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Headphones item created by audio123, Jul 20, 2017
Pros - Build, fit, comfort, cable quality, sonic ability if prepared to EQ, value if prepared to EQ
Cons - Lipless nozzle, default sound signature (splashy treble, recessed lower mid-range, dissonance and stridency issues)
Picture are default 1200 x 800 resolution - click to view larger images.
Reviewing is often a double edged sword. It can be exciting trying something new, and the advantage of being sent a sample is that if you don't like it – it really doesn't matter. I guess my single mission statement (which is quite often hard to stick to) is “be completely honest”. That can be hard when you're first starting out reviewing, trying to break through with manufacturers, and worried that if you're negative, they may cut you off further samples. The problem of course is that if you're overly positive, real buyers will soon find out the truth, and your reputation as a reviewer is over anyway. So for those newer reviewers my advice is – don't hold anything back. You can be critical without being nasty. And manufacturers need to know the bad as well as the good. Its the only way they can become great.
So why am I going through this big spiel? Its simple really – Penon Audio approached me recently to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing some of the brands they are selling. I said sure – why not – it would give me access to a couple of products I'd read about, but hadn't had the opportunity of reviewing. And I like dealing with Penon – they are a really good store with really good service. I've purchased a few items off them, and they're always a pleasure to deal with.
They asked me which IEM(s) I'd like to start with, and so I suggested the Kinera H3. It has a pretty good following on head-Fi, with a lot of very positive reviews. I was simply keen to try it out.
Well it arrived a couple of weeks ago, and let me just say the experience I've had with the H3 doesn't quite match the hype that surrounded this ear-phone. So lets get an alternative view, and hopefully this is accepted in the manner its intended – to simply give a manufacturer some feedback on what is good and what isn't (in my humble opinion of course).
From what I can find on the net, Kinera is the primary brand of DongguanYu Tai Electronics. The company was formed in 2010 and their research center has just over a dozen employees. In 2012 they started research into personal audio, and the Kinera brand slowly started to form a product range.
In their own words:
Yu Tai has a pragmatic, innovative professional R & D team. They are the production strength and are committed to bring to the world the most beautiful sound quality, the most enjoyable listening experience, by virtue of "quality, integrity, innovation and win-win" business philosophy and high-tech R & D team.
They can be found at Facebook here
ABOUT PENON AUDIO
Penon Audio's on-line store was established in 2013, and their main goal is to sell the best selection of audio products at the most affordable prices for both audiophiles and business users. They combine an extensive range of products with very good service – and can be found on-line HERE
The Kinera H3 that I’m reviewing today was provided to me gratis as a review sample by Pennon Audio. I have made it clear to Penon that I still regard any product they send me as their sole property and available for return any time at their request. But I thank them for the ability to continue use of the Kinera H3 for follow up comparisons. I do not make any financial gain from this review – it is has been written simply as my way of providing feedback both to the Head-Fi community and also Penon and Kinera.
I have now had the Kinera H3 almost 2 weeks. The retail price at time of review is USD 99.
PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)
Spoiler: Click here for a summary of my known preferences and bias
I'm a 50 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last few years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (mostly now from the FiiO X5iii, X7ii and iPhone SE) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, MS Pro and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2, and LZ Big Dipper. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present – although needs updating) is listed in my Head-Fi profile.
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.
I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless impedance related etc), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.
For the purposes of this review - I used the Kinera H3 straight from the headphone-out socket of most of my portables. I did not generally further amp them (I did test them with my E17K, Q1ii and IMS HVA), as IMO they do not benefit greatly from additional amplification (YMMV and it may depend on your source). In the time I have spent with the Kinera H3, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in). Time spent now with the Kinera H3 is around 20-30 hours.
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The Kinera H3 arrived in a rectangular retail box with a fold out front opening lid. The box measures approx 180 x 120 x 50mm, is matt black , and has a simple “Kinera H3” embossed on the lid.
Opening the lid reveals a carry case, and a couple of adaptors. Inside the carry case is the Kinera H3, replaceable cable, and the tip selection. Underneath the top tray is a further cut-out, and this houses a business card and the manual. One thing to note about the manual – it includes a frequency response graph, and it is quite different to mine (and a few other people I know who have good reliable rigs). Kinera did release an updated graph which is somewhat closer to my measurements.
Outer boxInner boxFull package contents
The accessories include:
3 pairs of silicone tips (S/M/L)
3 pairs of silicone tips (S/M/L) – similar Sony hybrids
3.5 to 6.3mm adaptor
Soft shell storage case (large)
Warranty and manual.
1 x 3.5 mm single ended two pin earphone cable
Kinera H3 IEMs
The storage case is 120 x 75 x 40mm (so reasonably big). It is semi-rigid and consists of a soft shell outer over a fabric lined inner. It is a rounded rectangular shape and zipped on 3 sides. It gives reasonable protection for everyday use. The entire package is more than reasonable for this price point, although personally I'd also like to see at least some foam tips included.
(From the Kinera documentation)
Approx price$99 USD (Penon Audio)
TypeTriple hybrid IEM
Driver set-upSingle dynamic with dual BA
Freq Range20Hz – 20 kHz
Sensitivity101 dB (at 1 kHz)
Cable1.25, replaceable 2 pin (0.78)
Jack3.5mm gold plated straight
Weight23g with default cable and tips
The graph below is generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget.
I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else's, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response - especially if you've followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I always use crystal foam tips (so medium bore opening) - and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler. I use the same amp (E11K) for all my measurements - and output is under 1 ohm.
Any graphs are provided merely as a point of discussion, and later in the review I've included comparisons to other IEMs for similar reference.
My sonic impressions of the Kinera H3 – written well before I measured:
Bass is nicely presented with a little more sub than mid-bass emphasis. It seems well extended and is elevated compared to the mid-range. Rumble is clearly audible.
Lower mid-range is kind of weird. It sounds both a little recessed and can be somewhat distant with male vocals (and can be a little thin and nasal as well with some recordings). Female vocals are quite forward though and can be strident depending on the singer and the recording.
Upper mid-range seems to be emphasised. Female vocals have a sense of euphony, but again with some artists (London Grammar, Agnes Obel) there is almost a sense of brittleness – almost like the usual peak in the vocal fundamental is too early and there is a gap in the presence area.
Lower treble extension is good – but it is hot (very hot). Cymbals are quite splashy and there is a lot of sibilance.
Overall I can see what they've tried to do with the tuning, and it is very, very clear. Its just been overdone though, and the attempt to bring added clarity in the mid-range has caused some coherency issues.
Channel matching is excellent
The first time I saw photos of the Kinera H3, I thought they were gorgeous, and having a very ergonomic acrylic build at this price point was a real surprise. The Kinera H3 has a traditional custom monitor shape (classic peanut shape) and is entirely made of acrylic. I'm sure there must be a join somewhere, but for the life of me I can't find one. The body measures approx 22mm across and 16mm in height, with a depth of approx 12-14mm. The internal face is extremely smooth and well polished, and contoured to the shape of your ears. The acrylic in the main body is also translucent, and I can clearly see the DD and dual BA drivers.
External face plateInternal faceWell contoured smooth surfaces
The external face is flat with a black high gloss surface and the word Kinera on each ear-piece. There is a single vent at the rear of each IEM body. There are no L or R markings, but there doesn't need to be as the H3 is clearly designed for over ear use, and it is clear which ear-piece is left or right. The nozzle is located at the front of the IEM and is angled up. It extends from the main body by around 7mm and has a nozzle width of just under 5mm. It has a mesh cover to protect the nozzle from wax, but has no lip (at all) and unfortunately this means a limit on tip rolling (more on that later).
From the frontFrom the rear (note vents)0.78mm 2 pin connectors
At the top of each IEM is a 2 pin 0.78mm socket which is slightly recessed into the body. The cable fits snugly and the connection is very sturdy. The cable is made up of 6N single-crystal copper with silver plating, and then coated with a very flexible polymer coating. From the IEM to the Y-split, there are two twisted pairs, and below the Y split is a twisted quad. From the two pin male connector, there is a preformed wire loop which is flexible and quite comfortable, and also sits really nicely. The preformed ear loops basically form their own passive strain relief, and the y-split is simply a clear rubber pass through (so no relief required). It has nicely designed designed cinch. The Jack is 3.5mm, gold plated, straight, and features enough length to allow fitting to my iPhone SE with case intact. This would be one of the nicer cables I've come across aesthetically in this price range. Its very lightweight and flexible, and only mildly microphonic (this disappears when using the cinch and some basic cable management). The cable is 1.25m in length although some of this is taken up by the preformed ear loops.
Preformed earloopsY-split and cinch3.5mm jack
Internally the Kinera H3 utilises a 9mm custom dynamic driver with a composite diaphragm. This is coupled with dual balanced armatures for the mids and highs and a pair of crossovers.
Overall the build quality is quite impressive for this price point with the only real issue being the lipless nozzle, and some minor driver flax when first inserting them in your ear (the flex is really minimal).
FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION
I'll start with the easy one (isolation), and we can then look at fit and comfort. Isolation is dependent on tip selection, and if you get a good seal, it is actually pretty good (above average for a vented dynamic IMO), but will not ultimately reach the high isolation of sealed BA IEMs. It would still be reasonably good for a busy street, or some forms of public transport – although wouldn't be my personal choice for long haul flights.
As I said mentioned earlier, the Kinera H3 has a very ergonomic body shape, with a good length of slightly angled nozzle, and for me personally they are extremely easy to fit. They are designed for over-ear use. Anyone used to ergonomic over-ear designs should have no issues. They are extremely comfortable for everyday use.
Lipless nozzle = tip limitationsMy stretched OlivesFit and comfort is sublime
Unfortunately with no lip on the nozzle, choices for tip rolling are limited. I had no problem at all fitting practically any tip, but they would simply dislodge when removing the H3 from my ear, and its not nice having to continually fish tips out of your ears. My usual go-tos, including Spiral-dots, Sony Isolation, and Ostry tuning tips proved problematic. Spinfits worked but I've never been able to get a decent seal with them. So I was left with Comply and/or Stretched Shure Olives, which both fit and provided a good seal.
The Kinera H3 sits nicely flush with my outer ear, and are comfortable to lie down with. I've slept with them a couple of times, and have no discomfort on waking. So how do they sound?
The following is what I hear from the Kinera H3. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my FiiO X7ii (single ended), no EQ, and stretched Shure Olives. I used the X7ii simply because it gives me a very transparent window to the music with low impedance, and more than enough power. There was no DSP engaged.
For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the X7ii (AM3A amplifier module) was around 45/120 (on low gain) which was giving me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
Sub-bass – has really good extension and even at my lower listening levels is clearly audible. I would call it slightly boosted above what I would term normal or in balance. There is some really good rumble to give presence but it stops just short of overshadowing vocals. I'm detecting no bleed into lower mid-range (masking of frequencies).
Mid-bass – sloping downward compared to sub-bass and elevated compared to lower mid-range. Has reasonable impact.
Lower mid-range – quite recessed compared to bass and mid-range, and can sound thin and unnatural, especially with male vocals. Has a funny little dip immediately before a sharp rise just before 1 kHz and EQing this out really helps with coherency.
Upper mid-range – elevated compared to lower mid-range, and there is a sharp rise and hump from 1-2 kHz followed by a recession at 3 kHz. The result is a very forward vocal range which unfortunately can sound quite strident and brittle. Its simply peaked far too early, and coupled with the drop just before 1 kHz can be very unnatural depending on the music you're listening to. Unfortunately this is not an upper mid-range tuning which resonates with me.
Lower treble is fine at around 5 kHz then builds rapidly to a wide peak in the 6-8 kHz area 20 dB above the low point of the vocals, and just under 10 dB above the already high sub-bass. In short, there is simply too much of it. It's sharp, etched, and gives unnatural glare to cymbals, and also ruins any natural decay in this area.
Resolution / Detail / Clarity
Clarity is good, as is resolution, but its just too much in your face. With warmer tracks its not too bad, but as soon as you get something with a lot of upper frequency energy it really triggers my “wince-meter”.
Cymbal hits are overemphasised turning a “tish” into a “tizzz”, and decay is a blob rather than a trailing shimmer.
Directional queues are very good – quite precise, and presentation of stage with the binaural track “Tundra” is definitely just beyond the of my head space (is this the recess in the lower mid-range?) – so pretty good sense of width and depth.
Loreena McKennitt's “Dante's Prayer” was next and unfortunately both the cello and piano were tonally incorrect (didn't have the depth or timbre I know is in the track). McKennitt also had slight signs of sibilance, and I've never noticed this with any other IEM. Imaging was pretty good overall though. The main reason I use this track is for the applause at the end – it can be quite 3 dimensional and flow around you with the right earphone. The Kinera H3 struggled because of the tonality. No sense of realism.
Amanda Marshall's “Let it Rain” was my next track and I couldn't finish it. There was massive amounts of sibilance with Amanda's vocal – its the way it is recorded – so not unexpected. What was unfortunate was that the sibilance was definitely enhanced.
Overall bass presentation
Reasonable sense of stage and imaging
Detailed at low listening levels
Mid-range is recessed and thin with some vocals (male), strident and brittle with others (mainly female) and does not sound natural
Lower treble is far too etched and unpleasant to listen to with anything involving cymbals
Sibilance can be a real issue
I had to continually rest and reset my ears when I was doing this review. The problem was that it was easy for my brain to put its normal filter over the sound and try to compensate for the brightness (brain burn-in). By going back to a reference regularly (HD600) I could keep my impressions on track.
Despite the 48 ohm impedance and 101 dB SPL sensitivity, the H3 is actually really easy to drive and most portable sources will have no issues. I tried it with the X7ii, X3iii, and my iPhone and there were no issues. With my iPhone SE around 30-35% volume is more than enough with most tracks. I also tried the H3 with the FiiO A5, Q1ii and IMS HVA. They didn't seem to add anything – although the HVA's natural warmth did soften the H3's peakiness just a little.
Easy to drive from most sourcesAdditional amping not really necessaryIMO parametric EQ is essential
RESPONSE TO EQ?
Thank goodness for this section! The basic EQ on the X7ii wasn't going to be enough and I'm not as proficient with EQ on Neutron as I am with the parametric equaliser on the Equaliser app on my iPhone. I still don't have this right, but basically I applied the following parametric settings, and its amazing how much the H3 improved:
400 Hz > Q=0.5 > +1.0 dB
800 Hz > Q=2.0 > +3.0 dB
1.5 kHz > Q=0.5 > -2.0 dB
3.0 kHz > Q=1.0 > +3.0 dB
7.0 kHz > Q=1.0 > -6.0 dB
Even going back to Amanda Marshall's “Let it Rain” was a vast improvement (still minor sibilance, but no more than usual). It would be fair to say that if this was the default signature, the H3 would be getting genuine high marks – especially at its price point.
COMPARISON WITH OTHER IEMS
I was left with an impossible task in this section, and no easy solution. Do you compare the H3 un-EQ'd with other IEM's in a similar price range, and because of its default tonality and sonic flaws, give unfavourable comparisons? Or do you apply the EQ and show people it's potential?
To be fair to the readers of this review and also Kinera and Penon, I had to do both. So I've taken the cream of some $50-$150 IEMs I have available now, and compared both EQ'd and un-EQ'd. The graph shows the un-EQ'd H3 though.
For this test I used my iPhone SE and the Equaliser app – which I could turn on and off to make easy and quick comparisons. So I could volume match a lot easier, I used the FiiO E17K rather than the iPhones stepped volume control. For volume matching, I used test tones and an SPL meter.
For the comparison I used the $59 FiiO F5, $79 Meze 12 Classic, $99 Oriveti Basic, $100 FiiO F9, and $150 Simgot EN700 Pro
Kinera H3 (~USD 100) vs FiiO F5 (~USD 59)
Kinera H3 vs FiiO F5Frequency comparisons
Both are built from quality materials, but there is no doubt that the Kinera H3 has better fit, finish and overall comfort (both are comfortable to wear though). The H3 also isolates better. Both have replaceable cables, but the Kinera cable is easier to manage and the F5 has had problems with loose MMCX connections.
Without EQ, the Kinera H3 has deeper bass and a lot more treble energy. There is also something funky about the mid-range causing some tracks to be quite strident and brittle. The F5 is a lot more balanced, a lot smoother, and more natural, but does have an overly strong upper mid-range peak around 2.5 kHz which if corrected makes it overall a far better IEM. On pure default OOTB performance – the choice is easy – the FiiO F5 is much better overall value sonically.
If I use my WIP EQ though the Kinera H3 surpasses the F5 and if this adjusted tonality would be default, my recommendation would change.
Kinera H3 (~USD 100) vs Meze 12 Classic (~USD 79)
Kinera H3 vs Meze 12 ClassicFrequency comparisons
Both are again built from quality materials, but again the Kinera H3 has better overall fit, finish and comfort (again both are comfortable to wear though). The H3 isolates better and has a far better cable (the 12 Classic is fixed).
Without EQ, the Kinera H3 has much stronger bass and a lot more treble energy. Mid-range strength is similar, but tonally the Meze 12 Classic is a lot more balanced and realistic sounding. If anything the Meze probably needs a little more bass, but apart form that, it really is a fantastically voiced IEM. OOTB there is no question, the default tonality of the Meze 12 Classic is much better.
Again if I use my WIP EQ though the Kinera H3 at least equals the Meze 12 Classic and with the superior fit and overall build, would surpass it.
Kinera H3 (~USD 100) vs Oriveti Basic (~USD 99)
Kinera H3 vs Oriveti BasicFrequency comparisons
This is a better comparison – both same price, both have impeccable build quality and fit/comfort, both have quality replaceable cables – and both need EQ to correct tonal/balance issues (IMHO of course).
Without EQ, both have similar bass strength but the Basic appears much warmer because of a lower mid-range emphasis, and much lower treble energy. One is warm smooth and overly bassy (the Oriveti Basic). The other is V shaped, but also overly bright, and uneven in the mid-range with a tendency toward brittleness and stridency. TBH without EQ I wouldn't buy either (personal preference).
If I EQ both (my WIP EQ for the Kinera H3 and a simple bass cut on the Oriveti Basic) both are transformed into something I'd pay money for. As far as my preference goes EQ'd, I'd probably take the Basic though – the EQ is far simpler and the end result is a far more balanced IEM.
Kinera H3 (~USD 100) vs FiiO F9 (~USD 99)
Kinera H3 vs FiiO F9Frequency comparisons
This is probably the most apt comparison of the lot. Both are same price, triple hybrids, extremely good builds, with good quality replaceable cables, and excellent fit and comfort.
Without EQ, the F9 is a lot leaner in the sub-bass but the first thing that strikes me is how much more natural the FiiO sounds. Its not subtle either. Despite the H3's extra sub-bass, the F9 actually sounds warmer a lot of the time, and that’s simply because of the etched upper end of the N3. The FiiO can have a few issues at times as well with a quite narrow peak between 7-8 kHz, but it only really gets annoying with some tracks, where the H3's default signature annoys me the majority of the time with its hazy upper end energy.
If I EQ both (my WIP EQ for the Kinera H3 and a simple 8 kHz cut on the F9) the H3 is transformed and the FiiO is simply improved (it was already very, very good). Again for my preference (after EQing both), I'd stay with the F9 – again the EQ is far simpler and the end result is a far more balanced IEM.
Kinera H3 (~USD 100) vs Simgot EN700 Pro (~USD 150)
Kinera H3 vs Simgot EN700 ProFrequency comparisons
So what happens if you're prepared to invest a little more? Well in the $150 range you have the Simgot EN700 Pro. It is an excellent single dynamic. Both IEMs have excellent build, fit and comfort. Both have wonderful quality detachable cables. Overall aesthetically, the two are on a par (which actually says a lot in favour of the H3).
Without EQ, both have similar bass quantity – the EN700 Pros is less on the graph, but sounds the same because it has a better balanced mid-range and lower treble. The EN700 Pro's mid-range sounds a lot more natural and coherent (slow rise to 3 kHz), and does sound very good OOTB but it is a vibrant and coloured sound (albeit one I quite like). The H3 in comparison is definitely also vivid, but its like it has a haze across everything.
If I EQ with my WIP EQ for the Kinera H3, the haze disappears, and it becomes a really enjoyable and dynamic IEM. Again though when put up against an IEM which is excellent OOTB already there is really no choice (for me anyway). The EN700 Pro is going to sound great with any source, and if you're like me and have 2-3 sources you use, then the EQing of a $100 IEM (Kinera H3) is just going to be a hassle.
Boy this is tough. If you look at the potential, and you don't mind tinkering with EQ, for $100 you can get an extremely good sounding, looking and fitting IEM in the Kinera H3. But its a labour of love, and without EQ for me the overall SQ becomes grating and quite quickly objectionable. Given that I know how many people avoid EQ, and especially if its even mildly complex, then OOTB the potential value of the Kinera H3 unfortunately diminishes quite quickly.
KINERA H3 – SUMMARY
I actually dislike these sort of reviews, but sometimes you have to grit your teeth and get through it. The temptation is always there to gloss over the faults (something I try to avoid), and with the Kinera H3 if they aren't highlighted now, they (Kinera) won't fulfil their potential.
I do want to take the time to say sorry to Amy from Penon. They gave me a choice of monitors to review, and I specifically asked for the Kinera H3 because of the glowing praise they had received from a number of reviewers. If I'd known the reality, I would have chosen something else.
On the plus side, the Kinera H3 has fantastic build quality, an extremely well designed ergonomic shell, and a really nice cable, You simply don't find this sort of quality on a $100 IEM most of the time. They also look fantastic. One issue they do have though is the lipless nozzle (which limits tip choices) – please Kinera fix this on your next model.
But if I'm talking default package, that's pretty much where the good stuff ends. The tuning on these is really a work in progress. For starters the lower mid-range dip is quite recessed, but what makes it worse is the early rise to accentuate the vocals, and then a dip in the presence area at 3 kHz. In my experience if you make the rise to sharp and too early you get coherency issues, and unfortunately the H3 has a few. Combine this with the sudden dip at 3 kHz and you can get some dissonance. But the really big problem is the wide-band peak in the upper treble. It is over-accentuated, splashy, and casts a real haze over any music with natural treble energy. Without EQ – I really don't enjoy using these.
The good news is that with the parametric EQ I've provided in the review (and it is by no means a perfect EQ – I'd love it if someone tweaks it further), the Kinera H3 responds brilliantly, and becomes a much better IEM. If this was the default tuning I'd likely be lauding it – especially at this price.
So how do you rate an IEM with so much potential, but so many faults sonically? It becomes really hard because you don't want to destroy it, but you do want to be honest. You have practically perfect fit and build with minor points off for the nozzle issue. But sonically they just don't sound great without some reasonably complex EQ (in my humble opinion anyway). Add a small amount for the response you get with EQ, and you end up with a 50% score. Overall a 2.5/5 from me, and probably testament to the potential more than anything. I couldn't honestly recommend these to anyone unless they were prepared to use EQ.
To Kinera I would say you are actually on the right track. Get yourself a really natural headphone to use as comparative reference (e.g. HD600) and use that to reset your expectations when you are tuning. If you get the tuning right on your next release, you have the potential to be a leader in this price range.
To Amy and the team from Penon Audio – thanks so much for the review sample, and I think I'll let your team choose next time.
Pros - great treble. great bass. engaging. energetic. great fit
Cons - might be bright for some
Lots of affordable options have come up in the past and more so in the present. Sometimes, I get request to review a budget product and when I review them, they do not live up the hype. This time, it is a little different. I would call these a gem in the midst of all chifi hypes that are sometimes not so justifiable and are often hyped up by individuals who have not had many experiences with hifi gears in the first place.
This unit was sent to me by kinera for my honest review. I get no financial gain from this review, in fact I will be giving away my pair to share the love. hopefully I can organize something with kinera to do more giveaway for you wonderful people sharing the same hobby as me.
To be honest, they do not have a website (at least from what I can search on google). And I do not know much about them. They have a facebook page and telegram for fan chats. They make great affordable products, they are relatively new and are from china.
Model : KINERA H3 In-ears monitor
Color available :translucent black /red/ blue
Frequency Response： 20-20000HZ
L&R Channel Balance Sensitivity： <2DB
Max Input Power： 10mW
Cable Length: 1.2meter
Wire Material： 6n single crystal copper silver-plated
Plug material： 3.5mm golden plated
Earphone interface: 2-pin (0.78mm )
6 pairs of silicone eartips (S/M/L)
Best build quality I have seen for $99.
cable provided is a 6n silver plated copper terminating in a gold plated 3.5mm sturdy metal jack. Best stock cable I have seen at this price range
The housing is high quality acrylic that fits and feels good on the ears. No cheap feeling here at all. They look beautiful and nobody will believe you if you tell them how much it cost you.
wonderful fit design, much like custom in ear monitor but it is more generalized for the rest of the population. if these fit you like it did for me, you are in for some sweet isolation and sound quality.
They comes with 6 pair of silicone tips that mimic the sony hybrid design, which means they are comfortable as they can get in terms of tips.
They also comes with a practical semi hard carrying case.
THE FIT: Wonderful fit. best fit for $99. subjectively, these fit me perfectly but may not be fore everyone.
SOUND ISOLATION: absolute isolation is achieved with the perfect fit. of course there is no such a thing a absolute isolation, it just feels that way. You get the point.
PAIRING: These are not hard to drive, they are driven well with a phone or a digital audio player, with latter being preferred due to better sound quality.
SUGGESTED USE: You can use these anywhere as you please, just not anywhere near your mom when she’s talking to you as you will get smacked for not answering.
LOWS – the rumble, the punch, the awesomeness. Tad bit less clearer than the 1more triples, but that is okay, you can barely notice it. It is absolutely wonderful region. If you have a pair of beats or some ****ty bass producing product, these will blow you away, at the very least with the bass
MIDS – a little bit too harsh at times, especially the vocals but you can get pass it. It is a great engaging experience. Again, not for everyone. In fact if you want that relaxing sound, these may not do it for you.
HIGHS – these shine in the trebles. Again, very engaging but not for everyone
Sound stage is inmate. Imaging can improve but great for this price.
For what you pay for, you are getting a well rounded iem that can really pump you up and engage you
Pros - Excellent resolution, fun and engaging
Cons - Can be a little bright at times
Firstly I would like to thank Kinera and Penon audio for this sample, these received over 50hrs of burn-in before reviewing and no differences were noted.
*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings.
Audio Opus #2 > H3 (Final tips)
HP Laptop > JDS Labs EL-DAC > HeadnHifi O2 amp > H3 (Final tips)
Frequency Response： 20-20000HZ
L&R Channel Balance Sensitivity： <2DB
Max Input Power： 10mW
Cable Length: 1.2meter
Wire Material： 6n single crystal copper silver-plated
Plug material： 3.5mm golden plated
Earphone interface: 2-pin (0.78mm )
Packaging, Accessories and Build quality:
The Kinera H3 come in a lovely textured high quality black card box, with the name Kinera and model H3 embossed in gold on the top. Open the magnetic flap are you will find the carry case and jack adaptors held in a foam inlay. The box is simple yet feels excellent for the price and I really like the simplicity of it.
Accessory wise you get a clamshell carry case, a 3.5 to 6.3mm adaptor, airplane adaptor and 3 sizes of tips in 2 different types. You get S, M and L single flange tips, one type is similar to Sony hybrid tips, and the other has a stiffer blue core and also stiffer silicone. You also get a little velcro cable tidy and a thank you card from Kinera, along with a small manual. Overall everything you need is included.
Build quality is very good, the finish of the shells looks great with no major imperfections, the cable is soft and supple (really good cable) and is detachable. The cable has good strain relief, there is no stiff memory wire on these, instead it is a soft section of pre moulded rubber. I really like the look and finish, the nozzle however does not have a lip, so make sure to use the stock tips or others that are quite tight on the nozzle (Final Audio tips work very well). Overall I have no issues with the build quality, pictures show them off better anyway.
Comfort, Isolation and Driver flex:
The H3 is designed similar to a custom IEM and due to its lightweight construction fit very comfortably in my small ears, and do not protrude very far out of your ear. They are quite slim and once you get a good fit you can wear them for hours without pain. They are some of the most comfortable IEM’s I have used and are really easy to get a good fit with due to the angle of the nozzle.
Isolation is fairly average, this is due to a fairly shallow fit type and also the housing is vented due to the dynamic driver inside. They are still easily suitable for most everyday use, but if you are planning on using them in very loud environments there are other IEM’s that will isolate better.
Driver flex is present up initial insertion, but the drivers quickly return to normal and the driver flex isn’t as bad as some other headphones out there.
Split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end:
Lows: The H3 is a triple hybrid design and lets the dynamic driver handle the lows, the dynamic driver in these definitely has good punch and extends nicely into the sub-bass with minimal roll-off. The bass has good impact and is definitely a little on the fun side of neutral, bass guitar lines have good separation and articulation, kick drums have air to back them up and it’s a nice full bass presentation. The lows can handle EDM to heavy metal with ease; I’m quite impressed by their control. To be honest at this price range I think it’ll be quite hard to find headphones that handle metalcore as well as these.
Mids: The mids are a little laid back compared to the rest of the frequency response, giving these a mild V shaped signature, but they are quite crisp and have good detail retrieval. Nothing really stands out in the midrange, both male and female vocals are handled quite well, there isn’t really any added warmth from the lows but the upper mids are perhaps a slight bit thin and on the drier side. They seem to avoid most sibilance and there is quite a bit of air around the notes in the midrange, separation is quite impressive. They could do with being a tiny bit more forward in the mix when things get busy.
Highs: Now I am a fan of good treble and these certainly offer the quantity I enjoy, these do lean towards a slightly bright top end occasionally sounding a little overemphasised. A lot of this does depend on the recording though, feed them well recorded tracks and the highs will sound well defined, they are not laid back or dark sounding. The good thing is that if you find the highs to be a little on the hot side, tip rolling can help tame them (especially foam tips). There is plenty of sparkle and energy up top, and they never becoming overly splashy.
Instrument separation is good overall; there is good air around each instrument.
Soundstage is not huge; it is slightly wider than usual with out of head experiences to be had. The imaging however is very good, especially with complex drum tracks.
Simgot EN700 Bass:
The Simgot EN700 Bass is a good comparison as they are around the same price, the Simgot also feel very well built but the standard version has a fixed cable. So Kinera wins here with a longer lasting design. Both are very comfortable IEM’s, the H3 is lighter so is more comfortable for long periods of time.
Sound wise the EN700 Bass has a more organic and natural tone to it, with a smoother sound signature. It is full bodied and very enjoyable; the H3 is far more exciting and has better top end resolution. I find the EN700 Bass to be quite polite and have excellent separation and resolution, the H3 can come across a little more fatiguing but there is more going on with better detail retrieval.
Both are fantastic for the price, the H3 is quicker and more nimble, offering a more direct and engaging sound. The EN700 Bass is slightly laid back and more natural sounding, so which you prefer will be based on your preferences.
Conclusion: For $99 these are a very promising IEM from Kinera, with a fun borderline bright sound. They have a very slight V shaped sound signature, but the mids are not badly recessed. The lows are full but also very well controlled; the midrange is crisp and clear and the highs shimmer and sparkle with plenty of presence. These are an exciting and fun IEM and not for those that are very treble sensitive. I have found them to work very well with complex rock music, and the lows can really keep up. Tonally wise they are a little bit lean, but tips influence the sound a lot. Overall I really like these, Kinera have done a really good job, and considering the price these are fantastic value.
Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (Highs can be a little hot, but the overall sound is highly enjoyable)
Pros - Good overall sound, quality cable, a jewel in the $100 range
Cons - Needs a nozzle groove for tips, some sibilance and loose bass at high volumes
Kinera H3 Review
Kinera H3 review
A surprising affordable IEM that burst onto the audio scene in recent times and won the hearts of many a new convert to its build, design and dynamic sound.
Coming in a variety of colorful styles, visually beautiful and affordable.
The Kinera H3 comes in a simple and stylish black card box.
An adapter for airplane travel, and 1/4 adaptor plug and a hard card shell case for keeping the earphones safe and clean when on the move.
The case itself is quite spacious and one could be able to fit two or three earphones within.
The Kinera H3 comes with a two cable and a study 3.5mm plug.
I got the simple black version but there are some very cool looking two tone versions available.
The Kinera H3 has screens to protect its internals from wax and other grime.
The Kinera H3 comes with a selection of tips to get you started.
Always nice to get a thank you.
Model : KINERA H3 In-ears monitor
Color available :translucent black /red/ blue
Frequency Response： 20-20000HZ
L&R Channel Balance Sensitivity： <2DB
Max Input Power： 10mW
Cable Length: 1.2meter
Wire Material： 6n single crystal copper plating silver
Plug material： 3.5mm golden plated
Earphone interface: 2-pin (0.78mm )
6 pairs of silicone eartips (S/M/L)
Kinera H3 and Opus#3 dap.
The Kinera H3 was tested and reviewed with a variety of daps using FLAC tracks at home, commuting and resting at cafes drinking coffee.
The Kinera H3 is built for on the go, its a simple no fuss 1 dynamic driver and two BAs. Generally I would expect a V shaped sound for this particular combination of drivers and the H3 stayed true to traditional form and expectations in this regard.
Do you want some bass? You got it! Do you want treble? You have it. Want some mids?...well heres a sprinkle for you, enough to keep things coherent but not invade that V shaped engine built for dynamism and energy.
The bass is surprising generally controlled, although on some more heavy tracks it found the going a bit difficult and it could get a bit unruly and boomy, but this was the exception to the rule, and there is enough quality bass to satisfy even the most jaded budget fi shopper.
I thought the sub bass was present enough and separate from the lower bass reaches to again give that sense of general control.
Its definitely not a bass head bass.
The mids are recessed as to be expected with this particular design, which is a favorite for many listeners who prefer their earphones with a little less mids. Adjusting the gain didn't effect any serious significant changes in this regard, but it did add that lil something, something that brought the H3 to a fuller performance.
The highs are the show stealer, it definitely leans that way at times, giving a sense of clearness, detail and clarity. At various times it can venture in sibilance, but not excessively so its generally quite forgiving. But for my precious spoiled ears due to my small stable of high end IEMs I found that extended listening of several hours could be a little fatiguing for me, also I am not a adherent to the V signature cult.
The Kinera H3 was fine from low to just above mid volume listening levels, push it too far in the volume stakes and it could loose some of its control on the lower and also at the high end.
I found the width of the sound stage to be greater than the depth. Height is good.
Instrument separation is quite acceptable.
Kinera H3 and Shozy Alien+ dap
I swapped a few cables to see If I could edged any sonic improvements out of the Kinera H3, and there were some but they were mainly incremental and were most noticed the higher up the Dap chain I traveled. Those dynamic drivers do enjoy a bit of extra power to drive them.
Probably most users will be using a mobile phone or a sub $400 dap to listen to music with the Kinera H3 and won`t be connecting a $500 or so cable and a $1000 dap to it.
I did enough plunking on the Double Helix Cables silver SPC, it seemed to open up the energy more and gave a bit more control to the bass.
The Kinera H3 cable is a 6N silver coated copper cable.
Kinera H3, Double Helix cable and Symbio Mandarines tips.
The nozzles have a slight ring on them,
but I would prefer something more substantial to hold the tips firmly in place,
Stock photos via Kinera to show the different models available.
Kinera H3 and Opus#2 dap. Overkill.
The Kinera H3 clocks in at a cool and affordable US$99. The usual 'good performance for the price' etc etc terms have been bandied about as usual, but I can attest this is one of those (not so sleeper) hits. A sub $100 earphone I can recommend to friends quite safely.
The Kinera H3 comes with a quality cable that is fairly void of micro phonics when on the move, it looks to be in two styles and has a clear version and another which has a brown material covering of the cable which accompanies the black version which I have. I really like the look of the red and blue shell versions and their accompanying cables.
Great for photography.
The shell of the H3 resembles the iBasso IT03 a little with its inner ear guide flange.
And as such this earphone is very comfortable, I was able to wear it for extended periods with no apparent discomfort due to the fit.
Isolation is good, great when I did some tip rolling and put on the Symbio Mandarines. It does need a design change in an addition of a groove/rim on the end of the nozzles to lock tips more in place, especially the silicone ones.
The cable is stylish and comes in a variety of styles depending on which model of H3 is purchased. Its great to see more companies offering quality cables in two pin (or in other cases MMCX) with their IEMs.
I did get some improvements , though not overly dramatic when I switched around cables. Usually the copper vs silver experience was most significant. The Kinera H3 being a silver plated copper cable.
Its a difficult item to review because it does so many things well for a fraction of the price, and also is a hyped item amongst consumers and also fellow reviewers.
Admittedly when I first listened i was quite stunned at the quality, later listening sobered me up more as its various limitations and faults were revealed, and of course the H3 could not hope to compete with some of my other higher end IEMs - which is to be expected. Later listening revealed the Kinera H3 to be a quality product that performs quite well, consistently and competently even in comparison to its more pricey cousins.
The various minuscule shortcomings of the Kinera H3 doesn't detract from what is in fact a decent earphone that has made waves in the online audiophile community, and is a continuation of the recent trend of more and more lower price earphones displaying decent build, design and sound quality.
Consumers are going to have more and more options to satisfy their wallets in the coming years.
To close, the Kinera H3 does live up to the hype surrounding it, a great shell design, a more than decent cable and an overall sonic performance that ticks all the right boxes If judged within its intended consumer market, It has its minor short comings, but those are to be expected for US$99, but as I have written these are minor in what is an excellent all round product.
Pretty as a picture.
Thank you to Kinera for sending the Head pie the Kinera H3 for review and impressions.
Pros - great bass, treble clarity, comfortable fit, low micro-phonic gorgeous cable, well built, cost
Cons - sometimes sibilant, lack of eartip rings on the nozzles.
First of all thanks goes to Steve, as well as kinera to send me a pair of their new iem h3 to test it out. I am not told or directed to throw a review here. The following statement is all my honest opinion. Mark that your mileage may vary. Let's step aside of the thanking part and get started.
Just a few head-up about myself
Spoiler: Warning spoiler ahead
Music, from the very childhood is my first love. The day I started my guitar playing, and the day I opted to play Ukulele its been with me in home or outside. I every now and then enjoyed music through my daily setup, smartphone and its cheap earphone. When I introduced to the head fi community, things have changed. Changed the face of my savings too. When I first heard through a quality headphone my jaw dropped, what the hell I was listening previously. From then its been two years. My journey along the path of music didn’t stop. I am fortunate enough to have to listen many legendary headphones.
After searching when I broke my bank and bought the first quality headphone, it seemed a new path was opened for me. The feeling of rediscovering old fav music is fascinating. It thrills me and gives me goosebumps.
As music preference goes, I hear a lot of metal and rock songs. But as I have born in Bangladesh, my countries music library offers a lot more enriched genres. So I love to hear other genres too, until it sounds awkward to me. So, Folk, classical, pop, melody, instrumental are also in my liking list.
A person like me who isn’t technical that much. So in classical sense you shouldn’t call me as an and audiophiles.
My music library is my Custom Computer, Youtube etc. I have a huge collection of my fav bands’ music both in lossless and lossy format, Roon, Tidal and spotify premium.
Finally, I will start my review.
Let's not wait
Kinera is a new china bassed iem company that stepped their feet in audio industry with only two iem Bd005 and Now the Kinera h3. You can find their products like H3 here. They are friendly and trying hard to get their everything right. For starting fresh h3 was a great step up. I am pretty sure they are bringing something out of the box next time.
How's the H3
The package has a textured finish and got a professional feeling to it. there is a magnetic flap to open it. Inside there is a perfectly cut foam for the housing of the carrying case, airplane and 1/4 inch adapter. To be frank this was enough to convince someone that "h3 is special"
What's in the box
A big enough hard sell carrying case is presented there to store iem and cable. 3 pares of eartips (s,m,l), airplane adapter and a gold plated 1/4inch adapter were there. But i am impressed with the Thank you card by the kinera. Kinera you are welcome
Build and so on
The shell is CIEM type. I will say i have the most comfortable fit with h3 after this i will mark the pinnacle p1 and flc8s. They blue semi transparent shell reminds me of candy. On the faceplate there is a gold kinera logo printed.
I am sorry for a thing that should be there, A ring at the nozzles for the eartip grip. The lack of it cost me the loss of two eartips. I hope they will notice this and change it in there following iems.
The cable is great, Braided, Silver color. It is soft, the stain relief is good and works just fine. If you think about the micro-phonics, i will say there is none. I hope a mic edition of there cable will help a lot of people in future. Btw kinera adopts the 2pin configuration which is i think better. Because i had issues with the mmcx connection. And H3's 2pin connectors offers a snag compact fit. Its not loose at all like something i found in kz zs5.
Fit and comfort
I can say this is one of the most comfortable iem i have used. its smooth ciem type shell provides the most pleasing fit under 100 usd. I think it fits better than the Shure se215. If you want something more comfortable, i think ciem is the route to go. I can easily sleep wearing this. though I wont recommend this. "Please save your ear"
The bass is a bit of emphasized but It is emphasized in an enjoyable way. There is tightness. Its fast and the impact is damn impressive for its price range. On the most important note, the bass impact don't mix with mid range or bloat anywhere. There is certainly a noticeable sub bass extension. Not so strong but strong enough to notice it and enjoy your music. Despite of all these things this is not targeted for the bass heads. I noticed with some recording it gets a bit more boomy. I should blame the recordings not the iem for this.
The energetic and clear mid of h3 is enjoyable. It may seem a bit of the recessed to some people because of its little bit thinness. To me the less colored mid high the upper mid energy the vocal sounded good. At least at the point of its price range it out forms a lot of iems that i have listened previously. I would like if the mid could be a bit more thick and packed some meat on the bone.
Treble at a first glance seemed well extended, airy, detailed, damn good sound separation and well presentation. I have to admit stock H3 sound bright, metal and heavy treble tracks can often be quite fatiguing, If you turn your volume up it gets annoying. But i have to appreciate the clarity of the treble. I wish it had some unforgiving nature. The people who love bright iems will find this a lot enjoyable. I prefered a bit more dark and warm sound with the clarity.
I gave it to my friend. I want to quote one thing that he told me, "I heard music all day long. It seemed if there is any war around me, i wont hear anything".
I know he a bit of overwhelmed. But its true that h3 blocks a lot of outside noice. its comfortable and the noise cancellation is noticeably best in the sub 100 even more priced iems.
In the conclusion of sound i want to mention some following bullet points
I really liked the soundstage and separation of h3. The staging was not that big, but the separation and good imaging will be enough to engage you to your listening and think like the sound is coming around you. It might not be on par of something damn expensive. But its hard to find in sub 100 range.
I told all before this review is my self realized opinion. H3 is crisp. Its cleanliness in sound and good amount of refinement to it's signature can make enjoying your music more. I prefer a more thick mid-range and warmth to the sound. Yet the detail and clarity this hybrid turned out that treble loving people gonna enjoy h3's offering. I hope kinera will do the best for their upcoming products.
Packaging & Accessories: 3.7 / 5 (I expected to get more tips)
Build Quality & Design: 4.5 / 5 - (I would give 5 if there is a eartip ring)
Sound Impressions: 3.7 / 5 - (i preferred a bit more warmth and less bright)
Value: 4.1 / 5 - $99 its a candy for ears.
Overall: ~ 4 / 5
Pros - great bass impact and rumble, top-tier clarity to similarly-priced IEMs, luxurious cable, fit and comfort, value
Cons - thin and slightly nasal midrange, recessed lower midrange, occasional sibilance, inconsistent shell quality
Kinera H3: Impressive Clarity and Impact
First and foremost, I'd like to thank Penon Audio for reaching out to me and sending me a review unit of the Kinera H3. I am not associated with Penon Audio in any other way, and these thoughts are my own only -- keep in mind that my review will mostly be subjective, as we all hear things differently. I will do my best to give the H3 a fair and honest review, as well as give some comparisons to IEMs I have/have owned.
The Kinera H3 is available for $99 from the awesome people down at Penon Audio, at this link here.
Please remember at all times that these are my subjective judgements of the IEM's sound, and I may hear things differently or prefer things that you may not. I will post measurements for the H3 as well.
The recent but growing onset of multi-driver audiophile IEMs at a lower price bracket has certainly been the source of many discussions fueled by hype and excitement, though a number of them prove to be somewhat exaggerated and an overall letdown. On the bright side, there have been quite a few gems that manage to prove themselves to the masses.
I used to hop on hype trains often, avoiding spending extra in hopes that I'd fine a "giant killer". Unfortunately, many times I have ended up disappointed and sometimes even empty-handed. I hope my review on the H3 can help some of you decide whether the $99 price tag will land you a reliable and worthwhile set of IEMs.
The packaging is a textured carton, opening with a magnetic flap. It looks fairly simple and elegant, the typography and design of the cover print looks well done and professional.
The box includes two adapters -- both rather ordinary, being a flight/airplane adapter and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter (1/8" to 1/4").
More importantly, you'll find a fairly decent to large sized carrying case in black with the Kinera logo. The zipper is smooth and easy to use; the interior is roomy and has a somewhat soft felt lining. One side of the case has a small mesh pocket, fair for carrying spare tips or cable (or whatever else you may have).
The case includes the earphones themselves, as well as 3 tips in S/M/L sizing. They look similar to the Sony hybrid tips and stay on the nozzle of the IEM fairly well. They are easy to get a seal with and feel above average in quality.
Build & Design
The Kinera H3 has a "custom-made universal" shell, which is shaped to fit many ears snugly and securely, all while maintaining a high level of comfort. I've had custom in-ears before, as well as one or two IEMs with similar design -- for example, the KZ ZS3 and iBasso IT03 both have cymba protrusions and a deep fitting nozzle.
The H3's shell quality looks fairly good, though not quite as crystalline / transparent when compared to an acrylic-poured IEM. My left monitor is quite transparent, while my right monitor is slightly fogged and smudged internally, blocking vision of the drivers quite a bit. Penon Audio sent me the H3 in blue variation -- the color is nice and uniform, while being nice to look at.
The faceplate is an opaque black embedded horizontally with a gold, reflective Kinera logo. I noticed a large white strip between the black faceplate and the blue shell, as well as small white bits on the other end of the faceplate. The other monitor's faceplate doesn't have any detectable issues.
The nozzle is simple and does not have a notch to securely keep the tips in place, which may be an issue depending on the tips you plan to use. I can say that the included stock tips feel pretty secure and it should be unlikely that they will be sliding off accidentally. Regardless of the fogging and white uncolored bits of the faceplate, the shell feels sturdy and should not fail from ordinary use. There are no rough sections or unexpected bumps, it seems smooth all around.
Fit and Comfort
This smoothness of the shell lends to its impressive levels of comfort, even in slightly smaller ears such as mine. Prior, I've found "custom-like" universals to be a bit large for me such as the iBasso IT03 and Aurisonics line -- those were too large and uncomfortable for me to wear after a short period of time. I don't have any of those issues with the Kinera H3.
It feels secure and there's not much chance of it falling out. I can wear it for hours without discomfort.
The cable is hands-down the nicest cable I've used in an entry-level audiophile IEM. It's very soft and supple -- this lends to it's great comfort as well as surprisingly quiet microphonics. The ear guides are not memory wire, but simply formed to wrap around the back of the ear. Very lightweight and comfortable. It's a simple 4-core twist braid, sleeved in dark bronze. The two-pin connectors are clear and look of good quality. Y-splitter is of top quality, being some sort of clear-frosted rubberized TPU. It feels durable and won't get in the way. The 3.5mm jack is wrapped in an aluminum sleeve that is surprisingly light, with proper strain relief -- however, I find right-angle jacks to be more durable and practical than the straight-jack present on the cable.
The sound of the Kinera H3 is typically v-shaped with a medium depth -- the bass is emphasized, lower midrange dips and rises into the upper midrange, and various treble emphasis gives path to good clarity.
Here is a measurement of the Kinera H3. This is measured using a silicone coupler + Dayton IMM06, there is a slight 2.2k notch that shouldn't be there but I'm not bothered enough to fix it. It measures similarly to Crinacle's measurements.
The bass presentation of the H3 is very enjoyable, regardless of its clear emphasis. It's slightly above average in terms of tightness and speed, while still being able to sound natural. The impact and rumble of the notes is impressive, it can definitely pack a whallop without being too overwhelming or interfering with the midrange too much. Subbass extends deeply as far as music generally goes, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything in the lower registers. Quantity wise, the H3's bass sits well above neutral, but not quite pushing into basshead territory. It can sometimes sound boomy and overly rumbly, maybe contributing to fatigue in long term listening.
The midrange of the Kinera H3 is its weakest point in my opinion -- this would be the factor that would determine whether or not this IEM works well for the listener. The lower-to-middle midrange is recessed in comparison to its surroundings. The upper midrange is quite forward (typical of many tunings to give clarity to vocals). However, vocal timbre is just noticeably strange, in my opinion -- vocals sound thin and restrained, as if they were being choked out. This vocal recession is much more noticeable here on the H3 than other IEMs I've tried in similar price range, such as the TFZ King and Series 4. Additionally, any sibilance or similar upper midrange baddies present themselves sometimes but not consistently, depending on the singer's vocal range. It overall is a bit fatiguing, though demonstrating impressive if not exaggerated upper midrange detail.
The treble is possibly the star of the show here. The treble is very detailed and comes with striking clarity. In fact, this was the first thing I noted about the H3's sound -- it has a good sense of air and decent sparkle for its price bracket. I find that it pairs well to create a decent sense of space horizontally, giving good depth in variation of distance from your head.
The Kinera H3 is rather impressive in its own ways for the price, being exceptional clarity, fun bass presentation, and sporting a very premium cable. However, it is not without its flaws in its midrange, which one may see as drastic or might not even care enough to note -- it's undoubtedly some variation of a v-shaped IEM, and whether this aligns to your tastes or not is up to you. Build quality should last a long time paired with its removable cable, and accessories are ample but just the necessities.
10% - Packaging & Accessories: 3.75 / 5 - nicely packaged, but just the necessities in accessories
20% - Build Quality & Design: 4.5 / 5 - shell quality is decent to good with minor inconsistencies, but cable is so darn good. comfort is also great
50% - Sound Impressions: 3.3 / 5 - v-shaped sound with clear treble and strong bass, marred with tonally-funky midrange
20% Value: 4.1 / 5 - impressive overall package for the price, but IMO not an "all-aboard the hype train" IEM
Overall: 3.9 / 5
Pros - Gorgeous design. Great quality cable. Useful accessories. Clear and detailed sound.
Cons - No lip on the nozzle - some ear-tips not held securely
I guess it's time to accept that most of us can't keep up with all the new earphone manufacturers coming out of China. But there will always be those who create something unique, special or remarkable that brings them onto our collective radar while others fade back into obscurity. The former is where we are today with Kinera and all the hubbub that has arisen surrounding their latest (and only second) product release.
Formed in 2007 the company was moderately successful with their first earphone the BD005, a low budget, dual driver hybrid and now they're expanding their product lineup with a new triple driver hybrid the Kinera H3. Early impressions and reviews have been almost unanimously positive and for good reason but are they really that good? Read on to find out how I feel about them and hopefully it will help the reader to decide whether they want to grace their ears with the Kinera H3.
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. I have no affiliation with the company and all observations and opinions are my own, based on my experience with the product. I'd like to thank Kinera for the opportunity to test the H3.
At the time of writing the Kinera H3 retails for $99.
Spoiler: A little about me
Like most people on this type of site I'm a lover of music. In my younger days I spent several years as a hip-hop DJ (using real vinyl and turntables) as well as producing a variety of music on computer using a combination of MIDI and live instruments. I did a Home Studio Sound Certificate at the Milton School of Audio Engineering in Brisbane, Queensland which covered the setup of audio for playback and recording in a studio environment along with other basic engineering principles. Nowadays I prefer to simply listen to and enjoy music.
My taste in music has changed a great deal over the years. For a long time my only interest was in rap and hip-hop music. Now though I listen to all kinds of music including jazz, classical, rock, psytrance, folk and ambient. I listen to music everyday using portable gear consisting of a DAP and mostly IEMs or simple desktop setup consisting of a laptop and DAC at work and my desktop setup at home which is based around my PC or Shinrico D3S with a DAC, often but not always including a tube amp and full-sized headphones or speakers.
My preferred sound signature is fairly balanced with slightly elevated mid-bass and deep well-extended sub-bass, clear and resolving midrange with a touch of warmth and clean, airy treble. I'm not offended by brighter sounding gear but dislike any sibilance. The majority of my music is 16/44.1 flac files as I stopped using physical media (CD/vinyl) many years ago and prefer the convenience of digital formats.
Packaging and accessories
The H3 comes in a nice, textured black box with the brand name and model number embossed in gold print on the top. After opening the magnetic flap/lid you're presented with an airline adapter, a 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm adapter and semi-hard carrying case. Under the case is a user manual and thank you card. The case is very handy and large enough to easily accommodate the earphones with ample space left to throw in a small DAP. It's a bit too big to fit in your pocket but is the perfect size to carry in a bag.
Inside the case you'll fine the earphones, cable and 3 pairs of silicone ear-tips (S, M, L). The silicone tips are really nice quality, being supple yet grippy so you can imagine my dismay when I had confirmed that they are all too small for my ears.
Let's take a minute to talk about the cable. This is an exceptionally nice cable for an IEM in this price range. It's supple yet feels durable and there's no stickiness to it. Starting at the top are the 2 pin connectors with a very subtle yet clever system of colored dots on the front side to denote Left and Right (blue for left, red for right). The connectors sit securely in the earphones but are still very easy to remove and insert. Further down is the flexible, transparent Y-split, accompanied by a matching cable cinch/chin slider. The cable terminates in a straight, metal plug that is quite long but of good quality with excellent strain relief.
Build, comfort and isolation
The designer/s of the H3 must have been feeling inspired when they created this IEM as they've produced something that not only looks fantastic but is also extremely comfortable. I feel that the appearance alone of the H3 played a big part in the early hype of the product as it looks very premium and more like higher priced IEMs.
The outside of the acrylic shells is an inverted teardrop shape in glossy black with the brand logo printed in gold lettering. On the inner part of the shells is the same material but here it's translucent allowing you to glimpse the internal drivers and wiring. This part is shaped similarly to a custom IEM and there's a small vent just next to the female 2 pin connector. All the edges are rounded and smooth plus the face-plate and main body are seamlessly joined adding to the overall aesthetics.
Although the H3 looks a little awkwardly shaped on the inner side it actually provides a very nice and comfortable fit. It was quite a bold move by the company to adopt this build but it has paid off handsomely, resulting in one of the most comfortable CIEMs that I've ever used. The shells fit wonderfully inside the conch of the ear which also means they don't protrude out as much as you might expect.
There are some shortcomings in the build though and the first lies in the design of the nozzles. The usual lip or ridge is absent here and that coupled with a slightly more narrow than average diameter means that ear-tips have a tendency to come off when removing the earphones. Secondly I was experiencing a lot of driver flex, mostly when first inserting or readjusting the shells but also when moving my jaw. Fortunately the driver flex has all but disappeared with the tips that I finally settled on (remember the provided ones were all too small for my ears).
Due to the way the H3 sits in and fills the ear's conch sound isolation is above average but keep in mind they are vented so some sound will still come through. Regardless of that though, these still block out a good deal of sound and are very suitable for noisy environments, allowing you to enjoy your music without needing to pump up the volume to dangerous levels.
Sources used for testing:
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Acoustic Research MR-20
PC/Foobar2000 > Topping DX7
With an impedance of 48 ohms the H3 benefits from some extra driving power and may suffer a little from weaker sources like some smartphones. It's most evident in the authority of the bass notes and I'd recommend using a good DAP or headphone amplifier to get the most out of this IEM.
The H3 has a clear, energetic sound that's packed with detail and has good instrument separation. It can be a little aggressive in the high frequencies and may cause some fatigue if listening to certain music genres (rock, metal etc) or at high volume.
Bass is controlled and has nice body but is pushed back a little behind the mids, particularly the upper mids. Sub-bass reaches fairly low but again struggles to make itself felt due to the overreaching nature of the upper-mid peak. It does have that natural dynamic feel and in the right tracks sounds great and fairly linear, very nicely textured without being overbearing.
The midrange has a lot of clarity and detail, is very energetic up in the higher mids and overall has good tonality. It can sometimes come across as a little thin which you might or might not like depending on personal preference. Vocals sound natural and uncolored and are quite forward while remaining the same clarity seen throughout the midrange.
When we get to the treble there's a peak that brings certain sounds very forward in the mix which can throw off the balance and as a result there's some loss of cohesion. Listening to Ludovico Einaudi's "Indaco" things get off to a good start until he hits the high notes which sound unnaturally loud. A similar effect can be heard on certain high hats and snare snaps among other things. However the timbre remains accurate and adds some shimmer but there is a sense of the sound always teetering on sibilance.
Soundstage is fairly wide and while not the widest to be found in this price range it's also far from being narrow. There's a fair sense of depth as well with fairly good imaging and instrument placement that isn't razor sharp but surely lets you know where sounds are coming from.
TFZ Exclusive King ($95-$99 USD)
Has more more mid-bass punch and is a little warmer in the lower midrange. Is more cohesive and evenly spread in the upper frequencies. Sub-bass digs deeper and gives a little more rumble. More warmth in the lower mids and slightly more in general. I feel it has just a little bit superior tonality. Has a slightly wider nozzle and a lip to keep tips secure. Is easier to drive. The cable is good but not the same stellar quality as the one provided with the H3.
Thinksound ms02 ($99 USD)
Is more natural and organic with a comparatively relaxed treble. A little more recessed midrange which is noticeably less clear than that on the H3. Switching between the two the ms02 sounds a little muddy in comparison but in reality it isn't - it's just that the H3 has such exceptional clarity in the mids. Has a non-detachable cable. Bass and lower mids have more weight and body than the H3 and it has a more easygoing signature.
From left to right: TFZ Exclusive King, Thinksound ms02, Kinera H3
Kinera's H3 is a great looking, great fitting IEM that has certainly got people's attention around the web's audio sites and related social media communities. It has a wonderfully appealing design aesthetic that looks premium and desirable but there's still a little room for improvement, mainly in regards to the nozzle. The sound signature of the H3 could be polarizing, appealing to those who like an emphasis on high frequencies and a bright sound but deterring for people who prefer a more relaxed and non-fatiguing listening experience. There's no doubt that it produces a clear and detailed sound but it does so at the risk of being a little too energetic on occasion. It's certainly an interesting product that deserves recognition is it's crowded price bracket and should not be overlooked if you're shopping for something around the $100 mark. With the release of the H3 it looks like Kinera are setting themselves up to be a serious player in the IEM market.
Pros - Attractive and Comfortable Design - Refined Sound
Cons - Minor QC Issues - Recessed Mids - No Nozzle Lip
Today we're checking out Kinera's newest earphone, the H3.
The entry level earphone market has seen a massive influx of products that offer ridiculous bang for your buck. The 100 USD price point has gotten particularly competitive this year with products from Simgot, Magaosi, TFZ, Oriveti, and many more coming out to positive impressions and fanfare. Kinera's decision to dive into this price point with a triple hybrid, of which there are already quite a few, means they're going to have to bring something unique to the table to really stand out and make their name.
Does the H3 have what it takes? Let's find out.
A huge thanks to Steve with Kinera for seeing if I would be interested in checking out their new earphone, and for setting me up with a complimentary review sample of the H3. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not represent Kinera or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this review.
At the time of this review the Kinera H3 retailed for 99 USD and could be picked up via their store on AliExpress; https://kinera2017.aliexpress.com/store/3102002
Be sure to check them out on Facebook too: https://www.facebook.com/kinera2017/
Spoiler: My Gear and I:
I'm a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI's multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established writers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.
Fast forward a couple years and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like HiFiMan, RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, Brainwavz, Meze, and many more. I don't do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to a product that makes them happy, I'll consider that a job well done and payment enough.
Gear used for testing was a Shanling M1, HiFiMan MegaMini, and my TEAC HA-501 headphone amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass. Lately I've been enjoying more mellow and relaxed products with a bass tilt. Two of my favorite in-ears, the Echobox Finder X1 with grey filters installed and the Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced are good examples of my preferred signatures.
Packaging and Accessories:
The H3's textured, black cardboard box, adorned with gold letting looks quite classy and has a very involving, tactile feel in hand. The magnetically sealed flap opens and closes with a reassuring snap. Lifting it reveals a foam insert which houses cutouts containing a 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter, an airline adapter, and a fairly large, rectangular clam shell carrying case. Underneath the case is a business card thanking you for choosing Kinera and a fairly basic manual covering the earphone specs, safety reminders, maintenance tips, the correct way to insert the cable into the earpieces, and warranty information. Within the case you find the H3 itself and spare eartips. The full accessory kit included with the H3 is;
- H3 ear pieces
- 1 cable
- Sony Hybrid clone silicone eartips (s/m/l)
- 1/4" adapter
- airplane adapter
- clam shell carrying case
- Velcro cable tie
Overall it's a fairly basic accessory kit. The included Sony clone tips are of good quality, and without the real thing on hand to compare with I would never have been able to tell the difference. The case is spacious and plenty large enough to hold everything that's included. The airplane and 1/4" adapters are handy, pending you're going to take the H3 with you on flights and hook it up to a desktop system via a 1/4" output. If you're not planning to use those they're a somewhat wasted inclusion that would have been better left out in place of something more useful, such as a mobile cable or a more extensive tip selection.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation:
The H3 is a pretty sexy earphone, there's no denying it. My particular example is sitting here looking stunning with it's red/black color scheme, accented with Kinera in gold lettering. Damn, they look good. Adding to the visual appeal is the opaque inner body which allows you to catch a glimpse inside to view the inner workings and layout of the well-tuned single dynamic, twin balanced armature setup. I also appreciate that the fit and finish on my example is nearly flawless, with the only blemish I could locate being a small strip of uncolored acrylic where the black backing and red inner housing meet. It's not something you would notice unless you're deliberately hunting down flaws.
Another bit of visual flair in the H3's favor is the braided 6N silver-plated copper cable terminated in 0.78mm, 2-pin connectors. The braid is tight and consistent below the y-split, but a little loose above, particularly on the right side. I love that Kinera went with preformed, flexible ear guides instead of memory wire. In my experience it's just as effective in keeping the cable in place, but is much more comfortable and less fiddly. The straight jack also gets a big thumbs up as it can easily be disassembled should you damage the cable and need to make some repairs, or decide to re-terminate with a 90 degree angled jack.
The H3's beautiful design, clearly inspired by custom in-ear monitors, also happens to be exceptionally comfortable. All the curves in the body are smooth and laid out in a way that ensures they perfectly conform to my outer ear. Just insert and give the H3 a slight twist which locks them in place. Their design also ensures they are very stable during heavy activity. Keeping in mind that they are not sweat resistant, I could easily see someone using the H3 for working out or some other strenuous activity, because they're not going to be falling out.
Given how tightly they conform to my outer ear, the H3 is one of the most isolating earphones I've come across. Toss on some Sony Isolation Hybrids (foam/silicone combination) and these drown out external noise almost as well as a couple active noise canceling earphones I've got on hand, those being the Mixcer ANC-G5 and OVC H15.
To counter all this overwhelming positivity, I must point out a couple minor QC issues that cropped up. Note that I haven't seen mention of these two items in any other comments or reviews. In the ear piece itself, when removing the cable the metal contact/sleeve pulls out slightly. The straight jack's strain relief doesn't fit as tightly as it should, and as a result can be pulled out of place and up the cable. Neither of these issues have stopped me from using the H3, nor have they gotten worse after weeks of heavy use.
Overall the H3 isolates well, is wonderfully built, and visually is an absolute stunner. Minus the aforementioned QC issues, my only concern about the H3 is the lack of a lip on the nozzle. When trying out alternate tips I found some had a tendency to slip off. Not an issue unique to the H3, but a mild annoyance nonetheless.
Frequency Response: 20-20000 Hz
Sensitivity: 101 dB
Cable: 6N silver-plated copper with 2-pin, 0.78mm connectors
Tips: Due to the nozzle design I didn't really have any success tip-rolling with the H3 since none of my wide bore tips would stay on. Alternate tips that worked were Dunu's Heir-style tips from the Titan 1, KZ's "Starline" tips, and HiFiMan's compact dual-flange tips. None of them affected the H3's sound in any significant way. While all testing was done with the stock mediums, Dunu's tips were the most comfortable for me.
Source:I didn't find the H3 particularly hard to drive though it did seem to scale nicely when moving from something portable like a phone or Shanling M1, to my desktop amp the TEAC HA-501. Through the TEAC the H3 sounded quicker across the board and it's treble presentation was tighter and cleaner.
The H3's two balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver deliver what I hear as a warm, slightly skewed v-shaped signature with the lower mid-range being the least prominent aspect of it's sound. It makes for an exciting listen, and one of the better options in it's price range.
Treble has shown itself to be well extended with an airy, detailed, presentation. Given the H3's stock sound runs a little bright, treble heavy tracks can be quite fatiguing, especially as the volume increases. One quality I appreciate is that while the H3 is very detailed in the treble regions, its not unforgiving. This could be seen as both a positive and a negative, but to me it’s a plus. I can use the H3 with poorly recorded or low quality files and I’m not overwhelmed and distracted by flaws in the track. They’re there, but not brought to the forefront.
Mids on the H3 are pulled back a bit, particularly the lower mids with some male vocals coming across quieter than they should. This is most notable with much of the hip hop I listen to where male vocals fail to stand out and instead occupy the same space as the background instrumentals. Female vocals fare better and display the prominence I would expect within the context of a track. Although the H3's mids are slightly recessed, their weight and thickness somewhat makes up for the set back placement.
In the low end is where the H3 truly excels to my ears. From the perspective of quantity, the H3 carries with it a healthy, robust bassline. It's got some serious mid-bass punch backed by an addictive sub-bass rumble that routinely had me seeking out tracks with a sub-bass focus. The balance between mid- and sub-bass is tuned so neither takes a more aggressive stance. The H3's bass is also highly textured and fairly rapid, making it an awesome pairing with the liquid drum and bass mixes I listen to on a routine basis.
The H3's sound stage displays more width than depth, with channel transitions being very clear and stepped accurately. While not massive, the excellent imaging and separation qualities make this a very engaging earphone. During my initial impressions I had a feeling these would be quite effective for accurate sound positioning in gaming, an impression which ended up being fairly accurate. They perform in line with two earphones I routinely use for gaming, the Fisher Audio Dubliz Enhanced and Brainwavz B100, and almost serve as a go-between for the two very different signatures of those earphones.
Overall the H3 is a very crisp and clean sounding earphone with a good amount of refinement to it's signature. I prefer a more forward mid-range but the detail and clarity this hybrid set up brings to the table makes this tune more than adequate. It would also be nice if it's treble was less prominent. It seems unnecessary and doesn't really add anything, falling into that trap of advertising it's a hybrid by emphasizing the detail and clarity a BA can bring to the table.
Audbos K3 (119 USD): The K3 is a solid all-round earphone with fantastic build quality, a great accessory kit, and a competent u-shaped tune. It's a great sounding earphone, but the H3 is better. I find the K3 to have a warmer, darker presentation than the H3. This makes them less immediately engaging but better for longer listening sessions. While still quite detailed, the H3 shows off better retrieval and improved texturing. This statement is especially applicable to the low end where the K3's lack of punch and texture is quite apparent. The K3 doesn't have the end-to-end extension of the H3 either, resulting in a more mid-bassy presentation. The H3's sound stage is also larger and more dynamic than the K3s.
Where the K3 makes up some ground is in it's accessories. The included tips are some of my favorites due to the sticky compound and proven durability. It also comes with two cables terminated in MMCX which you can argue both for (widely supported) and against (durability). The primary cable is especially nice, and is one of my favorites due to the flexible yet dense sheath and well-shaped preformed ear guides. Audbos's semi-hard carry case is a notable step up in quality over the H3's, with it's faux-leather exterior and soft, spacious interior adorned with two large pouches for holding everything securely in place. While I greatly prefer the K3's accessory kit, the H3's excellent sonic performance takes my preference.
Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced (109 USD): The Dubliz Enhanced has been one of my benchmark products in this price range since reviewing them back in April. They do everything well and nothing poorly, all wrapped within a warm, non-fatiguing yet very detailed signature.
As you would expect from the statement above, the Dubliz Enhanced and the H3 are very different beasts. The H3 is significantly brighter than the Dubliz. Comparing the two back-to-back the H3's extra shimmer and sparkle up top makes for a much more exciting, but also fatiguing, and less natural listen. Without hesitation I can say the Dubliz Enhanced has a significant edge in the mid-range. It's much more forward, authoritative and lush, giving up nothing in terms of detail and clarity to the H3. Bass is a much more even comparison with the two performing about on par. Quantity is quite similar with the Dubliz having a more prominent mid-bass hump. While the H3 has a more airy presentation, the Dubliz sounds larger and displays greater variance on the same tracks in how far it will distance sound.
Build is also quite different with the Dubliz having a solid aluminum shell in a more traditional and versatile barrel shape. Fit and finish is clearly in Fischer Audio's camp. While I found the H3's custom-like shape more comfortable and much more secure, it's size and unique shape means it's not going to work for everyone. The Dubliz should offer more universal appeal in terms of fit.
Given the great variation in signature and design, I find these two earphones complimentary. If I want an exciting listen I'll listen to the H3. If I want something more mellow but no less detailed, I'll choose the Dubiz Enhanced. Edge goes to the Dubliz for the more natural presentation and forward, lush mid-range.
TFZ Exclusive King (99 USD): The King is less bassy and has a much more prominent mid-range (especially lower mids) with a similarly enthusiastic treble presentation. I found the H3 to show off more sparkle in the upper ranges, giving cymbal hits a more engaging sound. Neither sounds quite right since the King is a bit dry in it's presentation, but I prefer the H3's presentation. The biggest knock against the H3 in this comparison is the recessed mid-range which really stands out when flipping between the two earphones. Detail is nearly on par but male vocals simply sound too far away and quiet. Guitars also have a rawness and texture to them that's missing on the H3. The H3 is significantly bassier but retains the speed and punch of the King, while improving on raw extension. The King has the larger sound stage, without question, though imaging and layering qualities are quite similar. Neither sounds even remotely congested.
They are both beautiful looking products with great build quality. Since I haven't run into any QC issues with my King (fixed cable version btw) I'll have to give it the nod. Security in fit and comfort are clearly in the H3's wheelhouse though, especially given the weight the King carries. Accessories are about even. I like the variety and quality of the King's included tip set, but the H3's carrying case offers much more protection than the King's soft, faux-leather baggy.
It's hard to say which one of the two I prefer. The H3 is better fitting and more comfortable and I appreciate it's bass presence and smoother, more refined sound. The King's mid-range really highlights the H3's recession and shortcomings in that area, however. I suppose the King would be better for more serious listening, while the H3 would make for a more livable daily beater.
TFZ Exclusive 5 (92.90 USD): I find the 5 a more fitting comparison to the H3 given it maintains nearly all of the positive qualities of the King while adding in a more robust low end. This results in a signature that's more in line with the H3's.
Once again the 5 is less bassy than the H3, but not to the same extent as the King. It's bass feels a touch less nimble than the H3's and less balanced with it's focus shifted more to sub-bass regions. The 5 has lots of heft and weight behind it's bass though, a quality I find quite unique to that earphone. The H3's treble presentation is brighter, thinner, and more sparkly than the 5. The 5 shares the King's slightly dry sound and as a result the H3's treble is more engaging for me, though I also find it more fatiguing. The mid-range is once again the area where the H3 doesn't cut the mustard. While the 5's mids are not quite as forward as the King's, they're still much more prominent than the H3's. Maintain the lush texturing of the King and add in the unique weight and heft of the 5's presentation and the H3 falls short of the mark. Sound stage is much closer with me giving a slight edge to the 5.
Despite being much smaller, the 5's ear pieces are all metal and as a result significantly heavier than the H3 and it's use of lightweight acrylic. The 5's design to my ears is more ergonomic and more comfortable than the King but it still falls short of the H3, never feeling quite as secure and unobtrusive. As much as I like the look of the 5, it's much more subtle than the H3, lacking it's attention grabbing qualities. The 5's accessories are pretty much the same as the Kings, so I'm split there.
When it comes down to it I prefer the competing 5's sound but the H3's design and comfort.
The H3 has proven itself an excellent entry into a very competitive segment. The custom-like design looks absolutely phenomenal to my eyes and it's well-thought out ergonomics make the H3 one of the most comfortable earphones I've come across to date. This backed by a refined, v-shaped signature that compares well with other offerings in the segment makes them a pretty easy recommendation. I only wish the mid-range was pulled forward into the mix where it wouldn't simply play a supporting role.
If this is an indication of the quality of products Kinera can bring to the market, I'm excited to see where they will go next. For now, if you're considering a new earphone around 100 USD, Kinera's H3 should be vying for your attention.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album)
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Album)
Elton John - Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)
King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians (Album)
Infected Mushroom - Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac - Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy - The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco - F****d Up Friends
Felt - Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone)
Pros - Ergonomic design, good bass signature, incredible lyric-intelligibility, good cable, 2-pin, good case
Cons - Minor cosmetic issues, very minor build deficiencies in the cable
Kinera H3 Review: A Triple-Threat Underdog
If you had told me two months ago that I would be seriously considering a Kinera IEM for my daily-driver I would have laughed in your face. After all, don’t they only make super-cheap budget IEMs?
Well, not anymore.
With their brand-new triple-driver hybrid IEM, the H3, featuring two balanced-armature drivers and a single dynamic driver in a three-way cross-over, Kinera has broken into the higher-tier market of portable audio. But is is special enough to be worth your attention?
You can find the H3 for sale on Penon Audio, here, for $99. The H3 comes in three color variations, Blue/Black, Red/Black, and Black.
Disclaimer: This unit was provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Kinera or Penon Audio beyond this review. These words reflect my true, unaltered, opinion about the product. I would like to offer a sincere thank you to Steve from Kinera.
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 H3 was powered like so:
HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones
Nexus 6P -> earphones
HTC One M8 -> 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.
The H3 did audibly, though subtly, benefit from amping in the lower register.
The H3 immediately caught my attention with how “fluid” it sounded. Excellent dynamics and depth immediately gave me a respect for the audio engineers at Kinera. I didn’t think I was listening to a $99 IEM. Part of my early enthusiasm was due to the fact that my ears had not previously been exposed to W-shaped frequency responses.
Upper-treble is boosted past the lower-treble. There’s a spike in the mids, especially around the 2KHz–5KHz range, and the bass is matched with the mids, being only slightly more pronounced.
Treble: Songs used: In One Ear, Midnight City, Outlands, Satisfy
Treble is clear, precise, and detailed, providing a nice layer of air in most recordings. It’s not quite as breath-taking on IEMs like the Accutone Pisces BA or Heir 4A.I S, but it is definitely there.
High-hats and cymbals are well-bodied and have a quick attack and decay. However in spite of the H3’s treble’s technical prowess, it just misses some of that sweetness found in other IEM’s treble. It’s not a deal-breaker, but something worth noting if that is a major quality you look for in your IEMs.
I’m glad to report that the H3 passes my sibilance testing with flying colors! At least in most cases. The crossover must be reasonably sensitive, because amping the H3 in certain (albiet very strange and uncommon) source configurations can lead to a moderate amount of sibilance. However none of the sources listed above were causing any problems.
Mids: Songs used: Flagpole Sitta, Jacked Up, I Am The Highway, Dreams
The H3 has really robust mids, especially where vocals are concerned. Lyric intelligibility is way above average at this price point, and punches squarely with some IEMs three or four times its price, easily. I can recall several instances where I was left thinking to myself “Oh, so that’s what he’s been saying” on songs I’ve listened to for five years!
But instrumentally the H3 is no slouch either. Guitars, acoustic and electric, both have a nice timbre. Electric crunch and distortion is particularly enjoyable on the H3 meaning all you edgy death-metal listeners out there should feel right at home.
Pianos are also nice, but a little lacking in body for my tastes. This is my only real complaint with the H3’s sound signature: where the lower-mids at? This is a matter of personal preference, obviously, but it would be nice to see Kinera create an IEM that had a bit of a warmer lower-midrange.
Bass: Songs used: Moth, Gold Dust, In For The Kill (Skream Remix), War Pigs (Celldweller Remix)
Bass isn’t particularly aggressive, but it is definitely there, and is undeniably punchy when amped correctly. In terms of bass signature, I’d have to say the H3 is pretty linear, with a slightly higher emphasis on mid-bass than sub-bass. Still though, the H3 has pretty good extension down to the 30Hz-50Hz band giving it a good rumble.
Electronic music fans rejoice; bass drops and chaotic rumbly choruses sound wonderful through the H3, just don’t expect it to shatter and skulls.
Packaging / Unboxing
The H3 comes in high quality packaging not often seen at this price point. The textured box has a premium feel to it, with the earphones and accessories well-protected within.
The H3 is very well constructed and is reminiscent of CIEMs in composition. The driver housings are made from a plastic composite which is a single seamless shell.
The face-plate is well-polished, and the Kinera logo is printed very accurately onto it with no noticeable flaws.
The nozzle is average in length, and is tipped with a finely-perforated metal grill. There’s no real lip to speak of, so some after-market eartips may slip off, though I’ve not had any issues so far.
Kinera chose to go (thankfully) with a 2-pin connector for removable cables. The female half of the mechanism is slightly recessed into a cleanly-cut depression. The metal sits flush with the shell, inspiring confidence in me regarding the H3’s longevity.
The H3’s cable is one of the best around at this price range that I’ve tested, if not the best. It’s a four-strand braided silver cable using a double-chain braid below the plastic Y-splitter, and a simple twist-braid above it. It’s similar in geometry to the copper cable used by the new Simgot IEMs, though it is much more thick.
The cable terminates in a metal-enclosed 3.5mm jack. The H3’s cable implements a stress relief system I’ve been vouching for for a long time: a double plastic sleeve. It’s essentially two completely separate malleable acrylic cylinders set inside one another. It works really great, though the outer cylinder appears to be in need of better adhesive. It won’t be an issue with the majority of cases, but a strong (and fast) sideways pull on the cable perpendicular to the housing of the jack could dislodge the outer cylinder.
I’m just nitpicking.
The cable uses memory-wire guides. They are well-made, well shaped, and mold to the ear. I’ve got no reason to worry about their longevity.
I don’t know what wizardry Kinera employed, but on their first real high-end IEM they succeeded in making one of the most ergonomic universal IEMs I have ever had the pleasure of using. I spent multiple days using the H3 for a full 8-hour work day. I had zero comfort issues.
The H3’s accessories are okay, but definitely not the best I’ve seen for $99. Inside the box you’ll find:
1x 6.2mm to 3.5mm jack
3x extra eartips
1x semi-hard case
1x airline adapter
The silicone tips are ok, but nothing to write home about. It appears that the case, while quite good, is a branded OEM case. It’s got more than enough for all the accessories, the IEM, and even a USB-C adapter.
The H3 is an absolutely wonderful IEM from one of the companies who I’d least expect. If you are looking for detail, well-tuned sound, exceptional ergonomics, and durable-detachable cables, the H3 is definitely worth looking at. Good job Kinera, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.
Pros - good imaging, SQ matches the price, w-shape -> no bog-standard tonality, superb build quality on CIEM-/CUIEM-level (if consistent QC), removable cables (2-pin)
Cons - (potential QC inconsistencies,) soft and slow bass response, lipless nozzle, 6 kHz treble emphasis might not please everybody
Originally posted on my German audio review site, the "Kopfhörer-Lounge", here comes my review of the Kinera H3, an affordable universal fit triple-driver hybrid in-ear that, despite its moderate price, is manufactured the same way CIEMs and customisable UIEMs are created. It features removable cables, too.
If you haven’t heard of the company “Kinera” before, then you are not alone, since before fellow Head-Fi member @Hisoundfi introduced me to them, I hadn’t heard of them either.
Fast forward a few days, Steve from Kinera got in touch with me and asked me whether I would like to review their latest in-ear called H3, a triple-driver hybrid model with a quite typical layout of one dynamic driver for the lows and two Balanced Armatures for the rest of the frequency spectrum. He offered to send me a sample at no cost for me, and all I should do in exchange was to give him my honest opinion on the in-ear that would be used for feedback and further improvements, and to write a just as honest and unbiased English review of it (I also had to agree that they can use my posts, impressions, comments and reviews for their social media platforms).
I agreed, and so here we are now, with a review of a very beautiful and professional looking hybrid in-ear with ergonomic acrylic shells and removable cables for just around $99.
Some additional information about Kinera: they are a Chinese audio manufacturer and established in 2007. Before making their own earphones, they manufactured micro speakers for military detection. Besides the H3, they currently have the lower-end BD005 hybrid in-ear in their product portfolio that retails for less than $30.
According to their information, they have different distributors around the world and are currently expanding their product line to the >$100 market, and are working on future products at a higher price point and technical level that might feature the ability to tune the sound by changing the crossover by using switches.
They do not have a fully finished international website yet, but are quite active on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kinera2017/
Price: around $99
Colours available: translucent black/red/blue
Drivers: 2x Balanced Armature + 1x dynamic driver per side
Impedance: 48 Ω
Frequency Response: 20 – 20000 Hz
Sensitivity: 101 dB
L&R Channel Matching: < 2 dB
Max Input Power: 10 mW
Cable Length: 1.2 m
Wire Material: 6n single crystal copper plating silver
Plug Material: 3.5 mm gold-plated
Earphone Connectors: 2-pin (0.78 mm)
About hybrid In-Ears:
As you can already see from the technical specifications and introduction, the Kinera H3 is a little different from most In-Ears produced in the past decade and doesn’t only rely on dynamic or Balanced Armature transducers for sound reproduction, but combines both in one shell.
Most In-Ears use dynamic transducers for audio playback which have the advantage of covering the whole audible spectrum and achieving a strong bass emphasis without much effort. Valuable dynamic drivers are often said to have a more bodied and musical bass that has a more soft impact and decay and lacks of the analytical character that BA transducers are known for. On the downside, in contrast to headphones with other driver principles, dynamic transducers often have a lower resolution.
Higher-priced and especially professional IEMs mostly use Balanced Armature transducers, which usually have got a higher resolution than dynamic drivers, are faster, more precise and have got the better high-level stability, which is important for stage musicians that often require higher than average listening levels. On the downside, it is quite hard to cover the whole audible spectrum with just a single BA transducer and strongly emphasised bass is only possible with multiple or big drivers. Some people also find In-Ears with BA transducers to sound too analytical, clinical or cold (in several active years in a German audio community where I wrote multiple reviews, gave dozens of purchase advice and help, from time to time I heard people that got into BA earphones for the first time using these attributes for describing BA earphones, especially their lower frequencies).
Hybrid IEMs unite the positive aspects of both driver principles and use one dynamic transducer for the lows reproduction and at least one BA driver for covering the midrange and highs, wherefore the often as “musical” described bass character remains and the BA transducers add resolution, speed and precision to the mids and highs (, at least in theory) – and that’s what the Kinera H3 does with its technology. It is addressed to those people who perceive the clinically-fast character of BA transducers as unnatural and prefer body and weight, but want to keep the mids’ and highs’ resolution, nimbleness and precision.
Despite still falling rather into the lower budget category, the H3 comes with a delivery content that clearly surpasses what one would expect for around $100:
The cardboard box has got a magnetic flap.
Inside, one can find an airplane adapter, 6.3 to 3.5 mm adapter, a spacious carrying case and last but not least a warranty card as well as manual.
Inside the Kinera-branded carrying case, one can find the in-ears, already with the cable attached and a Kinera-branded cable tie, as well as three pairs of Sony-like silicone tips.
Looks, Feels, Build Quality:
That the H3 retails for only around $100 is definitely not obvious in any way – its shells are actually extremely similar to those of universal demo models of custom-moulded in-ears or customisable universal fit in-ears, featuring a black, real faceplate with a golden Kinera logo that is perfectly attached to the acrylic body, without any visible seam or edge.
The bodies are made of transparent red acrylic and look really nice (other colours such as blue and black are available as well). Inside, one can see a real crossover, the dynamic driver and two balanced Armatures as well as the sound tubes with an acoustic damper being visible in the tube coming from the two BA drivers.
The dynamic driver is rear-vented, however the placement of the vent is rather cleverly done on the shells’ upper side wherefore it shouldn’t be blocked as much by the ear as if it were in a different spot (blocking the vent by the way results in a decrease in bass quantity, as it could also be expected for a back vent, along with a slight increase in lower midrange quantity).
The Kinera H3 really is a perfectly built acrylic in-ear with a highly ergonomic, semi-custom-IEM-like shell design, and is on par with excellently built, much higher-priced customisable universal fit and custom-moulded in-ears. This is definitely applause-worthy, and given what it takes to manufacture these shells (they are hand-made and hand-finished after all), it even makes me somewhat speechless that this is possible for such a low price (oh boy, those poor underpaid Chinese workers…).
The only thing that could be improved is the nozzle that does not have a lip/barb/collar wherefore the ear tips, while they seal just as good as they should, can come off rather easily.
Something also rather special although not as unique anymore as some years ago, is that the H3 also features detachable cables with 2-pin connectors.
The cable has got four single silver conductors that are coated with a clear insulation and twisted. Strain relief is good and the y-splitter is low in profile and features a nice chin-slider.
This cable is also very soft and flexible.
It might carry some moderate plastic smell in the first few days but it mostly fades away after around one week.
My UERMs’ cable is still a bit more premium in terms of appearance and haptics, however the cable Kinera uses comes very close.
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On the replacement H3 with blue shells I received (you will learn why somewhat further down this review), build quality was still good, however not as perfect (unlike the red H3 I initially got that was absolutely flawless and perfect in terms of build quality and finish): the logos weren’t 100% mirrored, the left side wasn’t buffed and polished well enough (the surface was ever so slightly hazy above the logo instead of being clear), and the transition from the faceplates to the bodies, while still good, was slightly visible and tactile in some areas.
So my suggestion to Kinera is to definitely work on the quality control (which might however also mean that there will be a slight price increase). Even though the in-ears are handmade and hand-finished, it is not fair that some people might receive products that feature top-notch build quality only known from perfectly crafted CIEMs, whereas others might get a set of in-ears that is still well-built but not perfect.
Due to the ergonomic shell design that is CIEM-oriented, the fit is nothing but excellent, at least for me. People with really small ears might experience some fit issues because the shells are more on the medium size on the scale, however this should not be any problem for everyone with medium and especially large ears.
The ear guides have got a memory shape but do not feature any steel wire inside. While they might look like they are quite tight when not in the ears due to their quite small appearing radius, they are unnoticeable when the H3 is inserted into one’s ears and they automatically adjust their shape to the ears’.
Noise isolation is better than average for in-ears with vented shells. Noise from the outside is blocked out sufficiently well and almost reaches the level of in-ears with closed shells.
My main sources for listening were the Cowon Plenue 2, iBasso DX200 (AMP2 module) and Stoner Acoustics UD125.
The largest included silicone tips were used for listening.
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Frequency response measurements can be found here.
Keep in mind though that I am not using a professional measurement coupler but a Vibro Labs Veritas coupler that was pseudo-calibrated to more or less match an IEC711 coupler’s response with applied diffuse-field compensation that is definitely not perfect at the current state and shows too little level around 3 and 6 kHz. But if you mentally visualise somewhat more level in those areas, the result will be fairly close.
The first H3 I received unfortunately suffered from channel imbalance in the lows due to a faulty dynamic driver (one side was warmer sounding than the other despite almost identical sub-bass levels and perfect channel matching in the mids and highs). The replacement (with blue shells) that arrived a few days later fortunately did not suffer from any imbalance issues at all.
The Kinera H3 sports a w-shaped frequency response – its sub-bass and midbass, midrange and middle as well as upper treble are emphasised.
Compared to an in-ear that stays diffuse-field flat in the bass, such as the Etymotic ER-4S/SR, and compared to 1 kHz, its bass is emphasised by around 8-9 dB.
Doing sine sweeps, I can hear the lows starting to climb around 300 Hz, with the climax being reached at 60 Hz although there is not much less presence between 80 and 120 Hz. The sub-bass does not roll off but keeps the presence.
Since the emphasis mainly concentrates on the sub-bass and midbass (that is a bit warmed up), it does not bleed into the midrange and the H3 doesn’t have a dominant upper bass although it is punchy and undeniably forward.
The midrange is emphasised, quite forward and therefore doesn’t sound recessed at all but has got more of an “in your face” character, not unlike the hybrid DUNU Alpha 1 earbuds or Shure SE425 but with a stronger emphasis compared to the latter, however the Shure is tuned very differently (quite neutral).
Vocal balance and midrange timbre, unlike some other hybrid in-ears in the sub-$100-range, is pretty good and realistic, with an overall fairly uncoloured midrange with just a hint of brightness and air that just very slightly lacks some lower vocal warmth as counterweight.
At 6 kHz, in the middle treble, I can hear an emphasis, along with another, however more broad-banded and weaker one in the upper highs around 8 kHz. The level is quite neutral above that and the extension in the super highs above 10 kHz is good until around 14 kHz.
This guarantees for enough countervailing brightness to keep the balance upright due to the bass and midrange emphasis, however since the first emphasis is set rather low with around 6 kHz, cymbals gain some raw and metallic touch, that, while not too unnatural or distracting, can get a bit too energetic with more complex and faster-paced tracks with a lot of treble action while everything is fine with slower recordings and genres as well as those tracks that are not super energetic when it comes to cymbal play. Except for the 6 kHz elevation that can definitely be a bit too metallic and strong with songs that feature an energetic and fast cymbal play, the highs appear realistic and natural.
Having the emphasis happen between 8 and 10 kHz instead of 6 and 8 kHz would have made the cymbals lose their metallic touch with more energetic recordings, but then again the H3 is a sub-$100 hybrid in-ear and there are other examples that are less even and less realistic in the highs.
Overall, the resolution is neither outstandingly good nor in any way really underwhelming and bad – it is average and about what you would expect to get for the price.
Speech intelligibility is really good, with the upper mids being less well defined and separated with busier recordings compared to the upper treble that is very convincing and definitely better than what the price might suggest when it comes to separation, definition and detail retrieval (I assume that the crossover frequency is around or above 3 kHz).
The dynamic driver’s bass has got a quite nice texture that, while it doesn’t reach the level of the much more expensive HiFiMan RE2000 at all and doesn’t even come any close, is still nice and appears rather nicely layered.
However, the Kinera’s bass is generally more on the slower, softer, somewhat muddier and less detailed side, especially when comparing it to higher-end hybrid in-ears. While this might even be desired by some people (I’m referring to the softness and the “body” that it might add to the sound perception) and is not a very big deal for a hybrid in-ear in this price range, the bass could definitely be better defined and tighter with medium-paced and especially fast recordings.
The Kinera H3 has got a rather wide soundstage with a really decent amount of depth (with about 70% of its width), creating a nice illusion of space and three-dimensionality.
Imaging is fairly convincing as well and only suffers from slightly blurred edges due to the soft bass response. Directions are easy to spot nonetheless.
Playing more complex and faster recordings with many musicians and tonal elements playing at the same time, the soundstage does not collapse but remains fairly intact with just somewhat more blurriness between the instruments due to the bass response.
In Comparison with other In-Ears:
iBasso IT03 (>>$):
The Kinera’s shells appear more premium because they are hand-made like it is done for CIEMs, and the cable is more flexible as well (both in-ears have got removable cables), however the iBasso might have the benefit of better build quality consistency and quality control.
Both in-ears are ergonomically shaped and very comfortable.
Both have got about the same amount of sub-bass and an overall quite comparable bass emphasis that stays nicely out of the midrange, while the H3 has got the slightly warmer midbass.
The H3 has got the more forward vocal range while the iBasso’s is slightly brighter.
The Kinera is somewhat brighter in the upper treble.
The iBasso’s bass that is much tighter, better controlled and detailed – it is one of the tightest and fastest hybrid in-ears that exists anyway, despite the emphasis in the sub-bass. This is no competition at all.
There is no large difference in perceived midrange details but the iBasso appears more resolving here as well, while it has also got the somewhat better separated and more detailed upper treble in comparison.
When it comes to soundstage, the Kinera’s is somewhat wider and especially deeper, however the iBasso’s features the sharper and more precise separation and no haze between and around instruments (mainly due to the much tighter and faster bass).
Fidue A73 (>$):
The Kinera has got removable cables, the Fidue hasn’t. Both in-ears are supposed to be worn with the cables around the ears. The Fidue has got the smaller shells but both in-ears are very comfortable.
The Kinera’s shells appear more premium because they are hand-made the same way as it is done for CIEMs and customisable UIEMs, however the A73 might have the advantage of a better build quality consistency.
The Fidue’s bass is less emphasised but thicker in the fundamental range/lower midrange, giving deep voices and instruments in this range more body.
The Kinera has got the somewhat more forward midrange.
The Fidue is brighter in the upper treble around 8 kHz that some people might perceive as somewhat sharp but features a dip in the middle treble (and therefore also lacks the Kinera’s 6 kHz elevation) that generates headroom for it.
Fidue’s A73 stays better focussed with fast and complex recordings and also features the somewhat better midrange resolution. In the upper highs however, it is the H3 that resolves better and has got the slightly better separation.
The Fidue is also rather soft in the bass – however, it is better controlled and especially more detailed, better textured and noticeably better defined compared to the Kinera’s, especially when playing more complex and faster recordings.
The Kinera’s soundstage is larger and airier with more room around and between instruments, while separation is comparable.
1More E1001 (<$):
The Kinera has got removable cables whereas the 1More does not. The H3 has got the superior cable as well.
In terms of housing design, both are utterly different with the handmade Kinera representing the classical CIEM demo shape while the E1001 has got more traditional shells.
The 1More is more v-shaped sounding, with a noticeably stronger sub-bass emphasis and the audibly more recessed seeming vocal range.
The Kinera features the higher resolution in the midrange, especially lower midrange, along with better speech intelligibility while treble separation and detail retrieval are quite comparable.
When it comes to the bass, both in-ears aren’t fully convincing and lack tightness, control, speed and definition while the 1More is ultimately slightly tighter and faster in the lows but appears more one-noted and doesn’t fully reach the Kinera’s separation, definition, layering, texture and details in the lower frequencies.
In terms of soundstage, both feature a fairly wide presentation while the H3 has even got a bit more spatial width. The Kinera however offers more spatial depth and therefore sounds more three-dimensional, along with the cleaner separation and somewhat more precise imaging.
What makes the Kinera H3 stand out from the crowd in the $100 price range is that it has got removable cables, and especially that it is handmade and hand-finished in the same way as custom-moulded in-ears are. A lip on the nozzle would not hurt though.
Craftsmanship and build quality are outstanding for the price and can be on the same level as well-crafted, much more expensive custom-moulded and customised universal fit in-ears (however this is potentially not true for all delivered units as the finish on the blue replacement set I received shows – Kinera should definitely improve in the quality control department to make sure that every in-ear that was built is identically superbly finished).
Tonally, it has got a w-shaped sound signature that is rather well-made but could use a bit less 6 kHz elevation, however this is not a too big deal for the price.
Detail retrieval is just as you would expect it to be for the price category. The H3 has got a nicely resolving midrange and well-separated upper treble along with a pretty open sounding soundstage, however its bass should and could benefit from more speed, tightness, control and definition.
Overall, the presentation is fairly nice for the price with a generally matching sonic performance and a unique level of build quality and features one would not expect to get for around $100.