Noble Savant IEM audiophile earphones review
Noble is a well-respected maker of audiophile grade in ear monitors (IEMs) – that’s earphones to most of us. Recently Noble released their Savant IEMs and I’ve be lucky enough to be furnished with some to review.
As any of you that are regular readers here will already know – I am much more of an over-ear headphones kinda guy than wanting to shove audio directly in to my lugholes. That’s partly due to me finding it difficult to get a comfortable fit from earphones that will allow me to wear them for any length of time. Will the Noble Savant change my mind?
Noble Savant IEM design
My review sample of the Savants are finished in a rather understated black plastic, but you can get them in a range of swirly multi-coloured Wizard versions if you put down some extra money.
The body of the IEMs feature the Noble logo and those rose gold screws that hold the whole thing together.
There’s a generous assortment of tips bundled with the IEMs in the rugged Peli case which also comes with a carabiner and a pair of Noble-branded rubber bands to lash around your player and portable amp.
Noble Savant IEM performance
I can’t really go in to much detail regarding the Savant’s specifications as, well, Noble remains pretty tight-lipped regarding the type and amount of drivers used in these IEMs.
The Savants are priced to fall in between The Noble 4 (4 drivers) and Noble 5 (5 drivers) but does that mean the Savants have 4 or 5 drivers? Perhaps 4.5? Who knows?
Noble will happily tell everyone about the Savant’s impedance, which is rated at 30 ohms by-the-way, but nothing else really. It’s therefore all down to what the listener reckons about the Savant’s reproduction rather than going in with expectations based on a long list of impressive specifications.
That said, there is obviously an expectation based on the brand. These might be the ‘mid level’ IEMs in Noble’s stable but you know that these should be a quality offering if you are familiar with the company.
After going through a fair range of ear-tips I finally found the correct fit for comfort and the IEMs not flopping out of my ear if I decided to jog a bit.
The Savants are quite decent at blocking out external noise and the cables were plenty long enough for anything I wanted to use them with.
Noble Savant IEM sound quality
The Noble Savant IEMs have an almost open, spacious quality which was a nice surprise compared to other…. dare I call them earphones?
Most of the earphones/IEMs I have tried have had a soundstage that either stops within my head or, at most, are shoulder-width. The particularly poor ones leave me almost claustrophobic. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not saying that the presentation is so wide that it lacks definition and focus – far from it.
The Savants are big on detail, resolution and clarity on top of that broad soundstage. Don’t go in to these, or let them go in to you (neither of those read right do they?), expecting an ‘exciting’ sound.
You are not going to get bass-heavy, brain rattling, dance beat munching thumps. As with most audiophile-targeted ear-pleasers, the Savant is about accuracy rather than boosting anything for effect. That said, the mids and highs do seem to sit a little proud of the bass to my ears. But then, as a bass player, perhaps my taste is a tad biased.
The bass performance of the Savants is none-the-less excellent. It is detailed, layered and refined with cello and upright bass warm and woody – but, where these really shine is in the treble and mid ranges.
Treble is clear, extended and detailed. The top end isn’t harsh but resolves very, for want of a better word, cleanly. Cymbals are bright, defined and full of character whilst not being overpowering. High register strings are treated with precision rather than cutting through like fingernails down a blackboard.
The mids, particularly the high mids, are the main players in the Savant as far as I am concerned.
Thanks to these you certainly get the impression of pin-sharp imaging.
The Savants really seem to love instrumentals, especially acoustic, and vocals – ‘Dumb’ by Nirvana for the MTV Unplugged sessions, for example. These reveal those little hidden details that I tend to only get to enjoy with my Oppo cans.
I found myself drawn to the breaths pulled by singers before they belt out their plaintive songs, the ringing sustain from acoustic guitars and the harmonics of fretless bass.
They can handle the fuller sounds as well though. Anything from Killing Joke’s ‘The Wait’ and Bad Religion’s ‘Los Angeles is Burning’ to ‘Velvet Pants’ by Propellerheads and ‘Aisha’ by Death in Vegas – all sounded excellent.
Something I don’t tend to get from in-ears is that three dimensional positioning of the instruments. I am happy to say that the Savants are very capable of this and the skills of Dr John must be applauded.
Noble Savant IEM review conclusion
These Noble IEMs aren’t perhaps the most relaxing listen out there but I cannot argue with their clarity, accuracy and the detail they deliver from such a small package.
The imaging, when in a quieter room such as the office, was astounding. Although, for the commute, I still prefer my Oppo PM-3.
If you are still undecided about the capabilities of IEMs (as was I) then I think you owe it to yourself to try the Noble Savants. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Noble Savant IEM availability and price
The Noble Savant universal fitting IEM is on sale now direct from Noble for £399. If you fancy something with a bit more flare and colour, you can pick a set from the Wizard line for £550.