[Review] Noble Audio Bell, a disappointing budget offering

Pros - Comfort

Cons - Poor price point for the entire package

Sound Signature - Boosted mid-bass, some recession in the midrange, balanced treble

Sources - iBasso DX80, Pixel XL, Matrix HPA-3U

Cost - Not known at this time, more than the $120 Velvet though


There’s little need to introduce the Noble Audio brand, they have been making well-respected custom and universal IEMs for a few years, headed by Dr. John Moulton, AKA “Wizard.” Wizard is known for creating some highly unique and sought after custom molding designs that are surely to catch the eye of any audio enthusiast.

Previously focusing on high-end IEMs, Noble is now catering to the more budget oriented crowd with their EDC line. The first release was the Velvet with a warm leaning consumer oriented sound, and now the upcoming Bell which shares the same 5.8mm driver as the Velvet, though tuned with a more balanced audiophile oriented sound.

The Bell has been sent to me from Noble Audio as a review unit.

Fit & Design

The Bell can be worn over-ear or straight down. I have grown a preference for over-ear so my review will be written from that perspective.

The Bell sit shallow though securely with the provided single-flanged tips. Positioning is slightly finicky, though users shouldn’t find it difficult to quickly and consistently orient them for optimal sound after a few insertions. Comfort is quite decent, I’ve had no discomfort wearing the Bell for an hour or more and find them fine to use for light exercise. Microphonics are barely noted when worn over-ear, obviously lessened compared to straight-down. The braided cable is flexible and despite the lack of ear guide, it sits comfortably around my ear without any irritation or positioning issues.

The braided cable is quite lightweight feeling, flexible without signs of weakness at any of the connecting ends. Speaking of the ends, unfortunately the cable is permanently attached to each housing, no removable cables. In 2018 there are $20 or cheaper IEMs with removable cables, we need to push forward with it being a standard. The cable is prone to tangling as well, and I’ve experienced a few frustrating moments due to it. The housing of the Bell is of brass with a polished sheen that often causes trouble spotting the left or right indicators. I often find myself struggling to see the markings and it’s a bit frustrating. The housings are tiny though the shallow fit causes the back-end of the housing to stick out slightly, making them less than ideal for side sleepers to wear in bed.

As a whole there isn’t much to separate the Bell from the plethora of budget minded IEMs. In-fact, I find it disappointing that they chose to forego the use of MMCX cables in the design of the Bell. They’re comfortable, easy to position, sit securely, and are seemingly built well, but the same can be said about many sub-$100 IEMs.

Sound Quality

As a whole the Bell have a bass heavy sound that offers solid clarity and level of detail through the midrange and treble while having decent instrument separation. Unfortunately the bass quality is lacking punchiness, clarity, and control which in conjunction with a narrow front focused sound stage sounds quite overbearing at times.


The sub-bass digs down deep with an attempt to imitate sub-bass rumble, but the sub-bass lacks a visceral impact while the extreme lows have a tendency to sound fuzzy when pushed hard. When listening to James Blake’s Limit to Your Love I feel that the pacing of the quickly moving sub-bass is off, as if the previous bass note is still lingering as the next one springs to action. Even when listening to less demanding sub-bass tracks I find that the sound is fuzzier than clear and softer than punchy.

The mid-bass is cleaner and punchier than the sub-bass, though it has a tendency to bloom into the midrange often becoming the forefront of the sound over vocals or guitars. Boomy and loose are two adjectives that keep coming to my mind when I’m listening to stuff like Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain , or Rage Against the Machine’s Take the Power Back. The negatives with the low-end are compounded with warmer sounding songs like “West Coast” by Lana Del Rey or “Glory Box” by Portishead. Both tracks feel like the low-end is far too forward, making it an unenjoyable listen.


To my ears the midrange is largely faithful to the recording in tonality with an acceptable level of detail and clarity. You’re largely going to hear something close enough to the recording to be satisfied in most cases. My biggest issue with the midrange is that there are some dips in the sound in the upper end of the midrange which causes midrange focused songs to sound dull. As an example, I never found myself getting lost in songs like “The Chain” or “Take the Power Back.” There’s a lack of presence and energy in the midrange that pull me away from the experience and it’s further compounded by the bloom of the low-end.


The treble quality is on par with the midrage in terms of clarity, level of detail, and tonality. I haven’t experienced hotness or sibilance and brass instruments sound clean and largely faithful to how I hear them in real life. There’s a slight dull veil over the lower-end of the treble, but brass instruments sound decently controlled and distinguished.


I never quite get the feeling that music is coming from more than a front-focused direction with some left and right extension. Certainly no sense of notes coming from behind me, and vertical soundstage is just as narrow. Instrument separation is decent, though the narrow presentation of the music pushes the instruments closer together than I’d like. When compounded with a bassy leaning sound signature music has a tendency to feel congested like seeing a show in a small venue where the bass guitar is far too high in the mix.


I have always wanted to hear a Noble IEM and I finally got my wish, it’s just unfortunate that I do not care for what I hear nor do I feel it to be a good value offering. The budget IEM market is saturated with companies such as MeeAudio, KZ, and RHA creating cheaper IEMs with a better set of features and list of accessories, the Bell feels lost in the mix. I can’t think of a reason that I would recommend them over other popular budget minded IEMs, they lack in so many ways at a price point where there is stiff competition. The Bell is one IEM I’d pass on.


Is there a pattern of overpriced ‘affordable’ products from Noble?

I bought the Massdrop X Noble X Universal IEMs ($250) a while back and was equally unimpressed at the price point. They have little bass with most tips, as the shape, cable, and weight pull them out of your ears. Not unlike the Grado sound profile but without such an extreme high end. With larger/tighter tips the Noble bass improves to be acceptable. Alternatively, one can crank up an equalizer, but then an unpleasant distorted profile emerges.

I’m thinking of selling them.

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I should mention that I have the Velvet as well and I don’t plan on writing a review because I enjoyed them less. I actually need to update this post, I reviewed these when I thought they were $120, I was told they would actually be more than $120 because of the better materials than the Velvet. So whatever price they choose to release them at is even a worse value option than I thought at $120.


I haven’t tried Noble’s offerings outside of the Kaiser Encore and Katana.

I really liked the Encores. The Katanas not so much. But the $1850 price tag is tough when you have the Andromeda at $1099 and Atlas at $1299.

Currently have an EDC Velvet and Trident on the way. From your review, sounds like I am not going to enjoy the Velvet. I’m looking to compare a couple in the $300-$400 range (Trident, Orion, E5000).

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It really seems the Andromeda are the IEM to own if you want a fun sound and have the appropriate source. I’m a fan of them myself.

My issue with the Velvet is that they look, feel, and sound 1/2 their price. It honestly feels like Noble trying to capitalize on their well-regarded name to put out a sub-par product. I really can’t find a reason to recommend them to anyone. There are just much better value propositions in every category.

Edit: 1/2 their price may be generous. It’s an IEM that would have been considered a poor buy as far back as when the RE-0 was popular.

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The Andromeda are kind of silly because once you’re there, it is hard to go up or down. They seem to fit almost everyone tastes, tonally and aesthetically. Although I have a feeling I’m going to like the Atlas quite a bit as well once I finally get my hands on a pair.

Its interesting because both Campfire and Noble released their lower-end consumer headphones around the same time. And while Campfire kind of succeeded ( I’m personally not a fan of the Comet but I know that some are) it seems that Noble didn’t come close. They are coming in today so I’ll come back with some brief impressions. I’ve got a couple of SoundMagics (E10C, E50C, E80) as well as some Echobox in-ears kicking around so I’ll do so comparisons there.

I haven’t dabbled into Chi-Fi too much but with the offerings out there, the value prop of a high-end headphone manufacturer making more accessible headphones should be high. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case.

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I really want the Andromeda, especially after being more or less in the same boat as @taronlissimore on the Comet. I just picked up the Cascade (be in hand in the next week or so), but I think the next purchase will be a used Andromeda (mostly because I still am not a fan of IEM and don’t feel like paying full price for something I might not like).


I haven’t heard a SoundMagic in years, but I remember the original E50 (I think that was the model) being really solid for the price.

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I haven’t tried the E50 but I imagine its fairly similar to the E80. There usually isn’t too big of a difference in the models. The E80 is actually pretty great though. I’ve heard people complaining of sibilance with the E50 so I was a little worried but there is none with E80.

We just got the EDC Velvet in and man I don’t really know what to say. Your description was spot on. They aren’t really worth talking about in the price range. Just lifeless and dull. Everything sounds recessed. Pretty disappointed with them.

Sad to hear Noble didn’t put their best foot forward with the EDC Velvet, but glad to hear that I’m not crazy.