Massdrop Noble X Review: A Tribute


Noble is well-known for their exorbitant IEMs, and the Noble X was an attempt to bring their house sound to the masses via Massdrop (Drop). It was also my introduction to the world of IEMs and high-fidelity audio. I fondly remember plugging them into my iPad, playing David Nail’s “Let it Rain,” and being absolutely blown away. And who could blame me? Coming from the likes of Bose and other, ah mainstream brands, my ears were wholly inexperienced.

Now if you’re expecting a tribute where I sing this thing’s virtues, uh sorry, it’s more the opposite. I’ve since moved onto much better things, and the Noble X stands as a fat stain on my audiophile journey. I also don’t feel too bad crapping on this IEM as its been out for several years. These days, I mainly keep it around for reference purposes; my threshold for what I would consider outright “bad”.

Source and Drivability

All critical listening was done off of an iBasso DX160. I used the stock cable and small Azla Sedna tips. Oh, that’s right – there’s no size small tips included when you buy this thing. I too enjoy saving the mere pennies it would have cost to include a pair of tips.

Sound Analysis

Tonally, everything about the Noble X sounds flat-out wrong. The entire frequency spectrum is just veiled. And I know that’s a catch-all term, but I’m not exaggerating. If there were ever an IEM that exemplified “BA timbre” it would be the Noble X. Of course, this is helped in no part by its treble. The Noble X is up there with the likes of the Empire Ears Wraith in the treble, and that’s not a complement. It sounds like everything over 10kHz, maybe even earlier, straight-up enters the void. “Laidback” would indeed be a charitable description of the Noble X’s overall tonality.

Because there’s effectively no treble, I deviate to calling this a mid-centric IEM. After all, there is (surprisingly) some outward diffusion of the image too. However, it draws attention to itself in a “sticks out like a sore thumb” sense. The transients are incredibly rounded, outright smearing at times, and there’s a severe lack of resolution. Yeah, this thing has next to zero resolving capability – I’ve heard IEMs a third of the cost, at its discounted price, that beat it out here. What about other intangibles? Zero macro-dynamics, zero engagement factor, zeeero. The Noble X turns songs into dark, fuzzy caricatures of what they should be.

And yikes, I almost forgot the bass. But what bass? The Noble X’s bass is utterly unremarkable, the epitome of BA bass. There’s next-to-zero decay and density to its slam; it’s utterly one-note in nature. In a sense, this is probably the Noble X’s saving grace if only by virtue of being decidedly average amongst other BA bass responses in this price range.

The Verdict

The Noble X is one of the best all-rounders I’ve heard – in that it does everything wrong. I doubt these were a good IEM when they were released in 2017 – certainly not for $250 by a long shot – and they sure as hell aren’t now. And even at their discounted rate of $125, they’re not remotely worth it.

Now, I fully concede that everyone hears things differently and has their own preferences. And yet, I struggle to entertain the notion of any experienced audiophile calling these anything but plain bad. Nobody wants to call something, well, garbage but sometimes it just needs to be said. As a first-time buyer, I fell for a lot of the fancy, raving reviews against my better judgment. Perhaps, in a way, the Noble X was the wake-up call I needed to recognize how utterly convoluted the audio world can be. You live and you learn.

Score: 2/10

Understanding my scoring: This is a personal, subjective assessment of an IEM’s sound quality. I don’t take into account any other factors, and it’s relative to the absolute best sound I’ve heard. Take it with a grain of salt! I’m not going to lie; I have high standards. But I’m not telling anybody how they should hear something – it’s a reflection of what me, myself, and I hear.

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