Kinera Imperial Skuld Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kinera Imperial Skuld 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”.

  • Kinera’s Motto is “LIVE ONLY FOR HONOR”.

The Skuld is the brand new Universal IEM of the company that offers a Multi BA Driver configuration with 5x Balanced Armature Drivers per earpiece (3x Knowles + 2x Kinera Customized), which are located inside an impressive looking hand painted monitor shell made of high quality medical grade resin material. Moreover, it comes with Kinera’s new 8 core High Purity Silver Plated Copper Cable that features a 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS Pentaconn) termination plug.

Skuld is the goddess of the future, the youngest of the three sisters of fate, which are part of the Norse Myths.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Kinera for providing me the Skuld 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 Skuld is about $ 550,00 USD. More information’s can be found under the link below;

 

  

 

Package and Accessories:

Any Kinera product I have had reviewed before came in a high quality packaging with a beautiful look and feel, and the SKULD is no expectation. The Kinera Skuld came in a very stylish hexagonal box that shows some similar color elements you can see on the monitor shell. It has the Skuld branding on the top that is in gold color and sports some mottos of the company. 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 Skuld In-Ear Monitor
  • 1 piece x 8 core SPC Detachable Cable with 2-Pin Connectors and 4.4mm Balanced Plug
  • 5 pairs x Final Audio Type-E Silicone Ear Tips
  • 6 pairs x Kinera Custom Silicone Ear Tips (RS-B45 & JH-FY009-B)
  • 2 pairs x Foam Ear Tips
  • 1 piece x 4.4mm to 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) Adapter
  • 1 piece x 4.4mm to 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) Adapter
  • 1 piece x Premium Leather Case
  • 1 piece x Cleaning Tool
  • 1 piece x Community & Contact Cards

 

The Kinera offers a very rich & premium packaging with a wide variety of silicone ear tips that includes 6 pairs of Kinera Custom Silicone Ear Tips (RS-B45 & JH-FY009-B), 5 pairs of Final Type-E tips and 2 pairs of Foam Tips. The cleaning tool and the 4.4mm Balanced to 3.5mm Single Ended + 4.4mm Balanced to 2.5mm Balanced Cable Adaptors are some really nice additions.

Inside the box came a nice leather case in black color with the Kinera branding on the top that has a magnetic lid mechanism.

 

 

 

 

 

Design, Fit and Build Quality:

The Kinera Skuld is one of the most beautiful looking Universal IEM’s that I have hold in my hands , which do look like a piece of Art. It reflects the companies design philosophy, which is attention to the smallest details. Everything, from the Box to the Monitors, from the cable to the accessories looks simply premium & classy!

The Kinera Skuld comes with a Multi BA Driver Configuration, which are located inside the heart of each monitor shell. It has 5x Balanced Armature Driver per ear piece, 3x Knowles (RAF-32873 + CI-22955) and 2x Kinera Customized (SWFK-31736 ) ones.

The faceplate is one of the main optical attractions of the Kinera Skuld. The faceplate was hand painted by very talented designers, which represents according to Kinera “Hope and Future” with the Blue-Green color patterns. The gold foils and sparkly silver elements do complete the eye-catchy and shiny design on the black based surface. The left faceplate has the Kinera, while the right faceplate has the Skuld logo on the top, which are both in gold color.

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 to balance the pressure in your ears that will avoid any damages.

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 Kinera Skuld came with a High Purity 8 core Silver Plated Cooper wire cable that features a nice braided design. Each core has 24 stands, which makes 192 strands of coaxial wires in total.

The cable has a very soft PVC outer insulation that doesn’t show any audible or noteworthy microphonic effects. The 0.78mm diameter 2-Pin 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 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS Pentaconn) 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 both the monitors and of the cable are fantastic and do fulfill my expectations form a product at this price level.

 

 

 

 

Fit, Comfort & Isolation:

The monitors are pretty lightweight and quite small in size for a 5 Driver IEM and do offer a very 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 Skuld ideal for the use in relative noise environments such like a bus or train.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Driver Configuration   : Multi Balanced Armature Drivers
  • Driver Combination    : 3x Knowles BA+ 2x Kinera Customized BA Drivers
  • Sensitivity                   : 120 ± 2dB
  • Impedance                  : 23 Ω
  • Frequency Range      : 5 Hz – 50 kHz
  • Rated Power              : 3mW
  • Connector Type         : 0.78mm Diameter 2-Pin
  • Plug Type                   : 4.4mm TRRS Balanced
  • Cable Length              : about 120cm

 

 

Drivability:

The Kineral Skuld has an impedance of 32Ω and sensitivity about 120dB, which makes it to an pretty power efficient In-Ear Monitor, for the use with sources such like Smartphone’s, Tablet’s and DAP’s with relative weak amplification.

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

  • IEM’s              : Kinera Skuld, HiBy Crystal6, Oriveti O400
  • Sources         : iBasso DX300, FiiO M11 Pro, Shanling UP5, xDuoo TA-604

 

 

 

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)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (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 Skuld is a very balanced sounding Mulit BA In-Ear Monitor with a slightly warmer than neutral tonality. The Skuld offers a linear bass character with fast and controlled response. The midrange on the other hand is highly transparent, lively and natural in its presentation, while treble area shows a nice sense of clarity, airiness and extension, without to sound sharp and ear-piercing, even after longer listening periods.

Please note that my sound impressions below are mainly based on sources parings with the iBasso DX300, FiiO M11 Pro and the xDuoo TA-604. I have used the Final Type-E Silicone Ear Tips and the Stock SPC cable that are included to the package.

 

Bass:

The Kinera Skuld has a linear bass tuning fro the subbass up to the midbass regions, which are reproduced with a moderate level of depth and intensity. There is a slightly boost in the midbass region that adds fullness to the overall presentation.

The Kinera Skuld is s pretty successful In-Ear Monitor in terms of subbass decay, clarity and control, while the depth and rumble is on an average level. The main goal of the Sukuld’s subbass tuning seems to be the quality (resolution, speed, control etc.) where it’s truly shines.

The midbass region of the Kinera Skuld is slightly more pronounced compared to the subbass are, while it still maintains a fairly linear response. The midbass region of the Skuld shows a moderate level of depth and intensity, while it shows a tight and impactful character, rather than to be boomy, when I do listen to songs like Charly Antolini’s “ Duwadjuwandadu” or Jo Blankenburg’s “Meraki”.

Instrumnts such like acoustic guitars and cellos do have a good amount of fullness and weight, while drums like snare and kick drums are impactful without to sound veiled or muddy, even in very complex bass passages. The highlight of Kinera Skuld’s lower frqency region is the general speed, clarity and resolution, which is on a petty high level.

 

Midrange:

The Kinera Skuld has a mildly warm midrange tonality and offers a pretty balanced and detailed overall presentation. The sense of clarity and airiness that is produced in this area is on a quite good level.

 

Vocals & Instruments:

The Skuld is a successful In-Ear Monitor in terms of both male and female vocal presentation. Male vocals such like David Bowie, Sting or Elton John are shown with an average sense of depth and body, while the transparency and resolution is top notch.

Female vocals on the other hand do sound slightly more detailed, lively and are shows with a slightly better level of clarity due to the upper midrange tuning, which shows a mildly boost around the 3 kHz region, which has been confirmed on the frequency table.

The Kinera Skuld offers a quite detailed and realistic instrument presentation thanks to the well tuned Knowles Balanced Armature Driver. Instruments from pianos up to electric guitars are reproduced with a good level of extension, clarity and resolution. Other instruments like clarinets, violins or flutes do have a nice pretty natural.

 

Treble:

The Kinera Skuld has a silky smooth and well controlled treble tuning, which shows an above average detail retrieval. The transitions from the upper midrange towards the treble region are in general nicely controlled, while the attack of percussive instruments such like snare drums or cymbals sounds quite realistic.

The lower treble region is slightly less highlighted compared to the upper treble area while it offers good sense of clarity and definition when I do listen to woodwinds like clarinets, brass instruments like trumpets up to strings like a violin. Other instruments such like flutes and pianos are nicely pronounced and do have an adequate level of lower treble extension.

The upper treble region on the other hand is nicely emphasized and offers a very good level of extension when I do listen to instruments like cymbals and snare drums in genres like metal and jazz music. The upper treble region is crisp and detailed and offers also a nice amount of airiness and sparkle that I really enjoyed.

The Skuld is able to produce pretty good level of detail retrieval from woodwind to string instruments from brass up to percussion instruments, while it offers also a good sense of authority and control in this area that avoids in most songs, any unwanted sibilance and harshness.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The Kinera Skuld shows an above average performance in terms of soundstage atmosphere and imaging and is pretty suitable for a precise and realistic placement of instruments and vocals. The stage is quite airy and shows good sense of wideness, while the level of depth and height is on a moderate level.

 

 

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

Kineral Skuld versus HiBy Crystal6

The HiBy Crystal6 and the Kinera Skuld are Multi BA Driver IEM’s with a comfortable semi-custom shell profile.

The Crystal6 has a slightly warmer tonality compared to the Skuld, which is otherwise also on the warmer side of neutral. The Kinera Skuld shows a more linear lower frequency tuning, with a more balanced subbass and midbass presentation. The subass region of the HiBy Crystal6 has in general more depth and intensity that is especially noticeable in bass heavy songs like electronic music. The Kinera Skuld has the upper hand when it comes to the clarity, decay and control in this area. The midbass region of the Skuld sounds in general more natural, detailed and offers also a better sense speed and authority especially in fast and complex bass passages.

The midrange of the HiBy Crystal6 shows a relative brighter tonality and more energetic presentation, compared to those of the Kinera Skuld that sounds more relaxed, transparent and natural. Both the lower midrange and the upper midrange of the Crystal6 are more pronounced, which makes it sound a bit unnatural and aggressive from time to time, when I do listen to male or female vocals, as well as instruments like violins or pianos. The Kinera Skuld on the other hand offers a more balanced, relaxed and realistic midrange presentation with slightly better level of resolution.

The treble range of both In-Ear Monitors is successful in terms of detail retrial, definition and extension. The Kinera Skuld shows a smoother and more controlled treble presentation, which is more forgiving to poor recorded track, while the HiBy Crystal6 offers a slightly better level of resolution and lower treble extension. However, the Crytsal6 is prone to sibilance and sharpness, especially when you listen to poor recorded tracks or to soprano vocals.

Both IEM’s are pretty successful when it comes to the soundstage performance. The HiBy Crystal6 has the slightly edge when it comes to the depth of the stage, while the Kinera Skuld offers a better sense of wideness.

 

 

 

Kinera Skuld versus Oriveti OH500:

The Kinera Skuld is Multi BA IEM, while the Oriveti OH500 comes with 4BA+1DD Hybrid Driver configuration. Both IEM’s do have a quite similar price and do come with high quality semi-custom monitor shells that are ideal for longer listening periods.

The OH500 shows a noticeably warmer tonality compared to the Skuld that is more balanced in this regarding. The general presentation of the OH500 is slightly more musical, fuller and dense especially in the lower frequency area.

The subbass region of both In-Ear Monitors is pretty similar in terms of resolution and control. The OH500 offers more depth and rumble, and has a slightly higher level of extension. The midbass region of the Oriveti OH500 sounds boomy, more dense and full bodied. The Kinear Skuld on the other hand offers a more natural, clear and detailed presentation in this area.

When it comes to the midrange I can say that the Oriveti OH500 has a warmer and slightly more musical tonality with emphasis in the lower midrange region. The Kinera Skuld on the other hand shows higher sense of transparency, airiness and micro detail retrieval due to the upper midrange tuning, which is more highlighted than those of the Oriveti OH500.

Male vocals and instruments such like violas and trumpets do have more body and depth when I do listen to the OH500, while Skuld is more successful with female voices and instruments like a piano, clarinet and violin due to its the upper midrange tuning.

The treble range of the Kinera Skuld offers a slightly better sense of clarity and definition in the lower treble region, while both IEM’s are quite successful in terms of detail retrieval. The upper treble region of the Skuld sounds a bit more energetic and is able to produce a better sense of airiness and sparkle, compared to the OH500 that is otherwise pretty successful in this regarding.

The stage of the Kinera Skuld sounds more spacious and airy compared to the Oriveti OH500 and has also the upper hand in terms of wideness and depth.

 

 

Conclusion:

The Kinera Imperial Skuld is an impressive looking Universal In-Ear Monitor that has a very balanced, yet detailed sound presentation. Moreover, it comes with a very rich set of premium quality accessories, which are placed in to an eye-catching hexagonal box that includes various ear tips, a nice leather case, High Purity SPC cable and many more. All those aspects do make the Skuld to a very attractive IEM choice in its price range.

 

 

 

Pros & Cons:

  • + Pretty Balanced & Detail Presentation from the lows to the highs
  • + Linear bass response with above average speed and control
  • + Transparent and Airy Midrange Character
  • + Mature Treble Tuning with good sense of Clarity & Definition
  • + Beautiful Monitor Design
  • + Good Cable & Rich Set of Accessories

 

  • – Not ideal for those who are looking for coloration in the lower frequency region
  • – A bit more body in the lower midrange would be welcome
  • – Treble Extension is slightly short

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

 

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