Noble Sultan Review

The Sultan is the latest flagship in-ear monitor (IEM) from Noble Audio and comes in at $2900 USD. This 7-driver IEM features a 10mm dynamic driver, 4 balanced armature (BA), and 2 electrostatic tweeters (EST) in each of the aluminum CNC milled shells. This is a pricey flagship, but does it have TOTL style to go with it? Let's find out.

First off, I want to thank for setting up this opportunity to try out and review the Noble Sultan through their loaner tour program that has recently moved to his own site from the popular Head-Fi forums. This unit has made its way to me through various other reviewers and participants and was originally provided by Noble Audio directly.


The aluminum shell design is well-built and feels great in the hand. It has a bit of heft to it and may not work well with every ear out there, but after some tip rolling, I found some that were comfortable and sealed well. The faceplate is an acrylic glossy finish over a brown-swirly design that glows a bit in the right lighting. I am not a big fan of how it looks in dimmer or warm lighting, but it looks improve in natural daylight.

The cable it comes with is a somewhat heavy, black sheathed and braided-style cable with metal connectors and a metal splitter and chin strap. The braid is pretty thick, and the chin strap does not move as smoothly as I'd like across it, and it looks like it may have caused some damaged to one of the cables in the loaner package, which is probably why this loaner set had two of the same cables included. This is just speculation, as I cannot confirm or was witness to the fraying of the original cables.

The cable is otherwise tangle-free and maneuverable, though a tad heavy. It is an interesting design choice to see Noble use 2-pin connector cables that require recessed 2-pin mounts on the IEM to make it flush with the fitting. This is because the 2-pin fitting on the shell isn't really recessed, and therefore the cable connector stands proud of the shell by design, which is an odd choice to use. It would have made more sense to change the fitting on the shell, or choose a different 2-pin connector that was meant to be mounted flush with the shell. Anyway, it's just an aesthetics thing and doesn't really do anything to actual listening.

I spent half the time with this cable and the other half with a set of Dunu DUW-02 cables, with 2-pin connectors.

In addition to the cable, the Noble Sultan comes with a large Nanuk hard locking case that is made to be waterproof and super durable. Inside of it is a pre-cut foam insert that holds the IEMs, cable, and a carrying case -- which is quite reminiscent to several IEM cases I've bought on Ali Express for about $8 each, except these have the Noble branding imprinted on them.

Sound Impressions

The Noble Sultan has a big focus on the lower mid-range and seems to prioritize this over the rest of the sound signature. This is great for those who enjoy male vocals and music that focuses here. Acoustic guitar music with male vocals excel, however, I find the rest of the spectrum rather lacking. 

I primarily used the Sultan with the Lotoo PAW 6000 Digital Audio Player as well as the Topping A90 desktop amp paired with the Schiit Bifrost 2 DAC using a mix of off-line files and Qobuz. I also spent a short amount of time with the Cayin N3 Pro DAP that I have on hand for a future review.

This is a case where I feel like the measurement doesn't always tell the whole story. When looking at this graph, I'd imagine it'd be a V-shaped sound signature, but it really does not sound as such. When I first got this IEM and put it on and listened to a variety of test tracks -- Alison Krauss & Union Station's Loneliness Runs Both Ways, Air's Moon Safari, Tingvall Trio's Beat, and James Taylor's Greatest Hits albums -- I pictured this to sound more like a bloomy low-end, with a recessed 1-3KHz and a weird spike at 5-6KHz and then the rest of the treble gone MIA.

And in some regards, I was correct in my drawn out Frequency Response based on music listening. The area where I didn't get totally right was the 1-3KHz range. It measures with much more gain than I would have imagined, and that's where I think this doesn't sound as it measures, or perhaps the big dip at 1.5KHz is really what I was hearing. This is the HAZE that I occasionally bring up. Haziness sound is what I describe when this 1-3KHz region has some sort of dip and it makes female voices sound like they are behind the curtain and deeply muffled.

I personally found the angelic voice of Alison Krauss to sound like it was draped in cloth and it sounded just a bit disappointing, and is something that reminded me of when I listened to the Campfire IO, which also has a similar rise and dip. Not only does this create a veiled sound, but it comes across extremely low-res to me.

The other disappointment, which I quickly picked up on, is the severe lack of upper treble. The ESTs are in this thing, but are they actually doing anything? I have heard this same type of disappointing EST upper treble cliff on many IEMs that implement the ESTs but don't actually make them audible now, so when I hear the cymbals sound immediately dull and lacking the splash and harmonics they should, I know it's missing extension. This was pretty quickly noticeable in James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" or any of Tingvall Trio's jazz tracks which have a heavy dose of drums.

It's unfortunate too, in the case of James Taylor's music. In the songs that don't heavily showcase drums, the Noble Sultan sounded pretty enjoyable. His voice came across with a nice well-rounded presentation that was warm, and full. The guitars sounded nice and everything flowed nicely. It's just when drums present themselves and I feel like I am missing something. 

I can normally forgive upper treble extension on budget IEMs, but it's hard to forgive something that is $3000. My "audiophile" catalog of jazz and orchestral music can't live without it.

The low end, like I've said, may be good for some stuff, but when there's a heavy drum kick or bass note that has a lot of reverb-ish sound or rumbling texture needed, I do feel that the Sultan presents this as just a blunted attack. It just lacks any sort of edge to it, and has a very soft, and dull sound that really comes across as low resolution (again... I said it again).

That aside, the Noble Sultan has a mega ton of bass. And if you like the feel of the low-end rumble, it'll provide that in those deep bass tracks even if it doesn't necessarily provide the best resolution. It has all the feels down low. 


For my tastes, the Sultan does not really cut it for me. I enjoyed it for a couple genres in particular -- male-oriented acoustic rock music, and some rock music, but for the most part, I find there's a lot of deficiencies for the $2900 price tag that I can't honestly give this a pass on. If this were an IEM that was lower in it's price point, by a significant sum, I could possibly see it as a good one trick pony. But this thing is expensive.

Yes, the price includes some expensive shell materials and machining costs, as well as the expensive Sonion EST drivers, and premium packaging and cables, but at the end of the day, I want my IEM to sound nice for what I am listening to, and I really don't see this IEM sounding any better than anything already in my collection, or a large swath of stuff I've tried in the past at half or less the cost. 

I feel this is an attempt to add EST drivers to their lineup but falling up short because the main purpose of the drivers is totally missing in the audio reproduction. And this is something I must flag as a warning to potential customers.

The Sultan doesn't reign supreme in my house. 


  1. Would you say the Sultan is an attempt to reinvigorate Noble's middling and mediocre selection of IEMs as they can no longer ride the coattails of the K10?

    The Sultan Shell is an interesting colour. Using your best descriptive words, what colour would you describe the Sultan as?

    "If this were an IEM that was lower in it's price point, by a significant sum, I could possibly see it as a good one trick pony. But this thing is expensive." This is interesting. I've heard many IEMs in my time. Would you say the Sultan is competitive with the BLON-03?

  2. Noble recently reworked its Sultan and had it released in Hong Kong recently. The new Sultan is named Sultan Damascus Limited Edition.

    1. So they changed the faceplate from the beautiful, smeary brown to a cold grey with no tuning changes and charge an extra $700 USD for it? How truly Noble of them, truly a brand by the people for the people.

    2. The tuning has been changed. The new version has more high and less bass.

    3. Sultan of Love, the Sultan Damascus Limited Edition has all silver internal wiring, a 12 core palladium, platinum, and gold cable with 4.4mm Pentaconn connectors, and stainless Damascus faceplates forged
      and hand ground by Chris Ploof ( whose Damascus jewelry retails for thousands. The Damascus Sultan is not intended for the "people" just as Ferraris and Lamborghinis are not intended for the "people."


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