Disclaimer: Both the universal and custom built Katana in this review were graciously provided free of charge by Noble Audio, I only had to cover the costs for my impressions, shipping them to the US and importing the finished product from China. Both units will stay in my reference inventory for future reviews and comparisons. Many thanks! All photos in this article are taken by me. Noble Audio recently became a site advertiser.
About Noble Audio
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
Katana was introduced about a year ago as Noble’s co-flagship to the Kaiser 10, which later got replaced by the sublime Kaiser Encore. Katana features nine proprietary balanced armature drivers per side, and has been the first model of theirs to receive the Noble Only drivers. Katana comes in two flavours. Universal and Custom. The universal Katana will set you back 1850$ while a custom build will cost you 2099$ and up, depending on your personalization choices.
Katana was designed to be the the counter-part to the Kaiser, with focus on a balanced and extreme precise signature, with tremendous speed and versatality.
Not much is disclosed on Noble’s website when you look for Katana. As said before, Katana features nine BA drivers per side. Its impedance is generally below 30 Ohms, but depends on the frequency it is measured with. The sensitivity of Katana is higher than with most of my other IEMs, and it tends to reveal hissing gear quite easily.
Custom build choices (Personalization)
If you order a custom built Katana from Noble you have many different options to pick from.
You can do a custom design and chose 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 Tamarin, 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.
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