Running commentary impressions of the Noble Katana and K10s First and foremost, these things are a bugger to get a good fit and seal. These will probably need a re-audition, but I don’t want to takeliberties with the good folk over at Addicted to Audio. For now though these large foamies of unknown provenance will do. So, in for a penny in for a pound. Gai Barone: Love Stimulation The first thing that becomes apparent is there is enough sub-bass to support most electronic music (as evidenced by way of preceding tracks in John 00 Fleming’s JOOF Editions vol. 3). This track specifically doesn’t have a huge baseline, so what’s left is a very bright track indeed. Bright though it may be, it doesn’t cross the red line into sibilance. The soaring piano led melody is like gazing westwards as the sun sets, the sun not yet aggressively and glaringly at eye level. But the sky is still shimmeringly blue. I yearn for the glorious multicoloured hued palette of the lower midrange. Pinch RA Podcast (RA.247) Electronic music is as dependent upon mids as it is bass. But for now I figured I’d test the lowest of the lows with some real bass music. That which is best suited to the tube’s Misery Line: RA.247: Pinch. Only at high volumes do the spinal basslines found within this mix’s various tracks come to the fore. That being said elevated bass notes slam with authority. This could in fact be a deal breaker. I am after all looking for bass texture throughout. To that end perhaps I should be looking at the K10s or Encores. It has to be said the upper treble department does shimmer with immense detail. So ultimately the Katanas are a superb earphone, but they are not the best match for my musical tastes. As per the premise. Listening to Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing,” its every last detail shimmering like the sun over the sea it all became clear. If you like sailing under clear blue skies, the Katanas are for you. If however you like to sit overlooking the bay just before last light, the last deep blues and pinks gliding across the horizon, beer in hand; the K10s are for you. They’re definitely the ones for me too. I couldn’t help but strap myself in for another ride with the Kaiser K10s... To my mind these are the kaiser, king, emperor, all conquering overlords of detail. Only their reign has a death count of zero... They are kings that come in peace. Dire Straits: “Sultans of Swing” The first thing I notice with K10s engaged is they have a delightful soundstage that’s as enveloping as it is extensive. It pops out way out wide, such that all of a sudden I have 180° peripheral vision! Every detail pops, shimmers, attacks and decays with musical authority. Mark Knofler’s voice sounds as it should: centre stage in every sense. Indeed, the golden hued sunset has skipped nightfall altogether and it’s dawn forever more. Gai Barone: “Love Stimulation” Bass rumbles. Suddenly dawn here is all thundery. Lightning crashes over the distant horizon with shimmering colour (but not necessarily coloured - in a colouration sense). Warmth carasses from below. That desired lower midrange: it’s right here. The piano-led crescendo sits at surface level where it belongs while the powerfully emotive, bittersweet synth soars into the heavens above. There is enough sprite-like treble, certainly enough to keep me happy. RA.247: Pinch Now I’m in the thundercloud itself. This thing is threatening to become a supercell. There is enough at every level of the spectrum, but the K10s are more than equal to the most important element of this music: the sub bass. Highs add real atmosphere too. Anjunadeep 08 (Disc1): Mixed by James Grant Where am I...? Is this real...? Oh yes, it’s very real. I’m in the stratosphere. A densely layered haze of intricate baselines; a warm and slightly sweet midrange and kaleidoscopic shimmering highs. In the bass department, this is the layered experience I’m looking for! This is where the K10s beat the Shure SE846s hands down. Suddenly a violin enters the picture as one track segues to the next. It sounds so palpably real it is almost tear inducing. The kick drum below is boomy, but it’s a textured, inoffensive, reinforcing boom. The violin fades away... My Shures never did that! Female vocals enter. Airy, powerful, personal and impassioned. With the Shures they are merely there. Just. There. All the while I’m tapping my foot. This is true musicality. This can only come with instrument separation as well as my preferred lower-midrange oriented sound signature. The soundstage is one that has a wide horizon and a 3D, almost circumpolar effect. It’s up, down, all around and beyond the head. It’s not hard to imagine returning to the beach and sitting there with the sound all around. What I once thought to be a sort of imaging. Devin Townsend: “Sister” / “Bastard” From prog house/trance to prog metal and from distant thunder of the imagination to the real, recorded thing. It sounds so real! The Shures never quite seemed to pull off thunder’s densely layered tapestry of bass notes. Impressive. Bastard’s highly distorted guitars come in with equally textured prowess. In fact this thing is textured throughout in truly magnificent fashion. It’s open, lively and revealing. It also demonstrates just how far behind the SE846s are in the treble department. And I just love how vocals sound with the K10s too. Machine Head: “Now We Die” Here things get interesting. I must say I prefer the 846s’ darker presentation with this sort of metal. But I’m loving the detail and aggression. A middle ground is needed! Clutch: “A Quick Death In Texas” The 846s could never quite handle bluesy rock. The K10s handle it with aplomb! The overall quickness then the decay from the guitars is something to behold. And all that with the perfect texture throughout. Other tracks auditioned which sound incredible Mike Oldfield: “The Bell” / “Weightless” Pink Floyd: “It’s What We Do” Bob Holroyd: “Autumn Leaves” Shimmering detail. It’s as alluring as watching the bubbles of a freshly poured pilsner. Dave Clarke @ ADE Huge bass, but the closeness of the 846s’ sound lends itself better to this sort of hard loopy techno. Happa: “Bring It Back” Taken from FabricLive: Fake Blood Huge bassline here. Big room house sounds great with K10s! I can’t help but wonder what the K10s sound like when measured up against the Encores. The K10s were auditioned with a green hued firm silicone tip, also of unknown provenance. Both were auditioned with my iPhone 7 with Onkyo HF Player app. Tracks varied from standard FLAC down to 320 and 256 kpbs audio (nothing lower). With thanks to Addicted to Audio, Melbourne, for allowing me to audition both the K10s and Katanas. I must say when all said and done I’m sold on the K10s, but rather sadly they only have the one demo pair left. I won’t be ready to purchase until February. *I’m legally blind and only have 10° peripheral vision.