Review: Noble Savanna | Special

Disclaimer: The Noble Savanna was given to me by my friend for testing and reviewing purposes. Noble is not involved with this review.

 

About Noble

I think Noble doesn’t need an introduction but anyway I’ll say a few things.

The company is run by John “the Wizard”, and Brannan “the Glove”. John is the founder and he’s been a popular guy for a long time in the business.

Even though my review is about a universal unit here, Noble is mostly known for their custom IEM’s of course. The Wizard Designs are exceptional in the market and the Prestige CIEMs are really a pinnacle which hasn’t been matched by any other company. Noble also has a good customer relations and after-sales service. My friend, who gave me the Savanna for testing has a good contact with Brannan. As far as I can see he is a good and a helpful guy.

Also I should say that the Head Fi topic “the Wizard Returns” is very cool and funny which I love to look upon every once in a while. It still remains one of the most popular threads.

SAVANNA

Well, giving special names to products isn’t a new thing but it just became a little more popular in portable audio recently. This model is a renamed version of the old Noble 4. Note: I’ve never listened to that one before. The only specially named IEM was the Kaiser 10 for Noble before these new developments. All the others had numbers based on the driver count. Then came Savant – which has similarities in sound with this one – the second special named unit after K10.

Noble’s been on the move recently. First they renewed the famous K10 with a fully new aluminum shell and now they’ve redesigned the whole lineup with new names and new shells.

In my opinion they did what they had to do as you can’t stay where you are without a change for a long time. You need to proceed and eventually become better. Similar things from other brands have been happening as well recently. Even though you make amazing custom monitors, a lot of people still prefer to go with the universal, just because they don’t want to commit and hustle through the process.

DSC06381

Also, if your ears somewhat big, there’s a better chance to get a good fit with the universal monitors. So you can stick with the universals all along just like myself, without the need to wait for long periods and (possibly) face more because of a refit process. There’s also a value problem: You lose some amount of value when selling your CIEM’s. Therefore, you may want to go with the universal version to sell it without too much loss.

I think all CIEM manufacturers should include good universal options. The old lineup from Noble was just too plain for me (not the Wizards of course, I’m talking about the classics). It’s good to see them pushing themselves for more. And not just that, they introduced a second flagship called “Katana”. Sounds cool and I hope I can listen to that one soon.

DESIGN and BUILD

The new look is definitely an improvement over the old classic universal design. Especially the company’s logo on the plates caught my eye. It’s embedded into the CNC aluminum which looks even cooler than the newest K10 logo to me. The color itself also looks nice and premium. Unlike the K10, which has a full aluminum body, the inside part is plastic. Considering the price difference that’s not a surprise but frankly I expected a full metal body. But it’s still very nice as it is and it does look durable.

Overall it’s a very good update. The price has increased 50$ for each IEM and I assume that’s because of the new constant costs to build this new lineup. The design is pretty simple and there’s not anything else to talk about. Nozzle quality is good and it feels solid as well.

Savanna 5

FIT and ISOLATION

As well as the build, fit is also better with the new lineup. But is it great?

Noble’s universal fit wasn’t the best for me personally up to now, but this time thanks to the longer nozzles the fit is a little bit better. But still, I think Noble universal bodies are oddly shaped and not too convenient. In addition to this, I also think there shouldn’t be a memory wire with this kind of a design because it doesn’t help the fit, instead it makes it worse. Memory wire prevents the IEM’s to go deeper in your ear, therefore it forces the IEM’s to stick out. With this design, the 2-pin sockets are not next to your ears, they stay outwards a little so that means you have to shape the memory wire properly but it’s harder than most. A shorter memory wire does not help either.

With some adjustments I managed to get a fairly good fit. I shaped the memory wire not around my ears from behind, but around my ears from the side to prevent the inconvenience caused by the wire. So no force from the memory wire to push the IEM’s to stick out from my ears. I pushed the IEM’s more from the bottom sides to my ear canals. The result is quite good. Still not great though.

The shape of these Noble Universal’s isn’t too intuitive but at the same time the longer nozzle is a nice welcome to get a better fit than the previous versions. Of course here I have to say the fit depends heavily on the person’s ears shape. So I can’t say a certain thing here like “the fit is bad”. But I can certainly say is; there’s a better chance to get a good fit over the old design with these.

Isolation is at acceptable levels. Once you manage to get a good fit, I don’t think you will receive much outside noise. Comply comfort series is a good experience in this regard. Spiral Dot’s weren’t good for me. I prefer to have a deeper insertion as they’re quite short tips. Stock silicones are OK, but I got better isolation with Comply Foam’s. I think longer tips are your friend with these because of the design but of course fit always can vary with your personal experience.

Continue to sound impressions on Page Two

Review: Noble Savanna | Special
4.2 (84.29%) 28 vote[s]

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A lover of personal audio from Turkey, Berkhan always seeks the perfection. He chooses a simplistic expression of sound at all times, and tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes photography wins, and sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside.

15 Comments

  • Reply September 6, 2016

    Barun C

    This might be one of the worst reviews I’ve read here. Most of the statements here are cliched or don’t make sense or they are incorrect, which also doesn’t do justice to a good product. People can disagree, but these are my opinions based on the experience I have with gear I own or have owned.

    1.When you say ER 4, lows are non existent it is an incorrect statement, talking from an individual perspective, from a comparative perspective it is a whole different matter, but that wasn’t the case here.

    I’ve owned both 4B and 4P and they certainly can go low, analytical and detailed may be more accurate words here but certainly not non existent.

    2. When you say it sounds boring from aggressive and flat source and conclude that QP1R has similar traits, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I have been using the QP1R since Sep 2015 and I have used it with bright Ocharaku IEM’s and Sony EX 800ST to name a few and they certainly don’t sound aggressive and flat like most of the Sabre Chip based DAP’s out there.

    3. The “She” analogy made here, makes no sense at all. How does that description encapsulate an IEM in terms sound, design, comfort, presentation and packaging etc etc escapes me.

    4. A UIEM review, which doesn’t state anything in regard to isolation and suitability of use in outdoors/noisy environments/home. Brilliant !!!!

    • Reply September 6, 2016

      Berkhan

      Thanks for the critics.

      1. By saying non-existing, I tried to say that the lows on Savanna is not something like ER4. Of course every earphone has low freq’s to some extent. I am aware of that. I was trying to describe it’s not too flat like the ER4. You’re maybe not satisfied with the words I’ve chosen there and that’s all right. Maybe I should’ve said “it’s not like ER4, the bass is a little more than that”.

      2. I’m sorry, I’ve tested the QP1R, and it is boring even with my Angie’s, which are quite musical IEM’s. You can say it has great resolution and it’s a very very detailed DAP, but that doesn’t make it enjoyable for me. This is all about personal taste, but the thing is QP1R doesn’t have powerful lows in my opinion, so in the end pairing it with the Savanna will not be ideal in terms of sound.

      3. Why bother that too much. I don’t understand.

      4. I don’t like to talk about isolation, because whatever I say, that depends on your ear shape, depends on tips, depends on volume, depends on your expectations. But I give you credit I could’ve said a few words about it.

      • Reply September 6, 2016

        Barun C

        With regard to the QP1R, I have not mentioned anything about pairing with Savanna, as I’ve not heard it, but I have stated that I have paired bright IEM’s.

        Let’s take an example, Ocharaku Nami is a home use IEM I use for acoustic, classical and jazz. They are brighter than the HD 800. Ocharaku being this treble focused does not sound flat or aggressive from the QP1R, which leads me to assume otherwise, I have to personally hear Savanna to confirm. You can find it thin & boring in general or with the Savanna, that’s individual taste, but when you say as a general statement that it is flat and aggressive source and therefore thin and boring, the flat aggressive part is something I can’t agree with. On a comparative note one can say QP1R is flatter and more organic sounding in comparison to a let’s say AK 240, which I find to be muddy and slurry in comparison.

        BTW I’ve heard the Angies out of the QP1R, AK 240, AK 100 II and found the Angies were too dark sounding IEMs for my tastes from both single and balanced. I didn’t find it musical when in comparison to Earsonics Velvet, Custom Harmony 8.2 to name a few , but that doesn’t mean I will state that they dark, muddy and veiled sounding in general.

        I bothered about the girl analogy, because it didn’t fit with the article or product in terms of context.

        Isolation is of paramount importance when some one is talking or writing about IEM’s, people like me make our decisions of buying depending upon various factors, one of them is isolation. If you talk about variables about factors to consider for isolation then a million things can be talked about which will never be covered. But a general comment with default or popular tips like SpinFits, Comply Foam, JVC Spiral Dot could’ve been given.

        Appreciate your response to my critical comments earlier. You have a nice day.

        Cheers.

        • Reply September 6, 2016

          Berkhan

          Well, I’m not saying the QP1R is agressive. But like I said, I think it doesn’t have strong lows so it’s somewhat thinner and flatter than some DAP’s. So I just basically say it’s better to pair the Savanna with sources that have good bass body, since the Savanna doesn’t have a meaty sound. I always think that a good match has to be made with opposite sounding items. That’s all.

          I think, probably we have very different tastes overall. QP1R is not my cup tea regardless of being a technical and detailed DAP.

          Yes, the Angie’s are dark and veiled. You can definitely say they are. They don’t have great resolution as well. But you know it’s all about preference in these kind of things. I prefer the darkness 🙂

          Savanna sounds like a girl’s name to me, that’s why I used that kind of an expression.

          I can add a small part about isolation.

    • Reply September 6, 2016

      Lieven

      On a side note, Barun. If you’re ever up for doing a guest review, please do let me know 🙂

      • Reply September 6, 2016

        Barun C

        Sure Lieven. 🙂

  • Reply September 6, 2016

    Lieven

    Hi guys, don’t forget that impressions are always subjective. Berkhan is a new writer and maybe we need some getting used to his choice of words. Criticism is welcomed, just always keep it civilized and stay easygoing.

    Barun, I see Berkhan is already replying to your questions, I’m sure you guys will figure it out

    L.

  • Reply September 6, 2016

    Berkhan

    I added a small isolation part to the text. “Non-existing lows” expression for ER4 is deleted from that sentence.

    • Reply September 7, 2016

      Barun C

      Appreciate the inclusion of isolation in the article and the ER4 statement. Will look forward to your future reviews.

      Cheers!!

  • Reply September 18, 2016

    Timothy Kwok

    what about savanna vs savant?

    • Reply September 18, 2016

      Berkhan

      To me, Savant is more neutral than Savanna because Savanna has forward mids. Actually both have their roomy and airy sound, but I remember Savant having a little wider soundstage, but Savanna is more musical of the two because of the great mid performance. Treble part is very similar as well as the laid back lows, which is just a little more prominent on Savant.

      Hope this helps.

  • Reply October 10, 2016

    Peter

    The Noble 4U had a pretty big peak around 6kHz which when you played tracks with an accentuated treble through it, or had peaks around the 5-7kHz range, it was very sibilant and piercing. Savanna smoothed this out and while the treble is still kind of bright to my ears, it’s much more smooth and easy to listen too. The downside to this is that the 4U picks up slightly more detail in the upper regions, but the differences are so small it’s a more than welcome trade off for a smoother more musical signature. I think the 4U is comparable with the Savanna in midbass, but the Savanna has better subbass extension, which I think makes the entire overall sound much more full and even. In a sense, I think the Savanna is a much more natural sounding IEM than the more sterile and cold 4U. Great musical take on what is at its core a transparent, colorless, and open presentation.

    • Reply October 12, 2016

      Berkhan

      Peter very thanks for your detailed info and comparison between those. Appreciated.

      • Reply October 12, 2016

        Peter

        Thank you for a great review on the Savanna!

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