Noble Audio On Time, Effort, and that Magical Touch

Dr. John Moulton (a.k.a. Wizard) talks about the focus and dedication that it takes to build beautiful handcrafted Custom In-Ear Monitors.

This article is Authorized by the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organziation

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May 5, 2020

Each month, IEMITO proudly presents an inside look into the visions and concepts behind the products.

THE FOUNDER'S PHILOSOPHY

Noble is known for its jewelry-like works of art. How did that reputation begin?

It began essentially 12 years ago, when I worked at the largest hearing aid manufacturer in Thailand. My main role at the company was to train the staff (around 300 people) to perform certain tasks such as diagnostic studies and hearing aid fittings.

The training was conducted in groups of 20 – 60 people one week out of the month, which left quite a bit of extra time to fill. With the extra time I would build CIEMs. Initially I was doing so to pass the time, but it quickly became a passion.

The lab did not have a laser machine, and at that time, a laser machine was the primary tool, if not the only tool used to apply “art” to a CIEM in the industry.

My solution was to purchase wood products made from beautiful hardwoods specifically found in Thailand. I would buy items such as jewelry boxes made of cherry wood, disassemble the boxes and hand carve face plates from the wood.

Eventually I started posting photos of my finished CIEMs on head-fi.org.

Over time, head-fi members dubbed me “The Wizard” due to the fine pieces of functional art that I was able to make out of CIEMs.  And that is basically how it all started.

Are there certain color combinations or patterns that capture the Noble essence?

I wouldn't say so.  We are always experimenting with new materials that we source from all over the world and we just pick things that catch our eye.  I do particularly like natural products such as wood, pinecones, banksia seed pods and the like, but those are usually not the most practical solutions for mass production.

Are there themes to the designs?

Sometimes themes are requested, and we do our best to satisfy those requests, but I really can't give you a "Noble" theme description as it seems to be constantly evolving.

I can’t help but feel a strong sense of organic design — the curves and the balance — for such a technically sophisticated product. Is there an interplay between form and function?

It is a difficult thing to get right.  Trying to stuff multiple drivers into a beautifully curved, yet tiny IEM is not an easy task.  So, the internals always play a part in the shape of the shell, the type of socket used, etc.  Additionally, being an audiologist, I'm particularly concerned about the comfort of the IEM over extended periods of wear, how they fit in the ear, the angle and length of the nozzle, etc.

How would you define the Noble aesthetic?

OCD coupled with the desire to be the best builder in the industry.

How would you like your customers to feel when they hold your products?

Proud/Surprised.

Gain an appreciation for the time and effort placed to build the product.

How do you balance the sound signatures with the look and feel of the products?

Obviously, the more time placed into a build increases the price, and logically the internals should coincide with the price.

An example of getting things wrong would be the Delorean  DMC 12. The DMC 12 looked like a supercar, but it had a 130 hp engine.  

And lastly, if you weren't making in-ears, how else would you be expressing your creativity?

No doubt I'd be doing something with wood.

Dr. John Moulton (a.k.a. Wizard) is an audiologist by training and an audio enthusiast at heart. He has been working with custom in-ear monitors for nearly a decade now and is the founder of Noble. Beyond presiding over Noble, John is also the creative and artistic force behind the brand.  He gained his nickname by creating IEMs that could only be described as "magical."

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