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Kinera Tyr Review – Redemption

Pros –

Comfortable and well-isolating design, Solid metal housings, Natural midrange tuning 

Cons –

Cheap fixed cable, Muddy sub-bass

Verdict –

The Tyr is a great choice for those entering the hobby wanting to see what a more balanced sound is all about while retaining key features consumers value.


Introduction –

China-based Kinera has made waves with their range of earphones over the years ranging from super budget to premium with their electrostatic flagship Nanna. Though their hybrids have been well received, their budget offerings have been somewhat controversial for their unique tonality. The Tyr has been designed to append that, delivering what Kinera states is a natural and smooth sound. Sporting a 6mm micro-driver tuned in-house alongside a metal enclosure, the Tyr achieves feature parity with class leaders in its very modest price range. This is another competitive offering with a conservative $30 USD asking price. You can read more about the Tyr and buy one for yourself at HiFiGo and Aliexpress.

 

Disclaimer – 

I would like to thank HiFi Go very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the Tyr 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.

 

Accessories – 

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The Tyr has a charming unboxing with hexagonal hard case that opens up to reveals the earphones coiled within a protective foam inlet. Also included are warranty and manual papers, a bag of Kinera ear tips and a bag of Final Audio’s excellent E-tips. It should be noted that the E-tips are some of the best I’ve personally tried and a common choice for most of my IEMs, a bag costs more than half that of the Tyr making it a very respectable addition that does tangibly enhance fit and sound. The Tyr also comes with a leather button-up case that is slim and pocketable.

 

Design – 

The Tyr has been designed to optimise ergonomics and simplicity of use. Its housings are metal with a premium anodized black body with silver accents. The nozzles are lipped to hold ear tips firmly onto the end. Their straight-body design permits comfortable cable down and over-ear wear, though due to the position of the strain-relief, I experienced a deeper and more stable fit when worn over the ear. The cable is also soft enough not to spring over the ear.

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Once fit, the earphones stay put well, their enclosed design forming a strong seal, especially with E-tips equipped that are designed to conform to the bends of the ear cannal. Comfort is superb, as the earphones are so compact, they don’t contact the outer ear and form no hotspots. Isolation is good for a dynamic earphone, not quite sealed BA level, but easily adequate for public transport, especially with foam tips (not included).

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The cable is fixed which may limit longevity and is of generic quality overall. It features a standard rubber jacket which is soft but also a bit tacky. The 3.5mm straight plug is low-profile and case-friendly. Of note, it is a 4-prong connector as the cable includes a handy inline remote, something missing from most competitors. The strain relief is average, just a small amount of rubber at each termination. Though not outstanding, the cable is what one would expect from a budget earphone but still doesn’t match something like the braided Adv M4 cable which feels appreciably sturdier.

 

Sound –

Tonality –

Kinera has had their fair share of controversial sounds though the Tyr is an outlier, possessing a sound that is indeed natural and will surely find wide appeal. It presents a nicely balanced sound with a warm mid-bass that imbues its prominent vocals with inviting warmth. The upper-midrange and lower-treble have been attenuated in order to increase the density and smoothness of its midrange, resulting in a delightfully clean and coherent midrange. Meanwhile, the middle-treble has been brought forward, enhancing air and headroom. This is a natural and coherent sound that never lacks midrange clarity.

 

Bass –

Within the lows we observe a fairly typical micro-driver sound. Sub-bass extension is clearly limited with softer slam and rumble that is partially redeemed by a well=control mid-bass that enables a well-defined low-end. The Tyr is reasonable in its tuning with most impact derived from its modest mid-bass bump followed by a natural downward slope through the upper-bass into the lower-midrange. This permits a cleaner tone yet some warmth is present by virtue of its added mid-bass presence. As aforementioned, control is strong through the mid-bass and speed of decay is medium, yielding defined notes and a presentation revealing of details.

Of course, the fine texture you may expect from a more premium earphone is not present. The sub-bass has also been brought forward to create the impression of stronger extension. However, it is evident that the driver struggles to reproduce these frequencies as on deep-bass heavy tracks, sub-bass can become uncontrolled and muddy. As such, the Tyr doesn’t suit tracks with a fast bass-line or large deep-bass presence. Rather, it’s a moderately warm and smoothly textured low-end that integrates well into the Tyr’s sound while providing a strong foundation for a natural midrange.

 

Mids –

The midrange is the highlight of the Tyr, showcasing a modest level of warmth and slightly enhanced body stemming from the earphone’s slightly enhanced mid-bass and recessed upper-midrange. As the centre midrange sees moderate emphasis, vocals sit at the fore, just slightly in front of the bass. Vocals are presented with very pleasing clarity and presence yet, despite their forwardness, never wear on the ear due to their smoothness. Their light warmth and ample clarity make the listening experience very pleasant overall.

Despite the smooth centre-midrange peak, as the upper-bass/lower-midrange region is of well-metered quantity, the Tyr also has a reasonably accurate timbre. That said, upper-midrange extension is noticeably reduced on account of its greatly increased density. In return, despite moderate lower-treble emphasis spot on the 6KHz region, sibilance is a non-issue and midrange definition is increased. The Tyr therefore suits those wanting a natural and smooth presentation that places vocals at the forefront in both quantity and quality.

 

Highs –

The first notable aspect of the Tyr’s sound is its crisp foreground. Detail presence is good but highs have mediocre control and cleanliness. Notes lack attack and percussion is somewhat smoothed off, obviously lacking the focus of pricier earphones. The Tyr’s presentation is rather more diffuse, focussing on air and middle-treble presence. The Tyr doesn’t provide a bright background nor brittle or splashy instrumentation, and due to this emphasis, it also cannot be considered a dark nor closed off earphone either. Notes are well-present in terms of volume, just with reduced attack and thin note body. Extension is limited which produces enjoyable levels of resolution given the asking price.

Intended or not, this middle-treble roll-off acts to diminish the level of middle-treble perceived by the listener as opposed to frequency response measurement, redeeming some cleanliness and portraying a convincing sense of width on top. Micro and background detail retrieval is absent on most tracks as is upper-treble sparkle which can be said for its direct competitor too. Similar to the low end and midrange, the highs on the Tyr are suitable for easy listening with just enough clarity and detail presence to retain engagement.

 

Soundstage –

The Tyr provides a moderate amount of width stretching to the periphery of the head though depth is quite intimate especially with its more forward vocal presentation. Imaging is satisfying, not razor-sharp nor but directional cues are accurately placed and effectively immerse the listener. There are apparent layers of sound, however, the presentation is quite flat with only division between vocals and gross instruments. There also isn’t a lot of separation between each element so you don’t get that sense of organisation as with higher-end IEMs, though the tuning does give the Tyr an advantage over most earphones at this price which can become too exuberant for their own good.  No details are overshadowed or drowned out in bass or treble here, the portrayal is balanced, just technically limited.

 

Driveability –

The Tyr has a low 16-ohm impedance combined with a higher 105dB sensitivity. It isn’t so efficient that hiss becomes a large issue, similarly, the Tyr isn’t too source demanding in terms of power requirements or output impedance, being a single micro-driver earphone. This falls in line with the presence of a 4-pin plug and remote cable which suggest that the earphone was intended for smartphone listeners. Comparing between my reference JDS Atom + Khadas Tone board combo and stock Google Pixel dongle (10-ohm output impedance) confirmed this to some degree and revealed that the Tyr scales impressively well. Bass was immediately less controlled on the Pixel, yielding a warmer sound with more slam but less definition. Meanwhile, highs grew more present, creating a more sibilant midrange and splashier top-end. The Pixel was ultimately more V-shaped while the desktop combo was more balanced and detailed throughout. In all fairness, the Pixel dongle is one of the most appalling audio sources out there so this is a worst-case scenario.

 

Comparisons –

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Lypertek MEVI ($30): The MEVI has a brighter and leaner sound. Bass lacks the same depth and has less quantity throughout but redeems itself with a more neutral tone and higher definition. Control is similar but decay is faster and notes are more neutrally sized producing higher detail retrieval. The midrange is reasonably forward, vocals are prominent and clarity is high. It’s more forward and cleaner than both the Tyr and E2000, possessing a neutral tone and moderate brightness stemming from reduced bass quantity and an enhanced lower-treble.

In fact, the MEVI has more lower-treble than any other earphone in this comparison. It’s a bit splashy and rather ill-controlled. Brightness isn’t overbearing as the upper-mdirange isn’t overly forward and the middle-treble is dark and clean. Extension is similar to both earphones, and there is little air and shimmer as a result of attenuation. The MEVI also has the most intimate soundstage amongst these earphones but it has the highest separation in the foreground.

Final Audio E2000 ($40): The E2000 very much resembles the Tyr, but carries a slightly more linear sound. Immediately, the E2000 is more linear from sub to mid-bass, possessing less of the muddiness I experienced with the Tyr but also less depth and slam. It is similarly warm with a more prominent mid-bass, but decay is slightly faster, making it just as defined and a little punchier. The E2000 has a more natural but also more laid-back midrange. As its upper-bass is less attenuated relative to its vocal range, it is slightly warmer and fuller.

The Tyr is smoother and more vocal forward, having a sharper centre midrange emphasis with subsequent upper-midrange dip, it has less extension but more definition. Both have a small bump in the lower-treble, the E2000 is slightly crisper with slightly more detail retrieval. Neither extend especially well and both have modest amounts of air and headroom. Being open, the E2000 has a slightly wider stage and it is more rounded with greater depth. The E2000 has more defined layers while the Tyr has a slightly cleaner tone and a more revealing midrange.

 

Verdict –

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When Final Audio’s E2000 first came through for review, I gushed about its stunningly natural and linear sound at a highly affordable price. The Tyr steps into a similar league, at a not unsubstantial 30% discount with added conveniences and a slightly more vibrant signature on top. Its closed-form factor also permits stronger noise isolation while its similarly slim form factor remains delightfully portable and comfortable. This is a natural, musical and well-balanced earphone. Timbre is not quite as accurate as the E2000 though it’s not far off and the added vocal presence and more defined midrange arguably makes it the more versatile earphone for multi-media consumers. The sub-bass is flabby and the highs uncontrolled to my snobby ears, but the signature is very well-considered and there is strong definition from mid-bass through to the upper-midrange. This is a great choice for those just entering the hobby while retaining key features consumers value. Similarly, the Tyr is a suitable daily for enthusiasts who may want to reserve their pricier gear for home use and secure themselves a set of Final Audio E-tips.

The Tyr is available from on HifiGo and Aliexpress (International) for $29 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

 

Track List –

AKMU – Sailing

Eric Clapton – Unplugged

John Legend – Written in the Stars

Joji – BALLADS 1

Kanye West – Ye

NIKI – Zephyr

Nirvana – Nevermind

Rich Brian – The Sailor

Velvet Underground – Loaded

Zico – Thinking Part.2

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