Kinera Baldr Flagship IEM Review
Manufacturer Specified Specifications:-
- Rated power: 3 mW.
- Impedance: 22 Ohms.
- Wear type: In-ear.
- Driver Combination: 4 EST+1 DD+2 BA.
- Sensitivity:109Â±2db Frequency response range: 5 Hz- 50k Hz.
- Plug: 3.5mm + 2.5mm + 4.4mm adapter +Airplane Adapter.
- Cable: 5N gold-plated single crystal copper, four strands total of 196 cores, 1.2m.
Only a few times in an audiophile lifetime, you are lucky enough to own something remarkable special. Anyone who looks back at his/her’s audio life after various equipment “upgrades” will realize that most mass-produced equipment was easily replaceable and be forgotten soon.
The moment I opened the box and be welcomed by the beautiful smell of flower leaves, I knew I hold something extraordinary in my hands. (Disclaimer, this was HiFiGo’s creative decoration, and won’t come in the standard box, I bought the unit from Hifigo).
Baldr comes from the mythology from Norway. Baldr’s wife was Nanna, and they had a son named Forseti. Would this be Kinera’s next lower cost IEM??.
Judging by his properties, Baldr must have been the greatest and mightiest God in existence, evident by his big ship the Hringhorni (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hringhorni) which was the biggest, most magnificent and most beautiful of all vessels.
This sounds promising and directly implies that I hold one of the best and greatest In-Ear Monitors ever built in front of me.
What I have in my hands, definitely doesn’t feel like a mass-produced product but rather a pure piece of art instead. Smoothly polished hand-painted oak-woods. No plastics here.
Included are (as mentioned in the specs) a 3.5mm single-ended cable and 2.5mm and 4.4.mm balanced cables.
Last but not least, It enclosures 7 drivers per IEM! 4 Electrostatic units from Sonion, two Knowles balanced armatures for the midrange, and a dynamic driver for the lowest frequencies.
- Sonion electrostatic transducers: https://www.sonion.com
- Knowles Balanced Armatures: https://www.knowles.com/applications/ear-solutions/premium-sound/what-is-balanced-armature
User-case and test conditions:-
I have used the Baldr with:
- My reference, DIDiT DAC212SE (https://didit-highend.com)
- FiiO M15 DAP (https://www.fiio.com/m15)
The FiiO M15 is a fantastic DAP and considered a bargain for what it has to offer. Namely, every thinkable output (balanced and unbalanced) and boost-able internal power supply rails for the output amplifiers to accommodate low sensitive headphones or IEM’s. The M15 can drive anything you connect to it and is one of the most powerful DAP’s currently available on the market regardless of the price!.
The M15 turned out to be an excellent partner for Baldr. Most of the review has been performed with the FiiO M15 in high voltage over the head mode.
The next layer:-
My ears are complicated and therefore, not many IEM’s can accommodate me well. When God created me, He hadn’t had IEM’s in mind; I am afraid.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well the ergonomics of Baldr are designed. Not only they feel soft and gentle, they precisely follow the natural shape of my ear-shells. Almost like it was “made for me.”
The design and shape strongly resemble the design of the InEar ProPhile-8 design. An IEM designed for (on-stage) musicians, which are regarded as the most comfortable and best ergonomically designed IEM’s.
I can tell Baldr is by far the most comfortable designed IEM I’ve ever had in my ears, and for the first time, I was able to work an 8 hours day with continuous use of the Baldr without pain or discomfort.
They’re sound is like nothing else I’ve ever obtained. I discovered layers in the mix of records I know for over 20 years, which I’ve never heard before. The level of detail went that far that on 5:34 from track 06 from Al Jarreau’s 1986 “L is For Lover,” you can hear some cross-talk from the mixing-consoles talkback system. A voice saying “fade-out” far on the background.
Sidenote: “talkback” is a communication system integrated into most mixing consoles, allows the mixing engineer to talk to the artist in the recording booth of a recording studio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L_Is_for_Lover)
Then there was Quincy Jones “Q’s Jook Joint” from 1995, where there was this shocking discovery at 0:33 of the first track “Jook Joint Intro,” where I heard the unpeopling of Zippo cigarette lighter what appears to enlighten a jointâ€¦ (don’t try this at home!). This is another album that I listened to death for 20+ years, and this was never apparent. Sure now I know it is there, I will hear it, but it was the Baldr that brought me to such an intimate, in-depth detail of the mix. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q%27s_Jook_Joint)
Basically, this describes what Baldr does. It brings me very close to the record, and each album I listen to is a new discovery. I was actually excited to go to work every morning (and who is excited to go to work, huhâ€¦), knowing I will listen to my music library again on the Baldr. It brings me to the essence of the composer, arranger, and producer, and this is what I am endlessly aiming and searching for in audio products.
The Baldr isn’t “warm” sounding IEM’s and prominent in the mid-higher frequency range. The Bass is slightly elevated but not too much, and I would say nicely in tune.
Baldr gives detail over warmth and is pretty direct. The sound-stage is enormous, and I mean HUGE. The presentation is like it is in front of me and a bigger Than life. The stage is broader than it is deep and allows for isolated and focussed separation of choir, horns, and strings formations.
The Baldr is for people who want to hear every single detail of their records and be captured by layers and harmonic structure of each production to throw at it.
Matching with a high-quality DAP is essential. For example, the iPhone lightning to 3.5mm connector didn’t do a good job. My DiDiT reference DAC sounded too sterile; however, the FiiO M15 is the perfect match. FiiO M15 connected balanced to the Baldr provides a very controlled presentation, prominent but never too aggressive.
A BMW isn’t for everyone, just as a Mercedes. All are high-class cars, but when they come to these levels of excellence, It will come to personal taste and preferences. The Baldr is for people who like to hear every last bit of resolution of their recordings. This instead of products that put a coating or sauce over the content. With the Baldr, you get a life-like experience with the presence, stage as if you are there. Vocals, instruments, and complex music spread out with focussed isolated layers.
Paired with the FiiO M15 one can have performance that beats multiple extreme expensive high-end home system (considered the limitations of the majority of home acoustics) for just below USD 3000,-