Been a few years since we’ve talked about Noble Audio here at PTA. Once a darling of the audio show circuit, Noble had some “leadership issues”. Since then, they’ve revitalized, revamped, and effectively relaunched. And boy-howdy have they.
The top-shelf offerings are now all-new. The Ronin “features 4 Sonion balanced armature drivers for sub-bass and bass frequencies, 4 balanced armature drivers for mid-low and mid-range frequencies, and four electrostatic drivers for high and super-high frequencies”. Pricing for universals starts at $3,900 per set. The sound is excellent — and, to be honest, reminds me of what’s possible in IEM tech.
But going backwards to the $2,599/set Kublai Khan was really fun. This IEM “features 4 different types of drivers, including a 10mm dynamic driver for superb bass and sub-bass, a bone conductor subwoofer, four Knowles BA drivers for mid-low and mid-highs, and a 10mm Piezo super tweeter.” Sound here was visceral — those bone-conducting bass drivers work.
But it was the Ragnar ($4,000/set) that I wanted to take home. Wow. “Ragnar features two 10mm dynamic bass drivers for a full range of controlled sub-bass and bass, while four Knowles balanced armature drivers fill out the upper-bass, mid-range, and upper mid-range. Four electrostatic drivers provide lifelike upper-midrange, highs, and super-highs.” Shown here in a beefy Damascus steel casing, these are the IEMs to beat. Here’s to hoping I’ll get a chance at them in the near future.
The flagship HE-1 headphone solution from Sennheiser was also, apparently, on display. But there were no appointments available. I snuck in anyway, and got to see the amp, but the room was empty and the headphones missing.
Justin of Headamp was showing two prototype amps here. The soon-to-be-released Grand Cayman is probably the one getting the most general excitement. The plan is to have a final product by Canjam SoCal in September, but pre-orders are available now. Pricing is going to be somewhere near $15,000. Shown here was an updated version with a two-piece chassis (over the one-piece shown at AXPONA).
Also shown was the CFA3 prototype (pricing expected around, $4,000, IIRC), and will be based on the old Gilmore design. The amp is for dynamic headphones, not e-stat, like the upcoming GC. The look of this amp will likely change between now and SoCal, but should be at least similar.
Power was out when I came through, but folks seemed very enthusiastic.
Dan Clark Audio
Andy Regan of Dan Clark Audio was here with the latest from DCA — including the e-stat Corina, the open-back Expanse, and closed-back Stealth headphones. I have said it once and I’ll say it again — DCA is a brilliant brand, and the Expanse specifically, are possibly my favorite headphones that money can currently buy. But that’s just one writer’s opinion.