Last week on Major HiFi, I reviewed the Freya, one of the latest IEMs from Kinera. I am a big fan of what I’ve heard from them in the past as well, as they’ve proven themselves to be a significant player in the IEM market. I gave the Freya much praise, saying that it had a sweet, detailed sound for its affordable price. However, I forgot that Freya has a son. One that’s certainly powerful, and one that seeks to outdo its predecessor and stand its ground. The Baldr is a brand new flagship IEM from Kinera. It features a hybrid drive system and a prestige design that’s sure to be a major competitor in the IEM market. Can the Baldr reach through the Freyas’ spotlight?
What You Get
Like the Freya, the Baldr comes with many accessories to help better equate yourself with the earphone. The earpieces themselves appear when you first open the box, inside inserts to keep them protected. The first panel lifts off to reveal all the doodads included with the IEM. The first item that stands out is the blue leather carrying case that contains two detachable 2 pin cables, one for 3.5mm connection, and one for 2.5mm connections. I was surprised by the additional cable, as it’s out of the ordinary for a lot of IEMs I’ve seen. Kinera has included ear tips galore with 11 silicone tips in a variety of sizes.
I was confused when I saw an airplane charger included, this is also not a conventional item to include with an IEM, but Kinera was kind enough to add one anyway. Other accessories include a 2.5mm to 4.4mm extension cable, a quarter-inch adapter, and a cleaning tool.
Look and Feel
So you’re telling me these guys are made from oak wood? I would have a better time believing these were carved from the world tree itself, because if you thought the Freya was beautiful, then the Baldr will blow you away. They have a similar candy-coated aesthetic that the Freya has, but with different coloration, and a much more compact shape. Each piece is apparently made using a special process that utilizes natural wood. It’s an incredible feat for an IEM to have such a handcrafted design, and learning that they were hand-carved was enlightening.
The Freya was beautiful, but the Baldr feels like the master-crafted version of that design. Do they feel as good as they look? I’m not sure if I’ve grown more used to this IEM feel, or they just seem genuinely comfortable. The Baldr is a fine fit, secured tightly, and all that. However, the feeling of having the Baldr in your ear canal never went away for me after my long listening sessions. I didn’t mind that they were there, but some might take issue with the longer nozzle length. Using different ear tips might help the issue.
Kinera has given the Baldr a 7 driver hybrid design which consists of four electrostatics, two balanced armatures, and a 7mm dynamic inside each earpiece. The dynamic driver delivers most of the bass frequencies, while the armatures bear mid-range information, and the electrostatics bring the highs. With the Baldr, Kinera is seeking to create an all in one fidelity, that’s only matched by Kinera’s other IEM lines. In separating the frequency bands into different drivers, the Baldr aims to deliver clarity, warmth, detail, and power. The connection of the drivers is accomplished using a three-way crossover system that ensures no noise or distortion interference.
They may look small on the outside, but the Baldr packs a significant amount of power in its tiny housing. With a sensitivity of 109±2db and an impedance of 22 Ohms, you can easily drive this IEM through a variety of inputs. The frequency is also quite expansive, sitting from 5Hz-50kHz, leaving room for a lot of resolution and detail to come through. I tested the Baldr using both a PC headphone jack and the Ultrasone Panthar DAC amp.
The Baldr signals a colorful and wide representation of spatial imaging with a sure focus on depth. Sonic elements panned left and right are portrayed accurately and exist in their intended position leaving a plethora of space between them. Ambient tracks create a rich space for the Baldr to play with, as background sounds feel distant without being barely audible. Gain is distributed evenly and responded well to the dynamic range of specific tracks. On Boards of Canda’s “Geogaddi” the avant-garde instrumentations, and samples moved through my headspace with fluidity, presenting the surreal atmosphere the album intends.
It’s not a bass heads IEM, but the Baldr does boast a clean, and smooth sense of depth and tonality. Finding bass groves isn’t hard with the Baldr, as the lows are presented with distinct resolution and clarity. When bass tracks really want to delve deep into sub-bass territory, the Baldr will respond with resonance and clarity. It may lack the punch some might look for, but the Bladr acquires a variety of colorful low-end tones.
The soundstage of the Baldr plays into how well the mids come through in the sound field. There’s a crisp tonality that envelopes your tracks with clear energy and articulation. You get a full, wide range of sincerity and detail that especially plays friendly in rock, pop, and jazz tracks. The vocals of Patrick Stump on Fall Out Boy tracks like “Homesick at Space Camp” shine through with exceptional clarity, and pristine resolution. Piano notes glisten with buttery smooth tonalities, such as on tracks like “A Reflection” by The Cure, where the clean guitar strums and keys complement the spacing of the Baldr.
The Sonion electrostatic drivers really pick up the energy of highs, creating a lively texture that wafts over the headspace of these IEMs. I mentioned how ambient tracks really benefited from the amount of space the soundstage lets the timbre play with. The highs of the Baldr is the range that really takes advantage of it the best. The crash cymbals on multiple tracks sprinkle and resonate into the air with finely tuned precision. The airy textures make specific film scores very atmospheric, such as Colin Stetson’s score for “The Color out Of Space,” or the works of William Basinski, that bring out the unique textures of his compositions.
Kinera is a brand that understands sonic awareness, and the Baldr kicks it up a notch in terms of just how much you can hear. The Baldr presents the tracks to you with undeniable clarity and power that’s easy to drive and will grant you pleasurable listening for $1,399.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Expansive soundstage, rich signature, impressive craftsmanship
Cons: Not the best fit
Kinera Baldr available from Audio 46
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