Noble Audio Django Review – Bold Inside & Out

Introduction –

It was an adventurous age, the Phonak PFE 232 and Westones W4 were hailed as the greatest, most price prohibitive in-ear on the market, shaking up the Shure SE535’s and Etymotic ER4’s of the world. But talk of a well-coveted newcomer bumbled through the forum, Heir Audio was making headlines with their stylish new in-ears. However, that was over half a decade ago, and Heir has since been split and revitalized as Noble Audio, who have, once again, redefined our perception of flagship portable audio. Of note, their 10-driver K10U and subsequent Kaiser Encore are both widely discussed models, even those outside the hobby or just getting started will be well familiar with those orange and blue shells.

But like 64Audio, talk of their multi-thousand dollar flagship is surprisingly widespread though very little, if any, can be heard about their lower-end offerings. The Django is hardly an affordable in-ear but is certainly more accessible than the Kaiser Encore with a $999 USD asking price. And with the same souped up metal faceplates, hand assembled components and an in-house designed 6-driver configuration, the Django represents the next highest earphone below Noble’s flagships. But the market has since matured and grown fierce with competition and with brands like Campfire Audio pricing their flagships closer to the $1k Django than the $1.8k Kaiser Encore and Katana, let’s see how the Django performs relative to their nearest priced competition.

 

Disclaimer – 

I would like to thank Brannan from Noble Audio very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the Django for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Accessories – 

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Noble Audio flatter their buyers with excellent packaging that reaffirms the quality and prestige behind their brand. The Django comes within a large box with bold renders of the earphones and some basic usage instructions on the back.

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Inside is a hard box containing a waterproof Pelican 1010 carry case, probably the most protective earphone case on the market, with a more portable acrylic case just to the left.

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The bulk of the contents lie within the Pelican case, the Django’s within an anti-static bag, a soft pouch, two Noble stickers to flaunt your purchase and a metal card that holds a staggering 22 ear tips; 3 sizes of soft silicones, hard silicones and dual flanges in addition to two sizes of foam ear tips.

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Noble also includes a nice metal warranty card engraved with the original buyer’s name, a Caribana and two stacking straps.

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It’s a super comprehensive setup embellished with a hyper opulent presentation. The included carry cases are genuinely practical and hardy when needed and the assortment of ear tips should guarantee a solid fit (though I still preferred JVC Spiral Dots).
Design –

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Noble’s new earphones all share a stunning aesthetic that is a great departure from the plastic shells of their progenitors. All Noble earphones have an identically dimensioned aluminium faceplate colour coded to denote the model though only the flagship Katana and Kaiser Encore extend that meticulous metal build to the rest of the housing. The Django is Noble’s most premium within the classic line-up with the largest housing size and the highest number of drivers, 6 to be exact. While their purple complexion may not be so flattering in online renders, in person, the Django is a bold beast of an earphone teaming with character.

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As aforementioned, build quality on Noble’s newest earphones is excellent, the metal faceplates are perfectly machined and the plastic remainders are super smooth and evenly mated. The Django plays with light like no other earphone I’ve tested, they are truly a sight to behold; their bold, deep machining and stunning rippled texturing creating a dynamic aesthetic that is thoroughly captivating. Furthermore, though the internal face is plastic, the earphones feel incredibly solid with no flex or sense of hollowness and their lustrous speckled finish is unique without drawing undue attention from onlookers.

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But what may draw glances is the Django’s enormous dimensions, they are easily one of the largest earphones I’ve tested, larger than even the 10-driver Kaiser Encore. As such, the earphones mainly sit outside the ear with a medium depth fit. I personally struggled to find a proper fit in store, but after some quick tip swapping, the Django’s found a comfortable and relatively stable fit when equipped with JVC Spiral Dots that provided a much stronger seal than any of the included tips and didn’t muffle the sound like Comply’s. With the Spiral Dots installed, the Django is comfortable and stable enough for walking, even some light jogging, but they definitely won’t stay put during a run as they are simply too large and laterally displaced.

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The earphone’s protruding nozzles place them at the right angle within the ear and the pre-moulded ear guides up top hold the earphone in place, preventing them from shaking loose when walking. Combined with their strong seal with Spiral Dots, isolation is easily sufficient for public transport and even plane trips, they isolate a little more than the 64Audio earphones but still less than the Campfire’s and Westone’s of the world.

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The Django utilizes a recessed 0.78mm 2-pin removable cable, Noble’s cable is ergonomically excellent with a strong build that feels impervious to the rigours of daily life. The connectors are exceptionally tight, the cable doesn’t budge during use nor was there any intermittency. The Django’s pursue an over-ear fit with pre-moulded ear guides rather than memory wire. The ear guides are perfectly shaped for my ear, they were firm enough to hold the bulkier Django’s in place and avoided forming hotspots at the tops of my ears. The cable itself is braided with a similar pattern and gauge to that included with 64Audio earphones though Noble’s cable is softer yet.

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The cable is super tangle resistant and has no memory, spring and minimal microphonics. The metal y-split is outfit with a simple plastic chin slider and the jack is straight but compact and case friendly.
Sound –                            

Like the 1More Triple Driver and Hifiman RE-400 many leagues down in price, the Django and similarly priced earphones like the Campfire Jupiter, Andromeda and 64Audio U6 pursue inherently different sounds divergent enough to invalidate direct comparison. However, they all sound very compelling in isolation with varying strengths and weaknesses, one cannot really compare pure sonic performance due to the tuning difference between the more neutrally orientated Campfire’s and the more full-bodied Noble. Yet despite balance and neutrality being a common goal around this price, I found the slightly more audacious Django to be a refreshing change from the usual tones carried by these earphones. Furthermore, the Django is still exceptionally technical even if it isn’t as immediately apparent due to their smoother tuning. My experience with the Django really embodies the purpose of these longer term reviews; from initial impression, the Django seemed to be lacking some insight, but after a few weeks of listening, I’ve begun to appreciate their powerful, laid-back tones more and more.

 

Drivability –

The Django is very sensitive, similar to the Andromeda which makes it significantly more efficient than the majority of other in-ears. Noble doesn’t provide any clear specifications on the box or their site, but we can extrapolate an approximate sensitivity rating around 115dB combined with a very low impedance. Yet despite this, I didn’t find the 6-driver Django to sound drastically different from my higher output impedance sources like my HTC 10 with only some mild muddling of bass frequencies. That being said, the Django is still a source sensitive earphone in that it scales exceptionally well with higher resolution DAPs and DACs such as the Chord Mojo and especially the iFi Black who’s powerful sub-bass and clearer high-end found almost perfect synergy with the more laid-back, mid-bass focussed Django, effectively balancing them out. The X7, which is usually a great pairing, was actually a little too smooth as was the Chord Mojo, though both sources sounded great in isolation. As such, though the Django is extremely efficient, it does greatly benefit from a resolving source and, for my tastes, a slightly brighter, more aggressive one too.

 

Tonality –

The Django is a refined and balanced earphone with tinges of Noble’s warmer, fuller house sound sprinkled on top. But while I would call the Django a balanced earphone in isolated listening, relative to more ballpark neutral earphones like the Jupiter, the Django has a slightly M-shaped tuning with particular emphasis on mid-bass and upper mids mated to a more polite middle/upper treble presentation. As such, the Django represents a great departure from the high frequency orientated earphones around this price, lacking that instant sense of resolution and clarity that these earphones possess. But in return, the Django provides great long term listenability and, once adjusted to their mellower tones, proves to be just as revealing as their brighter counterparts. And as with all earphones around this price, the Django still retains great synergy between bass, mids and highs, they definitely aren’t a bass head earphone in any way nor are they particularly rolled off, these are small hints of colouration that provide a unique take on a technical underlying sound.

 

Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –

The Django takes advantage of their larger housing size to produce a similarly expansive soundstage. Width is very good just out of the head on a lot of tracks and depth is very good if more intimate. The 64Audio U3 and U6 still best the Django in overall soundstage size due to their semi-open nature, but the Django is wider than the excellent Jupiter at the cost of some soundstage depth. Imaging is also impressive; when listening to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, the Django provided nice space to each instrument, vocal and effect but failed to capture the holographic transience of the sharper Jupiter. That being said, instruments are very easy to locate though complex passages don’t sound quite as coherent as the higher Campfire and 64audio earphones due to some issues with separation. Separation is the Django’s downfall, due to their mid/upper bass presence and full midrange combined with their less apparent clarity and high-end, they are clearly less delineated than both the Campfire Jupiter and 64Audio U6. They still aren’t a congested earphone by any means but their very integrated sound still lacks that exceptional separation carried by more neutral competing models and this is probably the main reason why the Django requires some acclimatization when coming from such earphones.

 

Bass –

The Django has an appreciably fuller bass response than the Jupiter and U6 though they are still more even overall than the dynamic driver Sennheiser ie800. The Django also has great sub-bass extension for a balanced armature earphone though, in pursuit of that more analogue tonality, they have more neutral sub-bass quantity and don’t carry the same level of bass depth as the Jupiter and U6 on electronic and R&B songs. Rather, the Django carries a more laid-back, mid-bassy tuning that perfectly integrates into the rest of their sound. I must restate that the level of boost is larger relative to the very balanced Jupiter, which many consider mid-forward and that the Django is far from a bass head earphone. Upper bass is also lifted though the Django doesn’t sound too bloated or boomy on behalf of their more controlled bass response and appropriately restrained tuning. Of note, bass is very dynamic, surprisingly so given their type of tuning, listening to Charlie Puth’s “Attention” and the Django was both more textured and more engaging than the Jupiter. While bass definition isn’t the highest I’ve heard, bass notes are mostly immediate and low-frequency details are well separated during faster, more complex passages.

But despite this, the Django doesn’t have my absolute favourite presentation around this price, I do feel that the more sub-bass focussed U6 and Andromeda are more detailed overall on account of their reduced mid-bass hump and more even bass in general. The Django’s bass is also on the slower, looser side, they do keep up with faster tracks but bass notes get a little soft around the edges whereas the aforementioned models are razor sharp. So while the Django does just fine with pop and rock, they really flourish with older pop, classical and jazz. Listening to songs such as Michael Jackson’s “Love Never Felt So Good” and the Django’s sang with a charming analogue tonality, tighter, more restrained sub-bass and fantastic mid-bass definition that was significantly improved over the Jupiter and even give the exceptionally textured U6 a run for its money. So even if they are a mid and upper bass focused earphone and perhaps not the tightest around this price, they retain enough balance to maintain genre versatility and that mid-bass is of exquisite quality.

 

Mids –

Power sums the Django’s midrange up in one word, they exhume a richness that grants every note with moving weight and awesome authority. However, the Django has a completely different approach to similarly powerful sounding earphones like the UM 50 Pro, achieving this character through body and timbre rather than outright thickness and upper bass/lower-midrange emphasis. In fact, the Django is a touch on the brighter side while carrying body and smoothness uncanny for an armature earphone. It is a refreshing departure from the thinner, more clarity orientated earphones around this price and the Django manages to be a resolving earphone without a hint of sibilance. Voicing is also spot on, they never sounding unnatural, not even with poorly recorded material which is a rarity at any price point. Lower mids sit slightly behind their full bass response and slightly accentuated upper midrange, however, they don’t take a backseat on quality with nice resolution to male vocals and instruments. The Django isn’t the most transparent earphone, but they do consistently maintain their powerful tonality throughout and, in my opinion, this tonal consistency grants them great versatility anyway.

Upper mids are one of my favourite aspects of the Django’s sound and they undoubtedly have one of my most preferred responses around this price. The Django has a sensational presentation that is slightly emphasized over the lower midrange though the earphones are not bright and never overbearing. Female vocals are exceptionally smooth, clear and defined with fantastic timbre and a very refined tone reinforced by a full sense of body. Vocals project and layer appreciably better than the Campfire and 64Audio earphones, the Django is also the most universally pleasing and forgiving of poorly mastered material. Perhaps most impressive is that the Noble manages such a tuning while barely sacrifices detail and resolution, they don’t sound dull or remotely muffled and their clarity is truly astounding given their level of body and fullness. The Jupiter has a delightful midrange with fantastic resolution and really nice organic tone. It is a similarly refined earphone that sounds immediately rawer and more transparent than the Django. However, listening to “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (yes, Baby Driver was fantastic) and the Django provided a considerably more dynamic listen with more muscle behind its sound; strings had more texture, vocals and guitars more power, as much as I love the Jupiter there was no doubt that Noble’s earphone is more engaging. And that pretty much sums up the Django’s midrange, they are a very powerful sounding earphone but also a highly detailed and resolving one. And what they lack in transparency, they make up for with engagement and bold character.

 

Treble –

The Django is a slightly laid-back sounding earphone, greatly differing from a lot of more aggressive, clear tuned earphones around this price. As such, they can sound underwhelming from first listen, seeming to miss out on some resolution, clarity and air. But it’s with extended listening that the Django can be truly appreciated, it’s super refined tones providing an exceptionally balanced listen with excellent resolving power, detail and a nudge of extra body producing a very musical listen. Their high-frequency response will not suit everyone, of course, especially those looking for absolute clarity and micro-detail retrieval, but the Django still stands up to critical listening very well through a combination of tonal excellence and technicality while avoiding drawing too much attention during more casual listening. Otherwise, treble is laid-back but crisp and very well-detailed, strings and trumpets are very even and smooth. The Django’s really excel with both classical and jazz, providing an excellent rendition of Miles Davis’ “So What” with realistic cymbal clashing that avoided over emphasis and a very textured, perfectly bodied trumpet solo that made the U6 sound a bit honky.

And while they are laid-back, everything is there, the Django is as detailed as the Campfire Jupiter just considerably less aggressive in their presentation. That being said, despite sitting behind the upper midrange and certain parts of the Django’s bass response, those notes themselves are clear and defined. Treble separation is also notably improved over midrange and bass which can get a little incoherent, enhancing the Django’s dynamics and handling of complex tracks. Treble extension is as good as one would expect at this price, high-hats sound textured and far better bodied than the vast majority of in-ears though the Campfire’s still extend further with some extra reach at the very top. That being said, the Django doesn’t sound especially rolled off with a relatively even treble response until around 16KHz which is beyond most notable detail anyway. So while the Django doesn’t have supreme treble resolution and extension like the Andromeda and Jupiter nor the bite of the 64Audio U6, it is more natural and similarly well detailed, just less aggressive. If you prefer a more natural, perhaps more realistic timbre to treble notes, the Django delivers in spades.

Verdict –

Though Noble Audio has a clear pricing scheme that generally correlates to the number of drivers, they clearly stress that buyers should research into the model that best suits their tonal preference rather than going straight for the flagship (and this is the reason why Noble has two identically priced flagship earphones). But even among the nicely balanced Sage and the vibrant Dulce Bass, I can easily see a lot of buyers coughing up a bit more for the Django which combines the best elements of both.

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It is a steeply priced earphone just shy of $1000 USD so any comments on value are really defunct, but the Django keeps pace with similarly priced models through its exceptional dynamics and powerful yet natural sound. Moreover, they retain enough balance to avoid coming off as muffled or veiled, the Django has a bold analogue character with some sprinkles of solid state resolution, detailing and clarity. They are far from the most revealing, transparent earphone out there and their large housings may present issue for smaller eared folk but the Django is a very compelling in-ear that I would happily recommend.

Verdict – 9/10, The Django is a luxury product first and foremost, but it does provide a similarly extravagant build and performance that suits that price tag. The Django is a wonderful mix of musicality and versatility wrapped within almost class leading dynamics. Their more unorthodox tuning won’t suit every buyer, but many will find enjoyment after acclimatization and few will have any issue with their unfatiguing, musical tones.

 

The Noble Audio Django is available from Amazon for $999 USD, please see the link below for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations:

Noble Audio Django Universal In-Ear Headphone Monitor

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