Review: Noble Audio Kaiser Encore – K10’s successor

Disclaimer: The custom Kaiser Encore was graciously provided by Noble Audio free of charge for this review, many thanks! I only had to pay for customs, import fees and to have my impressions shipped to their US office. The Encore will stay in my inventory and will be used as a reference in ear monitor for future reviews. Noble Audio is not a site advertiser.

About Noble Audio

I shamelessly copied this part from my previous Sage review and applied only minor changes to it.

Noble Audio, or simply Noble, is an American based company that manufactures custom made in ear monitors as well as universal models. They are still a relatively young brand being only formed about four years ago, though the Noble team can look back on a bit more years of experience in the field. Before Noble was born Dr. John Moulton, aka Wizard (nickname given due to the magnificent designs he created), founded Heir Audio. In 2013 Moulton parted ways with Heir and formed Noble Audio together with some former colleagues.

Noble is one of the most unique and innovative brands around. When they started they introduced the audiophile world a complete lineup of IEMs, among them their former flagship Kaiser 10 (or K10). The K10 still is considered as one of the best in ear monitors available and enjoys legend status. What makes Noble so unique in my opinion is not only the incredible designs the Wizard creates but the fact that you have no less than four different options for their models: Universal, Acrylic CIEM, Silicone CIEM and Prestige CIEM. Most of them are manufactured in different laboratories, either in Asia or USA. The Prestige models are absolutely different to what any other manufacturer offers, those are made of solid materials like exotic woods and carbon glass or even feature small pine cones. Some models, like Sage, also make it to a Wizard universal, those feature a face plate designed by Dr. John himself.

If you want to take a look at what Noble is capable of building see here: Noble Lookbook

Lately Noble had the guts to rework two of their most successful models – The Kaiser 10 and Savant. Both new models now feature custom built balanced armature drivers, so no more off the shelf BA‘s. Today we’re looking at the successor to Noble’s former flagship – The Kaiser Encore. But first we’re looking back at the Kaiser 10.

Noble Audio Kaiser Encore

Noble Audio Kaiser Encore

About Kaiser 10 and Kaiser Encore

Back in the day when Noble Audio was launched they immediately introduced what was the most innovative IEM design at that time, featuring non less than ten balanced armature drivers per side. It to this date is considered one of the best monitors available and has been highly requested even shortly before it was replaced by the Kaiser Encore. The Kaiser 10 was created with the goal to form an in ear monitor that is capable of producing the finest sound with all genres.

The K10 has won multiple awards
from international press all over the globe and has earned the deepest respect from the most critical headphone community around. It has received 28 consecutive full five star reviews on Head-Fi for the custom version alone. No other earphone or brand has been as successful as the Kaiser 10 and Noble. It is highly respected for the deep thunderous and incredibly controlled bass, immense detail reproduction and fun signature that drags you into the music while retaining a clean sound. The Kaiser has been placed at the very top of Noble’s line until Katana came around. Katana has been introduced as the very first of Noble’s in ear monitors to feature custom built balanced armature drivers. This is something only the best and biggest brands can do. It means that the drivers for each Katana set are built on the exact requests of Noble. No more workarounds. Katana though was not introduced as the new sole flagship, it has been positioned right next to the K10, giving both co-flagship status. In the meantime Noble has been working on the successor of the Kaiser 10 and they introduced it in October of last year – the Kaiser Encore. According to Dr. Moulton the name Encore is supposed to symbolize the evolution of K10. It sports just like Katana custom built balanced armature drivers and is said to be the lovechild of Katana and K10. Taking the air and extension of Katana and combining it with the low end grunt and fun musical signature of K10. Kaiser Encore’s mids have also been retuned to form a bigger and more spacious sound stage and to add more clarity to the picture.

The Kaiser Encore is offered in three different versions. You can get a universal version with aluminum body and top plate, a custom build with acrylic housing or you could get a Prestige custom build.
Prices start from 1850$ and go all the way up to 3150$ depending on your choices. Shipping worldwide is included in the price.

Technical info

Not much is disclosed on Noble’s website when you look for the Encore. However Brannan has provided me with some information about the new Kaiser:

Encore features the same ten BA driver configuration as its predecessor. Two drivers for low end notes, two balanced armatures for mids, two for upper mids, dual BAs for highs and another two drivers for upper treble. Its impedance is generally below 30 Ohms, but depends on the frequency it is measured with. The sensitivity of Kaiser Encore is slightly higher than the K10’s. The Kaiser 10 has been considered as one of the more sensitive IEMs.
As noted before, the most important
technical difference are the custom built drivers.

It continues with Custom build choices (Personalization), Package and Build quality on the next page

Review: Noble Audio Kaiser Encore – K10’s successor
4.98 (99.65%) 114 votes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

    15 Comments

    • Reply April 25, 2017

      Yaroslav

      Great review, thanks!

      I wonder what is the most reasonably priced IEM by Wizard that still reminds you of the sound signature and the sound quality of this piece since $2K is still a ton.

      Like, an LCD-2 to LCD-4 or LCD-3. Is that Django? Maybe an IEM from another vendor?

      • Reply April 25, 2017

        Linus

        I only have two other Noble’s, K10 and Sage. Sage is like a mini Kaiser, well balanced, insane imaging and separation. It does not have the bass of the K’s though, but responds very well to EQ’ing. So that might solve that.

        Only listened to LCD-2 and LCD-X myself, no experience with 3 or 4. Sorry.
        I highly recommend giving Sage a listen, it’s outstanding

        • Reply April 25, 2017

          Yaroslav

          I have the X as well! Can you recommend other IEMs just based on the same signature or, you know, “feeling”, especially with the lows.

          In general, do you think BA bass is comparable to planars these days?

    • Reply April 25, 2017

      Berkhan

      Amazing work Linus! Thanks for the review.

      In my opinion the only small dent about K10 was staging. Seems like they solved the only weakness of it with the Encore. Nice work from John right there.

      • Reply April 25, 2017

        Linus

        Thank you so much Berkhan! Highly appreciated.

        Team Noble certainly has solved that. If you get the chance give the Encore a try. It is incredible.

    • Reply April 26, 2017

      Max

      Hey Linus, great review!

      Was wondering what’s your take between the Encore and the Lime Ears Aether. Am really wondering if I should get the Encore on top of my Aethers haha.

      • Reply April 26, 2017

        Linus

        Hi Max,
        thanks for your comment.
        I honestly have no experience with the Aether so I can’t help, sorry.

      • Reply April 26, 2017

        bsasproaudio

        I have some experience with Aethers and if I was on your position I would try that no doubt in my mind! Give it a go!

        • Reply April 26, 2017

          Linus

          sure would love to, but they’re hard to demo where I’m at…

    • Reply April 29, 2017

      Citizen Zombie

      You may ask your colleague Lieven for a loan of his ProPhile 8. They announced a CIEM version for 2k€ at the ProLight/Musikmesse in Frankfurt, making it a direct contender for the Kaiser Encore.
      While I think about buying a top end CIEM for mastering purposes it is difficult to shell out such an amount of money without listening to it before. Noble has no dealers in Germany and I never have seen this company at a fair in Europe.

      • Reply April 29, 2017

        Linus

        Noble is only active at CanJam London. As you say, they have no dealer/distributor in Germany.
        When I get some eartime with the ProPhile I’ll let you know how they compare to the Encore. But from what I’ve heard PP8 is (at least with both switches down) fairly neutral.

        • Reply April 30, 2017

          Citizen Zombie

          Sadly I can’t attend CanJam London 2017, 15/16th of July is already planned.

          The ProPhile is a neutral sounding headphone and I need this by design. Every desktop headphone I use regularly in the studio or on location (Beyerdynamic DT 1990, Sennheiser HD 600, HD 800, Stax SR-007) is measured and equalised, but I never found an equaliser for mobile use capable enough to meet my expectations. Not for smartphone, not in a mobile player. So I use fairly neutral (C)IEMs like Hearsafe HS 15-2, Sennheiser IE8, Stax SR-001 knowing their shortcomings. But an improvement would be welcome. Changing a microphone position and immediately listening to the effect is a major time saver.

    • Reply May 1, 2017

      rob

      I was able to demo these at Can Jam NYC and found myself drifting away, and having to pull myself back to reality. I bought a pair on the spot, and they are almost here! I can’t wait to pair these with my Sony WM1A and grab a 4.4 balanced cable from PlusSound. The Sony balanced adds depth to the bass without losing anything in return, which is what disappointed me with my AK240. The combo of WM1A and Encore should be magic.

    • Reply May 7, 2017

      Audio Fan.

      Oooooh, more juicy freebies for “impartial” reviews…
      How can we trust anything that you say, when you’re so subjective and so biased? Hmmmmm?

    • Reply May 7, 2017

      Linus

      Hi Audio Fan,
      I see where you’re coming from, but I can assure you that I write my reviews as objective as I can.
      I have also reviewed Noble’s Sage, which I bought second hand, and it also wowed me, I also place it above other IEMs I got sent by manufacturers. The Encore deserved every bit of the review as it is a stellar IEM in my opinion, and thus it is currently ranked at the very top spot of all in my collection.

      Wouldn’t it be better for me to rank the models which I bought higher than the one’s I got for review, to justify the costs? (especially the flagship ones)

      I hope you can see where I’m going with this.

    Leave a Reply