Kinera Norn IEM Review: Beautifully Melodious!!
Kinera’s range of HiFi IEMs excels in both sound quality as well as looks. Their entire range is full of stunning hand-painted sets with Nanna 2.0, Freya, Imperial Odin, Norn just some of the best looking ones. Kinera imperial Norn is a beautiful set with a five-driver hybrid configuration released earlier this year. Ever since the announcement of Norn I was so intrigued to try out the pair. Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to try the Kinera Norn, and without any delay, I agreed to it. So, today I am sharing my review, impressions of this beautiful IEM, let’s begin before wasting any more time.
I received this unit of Kinera Norn from Hifigo for the purpose of this review. I am gonna forward the unit to the next reviewer after my review is done. All thoughts and impressions in this review are based on my personal use with the pair over the past two weeks. If you are interested to buy it, you can buy it from the Hifigo store from the link below.
Before we begin with the review, there’s a story we all should know about the Kinera Norn. Kinera always links a character from the famous Norse Mythology. They not only design and tune the pair following that inspiration, but also name the pair on that character. Such a character is also Norn, the three sisters of fate from the Norse Mythology. They are the agents of the orlop. The duty of Non is to warn the god of their future sins, order them to grasp the present, and tell them the past experience. Their judgment must be obeyed even by God. They determine the fate of the gods as well as humans, but they themselves cannot escape the fateful arrangement of fate.
I received the product without the retail packaging with all the package contents intact. So I will be skipping over the unboxing part and come directly to the Design & Build of Kinera Norn.
Contents I Received:-
>Kinera Norn earphones.
>2-pin balanced 2.5mm terminated cable.
>Five pairs of Final Audio Type E ear tips.
>Three pairs of custom silicone ear tips.
>One pair of Foam ear tips.
Design, Build Quality, & Fit:-
Kinera Norn is a gorgeous set of IEMs. Kinera has a history of designing some of the best-looking IEMs in the industry. Norn follows their range with its beautiful hand-painted ear cavities that have a reflective mirror finish on the entire cavity. The pair carries stunning catchy looks with black as the main base color of the cavity on which a smokey pattern with white and sparkling red colors is painted by professional hand-painting artists. This is in my experience one of the best, if not the best designed IEMs in the industry today. I spent many hours doing justice to the beauty of Norn with my shots for this review(But I still believe these look even better in real life).
In terms of build quality, the pair has a solid, sturdy build made with medical-grade solid resin material. The pair has a vent for maintaining cavity pressure on the side, slightly recessed two-pin connectors at the top of the shells. The ear nozzle on both the earpieces has three openings as the pair features a three-tube acoustic cavity. They have a lightweight ergonomic design that provides an utterly comfortable fit for me. The earpieces cover my entire ear providing me with good levels of environmental noise isolation. I used medium-sized Final Audio Type E tips with the pair.
The included cable and its adapters offer a heavy build with an 8-core braided structure. There are memory hooks near the connectors that allow for a comfortable around-the-ear fit. On the right side connector, there is a red color near the 2-pins to denote the right side, nothing as such on the left side. The cable looks pretty well-built, the heavy structure doesn’t let it get tangled. All the connectors and termination plugs have gun-metal colored metallic shielding, with the Kinera branding logo printed on the termination plug side. I am pretty impressed with the build quality of both the earphones and the cable.
Powering Up The Kinera Norn:-
Kinera Norn is pretty easy to drive. It has low impedance(32Ohms) and high-sensitivity(110dB) ratings that allow the pair to be powered easily. I paired the Norn with multiple devices starting from my basic Samsung S6 Lite directly out of its 3.5mm jack, S6 Lite+Audirect Atom 2, Shanling M3X, & xDuoo XD05 Balanced DAC/AMP. It sounded great directly out of my S6 lite 3.5mm jack adequately loud at around 70% of the volume level. With the Shanling M3X, I never had to go above 30/100 volume on high-gain, and the XD05 Balanced drove the Norn easily at just 1/9 volume on low gain mode(both 4.4mm balanced connection).
If you have nothing just your smartphone with a 3.5mm jack, don’t worry you will be able to enjoy high-resolution music straight off it without the need for any extra devices. Though as always I recommend using a high-resolution audio DAC/AMP like Atom 2 or a high-res player such as M3X to fully enjoy the Norn with better dynamics and performance. For the purpose of this review, most of the critical listening is done on Shanling M3X DAP and xDuoo XD05 Bal DAC/AMP, both of which are my daily drivers.
I went into the Kinera Norn eyes closed, This is by far my first interaction with any mid to high-tier IEM from Kinera. And by god, I am in love. The stunning Kinera Norn excels not just in terms of looks, but also produces an impressive sound that keeps one hooked for hours. The pair has an energetic W-shaped signature with a quick, deep bass that hits deep, crisp & forwarded vocals that sound rich and immersive, and a sparkly, well-extended high-frequency response that adds a good sense of energy to the output.
The overall presentation is quite forward yet it doesn’t get fatiguing or harsh even at loud listening levels. But this forward presentation does affect the staging with the Norn, also the treble energy could be too much for treble-sensitive people. The soundstage while being good in terms of depth and height has an average width, in my opinion, this is the only con with the Norn. Let’s discuss different parts of the frequency spectrum now.
As stated earlier, Kinera Norn produces a quick and punchy lower end with fast slams that goes deep and leaves an impact with every single drum kick. The main emphasis in the lower-end is at the mid-bass, it has slammy, full-bodied presentation. Sub-bass registers its presence with deep rumbles adding a fun factor to the music. The lower-end is tightly controlled well within its region.
Norn produces a sweet and musical mid-portion presentation. While the lower mids have a slightly recessed presentation, the pair picks up for the upper mids portion and brings vocals upfront that gives an impression of a W-shape sound profile. Both the male and female vocals show good texture and clarity. Mid-frequencies have a smooth, airy presentation with good tonal weight for instruments.
Treble frequencies have a sparkly and detailed presentation. The treble portion is well-extended, shows good clarity, and has an energetic presentation. This energy could be something extra for treble-sensitive persons, they might have to tame down the high-frequency portion slightly a bit. Apart from this, Kinera Norn shows good clarity for the treble frequencies, instruments such as Electric Guitars, Violins shine greatly with the pair.
Soundstage & Instrument Separation:-
Kinera Norn shows very good instrument separation and imaging capabilities. Soundstage is something that is quite intimate with the pair in terms of width. It has a good sense of depth and height, but the width could’ve been slightly better. It’s not like I hate this intimate presentation, it actually creates a good sense of immersion and engagement with the pair that I actually love.
Tracks tested with the Kinera Norn, As We Fall by Klergy, Why So Serious by Hans Zimmer, Hotel California by Eagles(Hell Freeze Over), Señorita by Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello, Hate Me by Blue October, and more(Mostly streamed on Tidal or used backup Flac’s, nothing below CD-quality FLACs).
As We Fall by Klergy:-
This track begins like a binaural track with the sound of string coming on the left and right sides one by one. And then the sub-bass rumble in the background marks its presence throughout the track. The sub goes deep, a very interesting listen with the pair. The pair maintains good clarity throughout the track with crisp vocals and well-layered presentation, If you hear this track give some care to the sub drop at around the 3:14 mark.
Why So Serious by Hans Zimmer:-
This 9-minute track is a ride full of nothing else but just good music by sir Hans Zimmer. While the track starts slow, it takes up its speed slowly and grows on you with different layers of instruments being played at once. Kinera Norn shows outstanding detailing and layering of different instruments with a good sense of airiness between them. The bass portion after the 3:45 portion has a fantastic presentation.
Hotel California by Eagles:-
This is always my favorite track for any of the gear I test. Whether I mention this or not, I test each and every single audio gear with this track. The brilliant acoustic presentation during the first two minutes of the track is something that I crave for. This portion is followed by lovely vocals by Henley from Eagles. Norn keeps me hooked to this track by its brilliant dynamics, the excellent presentation of instruments, vocals, everything in a sweet musical manner.
Señorita by Shawn Mendes & Camila:-
A fantastic track by a fantastic couple. This track holds you with its airy acoustic guitar presentation followed by crisp vocals by Camila and Shawn Mendes. Even with an upfront presentation, Kinera Norn doesn’t get too upfront or shouty, rather it produces good immersion and engagement with different genres.
Hate Me by Blue October:-
A few days ago while browsing through the internet I found this gem of a band. This particular track hit me deep. This is a track full of emotions, Norn produces outstanding details in this song. Right from the beginning where we hear a recording of a phone call by the main lead vocalist’s mother, Norn maintains good clarity. Then come beautiful acoustic guitar, piano, drums, and vocals. Norn simply swifts through this track, producing a detailed and sweet experience.
There are many more tracks such as Billie Jean by MJ, Californication by RHCP, Love Story by Taylor Swift, 9 Crimes by Damien Rice, and many more, one thing that is common with all of them and Norn is that the presentation is sweet and engaging. The pair has simply become one of my favorites around the 500$ price range with its great energy, immersive presentation, and sweet vocals, everything that I like in an IEM. The beautiful looks are just a plus in its favor.
Kinera Norn Vs DUNU EST112:-
The 500$ segment is now filled with some brilliant tribrid IEMs. One of those wonderful sets is DUNU EST112 that I liked a lot, how well does this hybrid Norn compare with the Tribrid EST112?? Here are my thoughts. (EST112 I had for about 2 months as my daily driver before I sold it. I no longer own it, but I briefly remember how it sounds).
>EST112 has a leaner tonality in comparison to the Norn.
>EST112 has a better, more refined high-frequency response(Thanks to the EST drivers).
>Norn shines with its brilliant deep, impactful bass.
>Mids have a more natural presentation with the Norn.
>Instruments are separated well with the EST112 but the tonal weight is better in Norn.
>EST112 has simple metallic ear shells, Norn features premium hand-painted resin shells(Though both are pretty well-built).
>EST112 produces a wider stage but the depth and height are better with Norn.
In my opinion, both the Norn & EST112 complement each other with their different sound profiles. Norn on one hand has a sweet, engaging presentation, EST on the other has a more detailed yet leaner presentation.
I simply loved the Norn, as the review title goes, it is a beautifully melodious pair. It is a brilliant pair with outstanding looks and an immersive sound signature. The sweetness of vocals with Norn, the Tonal weight, and the layering of instruments, is simply amazing with the Norn. Is it the best pair money can buy for 500$?? NO, Is it one of the best pairs money can buy for 500$?? A HUNDRED TIMES YESS!! If you are in the market looking for a sweet, musical pair, Norn is a great option to look for!!