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Noble Audio - the Wizard returns!

  1. monsieurfromag3
    Hello everyone,
    I was at the Sound Days in Paris last week-end (think CanJam). Highlights once again for me included the Hifiman Susvara and Beyer’s Amiron Home. The former for summit-fi technical proficiency and absolute control, the latter for its laid-back musicality.

    Sorry for that off-topic intro, I'm setting the stage for my question :slight_smile:

    My main highlight of the session was the Noble Sage. I'd heard of Noble, visited the website etc., but I'd never been able to audition anything.
    I just loved it. This was at the tail-end of the day, with listening fatigue, and a good while with heavy headphones on my head pressing and clamping, as well as a variety of iems - including those I'd brought myself to test out source gear, the IMR R1.
    Even coming from a selection of 4-figure headphones in soundproof booths, the Sage just sounded so damn right and pleasant. And the comfort, oh my! It shows when an actual audiologist is designing the earpieces. It’s like having music fed to your ear delicately from thin air. But with a level of security in the fit I have never experienced in some seasons of tip-rolling (red-bore silicones).
    On the same table the French distributor had laid out the iBasso IT04, fine but a tad bright for me, as well as three iems from another renowned American manufacturer that is also a sponsor of this website, and which Noble utterly put to shame.

    Alongside the Sage were the Trident, that I didn't particularly gel with - can't remember why, after a few minutes it was clear I much preferred the Sage so I just put the Trident down; and further out the Encore. Those are quite out of my regular budget but I could definitely tell they belong to their price point. I didn't know there were so many drivers in them but I'm not surprised, they’re technically one of the most accomplished performers I've ever heard. Problem is, they outpace the recording level of much of my music. If I listened to more classical music or immaculately recorded jazz I would start casing banks to get these or the Khan, that I assume belong to the same stable. As it is I found more of a kinship with the Sage. Just like I like Audeze’s LCD-2C more than the X. I love resolution as much as the next guy but I’m not a critical listener.

    I listen to quite a bit of black/death/doom metal, some EDM, wave and hip-hop too, and folk as well. I won't say no to a piece by Stan Getz, or Bohren & Der Club of Gore, nor to the occasional Schubert or Scriabin. But my musical taste sits at a crossroads where Emma Ruth Rundle and Chelsea Wolfe are waving to the shadows; Darkthrone and True Widow are busy chopping trees; Type O Negative headbang slowly in the distance; Massive Attack, Tricky and Emika got together for a bonfire/remix session, while Shahmen and Chester Watson have crashed their cars and not even noticed.

    Even with a modest show-exclusive discount, the Sage are not pocket money for me and I couldn't picture myself coming home to my wife with a 600€ grin on my face. Instead I got home and immediately checked out Noble's website - and that's when the trouble started, because I found out about the Savant II :hushed:

    Would I experience the same comfort with the Savant II as with the Sage? Are they the same form factor?
    I searched through this thread and saw the Wizard describe them as belonging to the same family but warmer than the Sage. I'd love to know a bit more about the Savant II’s signature and the differences vs the Sage.
    I'm pinging @Deezel177 who has loved them and has experience with the Sage too. My ears perked when I read his description of the Savant II's bass. My journey into high-fi has taken me to a place where I put a high price on sub-bass presence as the foundation of a satisfying overall response, and the IMR R1 have taught me how visceral an iem could sound - as I've written in the IMR thread, the first time I listened to the R1 in bed I was afraid I would wake up my wife because I could feel the bass so much my brain thought the bed must be shaking. So to quote Deezel, unprecedented "bass extension and physicality", "a dense, meaty and impactful low-end", with an emotionally vibrant midrange and a clear top-end... Well that sounds like my kind of gear.

    It doesn’t hurt that they’re cheaper than the Sage and come with Wizard faceplates! To all who have heard both, and to the Noble team, I want to ask: are they technically on par with the Sage - just better value, as @FullCircle implies?
     
    SBranson likes this.
  2. Deezel177
    From memory, they do indeed sound warmer than the Sage. To me though, that extra warmth comes across as superior balance. I found the Sage a tad top-heavy, which limited its dynamic range and made music sound a bit same-y dynamically after long stretches of time. The Savant II was quite a bit more natural, balanced and life-like, which made the gap between listening to a recording and listening to a live performance all the more close. Fit-wise, the Savant II should be a bit less narrow and a bit less tall compared to the Sage. Of course, @FullCircle can confirm there. In my opinion, the Savant II is technically stronger than the Sage. Heck, even if they are technically equal, the fact that the Savant II's tone is closer to real-life makes it stronger in my book. But of course, we all have our own definitions of natural, reference, etc. So, it's wise to wait for others to chime in before you make your decision. :D
     
    ranfan, SBranson and monsieurfromag3 like this.
  3. FullCircle

    The shell/housing is the same (savant / sage)

    But the savant face plate is hand carved
    resulting in a shallow face plate protrusion from the concha of the ear and a smaller overall appearance.

    Thanks for your comments

    As for the sound of the Savant II, I refer to Diesel

    Screenshot_20190523-175630_Google.jpg
     
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  4. FullCircle
    No that particular IEM is a hybrid (like the Khan) but does not have any balanced armature drivers in the internal design.

    Screenshot_20190523-222348_Google.jpg
     
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    SBranson and monsieurfromag3 like this.
  5. Sebastien Chiu
    This is a new hybrid being released sometime this year. If you plan on attending Canjam, I (think) we'll have some to listen to.

    EDIT: John jinxed me
     
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  6. Malevolent
    [​IMG]
     
  7. hemtmaker
    Very nice! What sort of sound signature do they have?
     
  8. cleg
  9. Sebastien Chiu
    I actually haven't listened to it myself. @FullCircle or @Watagump would be the best person to answer that for you.
     
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  10. Malevolent
    Comparing against the Khan, it loses some of that excellent top-end sparkle and a little of that very articulate midrange. What you gain is a relatively smooth, lush, full sound. Bass hits hard, with a lot more slam. If the Khan is the detail champ, the new hybrid dials it down a notch in favor of a more fun, engaging signature.

    Mind you, I've only listened to it for about half an hour (with the Khan), but it's enough to convince me that it's going to fare really well as a complementary IEM to Noble's current flagship.
     
  11. hemtmaker
    Cool! Thanks for the impression
     
  12. Sound Trooper
    OMG! Seems like this new hybrid is right up alley. Looks like I'll be owning another pair of nobles soon.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  13. skootb
    I have one coming stateside!
     
    Sebastien Chiu likes this.
  14. Sebastien Chiu
    That has even ME really excited. Canjam with the team can't come soon enough!
     
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  15. SBranson

    So nice to hear your impressions about the Sage. I have one coming to me next week and can hardly wait to hear them. I had the original Savants and really enjoyed those so I am looking forward their successor.. :ksc75smile:
     

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