Noble Audio FoKus Mystique Review
Today we’ll be taking a look at Noble Audio’s brand-new premium wireless earbuds: the Noble Audio Fokus Mystique. The Mystique seems to be a revamped version of the Noble Fokus Pro, released about a year ago now, with seemingly identical housing and a similar $360 price tag. With interest in audiophile-grade Bluetooth earbuds and headphones ramping up over the past year or two, the Fokus Mystique’s relatively high price point puts it in an increasingly competitive wireless tier. Let’s see if it passes muster.
What’s in the Box?
- Noble Audio FoKus Mystique Wireless Earbuds
- Charging Case
- USB to USB-C Charging Cable
- 3 Pairs Double Flanged Silicone Eartips
- 2 Pairs Silicone Eartips
- Instruction Manual
Look and Feel
If you’re familiar with the FoKus Pro, you can probably skip this part.
The Fokus Mystique has a a chunky, kidney-bean-shaped 3D printed shell with a smooth lacquer finish – it more closely resembles a standard IEM that a wireless earbud. Its nozzle is unusually large, reaching far into my ear canal until its sheer width prevents it from going any deeper. Once I had them in an adequate position, the housing stuck out from my ears rather than hugging flush against them. Oddly enough, despite how this might sound on paper, the Fokus Mystique had excellent comfort for long and short listens alike. I was a big fan of its deep and thick fit, which kept the buds firmly and symmetrically inserted in both of my ears – something I appreciate as some one with pretty asymmetric ear canals.
You can take a look at the pictures, but I think the FoKus Mystique is a stylish wireless bud. I appreciate that it looks like a regular, nice looking in-ear monitor rather than attempting a more typical wireless aesthetic.
The Noble Audio Fokus Mystique has a 7 hour playback battery life, with around 28 additional hours held in the case. A 15 minute charge supplies 70 minutes of battery life. These specs fall on the upper end of the wireless bud standards, so nothing to complain about here.
I found connection fast and easy every time I paired with the Mystique. Over the course of several hours, I experienced a couple of split-second interruptions in a controlled office environment. A few more cut outs were experienced on a busy street in midtown Manhattan, but they were mostly infrequent and just as brief. The Mystique recovered from these cut outs very quickly, and they didn’t detract much from my overall listening experience.
The microphones are perhaps the only thing I didn’t like about Noble’s FoKus Mystique. Transparency mode yielded somewhat noisy results. The mics pick up a good amount of ambiance and seem sensitive to room reverb. They serve their utility, but you won’t be tempted to use these as hearing aids. I don’t really hold this against the Mystique; it’s one of those wireless releases that puts sound quality before all else, so I’ll be putting more consideration into its stage and balance.
No reason to fix what’s not broken. The Noble FoKus App is basic and solid, and features one of my favorite in-app EQ’s. It impressively offers +/- 12 dB of adjustment over 10 bands. I’m usually not big on EQ, but the one featured in the FoKus App offers exceptionally fine tuned control that you can use to subtle and extreme effect alike. I really liked the Mystique’s default tone, but I’ll mention some of the EQ adjustments I made when I start breaking down the balance.
|Specs||Noble Audio FoKus Mystique|
|Playback Battery Life||7 Hours|
|Charging Case Battery||28 Hours|
|Charge Time||70 minutes playback per 15 minutes of charge|
|Codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive|
|Features||Mics, Transparency Mode,Voice Assistant|
|Drivers||(1) 8.2mm DD, (2) Knowles BA|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz – 20 kHz|
The Mystique finds most of its spatial character in its width rather than its depth. I felt a nice sense of distance on hard pans, but most of the stage seemed pretty linear and contained on a two-dimensional left-right axis. I tried pushing its limits here by listening to “I’ll Gladly Place Myself Below You” by Matty, a track with swirling pans that demands the most out of a sound stage. Here, I felt faint traces of depth, but mostly felt parts moving pleasantly across my face rather than around my head.
Though its imaging and stage seem just slightly above average for a wireless unit, the Noble Fokus Mystique has an excellent balance that provides great separation and detail. My impressions will be primarily based on the default tone before I touch on some of my EQ tweaks.
The Mystique’s low end is moderately and widely boosted. Subs are present enough to provide some added rumble and power, while mid bass comes across with a hefty, punchy slam. High bass takes its time rolling off, finding an amplitude that gives a persistent warmth and drive to the Mystique’s overall tone. I find high bass and low mids are entirely too emphasized in a lot of wireless balances, and frequently contribute to an unpleasant, muffled timbre. The Fokus Mystique, however, works this high bass boost into its balance very tastefully, imparting a genuinely pleasant warmth without sacrificing clarity. Though I think the Noble Fokus Mystique is a pretty dynamic wireless bud that works with most genres, this low end balance seemed to hit a sweet spot with more electronic tracks.
To my ears, it seems like the Noble Audio’s Mystique has a moderately V shaped tuning that expresses itself most apparently in its mids. Low mids find a little extra emphasis as they seem roped into the Mystique’s low end roll off. Attenuation occurs in the center mids before high mids ramp into a typical low/mid-treble boost. I primarily heard the low mids’ dominance on snare drums and toms which had extra thump in their impact, and acoustic guitars that found a little extra hum in their lower tones. Vocals mostly came through sounding very natural and balanced, with some extra amplitude in their lower fundamental that was well balanced with the high mid boost that colored their upper-mid overtones. Though distorted guitars sounded particularly meaty and heavy on metal tracks for example, I found that the Mystique’s center-mid attenuation generally decreased their presence and volume in a lot of my listens. This seems like a result of an intentional tuning style rather than an outright flaw, but I’ll talk a little more about this when I get into some of my in-app EQ adjustments.
The Noble Audio Fokus Mysitque’s high frequency balance is likely what impresses me the most. Don’t worry – it’s cooler and more reserved than the bold treble boost found in Noble’s Falcon, but it still imparts a good deal of character and lift onto the Mystique’s overall tone. The electric guitars that I felt critical towards in the mids take on a bright shine and present shimmery harmonic qualities. Cymbals have wispy, granular details in their decays, and vocals come through with smooth, non-sibilant airiness. Treble extension is pretty standard, but can be pushed forward a bit with a little in-app EQ’ing. It’s this colorfully boosted high end breathes realism and detail into the Mystique’s fairly warm and full tone.
Some Notes on EQ
Look: I’m not really an EQ guy, and the Fokus Mystique has a very good balance that doesn’t necessarily warrant any interventions. That said, the in-app EQ is pretty expansive and detailed, and let me EQ in my genuine preferences rather than what I felt needed correction. You can see some of my changes below. Though I liked the Mystique’s warm default tone, I generally prefer more low end distinction than warmth. I cut back on 125 Hz and 250 Hz and slightly boosted 31 Hz to accomplish this. I returned some center mids with a small boost at 500 Hz and 100 Hz, and extended the treble a considerable degree with the 8 kHz and 16 kHz bands. The Noble Fokus app offered a seriously impressive amount of control, and made its changes in a very smooth and natural fashion.
When it comes to wireless balances, I struggle to think of earbuds that can realistically compete with what Noble Audio’s Fokus Mystique has to offer. It offers pleasant warmth and a satisfying low end, without having to sacrifice a detailed and lifting high end. It joins the ranks of an exclusive wireless tier that is genuinely raising the stakes and expectations of what wireless can sound like.
|-Pleasant warm tone that isn’t muddy
-Satisfying low end
-Bright and lifting highs that aren’t painful
-Good tonal separation
-Easy and comfortable fit
-Useful and precise in-app EQ
|-Occasional minor cut outs
-Quiet center mids