When it comes to spending beau coup dollars on top-tier earphones, Major Hifi has you covered. Because when we aren’t writing headphone reviews or arguing over the best AC/DC lineup, we’re salivating over pricey headphones. But if you’re in the market for something ritzy from Noble Audio, what do you choose? The Kaiser Encore or the Katana?
Noble Audio Kaiser Encore vs Katana Comparison Review
Both headphones come with the same packaging and the same accessories. You’ll find two cases in the box. One circular cosmetic case and one heavy-duty Pelican Case with rubber gaskets and whatnot. A liberal set of 12 eartips in foam and silicon is also included with either earphone. Lastly, you get some nifty little things, too – like a cleaning tool, and a decal.
Design wise, there are key differences between these two models. While both earphones utilize a four-bore nozzle and a machined-aluminum housing, the Kaiser Encore features a 10-driver setup. The Katana, by comparison, sports 9 drivers. Both models make exclusive use of Balanced Armature drivers.
Noble Audio has put the kibosh on any specs for the Kaiser Encore or the Katana, but these models seem to share similar traits when it comes to power consumption and sound pressure levels.
However, if we consider frequency ranges, the Kaiser Encore may be sporting some extension in the low- and high-end, which jives with the dynamic sound of the earphone.
The Kaiser Encore wins out in the low end, with a livelier, punchier sound with a driving bass response. This low end, while colorful, is never too sloppy or uncontrolled, but just right. It’s the perfect sound profile for rock or hip hop or electronic, or for fans of a detail-rich sound who want to have some fun with their tunes.
In contrast, the Noble Katana seems a bit more subdued in the low end, without so much weight thrown into the low end. The result is a natural and detailed sound that never gets away from itself; things remain controlled and clinical, and I would say this is a better low end for classical or acoustic tracks.
Both the Kaiser Encore and the Katana sport a similar midrange, though the Katana definitely appears to offer more detail in this part of the frequency range. Personally, I think this impression hinges on the overall sound of the both headphones. The intense lows and highs on the Kaiser Encore may overshadow the midrange a bit, while the Katana’s un-emphasized highs and lows allow the mids to breath a little. So, for those seeking a sound with good, strong midrange, the Katana is the better choice.
While the Katana offers less emphasis in the high end, it may also be a bit more accurate. The Kaiser Encore, on the other hand, sports a brighter sound that lends itself well to female vocals or wailing electric guitars. Though the highs on the Kaiser can seem a little too bright at times, the Katana offers a smoother profile that jives perfectly with Classical or Acoustic tastes. Here, the ideal earphone probably depends more upon personal taste: fans of a bright high end will naturally gravitate towards the Kaiser, while fans of a smoother highs will adore the Katana.
Both earphones offer a similarly-sweeping sense of soundstage, though the Kaiser might have a slightly greater impression of depth. This impression probably results from a greater emphasis on the low end, as most bassier headphones give a similar impression. All in all, either earphone will give you fantastic headroom, with plenty of space and placement for tons of listening pleasure.
For casual listeners or audiophiles who prefer a more emotive and dynamic listening experience, the Noble Audio Kaiser Encore offers an enticing proposition. Few earphones come close to offering such a rich, competent sound while still delivering intense action in the lows and highs.
The Noble Katana, on the other hand, presents a clean and clear alternative for critical listeners and fans of a neutral sound profile. Landing close to benchmark-level status, this sound remains resolving and articulate without ever sounding too clinical; it’s not so much a cold, sterile instrument as it is a precise but lively machine.
With growling lows and sparkling highs, the Noble Audio Kaiser Encore provides a fun and galvanizing listening experience. For neutrality, though, the Noble Audio Katana reigns supreme – with a pure, unhindered reproduction of sound in its most natural state. Regardless of which one you choose, either of these models is nothing short of a bargain at $1850. Our take? Snap one of these babies up at your earliest opportunity.
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