After reviewing the Noble Audio Trident last month, we wanted to test the Noble Audio Kaiser Encore, the brand’s top-of-the-line in-ear headphones along with the Katana. A model designed to offer an on-the-go musical experience.
Noble Audio Kaiser Encore: presentation and technical specs
Noble Audio is an American brand created in 2013 by Dr. John Moulton. Dr. Moulton is a specialist in hearing disorders (audiologist) and an avid audiophile on a constant quest for the best sound restitution possible.
Noble Audio takes root in this philosophy and strives to combine optimal audiophile quality with a sophisticated finish. The Kaiser Encore headphones were designed to replace the K10 U, which was the first high-end model to be released by Noble Audio and the brand’s former standard bearer.
- 10 proprietary balanced armature drivers per side (2 for the low frequencies, 2 for the mids, 2 for the high-mids, 2 for the high frequencies, and 2 for the extreme high frequencies.
- Special aluminum housings featuring a universal form factor and precision geometry designed by Noble.
- High sensitivity and low impedance (35 Ohms), which allows the Kaiser Encore headphones to be used with smartphones.
- Hand-assembled and matched.
- Detachable cable with industry standard 2-pin configuration (0,78 mm diameter).
For more information on balanced armature transducers, read our review of the Aëdle ODS-1.
Noble Audio Kaiser Encore package contents
One can only appreciate the quality of the package assembled by Noble. The Kaiser Encore headphones are packed in a sturdy cardboard box. In addition to the headphones, the box contains a Pelican carrying pouch, a special heavy-duty, waterproof case. Accessories include a selection of eartips of different shapes (bi-flange, mono-flange, …) and materials (foam, silicone, etc.) in three different sizes: S, M, and L, for a total of 11 pairs of eartips. The eartips are presented on a metal board which makes them easy to store and carry. Since sound isolation is particularly important, Noble designed the accessories with great care to ensure an optimal experience.
To keep the headphones and accessories in good condition, an anti-humidity tablet and a cleaning tool are also included and can be carried along in the Pelican case.
Two straps are included, which is particularly useful when carrying two devices together, for example a portable headphone amplifier and a DAP or smartphone.
A well-made, flexible, braided, 2-pin cable is also included. It is designed for listening to music on the move and prevents the connector from being pulled out inadvertently on either side of the cable. The cable’s isolation prevents microphonic noise caused by friction.
Other elements to add to this already comprehensive list are a carabiner for the carrying case, a metal warranty card on which the product’s serial number is inscribed, and for the brand’s biggest fans, two Noble Audio stickers.
Noble Audio Kaiser Encore: an extremely elegant finish
These in-ear headphones fit perfectly in the ear, even when on the move. In fact, in comparison with the previous model, the duct has been lengthened by one millimeter, making the earbuds slightly more intrusive, while improving sound isolation and making them easier to insert and more comfortable to wear. Once inserted into the ear canal, they stay securely in place.
Noble Audio upped the ante by improving on the finish quality of the K10 U headphones (the model which precedes the Kaiser Encore) and adding precision machined aluminum housings. The Noble logo is engraved on the side of the Kaiser headphones. The front part of the housing boasts a metal finish, while the back part is petrol blue. The ribbed finish of the headphones gives the Kaiser Encore an elegant, high-end look. While the weight adds to the feeling of sturdiness, it does not negatively impact the listening experience.
The cable benefits from a meticulous finish with a black, braided design. The cable guide is flexible and adapts to fit all morphologies. It doesn’t lose its flexibility over time and keeps the desired shape.
Comfort and noise isolation are ensured with a variety of tips included. All users will thus find the right pair of tips to enjoy optimal noise isolation. Note that the eartips are easy to change and that they can be switched often without causing any damage.
Noble Audio Kaiser Encore: test conditions and listening impressions
We used a Colorfly C4 Pro DAP as well as a Fiio X5 II DAP for our test. FLAC files were, of course, mandatory for such high-quality material.
The Noble Audio Kaiser Encore’s overall sound signature is more balanced than that of the K10 U while maintaining the warmth of its predecessor. These in-ear headphones boast an outstanding dynamic range, and no compression is applied to equalize the levels of the different instruments.
The lows are organic, energetic and impactful. These in-ear headphones handle low frequencies really well, which means they add a lot of substance to the listening experience. Note that this doesn’t mean that these frequencies overshadow the rest of the sound spectrum. On the contrary, this part of the sound spectrum is handled perfectly and embellishes the soundstage thanks to an excellent control of the low-mids which adds texture to the bass register. For example, we listened to Muse’s Undisclosed Desires for our test. This track is rich in low-mids and bass, which can easily become overwhelming. However, the Kaiser brought out these frequencies without creating any imbalance in the soundstage. The restitution of each individual instrument was crisp and precise, and Matthew Bellamy’s vocals were perfectly delivered. The delivery speed of these in-ear headphones also shines during the succession of high guitar notes and low bass notes.
The medium register is soft, clear, smooth and rich. It adds a warm and lively touch to the vocals and instruments, resulting in an accurate tone that brings out all of the music’s emotions. These warm, enveloping mids combine with a realistic sound delivery to make you want to tap your foot along with the rhythm of the music. This spellbinding effect of the sound also comes from the great layout of the various registers.
High-mids and highs are crystal clear and boast an exceptional extension. These registers are particularly precise and detailed, and the harmonics are surprisingly rich.
The extended reverb gives these in-ear headphones a great sense of space and allows for a precise restitution of the instruments. This is especially beneficial to the layering of the soundstage and sound placement. To test the restitution of the high register, we couldn’t recommend listening to a piano track tenough. A poorly delivered piano track quickly becomes harsh and strident. Moreover, the tone of a piano is easily recognizable and offers both musical performance and a full range of emotions.
If we were to describe the Kaiser Encore headphones using only two words, it would be ‘excitement’ and ‘refinement’, due to the sheer musicality and finesse of this in-ear model. They are easy to drive and do not add any background noise with powerful sources. In other words, they are particularly easy to pair with any type of source, from a smartphone to a headphone amplifier or DAP.
Try these elegant in-ear headphones once and it will be love at first sight. They are extremely versatile and are equally at ease with classical music, jazz, rock, or electronic music. These in-ear headphones also boast a exceptionally elegant design.
We loved: the extremely wide soundstage, the depth and space, as well as the precise sound restitution.
We would have liked: slightly lighter earbuds and less demanding drivers regarding the recording quality of the audio files.
For this price, there isn’t much to complain about and there is no doubt that high-fidelity enthusiasts will enjoy these headphones.This post is also available in: French