We have the Noble Falcon Pro with us today, and they actually give the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 a run for its money. These sound great, and even though there's no ANC here, it's still a very enticing product overall.
Anyway, let’s go into design. The case itself is definitely on the bulky side, it’s squarish and quite tall, so if you’re putting these into a jeans pocket, it’s definitely going to bulge out. The shiny surface of the lid is nice though, and even though this is a demo unit, there’s still quite a bit of tension in the hinge when the lid is fully opened so the lid doesn’t feel too wobbly.
There’s a USB-C port on the rear for charging, but Noble has included wireless charging in the case, which is nice. You get four LEDs on the front too, which indicate battery charge status, but somehow, only when you’re charging. It would be nice if it lit up whenever you opened or closed the lid too.
Inside, you get the earbuds and a reset button in the same shade of blue as the earbuds’ faceplate. The earbuds themselves look really nice, I love the metallic looking, matte faceplates, especially since they don’t show fingerprints. I have no idea how easy the pairing is since these aren’t new out of the box, but tapping and holding on both earbuds for around four seconds put these into pairing mode, so pretty easy.
The earbuds stick out of my ears a lot though, because the nozzle is slightly longer, so people with smaller ears might be a bit more hesitant, but honestly, this is also because there are three drivers in here: two Knowles balanced armature drivers and a dynamic driver. I’m no stranger to earphones sticking out of my ears anyway, my 10-driver custom IEM from Noble also sticks out of my ear slightly, but not quite to the point that these do. Anyway, they still sit quite snugly in the ear with a rather ergonomic shape. Even a bit of vigorous shaking doesn’t really loosen the earbuds to the point that they can fall out.
Additionally, the seal offers excellent passive noise isolation. With music playing, I can’t hear anything at all, not even when I’m typing on my mechanical keyboard, although I reckon this is also due to the fact that the earbuds can get really loud. We’ll talk more about that later when I get to sound quality.
Okay, let’s get into features. There’s not much to speak of here. There’s no ANC, although there’s a hear through feature. The hear through feature was a bit odd though, because there was a noticeable pop whenever I activated it. A little painful, but since I usually don’t use hear through, it wasn’t that big a deal for me. This is probably an issue unique to the set I have though.
You do get touch controls, although I found them a bit finicky. On the left, a single tap controls play/pause, and double and triple taps seem to do different things depending on if you have music turned on or not. With music on, double tap lowers music volume while triple tap raises the volume. Without music, double tap toggles between normal mode and hear through while triple tap seems to do nothing. It was a bit funky, and took a bit of time for me to realise what taps did what since it’s not indicated in the app. The volume up and down controls weren’t fantastic either, sometimes the earbuds took it as a pause, or just didn’t respond. I did find that I needed stronger taps to kind of make them register.
On the right, a single tap controls play/pause and double tap skips to the next track while triple tap goes to the previous track or back to the start of the current track. For this side, it doesn’t matter whether there’s music playing or not, the double and triple taps still handle track skipping.
So now, we come to the app, and my god, was it a pain to get it set up. I connected the earbuds to my phone, opened the app, tried to connect them there, then the earbuds would disconnect from my phone. I would go into the Bluetooth settings to try to reconnect them but they would just refuse. I had to keep putting the earbuds back into the case and taking them out to try to reconnect them. Anyway, I managed to get in ONCE and it’s pretty simplistic, with a general settings for display language, key configurations let you customise the triple tap control for left earbud and both double and triple tap for the right earbud, and there’s a 10-band EQ feature as well, which is definitely a bit more in-depth than most other EQs out there. You get three slots to save your custom presets, but I found the base sound more than good enough, and we’ll talk about that later.
You get Bluetooth 5.2, which is great. There’s SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive support, although it seems like the Z Fold3 defaults to aptX. Anyway, I paired these with another phone and yes, you get aptX Adaptive, which is nice. The earbuds are using a master-slave configuration, but the master can be swapped between either earbud, so it doesn’t really matter because you’ll be able to use either side independently.
Battery life is surprisingly good. Noble claims 5.5 hours at max volume, and I’m actually unsure who would use these at max volume because even 20% on my phone is plenty loud for me. I left them playing music from 100% battery life at 20% volume, with the aptX codec through the Z Fold3 and even though the app disconnected at around the 8:10 mark, the earbuds were still playing music for another 40 seconds or so before they really died. Anyway, the total time that the earbuds lasted was 8 hours and 11 minutes, so I’d say it’s pretty darn good. There’s no ANC here, but between how loud the earbuds get and the great passive noise isolation, I’d say there really isn’t much of a need for ANC.
There’s IPX5 water resistance so no worries when it comes to sweat or rain, but yeah, doubt you’ll want to bring these out exercising, they’re a bit bulky I think.
Microphone quality is okay, people on the other end of the call heard me fine, but it’s probably not going to be your first choice when it comes to having lots of calls.
It definitely is my first choice when listening to music though, because damn, these sound good.
The bass is emphasised and has plenty of power. There’s definitely a good amount of reverb and rumble when called for, and really nice texture. I usually don’t go for a lot of bass in my earbuds, but whew, these sound really good.
Overall though, it is a v-shaped tuning, so you get recessed mids and male vocals do feel a bit further back, which is one area that I would have preferred to be a bit more forward. That being said, this is tuneable through the EQ, so it’s not a big deal. Detail and clarity, though, is excellent. Listening to songs with vocal layering is a really pleasant experience, with plenty of instrument separation as well. The mids definitely have a more resolving and transparent nature, which is nice.
Treble is where it comes alive though, and the extension in this range along with the ability to pull out micro details is top notch I’d say. Higher pitched vocals here are absolutely beautiful, there’s plenty of clarity and crispness here, but I do think that it can get a bit sharp or even a bit sibilant with certain recordings. Again, you could tweak this in the EQ settings to fit your preferences, but I absolutely loved the treble here.
Soundstage is very, very good for true wireless earbuds, wide and deep with excellent staging and plenty of air and space.
As for price, these aren’t the cheapest. They come in at US$329 or S$466.
So, the big question: Is it better than the PI7? Technically, they’re pretty much neck and neck. I felt that male vocals on the PI7 were a bit too laidback as well, but comparing everything as a whole, I’d say the Falcon Pro just had a bit more musicality for me. Throw in the fantastic battery life for the Falcon Pro and slightly lower price, and I’d say we have a new contestant for the best sounding earbuds of 2021.
Content by Cheryl Tan