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Noble Audio SAVANNA: Touched by a Wizard (for the very first Time) - [Review] 🇬🇧

Prolog:

Hierbei handelt es sich um meine englische Rezension des Noble Audio SAVANNA. Die deutsche Fassung ist hier abrufbar: http://kopfhoerer-lounge.blogspot.com/2016/09/Noble-SAVANNA.html


Preamble:

Founded in 2013, the American company Noble Audio (https://nobleaudio.com/en/) very quickly became a well-known and established brand name in audiophile and headphone-addicted circles. Co-owned by Brannan Mason and Dr. John Moulton, the company is manufacturing universal fit as well as custom-moulded multi-BA in-ears with up to 10 drivers per side.
Dr. John Moulton, who is a very experienced person on the topic and in the industry for around a decade, has successfully worked with other renowned audio companies in the past. Besides his vast knowledge and experience as an audiologist, sound lover, (universal as well as custom fit) IEM developer and designer, he is mainly known by his nickname “Wizard”, which he has for reason, as his designs of custom-moulded in-ear shells (that could be well described as being art) are definitely among the most beautiful, complex and precise I have personally ever seen and there is probably no design or customer wish he wouldn’t be able to create.
What I, who prefers universal fit over custom-moulded in-ears (mainly because my ear anatomy is usually very in-ear friendly with its large and pretty straight ear canals), find especially commendable, is that Noble Audio offers all of their custom fit models also as universal fit variant with silicone/foam tips – which is something I’d personally like to see from many more CIEM companies.



The SAVANNA that is an in-ear with four Balanced Armature drivers per side and the successor of the Noble 4, is, like its name already suggests, an in-ear that is tuned for a quite linear, flat sound signature – just like the real savanna, the paragon for its name.
Some would probably consider me as being somewhat freakish, as (semi-) stationary at home, I am indeed mainly using in-ears for listening to music (which however does not stop me from owning, using and loving several good full-sized open-back headphones as well, depending on my mood and the music I want to listen to, but somewhat less often than in-ears). And for this purpose, my preferred sound signature usually heads into a flatter and more neutral direction, with my three mainly used IEMs at home being the UERM, InEar StageDiver SD-2 and Etymotic ER-4S (for on the go listening and sometimes in-between however, I don’t really have a generalisable preferred sound signature and am basically able to enjoy almost everything, depending on my mood, as long as the mids aren’t overly coloured or unnatural).
So let’s see how the Noble SAVANNA fits in and how I evaluate it from an (as good as I can) objective and subjective point of view.


Before I go on, I want to take the time to personally thank Noble Audio and especially Brannan for sending me a sample of the SAVANNA UIEM free of charge in exchange for my entirely honest and unbiased evaluation.


Technical Specifications:

MSRP: $499
Driver Type: Balanced Armature
Drivers per Side: 4


Delivery Content:

The SAVANNA is delivered in a brown cardboard box with black Noble logo on the lid, however this is just the protective wrapper for the actual package which is inside. It is a black cardboard box with a really nice and subtle texture and black Noble logos, black Noble lettering as well as black “Wizard” signatures on the sides respectively the lid. On the back, the serial number is noted and we also find a short (and pretty accurate) sound description.
Inside, a Pelican 1010 case, small velvet storage pouch (for the in-ears or accessories) and two car stickers with white Noble logos can be found.
Opening the Peli case, inside, the in-ears in a plastic bag, as snap hook for the Pelican case, two Noble-branded rubber bands for stacking amplifiers/DACs with an audio player, a cleaning brush/tool, a contact card (in case the box with the in-ears is lost) and finally a plate with four different kinds of ear tips in different sizes can be found.






The accessories are really nice and definitely live up to the price tag.


Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

The in-ears are drop-shaped and have housings that are halfway made of dark grey, glittery plastic, and rose-gold coloured, CNC-milled aluminium faceplates. On the outer half of the faceplates, one will see a deepened Noble logo that is surrounded by a beautiful honeycomb structure. Under light, this structure along with the recessed logo adds a really nice sense of depth and looks beautiful. The sides of the faceplates have got revolving grooves that look and feel really nice as well.
On the nozzle outlet, two individual sound bores per side can be seen. Looking closely, one can also see the acoustic dampers inside them.
Build quality is overall (very) good at normal daylight but not perfect yet when closely inspected under stronger artificial light – for example, the in-ear housing pieces aren’t 100% perfectly joint (which I would expect at the price point) and the ear tips, especially the ones with the blue stem, still have some residue around the divider bridge thing left from the moulding machine that can however be easily removed by hand, but still it would be a little nicer if those blue-stem tips came already “deburred”.


I am really glad that Noble Audio is still using 2-pin connections for the removable cable instead of jumping on the MMCX trend. The used cable is a black quad-strand, twisted standard CIEM cable that is very flexible and reliable. The y-split is made of dark grey, grooved metal with Noble logo and has got a chin-slider above. The straight 3.5 mm connector has even got strain relief (which is not totally necessary with this type of cable but still very nice to see), is small in profile and made of metal, too.



The carrying case is a Pelican 1010 case that I already know from my InEar StageDiver SD-2. It is a really good and extremely sturdy as well as waterproof case with a pressure relief valve and is fully bolstered on the inside. What would have been a nice touch though is if customised Noble stickers instead of the stock Pelican ones were used.


Comfort, Isolation:

As mentioned, the shells are drop-shaped and therefore also somewhat ergonomically. They are not very large but definitely not small either and quite deep wherefore they protrude a little more than usual, however they still disappear in my large and deep ears and I could even carefully lay on the side with the SAVANNA, however please really don’t expect this to be possible for all ear shapes.
The in-ears are a bit heavier than usual, however this extra weight is only noticeable when holding them in one’s hands, as in the ears, the in-ears feel just like any other more lightweight inmodels.
Comfort is really good for me and I even barely notice the SAVANNA at all after just a very short time.



The cable has got very short memory wire/ear guides, which is usually a problem for me (see the Westone W4R where the memory wire ends a little too early for me), however with the SAVANNA, it fortunately isn’t and the short memory wire just helps getting the cable into the right shape to go around the ears.
Looking at the in-ears’ shape and design, I even think that a longer memory wire would have been somewhat uncomfortable. So yeah, Noble’s choice of short memory wire was a pretty good one.
By the way, microphonics are close to nothing, which should also be expected with this type of cable.



Isolation is pretty good as it should be expected for closed shell multi-BA in-ears, however it is not as good as with CIEMs or Shure’s or Westone’s models. SAVANNA’s isolation is comparable to the Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE900 and therefore still really good and clearly above vented IEMs’ levels.


Sound:

My two main sources were my iBasso DX90 and my Chord Mojo + Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII stack because both the DX90 in stand-alone use as well as the Mojo + Leckerton stack with any source are entirely hiss-free and have a very low output impedance so that the multi-driver in-ears’ frequency response and therefore tonality remains original and unaltered.



For listening, I used the largest included silicone tips with the red stem.

Tonality:

Before I head to my subjectively perceived tonality when listening to music and then going more in-depth with what I heard when carefully doing sine sweeps and direct comparisons, let me say two things: first of all, the target of a pretty flat, uncoloured tonality is reached. Nothing really sticks out and the SAVANNA sounds very balanced with a “boring” and tendentially “sterile” character (the adjectives in quotation marks are meant in a good way). Second, while nothing stands out, the description on the back of the package describes the tonality extremely well: “Savannah places an emphasis on accuracy and transparency while offering a gratifying listening experience with many acoustic recordings not produced to enthusiast standards.”  The last part of the sentence that I marked bold therefore means that while the tonality is very neutral, accurate and uncoloured, the SAVANNA doesn’t scream “hey, this recording is bad and unlistenable” when it is, but still makes it sound somewhat more tolerable. What this means is that “critical” parts of the frequency spectrum that usually highlight when a recording is badly produced/mastered aren’t emphasised but the slight opposite is the case.

Continuing with my subjective observations when listening to music first, what I am hearing overall is a very uncoloured, neutral, fairly flat and very balanced sound. Nothing sticks out, there are no peaks and all of the frequency bands are very nicely connected, creating a really good coherency.
The bass isn’t as flat as the Etymotic ER-4S that I regard as the in-ear that comes closest to my sense of neutrality and the diffuse-field compensation target, however it is very neutral indeed and has around the same quantity as the UERM and Shure SE425, which are two in-ears that are also very neutral in the bass, and so is the SAVANNA (on a related note, I don’t see many manufacturers using a bass as flat as the Etymotic target anyway, which is not for the lack of knowledge but actually mainly because with in-ears, there is no body-borne noise in the lows as we are feeling it when listening to loudspeakers, hence other target response curves have been researched and created over the years that say a very slight emphasis in the lows is a good thing to slightly compensate for the lack of body-borne noise, and therefore there is no unity about what the “perfect” bass response should look like – what I want to express here is that in-ears like the UERM, SE425 or SAVANNA, while not sounding and measuring as diffuse-field flat in the lows as the ER-4S, are still extremely neutral in the bass and might be closer to other researchers’ and in-ear builders’ target response curves).
Saying that, the SAVANNA’s lows are also somewhat less “emphasised” and therefore more neutral than the Fischer Amps FA-3E’s, Pai Audio MR3’s or InEar StageDiver SD-2’s (the latter is using the same drivers as the Westone W2/20 and Audio Technica ATH-IM02 and also measures identically in terms of tonality as these two), all three being in-ears that are known for sounding balanced/neutral-ish too.
What I am however also hearing is that the bass is a bit rolling off towards the sub-bass.
The midrange sounds pretty much spot-on neutral without any colouration, warmth or brightness and makes vocals therefore sound correct and realistic.
What I am hearing then is a slightly pushed back presence range and then middle treble, which does exactly what the description on the back of the package says – it makes less well recorded songs and albums appear somewhat better tolerable, however there is no real dip or whatsoever here. As a side-effect though, the treble then also might sound smoother and vocals somewhat more relaxed (not to be mistaken with “recessed” which it isn’t), which on one hand reduces listening fatigue but on the other hand can also lead to some edginess and rawness being missed at times, however the SAVANNA avoids these things pretty well and delivers a great balance between just moderate smoothness and high tonal evenness.
 In the upper middle and upper highs, level is back to neutral levels again and maybe just very slightly below ground line. What is very nice here is that the treble sounds natural and lacks edginess, peaks or sharpness but sounds highly coherent. This is quite an achievement as many in-ears in this price range and even regardless of price do still have some peaks or narrow dips.



Moving on to the sine sweeps, I hear the lows’ “emphasis” (compared to an extremely flat in-ear like the ER-4S) to start around 450 Hz, then reaching its climax (with ca. 3.5 dB more level than the ER-4S and slightly more perceived impact than the UERM) around 220 Hz. The level remains consistent down to 70 Hz and starts rolling off towards 20 Hz from there on, however the SAVANNA’s lower midbass and sub-bass are slightly slower rolling off than the SE425’s.
Between 1.5 and 5 kHz, I hear the treble being slightly but very evenly in the background and then coming back to normal levels after 5 kHz, with a neutral level up to 12.5 kHz which is then gently rolling off towards 15 kHz.
Just as during my regular and critical listening, what I can hear here too when doing sine sweeps is that the treble and sound in general is highly coherent, neutral and lacks any peaks or narrow dips but is very close to a neutral but unobtrusive target (-> the slight and broad-banded recession in the presence range and middle treble that is also described on the back of the package).

Besides the great tonal balance and neutral orientation, what really left a very positive impression is the treble that comes extremely (!) close to the evenness and realism of the ER-4S but with a slightly smoother and less analytical/sterile approach, which I can tell you not many in-ears manage to get close to, regardless of price range.
The evenness in the highs is so good and came a little unexpected that I could write about it for one more hour.

Moving to realism and authenticity – oh man, this in-ear really does everything extremely well. Vocals, lower instruments and instruments in the highs sound enormously real and are rendered so that I sometimes get goose bumps due to the overall presentation, which you can believe me just very few in-ears regardless in what price range manage to achieve.
Having written that in the past few seconds, this impression was even reinforced listening to some recent and quite well-recorded Austrian pop music just now. Not exaggerating at all, regardless what vocals or instruments, they sound realistic and only being extremely nitpicky, I would say that cymbals decay minimally too fast which is however criticism on such a high level that it wouldn’t even be worth to really negatively point out.

Kudos to the “Wizard”, Dr. John Moulton, for tuning the SAVANNA so nicely.

Resolution:

Detail retrieval does definitely live up to the price tag and is also somewhat higher than the UE900 that I consider to be a good in-ear around $400 (however the UE doesn’t have the best mids). So, I would say that on the technical side, it is comparable to the Westone W4R that is however clearly tuned for a very different tonal approach and presents things such as the soundstage differently.

At first listening with the SAVANNA, it might sound “flat” and lacking emotions, and as nothing stands out and as there are no peaks, it might very well be that it sounds unspectacular at first listen. However, giving it some more time, one will notice that everything is there and that the Noble isn’t really masking anything but also not setting accents as there are literally no peaks, narrow dips or whatsoever – this is just like what a nicely tuned, neutral in-ear should sound like.
The mids, treble and bass are detailed, very realistic and even manage to become engaging after some listening time as everything is presented very authentically. And just as described on the package, the SAVANNA is a little more forgiving with badly recorded or mastered music without sounding too smooth or candy-coated. So while it isn’t the rawest and “hey, this part of the recording is badly mastered and so I make it unlistenable for you” in-ear, it still clearly prefers good recordings and doesn’t mask recording flaws but actually still makes them easily audible while it doesn’t present them in an as raw manner as the UERM, ER-4S or HD 800.

Midrange details are very good and it is easy to pick out nuances in singers’ vocals. Yes, this in-ear also works very well with vocal music (no, I am not referring to the “typical” “audiophile” vocal music with a woman whispering into the microphone and someone slowly playing one single instrument).
Also with busy or fast recordings, the SAVANNA doesn’t have any problems at all.

The treble is nicely detailed, realistic and still smooth. If I was hyper critical, I would say cymbals decay a slight bit too fast, which is however still better than if they were too metallic or artificial.

The bass is detailed, fast and very well controlled, however it is not the quickest among BA-based in-ears. It isn’t yet as arid and fast as let’s say the W4R’s, UERM’s or MR3’s bass, however it is (thankfully) also not as soft and “slow” as the FA-4E XB’s or SD-2’s bass that I personally find somewhat too soft for BA standards while it is still faster than most good dynamic driver in-ears’ bass. So for me, the SAVANNA’s lows do still have a great speed and aridness while I personally wouldn’t mind if they were a smidgen more arid. It is definitely clean, quick, arid, quick-paced, excellently controlled and realistic though.
What I would say is that the SAVANNA’s lows don’t sound unlike a very well-made back-vented BA woofer’s bass (UE900 and FA-3E for example) and are therefore just a little softer than some other BA in-ears but just as well controlled as them (I am not trying to imply that the SAVANNA’s woofers are back-vented, as I think they aren’t, but rather that larger BA woofers are used that are often a little softer than small double-woofers but can also create a slightly better perception of impact and body).

Soundstage:

The SAVANNA’s soundstage is very nice.
It expands quite nicely to the sides and also has got a really good amount of spatial depth, wherefore it sounds more three-dimensional and authentic than some other multi-BA in-ears’ soundstages that often lack some spatial depth.
Overall, it sounds very authentic, realistic and is good when it comes to displaying directional cues or layering. So yes, it is definitely among the best multi-BA in-ears’ soundstages in its price range and more authentic and three-dimensional than let’s say the W4R, FA-4E XB, FA-3E, UE900, while it is only slightly beat by the SD-2’s stage that sounds minimally more authentic but doesn’t handle quick recordings as well as the Noble, or by the MR3 that creates a little more empty space between instruments but has got a little less spatial depth.

What can be said after having headed over to the soundstage is that the SAVANNA does everything very well when it comes to sound.

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In Comparison with other Multi-BA In-Ears:




Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE900:
The UE900 is an in-ear that heads into a balanced direction without becoming fully neutral/balanced. It is well resolving and its back-vented woofers aren’t noticeable in any negative way at all, however its midrange tonality is a bit skewed and vocals don’t sound as detailed as the highs and lows. I really like the UE though and don’t regret at all having bought it, however it about only gets use for electronical music without vocals in my case.

The UE900 has got slightly more bass but it extends to the sub-bass without any roll-off. The UE has got the slightly skewed and warm-ish vocals in comparison and less presence range. In the treble, the SAVANNA is more even and lacks any peaks whereas the UE900 has got a slight peak in the upper highs. So overall, the Noble’s tonality is more realistic.
When it comes to overall details, both have the about similarly detailed bass and about same bass speed and details. In the mids and treble however, the SAVANNA is higher resolving.
The UE’s soundstage is a bit wider but less deep and has got the less precise layering while both have comparable separation to the sides.

Fischer Amps FA-3E:
The FA-3E is a pretty balanced sounding in-ear with just a slight broad-banded bass “boost” and a somewhat recessed middle treble to give a fatigue-free presentation. It is not the best in-ear in every category, however it does everything really well and while it doesn’t have a remarkable soundstage/separation, it is circular and relatively natural. On the go, this one is therefore one of my favourite balanced sounding in-ears in its price range.

The FA-3E has got slightly more bass that however extends deeper without roll-off towards the sub-bass. In the mids, both have about the same timbre while the FA-3E sounds a little more distant.
Both are comparably somewhat smooth/”recessed” in the presence range and middle treble but the distribution of this is more even with the SAVANNA.
In the upper treble, the Fischer Amps sounds brighter and more ringing, whereas the SAVANNA decays quicker here (maybe a little too quickly) and is more neutral/even.
So the triple-driver has got the less even frequency response in the highs than the quad-driver from Noble Audio.
In the bass, the FA-3E is minimally quicker/more arid while both are equally controlled. In the treble and mids however, the SAVANNA is more detailed.
When it comes to soundstage, the SAVANNA’s extends more to the sides and depth and while both have got a comparable separation to the sides with a small advantage for the quad-driver, and so the Noble’s layering is somewhat more precise, too.

Shure SE425:
The SE425 is a good entry into the world of neutral in-ears, however it doesn’t really have the best value in its price range anymore and is beaten by some other balanced sounding in-ears in its price range nowadays. Tonally, it has more of a mid-forward presentation of neutrality and unfortunately rolls off quite early in the highs and also very slightly towards the sub-bass with the latter not being a big thing though. Its soundstage is quite small but has got good depth.
While it is not the best in-ear on the technical side in its price range nowadays, I think many people started their neutral/balanced journey with the SE42X series.

The Shure has got the very slightly lighter bass (ca. 0.5 dB) that also starts rolling off slightly earlier. In the mids, the SE425 is somewhat more forward and mid-centric sounding. The SE425 has got the more forward presence range. In the treble, the Shure starts rolling off noticeably earlier, wherefore cymbals sound kind of muffled and unnatural.
The Shure has got the very minimally quicker upper bass punch, however its bass isn’t nearly as layered or detailed as the SAVANNA’s. And also in the mids and treble, the Shure is no match for the SAVANNA at all and sounds more veiled and just doesn’t reach the Noble’s resolution and fine details.
Regarding soundstage, the Noble’s isn’t only larger in all dimensions but also considerably more realistic and precise.

InEar StageDiver SD-2:
The SD2 is a dual-driver in-ear with a sound signature that is heading more into a smoother and warmer as well as darker direction of neutral. Its detail retrieval is quite remarkable for a dual-BA in-ear and while its bass is unfortunately a bit soft and slow for BA standards, it is still quicker and better controlled than most dynamic driver in-ears’. Still, I personally don’t really use it for quicker and busy tracks because of its bass. Anyway, there are three things where the SD-2 really shines: its treble extends really well and is very even, its soundstage is very three-dimensional and the overall sound is highly authentic, easily letting me forget the slightly soft bass.

The SD-2’s bass is a little more present but also doesn’t slightly roll off towards the sub-bass.
Overall, the SD-2 sounds somewhat warmer in the mids and has got the more forward presence range but is overall still darker in the treble. In the upper treble however, the SD-2 has got a narrow “peak” (well, it isn’t really a peak as it is still below ground-line level). The SD-2 displays cymbals a little more realistically, however the Noble is more even in the highs, which is quite a remarkable thing as the SD-2 already belongs to the most even sounding in-ears in the highs. So regarding tonality, the SAVANNA sounds somewhat more authentic and realistic.
In the bass, the SAVANNA is somewhat more arid, quicker and a bit less soft, however not by very much. Nonetheless, it remains somewhat better controlled with busy and quick tracks. In the mids and treble, the Noble is more detailed and a bit cleaner, too.
The Noble’s stage is about similarly wide and deep as the SD-2’s. The latter’s stage sounds more authentic by a smidgen while the SAVANNA has got the somewhat more precise separation and layering.

Pai Audio MR3:
The MR3 shines with really excellent value and a very three-dimensional and authentic presentation. Its tonality could be either described as being a little more on the v-shaped side of neutral or having a bit less midrange quantity than what would be neutral. Anyway, it sounds very balanced with a slight treble preference, is very detailed despite its price tag and shines with value, soundstage and authenticity. Overall, I would also say that it sounds a little like a “Mini-UERM” with just a little more bass and the somewhat less even and somewhat brighter middle treble.

The MR3 has got the slightly more present bass that however also extends towards the deepest sub-bass with almost no roll-off.
In the mids, the Pai sounds a little more distant and slightly thinner.
The Pai has got the more present middle and upper treble and sounds less even and realistic in the highs, with the slightly metallic cymbals.
Regarding bass, the MR3’s is a little more arid and faster while both in-ears are equally controlled here. In the mids and treble, while there is definitely no night and day difference between both and the MR3 doesn’t make it obvious in the sound that there is a $300 price difference between both, the SAVANNA has got the higher resolution nonetheless and sounds especially more realistic and even in the treble, making its overall presentation more authentic and realistic, too.
Both in-ears have got an about similar soundstage width with the SAVANNA having somewhat more spatial depth. Both have similar layering and separation precision but the MR3 creates a little more air around instruments.

Etymotic Research ER-4S:
Oh boy, why didn’t I discover this great old in-ear and neutrality standard in the professional sector that I now totally love much earlier? Mainly because it isn’t that famous in Germany, which is a shame. The Ety is what I would describe as the most neutral, uncoloured and flat in-ear that probably exists. It really is extremely flat with a moderate boost in the presence range, but has got a totally flat bass and probably the most coherent and realistic treble that I have ever heard in an in-ear. And while it isn’t the most detailed or quickest in-ear compared to some of the more expensive and complex models, it is quite remarkable that it is creating its details and speed with only one single BA driver per side. Unlike many other people, I also don’t find its soundstage small but perfectly fine and averagely sized, with good spatial depth and very good authenticity.

The ER-4S is even flatter overall and does not show any low-range emphasis according to the diffuse-field compensation target. Here, the SAVANNA has got ca. 3.5 dB more bass compared to the Ety while still sounding quite neutral.
The ER-4S has got a moderately boosted presence range, making it more analytical and prone to making bad recordings sound really bad. The Ety’s middle treble isn’t slightly in the background as the SAVANNA’s but spot-on neutral to my ears.
In the upper treble, the Ety has got the (comparably) more aggressive and realistic decay and attack with cymbals that decay a little too quickly with the Noble.
When it comes to treble evenness, the SAVANNA, while being more relaxed and smoother in comparison, manages to sound about as even as the ER-4S, something that I still have a hard time to believe, but it is true.
The SAVANNA’s soundstage is wider and deeper.

Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors:
The UERM, while not sounding as perfectly flat as the ER-4S when listening to sine sweeps and music, is still a very neutral in-ear and much more neutral than the vast majority on the market. It sounds overall pretty uncoloured and just around 10 to 12 kHz, there is a peak that makes it appear a bit on the brighter side. It is quick plus detailed, and its soundstage scales pretty well depending on the recording and although it isn’t the largest in its tier, it is definitely larger than average and pretty precise when it comes to separation when the recording allows it. Unfortunately though, the UERM is only available as a custom-moulded in-ear.

The UERM has got the very very minimally less present bass (really, it is less than half of a dB which I have counter-checked quite a number of times) that however extends towards the lowest subbass without really rolling off.
In the midrange, both have got a comparable timbre and level, but the UE has got the somewhat more present and not really tamed presence range and is less recessed in the middle highs (its middle highs appear only a bit recessed with sine sweeps and compared to the Etymotic, but when listening to music with the UERM, the very moderate recession isn’t noticeable much at all but rather slightly). Where the UERM is a little flawed is in the super treble above 10 kHz, as between 10 and 12 kHz, it has got a broad-banded peak that makes the upper treble appear somewhat artificial if one has heard a flatter upper treble/super treble (the ER-4S and SAVANNA for example). And here is where I can say that the SAVANNA has got the more realistic upper treble.
In the bass, the UE is somewhat quicker and more arid, with the slightly better control, too. In the mids and treble however, the difference between both isn’t large at all when directly compared. I would say that the UE is a bit more detailed in the mids and a bit more in the treble, but both are pretty close when directly comparing them. And as mentioned, around 10 kHz, the SAVANNA is somewhat more realistic and authentic.
What the UERM does really well is scaling its soundstage differently depending on the recording – the SAVANNA cannot fully catch up but as mentioned in the previous comparisons, the Noble really does have a nice and realistic soundstage. And it is just slightly narrower than the UE’s.


Conclusion:

Noble Audio has done a lot of things right with the SAVANNA – if you are looking for a pretty neutral, uncoloured in-ear with an authentic soundstage and extremely even treble, the SAVANNA might be the right choice for you.
It is especially remarkable how linear and even the treble is, hence making it sound so natural and authentic – it entirely lacks any peaks or narrow dips. In this regard, the SAVANNA comes extremely close to the Etymotic ER-4S which has probably got the flattest and most even, realistic treble I have ever experienced out of an in-ear regardless in what price range. I haven’t thought that the day I would say this would come, but it has come and is a huge compliment to the SAVANNA.
And what the SAVANNA also does remarkably well despite sounding very balanced and uncoloured is having a really good balance between neutrality and moderate smoothness that allows less high quality recordings to be slightly better bearable although the in-ears don’t mask the flaws if they are on the recording.
If you value an uncoloured, neutral sound, chances are really high that you will love the SAVANNA.


This is a rotoscope-based painting of the SAVANNA, made by me.

It is not entirely perfect though – the sub-bass could extend deeper without the moderate roll-off and cymbals could decay a little less quick. But given the treble evenness, authentic soundstage and high resolution, these two things are each really just a very small nitpick.

Kudos to Dr. John Moulton for tuning this in-ear so nicely.


With my usual 70% sound (94/100) to 30% build/comfort/isolation (89/100) weighting, I come to a conclusion of 92.5% or 4.625 out of 5 possible stars.