My first contact with Whizzer, a Chinese earphone maker, was right after the release of their freshmen IEM, the A15. It’s stainless steel construction and tear-drop design made it a refreshing member of my review queue. Well, a lot has changed since then, and Whizzer is now on their third earphone: the A-HE03. It's a pretty big departure from the design language of their previous IEMs and paves a path for itself with a sound signature notably independent from its older relatives. It has also earned a Hi-Fi certification! But has Whizzer synthesized these factors into a compelling purchase? Or is this just another middling product?
You can purchase the Kylin A-HE03 here, for $150.
About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:
- My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
- I have a mild treble sensitivity.
Source: The Kylin was powered like so:
LG V40-> 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.
- Material: Aluminum-Magnesium alloy
- Driver: 10mm Beryllium Dynamic Driver + 2x Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers
- Sensitivity : 98 dB SPL/mW
- Impedance: 28 Ω
- Frequency response range: 12Hz-40Khz
- Connector: 2-Pin
- Plug: 3.5mm
- Cable : 120 cm 5N OFC+SPC 120mm braided line
The Kylin implements a wide V-shaped sound signature. It has some peaks in the treble and mid-bass, with some smaller ones in the upper-midrange. It has a warm bass presentation with a somewhat warm lower-midrange implementation.
Using balanced-armature drivers generally gives an IEM pretty good treble expression, and the Kylin is no exception. Its lower and upper treble are cohesively staged, each pulling in a good amount of detail and texturing. Little One’s spectral intro showcased just how well the Kylin’s treble can succinctly capture transients.
In the intro of Show Me How To Live, claps and whistles can be distinctly heard in concert with the drummer hitting his high-hats. Speaking of high-hats, the Kylin does a pretty good job of resolving individual hits. Its precision and instrumental separation are pretty darn good, adding quite a bit to the treble’s quality overall.
The Kylin’s midrange is competent, just as its treble is. Articulate, concise, and well-staged, the A-HE03’s midrange paints a well-textured and toned picture of each instrumentation you listen to. I very much enjoyed listening to Flagpole Sitta’s energetic choruses and impassioned drum line. I had a similarly good time hearing the Kylin’s take on Little Black Submarines, intense bridges and all. It did an admirable job capturing the semi-muted vibrations in the string plucks during Little Black Submarine’s finger-picked intro.
The A-HE03 has a mild preference towards male vocals. While it can portray some great instances of female singing, it generally lacks a little of the sweetness that a more linear midrange might have. In general, V-shaped midranges have mild male vocal preferences, so this isn’t a flaw or fault one could possibly assign uniquely to the Kylin.
The Kylin’s bass has a large presence. It is more concerned about quantity than quality, and that shows in its presentation. While I quite enjoy how it performs in songs like In For The Kill and Gold Dust, there’s room for improvement when playing back songs such as War Pigs and Moth, where cohesion between the mid-bass and lower midrange matter quite a bit. So as a professional nick-picker I’d say it's worth noting if you’re an audiophile or particularly anal about bass presentation.
Packaging / Unboxing
Whizzer’s packaging for their products has steadily become more sensible over time. The A15’s packaging was a bloated mess, but the Kylin’s is pretty slim by comparison. As for the packaging itself, it's a slick unboxing experience.
The Kylin’s shells are crafted out of high-quality metal. If you look closely one can see that it has a finely lined texture. However, to the feel, the Kylin’s shells are entirely smooth. A metallic Whizzer logo is affixed to the faceplate firmly and with precision.
On the matter of nozzles, I find myself impressed with the Kylin. Even among metal-nozzled IEMs, the Kylin is sturdy. It has a finely-machined lip and a metal debris filter recessed beneath the said lip.
The Kylin’s cables are detachable and replaceable. They utilize the 2-pin standard. The Kylin’s particular implementation uses extruded connectors, so it may be incompatible with some aftermarket cables.
The cable for that ships with the Kylin is quite visually attractive. It is a silver-copper hybrid cable that makes use of a braided geometry. There’s plenty of stress relief, and the 3.5mm jack and Y-splitter are encased in a nicely-finished metal, as is the chin slider.
I found the Kylin to be very comfortable, even during extended listening sessions. During a recent trip, I found myself to be able to semi-comfortably listen to the Kylin while laying on my side, which is a plus. It fits in incredibly small ears too.
Inside the box you’ll find:
- 2x pairs of foam eartips
- 3x pairs of silicone eartips
- 1x hard carrying case
Normally, I expect an IEM of this price-point to have a little more in the accessory department, but I actually didn’t find it difficult to get a fit so I think I can give the A-HE03 a pass.
The Kylin’s case has a semi-padded exterior, topped off with faux leather, and a hard-framed interior. It stays closed primarily via friction and doesn’t seem to have any immediate “accidental opening” issues. While I’d like to see a magnetic closing mechanism, this one is fine for now.
1: Kinera H3 ($99)
The H3 is an odd beast when compared to the Kylin. It has a W-shaped sound signature with a very-much-emphasized treble. By comparison, the Kylin’s treble and midrange are much more synergistic, ebbing and flowing together in ways that a W-shaped sound signature generally can’t support. Despite the fact that the Kylin and H3 share the same driver configuration (2x BA, 1x DD), the difference in component quality is clear, leading in favor of the Kylin. Obviously, this can be chalked up to disparities in age and pricing, but in my mind its the winner here is clear.
2: Periodic Audio Ti ($200)
The Periodic Audio Ti is by far one of my favorite V-shaped IEMs. It nails both dynamics performance and sound signature integrity. It’s a benchmark IEM for me. The Kylin has a deeper V-shaped sound signature than the Ti does, but has a somewhat similar midrange expression. The Ti’s treble is a little less energetic and doesn’t get that “BA boost” that the Kylin’s does, though the Ti’s treble fits more cohesively with its midrange than the Kylin’s does. Now, as far as the bass goes, the Ti’s is significantly more controlled and responsive. While it doesn’t quite have the quantity that the Kylin’s does, I find that some listeners will surely think that it is worth the trade to gain access to the quality of bass that the Ti provides. Though it is worth noting that the Ti does indeed cost more than the Kylin does.
The Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 is an interesting beast. It has outstanding build quality and aesthetics, and a new take on driver configuration not seen before from Whizzer. Its accessory package seems to be high-quality, if not entirely fleshed out. The A-HE03’s sound signature is a bit of a mixed bag with top-notch midrange and treble performance in its price range, but a fairly mediocre showing from its bass. While I enjoyed the A-HE03 on a personal level, I can certainly see how less bass-inclined individuals would take an issue with it. So for all you bass-heads like me, the Kylin is a sure pleaser. Be sure to check it out!
As always, happy listening!