Before starting this review, I would like to share technical aspects and package details.
- 9 proprietary balanced-armature drivers per side
- Updated Noble universal form factor and geometry featuring creative precision machined aluminum housings
- Sensitive enough for use with smartphones as well as portable amps and DAPs
- Hand-assembled and matched
- Detachable cable with industry standard 2-pin configuration (0.78 mm diameter)
- Pelican 1010
- Two silicone Noble amplifier straps,
- Two white Noble logo stickers
- Velvet Noble logo pouch and a cleaning tool.
- Lots of silicon tips and foam tips
- Lotoo Paw Gold
- Opus #1
- Astell & Kern AK120
Package, Design & Isolation;
Katana comes with quite big outer box. When you open the box, there are Pelican 1010 and mini Noble plastic cases. Katana earphone, silicon tips are inside of the Peli1010 case. There are many different kind of tips types and sizes. Also, there are some silicon straps, noble sticker and velvet pouch in the package. Package contents are quite satisfying.
Katana has machined aluminium housing and it seems wonderful in the hands. It looks and feels sturdy. Finish point of the earphones are excellent. Size of Katana is pretty small for 9 driver earphones. It is slightly smaller when I compare with my 9 driver S-EM9. Its brother Kaiser 10 is much more bigger and bulkier than the Katana. Also, smaller than the Noble X too.
The advantages of the smaller body, fit is quite good with Katana. If I have to compare it with Kaiser 10, Katana is slightly better and also, much more comfortable. Isolation is good but nothing special. I always use silicon tips but foam tips always giving the best result for isolation.
The sound character of Katana is neutral and slightly warmer side. Highly resolved high frequencies accompanier with detailed and refined mid frequencies and tight bass response. Katana is technically superior earphone which it proves its masterfully tuning. I was not expecting that kind of technical earphone, so I surprised when I listened first. Katana has different tuning than the original Kaiser 10. Katana shows it skills technical and detailed performance instead of K10’s emotional and musical presentation.
Katana’s high frequencies are bright, fast and detailed. I mean it is really detailed. Technical level of trebles is top-notch. Absolutely, it is the star of the show. You can hear every single detail of the cymbals and crush without roll-off. High frequencies are also quite airy, so you can hear all the instruments very clearly. Resolution of the trebles is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Also, all instrument sounds are very realistic and non-coloured. Actually, it is very similar with Prophile-8 high frequencies in terms of being neutral and realistic. Positioning is very easy to make because Katana puts fairly enough space between all instruments. Trebles are airy yet well controlled. Although emphasis treble response, it never loses control and it keeps high level performance, but I have to specify that it depends of the record.
Some people might consider the treble of Katana is harsh because of bright and prominent presentation, but when you hear for a while it feels like right on the nose. One thing that I have to admit it can be fatigue for long listening session. I haven’t experienced hotness or sibilance with my own source, but you have to be aware if you are planning to use with bright sources.
Mid frequencies are another amazing part of Katana. It is highly resolved, open and crystal clear. General presentation closest to neutral side. Same as highs, Katana’s mid frequencies also in brighter side. Layering and detail level are top-notch.
I like to listen to experimental music with Katana. It is a pleasure to listen the stringed instruments like violin, guitar, oud. The space between instruments is easy to discriminate. You can place all instruments into the soundstage very easily. Both men and women vocals are clear and breathtaking. Vocals sound so realistic, not bold or thin, as it’s supposed to be. When I test my gears, I always listen some songs from Norah Jones or Katie Melua. This time I listened to all Norah Jones albums which I had really great time. Vocal presentation is not as good as some of the other TOTL earphones, but I got stuck in the realistic presentation of Katana.
Bass has good weight and extension, but it’s not the best part of Katana. It’s not a bass-head earphone, so don’t expect like earthquake bass response, but the bass has the right amount of quantity. It is not bleeding or dominating the general sound, but it is doing its job when it calls. Bass is very well done with superior decay and prat. I have to admit that some of the genres bass feels light, but you can upgrade your stock cable with the copper one, it improves bass region of Katana positively. Bass is tight and fast which it is good for some kind genres and rock music. I listened some of AC/DC tracks and it was quite satisfied. It never loses its control and mix the fast passages of the tracks.
The Katana has quite wide soundstage and this wideness add some air on the presentation. The locations of the instruments are amazingly positioned and all instruments can be picked very clearly. As I said before, instrument realism and dynamics are really amazing. Imagining and holographic 3D soundstage makes you smile.
Katana vs S-EM9: Both earphones sharing same number of drivers but they are differing in sound character. Katana is slightly brighter and neutral in contrast of S-EM9 mild and warmer sound. Both earphones have top-notch upper frequencies. Detailed, highly resolution and precise. Katana is little bit aggressive and tad of brighter than S-EM9. Katana mid presentation little bit laid back like S-EM9, but vocal presentation is forwarder than S-EM9. S-EM9’s bass is better in terms of quantity and quality. It goes deeper and punchier than Katana. On the other hand, Katana bass is tight and fast. Katana soundstage is much wider than S-EM9. S-EM9 soundstage is very intimate, especially vertical but depth is same level with Katana. Both earphones perform TOTL performance, so you have to pick which sound do you prefer.
Katana vs Andromeda: Katana and Andromeda are sharing same DNA. Both earphones sound types are similar. Katana’s upper frequencies is more controlled and detailed than Andromeda. Also, Katana has more sparkle, but clarity and detail are top notch with both earphones. Andromeda trebles is not far behind but Katana’s upper frequencies are more tamed, controlled. Mid frequencies are laid back but both earphones have slightly forward vocal presentation. Bass quantity is almost same but Andromeda hits little bit harder and going deeper. Both earphones soundstages are wide, but some what Andromeda feels airier. Probably tubeless design effects positively. Both Katana and Andromeda are very sensitive earphones, so you might hear some hiss with your source.
Katana vs Reborn: I know this is the comparison of apple and orange but both earphones are performed TOTL class, so I want to compare them side by side. Katana is more accurate, reference class and detailed while Reborn is warm, colored and mid forwarded. Katana high frequencies are more airy, refined and prominent than Reborn. Reborn tops are not laid back but when I compare with Katana, it feels like that. Reborn mid presentation is very emotional and the presentation is like in your face. Katana feels laid back and is centered in the general sound. Reborn has very powerful and thunderous bass response which it is really enjoy to listen EDM like music. Katana bass presence is tight and neutral. Katana soundstage is wider but Reborn is better at depth. Both earphones have very different sound character. If you want to listen classical, jazz, easy listening, go for Katana. If you want to listen vocal, EDM and bassy tracks, Reborn is the right choice.
I won’t hide, I’ve a special interest in Noble’s products since Noble Audio established and I’ve always positioned a different place than other companies. Mr.John (As known Wizard) knows what he’s doing. I’ve a big respect of his product and business.
The sound of Katana is fantastic, especially how they reproduce all sound naturally. I have had some of the Noble products like N3, Savant, X, K10 and Savanna, but Katana is the best Noble earphone I have ever listened. I highly recommend who are looking masterfully tuned, realistic and detailed earphone. Clarity and resolution level is top notch.
There are many competitors out there, and Katana is absolutely one of them. I like Noble’s aluminum line-up, and Katana is different and unique than other Noble models in terms of design and sound.
In the end, did I like Katana? Absolutely yes, I loved it, it is pretty darn good. What else can I say?