In today’s post, we review the Noble Audio Viking Ragnar which is a flagship hybrid dual-dynamic, four BA, and quad EST driver in-ear monitor. It is priced at $4000.
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Noble Audio Viking Ragnar
The Noble Audio Viking Ragnar is probably the company's most high-fidelity in-ear monitor to date. It is also unique from the competition in its spatial grandeur but no less of a technical performer with impressive levels of precise imaging and detail.
Noble has been one of the busiest IEM firms this year releasing an entirely new universal lineup including the likes of the Kublai Khan which, until, a few months ago, I thought was going to be their new flagship in-ear monitor.
Apparently not! The recent release of the Viking Ragnar takes the top spot this year and is a follow-up to the original Viking released last in 2021. I had heard quite a few things about the Viking from a few Asian audiophiles but sadly, due to its limited release I never got to experience it.
This time we will be with the Viking Ragnar, an IEM that is probably the company’s strongest creation to date and one that clearly targets high-fidelity lovers with one of the most articulate sound signatures I have heard in a long time.
The Viking Ragnar is a flagship hybrid driver universal in-ear monitor and sits above former pack leaders such as the 7-driver Sultan and the 6-driver Khan in Noble Audio’s lineup.
The Ragnar consists of 10 drivers in total with a tribrid mix of dynamic drivers, balanced armatures, and electrostatic. The precise count and configuration is a new dual 10mm dynamic driver setup for the lows, dual BA for the mids, dual BA for the mid-highs, and a quad electrostatic array for the highs.
All of this is threaded and phased together with a 4-way crossover and for the EST drivers, a 2nd gen Sonion transformer the most likely option to power them.
The Viking Ragnar is rated at a reasonably 17Ω impedance and 112dB sensitivity but as with most electrostatic hybrids, they can suck up more power than the stats might suggest. You can read up on our pairings performance and power section in more detail on page 2 of this review.
Noble has continued with their Chris Ploof partnership for the Viking Ragnar design and everything that was good about the Sultan just went up a gear with this latest creation.
The design language remains the same and you could describe it as a very Noble visual with a relatively large form factor and a three-part build consisting of the main shell, faceplate holder, and faceplate.
And like the Sultan, the main shell is a ribbed 2-piece uniform aesthetic inspired by the Kaiser Encore and Katana. The shells are cut from a single aluminum block and given a distinctive shape similar to the Sultan with a similarly long nozzle.
The main shell is then finished in an anodized matte black coating which gives it more of a grippy finish compared to the glossier Sultan shell.
The actual coloring of the shell is also all-black this time instead of a two-tone silver and black finish and if you inspect the plate holder sides there are some very nice but subtle rune markings running the entire top side.
The silvery patterned plate is as stunning as it is sturdy and very unique. The material is Damascus stainless steel which has this inherent wavy or watery pattern on its surface brought about by a layered mix of various VG steel types combined with alternative metal elements.
So what you are seeing in the Viking Ragnar plates is not a block of steel with etchings on top, it’s the actual steel itself born out of the forging process. To me, it almost looks like a metal version of a wood grain and I suspect no two Viking Ragnar plates will look the same.
Comfort & Isolation
Now, I am a fan of how Noble designs their in-ear monitors to fit, and the Viking Ragnar is no different in that regard, perhaps even doubling down on previous creations though do bear in mind this is a vented shell for those dual dynamic drivers.
What I mean by this is that it’s a long nozzle from plate to tip and will insert relatively deep to get as close as possible to the second bend. Given this is an aluminum shell I think that is an important adjustment because hard materials such as aluminum rarely conform as well to our ear’s precise shape as resin.
Sometimes there can be an isolation issue if the fitting is too relaxed on a metal shell so by keeping the nozzle long you place more emphasis on it, plus the tips, to ensure the seal is rock solid.
You also get the befit of increased clarity and performance the closer you get to the second bend in the ear canal. It’s something similar to what I tend to ask for also for custom monitor designs though everyone has their preference.
The net result is a way the above-average level of passive isolation for a hybrid model. Actually, when matching the tips, in this 3rd party Final E, the Viking Ragnar passive isolation is slightly better than the Odin due to that long nozzle design.
Speaking of tips, the Viking Ragnar comes with the regulation set that you get with most Noble IEMs. That includes a stock silicone single flange wide bore in black and two sets of foam tips in off-white, (narrow bore) and black, (wide bore). All tip sets come in small, medium, and large sizes.
Because of the insertion depth, you might find yourself downsizing from your usual tip size to get a tight fit. You can go your usual size but it might mean the monitor shell sticking out a bit more from your ear.
My own personal experience had me reaching for the small-sized stock foam tips which were very comfortable and out of the supplied sets they sealed the best also.
The Viking Ragnar comes with a new customized 2-pin terminated cable called the Magnus which is a grade below the XLR 8 Graphene that Noble sells for $1700 alone. I believe this is the fruit of their continuing partnership with Wagnus from Japan and it’s fairly beefy but very soft and manageable cable.
This is a 4-wire geometry consisting of graphene, monocrystalline silver, and a copper-silver alloy wrapped inside a very soft TPU jacket with a reasonably short throw braided finish.
These ultra-soft jackets have been growing in popularity with cable makers recently. They do make the braid a little looser and longer but over time they retain that suppleness whereas older tighter PVC jackets tended to firm up a bit in comparison.
The resulting visual is bright, and silvery with a hint of grey in the internal wiring twist. It is quite a contrast also to the two-tone black and white of the Viking Ragnar’s shells.
The finishing is gunmetal grey on the barrels and chin cinch with some silver finishing and Noble branding on the edges though the main 4.4mm barrel this sample comes with is a Pentaconn branded design.
The cable handling and comfort around the ear are excellent. There is no noticeable microphonics below the splitter and even above it performs admirably well. Memory retention is zero which is what I like to see in a cable also.
The Magnus also has a very soft memory coating at the connector side that gives it some shape. It also produces a very soft dissipation of pressure when around the ear making it very comfortable to wear.
Packaging & Accessories
Unfortunately, our sample came without the full packaging layout and just the standard Pelican 1010 case due to cargo restrictions. From what I am told and the stock pictures, the Viking Ragnar packaging is quite similar to the impressive contents of the Sultan.
The outer retail packaging is also similar to the Sultan but this time it comes in a dark blue box rather than cream with a graphic of the Damascus stainless steel plate on the front with the Ragnar branding on top.
It’s fairly large for an IEM box but that is more due to the sizeable and very robust Nanuk 903 weather-sealed storage case. This is like a mini Audeze travel case and something I am hugely in favor of for an IEM at this price point.
Granted, a Nanuk 903 is not that expensive at a retail price of around $55 but it is tough as hell and I have a few of them at home I use for storage so I can testify to that.
Inside the foam has been cut and shaped to make room for a small pocketable branded leather case and the IEMs. Under the leather case, you will also find the accessories which include the following:
Narrow bore off-white foam tip in small, medium, and large
Wide-bore black foam tips in small, medium, and large
Black single-bore silicone tips in small, medium, and large