Reviews
Noir Headphones
Degauss Labs

By Jorge Figueiredo - March 20th, 2015

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For the record, this review was written after the site closed. However, due to some shipping shenanigans, I didn’t receive it until the second last day – definitely not enough time to review it. So I am back-dating this post because I am anal retentive and I promised I would review this piece of tech. – ed.

‎Degauss Labs has been on the mark with their Android-friendly headphones. The last pair that I reviewed, the Dual Driver, was impressive – especially at the price point it occupied. Degauss’ latest product, the Noir, demonstrates their continuing commitment to quality and great sound. These headphones are a little bit more expensive than their Dual Driver cousin – but they are worth every cent of that small jump in price.

At first glance the Noir looks a lot like the Dual Driver, with the exception of coloring, of course (the Noir is a mix of flat and polished black surfaces while the Dual Driver headphones are either gold/black or white/silver). The Noir also sports Degauss Labs’ three-button in-line remote, which is one of their signature components. However, that is where the similarities end. The Noir, with its rugged aluminum housing around the earphone bases, weighs around a gram less than the Dual Drivers, and has twisted-pair rubber-coated cabling (1.2m) instead of flat ribbon-like wiring.

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Box contents.

Alongside the headphones, the Noir’s packaging contains: two sets of silicone earbuds (5 different sizes to accommodate different ears), two pairs of special noise-isolating earbuds (made out of compressible foam, much like earplugs), two pinch-clips (to keep the wire secured to your shirt to avoid undue tension on the wiring), an airline adapter (for in-flight listening using traditional audio jacks), a splitter (for when you want to share), an owner’s manual, and a carrying pouch. Each of these different accessories are tucked away in laser-cut foam, keeping them all separated and easy to access right out of the box. The packaging keeps everything safe, and is actually quite nice, making for a decently practical, low-profile storage solution.

The Noir headphones are very comfortable (the default-sized silicone tips fit my ear openings like a glove). They sit nicely inside the year and stay put without slipping (thanks to the silicone material). The headphones are heavy enough to sit perfectly, creating a solid seal; however, despite this, one can still hear enough of their external environment to be aware of their surroundings – which is important to me (I don’t like being caught unawares). The compressible foam earbuds are a little bit of a different story, as they conform almost totally to the inside of the opening of your ear. Needless to say, these tips are more suited to moments where you really want to block out as much external noise as you can without having to resort to a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

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Handy dandy.

The Noir feel quite durable, and withstood some simple tension tests – so you’re not going to destroy them if you accidentally snag them while pulling them out of your pocket or backpack (unless you yank them with an unreasonable amount of force). Adding to the durability of the Noir is the 3.5mm plug, which is “L”-shaped, giving it a more flush fit with your devices. Aside from being relatively strong, the Noir’s twisted cable design also has a bonus advantage: it is a step towards less microphonic noise. For those of you that don’t know what microphonic noise is, it is when the sound of the cable dragging against a surface is translated into the headphones. Flat, rubber cables tend to be the worst offenders, with even fabric-braided cables jumping on the bandwagon. Interestingly enough, the Noir’s twisted cable is wound tight enough to have a low profile, but with enough spacing to cut down on the surface area that would come into contact with your clothes, thus making for less interference.

If I could pick a single word to describe the listening experience while using the Noir headphones, it would be “clean”. It was quite obvious from the get-go that these headphones were designed for budding audiophiles. The complete spectrum of sound is represented very well, with a pleasant crispness. That being said, the Noir is not the bassiest set of earbud-style headphones I have listened to – but they definitely represent a lower range far better than their cousin the Dual Driver. Also, at higher volumes, the Noir performs almost as admirably as they do at lower volumes, with only a slight amount of distortion (though, as usual, I wouldn’t recommend that you blast the crap out of your ears with these things). Regardless of musical genre (or even using them while playing games or watching movies), the Noir are a great way to engage your ears.

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If you can’t find a comfortable option, then there is something wrong.

I was curious to know how Degauss managed to improve the sound so drastically, while maintaining the same form factor – so I did a bit of digging and also sent some questions over to them. Lo and behold, the answer lies in the two different drivers. The first driver, which Degauss calls the R10, is the bass workhorse (I am told that this driver is 10mm), and produces all of those low tones. The second driver is the Knowles balanced driver that produces the mids and highs. Unlike a normal dynamic driver, the Knowles driver is rectangular in shape, defying a typical measurement. Together, these two drivers work in concert to create a nice, full sound.

The three-button inline remote (which contains the microphone) is easy to use. Nicely-spaced buttons with a good level of resistance are easy to find, but aren’t easily pressed accidentally. Deguass Labs sweetens the pot for Android users with their own home-grown Headset Control Center app, which allows for the customization of buttons. It is easy to set up, easy to use, and is free to download. You can use it to pair the Noir with your choice of music player among other things. Other mobile OS users don’t have to be sad, though, as these headphones still carry basic functionality in Windows Phones and i-Devices.

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Slick.

The Noir can be bought for around $129 USD, which buys you durability, a ton of accessories, a decent mic, and (most importantly) excellent sound quality. The only complaint that I have is that the twisted cable is a bit rigid right out of the box – however, it can be worked in with regular use of the headphones. In short? These are worth the money, and if you’re looking for a nice pair of in-ear headphones (especially for your Android device), give these a whirl.

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  2. By Mike
    Posted on Oct 12, 2015

    Have the Noir and i love this Earphone. Thank you for the Review!

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