Noble has a reputation for creating IEMs with elegant designs that are sonically refined. They recently announced the Sultan, a brand new model, as its new flagship. Priced at $2900, the Sultan has big shoes to fill as it replaces the excellent Khan at the top of their line-up. We spent some time with the Sultan this week to find out what the new king has to offer its subjects.
The Build and Design
The Sultan’s visuals start with a black and silver aluminum case, continuing to a striking pearloid acrylic faceplate. The face of each Sultan IEM has a unique design, and even within a pair, no two IEMs will look exactly the same. The design is reminiscent of designer cufflinks – they look refined, classy, and expensive without being gaudy or overstated. The shell itself is medium sized and lightweight. I don’t anticipate that many people would have fit issues with the weight or profile.
Noble always includes a sturdy case and, of course, a bit of case candy. I’ve always liked Noble’s stock cables, and, in addition to the smooth and tangle resistant cable that’s included with the Sultan, I had the opportunity to test it with the Noble Vivid 16 Core Cable.
The Sultan has an incredibly complete sound which excels across all genres. Using some of the latest in IEM technology, it has seven total drivers, with a combination of dynamic, balanced armature, and electrostatic, which work together to provide a balanced and appropriately punctuated sound across the whole spectrum. The highs are bright and airy, but without sibilance or sharpness. The mids are detailed and natural, lending clarity throughout, and revealing personality in vocals and instrumental soloists. The bass is solid and physical, but never overpowering.
Compared to the Khan, the Sultan generally feels a little more neutral. The Sultan has a little more airiness on the top end which is rolled off in the Khan, and while Khan has a little roundness in the sub-bass, the Sultan has a more punch and physicality in the main bass range.
I found that the Sultan was somewhat of a chameleon. Put on Kanye West’s “POWER” and it’s a bass monster. Listen to Piotr Beczala singing opera, and it’s neutral and balanced, delivering the dynamic highs and lows – the breadth and width of the orchestra and his voice. Put on some Simon & Garfunkel and there’s Paul and Art singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to you in an intimate living concert. Across all of that, it demonstrates openness with incredible clarity and separation.
Overall I would describe the sound signature as being more neutral and maybe a touch bright, but with the technology to deliver that “neutral” signal with impact. Kanye wants you to feel the bass in his beats, and the Sultan delivers the bass, as Kanye intended it, without needing to elevate it. The Sultan just manages to deliver it in a physical and impactful way which is often missing from IEMs with a more neutral tuning. It’s characteristics like the seeming contradiction in having a neutral tuning, yet delivering a visceral bass experience that separates a set of $2900 Endgame IEMs like the Sultan from other excellent IEMs at lower price points.
Noble Vivid 16 Core Cable
When it comes to dialing in the perfect sound, cables are going to be pretty far down the list of upgrades after ensuring that the headphones, DAC, amp, and source audio are all up to snuff. But at a certain level they absolutely make a difference. During the early parts of my test, I went back and forth between the stock cable and the Vivid. The difference is much like wiping a thin coat of dust off of your TV screen. You didn’t even notice that the dust was there, but once it’s gone you see that the colors are a little brighter and richer. In the same way the Vivid revealed a touch of airiness in the highs, a pinch more thump in the lows, and just the smallest bit more clarity in the mids. If you’ve already invested in a top of the line DAC and AMP, and are shopping for IEMs or headphones on the level of the Sultan, an exquisite cable like the Noble Vivid is one more step towards achieving perfection.
The Bottom Line
The Sultan is truly an evolution of Noble’s IEMs with a sound that manages to be so many things at once. Noble has done an excellent job using ever improving technology to provide amazing range and incredible dynamic performance. This enables the Sultan to exist in a somewhat contradictory state: rather than being tuned well for certain types of music or listeners, it delivers emotion and impact across many genres to a broad spectrum of listeners. This is why the Sultan deserves to wear the crown as the king of Noble’s IEMs.