Kinera Earbud Review: An Impressive First Run
You know what impresses me about Kinera? Not that they make great products, but that they can consistently do so in areas where they had previously no experience. They first caught my attention with the $100 , “premium tier”, Kinera H3 — a triple-driver IEM that quickly made its way up to my favorite IEM for that price. Now they’ve done it again with the Earbud, a simple, yet effective, exercise in the earbud market space.
The Earbud has a MRSP of $23 USD. Check out their Facebook page for more information on where to buy it.
Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Kinera beyond this review. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product.
Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.
Source: The earbud was powered like so:
HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones
Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
As per Kinera’s request, I burned the Earbuds in for 30 hours. In my before/after comparison I noticed no changes.
The Earbud has a nice V-shaped sound signature, leaning towards warm. The treble is nice and pronounced, sitting ahead of both the mids and the bass. The bass is nice and emphasized by earbud standards, but lacks the impact and rumble of an IEM.
Treble is pretty good, as I expected. While extension could use some work, and the upper-end of the treble sounds a bit grainy, that seems to be a fault of the lack of a real seal. This is a consequence of the general form-factor of the earbud, so I can hardly fault it.
There is no sibilance, nor any sharp edges to the Earbud’s sound signature.
Mids are well fleshed out and are have a slight warmth; a touch I like. Irrespective of its warmth, the Earbud feels quite precise in the mids and has a good timbre. Instrumental separation is decent, though not mind-blowing, even at this price range. Sound-staging is also pretty good.
Bass is pretty average for an earbud. It has some okay mid-bass body, but sub-bass, while audible, is not pronounced at all — another side-effect of the earbud form-factor.
Packaging / Unboxing
I received a pre-production unit of the Earbud. It did not come with any packaging, just a bare-bones little box. As such I did not take any pictures for this section.
The Earbud’s construction quality exceeds that of your typical earbud. Its driver housing is made of a high-quality and strong-feeling plastic with a gloss finish. Underneath that finish is the interesting part though. Kinera painted the housing with a deep black paint mixed with a very dense layer of green glitter, giving the Earbud a very unique feeling visually.
Furthermore there are two massive vents on the back. This is probably to feed the large dynamic driver inside enough air to produce a solid level of bass.
The cable is pretty good, and it’s clear Kinera didn’t want to skimp here (as with earbuds this is most often the first point of failure). It features a very simple 2x2 braid. The braid helps increase the strength of the cable and help it avoid getting super tangled. Microphonics is basically meaningless with the earbud as well, an advantage of its form-factor.
The Earbud’s cable is terminated with a 3.5mm jack housed in a premium-feeling metal enclosure. The folks at Kinera were also kind enough to engrave Resonance onto my copy, so a big thanks to them!
As with most dynamic-driver earbuds, the Earbud is quite large. Folks with smaller ears will probably have a hard time keeping it in place. I however (with my averagely-sized ears) didn’t have any issues, though I did start to notice some minor discomfort after a couple hours of listening.
The Earbud comes with only a few accesories, though for $23 that’s still pretty good. Inside the box you’ll find:
- 1x Kinera-branded semi-hard carrying case
- 3x pairs of earbud foam covers
That’s it. Though I can’t really complain, since the earbud is priced so cheaply. Any $23 audiophile product that comes with a case of this caliber is a good value in my books.
The Earbud is a compelling value-based package. While I can’t stand by the poor isolation of the earbud form-factor as a whole, I understand that this is some people’s preference. So if you are looking for a good, but inexpensive earbud, the Kinera Earbud may be exactly what you are looking for!
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