Recently, Noble Audio has been extending its high-end library of IEMs. Models like the Kublai Khan, and the latest Ronin have been redefining Noble’s flagship line. So far, these IEMs have had a great critical reception, and now it is time to finally visit one of their premium earphones in their selection. I’ve been excited to hear the Viking Ragnar ever since it was released, and now I have the chance to see what all the fuss is about. These are $4000 IEMs, so there is a lot riding on them. Let’s see if they’re worth all the talk.
What You Get
- Viking Ragnar Earphones
- Detachable 2-pin 4.4mm cable
- Velvet drawstring pouch
- Two rubber bands
- Cleaning tool
- Logo stickers
- Ear Tips
- Narrow bore foam tips S/M/L
- Wide bore foam tips S/M/L
- Silicone tips S/M/L
Look & Feel
Right off the bat, I’m confident in saying these are some of the best-looking and most well-built IEMs I have come across. Structurally, the Viking Ragnar takes after the Sultan in shape and size. It is hand assembles using some impressive high-grade materials like its CNC-machined aluminum body. However, the real standout is the glorious Damascus steel faceplate, which makes the Ragnar look like no other IEM on the market. Sometimes with these high-end IEMs that use these types of premium materials, the fit comes second to the build. For the Ragnar, that might be true to some, but I didn’t find the shell or nozzle too big. I think the Ragnar has a particularly snug fit that I found comfortable for many hours of listening.
Inside the Viking Ragnar is a tribrid system that utilizes multiple dynamic drivers, balanced armatures, and electrostatic drivers. Two 10mm dynamic units are paired with four armatures and 4 electrostatic units in a four-way crossover design. Its stock cable terminates to a balanced 4.4mm connector and features 4-core graphene/silver. I recommend using a dedicated digital audio player or a balanced DAC/amp adapter if you’re planning on listening to these IEMs with your phone.
When you look at the price of the Viking Ragnar, you’d probably expect to hear one of the best soundstage presentations possible. With only one minor criticism, the Ragnar delivers everything you could want. To get that one gripe out of the way, I just thought the individual sound elements were a bit bigger. The soundstage here is less about displaying the sound with a major scale and is more concerned with spacing out the performances in an explicit manner. You’ll hear a massively wide and deeply layered image, but in terms of tallness, the Ragnar keeps its presentation decisively critical and not theatrical. This is how it responds to most genres of music, where deciphering all the integral rows of sound becomes part of the immersion.
Sounds are defined in the soundstage by their separation and distance from each other. It creates a dimensional space within its more traditional stereo array. With that, the Ragnar communicates a fascinating headspace for many different genres of music. I was specifically intrigued by how the Ragnar handled different soundscapes and ambient tracks. One of my favorite albums to experience with the Ragnar was Michael Stearns’s “Encounter,” which I was able to hear with intrinsic sonic positioning with its stacked instrumentals and field recordings.
This response isn’t going to invigorate every bass enthusiast out there, but I found a lot to like here. There is a sense of body to both the sub-bass and mid-bass, but their tone isn’t given the most thunderous drive. It helps life the timbre to a fulfilling wholeness but lacks the pounding impact of other high-end IEMs like the Viking Ragnar. One downside to a response like this is it teases a deeper response but never quite gets there. However, good detail and clarity in the lows is still more than apparent when listening to this timbre. A strong bass feel is still made clear, with a subtle rumble and punch appearing with form in the sound spectrum. That extra texture and resonance are not present on the Ragnar though.
The midrange is able to exhibit a fantastically lush and defined timbre. I wouldn’t expect anything less considering the price point for the Viking Ragnar, but these IEMs really go out of their way to give you almost everything they can in this area. They have a mostly neutral timbre, but the frequency content is so vast, it paints this exceptionally transparent picture for instruments to express realism. Musically is very effective here, with the Ragnar presenting enough room to showcase its detail effectively. Many instruments and vocal performances can appear right in front of your face, hitting their notes with vigor.
These are the kinds of highs I seek out in a lot of audiophile IEMs, but I rarely get them. On the Viking Ragnar, the treble is wonderfully textured and colorized. Tinges of brightness aim to bring out the sparkle and wispy tones, and it is successful in achieving that response. It never feels overpowered and stays away from piercing tones, bringing more attention to the airiness of the timbre. With this crisp response, the Ragnar brings comforting resolve to the high-end, with almost perfect volume. Tracks like “Tidepool” by Kevin Braheny and Tim Clark were strong highlights in my testing of the high frequencies. They felt like delicate flurries of synths and texture that were never shy in their extension but were still balanced and expressed smoothly throughout.
Noble Audio might be asking for a lot with the Viking Ragnar, but after listening to these IEMs for a significant amount of time, they more than make a case for themselves. From its excellent soundstage to its blissful highs, the Ragnar’s sound signature nails almost everything. The bass response will be a point of contention for some, but I still think it offers enough to make the Ragnar a pristine product. Add the unmatched Damascus steel design and you have yourself a worthy $4000 IEM.
The Noble Audio Viking Ragnar is available at Audio46.