Disclaimer: I purchased the Noble Audio K10 for the purposes of this review through Noble Audio’s website. Noble Audio gave me a significant discount.
Separating the adjective gorgeous from Noble Audio’s work is impossible. Just check out Noble Audio’s Twitter account. Left and right, they kick out designs like this, this, and this. While admiring their artistic vision, I stand firmly with Kurt Vonnegut Jr:
I had no respect whatsoever for the creative works of either the painter or the novelist. I thought Karabekian with his meaningless pictures had entered into a conspiracy with millionaires to make poor people feel stupid.
Not that Wizard drew two rectangles for 50.000- $. Not that he is anything less than a visionary in the bland world of earphones. But right now, Nathan Wright of Ω image, and Headfonia, and formerly of TouchMyapps, Holsybrunn Bibel Skola, York University, and Bad Attitude’s R US, struggles with the idea of flash for flash’s sake. Naturally, he opted for black, for prosaic. Its dark glint mimics his heart.
But at 1599$, there’s no real way to cut the Noble Audio K10 if not as a jewel.
Noble Audio’s very first earphones made an impact. Metal, wood, and discriminating craftsmanship set them apart. Now the Noble team are up to clocks, precious metals, jewels, not to mention psychedelic colors and tie-dyes. It’s geekery-cum-artisanship you ain’t never seen before.
It’s a safe bet that Noble can purvey almost any vision. That said, Nathan’s vision is like three rungs lower than the next geek’s. I’m a one-trick pony. As a photographer, I’m a keen worshiper of contrasts. Ergo, I set out to create a simple designed that popped. The red and white of the ohm logo literally pop out of my K10’s faceplates. You no likey? That’s alright.
The logos themselves are tiny, and the print is well-defined. The differences in print quality between the K10 and the LEAR BD4,2 are stark. The differences in storage box quality, however, are just as stark, and favor LEAR.
Noble Audio opted for some reason for appears to be a knock-off Otter Box- that or a very cheap Otter box. Shut up, Nathan, it’s just a box! you might say. I hear you. I do. It’s just that for the asking price of 1.600- $, the use of a knock-off is unsavoury.
And very like LEAR, Noble employ the traditional dual-pronged Westone, UE-style cable. That means twisted strands, good strength-to-weight ratio, and flex protection. It also means memory wire. Dear god…
Both clamp the y-split with heat shrink, though the Noble’s appears to be sturdier. And Noble also affix their cable with a more robust tapered L-plug. Right and left channels (not to mention polarity) are well labelled. But the cable is fatter, though, and less compatible with certain smartphone/amp/player cases.
I didn’t use it much. It’s my glasses you see. They don’t like memory wire. Nuforce’s Primo 8 cable is far worse to use. Still, for the entirety of this review, I made use of Linum’s excellent BAX and voice cables, which I find infinitely more comfortable.
Stuffing in ten speakers per side precludes the K10 from being slim. Still, it sits comfortably in the ear. Rather than posturing beefy shoulders (like certain FitEar earphones) the bulk of the K10’s weight occupies centre mass. This allows the K10 to sit pretty, and very comfortably in the ear.
Noble Audio earphones tend to be very clean. No bubbles, no cracks, no unintended hollows. I’ve yet to see fingerprints on drivers, or dust bunnies. Cable routing is neat and easy to trace. On a scale of 0 – FitEar, they are a solid 9.
That said, my right unit suffers a shallow cleft above the Noble Audio crown. It doesn’t affect fit. It doesn’t affect sound. It does, however, remain a blemish, however small.
Each of the K10’s three sound tubes is bored into naked acrylic. Each is solid, tooled well, and sat in a minutely recessed bowl. This small recess helps to obstruct the ingress of ear wax. If wax does clog up a bore, maintenance is, at least for the larger of the two bores, trivial. There are three bores on my unit, two large, and one small. The wax loop will not fit the smallest bore. A needle will.
But the Lord knows I’m off them needles.
Being a larger-sized custom earphone, the K10 won’t fit comfortably under motorcycle helmets. Ditto if you’ve got an overly cushy pillow pushing on your ears.
Assuming you are using the K10 according to specification, and assuming that you got a good fit, whoopee! you are in for a nice treat. The K10 goes in far, and Noble’s wonderful workmanship ensures it stays in nice. If you’re like me and blessed by a limn of natural lubrication, insertion and removal is lickety split.
As with all custom earphones, you absolutely must submit proper ear impressions. Good-sounding custom earphones can only be created by proper impressions. Don’t take the cheapest route. Don’t go in for an inexperienced audiologist. If you want the best, hire the best.
I’m learning that one even as we speak.
Sound impressions continue on the next page.