When it comes to balance, I’ve found that few IEM brands do it better than Noble Audio. In fact, they’re never released an IEM with wacky tuning. Some might argue that they don’t take enough risks. But my ears say they’ve just got good taste. The TUX 5 may be a classic example of the no-bull$%^& sound signature that Noble produces. But will it suit your needs and listening style? And will it titillate your ears? Let’s take a look in this Noble Audio TUX5 Review.
Noble Audio TUX 5 Review
IN the BOX
Although I’ve never been a fan of Noble’s fit when it comes to their standard models, I find all of their wizard editions extremely comfortable. And the TUX 5 is no exception. Smooth angles, secure seal, these earbuds are a reasonably small size, and they fit perfectly in the contours of my dainty ears.
The TUX 5 sports a 5 driver hybrid design. A 10mm dynamic driver powers the lows, 2 balanced armatures drive the low-mid frequencies, and 2 BA’s drive the mid to highs. So, the drivers seem quite fairly distributed, and we’ll see how that translates to sound below.
The 8 core OCC copper cable (3.5mm) is nice and thick with a solid looking termination and 2-pin connectors that are broad enough for chubby fingers to grip. They’re easy to disconnect too, so lady fingers won’t run into any problems either.
The TUX 5 is easy to drive, and your mobile device will certainly give you enough juice. But for the purposes of this review, I paired it with the FiiO Q5S. In my experience, the Q5 ever so slightly highlights the higher frequencies, so you may want to take that into account when reading the review.
Noble hit the sweet spot here. The bass is satiating enough for those who love a generous low-end, but it avoids stealing the stage. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no sterile neutrality here. Pop tracks packs a punch and rock tracks sound warm without bordering on lush. Hip-hop will also get your boobs vibrating, but not the point where you have to wear a bra. With respect to detail, string instruments in this range revealed plenty of texture and grip. So, don’t expect a particularly smooth profile. But classical fans will certainly appreciate the majestic feel offered by this dynamic driver.
Again, so tastefully balanced in this range. No harsh upper mids, no severely scooped out lower mids. Vocals sound naturally placed in the mix. Sweeping and full-bodied, you’ll certainly get an all-encompassing feel when listening to big rock tracks with heavy instrumentation. The level of separation is decent as well. It may not have the tidiness of the Meze Rai Penta in the low-mids, for example, but the layering still feels quite tidy, even in convoluted tracks. Snares hit nice and hard too, really bringing out the liveliness in energetic tracks. And in general, the response has some fun speed.
Percussion in this range hit a nice balance between crispness and solidity. Not too much sparkle. There’s no apparent roll-off, but the peaks avoid brightness or discomfort. Vocals have some weight to them. Although there’s a little airiness, the profile is quite velvety and substantial, and powerhouse performers like Rihanna and Whitney Houston are well-represented.
Noble delivers the soundstage you’d expect from an IEM at this price point. Though it may not be as grand as something like the Campfire Solaris (which is priced in the same ballpark), the level of precision is impressive. In terms of depth, especially, instrument placement feels spot on. And all in all, there’s enough dimension to give you that holographic feel.
PROS & CONS
Pros: Classily balanced and versatile, lots of detail, easy listening experience.
Cons: Doesn’t ooze personality, and those who already own many versatile IEMs may find it to be an unnecessary addition to their arsenal; may be overpriced by 200 bucks.
The TUX 5 avoids a big ego. Rather than showing off crazy frequency bumps or a bold high frequency extension, it simply delivers solid, well-balanced performance. (Don’t worry, you’ll get enough bass).This makes it versatile, reliable and perfect for long listening sessions. That being said, if you already own a ton of traditionally-balanced IEMs, the TUX 5 certainly won’t be a must have. And it may not share the charisma of a Campfire Andromeda, for example. But it certainly checks off all the boxes in terms of skill. And if you’re about to drop some serious cash on your first high-performance IEM, the TUX 5 is a worthy entry point, albeit a pricey one.
One skull short of 5 skull charisma.
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