My first impression of the Tux 5 came from some side by side listening sessions between it, the Campfire Solaris, and the Empire Ears Valkyrie. While each had its own strengths, the Tux 5 really fit my personal sound profile well, so I was eager to spend some more time with it and do a full review. I’m glad I did, because the more I listen to it, the more I like it.
The Build and Design
The Tux 5 is fairly nondescript looking. It has a smooth black ceramic shell with the Noble logo in white outline on the left ear, and Wizard’s signature on the right. As always, the 2-pin cable included in the package is top notch, and Noble has continued their practice of providing a case, a wide selection of eartips, and some other basic accessories in the box. Altogether the Tux 5 has a simple, practical aesthetic, and it comes bundled in a simple, practical package.
The Tux 5 features a hybrid design with two balanced armature drivers – for the highs and mids – and one dynamic driver – for the low end. It also uses a vented shell to help provide a little bit more physicality in the bass and depth in the soundstage. Going through some of my favorite reference tracks, the first thing I noticed about the Tux 5 is that it has a very smooth presentation, and it’s a little bit on the dark end of the spectrum. The bass is warm and prominent, but still articulate and not overpowering. The mids are nicely detailed and balanced, and the low mids are particularly strong to provide detail in the bass. There’s a bit of a roll-off in the highs, but instruments like cymbals, female vocals, or the high end of a guitar still feel clear and well-balanced.
While the Tux 5 doesn’t have the holographic presentation of its big brother the Noble Khan, the soundstage is deep and clearly three dimensional. One of the first real standouts I noted about the Tux 5, is how speaker-like the soundstage and imaging was. I listened through the Foo Fighters Greatest Hits with the Tux 5, and I was blown away by how much this felt like blasting these songs on some of the better car stereo systems I’ve owned. Some combination of the tuning, soundstage, and perhaps a bit of nostalgia, made these songs hit just right on the Tux 5.
After noticing that I really loved the way they sounded on rock tracks, I put them through the paces from the 60s to 2020. My general analysis is that the powerful but balanced low end provides the right amount of bass for most rock tracks, and the roll off at the top end removes some of the unpleasant overtones associated with electric guitars. The mids and highs have just the right amount of detail and clarity that you catch every voice in Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with clarity and emotion, but not so much that the dissonant droning chords of the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” becomes unpleasant. The bass hits hard enough that Rage Against the Machine’s “Bomb Track” has impact, but not so hard that it feels unnatural in classic rock tracks like Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.”
The Tux 5 doesn’t just excel at rock. The smooth, balanced tuning – with a little bit extra on the low end – also worked well for jazz and soul. On Curtis Mayfield’s “Gypsy Woman” the Tux 5 provides clear spatial positioning for the ride, hi-hat, snare, and bass guitar as they mirror each other in a slow crawl. For pop, I tried some Regina Spektor. On “Fidelity,” her voice remains up front and personal as layers of synths and strings build up around her. The dynamics swell, fall, and swell again to a crescendo, only to fall again to nearly a whisper. The Tux 5 delivers it all with clarity and emotion.
If you want a good comparison point, check out our review of the Campfire Solaris, where we use Tux 5 alongside the Empire Ears Valkyrie to compare and contrast the difference in sound between the three IEMs.
The Bottom Line
While at first the Tux 5 might seem like a fairly unassuming IEM, the more you listen to it, the more you notice its strengths. For anyone who prefers a slightly darker sound with more bass emphasis, the Tux 5 is a great all around pick. At $1299, it has a solid price to performance factor, and it’s one of the best values in Noble’s lineup. For rock and metal listeners, its tuning coupled with its speaker-like soundstage make the Tux 5 an absolute monster and a must-hear IEM.