Disclaimer: Noble Audio is one of my customers. While I dig their products, it is unfair, if not unethical of me to review their products. Prior to shooting for them, I reviewed the K10 custom earphone at Headfonia. This is not a review.
Back in September, I shot Noble Audio's new flagship universal, the K10u. It was an ultra-light, jewel-like, and hollow non-working sample. It was carefully packed and pretty, ready for careful photography.
And until Brannan made his way to Fujiya Avic's 2015 Fall Headphone show, I didn't get to hear it. Brannan swears the internals are the same as my K10 custom (reviewed here), and by and large, the signatures closely follow one another. But the unit I heard at the show was brawnier. Bass had more power, and mids slightly more punch. The difference wasn't stark, but, to my K10-tuned ears, it was enough.
To my question: "So, it's the same guts?", Brannan nodded. And, through fifteen minutes of trance, EDM, and Mark Knopfler, I bobbed my head. Definitely more bass. Not too much. But certainly contrastier top to bottom than my custom K10.
Brannan is as good as his word, so my guess is as good as yours: perhaps it was the ear tips at Fujiya that did it. Or, maybe the K10u's aluminium shell and sound tube combo has a different sound than the acrylic and silicon of the K10 custom. Maybe the heat of the room (Fujiya Avic is a bloody sauna) added its own flavour. Maybe the beautiful Leica at Wagnus's booth drove the temperature up.
Whatever it was, what I dug about the custom version was augmented by whatever difference I heard at Fujiya. The extra contrast from bass to treble is exciting, but not over the top, and is an even better match for trance.
Before packing 10 drivers in per side, the shells are feather-light. They're what I played with in September. With the electronics and drivers, they are splendidly weighty. And, for a jewellery photographer, that is brilliant.
In fact, the K10u is the first weighty earphone that both looks, and handles, like jewellery. Its milled channels are the industrial equivalent to gem facets. Its tight metal seam the industrial equivalent to the cleaving of rock to precious metal. Shooting it was damn fun. And, as you can imagine, it was a lot of work. Consistently, Noble Audio provide products that are fun to shoot. They are designed with intention, where branding is as important as anything else, and the small things, like the bolt colour, seam width, channel depth, etc, play a big role in that branding.