You know those cheap, plastic earbuds that come boxed with your smartphone? Well, they’re not very good. The sad truth is, good quality audio equipment costs. A lot. That’s why Apple, Samsung, HTC or whoever you’re getting your new smartphone from just isn’t going to give you a product that actually does justice to your favourite music.
We already know that streaming websites don’t give you the best quality bitrates, so anyone who really fancies themselves as a true music lover needs a good pair of headphones. And if you’re after the best? Look no further than Noble Audio’s new Kaiser 10U in-ear monitors. Our first testing session was a real eye-opener, taking normally mundane-sounding tracks and transporting us live into the recording studio itself.
The Kaiser 10Us produce an output so pure it’s hard to believe what you’re hearing. We didn’t think audio perfection was a possibility until now. So how does Noble do it? The science-bending ten-driver configuration ensures a humongous frequency range, delivering wonderful coherence across bass, mid, high and even super-high frequencies. Chuck in a wide selection of buds for a personal fit, and we’re looking at some of the best in-ears ever made.
However, the U10’s don’t just stretch the possibilities of audio fidelity, they also stretch your wallet: they cost £1,150/$1,599.
Do they offer value for money?
At £1,150, or 40 times the price of Apple’s basic EarPods, you would expect nothing less than incredible sound – which is exactly what you get with the Noble Kaiser 10U. So what sounds good? No lie – everything. We tested the K10Us with everything we’ve got. We started with some Foals and were blown away with the instrumental parts in particular, the production in Frank Ocean’s Pyramids sounded masterful and Biggie Smalls’ rhymes came through loud and clear.
The K10Us repeatedly had a habit of revealing even the subtlest elements of tracks, previously unheard by anyone but the original recording team. Every layer is brought to life, for better or worse. If you like modern pop music, for example, these monitors will highlight heavily compressed production. If you enjoy more classical music then the K10Us might be your idea of musical bliss.
They’re not a purchase for the casual user, but the Noble Kaiser 10Us make a mockery of the thinking that in-ear monitors are inherently compromised by their size. There’s a ten-driver formation housed inside these monitors, for example.
A truly bespoke experience
It is crucial that you purchase the perfect-sized earbud. It’s a comfort thing, but it also ensures a better seal, which, in turn, helps low frequency response and creates impressive noise isolation. In the box you’ll find four sets of buds: memory foam, dual-flange silicon, soft cap hybrid blue stem and springy soft cap red stem eartips. They’re all made from premium quality materials and make sure every base is covered.
You can take things one step further, because Noble Audio offers a made-to-order, custom service for a bespoke set of monitors. You need to visit your local audiologist, who will create an impression of your ear mould. Ever been to a dentist for a gum shield? It’s just like that. Send the mould to Noble, which then takes 30-40 days to create your monitors in its labs. Prices for custom earbuds start at £350.