From the first day onward the Kaiser 10 has been my favorite in ear. Since it has made its way to me it has been the most used audio product of all in my collection. It instantly replaced my Andromeda and has been sitting in the throne even when Vega came around. It only got some shortage on ear time when Sage arrived, but when I received the UPS package from Noble containing the 10’s successor it had to move aside. After a short listen it was clear that it has gotten a very serious contender for the spot in the sunlight.
The first thing that sprung right at me was the three dimensional stretching and big sound stage. It reaches way out of your head on all axis. Y and Z axis are similarly big in terms of depth and width, height is a little smaller but still reaches out of your head. The second thing that caught my attention was the slightly softer bass. It still had the typical Noble control over it, so low end notes only show their thunderous face when they are called and always stay in their territory, never blurring into midrange. Bass is tight and heavenly textured with great layering, punch and impact.
Midrange is full bodied, lush and soft. The Encores are amazingly coherent and they, like all Noble products I have tried so far, have perfect transition of frequencies. Just like Sage, the Kaiser offers superior imaging with precisest instrumental separation. Each and every instrument is accurately placed in the formed room and is easy to pinpoint on position. This one thing is stellar in particular about imaging: no matter at what coordinates the tone is playing Encore will play it 100% correct and precise. The Encore features an unrivaled organic and natural presentation with live concert character, cymbals have amazingly real decay and sound in no way artificial. The level of cleanness is outstanding and reminded me of a sound system used at a special festival in Germany. The system I am speaking of is called Funktion One and is known for its incredible clarity which can be heard for miles. Encore’s sound has made me go back to that very week. Voices have great body and a holographic feel to them.
Treble is focused, bright and soft. There is absolutely no sibilance to be detected. Every harsh note is silk covered and tamed. There is one track that is unlistenable on almost every speaker, headphone or in ear I own, that is Aphex Twin’s Ventolin. It starts out with a high pitched tone that makes its way through the entire song. It is piercing, sharp and uncomfortable. Yet the Encore takes it down and puts it in a place within the entire track to complete it in a weirdly satisfying way. I even replayed the track on purpose several times because the song finally made sense to me. Thank you Encore! The detail retrieval is outstanding and goes very well together with the class leading imaging and separation. Encore’s sound is balanced, fast, refined and dynamic with a fine musical touch for a fun signature. I am amazed by the incredible clarity the Encore keeps. The softer treble guarantees for an hour-long unfatigued listen.
The Chateau Flight remix of Peace Orchestra’s “Who am I” is a very engaging track with a big sound stage. Notes fly through the room back and forth expanding deep. The Encore rebuilds the track in great manner and stays clean throughout. Every single note, every clap and base drum hit is precisely set. The instruments are very well positioned and separated from each other with care and the correct amount of air between them.
Massive Attack’s signature track “Teardrop” is one of the most beautiful I know. The vocals are almost holographic, the piano has great weight and body to it. Bass is insanely controlled, dynamic and punchy giving the track the certain it-factor it is famous for.
“Family” by Björk is a very thrilling piece. Bass hits hard and goes deep. The entire reproduction is clean as a mountain river. This particular song has given me goosebumps with the Encore. I could almost feel the bass in my neck. The sound stage excels far, deep and wide forming a huge room for the instruments to walk around in. Björk’s wonderful voice is soft, full bodied and sometimes overwhelming – ready to take you over.
Faster tracks like Aphex Twin’s “Syro u473t8+e (Piezoluminescence Mix)” don’t even get the Encore to sweat, it effortlessly stays in control of the entire spectrum and recreates every note with ultimate precision, putting them on their assigned places in the room. It tickles out all included details and sports the dynamics James has assigned this track. It is amazing how involving this monitor can get.
Encore catches Frank Zappa’s voice on “Muffin Man” with the smokey tone and full body Zappa is known for. Again instruments are 100% accurately positioned in the stage. Everything is laser cut separated from each other. Each note sounds realistic and organic. A very engaging number. Drums have the right hit to them, cymbals crash and have a lifelike decay.
Ludvig van Beethoven’s ninth symphony is a masterwork. The strings in Molto Vivace are powerful and soft at the same time. Each instrument is set apart by the Encore with great care. Every song has the correct amount of blood, body and emotion. The stage for the orchestra is big and every instruments finds its place in it. Imaging the musicians in front of you could not be easier. The Encore finds every detail and I could even hear someone turning a page in a more quieter passage. I have been lucky enough to see members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform live. I have never heard anything as thrilling as that before. The Encore is the closest I have come to that very experience since, I can picture myself in the room again watching the string quartet perform.
These are just small excerpts from the many artists and albums I have listened to since the Encore has landed on my doorstep. I have not encountered a single genre the Encore would not be suited for. Everything from Industrial to Jazz, EDM, Rock, Classical or Acoustic sounds right. I bet it handles other genres with the same ease aswell.
When I first took Encore with me grocery shopping it kept asking for my attention, I was walking through the aisles and thought about what I needed to get, only to catch myself two meters later asking myself what it was I was getting. That happened about four times in a row. In the end I think I forgot two of the five or six items I was supposed to get. Oops.
The review continues on page four with Source matching, Amplification and Aftermarket cabling