Noble Audio Ronin Review
Today, we’re going over a newly released flagship in-ear monitor: Noble Audio’s Ronin. Noble isn’t new to this upper echelon of IEMs: they released the Kublai Khan last year for $2,600 and their previous flagship Viking for $4,000. The Ronin is a product of a collaboration between NobleAudio and Eletech, and is a follow-up to the Katana. Is the Ronin’s performance on par with its $3,900 price tag? Let’s take a look at what you get with it, some of its design and technical specs, and finally, what exactly this fat little flagship in-ear monitor sounds like.
What’s In the Box?
- Noble Audio Ronin IEMs
- Nanuk 903 Hard Case
- Eletech 7 Core Shielded OCC Copper and Silver Matrix Cable (4.4mm to 2 pin)
- Semi-Firm Leather Carrying Case
- Soft Carrying Pouch
- 3 Pairs Double-Flanged Silicone Ear Tips
- 6 Pairs Silicone Tips (Two Different Varieties)
- 2 Pairs Conical Foam Tips (S and L)
- Metal Authenticity Card
- “Wizard” Sticker
Look and Feel
Noble Audio Ronin’s has a few general hallmarks for IEMs that we usually see in this price range: a considerably deep insertion, and a fat, chunky shell with a classy color scheme and finish. Noble Audio says that the Ronin is “…a fully CNC machined resin matrix hand finished IEM. Noble’s in house blue tinsel resin matrix compliments the purpose built Eletech 7 core shielded OCC Copper and Silver matrix cable.” You can see for yourself that the Ronin is a pretty bedazzling IEM, with a beautiful finish that produces the distinct sound of tapping marbles when the shells touch one another.
The fit is somewhat intense, as the acoustic nozzle is capable of reaching deep into a listener’s ear canal – I thoroughly enjoyed this trait, as it gave the Ronin exceptional isolation and made listening with it more intimate. Though the housing is huge, the IEM nonetheless sat comfortably in my concha, finding most of its grip and support in my ear canals with its far-reaching acoustic nozzles.
Technical Design and Specs
Noble Audio’s Ronin contains a total of 12 drivers: 4 Sonion electrostatic drivers for the highs, 4 Knowles balanced armature drivers for mids/high mids, and 4 Sonion balanced armature drivers for the low end. The Ronin was tuned by audiologist Dr. John Moulton – a name synonymous with Noble at this point, who is more colloquially known as simply “the Wizard.” While the impedance is left vague at “less than 35 ohms,” I would note that the Ronin is way below 35 ohms and very easy to drive. Plugging these into your phone might be an audiophile’s nightmare, but it’s nonetheless doable.
Drivers: 4 EST, 8 BA
Impedance: “Less than 35 Ohms”
While I would classify Noble Audio Ronin’s balance as sophisticated, subtle, and neutral, its sound stage and imaging are vast, energetic, and enveloping. The Ronin truly has that elusive, 360-degree-around-your-head presentation of music, and might be one of the most impressive stages in an IEM that I’ve ever heard. The album Emotional Eternal by Melody’s Echo Chamber did a pretty good job showcasing these impressive spatial traits. String parts felt like they came from behind and over my shoulders, while vocals could sound like they were 10 feet to my left or six inches from my face depending on the mix. As much as I like and respect the balance, the true “wow” factor lies in the enormous and vivid stage the Ronin can produce out of thin air.
The Ronin has a consistent theme of being ultra-balanced and neutral throughout the entirety of its balance, and we can hear that starting with its low end. Despite the intuitive expectation of a bass heavy balance one might have when they see such a tanky IEM, the Ronin is fairly modest and reserved in its low end. This isn’t to say it’s lacking in subs and mid bass: listening to Death Grips awakened the rumble and low end drive as I would expect it to. But rather than giving intense lows extra force and amplitude, it instead brings out pristine detail on bass guitars and deep synths. Acoustic kick drums were a highlight of this detailed bass response, with the Ronin exhibiting stellar sensitivity to the idiosyncrasies in their low-end timbres.
Though the Ronin is thoroughly neutral all throughout, this quality was most apparent to me with its handling of middle frequencies. Simply put, its mid balance is flat enough to rest a ruler on. Vocals had a phenomenally natural sound and sat at perfect, mix-intended levels. The highlight of the mids balance was snare drums, which the Ronin rendered with jarringly raw microscopic detail. It’s no exaggeration to say that there were several moments with vocals and drums (most of all snare drums) that sounded as though I was in studio control room tracking the recording. This clean and neutral approach to its mids gave tons of space to even the noisiest tracks and provided a serious level of tonal separation that even further enhances its spacious stage; rather than hearing guitars, drums, and vocals compete for the middle ground, they coexist with all of their intricate details fully intact.
Staying true to the rest of its ultra-neutral signature, Noble Audio’s Ronin offers a very smooth high end that stays level with the rest of the sound signature. Harmonic qualities are expressed in ultra-high definition without any traces of harshness in the low and mid treble. There’s significant high treble extension, which imparts a spacious and airy texture and provides granular details on parts like vocal air, reverbs, and cymbals. This strikes me as a Goldilocks high-end that won’t bother the more treble sensitive, yet nonetheless provides ample high-frequency details that treble heads are chasing.
In short, Noble Audio’s Ronin is one of the most neutral and detailed IEMs that I’ve heard in quite a while. When also considering its head-spinning-360-degree staging and imaging, the cliché of “sounding like you’re in the room with the music” is for once a genuine description of its overall sound. There are some people who want exciting and creative coloration from an IEM that costs this much – fair enough, but don’t expect that with the Ronin. Rather, listeners are going to get a flat, detailed, and brutally honest depiction of everything that is played through it. The Ronin provides a serious, analytical, and extra-detailed sound that makes it worthy of its flagship status (and intimidating price tag).
The Noble Audio Ronin can be purchased here from Audio46.