I guess it’s time to accept that most of us can’t keep up with all the new earphone manufacturers coming out of China. But there will always be those who create something unique, special or remarkable that brings them onto our collective radar while others fade back into obscurity. The former is where we are today with Kinera and all the hubbub that has arisen surrounding their latest (and only second) product release. Let’s take a look at the Kinera H3 earphone.
Formed in 2007 the company was moderately successful with their first earphone the BD005, a low budget, dual driver hybrid and now they’re expanding their product lineup with a new triple driver hybrid the Kinera H3. Early impressions and reviews have been almost unanimously positive and for good reason but are they really that good? Read on to find out how I feel about them and hopefully it will help the reader to decide whether they want to grace their ears with the Kinera H3.
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. I have no affiliation with the company and all observations and opinions are my own, based on my experience with the product. At the time of writing the Kinera H3 earphone retails for $99.
This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I’m not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own.
Eye-catching and attractive design
Fantastic supplied cable
Good accessory bundle
No lip on the nozzle means eartips fall off easily
The Kinera H3 earphone comes in a nice, textured black box with the brand name and model number embossed in gold print on the top. After opening the magnetic flap/lid you’re presented with an airline adapter, a 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm adapter and semi-hard carrying case. Under the case is a user manual and thank you card.
The case is very handy and large enough to easily accommodate the earphones with ample space left to throw in a small DAP. It’s a bit too big to fit in your pocket but is the perfect size to carry in a bag.
Inside the case, you’ll find the earphones, cable and 3 pairs of silicone ear-tips (S, M, L). The silicone tips are really nice quality, being supple yet grippy so you can imagine my dismay when I had confirmed that they are all too small for my ears.
Let’s take a minute to talk about the cable. This is an exceptionally nice cable for an IEM in this price range. It’s supple yet feels durable and there’s no stickiness to it. Starting at the top are the 2 pin connectors with a very subtle yet clever system of coloured dots on the front side to denote Left and Right (blue for left, red for right).
The connectors sit securely in the earphones but are still very easy to remove and insert. Further down is the flexible, transparent Y-split, accompanied by a matching cable cinch/chin slider. The cable terminates in a straight, metal plug that is quite long but of good quality with excellent strain relief.
Build, comfort and isolation
The designer/s of the H3 must have been feeling inspired when they created this IEM as they’ve produced something that not only looks fantastic but is also extremely comfortable. I feel that the appearance alone of the H3 played a big part in the early hype of the product as it looks very premium and more like higher priced IEMs.
The outside of the acrylic shells is an inverted teardrop shape in glossy black with the brand logo printed in gold lettering. On the inner part of the shells is the same material but here it’s translucent allowing you to glimpse the internal drivers and wiring. This part is shaped similarly to a custom IEM and there’s a small vent just next to the female 2 pin connector. All the edges are rounded and smooth plus the face-plate and main body are seamlessly joined adding to the overall aesthetics.
Although the Kinera H3 earphone looks a little awkwardly shaped on the inner side it actually provides a very nice and comfortable fit. It was quite a bold move by the company to adopt this build but it has paid off handsomely, resulting in one of the most comfortable CIEMs that I’ve ever used. The shells fit wonderfully inside the conch of the ear which also means they don’t protrude out as much as you might expect.
There are some shortcomings in the build though and the first lies in the design of the nozzles. The usual lip or ridge is absent here and that coupled with a slightly more narrow than average diameter means that ear-tips have a tendency to come off when removing the earphones. Secondly, I was experiencing a lot of driver flex, mostly when first inserting or readjusting the shells but also when moving my jaw. Fortunately, the driver flex has all but disappeared with the tips that I finally settled on (remember the provided ones were all too small for my ears).
Due to the way the Kinera H3 earphone sits in and fills the ear’s conch sound isolation is above average but keep in mind they are vented so some sound will still come through. Regardless of that though, these still block out a good deal of sound and are very suitable for noisy environments, allowing you to enjoy your music without needing to pump up the volume to dangerous levels.
Sources used for testing:
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Acoustic Research MR-20
PC/Foobar2000 > Topping DX7
With an impedance of 48 ohms, the H3 benefits from some extra driving power and may suffer a little from weaker sources like some smartphones. It’s most evident in the authority of the bass notes and I’d recommend using a good DAP or headphone amplifier to get the most out of this IEM.
The H3 has a clear, energetic sound that’s packed with detail and has good instrument separation. It can be a little aggressive in the high frequencies and may cause some fatigue if listening to certain music genres (rock, metal etc) or at high volume.
Bass is controlled and has a nice body but is pushed back a little behind the mids, particularly the upper mids. Sub-bass reaches fairly low but again struggles to make itself felt due to the overreaching nature of the upper-mid peak. It does have that natural dynamic feel and in the right tracks sounds great and fairly linear, very nicely textured without being overbearing.
The midrange has a lot of clarity and detail, is very energetic up in the higher mids and overall has good tonality. It can sometimes come across as a little thin which you might or might not like depending on personal preference. Vocals sound natural and uncoloured and are quite forward while retaining the same clarity seen throughout the midrange.
When we get to the treble there’s a peak that brings certain sounds very forward in the mix which can throw off the balance and as a result, there’s some loss of cohesion. Listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s “Indaco” things get off to a good start until he hits the high notes which sound unnaturally loud.
A similar effect can be heard on certain high hats and snare snaps among other things. However, the timbre remains accurate and adds some shimmer but there is a sense of the sound always teetering on sibilance.
Soundstage is fairly wide and while not the widest to be found in this price range it’s also far from being narrow. There’s a fair sense of depth as well with fairly good imaging and instrument placement that isn’t razor sharp but surely lets you know where sounds are coming from.
Has more mid-bass punch and is a little warmer in the lower midrange. Is more cohesive and evenly spread in the upper frequencies. Sub-bass digs deeper and gives a little more rumble. More warmth in the lower mids and slightly more in general. I feel it has just a little bit superior tonality. Has a slightly wider nozzle and a lip to keep tips secure. Is easier to drive. The cable is good but not the same stellar quality as the one provided with the H3.
Is more natural and organic with a comparatively relaxed treble. A little more recessed midrange which is noticeably less clear than that on the H3. Switching between the two the ms02 sounds a little muddy in comparison but in reality, it isn’t – it’s just that the H3 has such exceptional clarity in the mids. Has a non-detachable cable. Bass and lower mids have more weight and body than the H3 and it has a more easygoing signature.
The Kinera H3 earphone is a great looking, great fitting IEM that has certainly got people’s attention around the web’s audio sites and related social media communities. It has a wonderfully appealing design aesthetic that looks premium and desirable but there’s still a little room for improvement, mainly in regards to the nozzle.
The sound signature of the Kinera H3 earphone could be polarizing, appealing to those who like an emphasis on high frequencies and a bright sound but deterring for people who prefer a more relaxed and non-fatiguing listening experience. There’s no doubt that it produces a clear and detailed sound but it does so at the risk of being a little too energetic on occasion.
It’s certainly an interesting product that deserves recognition in its crowded price bracket and should not be overlooked if you’re shopping for something around the $100 mark. With the release of the H3, it looks like Kinera is setting themselves up to be a serious player in the IEM market.