For the sake of the experiment I have replaced the supplied silver plated copper cable Noble ships Sage out, with my trusted Leonidas by Effect Audio. Leonidas is a silver-gold, four wire hybrid cable, which actually costs more than Sage alone, 799$. Leonidas is terminated to a 2.5mm balanced plug, but I also have a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. The thought alone is a bit absurd actually, using a cable that costs 200$ more than the earphone alone, but that’s the game we’re playing I guess…
With Leonidas as replacement cable I could hear more air between the instruments, bass was tightened and the overall presentation opened up a bit. High notes were a bit more pronounced, but still kept their silky smoothness.
All in all I don‘t think an aftermarket cable would be necessary here, since the one Noble delivers is of already high quality and a great match to their IEM.
Noble‘s cable is also thinner and lighter, what might find its way into consideration if you‘re wearing (sun)glasses.
Until recently I only had one other IEM with similar price positioning as Sage, Campfire Audio‘s first of many flagships – Jupiter, but thanks to the nice people of Jomo Audio I can now also compare it to their latest universal model – PLB (Pretty Little Beast).
Campfire Audio – Jupiter (4BA, 799$)
Jupiter is a four balanced armature driver design and features a tuned acoustic expansion chamber to extend high frequencies even further.
Jupiter was one of the first IEMs that really shocked me with its extreme resolving details. In comparison to Sage it still is ahead when it comes to that. But Sage clearly wins in aspects of enjoyment, naturality and cleanness. Jupiter appears a bit veiled next to Sage and the layering of the Noble is simply superb. Sage has a more relaxed and laid back appearance, where Jupiter might become a little hectic at times. Both models are similarly big in terms of stage but Noble easily takes the award for imaging.
Jupiter‘s sound also is on the balanced side with emphasis on musicality, missing out on bass presentation and body compared to Sage.
Apart from sound the Campfire is also much heavier on the ear which makes them uncomfortable to wear after some time, whereas the Noble just stays in as long as I want to listen to it.
Jomo Audio – PLB (3BA, 499$)
Ever since I came across Jomo on my Facebook feed I was curious about them, just until a few days ago I never had the chance to actually listen to one of their offerings, since they can nowhere be found around this side of the globe. Thankfully that has changed.
Jomo‘s newest addition to their lineup features a very different signature than what Sage offers. PLB has a lot more presence of low ends and high notes. Their V shaped sound is sure to get out a tremendous amount of detail and delivering bass with a certain punch, but they are doing that at the cost of stage and lushness. Noble again wears the crown of imaging with the head up high in pride. The more balanced and fun signature of the Noble is more likely to be enjoyed on longer terms. PLB might get the nod when it comes to punch but the bass on the Nobles is so very well controlled that it makes its presentation more convincing to me.
Replace PLB‘s Lego like cable with Leonidas and the picture changes quite drastically. Sound is clearer, bass tighter and more controlled, treble gets softer and cleaner, stage bigger and the presentation gets a decent amount of air and body added. Again, this is a cable that is more expensive than the IEM itself and a considerable amount of money would have to be spent.
I bought the Noble Sage purely because I wanted to know if other Nobles could hold up to my expectations, it could have gotten either way, and needless to say I am extremely happy how it turned out. When the opportunity arose to grab these gems for a great deal I could not let it pass. Once again Noble has proven to be a solid choice to spend money on, even for full retail price I see them as a no brainer.
Sage offers class-leading sound quality with superior imaging, musicality and high levels of enjoyment. It comes with a package that leaves no desire to be fulfilled. The superb CNC‘d enclosure makes me wonder how gorgeous their full aluminium universal models Katana and Encore must look. Maybe one day there will be the chance to snatch them for a good deal too, who knows.
I am impressed, well done Noble!