it keot having dropouts when I was out running with my CIEMs and my phone. The DX100 is still my go to DAP, 2 battery replacements Wifi module1 processor  and 1 case later
      Takeanidea, May 6, 2016
  5. WCDchee
    Balanced, neutral, yet musical
    Written by WCDchee
    Published May 31, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Well Balanced, masterfully tuned
    Cons - slight lack of extention and resolution
    Disclaimer: this pair of Noble Savant's have been sent to me by Noble for the purposes of a review. I will be sending it back to them once the proper comparisons are made.
     
    I have a pair of Noble K10s. in my opinion, when paired well, they are truly some of the best sounding IEMs that I have ever heard. When I heard that Noble was going to release the Savants, the "baby K10s", I was really interested and requested a demo unit, bringing us to this review.
     
    The Noble Savant comes in two forms, the universal version and a prestige version. Details of the internals of the IEM remain undisclosed. It uses a two bore design. For this review, I was sent the universal fit Savant.
     
    At the point of writing, the savant has been with me for about 2 weeks. As such, these are my initial impressions of the savant. I will, hopefully, update this review in time with comparisons with the K10 and possibly other iems.
     
    Build
    The Savant has the same black plastic shell as all the other universal fit IEMs in the Noble line, including the K10U. To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of these shells, not quite liking the feel or the look of them. However, its been around for quite a while and I have yet to hear any problems about build issues with the universal line. The workmanship on these is impeccable. Similar to their custom moulded IEMs, They are very sturdy and well built. 
     
    The IEM takes a 2 pin connector for the cable.As such, it is user replaceable, and third party upgrade cables can be used. it also comes with a wide array of tips, single and double flange tips, as well as foam tips.
     
    For the purpose of this review, I have chosen to stick to the stock cable and JVC spiral dot tips. The JVC tips I found gave me the best seal and helped provide the best balance in the sound signature of the IEM.
     
    Sound
    So how does the Savant really sound? Does it really sound like the K10? Well yes and no.
     
    The K10 comes in various forms, the custom version and the universal version. Having compared the custom and the universal versions, I have found that the custom version of the K10 is warmer, lusher and thicker sounding than the universal version of the K10. The custom version also throws a larger and better layered stage. The K10U in comparison seems to be somewhat on the brighter side with a more intimate presentation. It is, on its own, however, very well balanced.
     
    The universal Savant is tonally very very similar to the K10U, it is equally well balanced. Across the frequency range, it covers the different sounds pretty well. The bass is tight and fast, typical of good balanced armature IEM implementations. However, I find the bass to be somewhat lacking in extension. While it doesn't quite lack in quantity, I found it unable to reach the lower most registers. In comparison. the K10 effortlessly digs all the way down deep, hitting tight and fast. The Savant also has a lower bass quantity than the K10s. 

    The midrange was full yet balanced, retaining a certain degree of airiness , and never once sounding over;y warm or thick. In comparison, I found the K10s to have a somewhat lusher midrange. The Savants sounded absolutely stunning with string instruments. The midrange balance and airiness came together very nicely to present the various string instruments in a very natural manner.
     
    The Savant had sparkly, well extended highs. Personally, I would have liked if there was even more sparkle and extension. However, a number of other people who have tried it prefer it the way it is now. It's all down to preferences. Overall, the Savant is very well balanced, perhaps with a slight midrange prominence. It is very accurate sounding, yet it remains very natural sounding. Male and female vocals both sound very natural and accurate on them.
     
    Having said all these, how good are they really? The savants are not going to be an IEM for everyone, that is for sure. Those of us looking for a deep, pounding, visceral bass, the savants aren't going to cut it. Those of us who prefer a bright energetic treble, we're not going to get that from the Savant either. The Savant's definitely aren't going to compete on the same level as the K10s and other top of the line IEMs technically, in terms of extension, staging, resolution, the Savant still falls a tad short. But we cannot deny that it is masterfully tuned, and I guess for those of us who aren't looking for the last word in resolution, but instead, looking for something well tuned (and I must add that this is often the hardest thing to get right), the savants are probably going to nail it for us. At the price point, I believe they do pretty well and you wouldn't be too far off if you decide to get them.

    Edit: do bear in mind that the four star rating is given on the account that the prestige savant is likely to be a big step up in sq from the universal as i have found from the universal to custom versions of the K10. The savant universal does present some slight resonance and colouration issues which Bother me. Having said that I know a lot of people who have no issues with that.
    1. Jo-Harmony
      Nice Review , but K10s twice more the price of Savant
      Jo-Harmony, Jun 1, 2015
    2. WCDchee
      Hi, the comparisons I had made with the K10 were mainly to address the concerns that some people had ith regards to the savant possibly replacing the k10 also the k-0 is a more familiar sound so i used it as a reference
      WCDchee, Jun 1, 2015
    3. veindoc
      Interesting, I spoke to Brannan today and asked for noble4 vs. Savant sonic differences and said Savant has more at both ends and has a U shape not V curve. He said wait for Universal Savant about 6 weeks. Perhaps bass punch lacking is the comparison to the K10. Were you able to drive them easily with your phone and did they easily stay put?
      thnx , Nick
      veindoc, Jun 30, 2015
  6. uchihaitachi
    Great IEM at a Great Price!
    Written by uchihaitachi
    Published May 22, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Versatile sound signature. Slight bass and treble emphasis. Good price. Sounds great with Jazz.
    Cons - If a slight V shaped sound signature is not to your liking.
    First and foremost, a big thank you to those at Noble Audio who has sent me a unit to review. The Noble Audio customer service experience has been a joy to behold. Brannan is always on hand to deal with your queries, as well as Dr Moulton.
     
    I would not call myself and audiophile. Instead, a music lover, performer and engineer.
     
    As a Classical musician, my genre of choice revolves heavily around Classical and Jazz. Once in a while, when I don’t feel the urge to immerse myself in Bach’s complex counterpoint, I choose to listen to rock and some K-pop, the latter being my ‘guilty pleasure.’
     
    From my engineering background, I like gear that doesn’t distort or colour my recordings. As a consequence, my preferred choice of DACs and Amps are chosen on both hearing and AES compliant technical specifications (i.e. the more transparent, the better). This has meant that I have been a big fan of the Benchmark Media Systems over the years, especially their latest offering - the DAC2 HGC, which is essentially a device devoid of distortion. Moreover, the built in amplifier has a 0 ohm output impedance, assuring the frequency response of sensitive Balanced Armature IEMs will not behave erratically.
     
     
    The Test Tracks
     
    Female Vocals
    o Erin Boheme
     
     
    Orchestral
    o Mahler Symphony No. 5 (Boulez)
     
     
    Piano
    o Bach Goldberg Variations (Perahia)
     
    I use piano music as one of the main ways to judge the quality of speakers/headphones.
     
    Sound pressure can go from zero to sixty and back down again instantaneously. A hard hit on a key creates a big percussive hit out of the note. Headphones have a tendency to swallow up and flatten out big percussive strikes like that and It can make an acoustic piano sound like an electronic keyboard with evened out note weights. Or, the pressure can come through without the note being behind it creating a thumping in your ears. Also, when a pianist does a run down a keyboard, they're very careful to maintain clean and even articulation of each and every note. Frequency response imbalances can jag that up, and harmonics on the notes can be exaggerated or non-existent.
     
     
    Male Vocals
    o Schubert’s Wintereisse (Dietrich Fischer Dieskau)
     
     
    Rock
    o Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
     
     
    Jazz
    o Oscar Peterson & Itzhak Perlman
     
     
    Early Impressions
     
    The Savant like many of Dr Moulton’s creations are excellently built with pristine aesthetics. Therefore, when choosing which Noble IEM or CIEM to own, the decision should mostly boil down to your sonic preference. Each and every model in the Noble line-up has a unique story to tell, and this is no different for the Savant. I would recommend auditioning them if possible.
     
    The Savant comes in the usual otter case along with a rich variety of tips. The Olive tips offer the best noise isolation, even more so than all my Customs. 
     
    The Savant handled all the aforementioned tracks without any significant problems. However, I believe that it is important to elaborate upon the term ‘balanced’ that is used in the product description of the Savant. It is balanced in the sense that it sounds very coherent. Nonetheless, the frequency response of the Savant does not seem neutral to my ears.
     
    The frequency response is somewhat paradoxical. There is a slight emphasis on the lower and middle registers and a slight emphasis on the upper frequencies, which help to bring out the minute details that lie dormant in a lot of recordings recordings. This treble presence is welcome, as it prevents the Savant from sounding excessively ‘warm,’ for want of a better word. However, this is not to say that the middle registers are compromised. The intermediate frequencies are still excellently portrayed. 
     
    Despite the slightly pronounced upper frequencies, the Savant does not possess a fatiguing sound signature, and so would be ideal for long listening sessions.
     
    I would say the Savant is similar to the Shure SE535, with more treble and bass presence, whilst preserving the wonderful middle registers the SE535 is famed for. 
     
    In summary, I  would say the sound signature is slightly V shaped, without compromise to the middle registers.
     
     
    Handling Different Genres
     
    The Savant sounded good with the aforementioned genres. Initially, I felt that its versatility was also its weakness. It handled all the genres well but didn't seem to shine particularly with any specific ones. However, when I started to listen to Jazz and orchestral music, the Savant was phenomenal. Especially so for the former. It is the best IEM I have heard to date for Jazz music.
    1. FullCircle
      If you get a chance, try Phil Collins "All of my life" with the savants

      Cheers
      FullCircle, May 23, 2015
    2. uchihaitachi
      Will do!
      uchihaitachi, May 23, 2015
    3. uchihaitachi
      N.B. Some people have likened the Savant to the Etymotic ER4S with more bass quantity and extension. 
      uchihaitachi, May 31, 2015