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Kinera Norn IEM Review: In A Music Booth!!

Kinera Norn IEM Review: In A Music Booth!!

Introduction:

Kinera has been in the audiophile trade for quite a while now. Although I have not tried any other iem of Kinera except Idun, which I did not like very much. However, when Norn was released, I honestly got mesmerised by the design. I only hoped the sound was as beautiful as the exterior.

Specifications:

Drivers: 4BA + 1 Dynamic Driver

Drivers Configuration: 2 Knowles BA + 2 Kinera Custom BA + Custom Titanium Diaphragm DD

Frequency Response: 5Hz-40kHz

Sensitivity: 110dB.

Impedance: 32 Ohms

Rated Power: 3 MW

Distortion: <3%.

Disclaimer:

I had some money spare, and thought about giving the Norn a try and purchased it. I bought this unit from HiFiGo. Got a discount in return for this review. I am not affiliated by HiFiGo or Kinera to write a positive or negative review, all thoughts in this review are completely my own. If you are interested you can buy the Kinera Norn from HiFiGo from the link below.

https://hifigo.com/products/kinera-norn-1dd-4ba-iems

Kinera Norn-1

Build and Fit:

The build of Norn is perhaps one of the most beautiful, if not The Most Beautiful I have seen till date. In hand it looks even more impressive. The shells are of medium size with medium length nozzles. Solid acrylic build invokes confidence.  Because of the medium size and nozzle length, the fit is quite good in my medium sized ears. Very comfortable and snug fit. 

The cable was also quite good, terminated at 2.5 mm balance with 3.5 MM SE and 4.4 mm balanced adaptors for a complete solution. The cable is quite supple, and yet strongly built.

Kinera Norn-2

Sound:

The sound profile of Norn is decidedly W. Kinera has tuned the Norn really well that even though sound i very dynamic and grabs your attention right off the bat, it never gets irritating with unpleasant peaks.

Low:

The custom titanium diaphragm DD packs a solid and full punch. Let’s just say you will not be missing Bass on this set. Low frequencies are packed with plenty of power to make you go WOW at the first listen. Midbass slams are full bodied and powerful, and have moderate speed. Same goes for Subbass rumbles - they reach very deep, and provide the atmospheric feeling, but do not linger longer than necessary. Kinera has tuned the driver so efficiently that it produces bass with plenty of power and yet in a very controlled way. Suffice to say that due to the control none of the lower end textures gets lost, rather they are guaranteed to provide satisfaction. I love a powerful low end and I was supremely satisfied by it.

When it played the Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude To War, the bass drums rumbled and roared with enough force to rattle my jawbones. And yet disappeared just as quick, not muddying up the mids and highs.

Steven Wilson - Pariah has a beautiful bassline towards the end of the track, Norn played it to the front of the mix with enough meat on the bones.

In The Dark Knight - Why So Serious, from 03:25, the subbass rumbles are thick and creates an almost tangible feeling of pressure around the head.

Kinera Norn-3

Mid:

Norn has a W shaped sound profile, and hence the mids are slightly pushed forward. Although definitely not in your face. I would say Kinera did a fine job positioning the mids here.

Coming to tonality, the mids have a slight warm touch. Notes are very slightly on the thicker side, aiding them with a good presence. Notes are also quite crisp and detailed, which is even more enhanced by the body. 

String instruments do sound extremely pleasing, as do the vocals. Male vocals have nice depth and body, and female vocals have good extension and brilliance. In fact, Kinera has not preferred one segment over another here. However, I could not detect any sibilance - so props to Kinera for that.

Overall, the mids were quite musical yet detailed to my ears. It most definitely did not feel dry to me.

The Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude To War has some cello/bass which emit deep and resonating notes that set up a nice background. Norn reproduces the notes with fullness and musicality. Also, the snare drum rolls were very much crisp and detailed and easy to pick up in the mix.

Leonard Cohen’s voice in Hallelujah does sound wonderful, with enough depth and weight, along with all the textures. 

In Silversun Pickups - The Royal We the electric guitars and the vocals are a bit thin and has a tendency to get peaky/sibilant on occasion. However, Land expressed the underlying energy well without the discomfort of peaks.

Yao Si Ting’s voice in Scarborough Fair is highly energetic, and has a brilliant sizzle which can get piercing on poorly tuned iems. However, Norn payes it very well without any sibilance. The energy does not seem cut off, and yet it does not get uncomfortable.

High:

Brilliant highs with enough extension and sparkles to satisfy me. Honestly - this sums up my impression about the highs. The notes are very nicely crafted. No smudges, no uneven edges. Just very finely crafted high notes. The focus is mainly on lower treble, but upper treble is not severely rolled off, and has good presence. Notes do not feel thin and brittle. I crave for the last bit of brilliance in highs, without experiencing any uncomfortable peaks that pierces. Suffice to say that Norn delivers that. Not in spades, but yeah, definitely delivers that..

Metallica - The Four Horsemen has some intense cymbal and hi-hats playing throughout the track, and Norn made them sound brilliant, as they should, without any peaks. 

In the case of Steven Wilson - Pariah, the background high notes breathe air very well, and the cymbal crashes stay at a respectable distance while not getting lost behind the strong bassline. 

Technicalities:

I have almost nothing against Norn. Separation is quite commendable - each individual note has its own crafted space in the headspace created, and nothing smudges others. Each note is also very carefully reproduced with a nice dimensionality. Understandably, no details are missed. 

Why, then, do I say “almost”? Because, if you have noticed, I never once mentioned the word ‘airy’. Reason behind is that even though Norn exhibits very good separation and note details, the soundstage width is...less than my preference. Stage height and depth is quite good, but because of the lack of width, the headspace largely stays within the head, does not extend beyond it, and hence fails to provide that last bit of grandiose. 

Kinera Norn-4

Comparisons:


Vs. UM 3DT - Norn wins in note definition, separation, bass impact and depth hands down. 3DT does not stand any chance. However, 3DT excels in providing a very open presentation with a much wider and grander stage that extends well beyond the head. Mids and highs will depend on individual preference though. Norn mids have slightly more warmth,and male vocals have slightly more weight. However, 3DT does not fall far behind, and the slightly more neutral mids has its own charm. Regarding highs, Norn definitely has more sparkle and brilliance, but 3DT has a unique high frequency representation that sounds energetic and yet not fatiguing. Norn highs brilliance is more attacking, whereas 3DT is more musical.


Vs. TSMR Land - Really unfair comparison, as Land bests Norn in all fields. More physical and atmospheric bass, more realistic mids, more extended and detailed highs, wider, deeper, taller and more three-dimensional stage. But well, it costs more than Norn also.

Kinera Norn-5

Conclusion:

All in all, the Norn has its own niche at around 500 USD price. Those who do not need a very open sounding presentation,but rather prefer an intimate sound with commendable separation and layering, with carefully defined notes and a fun presentation, Norn is for you!

Author: Sagnik Biswas

Author Intro:-

Music has been a forever part of my life, and when I discovered the pleasure of high resolution listening around 2015, I did not have to think twice before plunging headfirst into Audiophilia. However, it is not until 2020 did I gain the confidence in myself for penning down my first impression.
Hi, I am Sagnik Biswas, an audiophile from India. In these 5 years I have gone through quite a number if gears and toiled a great deal in the threads of head-fi, and made a lot of new friends, and discovered a great number of music. This journey is one musical one, with hits and misses, and least to say I'm enjoying it to the most. I try to approach the sound output of any gear both technically and emotionally, and tend to capture those feelings as accurately as possible. Sticking around to collect as many great memories as possible through the journey.

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