Review: Noble Savanna | Special

SOUND

Noble 4 was regarded as a reference type of IEM with a flat response. Like I mentioned I’ve never listened to the old one, so unfortunately there’s no chance to compare them. The lineup has received an overhaul, therefore besides the fit, build and design, there’s also improvement in the sound , or so claims Noble.

What you get with the Savanna is a true consistent sound with a flat signature, impressive mid performance, and good resolution with the support of four Balanced Armature drivers.

The Savanna has one of the best values I’ve come across considering its price. I’ve had this conclusion before with the In Ear SD2, but I think that from my memory, the Savanna is better. When you listen to the K10 and switch to Savanna, you don’t say something like “this is much much worse”. In fact, you can even say that it’s not a difference on sound quality, but sound preference. That’s how good Savanna sounds. Granted, K10 or any other TOTL IEM is probably better overall. On the other hand, Savanna can keep up with them to a certain level. It can even be better than some more expensive IEM’s with some genres, so that’s very impressive.

The sound in general is a little bit on the thinner side  with the focus being on the mid-range and treble. It’s a crisp and transparent IEM which can compete with most out there considering resolution and separation. Savanna manages to give a good sense of air. It gives a neutral and analytical feeling. Not too much though, it still retains a musical character to some extent with good harmonics. The presentation is coherent in it’s own way. Once you get used to it there are no bad surprises, no imbalance or dents in the frequency range. This type of consistent sound deserves a praise.

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FREQUENCY RESPONSE

There definitely isn’t a focus on bass and especially the mid-bass area is laid back. The benefit of this is a roomy sound which is not bloated. With a combination of good treble resolution you get a clear and open sound signature, and Savanna does just that.

It can give a fair amount of sub-bass but I can’t say the same for mid-bass. This lack of mid-bass gives the IEM a little colder sound than I would like to hear personally. So with that in mind, the lows don’t have the rumble and extension you need with some types of music. Bass lovers surely must look somewhere else.  Jazz, Acoustic, Vocal and Classic types on the contrary is very nice and enjoyable. I also noticed movie soundtracks are also a good experience.

I cannot say whether the bass is better with the new version or not but people who listened to both versions can make some comments on this matter below this article. But I can say the bass is not terribly flat, it still has a small prominence. So don’t expect something like the Etymotic ER-4 type of lows. The quality is excellent though and there are no noticeable problems like muddiness or low texture. It stays faithful to it’s general sound presentation and the bass is clear, tight and has small amount of body overall. This lack of mid-bass I mentioned may give an impression of a boring sound but the good thing is Savanna manages to be musical in a good way with a nice mid presentation.

Mids are quite forward on Savanna to the extent that you may call it as a mid-centric IEM but that’s not completely the case. That may change based on the sources you use, but what I can say is mids have a clear focus. It’s very evident at first listen but positively they’re not too dominant. Mid lovers will love the Savanna as much as the lovers of flat signature. Listening to female vocals and several instruments is magical.

However, if your source or EQ is mid centric, it can become an excessive mid presentation, so you should beware of that. That aside, I think the mids are such a success for the Savanna, as it stays consistent with the whole sound and almost never feels unnatural. The tone feels just right with it’s particular sound performance as a whole and that’s why I say it’s a coherent IEM with a nice harmony.

The tones are not thick, but not thin either. There’s a good balance and separation through the mids which feels pure and natural. Some IEM’s are inconsistent with their presentation such as having thick mids but thin trebles at the same time, or having excessive bass which shadows the mids. You don’t hear something like that with the Savanna. It’s a balanced IEM across the spectrum and that’s a good accomplishment at this price range.

Whilst being a mid-forward IEM, the treble is not shy on Savanna. High frequencies are basically great as well as the mids. Again, it doesn’t feel unnatural or artificial. Maybe it’s little over the limit for my liking for quantity, but remember that I’m a stubborn lover of warm sounding equipment so I usually prefer laid back treble.  People who prefer prominent and revealing treble presentation will be satisfied. The extension is pretty good as well, there’s not much to mourn about, so as I didn’t find an appearing problem, I don’t think I should talk about this area too much. It’s not sounding contrary compared to the other parts of the spectrum and again stays faithful here.

Savanna 4

TECHNICALITIES and SOURCES

Separation is wonderful I should say. I recommend listening to live concert recordings every once in a while. You will hear how good the separation is. You can point out a contrabas while hearing a smooth vocal and having the strings at your side. Whatever you listen to, if the recording is good, you’ll hear and identify almost everything. So stereo imaging, resolution and separation all are great for the price.

Detail retrieval is sufficient but not amazing. That’s pretty fair because the price is not 1500$ so no problems here. Soundstage is somewhat narrow but the source can play an important factor here. It doesn’t get very wide regardless of the source, but it suffers from narrow or close sounding sources. As always, I recommend a source with a contrary presentation. In this case, the source should be a little bassy, not too mid-centric, and roomy. You shouldn’t pair with aggressive and flat sources as it might get a little boring with those. To have a musical sound, you should pair this girl with a source which has good harmony and balance, as well as strong lows.

In my case that source is the Sony ZX2. It has a wide and good body, it also has a warmish sound. The Paw Gold is also great from top to bottom, except the soundstage. But you can get a very good bass power from it. Other sources such as QP1R for example will be too thin and boring. So beware of this situation.

It’s easy to drive the Savanna. No need for much power to get the potential.

Savanna 5

LAST WORDS

Maybe it’s not an allround IEM, but with the right source and right recording, Savanna is a true performer. The performance you get for this price is great, maybe the greatest I’ve come across ahead of SD2 from InEar. I recommend this pretty IEM to everyone who doesn’t want to throw over 500$ at an IEM and to who doesn’t seek powerful bass. In the right circumstances, this one can even compete with IEM’s in much higher prices.

So congrats to Noble Audio who crafted this great IEM with a competitive price. It doesn’t have any huge flaws except for maybe the bass, which won’t be a problem if you don’t care too much about it because of the genres you listen to.

Thank you for paying attention and see you again with the next review.

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A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists the same. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews is the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favourite Jazz recordings.

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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