Noble 5 Review
June 23, 2015 Luckbad 1Crystal clarity, smooth presentation, layered bass, and expressive mids are all hallmarks of this exquisite 5 Balanced Armature receiver IEM from Noble Audio.
Noble 5 In the Box
- Noble 5 Earpieces
- Crush proof carrying case
- Cleaning tool
- 2 audio bands
- 12 pairs of ear tips (2 types of single flange, double flange, and foam, 3 sizes of each)
- Ownership card
Noble 5 Impressions
Not all bassheads are alike. Some people favor clarity and beauty in sound over raw, chest-thumping bass power. People in that category should seek a Balanced Armature earphone. I reached out to Noble Audio and asked what IEM they would recommend to a basshead like me, and they were gracious enough to send me the Noble 5 to review.
While the impact of a BA-based IEM is never going to reach the levels of a Dynamic Driver, the sub-bass depth is outstanding on the Noble 5. The impact is also superior to many other earphones I’ve heard, including a fair number of Dynamic Driver-based ‘phones. The Noble 5 reaches impact levels similar to the Audio Technica ATH-CKS1000 and a bit shy of the JVC HA-FXZ200. That is, frankly, rather incredible given that it’s all BAs (5 of them!) in each earpiece, especially considering the clarity offered by the Noble 5.
There are 2 drivers (technically, they’re receivers, but everyone calls them drivers so I will too) dedicated to highs and 2 dedicated to mids coming from one bore, and 1 driver dedicated to lows coming from the other. Apparently, you can/should only put ~4 Balanced Armature drivers in a single tube, so all of Noble Audio’s IEMs are dual or triple bore.
The overall sound is smooth and silky, with a mild emphasis on bass and tuning that works well for extended listening sessions. The basshead in me can’t leave headphones to their default tuning, so I pulled out the equalizer and Cayin C5 to see what these could do. A boost in the sub-bass combined with the bass boost switch on the C5 yields true basshead-level bass, and no further tuning of the sound signature is needed to my ears.
They scoop low into layers of bass depth I didn’t know were possible with Balanced Armature earphones and ride a silken wave all the way up the spectrum. The attack of tom drums sounds a bit emphasized, which suggests emphasis in the 5kHz range, but it drops off well shy of sibilance. I am not posting a frequency response graph with this review in part because my setup couldn’t get the best seal (the bores are more of an oval than a circle), so this is more based on subjective impressions than any real data.
As for what the Noble 5 comes with, the case is the standard hard shell I’ve been seeing from many high end IEMs lately, the eartip selection is very good (I prefer the foam tips or double flanges), and there are bands presumably to strap to audio players.
Weaknesses? The only audio-related weakness might be, for some people, that the highs could be slightly fatiguing. There is a slight edge to them, but not enough for me (and I’m sensitive to treble) to drop them with EQ. I find the frequency response to be very pleasant. Soundstage is intimate, so if you’re looking to feel like you’re in the Sydney Opera House, this might not be what you’re after. My only real criticism is that they’re a little tough to get a good, comfortable fit at first with the tips and over-ear wear. I tend to mess with them for a few minutes every time I put them on before everything feels right.
If you’re looking for a Balanced Armature-only earphone that satisfies your basshead cravings, I have heard nothing better. The competition in the high end Balanced Armature Basshead market is fairly slim, so these might stay on top of the heap for some time to come.
- 5 precision tuned balanced-armature drivers per side
- 1 low frequency driver
- 2 mid frequency drivers
- 2 high frequency drivers
- 3-way design
- Impedance < 30 Ohms
- Detachable silver-plated copper cable with Kevlar stranding in the shielding (w/ industry standard two pin configuration)
- Signature Noble universal form factor
- Rose gold plated pentalobe screws
- Silky sound
- Great bass depth
- Very good impact for BA
- Amazing clarity
- Wonderful build
- Less impact than top-tier Dynamics
- Fit isn't perfect for everyone
- The packaging is fairly minimalist if you care
- Need an amp to sound their best