Noble Audio XM-1 xMEMS Review: Audiophilia for everyone

The Noble Audio XM-1 is designed to cater to smartphone music enthusiasts, offering audiophile-level sound quality without the requirement of an extra mobile DAC and amplifier. Its versatile cable is equipped with USB-C or Apple Lightning connectors, enabling seamless connectivity to a diverse range of audio sources.

Design

The model is packaged in a compact box featuring a design that matches the pattern on her faceplates. The cover provides a list of the key features and specifies that the product is specifically designed for use with Smartphones.

The set of accessories includes a high-quality leather case, three pairs of silicone ear tips, three pairs of double-flange ear tips, all neatly organized in a convenient plastic holder, as well as a USB-C adapter. Additionally, we offer an active replacement cable that is eight-stringed, thick, yet remarkably soft and flexible. The headphone connectors are four-pin, and the plug is USB Type-C.

Speaking of design, the Noble Audio XM-1 exudes a stylish and sophisticated look. The aluminum shells have a unique shape that resembles custom-made earphones, with a matte finish. The black face panels feature a glossy holographic pattern, creating a luxurious and premium feel. The build quality is flawless, as always. While the cases are relatively large in size, they fit comfortably without any ergonomic concerns.

Features

  • Frequency range: from 20 Hz to 20 kHz;
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB;
  • Resistance: 32 ohms.

Please note that the new product is compatible with any device that has a suitable connector. In case you need it, the USB-C/Lightning TC28i adapter from DDHiFi can be useful. However, it is important to be aware that when connecting to Hi-Res players, adjustments may be required to manage the volume through the USB-C port. Additionally, the Noble XM-1 is not compatible with Astell&Kern players due to their use of a customized version of Android.

As for my perspective on this matter, as a traditional audiophile, the concept of headphones designed for smartphones seems somewhat unconventional. This may not appeal to enthusiasts with collections of premium interchangeable balance cables for IEMs made of gold and silver. However, considering the widespread shift towards wireless technology among regular users, it may be a preferable alternative to the potential decline in Bluetooth audio quality. Furthermore, the convenience of not needing to purchase a separate mobile DAC is intriguing. This move towards versatility, all-in-one solutions, and consistent performance regardless of the audio source is noteworthy.

Sound

Main testing was done on Shanling M9 Plus, iBasso DX320 and FiiO M15S .

The Noble Audio XM-1 headphones offer an airy, lively, and energetic sound. Their warm and atmospheric presentation is truly spectacular, exuding joy and excitement with a harmonious blend. I was particularly impressed by the emotionality, coherence, and melodiousness of the sound. The timbral range is incredibly gentle and natural, making it impossible to resist its charm. Vocal notes are rich, vibrant, and smooth, while instrumental parts are confident and immersive.

These headphones excel in conveying the tactile nuances of textures, creating a vivid, three-dimensional, and holographic soundstage with well-defined contours. The expansive imaginary scene is complemented by a deep level of detail. The sound feels voluminous, dynamic, and fluid, with multi-layered depth that enhances the music listening experience. The resolution is on par with its price range, delivering incredibly smooth, soft, and harmonious sound on high-quality recordings. While some may find the sound slightly lacking in linearity, the pronounced accents make it a great choice for those who enjoy a lively and engaging sound signature.

The bass delivers a deep, powerful, and rolling sound. It is clearly enhanced, providing a velvety and thick vibrating response, while maintaining a strong, tight, and controlled impact. The subwoofer reaches deep frequencies, the mids are robust and weighty, without encroaching on the rest of the sound spectrum. While the variability may not be exceptional, the necessary nuances are still clearly audible.

The midrange is warm, smooth, and natural. Surprisingly, there is good transparency and detail, with instruments well separated, although the focus is on sweet vocals and macro dynamics. The timbre palette is rich and colorful, with expressive and realistic vocals. The soundstage is spacious, creating an airy, mobile, and flexible listening experience. However, at times, there is a lack of weight in the midrange.

High frequencies are sharp, fast, and precise. They may come off as dry and slightly aggressive, with a hint of metallic undertones. Adding more iridescent shine and naturalness could enhance the overall sound quality. Despite this, the micro-detailing and articulation are commendable, creating a long, melodious spectrum. For those sensitive to sound quality, it is advisable to audition the model before purchasing, as there are some criticisms regarding material quality. Nevertheless, the high frequencies effectively balance the bass, resulting in an engaging and impressive sound profile.

Conclusion

The Noble Audio XM-1 stands out as a unique product that defies easy categorization. Is it designed for the average music listener using a smartphone, or is it a groundbreaking audiophile innovation showcasing Cowell’s cutting-edge xMEMS silicon driver technology? Surprisingly, it manages to encompass both worlds, creating a somewhat paradoxical yet intriguing offering.

Noble Audio XM-1
8.5

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