Kinera IDUN Review – Optimism
Outstanding clarity and vocal intimacy, Great detail retrieval and resolution, Gorgeous design with strong build quality, Excellent separation
Thin midrange and treble, Bright timbre, Can sound slightly hard-edged with certain instruments
Those wanting a hyper-separated sound with great clarity and vocal presence will love the IDUN.
Unbeknownst to many, the staff at Kinera have been making IEMs for many years as an OEM. They formed their own brand a few years ago and really grew to international prominence with the H3 that was a hit with reviewers and users alike. This was followed up with a very ear-pleasing budget earbud and the affordable SEED that featured design and build quality that surprised at its modest asking price. Hot on its heels comes the more premium IDUN carrying a slightly higher $139 RRP. It’s a triple driver hybrid much like the H3, but it brings a considerably more balanced tuning. And just as Campfire Audio has worked endlessly to refine their own style of sound, the IDUN represents an evolution of the bright, revealing signature we’ve seen from Kinera’s past offerings; realised with greater balance and on a driver platform with significantly enhanced technical properties. You can read more about the IDUN and purchase one for yourself on Kinera’s official Aliexpress store and on Penon Audio.
I would like to thank Steve from Kinera very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the IDUN for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
This earphone looks gorgeous! I was lucky enough to receive the limited edition version that went to the very first buyers and reviewers. It features wooden faceplates and a transparent smoke main housing. Pixel peeping photos, I was very impressed with the level of finish; transitions are perfectly even between the faceplates and body and the housings are very transparent with no apparent bubbles. They are smoothly formed and comfortable long-term in the ear. Though almost identically shaped to the H3, finish and quality control have been hugely improved.
As aforementioned, the IDUN’s design is almost identical to the H3, which is a good thing! Both earphones fit well, isolate well and remain stable in the ear during more active use. However, the IDUN’s design, even the non-LTD versions, are a very clear step up over its plainer black/red complexion. The sole geometric difference I noticed was the redesigned nozzle. Where the H3 garnered frequent complaints about its smooth nozzle, the IDUN holds tips more reliably with a raised lip. Users can also see the two sound bores for the dynamic driver and BA’s, a design trait reminiscent of higher-end gear.
The IDUN has a removable 0.78mm 2-pin cable. Kinera has always included nicer cables and they’ve really outdone themselves with the IDUN. The included unit is ergonomically excellent and immensely sturdy. It has an 8-core silver/copper braid that’s thick but also very supple. It doesn’t tangle nor does it weigh the earphones down due to a lightweight y-split. The straight 3.5mm plug is well-relieved, something that was lacking entirely on the SEED. The cable also has pre-formed ear guides that I much prefer over memory wire. In short, the cable and design of the IDUN leave a very positive impression. This has always been a strength for Kinera and it’s impressive to see them continue to improve while keeping cost low.
Kinera provides two types of ear tips in the box, some imitation Sony hybrid tips and generic grey tips. I found the grey tips to provide a stronger seal, providing a more solid bass response and greater overall balance. All testing below was conducted using these ear tips from the iBasso DX200 with AMP5. The IDUN received over 200hrs of burn-in prior to final evaluation to ensure optimal performance.
The IDUN is a reasonably bright, vocal-forward earphone, however, it is also Kinera’s most balanced earphone yet. Bass is mostly neutral with an uptick of additional sub-bass. It has forward vocals and a prominent upper-midrange and lower-treble, creating a clear, revealing and detail-forward presentation. As its middle-treble is only lightly emphasized, it lacks the overt brightness that affects some Chi-Fi competitors. Still, the IDUN’s impressive treble extension enables heightened air and micro-detail without excessive emphasis.
Bass is mild in its quantity but impressive in its control, favouring speed and separation over size. Sub-bass is moderately emphasized, creating extra engagement, and its extension is good. However, though slam is satisfying, sub-bass notes are a touch ill-defined. The IDUN also lacks that last iota of depth at the very bottom delivered by competitors such as the IT01, however, it also lacks any form of muddiness or bloat. In turn, this earphone is lean and agile with impressive precision. This impression is aided by a rather neutral mid-bass tuning in conjunction with a smoothly sloping upper-bass.
Accordingly, bass notes are slightly on the smaller side, separation is heightened and the earphones carry a very neutral bass tone, perhaps even a slightly cool one. Besides sub-bass, control is very high and notes decay quickly, delivering an especially defined response with excellent separation. Bass is swift and tactile, perhaps lacking some inviting warmth for genres like hip-hop but rewarding complex tracks with high resolving power. As sub-bass is enhanced, the IDUN’s bass response still draws ample attention and it does so without introducing a speck of colouration into the rest of its sound.
Bright and revealing sounds have become Kinera’s signature and the IDUN represents a significant step towards refinement of that tuning ethos. Of course, in turn, listeners should not expect perfectly realistic or full-bodied notes; vocal body is thin and instruments like guitars are slightly more hard-edged without underlying warmth to imbue a natural timbre. Instead, the IDUN sings with superlative clarity and forward, intimate vocals, both with regards to male and female. This can be attributed to the IDUN’s rather steeply attenuated lower-midrange, a prime source of its cool tone.
This is juxtaposed by a steep climb into the centre midrange that brings vocals considerably forward though not to an ear-piercing extent. As the upper-midrange has a bump of further emphasis before sloping gently into the lower-treble, the IDUN has great vocal extension. Combined with a 5KHz attenuation, it has huge clarity while retaining more appropriate articulation and density than most. Sibilance is also slightly smoothed off though it remains emphasized compared to more balanced IEMs. The IDUN’s signature may look wonky on an FR graph, but in listening, it’s a presentation that is easily enjoyed; especially suiting vocal lovers looking for something very revealing but still fairly natural.
I used to have a deep love for bright sounding earphones, but further listening has granted me an appreciation of darker backgrounds and treble’s profound effect on the midrange. In this vein, though still undoubtedly a bright earphone, the IDUN sounds considerably more restrained than the H3 and SEED before it and light years ahead in terms of technical performance. The IDUN’s treble focuses around a 6KHz emphasis that makes it aggressively detailed with crisp instrumentation. However, as its upper-midrange is similarly forward, it possesses greater instrument body and, by correlation, detail retrieval than most. I would still consider the IDUN quite thin and non-linear in the grand scheme of things, but instruments still sound well-resolved, avoiding the spikey and metallic sound of some competitors and Kinera’s past earphones.
Another difference I noted was a more restrained middle treble lift, creating a background that remains bright but also fairly clean. So though treble isn’t natural or smooth, listeners shouldn’t find this model inherently fatiguing or strident either. Extension is also improved and quite impressive for the asking price. Enhanced sparkle draws attention to this strength while contributing towards a sense of openness and heightening air without resorting to an over-bright middle-treble. In accordance, resolution is quite high and micro-detail retrieval is commendable. Again, the IDUN isn’t perfectly natural nor is it accurately bodied, but it provides the same kind of vividness as competitors without skewing over-bright or thin and fatiguing the listener.
The IDUN’s hyper-separated tuning and strong extension provide a spacious stage with very defined layers. Expansion reaches just beyond the head, however, due to its intimate vocals, the scale that its stage is capable of is rarely apparent. Imaging, cannot be considered perfectly accurate as a result, though placement is consistent at the very least. On the contrary, this presentation provides very distinct delineation between the foreground and background, exaggerated even, but it does make it easier to pick out details. In turn, separation is excellent throughout.
With a 32ohm impedance and high 112dB sensitivity, the IDUN is an efficient earphone that reaches high volumes from portable sources. It doesn’t pick up hiss too easily and despite being a 3-driver hybrid with a lower-impedance, it isn’t especially source sensitive, sounding fairly similar from my HTC U11 and iBasso DX200. That said, a dedicated source will provide a more controlled, defined bass response, greater detail retrieval and most notably, a larger soundstage. Still, this is one of the more forgiving earphones I’ve come across in terms of synergy and it is perfectly happy being driven from a smartphone or budget DAP like the Shanling M0.
Kinera SEED ($60): I received a pre-production unit so take this with a grain of salt, unfortunately, I do not have access to a retail unit. The IDUN is a significantly more mature version of the SEED in that it takes the style of tuning pioneered by the H3, balances it out and evens its transitions. The SEED is rather even wonkier but with less bass. The IDUN has much better bass extension and sub-bass slam where the SEED has a nicely defined mid-bass but is also otherwise lean with almost non-existent sub-bass. The SEED’s midrange is tuned in the same manner as the H3, with a recessed lower-midrange, slight vocal emphasis and attenuated upper-midrange to aid density. However, it climbs to emphasis sooner than the H3, so its treble isn’t as thin or metallic.
The IDUN sounds more natural here as it is less sculpted through its centre and upper-midrange and has greater bass presence to aid body. The SEED has a rather unnatural middle treble emphasis that makes it sound airy and open, but also skews its timbre over-bright, sounding very thin. The IDUN lacks that middle-treble peak in favour of greater lower-treble emphasis so it sounds cleaner, more composed and significantly more detailed. The IDUN also has greater extension, with higher resolution and a more natural sense of air and sparkle. The IDUN, therefore, achieves much of what the SEED set out to, and it does so in a significantly more natural manner so its air, openness and detail retrieval don’t come at the cost of an over-bright background or metallic vocals. What it does cost however, is an addition $90 USD.
Kinera H3 ($100): The IDUN is immediately more balanced, bass is less present but also more defined and detailed, where the H3 has more impact but also significantly more bloat. Vocals are also more present on the IDUN, more on this later. Treble is most improved; it lacks the metallic timbre of the H3 and detail retrieval is considerably higher. If I have a caveat, it’s that mids, though more present overall, actually sound even thinner than the H3. This is so as both earphones have a similarly recessed upper-bass/lower-midrange yet the IDUN has more upper-midrange. The attenuated upper-midrange on the H3 may look wonky on an FR graph, however, it adds density to the H3’s vocal reconstruction, aiding vocal body. As the IDUN lacks this, it sounds brighter and even thinner but also a lot clearer, many will undoubtedly love this tuning decision as it makes the H3 sound veiled by comparison.
And here, I still wouldn’t call the H3 superior as its treble response colours its midrange in an unnatural way despite its greater body. As the IDUN is more even from upper-midrange through to treble, it is far more detailed than the H3 that sounded quite disjoint between recessed upper-midrange/boosted treble. The IDUN therefore showcases the more refined sound overall and it is a fairly significant step up in terms of technicality. However, for listeners that aren’t already fans of Kinera’s earphones, the IDUN likely won’t change your mind; it’s still bright, its midrange is still thin. For fans of Kinera’s earphones though, the IDUN is a very nice progression of the same style of tuning and I think it will be a hit with general listeners due to its very vivid, clear and aggressively detailed sound.
iBasso IT01 ($100): The IT01 is more V-shaped, especially with regards to bass. It has considerably more sub-bass and a little more mid-bass, sounding fuller and delivering a lot more slam. It extends slightly better and its tone is slightly warm. However, the IDUN is slightly more controlled and decay is a lot faster so it is more defined and detailed. The IT01 feeds more evenly into its midrange with more upper-bass and lower-midrange. Though I would still consider the IT01 slightly thin, it has notably more body than the IDUN.
However, it lacks the same centre midrange presence so its vocals are considerably more laid-back as a result. As it similarly climbs through the upper-midrange, it is also a clearer earphone, though not to the same extent as the IDUN. The IT01 has similar lower-treble emphasis, its treble is thinner and it is not as detailed as its peak is more isolated. The IT01 has a darker background, sounding cleaner and more focused. However, it does not extend as well up top, delivering lower resolution. The IDUN has more sparkle and more prominent micro-detail.
TFZ King Pro ($170): The King Pro is more V-shaped with a considerably brighter background. It has greater sub-bass extension and a lot more emphasis, producing huge slam. Mid-bass is also more emphasized, sounding considerably fuller. Its upper-bass takes a dive, delivering similar quantity, so its midrange is still quite transparent. The IDUN, is the faster earphone, it is more defined due to its tuning though both are similarly well-controlled. The King has notably more lower-midrange than the IDUN which, combined with its more present lower-midrange, produces a more full-bodied midrange.
Its vocals are just as present, though interestingly, it favours extension and openness over density, so the IDUN sounds more refined despite being similarly vocal and upper-midrange forward. The King has considerably less lower-treble to compensate. Though it is well-bodied and well-detailed, the IDUN has an advantage here, being similarly well-detailed but also more aggressive in its presentation; and it doesn’t thin out its midrange due to a slight dip for density. The IDUN also has a significantly cleaner background where the King has huge air and clarity. The King has subdued sparkle, but it extends similarly well overall, delivering high-resolution.
Dunu Falcon-C ($200): The Falcon-C is more V-shaped and more accurately bodied. It has better sub-bass extension combined with more emphasis. Its mid-bass is similarly neutral and its upper-bass is slightly more present so its low-end is more linear on a whole. Combined with higher control, its bass is more detailed even if it isn’t as hyper-separated. The Falcon-C’s midrange transition is also smoother, lacking that sudden lower-midrange dip. Rather is has a smooth, gradual attenuation that provides separation without thinning out body.
The Falcon-C also lacks the centre and upper-midrange presence of the IDUN, its vocals are more neutrally positioned and they have more appropriate body and density. However, the IDUN has immensely more clarity for listeners wanting that kind of sound. The Falcon-C has a prominent lower-treble spike. It is very detailed and very aggressive, however, it is also quite thin. The IDUN sounds more even in this region, sibilance is less of an issue and it is similarly well-detailed. The Falcon-C has a cleaner background and it extends further at the very top, delivering higher resolution and more micro-detail.
Campfire Audio Comet ($200): The Comet is also more V-shaped and more organically toned, especially with regards to its midrange. Its sub-bass doesn’t extend quite as well and it is a hair less emphasized. On the contrary, the Comet has a more present mid and upper-bass, creating its warmer tone and fuller notes. It decays just as quickly and shares the IDUN’s high control, both are defined and detailed, though the IDUN is more separated due to its greater neutrality. The Comet has a more prominent lower-midrange, it is slightly full-bodied.
It also has considerably less centre midrange presence, so its vocals are more laid-back. As the Comet has an upper-midrange spike, it redeems female vocal presence in addition to sounding quite clear as well. However, the Comet has a large dip to provide density so its midrange sounds a lot more grounded than the IDUN. The Comet’s lower-treble is also a lot smoother, it lacks the same kind of crispness in favour of more organic treble body though it is still not quite as detailed. The Comet has similar middle-treble presence, providing enhanced air. The IDUN has slightly more extension, it has more micro-detail retrieval.
The IDUN has a much improved high-end over its predecessors, extension, resolution and timbre are all upgraded. It is also more balanced and its midrange less sculpted with simultaneously greater clarity. The IDUN is, by far, Kinera’s most detailed earphone to date and its design is gorgeous. The new cable is brilliant and the price has been kept reasonable for most hobbyists. It still retains a bright high-end and thin midrange, such is becoming a kind of house sound for Kinera. Those wanting a hyper-separated sound with great clarity and vocal presence in addition to those that loved the H3 and SEED will love the IDUN even more. However, those wanting a warmer, fuller or more natural sounding earphone from Kinera will have to wait until their later releases.
The Kinera IDUN can be purchased from Aliexpress and PenonAudio for $139 USD. I am not affiliated with Kinera and receive no earnings from purchases through this link. PenonAudio links are affiliate, all earnings go towards website maintenance and future samples.
Thanks for detailed comparisons. I am currently having king pro and I love them. I just wish they had a little less emphasis on lows. Idun looks something I’d really enjoy but I’m worried they might be overly bright. Maybe my they will pair well with Opus 1s? What do you suggest?
The IDUN is quite a good choice for your tastes, it similarly has quite a forward upper-midrange but it’s more balanced on a whole. In particular, the middle treble is a lot less emphasized on the IDUN so it doesn’t sound as bright overall imo, at least, not in a fatiguing way. Bass is a lot less emphasized. You can also consider the Dunu Falcon-C and Simgot EM3 if you don’t mind stretching your budget, the Falcon-C is the most balanced, the EM3 is similar to the IDUN but its treble is smoother and more refined.
Just got this today as an “upgrade” to king pro. This is really something. It’s like a hidden gem, currently paired with king pro for better control of upper treble range…
Glad you’re enjoying them Cris!
Hey Ryan will the Hibiki’s recessed 2 pin cable fit the Kinera IDUN?
Just tested, it fits fine 😀
Where did you find the wood plate version? Can you leave me the purchase link?
They’re a special edition version limited to the very first buyers and reviewers. You might be able to find one on sale or can contact Kinera directly via Facebook to see if they have any left.
Good luck and best regards,