If Cyberdrive’s in-line solution is too restrictive for your portable audio pragmatism, if you want to bring your existing IEMs to the party, then Noble Audio’s BTS dongle is an alternative halfway house found at the corner Smartphone and Brick. The BTS comes with a warning though: implicit in its aptX Bluetooth transmission is the compromise of lossy audio. Kind of. With Apple devices yet to support aptX, iPhones and iPads will ‘revert to Apple Lossless’ according to Noble.
The BTS is a 10g plastic dongle that clips directly onto a shirt front and catches wirelessly transmitted Bluetooth 4.0 signals dispatched by a nearby paired device, most likely a smartphone. The BTS will drive pretty much any IEM directly from its 3.5mm output socket.
Think it odd that a high-end C/IEM manufacturer would so readily succumb to the charms of convenience? Not when you learn that Noble Audio’s own business manager Brannan Mason listens to his IEMs not with a luxury DAP but with an iPhone running off-lined content from Tidal Hifi.
Mason likes two things: 1) a good ole fashioned LOL and 2) to keep his slicked hair looking good. He takes a comb everywhere, even to the Nakano hotel playing host to the Fujiya Avic headphone festival, where his guffaws carried across the floor and down the fire stairs.
Joking aside, Mason had journeyed from Santa Barbara to Tokyo in support of Noble Audio’s Japanese distribution companies. Yes, plural. Wagnus looks after Noble’s custom range of IEMs. M.I.D. handles universals and the BTS. Japan is Noble Audio’s biggest market.
Fresh out of the box is the Kaiser 10U Aluminium (US$1599). ’10′ is for ten balanced armature drivers from the world’s biggest supplier, Knowels: two take care of low frequencies, four run the midrange, another four work the top end.
U is for Universal. Or is it U for updated? The Kaiser’s all-new two-tone aluminium shell arrives with two-tone reasoning: 1) red is, according to Mason, a very popular colour in Asia; 2) red results in more consistent anodizing.
Oh – and each pair of Kaiser 10U is hand made in the YOO ESS AY.
The final news morsel from Camp Noble is their newly announced line of 3D printed custom IEMs.
Me? I’ll be getting a pair of Savant CIEMs in for review some time over the Christmas period and with Prestige styling available, I’ve asked Mason and Noble’s tech guru ‘The Wizard’ to work my pair’s aesthetics up from a single word: Stormtrooper.
Further information: Noble Audio