-neutral and mature tuning that keep a sens of musicality
-highly revealing resolution
-fast punchy attack with good note weight
-great layering and imaging
-realist timbre that isn’t thin or too bright
-bright yet not agressive, sibilant or trebly
-full sounding treble with lot of micro details
-tight thumpy bass with good texture and definition
-incredible looking design, sturdy and comfy too
-lack of air and wider separation space
-fast sustain decay mean lack of natural resonance, sparkle and brilliance
-a hint dry timbre
-sub bass roll off
-upper treble roll off
-average soundstage size
SOUND VALUE: 8.5/10
KINERA is a chinese earphones company with more than 7 years of experience, so they’ve been around for long and are well known by audio enthusiast. Since their begining, they specialize in Hybrid tuning and have sure evolved in all these years, learning more about tonal balance and psychoacoustic perception. We are far from old days of their first flagship H3, a 1DD+2BA uiem that receive mitigated impressions. Still, my expectation of the IEM i will review today, the Idun Golden, were rather low.
The Kinera Idun Golden is a hybrid using one 7mm titanium plated dynamic driver with 2 balanced armature (1 knowles, 1 kinera custom), it’s priced 170$ and let me reassure you right away, the Golden is nothing like the H3 and offer a way more cohesive tuning.
Let’s see why in this review and if it’s enough to conclude the Idun Golden worth a buy.
The Golden have a splendid construction that is both sturdy and comfortable, but most of all, extremely eye catching due to the unique hand paint job made by Kinera artist. We are use to extremely beautifull shell ornamentation, like abstract painting, but this time the design push aesthetic bundaries. Words are useless to describe this type of hypnotizing wonder. So enjoy the picture here:
In term of material, it’s thick medical grade plastic, smooth and very solid, with an organic universal ear canal shape and rather long nozzle. Back shel is flat and overall size is quite small for a multi BA hybrid. 2pin connector is in a small rectangular cavity which i prefer to flat finish which is more prompt to damage 2pin by benting the pins. Body is light, smooth and offer a tight fit that is comfortable and above average in isolation and have zero sound leakage (which is surprising since their a small venting hole at it’s side).
Now when it come to the cable, again it’s very impressive and highly welcome: the Kinera Ace modular cable! Wow, including a 50$ modular cable is such a luxury in this sub-200$ price range, and a good one too which have it’s 3.5 se and 4.4 bal jack included (no 2.5mm). It’s an 8cores silver-plated copper cable, smooth and flexible, yet sturdy and nice looking, perfect match to Golden look. The jack are easy to swap and while their not secure with a screw or mecanism, they never tend to get loose so I prefer this over FIIO LC RC modular cable which is a burden to use unlike the Ace.
And the packaging….we can write a novel about whole packaging presentation since Kinera are know to give great effort in that regard. Let say it’s similar to the Freya boxing and include better accessories. A very generous amount of diversify eartips, 3 pairs of wide bore, 4 pairs of brown silicone and 2 pair of memory foams. A nice looking carrying case. And the marvelous Ace modular cable which is the cherry on top of the cake (even if including the 2.5mm bal jack would have been logical). Very nice.
Wow, ok, this is confirm, Kinera have really evolve in tuning balance and while the Golden is nothing like warmer more laid bass U shape URD flagship tribrid I test lately HERE, it sure offer a mature and refined balance that is a big improvment over Freya or their very first mutti BA Hybrid the H3.
Tonality is what I would call bright neutral to smooth analytical, with a focus on energy and clarity yet a sens of balance that keep musicality alert as well. When I say neutral, it can’t mean a flat tonal line, if it was that, nobody would want to listen to it more than a minute. Nope, its an organic yet dynamic and vivid sligth W shape, where bass, mids and highs have upfront presence and high level of clarity. Since treble did dig lotta info and micro details, i conclude it’s near analytical. WHy I say smooth then? Cause we don’t have problematic sibilance, shoutyness in mids nor splashyness or intense harshness in highs even if yes, they are a bit agressive since they are a little boosted.
The bass is all about punch and immediacy as well as textured presence. It isn’t basshead at all, just enough mid bass punch to extract kick drum energy and give this extra hit physicality to music. It’s a bit dry, but not thin or lacking roundness in body. Attack is fast an tight with short decay, it doesn’t move post-attack bloom to the sound nor have vibrant rumble that dig down to 20hz. So, perhaps a bit tame in 20-50hz region and sure not the star of the show. Understated yet competent and clean. Bass have a sens of proximity to mids and highs but in their back, and unlike some inferior hybrid like FIIO FH3, it doesn’t feel distached or boomy. Cello sound great, full in body, fast in articulation and well textured with realist tone, while acoustic bass will lack a bit of linear extension.
If you search for lush wide open and romantically coloured mid range, go somewhere else, here we have more of a ”monitor like” mid range, fowards in presence and definition, fully extract and high in sound info wich it’s quite intensely revealing yet not thin, clinical or artificial sounding. Everything in this range sound full and energic, piano have weight and fast attack with tight sustain, female vocal are fowards, well extract and centered, a hint bright but not sibilant even if i will not say they are smooth. Clarity is high here, sharp too, but not wide in presentation so it feel concentrated yet even busy track doesn’t make them messy or compressed, just very heavy in dynamic resolution. Still, for some listener this might lack warmth and naturalness in timbre. Presentation is technical and not always permissive of bad recording, like monitor do.
The treble is very well balanced yet vivid, so well in fact that some will perhaps not be wow by very high level of details and texture nuance it extract. Percussions sound full here, not half cook, it’s all rounded with good enough control due to short decay. In the other hands, this short decay stole airy treble perception, which will lack sparkle and brilliant snap for some. This is the type of IEM that extract subtle micro details like saxophone blowing texture details, bow rubbing noise on a violin, metal chord texture of a clavichord etc. This sure enrich critical listening pleasure to a point you can listen multiple time to a same track and focus on different level of details or sounds layers. Thing is that even if foward and analytical, the treble doesnt feel unbalanced and this is what highly impress me with the Idun Golden, we are into ”analytical musical” territory, where sound richness is magnify but the tonality is neutral with an authoritative dynamic rendering. Jack of all trade and master of….everything? Not exactly, but not far from this too. If the treble could really extend up to 20khz, this would have been a master of everything but the lack of air affect whole psychoacoustic presentation unfortunately.
The soundstage is just average for the price, this is perhaps achilles’heel of the Golden, not that it’s stock in your head but just don’t feel very open, tall and deep. Spatiality is all about proximity, your at about a meter from your musicians here, yet it doesn’t translate into a immersive blanket of sound due to heterogenous sounds layers richness. Using wide bore ear tips help to add some wideness.
When spatiality feel like a small room, the imaging tend to be bad but it’s not the case here with the Golden, in fact, it’s very capable since both moving sound layers and static isntrument presence are well define and position. Instrument separation might lack wide space between them, yet they are well preserve in their singular definition so i have no difficulties to pin point pianist, drummer and, to a less extend, bassist in a jazz band for ex. Center stage isn’t forgotten too, so it add a hint of holographic rendering too.
VS FIIO FH3 (1DD+2knowles BA-130$)
FH3 is more brigth U shape with leaner mids and slightly crisper highs, it feel very bassy compared to better balanced Golden. I say bright but trebly would be a better term, since texture is quite dark and warm compared to Golden wich have more bite in attack. Biggest diffrence here it’s in how bass is boosted, it have a sloppier boomier warm slam that bloom mids annd make it feel smooten in presence, while in fact it tend to underline bad timbral balance. Tone is off compared to Golden it sound more artificial and foggy in proper definition, so clarity is inferior too with layers of sound acting like extra bloom, in that foggy romantism, suddenly the highs pop up with brilliance and sparkle, extracting micro details in a random way, which isn’t the case for the Golden which extract everything at the near same level with highs that are fuller in restitution, just not tinny piece of metallic percussions for ex.
For the mids, it’s so bad that let say its bot more recessed and bloomy.
Where the FH3 have upper hands it will be in soundstage, it’s wider and even deeper, but in a irrealistic way that poor imaging highlight. Kinera in that regards might be more closed and intimate in its spatiality but we can pin point instrument still, not just vague layers muffled in a foggy whole.
I think it’s clear FH3 can’t compare to these both in technicality and tonality, even if im pretty sure some will prefer bassier warmer FH3 due to more severe and analytical sound approach of superior Kinera Idun Golden.
VS IKKO OH10 (1DD-1knowles BA-170$)
The Ol’but gold OH10 proof again to be a very competent contender against Golden but doesn’t follow same tonal curve than more neutral and well balanced Golden.
OH10 is notably more agressive brightV shape, with a bass of both greater quantity and quality.
This is what demark the OH10 here, it’s superb bass performance, both faster, weigthier and more rumbly and extended than Kinera. It’s fuller, denser in timbre with a more natural and smooth texture too.
Mids are brighter, thinner and more prompt to sibilance and shoutyness at high volume with OH10, it feel more compressed too, more artificial in timbre. This make mid range imaging better layered with the Kinera and overal resolution fuller in sound info.
Treble is more spiky with OH10, adding air and snap in upper highs, underlining it’s crisp V shape signature, which is more excited and fatiguing and more prompt to sibilance and splashyness than Kinera.
Soundstage feel a bit wider and airier with the OH10, but quite stereo as if center stage is scooped so you have a extra sens of deepness too, but unlike Golden, you will not find extra sound layers to dig in.
The layering perception-separation is notably better with the Kinera, and inflict on overall imaging capacity that are superior and not just about bass and treble fake separation.
All in all, their no doubt the dynamic driver of OH10 is superior and offer better bass performance and more appealing quantity, but they fail against Kinera when it come to mids and treble, which is surely due to the use of a single balanced armature against 2 BA for the Kinera Idun Golden. So my conclusion is if you only care about bass performance, go for OH10, but if you want a more versatile and neutral sound rendering with this time better mids-treble performance, go for the Golden!
VS SEEAUDIO YUME (1DD+2 knowles BA-170$)
OK, this is the serious fight here, even if tonal balance wise, they aren’t the same, both this hybrid hit above their price range in term of cohesive balance. Yume is more U shape to mid centric and laid back in dynamic yet have more fowards and wide open mids and vocal. Bass are opposite in their presentation, Yume being more sub bass boosted, warm and heavy in slam while Golden is more punchy mid bass, so Yume seem to lack kick drum presence and hit while Golden seem to lack rumble extension and bass line thickness.
Mids are leaner and more organic smooth with Yume, it tend to be put on front stage while Golden will stay centered in middle stage. Note weight tough, are heavier with the golden as well as micro definition tend to make mid range better layered. Attack is more smoothed in bite with the Yume too, so electric guitar as well as violin have more energy and texture.
For treble, again, Yume choose to soft it more than Golden, so resolution can feel a bit muted on top, while more crisp and textured with the Kinera. Sens of clarity is both more crisp and dynamic in rendering than Yume.
This time, soundstage is wider and deeper with the Kinera and imaging is on par tough a bit more clean and sharp in positioning.
All in all, Yume have been dethroned here, unless you really want the extra sub bass warmth the Kinera Idun Golden is more neutral, better balanced, and have better technical performance as a whole.
The Kinera Idun Golden is a marvellous sounding and looking earphones, with a refined near neutral tonal balance, and high technical performance that hit above their price range.
With it’s vivid, gently bright and highly revealing sound presentation, you are in for a rich and immersive musicality with a hint of monitor like extra excitment.
The Golden take me by surprise, since this type of analytical signature tend to be either too bright or in your face, yet it’s not the case here, it’s maturely balanced and very cohesive in macro-definition with a dense sense of layering that make spatiality fullfill with liveliness.
Think about a hint brighter Rose Technics QT9 MK2S (or Seeaudio Yume upgrade) and your not far from Golden performance, it’s that good and sure worth high recommendation from me!
For 170$, you get alot for your money, including a modular cable and mesmerizing piece of unique art under the IEM form.
Kinera are on a new momentum and I can’t wait for their next release since their achieve now well balanced tuning, should it be warm way for the URD or bright way for the Golden.
PS: I want to thanks Kinera for sending me this review sample, it’s very pleasant to communicate with them and I have no affiliation nor any obligation or compromise to do in my review. As always, these are my 100% honest unbiased subjective impressions.
You can order the Kinera Idun Golden for 170$ from this official seller:https://hifigo.com/products/kinera-idun-2-0