Noble Audio Kublai Khan Evaluate — Headfonics
We evaluate the Noble Audio Kublai Khan, which is a high-end hybrid dynamic, balanced armature, piezoelectric, and bone conduction driver IEM. It’s priced at $2599.
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Noble Audio Kublai Khan
The Noble Audio Kublai Khan is greater than only a ‘lick of paint’ on the unique Khan from 2019.
It nonetheless retains the hallmarks of the primary gen with its peppy highs and above-neutral sub-bass response. Nevertheless, this time round it sounds extra mature, refined, and dynamic in its supply and customarily a way more agreeable high-end tuning.
Smoother & extra coherent tuning
Improved styling over the unique
Heavy obligation carry case
Somewhat lean within the lower-mids
Ideas selection wants extra variation
The unique Khan was launched again in 2019 and was one of many early adopters of the tri-brid period of electrostatic or EST driver designs.
Besides, Noble Audio was down a extra distinctive path of utilizing a piezoelectric driver for the Khan which gave it a reasonably distinctive and totally different coloration. A lot in order that we felt it was ok to present it our Top Gear Award in 2019 for the perfect common IEM for that 12 months.
Now, in 2023, Noble has returned with an up to date model referred to as the Kublai Khan which guarantees not solely a extra refined tuning but in addition the introduction of the more and more standard bone conduction driver and an upgraded design aesthetic.
The Kublai Khan is nestled of their flagship sequence of common IEMs however it’s not their precise flagship. It’s positioned simply behind the long-standing Sultan and our just lately reviewed masterpiece, the Viking Ragnar.
The Kublai Khan is a 6+1 driver configuration. The six is a hybrid of dynamic and BA with a single up to date 10mm dynamic driver for the lows, 2 Knowles BA for the low to mids, and a pair of Knowles BA for the mid to highs.
The ultimate driver in that blend of 6 is a brand new technology ceramic 10mm Piezoelectric tremendous tweeter for the highs to the ultra-highs.
The principle bodily distinction between a piezo and an EST driver is that piezoelectric transducers use a ceramic materials to obtain and conduct an electrical cost whereas electrostatic transducers include a skinny steel membrane.
As customary with virtually all of Noble’s IEMs, you’ll discover little or no effectivity information, merely being described as delicate sufficient to work with most DAPs with a resistance ranking of beneath 30Ω.
The ‘+1’ is the brand new bone conduction driver or subwoofer which covers a low-frequency vary and targets the dynamic driver and low-end presentation particularly as a way to produce a extra tactile bass response within the Kublai Khan efficiency.
Noble doesn’t reveal a lot concerning the mechanics of the bone-conduction driver. Nevertheless, given it’s about what you are feeling greater than what you hear it’s important to assume its plate will transmit the vibrations by way of to the shells of the Kublai Khan.
If efficiently applied that bodily sign will permeate into your cranium and cochlea earlier than being transformed into an audible sign by your mind. On this case, it ought to tease out some extra bodily rumble and texture to the Kublai Khan sub-bass impression.
The Kublai Khan design is a refreshed semi-custom match resin shell design which Noble appears to be favoring now over the older unibody designs from its older lineup. The usage of resin within the lineup shouldn’t be 100% although with the Ragnar and Sultan nonetheless utilizing some legacy elements of the unibody ribbed shell end.
This aesthetic is extra trendy, extra consistent with what you may anticipate from a common IEM however it nonetheless has a few of these distinctive Noble Audio emblems with regard to kind issue.
Acquainted elements resembling the marginally deeper than your common shell and the longer nozzle for deep penetration to get as shut as attainable to the second bend in your ear canal are nonetheless very a lot there. In comparison with the unique resin Khan shell it is a bigger constructed however maybe a extra refined have a look at the identical time.
Visible impact-wise, effectively who doesn’t love a dragon so that you get a type of finely crafted in gold on one of many faceplates alongside Noble’s trademark crown motif on the opposite in an analogous gold end.
These sit astride a refined charcoal blue galaxy swirl-infused faceplate with a monotone black shell that has loads of curving for a safe match. Like the unique Khan, the Kublai Khan nozzle can be completed with a stainless-steel cap that features a steel wax guard display screen to maintain the tubing clear and free from dust.
To the aspect of the Kublai Khan shell, you get one thing of a silver steel disc with an analogous kind of dragon emblem stamped within the center which is definitely the bottom of the bone conduction driver.
Consolation & Isolation
The Kublai Khan’s resin molding semi-custom match offers you a snug and comparatively light-weight carrying expertise although I have a tendency to seek out with Noble’s IEM designs that the nozzle placement and ideas in use will vastly have an effect on each the isolation and efficiency.
That is additionally a vented hybrid design so it’s by no means really going to be on the isolation degree of a non-vented BA different all issues being equal. That locations extra emphasis on the nozzle and ideas.
For instance, the out-of-the-box fitted tip is a single-bore or flange silicone inventory variant and it sounded desperately skinny with quite a lot of background noise filtering in additionally. It is just too porous to lock in that sub-bass impact which is important for the Kublai Khan to sound optimum.
The froth ideas however had been glorious. They infuse a barely hotter trait to the tonal coloration of the Kublai Khan however extra importantly, they lock within the seal with that deep nozzle permitting the sub-bass to essentially shine because it ought to. Additionally they isolate the perfect out of the provided ideas.
You do get two kinds of foam ideas with the Kublai Khan and so they differ barely within the presentation. The black foam tip has a narrower opening within the stem and pulls again marginally on the sub-bass amount and presence whereas the broader bore gray foam ideas up the low-end response to a extra passable degree for my tastes.
Simply notice, the depth of the nozzle may imply you may get away with a lower-size tip than you’d often use resembling a small as an alternative of medium. I did attempt that and though the stress on the canal was lowered barely and extra snug I felt the leakage was enhanced a bit and the bass extra subdued. For me, the medium foam gray ideas labored simply wonderful.
The Kublai Khan makes use of Noble’s 8-core cable which comes inventory with the Sultan additionally. This can be a 1.2m 8-core OCC wire in a PVC all-black tightly braided jacket.
I’m presuming a 26AWG gauge of wire right here as it isn’t too wieldy or too stiff both. Greater than the wire, the ending by way of barrels and splitters is admittedly good additionally.
The two-pin connectors are encased with a gunmetal gray aluminum barrel that properly matches an analogous skinny however lengthy splitter barrel. There is just one minor change from the Sultan model from just a few years again and that’s a swap to a translucent encasing across the pins versus pure black.
The chin cinch is a very tasty aluminum tablet kind issue and slides up and down with minimal resistance. It’s also regular sufficient to not slide down unintentionally.
This can be a supple cable with non-existent reminiscence retention all through. The warmth shrink insulator on the connectors which act as a reminiscence wire is sort of lengthy however it’s very mushy and barely noticeable throughout use. There isn’t any actual stress on my ears with microphonics stored fairly low all through the cable.
You should buy this cable individually in 3.5mm TRS unbalanced at $199 or for an extra $20 you’ll be able to go for a 2.5mm TRRS or balanced on the checkout. They’ve additionally launched a USB-C and lightning-terminated model for $250 every. This one is the two.5mm model that sells for $219.
Packaging & Equipment
Sadly, our Kublai Khan pattern got here with out the complete packaging format and simply the usual Pelican 1010 case as a consequence of cargo restrictions. From what I’m advised and from earlier expertise, it’s related packaging to the Sultan, which was pretty grandiose and really pro-grade trying.
The outer retail packaging is a reasonably easy cream/tan field with a graphic of the Kublai Khan screens on the entrance. It’s fairly giant for an IEM field however that’s extra because of the sizeable and really strong Nanuk 903 weather-sealed storage case.
This can be a nice miniature storage case by the best way, even should you by no means plan on placing the screens again in there it has a 100’s of makes use of past easy IEM storage. Consider it like a mini Audeze journey case and you aren’t too far of by way of expectations.
Granted, a Nanuk 903 shouldn’t be that costly at a retail value of round $30 however it’s powerful as hell and I’ve just a few related kinds of circumstances at dwelling I exploit for storage so I can testify to that.
Inside the froth has been reduce and formed to make room for a small pocketable branded black leather-based case and the IEMs. Contained in the case, additionally, you will discover the Kublai Khan equipment which embrace the next:
- Slender bore off-white foam tip in small, medium, and huge
- Vast-bore black foam ideas in small, medium, and huge
- Black single-bore silicone ideas in small, medium, and huge
- 1 cleansing brush
- Stickers, guarantee card
- 1 velvet pouch, 2 branded rubber bands
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and pairings.