Kinera URD IEM Review: Beautiful Pleasure!!
Kinera has got a good rep in the market for its premium collection of In-ear monitors. They have received many awards for their beautiful craftsmanship too. Most of their in-ear monitors have got rich hand-painted ear cavities. Previously, I have tried a few of their products including the Norn, Skuld, IDUN Golden, and the TYR. I find most of their IEMs to perform quite good with Norn being my favorite for its fun and engaging sound signature. Today what I have with me is the latest from Kinera, The Kinera Imperial URD. Without wasting any time, Let’s begin with the review of the URD today.
I received the URD from HiFiGo as a part of a review tour a few days back. All impressions made in this blog are completely my own based on my own usage of the URD over the past week. These impressions might or might not be affected due to my personal preference for the sound that is balanced with a slight boost in the sub-bass region. A huge shout out to the HiFiGo Team for organizing this tour of Kinera URD, you can buy it from their website from the link below.
About Kinera URD:-
URD houses a five-driver tribrid driver configuration featuring 2 EST+2DD+1BA drivers on each side. Similar to other IEMs by Kinera, the URD features beautiful hand-painted ear cavities. It is their third tribrid IEM after the flagship Baldr and the mid-fi Nanna. But unlike those, the URD has an attractive price tag of 650$. Kinera also follows its tradition of naming and designing its IEMs based on Norse Mythology characters with the URD. URD is actually a part of Norn, the three sisters of fate. Remember the Skuld, As per the Norse Myths, Skuld is the youngest among the three goddesses. URD is the oldest among them, She is the incharge of the past and also a goddess of death. She is a guardian of a sacred fountain under the world tree, that fountain is also known as Well of Urd. The chief designer and tuning team at Kinera took inspiration from the story of URD in terms of both designing and tuning the pair.
Design & Build Quality:-
Spectacular feels like a less word here. You can just look at the stunning hand-painted ear cavities of Kinera URD and I am sure you will go out of words to explain its beauty. Every time I try a Kinera product, I feel like how can they improve on the design of this, the next time they have outdone themselves with an even better looking one. I remember when I tried the Norn, I was like “WOW this is beautiful”, but then I tried Skuld which in my opinion is still one of their best design in IEMs. Then I saw the URD this time, fully blown away in terms of looks. The beautiful resin cavities have a combination of shades of Turquoise blue and Green filled at the face cover area. I said “filled” here because quite literally Kinera designed the pair like the “Well of URD” with an endless bottom. From what I understand they 3D printed a cavity with a beveled design on the face covers and then professional designers fill the face cover with Turquoise Blue and Green color combinations. Entire shell is made up of white resin material in a unibody design.
The right earpiece has URD printed at the center of the faceplate and the left earpiece has the Kinera branding logo at the center. The shells are slightly large here. Kinera sticks to 0.78mm two-pin connectors. There’s a vent located at the side of the URD ear cavities. In terms of design, like I said before Kinera has outdone itself with the dedicated design of URD.
Fit & Isolation:-
The ear cavities here are slightly big than regular Resin cavities. They are identically big as the Norn, so people with small ears might get issues in getting the perfect comfortable fit. For me, I have medium-sized ears, I had no issues in getting a good seal and comfort. With the stock tips(Final Audio Type E), the fit is good but I find the sound to get an extra punch in the lower end, So I use wide bore tips from my collection(check the images below).
Power Requirements For URD:-
URD runs well off a regular smartphone but to bring out the best of its capabilities it takes a decent digital audio player or USB DAC/AMP. I tested the pair with my Redmi Note 10 Pro, the pair sounds decent at best. It lacks extensions at both ends, but just give it a hi-res audio player like the Shanling M3X and enjoy an amazing experience. I personally used it with Astell & Kern SE100 and Luxury & Precision W2. Both of which powered it adequately showing excellent dynamics. I would suggest to use the URD with a decent Digital Audio Player like the M3X and similar.
Kinera URD has a musical presentation with a fast lower-end, melodious midrange, and smoothly-detailed treble frequency response. Lower end shows good texture to the bass. The pair utilizes the two Dynamic drivers well, I don’t know the exact frequency division, but I am sure the lower-end utilizes one as it has the punch, slam, and speed of a dynamic driver. Midrange shows good character, vocals are warmer than neutral. They sound very melodious and charming. Treble region is nicely-detailed, has good resolution, and doesn’t get offensive or bright at all.
URD has a smoothly tuned W-shape sound profile. The dynamics with the URD, like Staging and Layering, are very good. Stage is beautiful, it’s wide, it has got good depths too where different Instruments are presented in a nicely-layered manner. There are some flaws with the sound performance of the URD, They might be a personal preference to me. First and foremost, the sound image is created closer to the listener. I mean, the pair has a sense of intimacy due to the forward sound image. Even though the stage has got good width, the pair sound immersive and closer to us. Secondly, this is a nitpick(and honestly me comparing it with IEMs twice its price range), Treble could use some more air. It’s not congested, but instruments sound closer to each other. Having used several other IEMs from Kinera(Two from a similar price bracket), I would say Kinera has tuned the URD very well. It’s the best of them I have listened to date. (I have not heard the flagships Nanna or Baldr but have experience with Norn and Skuld).
As I mentioned earlier, URD utilizes its dynamic drivers very well. The lower end has got good punch and slam. Earlier to URD, I was using two IEMs, Sony IER M9 and Campfire Audio Andromeda, both of these are full BA sets. Upon putting the URD into my ears, I instantly fell in love with the bass response of the URD(Let me tell you, M9 despite being BA has very good bass). The pair has good control in the lower end, it sounds fuller with a pretty good tonal heft to instruments such as Cello, Bass guitars, and more. The bass response with URD goes deep, you don’t have to increase the volume to feel the punch here, it’s right there hitting you with every single bass drop. One can feel the sub-bass rumble going deep, mid-bass leaves a pounding impression on your chest with bass-heavy tracks. Don’t get me wrong here, It’s not overpowering, but very very well-tuned bass with the URD. I loved the Norn for its bass response, this right here in my hands is a true upgrade over that.
>DUB With Power by Puscifer.
>Walla Walla by Glass Animals.
>Change Your Mind by LCD Soundsystem-American Dream.
>Just Give Me A Reason by P!Nk.
>Prelude to War from Battlestar 2 OST.
>As We Fall by Klergy.
>Oceans by Evanescence.
URD has a musical and melodious midrange tuning. Vocals are full-bodied with a pretty clean presentation. Vocals are forward in their presentation but in a safe manner. They don’t sound shouty or too into the face, they are just closer to the listener creating a sense of intimacy. The texture of vocals here is better than what we had on the Norn or Skuld. Though there is a noticeable BA timbre in Vocals that might bother some listeners. If you are someone who loves vocal-centric music, I can assure URD will be your lovey-dovey the first day itself. There are good details with acoustic instruments too, just listen to the Hotel California By Eagles(Hell Freezes Over) and you will love the brilliant details the pair retrieves in the starting intro of the song. Good thing here is that instruments such as Piano, Acoustic guitars, have got a good tonal weight to them. They sound natural and clean.
>You and Whose Army by Radiohead.
>Ragpicker’s Dream by Mark Knopfler.
>Hotel California By Eagles(Hell Freezes Over).
>Animals Were Gone by Damien Rice.
>Starving(Acoustic) by ZEDD.
>Your Biggest Mistake by Elle Goulding.
I am mostly impressed by URD by its treble response. May be due to the fact that my previous experience with Kinera always needed something in the Treble region, but this one feels very very improved now. There is no harshness, no sibilance(even my favorite Norn had a bit of sibilance here or there). It sounds nicely detailed, has good control, doesn’t sound too into the face, and shows good clarity too. Only thing that could be improved here, would be that It needs a little bit more air in the treble region. Instruments sound pretty close to each other. I said nitpicking here mainly because as I stated earlier I was comparing it to the IEMs priced twice its price(Sony M9 and CA Ara).
>United We Are by Hardwell.
>Hate Me by Blue October.
>Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.
>Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits.
>Starry Eyes by The Weeknd.
URD shows pretty dope dynamics in its sound. It has a nicely layered presentation on a wide and deep sound stage. The stage also has a good sense of Height, a very beautiful 3D soundstage feeling I would say. Imaging and layering of instruments is very good, even in complex tracks such as Bohemian Rhapsody by Queens or Dark Necessities by RHCP, you can position instruments quite well. Binaural tracks by Yosi Horikawa are also a pretty good listen with the URD.
Kinera URD Vs Kinera Norn:-
Not exactly a match in driver configuration but closely priced IEMs by Kinera. Norn I auditioned it last year, I liked it for its fun and engaging sound. It has a five-driver hybrid config featuring 1DD and 4 BA drivers per side. The new URD has a five-driver tribrid config housing 2EST+2DD+1BA on each side. Here are my thoughts between these two(impressions from my previously written review of Norn and image from my collection).
>URD has got a better punch in the lower end.
>Midrange sounds a little bit warmer on the URD, Norn might be more natural in this aspect.
>Treble response has better separation and extension with the URD.
>Norn had more intimacy with narrower stage, URD has a wider soundstage but the feeling of intimacy is still here.
I know it feels like I am praising a lot on the URD here, but I just feel it’s a huge improvement over Norn here.
Kinera URD Vs Thieaudio Monarch MK2:-
Something comparable in driver configuration here(both tribrids) but there is a bit of an extra difference in their price point. Monarch MK2 has a price point of 1000$, 350$ above the URD. It has a 1DD+6BA+2EST config per side. Here are my thoughts on these two.
>URD has got better punch in the lower end, Tones and instruments have a nice weight to them.
>Monarch MK2 here sounds lean to me(both with the same source SE100).
>Midrange with the URD is more forward, Monarch MK2 feels slightly distant here.
>URD feels more on the intimate side, Monarch MK2 feels wider and deeper.
>Monarch MK2 takes a leap ahead in its treble performance. It has the air and also has a tad bit more resolution in the treble.
>Tonally, Monarch MK2 has a slightly brighter touch while the URD has a sense of warmth and richness to its sound.
Having said that, Both the IEMs are pretty good but they both will cater to people with different preferences. I, for one like the warmth of URD, also the Punch in its sound adds a sense of fun and engagement here. Monarch MK2 on the other hand sounds wider and cleaner but has a leaner body for vocals and instruments in comparison.
URD is a step in the right direction from Kinera I would say. It provides an impressive sound performance while looking great too. It has some flaws of its own, mainly the Treble could use extra air if we compare it with IEMs of this league(primarily Monarch MK1). Though I noticed the URD sound airier when amped. Other issues like BA Timbre, Intimate image are just me being nitpicky about the pair, Kinera has actually done a great job in both designing and tuning the URD. Well, that’s all I have to say about the Kinera URD, I would again like to thank HiFiGo for organizing this tour for the URD. Hope you guys like this write-up of mine.