General Information

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Loki, the god of fire, has extraordinary strength due to his noble birth, and his mischievous character makes him a challenger to order, indirectly leading to the creation of “Ragnarok.”

Tuning Philosophy
Balanced atmospheric sound style, with slightly prominent mid-range (vocals), solid and stable bass, abundant energy, detailed and delicate high-end, and a tidy soundstage. Suitable for pop, jazz, and small ensemble recordings.

Sound Characteristics
A flagship quadbrid driver In-Ear Monitors with outstanding detail performance that combines the characteristics of multiple acoustic drivers. It has good elasticity and clear, deep bass. The mid-range (vocals) has a strong sense of density and distinct layers and the high-end is transparent, delicate, and well-extended, with delicate and rich overtones thanks to the electrostatic unit. The ultra-wide frequency response brings an expansive, transparent soundstage space.

Custom Dynamic Driver
One 6mm dynamic driver is responsible for the low-frequency range. Kinera’s custom-made 6mm liquid diaphragm dynamic driver has excellent acoustic performance. Combined with a reasonable acoustic structure design, it can deliver a very relaxed, natural low-frequency performance that is full and elastic.

Knowles Balanced Armatures
Six Knowles balanced armatures include four mid-range and two high-frequency drivers. Custom-tuned by Kinera, these Knowles balanced armatures are responsible for Loki’s mid-range, with two additional Knowles balanced armatures connecting the mid and high frequencies via clever electronic and physical crossovers. Through fine tuning, they can handle both the natural low-frequency performance of the dynamic driver and the high-frequency advantage unique to electrostatic drivers, achieving a seamless integration of high, mid and low frequencies.

Sonion Electrostatic Drivers
Four electrostatic drivers are responsible for the ultra-high frequencies. One Sonion electrostatic driver works with four others to deliver Loki’s ultra-high frequency range, utilizing the wider frequency range, better transient response, stronger detail performance, and brighter yet still smooth sound characteristics of electrostatic drivers to interpret Loki’s sound. This results in extremely low distortion and a more realistic sound, bringing a bright and warm auditory experience.

Bone Conduction Driver Technology
One bone conduction driver uses a contact-type bone conduction unit. Kinera’s custom-made contact-type bone conduction unit works in tandem with the low-frequency dynamic driver, providing a deeper, ultra-low-frequency performance with a unique bass presentation, forming an almost bottomless dive.

Premium Package, from IEMs to Accessories
  • One pair of Kinera Imperial Loki In-ear monitors.
  • One Effect Audio UP-OCC Cable, EA 4.4mm.
  • Final Type E Eartips x 5 sets (SS/S/M/L/LL)
  • AZLA SednaEarfit Crystal Eartips x 3 sets (SS/MS/ML)
  • Spinfit CP145 Eartips x 3 sets (S/M/L)
  • Symbio F Foam Tips x 2sets (S/M)
  • Genuine Leather Carry Case.
  • Cleaning Brush.
  • User Manual.
  • Thank You Card.
  • Design Background Intro Card.

Latest reviews

Scuba Devils

Headphoneus Supremus
The God of Mischief is very well behaved...
Pros: > Exciting, atmospheric, engaging and visceral tuning
> Large, holographic soundstage with impecable layering, imaging, and detail
> Market-leading range of accessories... I've never seen anything at this level before
> Beautiful finish with absolutely top-tier quality design
> While not 'cheap', the overall package and sound quality punch significantly above the price tag and make Loki a true TOTL set
Cons: > There can be a slight 'twang' sound from the BCD on insertion, and I've discovered this can occur also occassionaly while eating!
> The upper energy can lean harsh with poor recordings
> More energetic tuning may not suit all (this is not a con as such, just flagging...)
Kinera Imperial Loki - $3,099

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Introduction & Caveats

First of all I would like to address the title for this review, just in case anyone has no idea why I am making reference to 'mischief' - in a nutshell, Loki was the Norse God of mischief, trickery, and deception... while I appreciate Kinera stick to a theme of Norse Gods for their IEMs, I cannot apply any of these labels to Loki!

My journey with Kinera began in 2022 when I had the opportunity to try out and ultimately review the Nanna 2.0. I was very impressed at the time with my introduction to the brand, and noted the clear pride and passion Kinera take in their products, obvious from the moment the box arrived. The Kinera rep actively engages with the community and seeks feedback on everything from the accessories they provide to the tuning of the sets... and indeed he too is passionate about music.

When I first learned Kinera had plans for a higher-end set to compete with a different market segment I was intrigued but not surprised - it was obvious the direction they were taking even with Nanna 2.0 at the circa $1k segment of the market, and a reasonably logical and maybe brave move was to take a step up and seek to challenge the kilobuck market. A potential 'challenge' for any brand making a move like this can be how they are already perceived in the market - if you are known for excellent value sets in the sub $200 segments, that can of course make it somewhat difficult to gain attention in a completely different segment - there is the risk of trying to be 'all things to all people', but master of none, and I must say hats off to Kinera as they have clearly managed to cater for this new and highly competitive segment of the market.

I would like to thank Kinera for providing Loki at a reduced price in exchange for a review. As always, they have zero influence on the content, and all thoughts, impressions, photos and general ramblings are mine and mine alone...

A bit about me...

I worked in the consumer electronics industry for a large part of my career, and have been passionate about music and techology from as far back as I remember - even as a small child asking my Mum to put records on the turntable (Abba, Supertramp and Planxty if anyone is curious :) )

My music preferences are very varied - anything from classical to techno, indie rock to jazz and all in between. In my early teens I was a big fan of bands like The Cure and The Smiths (still am all these years later), and I was biten by the dance music bug that arrived in the early 90s where I became hugely passionate about genres like techno, house, trance and IDM - I amassed a huge collection of records and CDs, DJing with the former at various parties and occassional pirate radio station slots - a hobby at the time that I never took further, but still own 1000s of records and my trusty Technics 1210 turntables!

I am not a professional reviewer or anything remotely like it. I love music, and I love the methods by which we can listen to music - over the last few years, that has become an obsession with IEMs and related gear. I've bought and sold many, and held on to a select few - these have been anything from a $20 set like the Moondrop Chu, all the way up to kilobuck sets such as Aroma Jewel, the infamous 'Traillii' from Oriolus, UM Mentor, and a whole selection of my beloved single DDs. As part of this exploration, I like to share my thoughts on the various sets in my journey with the Head-Fi community, in the hope it might be useful to others. The massive caveat, is of course that 'your mileage may vary' - this is a highly subjective hobby.

Loki Specifications

Loki is a 12-driver set with the following configuration:
  • 1x 6mm custom dynamic driver for sub and mid bass
  • 4x Knowles balanced armatures for mids
  • 2x Knowles balanced armatures for treble
  • 4x Sonion electrostatic drivers for ultra-high frequencies
  • 1x bone conduction which supports the dynamic driver for low-end emphasis
  • Impedance: 12 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 107 dB
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-50kHz

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Unboxing & Accessories

The Loki arrives in a reasonably large box with the familiar Kinera branding.

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The box splits into two parts, with the IEMs and stock Effect Audio UP-OCC pure copper cable on the top shelf...

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I love how Loki and the cable are arranged here, giving an instant sense of getting the heart rate pounding in anticipation! Note also the custom design, which I will expand on shortly.

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Then on the lower shelf we are greeted by the wonderful range of accessories.

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Just when you think you have seen everything however, you then discover even more accessories sitting beneath the tray of tips - here is everything laid out:
  1. Final-E tips in S / M / L
  2. Azla Crystal in S / M / L
  3. SpinFit CP145 in S / M / L
  4. Symbio F in S and M (no idea why L is skipped here, I guess due to a 6mm nozzle which is on the larger size)

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The case is a genuine leather puck style and is of wonderful quality and very practical in use.

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On opening the case, you are greeted with yet another suprise - this time a beautiful branded Kinera cable.

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I don't know the specification of this cable as there is no mention on the Kinera website. It is however a gorgeous cable with wonderful ergonomics and overall feels of such high quality. There is minimal microphonics thankfully too. I assume this will be standard along with the Effect Audio cable, and it has actually become my cable of choice with Loki for the majority of my listening.

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Finally, if you were already impressed by the included accessories, there is a 'bonus' case available with what I understand is a limited number of Loki and now also available as an accessory from Kinera for around $80.

The case I assume is leather and is again of very high quality with plenty of space to store a DAP, IEMs, a selection of accessories.

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Design & Fit

As previously noted, I chose a custom design rather than the standard Emerald finish - not that there was anything wrong with the stock finish, that does indeed look stunning but I had a desire to have something a bit more simple looking and in particular liked the idea of a dark blue/navy shell. I borrowed the idea for the designs on the shells from another Loki owner, and went my own route with the navy smoked finish - I have to say I was absolutely blown away by the finished product, especially when I got them into my hands. Oh and I discovered after they arrived that one of the logos is actually from Harry Potter, the other from a game - chosen by my fellow Loki owner as he loved the simplicity, and I absolutely agree. It was great to engage with Kinera on the design process too, and we went back and forth a few times while deciding on colour, and various styling elements such as the smoked finish we ultimately landed on.

It is always hard to get across in images the sheer beauty of some IEMs, and that is again the case here. They look stunning, they feel absolutely amazing - almost like marble to touch. I would say they are one of in not the most beautiful IEMs I've had the pleasure of owning.

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As you would expect with a set like this, there are vents to ensure no pressure build occurs and as someone who is incredibly sensitive to this, I am happy to say they are doing their job.

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There is a slightly recessed 2-pin connection - again good to see this, I'm not a fan when completely flush as it always feels like there is a risk of bending pins in the set.

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The shells are definitely on the larger size and a relatively wide nozzle at 6mm. I find with sets like this that I need to choose a slightly smaller tip, or tips that aren't as bulky. I've tested quite a few but recently settled on the Azla Crystals as I find I can get a good deep insertion with an excellent seal.

Overall, I find them comfortable but I do get a sense of fatigue from longer sessions - by that I mean probably coming up to around 2 hours where I might need to take a break for a few minutes.

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Listening Impressions

I've had Loki now for just over a month and plenty of time to get to know them with my library and various sources. I have listened mostly via my LPGT Ti (pictured below along with the Vortex Alida cable which is obviously sold separately!), Shanling M6 Ultra, Sony NW-WM1A and Shanling H7 in that order. Synergy is pretty good with them all, but occassionally LPGT Ti a bit too revealing with it's highly neutral tuning - the others all step back a bit and a touch smoother, and I might reach for one of those depending on the genre I'm listening to.

Note the below picture was taken at night, hence the darker look of the shells - the above pictures are a more accurate representation of the colour... but I do like this picture of my precious LPGT Ti, Loki, and the Vortex cable!

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In summary, Loki is a set that leans energetic, lively, atmospheric and highly engaging - interestingly though, I do not find this to be a limitation in terms of genres that Loki works with - most notably, I find even genres such as ambient or modern classical can sound absolutely exquisite, offering an incredibly capativating and immersive experience. Take a genre such a trance at the other end of the scale, and Loki revs up to provide an exhilarating and visceral experience with the deep pounding bass, lush mids and beautiful crisp treble. Overall though I do prefer with more energetic music and I’ll come back to this later.

Bass (6mm Dynamic Driver & Bone Conduction)

This is a fantastic example of why those who love bass, expect to have a dynamic driver and while the DD here is relatively small at 6mm, it is certainly no slouch from a performance perspective - presumably the support act of the bone conduction playing a key part here too. Take a genre like techno where a key component is often a pounding kick drum: Loki strikes in the centre of my head with a sensational impact that honestly feels like it resonates throughout my entire skull - it becomes the foundation to everything else. Likewise if we listen to jazz and focus on a double bass for example... it digs deep, sounds wonderfully authentic with a highly captivating realism. The same applies to any instrument, synthetic or otherwise in the realms of the lower registers - everything sounds accurate, clear, and with fantastic texture and detail. The balance between sub and mid leans more towards sub but not massively - there is certainly a sufficient representation of both in my opinion. And again, I feel with the BCD that the bass truly does have a sense of being the foundation to the entire FR, but not that it dominates in any way - it steps forward with huge authority when called for, and slips away again as required, and never oversteps the mark to become overpowering - that for me would be a deal-breaker. I actually do find it hard to switch to a set for any bass focused music after Loki that doesn't have a DD, BAs can do a great job for sure but never quite match a dynamic driver.

Mids (4x Knowles Balanced Armature)

We have again here a nice authenticity about the mids - instruments and vocals in this region sound to me pretty much as they 'should' with a very accurate sense of positioning. I would say mids are perhaps not the star of the show with Loki, bass and treble step forward a touch more but that's not to say mids perform badly. Both male and female vocals have what sounds like the right amount of body, and sit a touch forward in the mix but not too far - again they sound 'correct' in their position to my ears. There is a good balance of a lush sensation along with clarity and detail - I find this combination to be incredibly emotive when done right, and Kinera have certainly achieved that with Loki. Instruments are represented as one might hope - a delicate piano sounds relaxing, emotive, and captivating - an energetic synth or electric guitar steps up to excite and enthrall. As one might expect for a set at this level, there is certainly no sense of congestion with busier tracks where instruments might need to compete for space, plenty of room for all to shine and with excellent clarity and again realism of delivery. I have had times somewhere I believe in the upper mids where I strike an area of sensitivity and it can be a touch harsh - I unfortunately suffer with this quite a lot to varying degrees with various sets and thankfully it doesn't occur that often with Loki, but must be noted none the less as I know I don't suffer in this zone alone! Going back to my comment on mids 'not being the star of the show', I suspect that's due to BAs on duty here and I tend to lean towards dynamic driver timbre for a lot of instruments.

Treble (2x Knowles Balanced Armature & 4x EST)

Loki extends to a crisp and visceral level by way of both the BAs and ESTs for that extra air and bite. The extension really does provide a sense of a massive stage which is truly holographic. Strings that soar into these upper registers again have that wonderful sense of realism and incredibly captivating, rarely triggering any sense of harshness - I say rarely as I have encountered some issues with lower quality or older recordings, Loki like many sets excels with better quality recordings and can fall down somewhat with lower quality recordings - this is not the fault of Loki per-se, but more so a product of a highly resolving and detailed set. Percussion again has a spectacular sense of air, with cymbals and hi-hats striking with excellent realism in both how they sound and where they are located. I listen to a lot of electronic music as noted in my intro, and I find Loki handles the often complex drum programming of genres like Drum & Bass with ease - crucial to be able to deal with the speed and complexity without becoming harsh.

Technical

Loki is without question a technical powerhouse, but not a clinical monster - it gets the balance incredibly well between emotional engagement and technical ability. As noted, Loki has a massive and holographic soundstage - for those of us familiar with that type of stage you will know the sound tends to sound like it is coming from all around our heads, and can often almost fool us to seem like it is quite a distance outside of our heads... maybe that's where our friend Loki the God of Mischief is playing. As an aside, I noticed recently when I switched from listening to a single dynamic driver to Loki, that at first Loki almost sounded wrong - it was a strange sensation to go from the typical presentation of a DD where they often sit directly in the middle of your head, and resonate outwards - when switching to Loki, I was greeted with this vast stage where I was almost looking for that DD centre... it is of course there, but the distribtion of the overall presentation is so vast that you need to adjust, at least I do anyway! Kinera have definitely managed to pull off some secret sauce here in getting a spectacular balance of technical powers and emotive engagement absolutely spot on - one of the most technically competent sets I've heard that at the same time has a very obvious 'soul'. Complex tracks are represented with wonderful imaging and often what feels like endless layers - likewise more simple songs that may only consist of piano and vocals have a wonderfully large presentation that can be incredibly visceral and captivating - it can sound corny but Loki is one of those sets that almost puts you 'into the music' you become so engrossed, leading to a wonderful ethereal listening experience... I have had many of these scenarios, especially with some more detailed variations of ambient and electronic music - one of which I'll note in my test tracks later on. It is experience like this that I seek out in my love for music, and top marks to Kinera for delivering here.

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Test Tracks

First up is the excellent 'Salute to the Sun' by Matthew Halsall. I love this album and have listened countless times over the last couple of years, and I often use this opening track as a test for IEMs. A great track to test timbre, range of FR, soundstage, imaging and layering. Genre probably best described as 'spiritual jazz'.

Loki presents this track in a more 'exciting' way than I'm probably used to with sets such as Camelot or Turii Ti, both of which sound more relaxed in comparison or indeed a different take. Bass steps forward with excellent authority and is delivered in a highly visceral way. The overall performance is presented mostly central, with digital effects pushing the stage outwards left and right. Sax is centre to right, with bass guitar centre and slightly forward. Percussion when it arrives is again quite central and feels like they have a lot of air to resonate out around the stage left and right, strings somewhat behind and out to the left. As the track evolves and all instruments in full flight, it has a real sense of realism and wonderfully captivating. I'm definitely used to hearing this in a more relaxed way on my single DDs or the more neutral Camelot but this is a nice take on it and I wouldn't say one is right or wrong.



Next up is 'Sunflower' by Nabihah Iqbal. I've heard the vocals here sound a touch more vibrant or full on other sets with a more mid focused emphasis but they aren't necessarily lacking here as such - again bass and treble just have a bit more focus. It's a relatively busy track, and as you would expect no issue for Loki in dealing with multiple fast-paced instruments. Nothing is muddy or congested, and very easy to distinguish all instruments and vocals. It again has an 'exciting' presentation which in this case stays true to the track, as it is a more energetic song that the previous test.



'ECCO' by Polypores was one of my favourite albums from 2023, and this track in particular stood out as a real 'climax' moment in the album. I tend to prefer listening to it as part of the flow of the album, so as to appreciate the build but it is still wonderful in isolation. This is a great track to experience the huge stage size in Loki, especially the width which is really evident in this subdued but dramatic piece of music. A pulsating blend of electronics, which I expect includes some vintage synths of some sort as it usually the case with Polypores. It can sound almost minimal, but there is so much going on and Loki is fantastic to really allow me immerse myself into a deep listening experience. Listening to this now, reminds me I absolutely must pencil in some time for the entire album on Loki very soon. Absolutely fantastic.



Another electronic track, this time from Rod Modell and a wonderful ambient work on the brilliant Astral Industries label. This again really shows off the incredible technical ability of Loki, and allows me to completely drift off into a vast and almost endless landscape of music, layers upon layers and wonderful intricate details totally captivate in a way that will sound good on any set perhaps, but spectacular on the likes of Loki. I listened to this album in bed recently on Loki, and it really did feel as if I had been plunged into the music - almost like my existence had become this music (and I was completely sober, nor had I smoked anything :) )



Sticking with electronic, but moving up significantly in terms of pace and urgency - this is a wonderful modern take on Krautrock by the excellent Ambidextrous. I feel a track or album like this is made for Loki, the exciting signature really showcasing each element of the track, bringing a big smile to my face while listening and tapping at least one foot! There is again a lot going on, with numerous synths, drum machines and various sound effects and it is quite incredible to hear them all across the large stage with such pinpoint imaging and multiple layers. Some of the higher registers of the synths further into the track are touching on my area of sensitivity but don't quite create an issue.



Next is a beautiful modern classical piece called 'Otto' by Ed Carlsen. This is quite a simple but beautiful piece, and one I would typically associate with Turii Ti. Loki definitely demonstrates a willing ability to tone down from the more energetic focus, and present this in a very captivating way. The timbre sounds very accurate and overall a very enjoyable listening experience, but I would still choose Turii Ti for a genre like this - my speciality DD for this genre, and hard to compete.



This track is another from a favourite album of 2023 - 'The Art of Levitation' by Mikkel Rev. The album is very much a nod to early 90s ambient and trance, but made with modern production capabilities which are indeed stunning. This for me is again where Loki really shines, and definitely my immediate choice of set for a genre like this. Vast swirling emotive synths, pounding off-beat kick drums that evolves over the course of just over 8 minutes. The kick drums hit with such huge authority, and you can feel and hear the vibration right in the centre of your skull, definitely BCD magic at work... the synths emanate out across the stage, and are so deliciously captivating. Again, another album I will be making a point of listening to with Loki again soon!



This one is from Pneumatic Tubes (Jesse Chandler of Midlake and Mercury Rev) and a more relaxed indie rock track. Again, very good detail and the instruments are well represented across the stage. Vocals are centre and probably in-line with the instruments. It sounds a touch too energetic for me on Loki, definitely prefer a more relaxed set for this album. It still sounds good, but just wouldn't be my choice.



On to some electro / IDM courtesy of Dron. This is a beautifully intricate track, with a fantastic playful bassline and wonderful synths. Top notch production and back to something that has perfect synergy with Loki. Not much more to say here other than further validation for me as to where Loki shines.



Comparisons

Nostalgia Audio Camelot

Camelot reigns supreme in my collection as 'top dog (or dragon... incidentally this year is the year of the dragon, my Chinese birth year!)' almost a year later. The main difference between these two is where Loki jumps forward in a more energetic way, Camelot steps back and provides a more neutral or balanced tuning - something I tend to prefer for the most part. Loki has more energy up top and bottom, and has a higher resolution from a detail retrieval perspective. Camelot is a much safer tuning, and works with absolutely any genre - Loki a bit more tempermental, but really shines with the right shelves of my library, certainly leaving Camelot behind with many sub-genres of electronic music.

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Softears Turii Ti

A very different set but equally one I would consider a specialist in my collection rather than an all-rounder. Turii Ti will sound almost as if it has no bass when switching from such an incredibly competent set in this department. Where Loki is superb with faster and well produced electronic music, Turii Ti steps ahead for genres like modern classical where the timbre and overall delicacy of tuning is hard to beat.

Pictured below with my N7 which has since left me, and I definitely miss...

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Conclusion

Loki, the God of Mischief has in the end perhaps lived up his name - portraying some technical wizardry while still capturing my heart. A highly competent set, with absolutely the best selection of accessories I have ever seen in this hobby, along with beautifully made IEMs and a wonderful Kinera stock cable. Loki in my opinion leans towards that more exciting, energetic profile and works best with modern and well produced music - in fact in many ways the best set I've heard for my energetic electronic library, and yet can dial down to accommodate more relaxed genres, especially those of high production quality. While Loki doesn't suit all of my library, where they excel they do so with a finesse unlike any set I've heard - that combined with the unbelievable range of accessories and spectacular quality IEMs, make it an easy 5 star review. Of course not a cheap set by any means at $3,099, but they in my opinion can easily stand tall beside sets I've heard that will cost you another $2k, albeit offering different flavours.

Kinera have stepped forward into the kilobuck category with a set that is truly worthy of competing in this competitive space, and I look forward to seeing what they bring to the table in the future - definitely a brand to admire and keep an eye on!

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fablestruck
fablestruck
I was discussing this theme in another thread. I have previous experience with sonion and UM Bone conduction drivers. And I believe those were mostly covering mid-range. But these Kinera drivers are actually Bass drivers. It is a visceral, skull vibrating bass. Very idiosyncratic experience. Love it!
Syan25
Syan25
Do these come with two weeks of laxatives in the box?
mars chan
mars chan
Simply WOW!

armstrj2

1000+ Head-Fier
Kinera Imperial Loki Emerald Review
Pros: - Beautiful design

- Quality packaging

- Great selection of accessories included

- Extra leather display case included

- Superb bone conduction implementation

- Exceptional bass quality

- Vast, 3D Soundstage
Cons: - EA cable is not a great pairing, in my opinion
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Kinera is a brand I have become more familiar with in recent years. Up until recently, they were known for mainly producing IEMs in the lower and mid tiers, but with the launch of Loki, they are firmly taking aim at the upper echelons of this hobby.

As I have mentioned in many of my previous reviews, I have an interest in all sets that utilise bone conduction drivers, and my preferred configuration for IEMs, in general, are hybrids that include DD, BA and EST drivers, so when I heard Kinera had a new IEM in the works that ticked all of these boxes, my interest was piqued!

To clear up some confusion that exists when it comes to Loki, there are two versions in circulation. The original Loki, which is aimed at the Asian market, and the Loki Emerald, which is aimed at Western markets. It is the Emerald version I am reviewing here. I have not heard the other version, but I have included a graph below so you can see the differences in tuning.

I left Loki burning in around the clock for a week before doing any critical listening. Like everything in this hobby, what you are going to read are just my opinions based on my hearing, tastes, and previous experience. You may disagree with them, and that’s fine, but just treat them as one data point.

Packaging​

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Kinera has gone above and beyond with the packaging, in my opinion, and it is up there with the best I have come across in this hobby. The IEM itself is presented in a hexagonal, tiered box which includes two different cables, a great selection of tips from well-known brands, a carry case, a cleaning cloth and a cleaning brush. In addition to this, you also get a black leather storage box, similar to the one that comes with the Hiby RS8, to store the IEM, cables, tips and a DAP. I will go into more detail about the two cables included in the Cable section below.

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Everything is of very high quality, and you can see that a lot of thought went into including accessories people will need and want to use.

Design​

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Loki has a traditional hybrid shape. If you have no fit issues with this general design, you shouldn’t have any issues with Loki. The IEMs are very light, and there are no edges or bulges in the shell so once I found the right tip, the fit has been perfect for me, and I seldom need to adjust the fit if at all.

The faceplates of the Loki Emerald have a beautiful 3D effect of flaskes, which really catch the light and shine. The rest of the shell has speckles of colour running throughout which also catch the light and sparkle. I have tried to capture it as best as I can in the images, but I am probably not doing it justice. It is also possible to get a custom design for a fee if that interests you, but I stuck with the standard Emerald design as I quite like it.

The IEM uses flush-mounted 2-pin connectors, and the shells are vented. Inside the shell is Kinera’s custom-made 6mm liquid diaphragm dynamic driver, four Knowles mid-range BAs, two Knowles treble BAs and four Sonion ESTs for ultra-high frequencies.

In addition to these drivers is Kinera’s custom-made contact-type bone conduction driver. This is a full range BCD which Kinera designed to have significantly more impact than comparable drivers found in other IEMs.

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Sound​

I have found Loki to be very responsive to different cables, sources and amps, and they scale really well with desktop gear. My favourite set-up has been listening with my Gustard R26 DAC and Topping A70Pro amp, but to be fair, I have enjoyed listening with any source. Describing its tuning is made a little more difficult by how much you can fine-tune it with sources etc, but put simply, Loki can produce huge quantities of quality bass, it has a clear, forward and highly resolving mid-range with a detailed and airy treble.

Loki is a very detailed set, which produces a vast, 3D soundstage and impressive layering. The BCDs clearly play a big role in producing this effect, and it is one of the best sets I have come across for creating that sense of being able to hear sounds coming from anywhere around you. It creates that sense of being immersed in the music.

One of the standout features of Loki for me has been its ability to reproduce bass in tracks faithfully. Whether it’s a traditional drum kit, bongos or synths creating the beat, they all sound exactly as you would expect them from the first strike right the way through the decay the quality and texture are exceptional.

Loki can produce a visceral, tactile thump when needed, but it doesn’t dominate the rest of the frequency range. The bass appears when called for and gets out of the way when not. I think this is another benefit of the BCD, as even with busy tracks, the bass quantity always remains balanced enough to allow everything else to be clearly heard and never becomes too much. From an experience and quality point of view, Loki produces some of the best bass I have come across in an IEM.

On initial listen with the stock EA cable, I found there was a lot of upper-mid energy and the sound was a little shouty at times. I swapped to the other cable from Kinera that is included, and it hasn’t been an issue since.

The mid-range is detailed and full, and the sheer resolution Loki produces is impressive. Vocals are forward and take your focus. The detail combined with the BCD effect adds realism to the vocals. The forwardness can make it a full-on experience at times with more intense tracks, but the set is equally capable of reproducing nuanced details in more delicate tracks. Strings are reproduced accurately and without any colour being added. The vibration of the strings is tactile. All of the nuanced details you expected to hear like fingers sliding along strings, are clear and present. Similar to the bass and vocals, everything sounds like you would expect it to.

I think Loki does a great job of having enough treble quantity to keep it balanced with the rest of the frequency range and produce an airy and sometimes ethereal experience while never straying too far and becoming spikey or sibilant. The treble has great extension and enough energy for notes to cut through and be heard in detail. The way Treble has been implemented means Loki can cover a broad range of genres. It extends well and can produce ethereal synth sounds for genres like EDM but can also handle the busyness of heavy metal cymbal crashes.

Cables​

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Loki comes with two cables included. One is what looks like an EA Ares, and the other is a cable that the Kinera owner had manufactured to acoustically pair with Loki. It is a Silver plated OCC, and Gold plated OCC mix. For my tastes, this is a much better pairing with Loki than the EA cable. With the Kinera cable, the sound is a lot fuller, and there is a greater sense of air. The EA cable, for me, produces a thinner sound with sharper treble and forward upper mids. As a result, all of my listening has been done with the Kinera cable.

I have compared Loki against a selection of other aftermarket cables, and my impressions are below.

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The track I used for comparison was “Somebody New (feat. ShezAr)” by Sonny Fodera, played through a Gustard R26 and Topping A70Pro.

EA Fusion 1

Listening with Fusion 1, compared to the stock Kinera cable, there is a more visceral mid-bass punch and there is also increased sub-bass. The vocals are very clear and detailed, but everything is warmer leaning. I like the increased sub-bass levels, but the extra mid-bass is making that the focus and some of the aspects of the track are a little overpowered by it. There is a slight reduction in treble quantity too, but that is amplified by the great bass quantity changing the balance.

Overall, it’s a more “fun” tuning with Fusion 1, and it’s nice to know you can add extra bass if that is what you are in the mood for or the track requires it.

Khanyayo Cardas Clear

In an outcome that will shock no one, the Cardas Clear cable pairs very well with Loki. Swapping from the stock cable, you immediately notice a blacker background. The soundstage stretches out even further, and there is that sense of sounds appearing out of the blackness.

Whereas Fusion 1 impacted the bass and mids more than the treble, the Cardas Clear cable makes improvements across the board. The bass is even cleaner, the mids have a nice touch of warmth added, but the blacker background keeps them sounding clear and detailed while the treble is smoothly delivered. It is a very impressive pairing.

Kinera Orlog

Kinera’s own upgrade cable, which was a collaboration with EA, is a light and supple cable which I often use when I am out and about with an IEM. I have reviewed it in the past if you want to take a more in-depth look at it here.

Similarly to the Cardas Clear cable, Orlog creates a very black background. The overall impression I get when listening is that everything is very clean and detailed sounding. Orlog doesn’t make changes to the tuning, it more so improves the delivery and accuracy of notes. It is more laid back as a result, but if you like to keep your IEM sounding more faithful to the original recording, it is a good choice and would definitely be suited for more energetic music to keep everything in check.

Select Comparisons​

The stars aligned for me to have some really special IEMs in my possession to demo while writing this review. Thanks to my audio friends who made that happen.

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NGaudio Erebus

The Erebus is NGaudio’s flagship IEM and consists of 1 DD, 6 BA and 8 EST drivers.

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Gotta Go” by Monoplay

What I love about this track is that it starts off simply with a heavy kick drum beat but gradually gets more complex as more instruments and vocals are introduced. That simplicity, though, means that every note can be scrutinised, and I find it a great track for testing IEMs.

Listening with Loki, that initial kick drum impacts hard. It’s a tactile hit, but it is clean and detailed. There is a distant sound of someone striking what I guess is a tambourine, and while subtle, really shows the vast dimensions of the soundstage this IEM is creating.

As the guitar enters, it is very detailed and immediately grabs your attention. The vibrations of strings and fingers moving over frets are all perfectly audible, even with the heavy kick bass continuing in the background. Then comes the bass guitar, adding another layer and now you can really feel and appreciate the impact the BCDs have here. On top of the impact you are feeling from the drums, you now have the visceral feel of the bass guitar notes vibrating, adding another tactile sensation to the overall listening experience.

Vocals are clear and detailed and, with the huge soundstage, have an almost crossfeed effect going on. It is a captivating listen created by the exceptional layering and the tactile aspect of the BCDs, which add to the sense of realism.

Swapping to Erebus, that initial kick drum hit is equally impressive from a texture and detail point of view, but you do notice the difference in tactility without the BCDs. It is still very impressive for a set I have heard described as bass light in the past.

The acoustic guitar sounds detailed and accurate when it comes in but takes a slight step back behind the bass guitar and drums as the track moves on.

It would be very hard to separate vocal quality between the two sets, but the main difference is that the instruments and vocals all seem closer together in a smaller soundstage, The result of that is that is it is harder to pick out the finer details in the track. There is no real sense of that crossfeed, and the tambourine that was so detailed and easy to pick out with Loki in the distance now seems like it is bunched together with everything else and is more challenging to hear.

Overall, I think Loki’s BCDs are the big difference between the sets. There is little to separate them in terms of sound quality, but Loki creates a much wider soundstage and gives everything a little bit more space to be clearly heard.

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Number of the Beast” by Unami

This is another superb track for testing IEMs. There are lots of subtle sounds circulating around the track that get lost with weaker sets.

Listening with Loki, the track really comes to life as the acoustic guitars enter. They are detailed, musical and rhythmic. Double-tracking vocals quickly follow, and you feel surrounded. It is a 3D experience with the vocals sounding like they are positioned just on either side of your ears, but the different instruments are spread out in a larger space. This track again showcases Loki’s impressive layering and vast soundstage.

Listening with Erebus, the instruments are just as detailed, but the differences in stage size are again noticeable, with everything sounding like it between my ears. Vocals are, at times, a little sharper with Erebus. It isn’t sibilence, but some of the “s” sounds cut through noticeably.

Very similar to the last track, the sound quality is pretty much on par, but the soundstage sets the two apart. Erebus is intimate and close in, whereas Loki stretches everything far and wide.


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Aroma Fei Wan

The Fei Wan is the latest flagship IEM from Aroma Audio. It consists of 2 DDs and 10 BA drivers.

On first listen to Fei Wan, I found it to be a bit of a wild beast. I was using the Hiby R6 Pro II, which I have since found just doesn’t really pair that well with this set. There was huge amounts of bass coming through in the tracks I was listening to and lots of treble energy, and I found it all too energetic.

I swapped to using a desktop R2R DAC with better results, and I have given my brain time to adjust, but I still don’t feel it is the ideal source for this set. While bass and treble are much more controlled, the mids can be a little too smooth at times. Unfortunately, my RS8 is still on its way back from repair, so I didn’t get an opportunity to try that as a source.

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Tabu” by Artbat

I chose this track as many IEMs struggle to play it well. There is quite a heavy, bassy beat, which can sound muddy with some sets, and this is accompanied by a lot of ethereal sounds, which can often be lost if the bass isn’t in control.

Listening with Fei Wan, the initial beat and burst of synth sounds are clear and detailed, and as the track builds, you get a good sense of how big the soundstage is. When the track breaks at 01:04, that beat becomes quite intense, and while it remains quite controlled, the quantity of bass means it dominates. You do adjust to it though, and as other sounds and vocals are introduced into the track, it becomes more balanced.

Throughout the track, you get a sense of sounds travelling side to side and back to front, but the stage doesn’t stretch too far outside your head.

All the synth sounds that come and go in the track are detailed, and the vocals are quite melodic, but that bass line comes to the fore throughout.

Swapping over to Loki, the initial beat has less intensity, and the build-up to the track breaking is less ethereal, but when the heavier beat drops, mid-bass is much tighter, and overall it is less dominating. The other sounds in the track take more of your attention, and you can hear them travel out further within the stage.

Loki is more reserved when it comes to treble, too. There is less energy and intensity, but it’s really a matter of taste which you would prefer between it and Fei Wan’s treble presentation, as the extra energy Fei Wan brings can work well with tracks that have that ethereal sensation when listening.

Loki keeps everything in control throughout the track with excellent bass quality and a detailed sound. Fei Wan is more intense. The bass hits harder, and there is a lot more treble intensity.

Loki when paired with the Hiby R6 Pro II has a closer treble presentation to Fei Wan but at the cost of bass control. There is a greater sense of air and space, and treble notes cut through the heavy bass with more intensity, but the bass is a lot looser.

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Cola” by CamelPhat

This has probably been one of my favourite tracks I have listened to with Fei Wan. The opening beat is more controlled than it was with the previous track. When the vocals enter, they have great resolution and detail. Similar to the last track, that beat intensifies at times, and I feel like there is a little too much quantity again, but for the most part, it works well with the track. As there is less overall bass quantity in this track though, it is easier to hear all of the other synth and drum sounds in the track, and there is an incredible amount of details presented throughout.

It is a very full-on listening experience, which I think the R2R DAC keeps in control but which I found a little jarring at times with the Hiby player. Overall, I enjoyed this track with Fei Wan, and it helped me to appreciate some of its strengths more.

Loki delivers the track with a bit of a lighter touch. It isn’t as full-on as with Fei Wan. Vocals are detailed and similarly forward in the mix, but when the heavier bassline hits at around 00:38 in the track, the texture is noticeably better and more natural sounding.

With the R2R DAC, the bassline and the vocals keep your attention with Loki, whereas Fei Wan again introduces a more ethereal sound to accompany the bass and vocals.

What you come away with after listening to both is that Loki has exceptional bass control, a larger, more 3D soundstage with its treble extension really being sensitive to the source. Fei Wan has performed best for me with my R2R source, and I have found tracks such as Cola to be quite enjoyable with it, but swapping over to the Delta Sigma based sources I have access to while writing this review has produced less desirable results for me. Hopefully, I will get to compare them more down the line.

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Noble Audio Spartaqcus

The Noble Audio Spartacus competes at a different price point to Loki, but it is technically a very impressive set. While it may seem unfair to compare the sets, both use BCDs in a unique way, which makes it of interest to me to compare.

While it is never straightforward to compare an all-BA set with a Hybrid, careful selection of music makes it a more “apples to apples” comparison, and I want to highlight the similarities and contrasts that don’t stem from driver config. That driver config consists of 4 BAs and 2 BCDs for Spartacus.

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We Don’t Care” by Habib Koité/ Eric Bibb

Listening first with Spartacus, the song is clear and detailed. Much like Loki, Spartacus excels with layering. All the instruments are super detailed and easy to hear. They all have a distinct space within the soundstage and remain clear no matter how busy the track becomes. Vocals are natural sounding and very detailed. With tracks like this, there is never a hint of thinking about what drivers are doing what. It’s just a case of sitting back and enjoying.

Swapping to Loki, Vocals are a tiny bit more laid back. The acoustic and bass guitars are ever so slightly more forward and grab your attention that bit more. The soundstage stretches more left to right and it feels like each instrument fills more of the space it is presented in. There is just that sense of a fuller, more resolving sound with slower, less aggressive notes.

It feels like there is more information being presented with Loki, but I can see people liking both presentations. I think technically, Loki is better, but Spartacus is also impressive.

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There is Still Pain (Laolu Remix)” by Sophie Hunger

Listening to these tracks back to back on each set, there aren’t night and day differences. Both sets produce a detailed and clear sound.

The bass drum in the lead into the track is fast and hard with Spartascasu, as you would expect from its drivers. Loki is fuller and slower. The soundstage stretches about the same left and right, and the small details are as easy to pick out with both sets. Vocals are a little darker with Loki. That fuller bass takes more of your attention, whereas with Spartacus, vocals jump out at you more as there are fewer notes lingering, and everything is faster.

And that really is the stand-out difference between the two with this track. The speed and attack of Spartacus versus the warmer and slower decaying notes of Loki.

Conclusion​

Loki has some of the best bass quality I have encountered in this hobby. It has a detailed, accurate and highly resolving mid-range, and its treble can cover many different genres well. The implementation of the BCD adds tactility and impact while also helping it to create an immersive 3D soundstage.

The Kinera Imperial Loki Emerald is a seriously impressive IEM, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time with it. To think this is their first foray into the high end of this hobby is almost unfathomable, and it makes me excited to see what they do next.

You can find out more about Loki on the Kinera website here.

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jwilliamhurst
jwilliamhurst
A great review! Thanks for sharing! Love mine!
SteveK27
SteveK27
Amazing review. Thank you for sharing this with us 😊
K
kamvai
Looking comparsion review test between Kinera Loki Emerald and Kinera Loki red warrior. Anyone..........

Comments

KamilElos

Head-Fier
What is the best cable for Kinera Emerald Loki? There is an opportunity to get better value in sound than using Kinera Orlog 8 core version, maybe some cheaper and way better synergy? Thank you looking forward for Your answer :)
 

armstrj2

1000+ Head-Fier
What is the best cable for Kinera Emerald Loki? There is an opportunity to get better value in sound than using Kinera Orlog 8 core version, maybe some cheaper and way better synergy? Thank you looking forward for Your answer :)

Hey. The Cardas Clear cable was the best match but close behind that is the stock Kinera cable it comes with. It's certainly not the case that you need to change the cable. It performs very well with the stock cable but it also responds well to different cables if you want to fine tune the experience.
 
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