There are some gorgeous earphones in the $150-$200 price range but the one I’m looking at today is some next level sh*t! Meet the Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 Kylin. The Kylin is a triple-driver, hybrid in-ear monitor with 1 dynamic driver and 2 Knowles balanced armature drivers.
Stunning visual design
Nice accessories and great carrying case
Lower and sub-bass are overdone
Bass quality is lacking
Material: Aluminium magnesium alloy
Driver: 10mm PEK DD*1 + Knowles BA*2
Wire material: 5N OFC+SPC 120mm braided line
Sensitivity: 98 dB SPL/mW
Colour options: Gray—Blue—Red
Impedance: 28 Ω
Frequency response range: 12Hz-40Khz
Cable length: 120 cm
Warranty: 1 year
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Package and Accessories
We begin with a white sleeve that is similar to what we saw with the Whizzer A-Series IEMs. The front is clear and uncluttered with just an image of the earphone, the brand and model names, plus some text in the bottom-left corner that serves to remind us the Kylin earphone utilizes Knowles balanced armature drivers.
On the back is an exploded diagram highlighting some of the earphone’s features and some specifications. Within the sleeve is a black box with a magnetically sealed flap that opens up like a book cover. This is where you get your first glimpse of the A-HE03 and if you’re like me you’ll stop for a moment to soak in the experience.
The earphones are seated in a black foam insert which comes complete with its own plaque, just like the recent KZ flagships except this one is not removable. Beneath the foam is another layer containing the detachable MMCX cable and a faux leather carrying case.
Unboxing the Whizzer Kylin is quite an experience and right from the beginning everything has a premium air to it. Let’s check out everything you get in the package:
Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 Kylin earphones
Detachable MMCX cable
Faux leather carrying case
2 pairs of foam eartips
3 pairs of silicone eartips
User guide/warranty card
Despite costing more than the A-series models, the Kylin comes with 3 pairs less of silicone tips, though admittedly what you get here is still pretty good. The dark-grey clamshell case is simply beautiful and the perfect size to store the IEMs and cable.
Build Quality and Design
The Kylin housings have a really striking visual design. They’re crafted from magnesium alloy and are available in grey, blue and red colours. The convex faceplates have a slightly raised Whizzer logo set into the middle and there are very subtle concentric rings spreading out from it.
There’s a bass vent on the top edge of the housing and another one on the inner side of the shell, just near the L or R markings. The gold coloured nozzles are fairly wide in diameter and have a good ridge on the end to hold eartips on securely. Here you’ll also find a gold coloured metal mesh covering the end of the nozzles.
The earpieces are very lightweight but feel durable. The join between faceplates and shells is perfect, as is the finish. To sum up, the Kylin is one of the nicest looking universal IEMs I have ever seen, regardless of price. However, I do wish that the raised gold-coloured logo sat more flush with the faceplate because the points on the W are very sharp and don’t feel very nice when you touch them.
Adding to the visual appeal of the Kylin, the cable is very cleverly designed to match. The connectors on the top end are transparent so the gold-plated dual pins are clearly visible and they along with the gold ring attached to the end perfectly match the gold-coloured logo and nozzles.
Then there is the dual-tone 5N OFC+SPC wiring which looks a treat as well. There are pre-formed ear guides with a gold cylinder attached at the point where they end. Further down is an excellent metal cable cinch which, naturally matches the metal Y-splitter. The cable terminates in a right-angled metal plug.
Strain reliefs from top to bottom are excellent and the gold accents of every point of the cable are simply outstanding. This is a level of physical design that very few products can achieve; one that comes to mind is the Meze Audio 99 Classics headphones.
What I don’t like about this cable is that it’s quite thin above the split and that combined with the ear guides/hooks makes for regular tangling, though admittedly the cable cinch can alleviate that considerably.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
I find the Whizzer A-HE03 to be a very comfortable IEM and can use it for hours on end without any discomfort. Its lightweight and smooth, rounded edges along with an ergonomic shape work quite well – a vast improvement over the A-Series in terms of comfort (as is the cable).
When it comes to passive noise isolation the Kylin is about on par with your average earphones. A fair bit of outside noise gets through but once you start the music most of it fades away, making the A-HE03 fine for everyday use. Noise leak is pretty minimal too and should not be cause for any concern.
Gear used for testing includes the Sony NW-ZX300 and Shanling M0 for portable use. At home, I plugged into the FiiO K3 which is hooked up via USB to my Windows PC. The music used was in the form of FLAC files played with MusicBee and JRiver Media Center.
While the A-HE03 is reasonably easy to drive I found that the sound improved with a more powerful source. Switching to high gain on the FiiO K3 tightened up the bass considerably compared to low-powered sources.
The Whizzer A-HE03 is a warm sounding IEM with a powerful low end and relaxed treble. It’s quite detailed and resolving and is relaxing enough for long listening sessions.
The Kylin’s bass is somewhat of a disappointment for me. On one hand, the upper bass is fairly conservative in quantity and sounds reasonably good. On the other hand, the lower and sub-bass have a slow decay, are boosted out of proportion and have a tendency to sound disconnected from the music.
Tracks like Daft Punk’s “Instant Crush” can quickly become uncomfortable and fatiguing because of the shapeless clumps of bass that are relentlessly thumping against your ears. In stark contrast to the tidiness and fast transients of the Knowles drivers, the bass feels sluggish and clumsy.
Yet, on some tracks, such as “Cley Hill” by Ott, the bass sounds just fine, even if it is unremarkable. So it really is very dependent on the recording in terms of the experience you get with the Kylin bass.
The midrange is pretty decent, for the most part with nothing, in particular, standing out. Male vocals might sound a little reserved, especially on bass-heavy tracks but overall tonality is not bad. Female vocals are more emphasized and sound vibrant and rich.
There is slightly less than average clarity in the Kylin’s midrange which adds to its warm tonality and laid back nature.
This is probably my favourite aspect of the A-HE03’s sound. Treble notes are crisp and clear with a rich timbre. The Kylin’s treble gives a nice sense of airiness and some energy but remains smooth throughout without any nasty peaks or harshness.
This is a treble that is easy on the ears and free of sibilance. It provides good detail and sounds very natural with just the balance between solidity and sparkle.
Considering the girth of the heavy lower bass the Kylin manages a fairly sizable soundstage. This is largely due to the excellent, airy, well-extended treble and instrument separation which keeps things from becoming cluttered. Imaging is on point too. Listening to Melody Gardot’s “The Rain” from her Live in Europe album, it’s fairly easy to picture the position of various instruments around the stage.
Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 vs BGVP DMG ($139 USD)
The BGVP DMG (review here) has a similar bass curve to the A-HE03 but its sub-bass rolls off a little more and the quantity is also more modest. Neither are particularly textured but the DMG definitely has better definition.
There are very few IEMs around this price range that have instrument separation and layering like the DMG – it really is something to behold. Vocals are a bit more recessed on the DMG but have more articulation and a leaner, more natural tonality. The DMG has more clarity here too, making the Whizzer sound a bit murky in comparison.
Both earphones have very good treble. The Whizzer’s treble notes have more solidity while the DMG’s are more diffuse with a hint more airiness. The soundstage on the DMG is more expansive with greater depth but the A-HE03 has more targeted imaging.
Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 vs Hifi Boy OS V3 ($159)
The OS V3 (review here) is a triple driver hybrid IEM. Its bass is more linear and balanced compared to the Whizzer, although it is definitely boosted. The attack and decay of the bass are faster on the OS V3 but it still has a realistic body and thickness, while the A-HE03 just becomes a thumping, shapeless menace in the very low frequencies.
Vocals and the midrange in general, are more forward on the OS V3 and despite the Whizzer’s boosted upper midrange, the OS V3 has superior clarity.
Where these two IEMs most closely resemble each other is in the treble. Both have a crisp and airy treble but the Whizzer has slightly better extension and treble decay, making cymbal sheen sound more realistic.
In terms of comfort they are both good but the OS V3 feels more secure in the ears and provides better noise isolation.
Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 vs TenHz P4 Pro ($150 USD)
The P4 Pro (review here) is a very handsome IEM but it can’t match the visual glory of the A-HE03. I also prefer the Kylin’s tangle-prone cable to the stiff and springy one that comes with the P4 Pro.
When it comes to sound these 2 monitors are vastly different in their presentation. The P4 Pro is a multi-BA IEM and is extremely easy to drive. Whizzer’s A-HE03, on the other hand, needs a lot more juice to reach the same volume.
The P4 Pro’s bass is extremely well textured and punchy but it can’t come close to the A-HE03’s sub-bass extension or weight. In the midrange, the P4 Pro has tons more clarity, better separation and a more natural tonality and timbre.
Treble extension is better on the Whizzer making it airier, while the P4 Pro has more solidity and a shorter decay. The size of each IEMs soundstage is more on the intimate side but the P4 Pro has better separation and layering.
I had big expectations of the Whizzer Kylin A-HE03 and in some ways, those expectations were surpassed. However, in other areas, I was left wanting more.
Even though I had seen the photos of this earphone I was not expecting to be so taken by its beautiful design. I was also very pleased to find that the comfort and ergonomics are a step up from the previous Whizzer models.
But when it comes to sound the Kylin just didn’t live up to the early hype or my expectations. There’s just something about it that feels off and it lacks excitement. Although the detail is fairly good there’s a lack of clarity and presence and ultimately its also let down by its lacklustre bass.
If you’re looking for some beautiful in-ear jewellery that doubles as an audio device then the Kylin should be your first and only choice. However, if you’re looking for the best audio experience in this price range there certainly are better alternatives out there.