Noble Fokus Pro Review
The Fokus Pro are an accomplished pair of earbuds from high-end audio manufacturer Noble. Boasting incredible sound quality, a comfortable fit and strong battery life, they are a great option for those looking to have laid-back listens at home. Though they lack a dedicated ANC mode, audio pass-through and are only splashproof, these buds are near the top of the premium pack.
- Comfortable design
- Excellent sound quality
- Good battery life
- No dedicated ANC mode
- No audio pass-through
- Lack of more extensive waterproofing
- UKRRP: £349
- USARRP: $349.99
- EuropeRRP: €325
- CanadaRRP: CA$473
- AustraliaRRP: AU$499
- BluetoothSupports SBC, ACC, aptX and aptX adaptive
- BatteryUp to 70 hours with charging case
Over the years, there has been an inexorable advance in public expectations of what a truly ‘premium’ pair of earbuds should deliver.
Where once it might be enough to sound good, now a suite of features from waterproofing to powerful noise cancellation are treated as the norm – with the absence of any of these usually denoting lesser status.
Against this, the Noble Fokus Pro buds present something of a conundrum. Priced at the upper range of the high end, they lack advanced ingress protection, have no noise cancellation and focus primarily on a high-end sonic experience.
Sony, Bose, Sennheiser and others offer all of the above features, more, and also promise an above average listen, with some boasting better codec support and other niceties. Does gambling so heavily on one point pay off for Noble, or are buyers better off looking elsewhere?
- Metal case
- Comfortable fit
- 3D printed custom design
The term ‘premium’ within a design context usually means several things, though these are mostly attempts to define an X-factor that causes a device to feel more expensive than its price tag.
For earbuds, it might mean the use of metal in their construction, or a slight embossment in the pursuit of a perceived classiness limited only by the mind of the designer. Bright colours, wacky designs and anything that is against the grain is usually a no-go.
Against this, the Noble Fokus Pro do not look premium upon first glance, but then looks can be deceiving. As the manufacturer of high end in-ear monitors, it turns out that Noble knows a little about good design, and lessons learned elsewhere have been applied well here.
The buds themselves have a look more typical of in-ear monitors than the usual true wireless options, which is to say that they have a pop of blue which has a pattern akin to a guitar plectrum, which is custom 3D printed. It changes in the light, doesn’t stand out in the ear and is quite unique against the competition as a consequence.
They are relatively large and heavy, but form a comfortable and secure seal in the ear – enough to passively block out a lot of background noise. A range of tips are included, as is to be expected for the price, and the case holds the buds to charge when they aren’t in use. Wearing them for extended periods proved not to be an issue, they remained comfortable over several hours of continuous usage.
The case is quite bulky and constructed from sturdy metal, feeling cool and weighty in the hand. It is built to last too, taking an unexpected tumble without issue. Charging is via USB-C and a cable is included. The size of the case might be an issue for those who commute, it is something to be placed in a bag or a jacket pocket and doesn’t gel well with some skinny trouser pockets.
Not that this should be taken as a slight against the Fokus Pro, as it is instead more reflective of their intended use case. These aren’t buds meant to survive a drudging run in the rain or to stave off boredom on a noisy commute, instead they are for the home, for relaxation and to really listen.
- Free app
- Adjustable EQ
- Custom listening profiles
There’s a lot to talk about when considering what the Noble Fokus Pro don’t have, but that isn’t to say that they aren’t feature-rich in themselves.
To begin, codec support is strong from the get-go, with the buds supporting SBC and AAC in addition to aptX and aptX Adaptive, all over Bluetooth 5.2. Each bud has a Knowles Balanced Armature and a 8.2mm custom dynamic driver, with custom tuning from John ‘the Wizard’ Chen.
As might be expected too, an app is available for both iOS and Android, which offers EQ tweaking along with the ability to create custom sound profiles and to adjust on device gesture controls.
The option to create distinct sound profiles proved to be a particular win, when the option is selected the user is presented with a listening test, with the resulting effect then designed to give a totally custom experience. In practice, it proved to have a fairly dramatic effect (for the better) and is a big plus as a consequence.
No waterproofing is offered, with the buds described as ‘splashproof’, but the manufacturer is clear that these aren’t the best for exercise. If that is your main consideration, it would be best to look elsewhere.
Quoted battery life is around 7.5 hours, which was achievable in general, while the case should in theory offer another 8 charges or so. I found that this too proved mostly to be the case, meaning that if you have a long commute these may be worth a look.
Things are a little less binary when it comes to the question of sound isolation. There is no active noise cancellation on offer with the Fokus Pro, which at the price point is a given among the competition. I did find however, that the fit was sufficiently snug that outside noise proved not to be an issue, though different ear sizes may provide a different experience.
Something definitely missing is the inclusion of any kind of audio pass-through mode, however, if you need to hear an announcement or someone speaking, you’ll simply need to remove the buds from your ears altogether. This isn’t the biggest issue in the world, but again, the competition offers more in this area.
Lastly, microphone quality proved to mostly be solid, meaning that these will double well as video-call companions, even if they won’t replace a headset with a dedicated mic.
- Three drivers
- Wide soundstage
- Suits most genres
So the big question arrives, if everything is staked on sonic performance do the Noble Fokus Pro deliver on their promise? Happily the answer is yes. These buds sound simply fantastic.
What is immediately apparent on first listen is the size of the soundstage on offer. Everything feels roomy and expansive, and individual instruments even on more complex tracks are easy to place. This benefits lush orchestral arrangements in particular, meaning automatically that if you are a big fan of classical music these will serve you well.
Positive impressions continue with the bass, which is deep, rounded and punchy. Punk, dance, EDM and rock are well-represented in particular, with the Fokus Pro providing a fun listen for all.
While in many cases with headphones it might be the case that some genres or songs may be better suited to particular genres, the Noble Fokus Pro don’t present any real weaknesses. A criticism that could be levied would be that they can’t be used for reference listening, but then that isn’t their intended use case.
No matter your preference in music, these buds will prove to be engaging – if sound quality is your priority above all else then they should be on your list.
Should you buy it?
If you like to listen to music at home: If you like to sit back and relax to music at home, the Noble Fokus Pro will bring most tracks alive.
If you want buds to exercise with: The Noble Fokus Pro are not waterproof, only splash-resistant.
Choosing a set of earbuds at any price range is a difficult task, with a bewildering range of options available. There’s very few available that really tick every box and represent the best value for everyone.
The Noble Fokus Pro don’t change that dynamic, but they give interesting food for thought. They might lack some of the niceties given by the competition, but they sound incredible, have good battery life and competent passive noise isolation.
If you are looking for a high-end set of earbuds, these should definitely be on your list – that is unless you run regularly in the rain or want something a little cheaper. Noble has struck gold with the Fokus Pro.
How we test
We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested for a month
Tested with real world use
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The Fokus Pro true wireless are still available on Amazon and HifiHeadphones websites, but they’re listed as discontinued on the Noble website.
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