While high quality TWS earphones from brands like Noble, Sennheiser, and HIFIMAN are becoming more common, most audiophiles still turn up their noses at the idea of listening to wireless instead of wired. The Noble Falcon Pro is the now the third generation of Noble is trying to fix that by providing TWS earphones that genuinely sound good. And as Bluetooth technology becomes capable of higher bandwidths, higher resolution audiophile quality sound in a wireless headset becomes more and more of a reality. So how does this next generation of wireless tech stack up?
The Build and Design
The Falcon Pro earphones themselves are quite small and sleek. The size, fit, and the lack of a stem sticking out makes them one of my favorites for TWS earphones. The earbuds themselves are quite small, but they have a fairly long nozzle with a deep insertion that might not be everyone’s cup of tea – especially if you don’t have much experience with IEMs in general. The long nozzle helps with providing a good seal and a secure fit.
The charging case is similarly small and sleek. It doesn’t include any kind of wireless charging capability, but it includes a USB-A to USB-C cable to plug it in. The case has a battery life indicator on the front, which is nice for verifying the status without having to check your phone for it. The earphones are said to last 5.5 hours of continuous playback, and my testing seemed to confirm that was about right.
The package also includes a selection of eartips (you’ll need to use eartips designed for TWS earphones as the actual space to attach them is quite small), and a small soft carrying bag that the case fits into neatly. Everything feels well built and seems comparable to what you get with the higher end of TWS earphones from major brands.
The App and Interface
Noble provides the NobleSoundSuite app for iPhone and Android that helps you manage the connection, updates, and provides other options for their TWS earphone series. NobleSoundSuite generally accomplishes what you need it to, but it’s a little buggy.
When I first installed the app, I wanted to update to the latest firmware. First it told me that everything was fully updated, and then the next time I launched it, it asked to run the firmware update on the earphones, which took a bit of time. There are also some issues with connecting to the app. It seems that if I disconnected and reconnected the Falcon Pro while the app was open, I would need to close the app, and reopen it to get it to recognize the earphones again.
The EQ works quite well, but there were often minor glitches where loading a blank preset and then exiting the app would switch the EQ settings to a previously configured EQ, but once you have everything set up they work quite well. There are three EQ presets provided, and you can switch through them on the fly or adjust settings while listening.
The app also provides the toggle for “hear through” functionality. The hear through is quite good, and felt pretty natural, allowing enough background noise through that I don’t feel totally isolated, while not letting incidental noise mess with my enjoyment of the music.
While the app has its issues, and likely inevitable bug fixes, what’s key here is that Noble got the basics right. The app provides a simple and easy way to upgrade the firmware, toggle various features, and configure the EQ. This helps elevate the Falcon Pro above any number of other options that don’t provide either the same feature sets or configurability that NobleSoundSuite provides.
The Noble Falcon Pro is without a doubt the most competent TWS earphone I’ve heard. Purely based on sound quality, it would be very good as a $329 wired IEM. It wouldn’t be great, but the basic musical capabilities, from the soundstage to the level of detail presented are all pretty good. But as a TWS, it moves from “very good for a $300 IEM” to really quite impressive.
The tuning is a soft V with some accentuations in the bass and treble, but still a good sense of balance and neutrality. The bass is slightly rounded with a somewhat warm character. The mids are well presented with decent layering but slightly recessed. The treble has a lot of air, and is probably one of the most notable elements of the Falcon Pro’s tuning.
Of course you can change any of this with Noble’s phone app. While there were a couple of app related hiccups, the actual EQ performance was quite good, and will enable you to dial in more of what you want. I ran a number of EQ settings ranging from outrageously boosted bass to subtly boosting the mids and cutting a little bit of the highs to make the sound a bit more neutral. The Noble app allows for you to save three different presets, and it seems to be designed in such a way that it’s fairly resistant to overdriving anything or making Falcon Pro sound offensively bad.
On “This Low” by Glen Hansard, the acoustic guitar has a slightly bright but natural attack to start the song. The strings have a nice sense of texture and good mix of separation and blending. The separation and imaging is all around quite good, with a good sense of space and positioning from the small ensemble. The vocal timbre, particularly for the male vocal, feels a little bit nasally, but the female vocal is airy and delicate.
The more processed, lightly autotuned vocals on for KING & COUNTRY’s “Burn the Ships” fare a little better than Glen Hansard’s earthy, natural tones. There’s a good bit of bass in the track that lets you know the Falcon Pro can provide a good amount of impact in the low end. The dense electronic arrangement on “Burn the Ships” also provides a stronger challenge from a layering perspective, but the Falcon Pro still largely delivers coherent layers.
Miles Davis’s “Footprints” gives the Falcon Pro something more rhythmically and harmonically complex to chew on. This was one of the first times where the Falcon Pro felt more “inside” of my head than “outside” it, with the rhythm section largely having a good sense of space and positioning, but the lead trumpet feeling like it was playing inside of my brain. Again, the instrument timbre and presentation feels natural, but there isn’t as strong a sense of cohesion here.
The instrumental balance and layering is top notch on Audioslave’s “Like a Stone.” On the verses, the warble of the phase effect on the guitar has a liquid feel, while the big chords on the chorus have a nice bite and a strong attack. This was also a track that had a strong sense of texture and detail in the bass, with the slightly fuzzed out sound. Chris Cornell’s vocals are a little mixed, as there’s some lack of clarity on the verses, but the higher, more “belted out” notes on the chorus have a great sense of depth and emotion.
Comparison: HIFIMAN TWS800, Apple AirPods Pro
In addition to Noble’s TWS offerings, HIFIMAN has also released a series of TWS earphones with audiophile sound, and their TWS800 is a good comparison with the Falcon Pro. Of course, the 800 pound gorilla in the TWS game is Apple. They’re so well known at this point that “AirPod” has become synonymous with TWS earphones to a similar degree that iPad did with tablets. So the real question any TWS earphone needs to answer is “Is it better than AirPods?”
Let’s get this out of the way first: in terms of usability, nobody is going to beat Apple. The process of pairing AirPods with your phone – especially if you have an iPhone – and using them is blissfully simple and elegant. And little features like how they detect if they’re in your ear to stop and start playback puts them a cut above. The TWS800 and Noble Falcon Pro were quite easy to pair, but I did have to check the manual to make sure I’m doing it right. The Falcon Pro does get an edge for its app. It also provides a “hear through” function AKA “transparency” which is on par with Apple’s implementation of the feature.
In terms of comfort and fit, both the Noble Falcon Pro and AirPods Pro provide an easy, secure fit that maintains a seal through even somewhat vigorous movement. The Falcon Pro provided the best seal, while I found the AirPods Pro to be not quite as tight. The TWS800 was pretty good once I got it in, but I had a hard time finding the right angle to get a good fit. The Falcon Pro was also pretty good for use while exercising, while the TWS800 became loose too quickly for anything other than fairly static weight training.
The sound signatures of the three aren’t that far off in general. The Falcon Pro and AirPods Pro both have a slightly flattened V, while the TWS800 was more neutral overall. The AirPods Pro has a very relaxed presentation that’s honestly not bad for background listening, while both the Falcon Pro and TWS800 are a bit more intense and forward. The Falcon Pro and TWS800 both present more detail and a stronger soundstage than the AirPods. There’s a bit difference particularly in the treble, where the Falcon Pro and TWS800 have significantly more air and more “shimmer” than the Airpods Pro, but I felt that the TWS800 could become a little sibilant at times, while the Falcon Pro did not.
All three provide a similar feeling in the bass. The bass is slightly mid-boosted, with a good balanced presence, but not a lot of “wow” factor either in volume or texture. The Falcon Pro and TWS800 both have tighter bass than the AirPods Pro, and have a little less bloat and flab in the transition from the bass to lower mids. The TWS800 also had a more linear feeling with a little less midbass and stronger subbass extension.
Altogether I can’t really hate on the AirPods Pro, and I completely understand why it’s such a hit. In terms of usability, it just works, and in terms of sound quality, it provides a pleasant tuning and an overall level of quality above what most mainstream consumers have heard. The TWS800 and Falcon Pro provide more detail, better technical performance, and overall more engaging tunings. Neither quite match the simplicity and usability of the AirPods Pro, but the Falcon Pro comes a little closer with more responsive touch controls, transparency, and its own app.
The Bottom Line
The Noble Falcon Pro is an all around solid, well tuned earphone, with good technical performance. It backs up the technical performance with a sleek design, comfortable fit, and a level of convenience that comes close to – even if it can’t quite match – the usability of popular mainstream brands. With all that said, if sound quality is your top priority, the Noble Falcon Pro should be at the top of your TWS list.