Kinera Celest Gumiho
- At the point of this article, my Celest has undergone over 170 hours of runtime
- I don't do measurements, I just describe what I hear, from my own POV
- I don't use EQ
- The entirety of my impressions was done with Misodiko MIX460 Tips
- Ultimately, my reviews are purely subjective and biased to my personal preference in sound
Under the sub branding of Celest, Kinera debuted the Gumiho for the budget IEM consumers. With bold and experimental approach of introducing something they coined as Flat Planar hybrid
For a sub $50 budget IEM, understandably Celest opted to construct the IEM unit entirely of plastic. The design and ergonomics exhibited a blend of angular front with curved back. Nothing spectacular really, just simple and functional build. Gumiho comes accompanied with twist braided 2 Pins cable of Black/White. Silver-plated Copper + Alloy Pure Copper Cable which looked like twisted candy to my eyes. Again simple affair and I believe the cable itself will prove pliable and robust enough for daily usage.
As for the drivers itself, it has been labeled as Square Planar. I will admit I am not privy to what that actually mean. I know magnetic planars very well, to my knowledge all planars are flat. By the account of Gumiho being a flat driver, well it doesn't sound out of place in my opinion. Planar literally means Flat. Then there's the custom Balanced Armature drivers that serve as upper frequency host, a common practice nowadays for many hybrid IEMs.
Despite being a budget unit, Celest also included two sets of tips, a pouch and a cleaning brush. Not forgetting an ornament of 7 tailed red fox as freebie on the box.
On the aspect of wear, I would say Gumiho proved to be a comfortable set. Being lightweight and compliant to my ear concha, I have no issues wearing it for extended listening sessions up to 4-5 hours at one go. So this is a huge plus and I always value the ergonomic aspect as much as I value the sound itself.
- Xiaomi Mi 9T
- Sony Xperia X Compact
- Windows 10 with Native USB Drivers
- USB Exclusive Mode with FLAC files
- CEntrance DACport HD
- Cayin RU6
- 7Hz 71
- VE Abigail
- NotByVE Avani
- VE Megatron
Test Audio Playlist
Before I proceed any further, best to clarify that out of the box experience was not an impressive one to say the least. I was taken aback by the thick, syrupy and nasal sound which reminded me of the notorious BLON BL-03. It was slow and uninspiring. Then I tucked my Gumiho away, for Pink Noise burn in sessions for almost 170 hours (practically forgetting it running on loop). I also opted to use my own tips, the Misodiko MIX460 which I have always used on seemingly slow sounding unit to tighten things up. Then, swapped out the cable for my all-time favorite of Kinera Leyding. The sound impressions mentioned here will be in this state.
Celest Gumiho is a strong W curved sounding unit. Boosted Lows, Mids and Highs. It is very colored. Making Celest one of the most vibrant planars available now. The dynamic overtones oozes with pronounced sound spectrum.
However, being colored, I must say Gumiho somehow manage to impart good natural undertone to the overall timbre. I suspect this due to the characteristics of the flat planar. It does have that organic touch that magnetic planars are known for. Being on the thicker side of tonal balance, one may even regard Gumiho as a "warm" sounding unit.
Dynamic transients of Gumiho can best be described as smooth with adequate harmony in the manner the presentation of sound flowed. The euphony level being well controlled and somehow imparting a sensation which I find to be as vibrant as would be expected from dynamic drivers.
The Midrange of Gumiho is thick and dense. It can appear borderline nasal especially if the listener is so accustomed to Harman or V curve tuning. The timbre is organic and bold. It takes some time to adjust and once aligned to the listener perspective, the overall Mids I would regard as wholesome pleasing for some genre of music especially Ballad, Jazz and Bluegrass (folk music). However this same thick overtones may prove a bit sizzling for Rock/Metal, where the upper Mids may appear edgy.
Attack and decays of instruments sounded proper to my ears, it is natural as it is believable. Lacking only depth of resolution and micro details - but then we are talking about a budget IEM here. The fact that Gumiho being able to impart realistic tonal balance is already a plus. I have heard a lot worse Mids from IEMs of this price range in the past.
Vocals wise, I will applaud Gumiho for being very competent with both female and male vocalist. Being able to handle Alison Krauss piercing Soprano voice even at her highest peak without any hint of edge distortion and sibilance is something I dearly appreciate. The low and chesty Contralto of Diana Krall being naturally warm (slightly colored) yet pleasing - imparting the emotions needed for Jazz indulgence. The same can be said for handling of Baritone-Tenor of Nick Cave and Morrissey.
Treble of Gumiho is quite sparkly, lively and borderline bright. It has air and good shimmer. However I am a bit worried with how the decays are presented. On some poorly mixed/mastered recordings, it is evident the decays being granular, the timbre being digital-ish metallic/plasticky. The good part, it behaved well enough to avoid being sibilant or offensive.
The key is to use Gumiho on properly Hi-Fi sources, it will not sound good with Lo-Fi, especially Rock/Metal.
Bass of Gumiho is best described as dense and thick. The speed being average. At least from my observation Bass being respectfully tidy despite lacking speed and pace. Midbass is strong and commanding, the presence demands attention. Impact and slam similar to dynamic drivers. Bass texture being amply rich with good sense of depth. Subbass on the other hand, almost as deep as Harman tuned devices. I am impressed with the smooth decays with good sense of seismic sensation. Gumiho will handle all manner of Bass type, be it stringed, percussions or electronic, all handled and projected as how they should be (with some boosting of course). I must mention though, that in some instances of Bass heavy composition, there's minor hint of Midbass almost bleeding into lover Mids, this is where the nasal element will then present itself - but this is not frequent enough to cause for worry.
Technically, Gumiho is fairly respectable. The width and expanse of soundstage felt spacious. The height tall. Spatial projection of sound scape is good too, with holographic placement of instruments easy to track. Separation lines are clean enough with some hint of edge smoothing, layer of tones respecting each other space accordingly.
Imaging and resolution, impressive for a budget unit. Does not appear sloppy at all. Lacking only absolute clinical precision as would be expected of more expensive units.
Speed on the other hand, it is average. The manner of how deft and agile the drivers respond to project the sound being sufficient to avoid the output being muddy or congested. And thus even with the most complex/speedy of sound composition and rendering, Gumiho proved to be quite capable in its own respect.
Gumiho is easy to drive. Sounds great with my Xiaomi Mi 9T.
It does scale admirably with power. Sounding absolutely the best when paired with 2 Vrms of Cayin RU6 or 1 Vrms of 7Hz 71. However when paired with even more powerful partners, the likes of VE Megatron or CEntrance DACport HD, the overall sound may prove a bit over the top. Gumiho already a vibrant sounding unit, pumping over 4 Vrms of power into it serve to amplify dense dynamic transients which sounded even more colored. It is enjoyable but I personally prefer the more neutral vibrancy of RU6/7Hz 71 for this particular situation.
For a unit costing $49, Celest Gumiho is a fairly exciting IEM for casual use. And thus the perspective of judging this unit must take into account what does the entire package entails. Gumiho ultimately is a good sounding IEM with vibrant and technically competent output. There's cons here and there, but then at this price point it is highly negligible. The Pro outweighs the cons.
Perhaps most important is the need to find the right tips to match the sonic output. Gumiho Celest is among the few of IEMs that's highly tuneable with tips pairing. This would require some effort but once the sweet spot identified, the results will not fail to put smile on our faces.
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