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Thoughts on Kanen and the KM-948

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I was looking for a cheap, comfy, low sensitivity solution for portable radio/podcast use. After a little bit of a search I decided to grab a pair of these for $6.33 shipped. DealExtreme: Photo Gallery - Kanen KM-948 Noise Isolation In-Ear Earphone (3.5mm Jack/120cm Cable)

The KM-948 uses the JVC FXC housing that is seeing more use among the manufacturers. It is not a "fake" JVC but a Kanen branded look-alike that uses a larger driver(7mm vs. 5.5mm).

The real reason for me posting impressions on a $6 shipped earphone is less about how good the earphone is and more about Kanen themselves. I remember posting about the Meelec M2 which few cared about but they made MEE worth keeping an eye on and the M6/M9 followed and were worth trying out. Same with Soundmagic having some decent cheapies leading me to take a chance on the PL30. Kanen has the MD-52 under their belt. Can they grow and improve into another Soundmagic?

The KM-948 leads me to think they might just deserve to keep an eye on in the future. Whether they become something we will see.

The KM-948 is a very nice little phone for $6. I have an older Kanen cheapie and this one is an improvement in all areas. The packaging is way improved. The plastic tray that the form fits into is strong enough to stand on. I will use it to store all my tips from now on. Better than the MEE box/plastic form. The tips are improved. No cheap pink and blue tips but thicker tips made more like(though not as good as) Sony Hybrids. A decent cable which has the older MEE style shrink tube plug and the Sennheiser CX/MX Y joint inspires some confidence.

The specs of these newer Kanen's are more realistic, 18-20,000 frequency response instead of the inflated 10-28,000 of some previous efforts. The specs of this phone are extremely close to the MEE M11. I also look down the sound tube and see a smaller opening and white paper filter just like the M11. I doubt there are multiple 7mm drivers with very low sensitivity and the same opening/white paper filter so it might just be the same driver.

I had my hands on the M11 for a few days and IIRC they sound and behave very similar. They are both quite sensitive to insertion depth and source. both are smooth, dark and well separated. Soundstage is similar and not that big. They both make you think the phone sounds better than it does. Both are a relaxing easy listen with no major flaws to pick on. They just are pretty average and not anything special. They both benefit from a touch of treble. Different tips and different housings(metal vs. plastic) so I'm sure they don't sound exactly the same but extremely close. Difference is the price and value where the M11 is a an under-achiever for it's price and the Kanen is an over-achiever at $6.33. As they the KM-948 are burning-in they are getting fairly close to the PL21 level of SQ which is not shabby in general and good for $6.

No giant killer here. A nice knock-around phone. Good for exercise and to tame hissing sources and it has nice isolation and comfort and SQ above it's price. More important a step in the right direction for Kanen and hopefully a sign of better things to come. If they come out with a $25-$30 phone I would certainly think about trying it out more now than before.
post #2 of 13
Some very good points there on the potential of Kanen as a brand. The sets you have seem to be a huge improvement over my old MD-51's, especially in build, packaging, and accessories. I think I'm going to try one of their full-size phones sooner rather than later and see what's what. Hopefully they can become another Soundmagic and bring us a quality listening experience at a low price point. No doubt that their manufacturing capacity is huge.
post #3 of 13
I've had the Kanen ip106 for iphone - it was surprisingly decent for like $5 but had a serious design flaw (similar to KM92) where the cable comes straight down from the driver casing, rather than 'out the back' of the casing - which makes them difficult to insert fully into the ear. Does this one have that problem?
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
The 948 does not have that exact problem. The cable comes out near the back of the housing but the protruding arm could be a fit issue for some people.
post #5 of 13
Originally Posted by jant71 View Post
The 948 does not have that exact problem. The cable comes out near the back of the housing but the protruding arm could be a fit issue for some people.
If you are on an ultra ultra budget, Kanen make some pretty decent little earphones - but if you can scratch together $20 - $30 dollars, pick up some cheap JVCs or MeElects (I'm personally not a huge SoundMagic fan, but them too) I think, dollar for dollar, they'd make a better investment...

That said, Kanens are so darn cheap its difficult not to buy them sometimes...
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
That's the point of the thread. I spent $50 for an Victor/JVC NX-55 from Japan and use the Kanen most of the time. Sold the PL21 because of the Kanen and still think the KM-948 have the same driver but sound better than the Mee M11. They have held up just fine outdoors with exercise. I have had 3 of the Meelectronics phones, the PR1 Pro, the PL30, etc.

Now they have newer packaging and some better stuff. The cheaper stuff like the KM948 is still there such as this KM-901...

The same housing but higher level KDJ-08 along with KDJ-9/10/12 are not released yet but could be some of the better value phones out there.

I might grab 3 of the 4 to try out and see how they stack up. Either the 8 or 9 plus the wood KDJ-10 and metal housed KDJ-12. I may have a PR100 sample to compare them to around that time. Then either Kanen will show(to me anyway) whether they really have something going or just a few lucky hits.
post #7 of 13
km-901 = sennheiser ie6 housing
km-902 = sennheiser ie7 housing

post #8 of 13
I just ordered a pair of these. SQ got a 4 our of 10 on Joker's multi IEM thread, which is good for a $5 pair of earphones (JVC marshmallows got 3.5)... Seems roughly consistent with my old set of KM92s Woodys. Will report back when they arrive in a week or two.
post #9 of 13

Not bad at all, my order from priceangels arrived today, not bad for a $6 earphone.

post #10 of 13

Was curious about the Kanen MD-52 after reading an older thread here...arrived yesterday and I have to say it blow the KM-948...

post #11 of 13

I have the Kanen KM928 and KM92 woodies and they are both REALLY bad. The $10 Energy Sistem E212 IEM is much better value in my opinion. The photo I took of them doesn't show their build quality well enough but you get the idea. 



post #12 of 13

The only tips that can fit on those are the ones that come with them and all of them are the same size. If you'll need smaller or bigger tips than you're screwed. And lets face it... The small driver has its flaws. They don't sound that good. You can get better IEM's even in this price category.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

So, to update, I have settled on the JVC spiral dots for the S30. Medium works but maybe a smidge too small and L is a bit too big so I'll have to buy a pack of the M/L.


They put up such a nice showing vs. my CKR9LTD and modded JVC FXT200. The IE7 housing is gonna have them right there in stage size but they are real tight and quick and have plenty of detail and treble. Such good mids as well.  $4.80 is the deal of the year for me especially with the right tips. I'm listening to them right now after I was listening to the AT's. Far from a beating I'm happy to keep the S30 in and not go back to the CKR(LTD. They hold their own and are very fun :) Another shining example of why I still dive down with the cheapies. Also happy that Kane made something that is really good w/o any little mods(outside of tip rolling) and flat EQ setting. I do think you need the right seal to for the best bass and to tame the treble. Not enough seal and they get sizzly pretty quick and lose their punch.  

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