Specialist earphone manufacturer Noble Audio has been rolling out a number of new models recently – a process it started last year with the introduction of the £1699 Kaiser Encore which was a direct replacement for the flagship
Now comes the £549 Sage which replaces the popular Savant but introduces some important updates.
Chief amongst them is the use of new, custom-built balanced armature drivers. There are two per side, with
one dedicated to bass and the other handling the midband and higher frequencies. Noble says the vented
bass-port of the low-frequency driver has been repositioned and its aperture increased for extra low-end extension.
The earpieces themselves are constructed from injection-moulded ABS plastic with a precisionmachined green aluminium faceplate featuring the Noble crown logo. They come packed with a generous 12 pairs of eartips (four types in three different sizes) as well as a hard carrying case, earwax removal and cleaning tool as well as a
velvet pouch. The detachable cable has industry standard two-pin connectors so can be upgraded if required and uses silverplated copper wires.
Like all the Noble earphones I’ve used the fit was extremely comfortable once the correct eartips were selected with no discomfort even during long listening sessions.
The original Savants were characterised by a smooth midband and treble and accurate – if not overly powerful – bass. These new Sages don’t deviate far from this but, crucially, add a little more extension to the treble while bringing extra low-end drive.
Paired with a FiiO X5 highresolution digital audio player the pounding bass on ‘Phat Planet’ from
Leftfield’s ‘Rhythm and Stealth’ (24bit/96kHz) had body and weight, without becoming overly dominant
or sounding artificially enhanced. Instead, it was nicely textured and melodic.
High notes were clean and clear:
Ornette Coleman’s saxophone on the live ‘Sound Grammar’ sparkled, his every key change laid out starkly against the backing musicians. Extremely impressive was the coherence between the various frequencies.
As in a good loudspeaker, there was no sense that two drivers are at work, so seamlessly did they integrate
– while also doing a sterling job of separating instruments and presenting them in their own space, something single-driver models can struggle to do.
Listening to John Coltrane’s freeform ‘Ascension’ the Noble in-ears cut through the dense collection of instruments, allowing me to focus on the individual musicians and hear how they weave their complex melodic lines around each other. With something lighter, as in Cowboy Junkies’ ‘Blue Moon’, the Sages captured the atmosphere and
ambience of the disused church where this piece was recorded, bringing out the emotion within Margo Timmins’ voice.
In fact, these Noble Sage earphones turn in an impressive performance no matter what type of music you choose. They’ve been balanced for a natural sound but have improved bass on their predecessors, plus a top-end that is crystal clear and extended enough to bring out extra detail in even familiar recordings.
For some £549 may seem a lot to pay for a pair of in-ear headphones, but paired with a quality digital audio player they justify the price.
Noble’s new, improved balanced armature drivers and redesigned housings make the Sage in-ears an impressive set of ‘phones. Bass is deep yet controlled while high frequencies are crystal clear. Worth hearing