Review: Noble Audio Katana – Neutrality is king

Package

There are differences between the universal and custom Katana packaging. Lately Noble has redone their product-packaging for their universal models, while I think the custom builds are still shipped the same they were before.

Both packages contain a shock and waterproof Peli1010 case for secure transportation, two silicone Noble amplifier straps, two white Noble logo stickers, a velvet pouch and a cleaning tool. Attached to the monitors is a 2-pin cable with a 3.5mm stereo mini jack termination.

Those who buy a universal Katana will get a bigger box, with additional ear-tips and an additional round Noble plastic carrying case.

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.

Build quality

Both the universal and custom build are of great design and build. The universal Katana is completely made of aluminium, with a black bottom and a silvery top. In the center of the face plate you can find the Noble crown CNC’d out of the housing. Both parts fit perfectly together, but at this price point you shouldn’t expect any less. What’s surprising is that this model is by a good margin the smallest Noble model, custom and universal, of all I have, even with nine BA drivers per side. Katana, just like the universal Encore, is completely made of aluminium.

My custom build Katana is a Wizard design with the request for Aurora Borealis (multipe colours). The face plate features five different colours in a wave structure. The Wizard’s signature can be found on the right side in black. The word “Katana” is engraved on each earpiece. Blue for left, red for right. This also was a request from my side.

The custom build is in perfect form and shows no signs of glue-residue or any sharp corners. The face place and the body close perfectly, again, this is what you should expect from a top of the line monitor.

The 2-pin sockets on the units (both universal and custom) are flushed, meaning they are not recessed, and follow in line with the rest of the unit’s body. Personally I am a fan of flushed sockets, because to me it is easier to replace cables that way, even though Noble does not advice to do this, as it can lead to socket wear-out.

My custom Katana is one of the smallest monitors in my possession, even models with similar or smaller driver count are bigger, and I was very surprised when I had them in hand the first time.

Fit and ergonomics

This small section mainly is for the universal Katana, since the custom build has absolutely no issues with fit, being made just for your ears.

Katana, as said, is the smallest of all Noble universals I know. It has also been redone with Noble’s newest form factor for enhanced ergonomics. I never really had any issues with any Noble IEM I’ve had, but my ears are also bigger than those of an average person. My canals are slightly mismatching when it comes to size, therefore I always have to use two different ear-tips. My right canal is slightly smaller than my left.

I strongly advice you to do a good round of tip rolling with these, as a good seal is mandatory for Katana to shine. If they don’t seal properly you might experience them as a little thin. Spend the time on a good tip-search, it is worth it.

Once that’s done you’re ready to go!

Katana’s shape is of oval form and that makes it rest comfortably on the outer ear. The over the ear worn cable will take any downwards pulling force from the iems and guarantee a more relaxed listen.

While Katana comes with a hefty price-tag, I strongly suggest to invest in a custom build monitor, as it offers outstanding comfort and isolation, which guarantees a longer and more enjoyable listen.

More on Sound can be found on the next page.

4.8/5 - (141 votes)
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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.

2 Comments

  • Reply February 17, 2018

    David

    Hello Linus,
    Could you compare 64 Audio Tia Fourte and Noble Audio Katana?
    I usually listen to pop (Sam Smith, Adele, Sia, Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey…), and I am wondering which one you would recommend between two.
    Also, which one would you recommend between Noble Audio Katana and JH Audio Lola? (Yes, I read that you mentioned Lola is well suited for Jazz and Rock, but how about those ones I listen to?)
    Thank you 🙂
    Dave

    • Reply May 17, 2018

      Linus

      Hi Dave,
      wow, how could I miss your comment? I’m so sorry. Overdue would be an understatement.
      The Tia Fourté is a lot cleaner and more spacious, it has more treble energy and is more forward in that regard. Bass is more natural with more air in it. Mids are more transparent. Katana is a wonderful precision knife and a reviewers delight, as it is outstandingly true to the chain (source, cable, amp).
      Lola is much darker than Katana and has more emotional mids that would suit Jazz very well, but you won’t get the precision and resolution of Katana in it.

      Did you find your poison yet?
      Sorry again for not responding sooner…

      Hope I could help.

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