CanJam Dallas 2023 was quite the event for me, not only was there a host of product launches including the exciting new Noble Audio XM 1 featuring a brand new driver technology (xMEMS Cowell MEMS solid state driver), I was able to secret away a long-awaited review sample of the epic new Noble FoKus Prestige True Wireless IEM. Having reviewed both the Noble Falcon Pro TWS IEM and the Noble FoKus Pro TWS IEM I greeted the announcement of the Noble Mystique TWS IEM with great enthusiasm but high demand rendered a review unachievable, more so with the subsequent release of the Noble FoKus Prestige which is currently in severe back order, but since CanJam Dallas 2023 is the last show until next year, Jim decided he could pass me one of his two show samples.
The Noble FoKus Prestige True Wireless IEM
Like the Noble Mystique TWS IEM, the first thing that sets the Noble FoKus Prestige TWS IEM apart from other offerings is its gorgeous appearance, which the FoKus Prestige kicks it up a notch with a bespoke wooden case and body which come in two color schemes Blue and Black. The one I have is the Black. But the FoKus Prestige is not just a pretty face, but a true high-performance 3-driver hybrid IEM offering that exceptional sound quality you expect from Noble Audio.
The FoKus Prestige is the Premium upgrade from the FoKus Mystique featuring an improved PCB board for connectivity, as well as a 10 hour battery life per charge. Its hybrid 3-driver configuration features an 8.2mm Dynamic driver and 2 Knowles Balanced Armature drivers and it can be paired with the Noble FoKus app to fine-tune the tonal balance to match your hearing.
For control a simple tap will pause/play (single click L/R), Volume Up (triple click L), Volume Down (double click L), Next Track (triple click R), Previous Track (double click R), Answer Call/Hang up (single click L/R), Reject Call (2 second hold L/R), Voice Assistant (3 second hold R), or Ambient Mode (3 second hold L).
As to accessories, beyond the TWS IEMs themselves and the Charging Case, it normally comes with a Charging Cable (mine came with an adaptor), a selection of six different sets of Ear Tips, a Storage Bag, and an Instruction Manual.
Living with the Noble FoKus Prestige True Wireless IEM
When I first got home with the Noble FoKus Prestige True Wireless IEMs, after charging up the case, I connected them to my phone and brought up Qobuz for some general listening. Then I paired them to my computer for a more convenient Qobuz interface. Like the Noble FuKus Pro, the FoKus Prestige impressed me with their range, allowing me to wander around the house listening to the new 2023 mix of “The Beatles 1962 – 1966 (2023 Edition)” (24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) without any hiccups in signal. The big difference was the improvement in sound quality which was warm and musical in a huge soundstage. Not only did the remix offer a more natural instrument placement than the original stereo mix (which was created without either the Beatles’ or George Martin’s input), it was clearer with a greater sense of reality to the tonality of the instruments, with none of that early ‘60s tinniness.
To be honest I would put these up against any $600 IEM for clarity, musicality, and naturalness of tonality. This was evidenced listening to “Europe-Floating Along the Danube” by Gandalf from his “Eartheana” album (16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz). Hein Strobl’s blending of piano, orchestra, and percussion was fully realized in a huge soundstage. The plucking of the harp and the trill of the chimes felt real against the background of violin and the beat of the bass drum.
My next step was to download the Noble FoKus App and run the calibration routine. I ran the calibration twice with only a slight variation being plotted out, then tested it out with the Bill Evans Trio performing “Gloria’s Step (Take 2/Live At The Village Vanguard/1961)” (“Sunday At The Village Vanguard” – 24-bit/192kHz). While there was little difference between the tested curve and flat, it did bring out a little more detail. On or off, the bass was deep and natural, the piano had a Steinwayesk delicacy to the sound, the cymbals were crisp and textured with no sibilance, and the snare had snap and impact. It was truly amazing how realistic this 1961 recording was, placing each instrument solidly in the room with the upright bass on the left, piano on the right, and percussion stage center. You could also hear the room, including people talking quietly among themselves, the occasional tinkling of a glass, or fork on plate, it was truly like being there.
Noticing that Qobuz had put up a new High-Resolution 24-bit/96kHz version of Yes’ “The Yes Album”, I decided to listen to my favorite song of this epic album “Yours Is No Disgrace (2023 Remaster)”. The growl of Chris Squire’s bass was perfectly offset by Steve Howe’s blistering guitar work, all supported rhythmically by Bill Bruford’s unbelievably intricate and precise percussion. This song is built around Tony Kaye’s fast-paced syncopated Hammond stylings with almost restrained use of synth and Jon Anderson’s angelic vocal and every ounce of joy was communicated via the FoKus Prestige.
The next song was a live recording of Steve Howe performing “Clap” on steel string acoustic guitar. Every note was crisply rendered stage edge in a large hall. The FoKus Prestige’s rendering was simply flawless. You hear the room, the audience, all the squeaks and buzzes that are the sound of a steel string guitar, none of the notes of Steve’s blisteringly fast playing are muted or lost.
The extreme dynamic range of the FoKus Prestige became obvious listening to “The Brightest Smile In Town” (24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) by Dr. John, reflecting all the robust excitement of an upright honkytonk piano as if it were in the room with me only feet away. The piano is my main instrument, I live with one on a daily basis and I am well aware how hard it is to reproduce that sound accurately, yes most headphones will give you a recognizable piano sound, but rarely does it sound this real.
To test sub-bass I selected “Non Mi Lasciare” as performed by Dario Baldan Bembo (16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz), you would swear that the FoKus Prestige employed bone conductors the sub-bass is so low and strong, yet the sound is not boomy as with most TWS and inexpensive IEMs, in fact, the bass and mid-bass don’t feel exaggerated at all, and the mid-range is sweet and musical despite the crisp highs.
In keeping with the season, for classical I selected “Handel: Messiah, HWV56” played by The English Concert & Choir conducted by John Nelson. As with the previous tests, the soundstage was large with excellent placement of instruments. Once again the timbre was neutral yet musical. I keep going back to how real it sounds, I am simply not used to having this experience with an under $1,000 headphone.
Conclusions on the Noble FoKus Prestige True Wireless IEM
The biggest issue with TWS IEMs is listening fatigue, while they are fine for short periods, they are rarely going to be your first choice for long-term listening. Not so with the Noble FoKus Prestige True Wireless IEM. I found myself getting drawn into the music and continuing to listen while I moved around the house doing my daily chores. Noble seems to have overcome all of the shortcomings of TWS in the FoKus Prestige and produced a truly great sounding $600 IEM that will easily compete with wired offerings in the same price range, especially when paired with a phone or tablet. Yes, TWS is limited to 48kHz and I’ll still be turning to my Noble Katanas or Noble Viking Ragnar for serious listening, but for daily listening, especially when you need to be mobile, the FoKus Prestige simply can’t be beat.
They are both musical and analytical, fun and accurate, as well as, extremely dynamic, and all of this discounting how absolutely gorgeous they are. The look and feel of the polished and stained wood casings and charge case is without peer. Little wonder that they are on constant backorder, but believe me, they are well worth the wait.
While new models are popping up daily at $5,000 plus, I know that $600 can be serious money for most people for a pair of IEMs, but make no mistake the Noble FoKus Prestige is a serious IEM that deserves a solid recommendation for those looking for a headphone in that price range.
Manufacturer’s Website: https://nobleaudio.com/collections/wireless-monitors/products/fokus-prestige
1 Dynamic Driver, 2 Balanced Armature Drivers
Precision CNC machined wooden body and case
500 mA battery
Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring technology
Qualcomm cVc noise cancelling technology for phone calls
Fast charging – 15 min. charging for up to 70 min. playback time
Voice Assistant function – Siri/Google
Ergonomic and Secure fit Wizard tuned sound signature