Noble Audio Kaiser 10 Review: Still the King
Noble Audio is a well known IEM manufacturer based in the USA, currently taking the lead in portable audio. The Kaiser 10 (K10U) is likely the most successful model from them and it’s still popular, despite its release date. Noble recently joined hands with Massdrop, presenting an exclusive version of the K10U. Being interested in the brand for quite a while, I finally chose this one as my first Noble IEM.
The packaging is rather simple. It just comes in with a Pelican 1010 case, containing all accessories and earphone inside of it. Other than the earphone, it includes 6 pairs of silicone tips, 4 pairs of foam tips, a cleaning tool, a carabiner, and a velvet pouch. Variety of accessories are always appreciable, though it would be better to see them stepping up with their packaging quality.
These feel like to be the fruit of mechanical engineering. The fully anodized aluminum with detailed structural patterns leads to an astonishing design. K10U features 10 BA drivers, 2BA for lows, 2BA for mids, 2BA for mid-highs, 2BA for highs, and 2BA for ultra highs. The earpiece size is around average, though it has some thickness to it. It sticks out from the ear a bit doesn’t particularly bother the fit.
The nozzle is also on the thicker side (about T500) but nothing exceptional. Users who’ve been using T500 nozzle likely won’t have issues, though there’s a good chance for finding this troublesome for those with smaller ears. The MD (Massdrop) edition is identical with the original one in every way, except the half of the shell color. The original K10U has a color combination of red & grey-ish white while the MD edition is red & black. The sound is also identical with the original.
The stock cable is made of 4 braided copper with 3.5mm straight jack and 0.78mm 2pin terminations. It’s a well-built cable, though not the best option in terms of sound. I assume most users would already prepare to get a custom cable if they could afford these, but I wish they would provide a better quality cable as Shozy Pola did.
Sound Impression: Lows
I’ve used JVC Spiral Dots and the stock cable for the impression. K10U clearly shows an analytical sound signature. As the mids flow to the highs, you can feel that bit of a “raw BA sound” (or metallic) from the sound like Ultimate Ears does, however definitely not overdone. This is the part where the sibilance part is smoothed out and keeps the sound comfortable, so I don’t consider this as an issue.
Reverbs are naturally yet carefully controlled, keeping the sound accurate and soothing at the same time. The amount of bass isn’t that plentiful, but you can clearly feel the thickness and darkness throughout any tracks. The bass being meaty and highly packed with density gives me the impression that the bass feels premium and classy.
Sound Impression: Mids
Vocals sound thick in density and approached slightly forward than the bass. Mids are slightly elevated from the middle, making it easier to concentrate on both lows and mids without the bass flowing into the vocals. It also sounds rich, tasty, and sweet. It also has a good thickness and sounds big in scale, giving that realistic feeling like the artists is singing in front of you.
While Noble managed to tune the K10U to fully express the details while keeping coherency, the amount of information that comes with all those BA drivers will bring fatigue faster than IEMs with lesser BA drivers. There are IEMs that sound comfortable which also has this much of drivers, however K10U seeks to achieve every single detail from the track, resulting in the sound to be fully packed with information. Though no need to worry about that much, as it’s not a type of fatigue which comes from trebles getting hot or piercing. The details and the imaging make you dive into the music with full concentration, which is why I think K10U have been loved for such a long time.
Sound Impression: Highs, etc.
Treble feels energetic and has a fast strike, keeping the treble instruments tightly controlled. The brightness on the treble is just the right amount to achieve both freshness and smoothness, having a bit of a shiny touch from neutral. Not particularly fatiguing and remains calm without causing any spikes.
The treble quantity itself is slightly lower than the mids, though its existence is always clearly presented in any tracks. K10U does an awesome job exposing the detailed texture on the highs which is another part that I much enjoy from these. K10U forms a round-shaped imaging, achieving good wideness both vertically and horizontally. It feels like the earpieces are fully packed with sound, giving a big and spatial headroom.
Noble K10U shows a clear difference between various eartips and cables. My favorite eartip choices are Acoustune AET08 and E-Pro tips. JVC Spiral Dots are also good though not the best if you’re looking for the density. For cables, I’m definitely going for gold or copper as these cover up the hollow bits on the lower end.
You can’t go wrong with Noble’s Silver x Gold cable which makes the sound more mellow and soothing. The vocals will sound more organic as well as eliminating any metallic feeling that used to remain on the upper mids a little bit. The Silver x Gold cable also makes the overall sound warmer, making it a good choice for those who are looking for a more comfortable sound for longer listening sessions. I also found PW Audio No.5 to work out pretty nicely too. Adding more sub-bass and darkness to the overall sound as well as bulking up the mids to gain more body.
New Noble IEMs (Kaiser Encore, Katana, Khan, etc.) certainly takes a step further from the Kaiser 10, however the long-loved K10U is still a King, still in the game. I used to hear comments about K10U being suitable for hardcore treble enthusiasts, though it actually does a nice job handling all frequencies including the low frequencies. Of course, this ain’t the best choice for bassheads but shouldn’t be lacking in bass for most users. K10U going to be a great buy for those who enjoy the clear and analytical sound coming from multi-BA setups.
Noble Audio Kaiser 10 (K10U) has been purchased by myself.
I am not affiliated with Noble Audio and none of my words were modded or asked to be changed.