Review: Noble Audio Kaiser Encore – K10’s successor

Custom build choices (Personalization)

If you order a custom built Kaiser Encore from Noble you have many different options to pick from.

You can do a custom design and choose between 20 standard colors, have it laser engraved, you can put 24k gold, wire filaments or some watch parts in it. You are free to go nuts on the design and make it glow in the dark or add a mystic swirl to your color. Or you could let the Wizard design a unique and stellar CIEM for you, or if you found an already existing Wizard design you like in Noble’s lookbook (or Instagram page) you can even have this particular one be reprinted. It does not stop there however. If you’re in a hurry you can always check the rush order option and receive your new toys faster. Normal current build time is approximately eight weeks, the rush order reduces the pain of waiting to only 10 business days.

If you pick the
Prestige version you have access to different kinds of exotic wood (Cocobolo, Spalted Tamarind, Amboyna Burl, and many more), a mash-up of colors and exotic woods called Wizard’s Wood, or you could get dyed wood, carbon glass in different colors, pine cones, something that Noble calls “Space Zebra”, Honeycomb and Matrix designs, or designs inspired by the one and only Pablo Picasso. For Prestige models Noble can not offer rush orders, so you’d have to be patient for the entire eight weeks build time.

The term picking your poison was never so accurate.

Package

What else do you get when you order a custom made in ear monitor from Noble?
The package contains a shock and waterproof Peli1010 case for secure transportation, two silicone Noble amplifier straps, two white Noble logo stickers, a velvet pouch,
a metal warranty card and a cleaning tool. Attached to the monitors is a 2-pin, silver plated copper cable with a 3.5mm stereo mini jack termination. Noble recently has redone a small yet important part of the cable. They have removed the memory wire from each side and have replaced it with black pre-formed heat shrink. This was a very good move in my opinion, since many people, me included, aren’t the biggest fans of the stiff memory wire. Now the cable is much more flexible around the ears and a lot more comfortable to wear. This goes especially into consideration for everyone out there who’s wearing glasses. Ever since Brannan has sent me the cable as accessory I have used it with every IEM I could. It simply is the most comfortable cable in my possession.

If you are an iOS device user you might want to look into the latest addition to Noble’s optionally available accessories. They now offer a Lightning plug terminated version of their cable, which sets you back 80$. That can be very useful if you own one of the latest iPhone 7’s which got rid of the headphone output. The built in DAC (confirmed by Noble) transforms all digital signals from the iDevice and passes them on to the IEMs.

Noble Audio Kaiser Encore

Noble Audio Kaiser Encore

Build quality

My review unit is a Wizard design with the request of geometric figures and the Noble crown in red and blue in the center. When I came up with the idea of this design I had something completely different in mind (many different two dimensional forms), but when I saw the pictures of my finished set I was stunned by the impressive work the Wizard has created.
You can see in the
photos that on the face plate it appears that there are three dimensional cubes floating around in space aligned to an optical illusion. Impressive! The base is colored in dark blue with some sparkly parts in it to form the look of stars in space for the floating cubes. Dr. Moulton does not joke around with his art. This design has been way above my expectations and I am more than satisfied with it. No doubt John Moulton has earned his nickname with confidence as he crafts the most amazing designs of all.

The Wizard is a man of perfection – the build quality of my acrylic CIEM is nothing short of perfect. There is not a single bubble , smear or scratch in it. The face plate is perfectly closed to the shell without any residue of glue. There are no sharp edges or whatsoever on them. The 2-pin sockets are flushed (not recessed) and changing cables has been absolutely no issue for me. The fit is tight yet as comfortable as you’d expect it to be from a custom build. They disappear in your ears and pass on the music to your eardrums like the monitor was intended to sound. The overall build quality is flawless.

Isolation is top notch as you should expect it from a custom IEM since they were built for that exact purpose. Though many people think that a CIEM will block out all noise, which is a common misconception, it will “only” lower the noise by -26dB. Depending on the sound level of your surroundings you will either hear some noise coming through or not. I mostly don’t hear anything when music is playing as it covers up any noise coming from outside of my head.

Jump to page three for Sound

Review: Noble Audio Kaiser Encore – K10’s successor
4.8 (95.74%) 141 vote[s]

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.

    31 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 June 10, 2017

            rob

            Not even close. Drivers give a different presentation of bass altogether. The bass in my Lyra easily outpaces the bass in my Encore; BA just doesn’t rumble like a Driver does. Having listened to the LCD-2, owning ZMF, Meze 99 Classic, and the Noble Kaiser Encore, the bass presentations are very different. The LCDs, in particular, have a very warm sound signature that you won’t find in BA. Try looking for some hybrid BA/Driver combos like Oriolus- I think you will be happier there.

        • Reply March 27, 2019

          Per

          Hi,

          I’m considering DAP player to go with my K10s. Ak SR15 or the SE100. As of now I lean towards the SR15 just because of its small size. Whats your opinion on that?

          • Reply March 28, 2019

            Linus

            Hi Per,
            thanks for your comment.
            The SR15 is very nice, especially for the portability. Sound-wise it might get a little thick with the K10, here the pairing might be better with the SE100, though this one is a lot bigger and has some really sharp edges which you might want to cover with a case. Unfortunately there isn’t one included in the package of the SE100.
            Hope that helps.

    • 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.

    • Reply September 21, 2017

      Kayoed Owner

      I have the K10’s, the sound quality is fabulous however the build quality is poor. 18 mths into ownership and they already need to be rebuilt. Unfortunately Noble did not return my ear impression so I’ve had the inconvenience and cost of having new moulds made, in addition even though the repair us due to their poor quality control, I am being made to foot the cost of shipping to and from Noble (not inconsequential from the UK). My advise is look around for a company who understand customer service at this premium end of the market. There are plenty of alternatives….

      • Reply September 21, 2017

        Linus

        Wow, that is unfortunate. But I also recently had to refit a ciem of mine and for that you need to have new impressions done and ship them to the manufacturer. I think it is not needed when they 3D print your ciem… then they have your impressions scanned and stored as a file, like 64 Audio does, they however also only use scans they have stored for less than 18 months, because your ears change over the course of time.
        Anyhow, did you reach out to Brannan Mason? he handles customer requests at Noble…

        By the way: I never got my impressions back from any manufacturer

      • Reply September 22, 2017

        Brannan Mason

        Brannan here from Noble, I hope you are well.

        Ear impressions typically begin to degrade after a couple of months depending on the impression material used. Therefore, even if we returned your impressions to you, they would not be suitable to rebuild your K10 at this time.

        Furthermore, impressions are cut, sanded, dipped in wax, and more throughout the CIEM crafting process making them only suitable for a single build.

        If you believe your issue is related to build quality, you are welcome to email me directly at brannan@nobleaudio.com and we can it discuss further there.

        Best,

        Brannan

    • Reply February 22, 2018

      Niroc

      Such a fantastic review!
      May I ask, do you think these would ever be worth running off of a phone, especially a good audio phone (LG v30)?
      I own the Noble Savants which I love, but I have always dreamed of one day owning a pair of k10s since hearing about them years ago.
      I have owned high end DAPs, but I sold them as I found them just so annoying to carry around, and would actually end up listening to music less often for the haste.
      Since buying the v30 I find they run the Nobles really well, and it’s become a must in headphones now.

      Anyway, let me know what you think (sorry for the long ass question!)

      • Reply February 22, 2018

        Linus

        Hi there,
        thanks for your comment, much appreciated.

        The Encores are pretty sensitive, so they might pick up some hiss from the LG. I can’t say how the noise floor of the V30 is… but I believe they would sound pretty good from this smartphone.

        If you have the chance you could try them out at a local dealer and see how they pair with the LG V30

        • Reply June 30, 2018

          jared

          I have the G7 with the encore and the combo sounds fantastic, even better than my LCD i4 with my RDI Dac.

    • Reply August 4, 2018

      jared

      Great review! I have the encore and am wondering which tubes you believe work best when using the CDM with the encores. I’ve read that the CDM dual is great but the DAC isn’t the best, what are your thoughts for maximizing the encores?

      Thanks!

      • Reply August 5, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Jared,

        thanks for your comment.

        Yeah, I agree the CDM doesn’t have the best DAC section, but the analogue path is superb, just make sure to run it fully balanced, that’s the best the CDM has to offer.
        When it comes to tubes I, for a long time, had the Sonotones installed that ALO sells themselves, but I also got some Mullard 6021’s that really made the CDM shine. These are only available if you build them yourself or get someone else to do that for you.

        Tube rolling with the CDM is a lot of fun and you might run into some really awesome pairings. Though I have sold my CDM a while ago, simply because it was too good to collect dust. Had to get a new home…

        Do you have an aftermarket cable for the Encore or are you using stock? The vanilla Encore is damn fine, but I found that it pairs exceptionally well with the DHC Clone Fusion or PW Audio 1960s (2wire), that one comes with a hefty price tag though.

        • Reply September 28, 2018

          Jared Crandall

          Hey Linus. I now have a chord hugo2 I am paring with the encores. I am still considering using the Alo for an amp, also looking into the cables you recommended. Thanks

        • Reply September 28, 2018

          Jared Crandall

          Recommended tube setup for the hugo2 -> continental dual -> encores ?

          • Reply September 29, 2018

            Linus

            Hi Jared,

            that setup definitely is sublime, but a little overkill 😉
            However, I really regret selling my CDM. It’s a stellar portable tube amp. I’m sure it has found a better home now though, would still just sit around most of the time.

            Cable wise, give the Clone Fusion a listen, it pairs very well imo. There is one more cable coming in next week, for which I am personally really excited about, but I can’t say anything for now as it hasn’t made its way to my CIEMs yet.

            What is it you want to alter with a cable? Anything specific you feel needs adjustment on the Encore?

    • Reply February 6, 2019

      ILKER ONIER

      Hi Linus,

      Thanks for the review. I’m seriously considering between u12t and kaiser encore and since you reviewed both of them within 2 days you might have a pretty good opinion. You think kaiser is more analytical while a12t is more entertaining. But which one is the endgame? I own Xelento, se846, ie800s, Angie and shozy & Neo bg. Sp1000m and wm1z for source.I’d appreciate your help very much as I will place the order soon.

      Best Regards

      Ilker

    • Reply September 15, 2019

      Bryan

      Hi, Just wondering if this set is still one of the top CIEM’s. Since it wasn’t in your list of best CIEM’s.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.