With the madness and insanity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in full swing, I’m surprised I’ve even had the time to review earphones right now. Normally I’d be phoning in on some sick audio deals, or at least crank calling my local Best Buy for some Prince Albert cans. But today I actually have the Noble Audio M3 on my desk, waiting for a review. One of the least expensive hybrid earphones in their lineup, at $599 this earphone is calling my name. But how does it sound?
Noble Audio M3 Review
The Noble Audio M3 comes with twelve pairs of eartips, a carrying case, a carabiner clip, a felt pouch, and a cleaning tool.
Breaking this earphone free of its cardboard prison, I’m impressed by the size. Last week, I was amazed at the size of the new Tux 5, which felt like a boiled-down Khan. But the M3 is even smaller, while still rocking a 10 mm dynamic driver for the lows.
The other drive in the hybrid setup? An Active Balanced Membrane driver, or ABM. A revolutionary new driver, Noble Audio claims this technology results in greater dynamic range than that produced by a single BA driver.
Both drivers are housed inside a lightweight and surprisingly ergonomic housing hand-crafted by Noble Audio’s wizard. While Noble Audio claims that each piece is unique, every piece I have seen online seems to rock the same reddish/amber faceplate. However, I have to admit that I really don’t care, as the earphone still looks wicked good to me.
All of this connects to the supplied cable via a 2-pin connection. The cable measures a standard 4 ft (1.2 m) and features 8 cores of OCC terminating in a 3.5 mm plug. While plenty flexible, this cable also imparts a feeling of durability.
Once placed in the ear, the M3 seems to melt away, sitting almost flush. This earphone wears easily for longer listening sessions, and once you start concentrating on the sound you’re likely to forget you’re even wearing it.
For my listening sessions, I used the Noble M3 with a modded iPod and PA2V2 amp from Electric Avenues. I also listened to the earphone using my iPhone 8 and my lackluster work computer. The Noble M3 sounds fairly decent even with lower-output devices like phone and computers. Still, it’s no slouch with hi-res players, either.
Noble Audio M3 Review – Sound Quality
In the low end, the Noble Audio M3 sounds detailed but fun, with enough bass to punctuate pop, rock, and hip hop tracks. However, that bass response also scales well with volume. As a result, the M3 sounds best with a little power, where it can really flex its chops. As volume increases, drums feel snappier and sharper, while bass guitars fatten up nicely. Tracks like Brand New’s Lit Me Up and SADEVILLAIN’s Gazzilion Grand showcase this perfectly, with a deep low end showing off excellent sub-bass extension.
The mids are solid, with excellent detail and contrast. Listening to Ryu Fukui’s Scenery, every note feels articulate and distinct. But even with this decently-recorded jazz track, the Noble M3 proves almost too resolving. Between the piano and the bass, one can hear the noise in the original recording – something I haven’t found with less expensive earphones before. Vocals are equally distinct and moving, with a sense of intimacy that works well with pop and hip-hop, as well as rock. On David Bazan’s Won’t Let Go, you can feel those vocals a bit closer and more finely tempered than surrounding instrumentation. Overall, this midrange feels incredibly intimate and engrossing, and I’m a huge fan.
When it comes to the highs, the Noble Audio M3 delivers a detailed but somewhat rolled-off sound. On tracks like All The Way (Stay) by Jimmy Eat World, you can hear smooth female backing vocals juxtaposed against a wailing sax, the brassy, reedy solo splashed against velvety smooth lyrics. But pop alone doesn’t benefit from this sound. Even on one of favorite classical test tracks, Ludovico Einaudi’s Reverie, this highly detailed but somewhat reserved high end gives all the energy of a brighter high end. Yet, the sound remains clean and smooth, without the kind of harshness one finds in less well-tuned earphones.
Soundstage feels deep enough, and a little spacious, too, despite the in-ear design. There’s ample room here to pick apart any sound, though some overlap still persists on my most complicated classical tracks. With that being said, the Noble M3 still feels pretty roomy with everything else, provided the original recording has the depth to show off.
Noble Audio M3 Review – Conclusion
Pros and Cons
Pros: The M3 offers a relatively good sound with plenty of detail and a solid sense of soundstage. Thanks to the comfortable, ear-melding fit, the M3 can deliver its charms for hours and hours.
Cons: A rolled-off high end and fairly meaty low end may not be for everyone.
All in all, the Noble Audio M3 offers an impressive listening experience. There’s plenty of detail to be heard here, and if you’re looking for a warm and rich sound around $600, these IEMs deserve your attention. Factor in a gorgeous appearance and a buttery-smooth fit, and you’ve got one hard-hitting in-ear headphone.
Grab the Noble Audio M3 for the best price here:
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