The Sultan is the latest IEM from Noble Audio, and I have the pleasure to tell you all about how awesome they are. The sphere of prestige IEMs is a hot market now, as consumers and audiophiles alike are still on the search for the perfect earphone. Hopefully, one that you’ll never have to replace. This is an earphone for the listener who’s ready to settle down and dish out the $2900 for a truly high-fidelity IEM. Let’s see how the Sultan rules in that debate.
What You Get
A bigger box than normal for a pair of IEMs, but when opening the box you’ll immediately understand why. These guys come in a sizable Hardcase, one you’d get when renting high-end equipment for example. The case is made by NANUK, a manufacturer of protective camera cases. On the first impression, this gives the Sultans a sense of value and prestige. Opening the hard case reveals the Sultans themselves in their respective inlays, and a leather carrying pouch to store them in. Removing the pouch relieves a separate mini drawstring bag, extra ear tips, cleaning brush, two branded rubber bands, warranty cards, and stickers. There’s a significant amount of ear tip choices. There are small, medium, large narrow, and wide bore-off foam tips in white and black, as well as black silicone tips in small, medium, and large.
Look and Feel
My first impression of the Sultans was that they looked like rare gems dug up in an ancient desert from thousands of years ago, and Indiana Jones is trying to put them in a museum. What I’m trying to say is that the look aesthetically pleasing, and of high quality. They are beautiful in their design and polish, even if the size of the pieces appear rather wide in shape. The shell is made from aluminum and carved into its distinct shape. The real striking aspect of the Sultans is their lacquered, hand-polished faceplates with their swirling texture than gives each pair a unique design. So how does a pair of finely cut gems feel in your ear? Not incredible, but not irritating either. They feel a tad awkward fitting in your ear at first, and I tried a few different tip sizes. But after a while, you get used to them. The Sultans have long nozzles that’ll do the job of securing your ears, while the housing protrudes outward from your outer ear. Again, sort of an awkward fit, but a stable and untroublesome nonetheless.
The internals underneath this gorgeous housing also includes some interesting components, mainly the driver tech. The Sultans feature a 7 driver arrangement. A single 10mm dynamic driver for lows, 4 balanced armatures for mids, and 2 electrostatic super tweeters for highs. This design choice is integral in terms of crossover, of which I experienced very little of. I have huge respect for Noble’s clear focus on a detailed mid-range output, as more consumer IEMs are becoming more V-shaped by the day. Another strong aspect of the Sultans design is the stock cable. It’s a resilient entanglement of copper wire with a 2 pin configuration, shielded by an all-black finish. Detachable as well, so upgrades are welcome.
Noble boasts a nominal impedance of fewer than 35 Ohms. A perfect amount of driving power for most smartphones and computers, but portable DAPs and amplifiers will also provide an ample amount of signal. For this review, I used the Astell & Kern KANN and connected to 3.5mm headphone input.
A real heady space, the separation on the Sultans is the result of some serious design witchcraft. Each frequency range is represented with crisp accuracy. They still have a strictly IEM soundstage, but the Sultans exhibit a generous amount of space between sound elements. Spatial imaging remains intact, with a sense of aural fidelity existing outside the hard shell of the earphone. Instrument sections appear in their respected positions, and vocals cut straight through the middle leaving space for harmonies and other artifacts. A surprisingly natural soundstage from an IEM.
There’s an odd phenomenon going on in the low end here. On certain tracks, like rock, or jazz, bass tones feel soft and smooth. However when playing a punchy hip hop or electronic beat, the tone of the bass changes to accommodate the fixed timbre of that track. The Sultans still have a sub-bass feel, and the low mids have a touch of boost. But they’re of a more neutral timbre than I expected. You still get a smooth tonality with bountiful definition, just expect a flatter timbre.
This is where the Sultans shine for me. This midrange is full of clarity and detail, especially in the high mids. Classical instrumentations sound full and rich, while vocal ranges remain crisp and individualized. The higher mids contain more energy with slight boosts, but never appear harsh and still complement the Sultan’s overall natural sound signature.
On first listen I perceived the highs as a little too bright, but that feeling went away after a while. I think I wasn’t used to the expressive timbre the highs encompass, after focusing on the neutral frequency response of the mids and lows. There’s a lot to like about the highs. It has an airy tonality with a consistent width. Bells and Cymbals sparkle and reverb tails fly away with rigor.
The Sultans are an IEM worthy of praise. An exciting soundstage and a smooth, natural sound signature give the Sultans a leg up from a lot of other IEMs on the market. It’s a remarkable design that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and sonically gratifying experience for the ears that are worth its $2900 price point.
Pros and Cons:
Pros: Soundstage, Natural timbre, Striking design
Cons: Awkward fit, The stock cable is a little short
Available at Audio 46
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