Kinera Imperial NORN IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kinera Imperial NORN IEM Review

 

 

Introduction:

Kinera Electronic Co. Ltd. is a Chinese company located in DongGuanCity – China and is specialized in the production and development of portable audio equipments like “In-Ear Monitors and Earbuds”.

The NORN is one of the latest In-Ear Monitors of the company that features a beautiful hand painted monitor shell and a 5 Driver Hybrid configuration, which is a combination of 4 x Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers + 1 x 7mm diameter Micro Dynamic Driver with a 1.5 Tesla magnetic flux. The NORN has a specially designed 3-tube frequency cross over to remove any possible multi-driver distortion.

The motto is “LIVE ONLY FOR HONOR”.

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Kinera for providing me the NORN sample for review purposes. I am not affiliated with Kinera beyond this review and all these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.

 

 

 

Price & Availability:

The actual retrial price for the Kinera Imperial NORN is about $ 509,00 USD. More information’s can be found under the link below;

 

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

KINERA gives great value to the design of the products and their packaging and the NORN is not an expectation. The Kinera Imperial NORN came in a very stylish hexagonal box that reflexes the colors of the product, which are black, red (the flame) and grey (the smoke) along with the NORN barding in gold color on the top.

At the bottom part of the box are some product related details like content, specifications, frequency graph, etc.

 

Inside the box are the following contents/accessories; 

  • 1 pair x Kinera Imperial NORN In-Ear Monitor
  • 1 piece x 8 core Detachable Cable with 0.78mm Diameter 2-Pin Connectors
  • 6 pairs x Silicone Ear Tips (S/M/L)
  • 1 piece x 2.5mm Balanced to 4.4mm Balanced Adaptor Cable
  • 1 piece x 2.5mm Balanced to 3.5mm Single Ended Adaptor Cable
  • 1 piece x Zipper Case
  • 1 piece x Community & Contact Cards

 

The Kinera Imperial NORN comes with a wide variety of silicone ear tips that includes 3 pairs of black, 3 pairs of red-grey and 5 pairs of Final Type-E tips.

The 2.5mm Balanced to 3.5mm Single Ended and 2.5mm Balanced to 4.4mm Balanced Cable Adaptors are some really nice additions.

Inside the box is a nice leather case in black color that has a magnetic lid mechanism.

 

 

 

 

 

Design, Fit and Build Quality: 

What I really like about Kinera products is the premium build quality, fantastic design and the attention to the smallest details. From the box to the Monitors from the cable to the accessories, everything looks simply classy!

The monitors of the Kinera Imperial NORN do have a beautiful artistic design that reminds me to a fluid magma stream that is surrounded with grey smoky areas, which looks really impressive.

The heart of the fantastic looking monitor shells features a 5 Driver Hybrid configuration, which is a combination of 4 x Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers + 1 x  Micro Dynamic Driver with a 7mm diameter Titanium-plated composite diaphragm that has a 1.5 Tesla magnetic flux, Japan imported Daikoku pure copper coil and a N52 strong ring magnet.

The left faceplate sports the Kinera, while the right faceplate has the NORN logo on the top that are both in gold color and do have a nice glossy finish.

On the top of each monitor shell is the one 0.78mm diameter 2Pin female connector that offer a pretty tight and secure connection with the male connectors of the detachable cable.

At the rear side of the monitor shell is a small opening, which is a vent dedicated for the 7mm diameter Micro Dynamic Driver that is responsible for the lower frequency production.

The sound nozzle has 3 bores on the top for the specially designed 3-tube frequency cross over that removes any possible multi-driver distortion.

The monitors are pretty lightweight and quite small in size for a 5 Driver IEM. The NORN has a semi custom monitor shape that offers a comfortable fit, which makes it ideal for longer listening periods especially on the go.

The passive noise isolation is above average, which makes the Kinera Imperial NORN ideal for the use in relative noise environments such like a bus or train.

The Kinera Imperial NORN is bundled with an 8 core Silver Plated Cooper wire cable with a braided design. Each core has 24 stands, which makes 192 strands of 24AWG coaxial wire in total.

The cable has a very soft PVC outer insulation that shows very low, almost non existent microphonic effects.

The 0.78mm diameter 2Pin connectors do have metal housing in silver color and do sport left and right markings (red for right & transparent for the left earpiece).

The cable features also flexible heat shrink ear guides on both sides, which offers extra comfort, especially on the go.

The detachable cable has a transparent plastic chin slider and a nice shaped metal Y-splitter.

The 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) headphone jack has a straight profiled metal housing with the Kinera brand logo on the top, while a plastic strain relief offers extra durability.

The overall build quality of cable fulfils my expectation from a product at this price range.

 

 

Drivability:

The Kinera Imperial NORN is a pretty efficient In-Ear Monitor thanks to its low impedance of 32Ω and a sensitivity of 110dB. This values makes the NORN quite compatible with relative weak sources like Smartphone’s, Tablet’s and DAP’s that do have a weak amplification.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:
  • Driver Combination    : 4x BA + 1x DD with 7mm Dia. Titanium-plated composite diaphragm
  • Sensitivity                   : 110 ± 2dB
  • Impedance                  : 32 Ω
  • Frequency Range      : 5 Hz – 50 kHz
  • Rated Power              : 3mW
  • Dynamic Distortion     : <3% (1kHz, 100dB SPL)
  • Connector Type         : 0.78mm Diameter 2-Pin
  • Cable Length              : about 120cm
  • Plug Type                   : 2.5mm TRRS Balanced (comes with 4.4mm & 3.5mm adaptor cables)

 

 

Drivability & Pairing:

The Kinera Imperial NORN has a relative low impedance of 32Ω and a sensitivity of 110dB which makes it highly compatible with relative weak sources like Smartphone’s, Tablet’s and DAP’s that do have a weak amplification. However, the NORN shows its true performance when you pair is with mid-fi or high end DAP’s like the FiiO M11 Pro or iBasso DX300 and DAC/Amplifiers such like the PALAP M1-Mini or the FiiO Q5s.

 

 

 

Test Equipment’s:

IEM’s              : Kinera Imperial NORN, Dunu DK-3001 Pro, Oriveti OH500
Sources         : iBasso DX300, FiiO M11 Pro, PALAB M1 Mini, Fiio Q5s, ddHiFi TC44B

 

  

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:
  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Billy Paul – Me and Mrs. Jones (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Bang La Decks – Aide (Spotify)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – The Magelan Matrix (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The Kinera Imperial NORN has a very dynamic and energetic V shaped sound signature with one of the best bass responses that can compete with products up to the 1000 USD price range. The Bass is very fast, punchy and controlled, the midrange is transparent and airy, while the treble area is able to deliver a great sense of extension and plenty of detail.

Please note that this reviews was written after a burn-in period of around 120 Hours. I have used the Final Type E silicone ear tips and the stock cable which are included to the standard packaging of the NONRN. Sources and IEM’s for comparison are listed above under “Test Equipment’s”.

 

Bass:

The Kinera Imperial NORN offers a very impressive bass performance that is produced with its relative small 7mm diameter Micro Dynamic Driver that is equipped with a Titanium-plated composite diaphragm.

The NORN is able to produce an impressive subbass performance with a powerful, deep and well extending presentation. The subbass decay is pretty fast, while the level of control is above average, maybe one of the best in this price range, when I have listen to songs like “Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama”, “Lorde – Royals” or “Bang La Decks – Aide”.

The midbass region of the Kinera Imperial NORN is slightly more pronounced compared to the subbass area, however that doesn’t mean that it is overwhelming, on the contrary it is highly controlled, fast and impactful, without to show negative situations such like a midbass hump. The 7mm micro dynamic driver shows again how capable it is when it comes to the speed, extension and impact while listen to Instruments such like a cross drum, bass guitar or trumpet.

The overall bass performance of the NORN is really stunning, especially while listen to songs with fast and complex bass passages. The Micro driver shows the speed and authority of a balanced armature driver and the impact and timbre of a dynamic driver.

 

 

Midrange:

The Kinera Imperial NORN has a slightly warmer than neutral midrange tonality with a laid back character due to the V shaped sound signature, where the lows and the highs are more highlighted and dominant compared to midrange area. However, the sense of transparency, airiness and detail retrieval fulfils my expectations from an In-Ear Monitor at this price level.

The lower midrange of the Kinera Imperial NORN shows a moderate level of depth and intensity that offers a nice sense of warmth and fullness, while listen to male vocals like Billy Paul, Barry White and David Bowie or to instruments such like an acoustic guitar or viola.

The upper midrange of the NORN is mildly pronounced, smooth and fairly detailed. Female vocals such like Hayley Westenra and Diana Krall are crisp and lively, while Sarah McLachlan sounds pretty emotional. Instruments such like a piano, viola or elector guitar are shown with a moderate sense of intensity and extension. The upper midrange of the Kinera Imperial NORN is in general pretty controlled without to show any remarkable negative conditions such like over-brightness, sibilance or sharpness.

 

Treble:

The treble range of the Kinera Imperial NORN is one of the stars of the show, which sounds bright, energetic and highly dynamic. It is strongly pronounced and very detailed, while the performance in terms of extension is above average. However, If you are the sort of listener who are sensitive to treble brightness, I would recommend you to use it with a warmer source and the right ear tips that are able to reduce the intensity of this area.

The transitions form the upper midrange region lower treble area are in general fairly controlled. The lower treble region of the NORN offers a good sense of clarity and definitions with good detail retrieval, while listen to soprano female vocals Hayley Westenra or Sertap Erener or to instruments like organs or pianos.

The upper treble range of the NORN that are produced with Kinera’s Custom Balanced Armature Drivers sounds highlighted, detailed and shows an above average extension. This area is able to produce a great sense of airiness and sparkle thanks to an audible peak around the 7 – 8 kHz region, while the intensity could maybe a bit high for treble sensitive listener.

Instruments like hi-hats, crash and ride cymbals do have a bright tonality while the sense of speed and separation is quite successful especially for an IEM at this price level.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

 The Kinera Imperial NORN is a successful In-Ear Monitor in terms of separation between the right & the left channels and the positioning of instruments and vocals. The stage of the NORN sounds pretty airy thanks to the pronounced highs and the reduced midrange. The soundstage shows good level of depth, while the stage has in general a sufficient sense of wideness.

  

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

Kinera Imperial NORN versus Oriveti OH500:

The Oriveti OH500 has a warmer tonality and smother presentation especially in the treble region. Both the NORN and the OH500 do offer an impressive bass performance that I highly enjoy. The subbass region of the OH500 shows slightly more depth and rumble compared to the NORN, which has the upper hand in terms of speed, authority/control.

The midbass region of both IEM’s is strong and impactful, however, the Kinera Imperial NORN shows a better sense of clarity in this area and has also the edge when it comes to the resolution, decay and extension in this area.

The midrange of the Oriveti OH500 is slightly more upfront and shows a warmer tonality. The Kinera Imperial NORN on the other hand has a slightly more laid back midrange tuning with better level of transparency and airiness. Male vocals do have slightly more body when I do listen to the OH500, while female vocals are more lively and detailed with the NORN.

Both the upper midrange and treble region of the Kinera Imperial NORN is more pronounced, especially the upper treble region, while the Oriveti OH500 offers a smoother more relaxed treble response. The treble region of the NORN shows a better sense of clarity, definition, while it is superior when it comes to the extension in this area.

Both IEM’s are successful in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals. However, the NORN hast the upper hand in terms of soundstage depth and airiness, while the wideness of the stage is pretty close.

  

 

Kinera Imperial NORN versus Dunu DK-3001 PRO:

Both the Kinera Imperial NORN and the Dunu DK-3001 PRO do feature a hybrid driver configuration.

The subbass region of the DK-3001 PRO offers a pretty good level of intensity, depth and extension, while NORN it superior in terms of overall quantity, decay and control in this area. The midbass region of both the NORN and the DK-3001 PRO is pretty close in resolution and impact. The main difference is overall speed and control where the NORN has the slightly edge.

The midrange of both the Dunu DK-3001 PRO and the Kinera Imperial NORN sounds laid back due to the V shaped sound signature. The NORN offers a better sense of clarity and detail retrieval compared to the DK-3001 PRO that sounds a bit dry and muddy in direct comparison.

Both the NORN and the DK-3001 PRO are on par when it comes to the male vocal performance, however, the NORN is the edge when it comes to female vocals that are reproduced with a better sense of clarity and extension.

The treble range of the Kinera Imperial NORN is slightly more pronounced, especially the upper treble range where it is more energetic after the 6 kHz region. Then DK-3001 PRO has the slightly edge in terms treble control and tonality, while the NORN offers a better sense of airiness and sparkle along with higher level of extension and definition.

Both the NORN and the DK-3001 PRO do shows a pretty similar performance in terms of separation and placement of instrument and vocals. The soundstage of the NORN is slightly deeper compared to the DK-3001 PRO, which offers a slightly better sense of wideness.

 

 

Conclusion:

The NORN is for sure one of the “Best Looking” In-Ear Monitors that I have reviewed here on Moonstar Reviews. Both the monitors and the hexagonal box of the NORN do reflect Kinera’s premium build quality and fantastic design language with attention to the smallest details. And the best part of the NORN is that it sounds as great as it looks like with its impressive bass response that performs above its price range, a transparent & lively midrange character, and treble tuning that is energetic and detailed.

 

 

 

Pros & Cons:
  • + Impressive Bass Response (Impact, Speed, Control, Resolution)
  • + Laidback but nicely Transparent and Lively Midrange Tuning
  • + Energetic, Detailed and well Extending Treble Performance
  • + Soundstage Depth
  • + Fantastic Design & Premium Build quality
  • + Lightweight and comfortable
  • + Rich Accessory Package (Ear Tips, Cables, Leather Case, Adaptors, etc.)

 

  • – Treble Maybe A bit to Energetic for People with Sensitive Ears
  • – Recessed Midrange Tuning
  • – Soundstage could be slightly wider

 

Thank you for the read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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