We recently took a look at the Kennerton Gjallarhorn, a closed-back audiophile headphone with two versions separated by different tunings. From what I’ve researched, and from my own experience listening to both, the consensus seems to be that these are some of the best closed-back models around. The soundstage was very expansive and layered and even blew some open-back headphones in the same price range out of the water. It got me thinking, if this is what Kennerton could do with a closed-back model, then I can’t wait to see what they do with open-back.
Now here we are taking a look at the Kennerton Thror, one of their esteemed open-back headphones with an awesome name. Knowing how things went with the Gjallarhorn, how much does the open-back principle of the Thror expand on the GH50’s excellence in soundstage and imaging? Can this monster of a $3,500 headphone live up to the high expectation of what came before?
What You Get
I think it’s safe to assume now that all Kennerton headphones have the same packaging contents. There’s nothing special about how the Thror is boxed with compared to their other models. The Thror doesn’t come with any special accessories, just the eco-leather storage case, and 2-meter detachable quarter-inch cable made from copper.
Look and Feel
The Gjallarhorn was impressive, but the aesthetic and build quality of the Thror is just incredible. Lifting these headphones out of their case for the first time, I was immediately drawn to their striking design. I’m a big fan of wooden headphones, but the craftsmanship here is on another level. The process of manufacturing a headphone like this takes a great number of steps as one would expect, but the Thror construction sounds like one of the most precise operations I’ve heard in a while. There’s a laundry list of techniques in order to achieve such a magnificent build, and Kennerton goes into a lot of detail about it.
To sum it up, the earcups are made from various wood types, using antibacterial substances to give the headphones that glorious sheen and make them resistant to more environmental factors. This is all done by combining machine precision and handcrafted polish. This is all supported by aerospace-grade aluminum and steel suspension, providing an extra sense of value and durability to the Thror. The heavy-duty structure might make it seem like the headphones won’t be comfortable, but thankfully the Thror provides these fine lambskin leather ear pads that are soft and deliver a suitable fit.
There are a lot of unique factors that construct the makeup of this monster of a driver system. The Gjallarhorn had its horn drivers that are unlike anything available currently on the market, but the Thror opts for a more familiar planar design. Kennerton chose this principle because they wanted to see what they could do with a planar driver made completely from scratch. They’ve minimized the internal components and acoustic chamber in order to eliminate unwanted resonances and deliver a more balanced magnetic field for a more even signal distribution.
The driver itself is a massive 80mm system, which seems odd considering all the effort to consolidate the housing, but it uses a low-mass diaphragm. It’s made from a multi-layered polyamide film, built to withstand harsher environments and time itself. I don’t know where Kennerton thinks I’m taking these headphones, but again, the master level of craftsmanship here should be applauded.
Surprisingly, the Thror isn’t as power-hungry as it might seem. The impedance comes in at just 42 Ohms, but don’t assume that means you can just plug these headphones into your laptop. You would be doing the Thror a disservice not using an amp, but also I find some planars harder to drive even without a high impedance. However, you won’t need a crazy expensive headphone amp in order to do the Thror justice. I would recommend sticking with a more economical option if you’re strapped for cash after purchasing these headphones. A model like the ZEN CAN signature will definitely provide enough driver to power the driver, and produce a fitting level of volume with options for gain.
With everything being said about the rather intense build process, and my expectations for the Thror’s sound signature, my impressions of the soundstage and imaging are more mixed than I had anticipated. Coming off the Gjallarhorn, I expected the Thror to open up, even more considering it’s an open-back planar, but that’s not really what the headphone is putting on display. I know it sounds odd, but the staging on the Thror isn’t as open as the Gjallarhorn. Instead, the Thror goes more much more natural sound field, with a harder focus on accuracy than immersion.
The Thror still possesses some great width and height, making room for a deep enough sense of spaciousness for the sound elements to occupy. The positioning has a more properly defined source due to the planar but always feels a little closer than it should. Some tracks appear like they’re floating on the edge of an interior and exterior headspace. In effect, the Thror never quite reaches that holographic soundstage that makes planar headphones sound so immersive, however, the consistency in which the headphones stick to their natural foundation is commendable. It might not have been what I was expecting, but that doesn’t change the wonderful qualities the Thror still possesses in its soundstage.
Now that I have a much clearer idea of what kind of planar the Thror is, I can explore the frequency response with a more open mind. The precedent the sound signature has established is naturalness, which is reflected in the bass response. It is one of the most elegant bass timbres at this price point, with a clean tonality and a full resonance. What’s interesting here is that the lows don’t have any real textural consistency, but the frequencies appear completely accurate to the recordings. While sometimes this can make some headphones feel a little cold and overly analytical, the Thror gives the bass the right amount of gain to stick out properly in the mix. You get the sense that the instruments have the exact right amount of body to them in order to sound complete.
Much of that clarity and smoothness apparent in the bass is also held by the midrange. The mids are rich with details, presented in a squeaky clean tonality. Some of the clearest separations are located in the mids, as performances are given an ample amount of room for articulation. The response is incredibly smooth, laying out the timbre with an easily consumable resonance that makes a variety of genres pleasing to listen to. Acoustic instruments were a standout here. Listening to the “Yeo-Neun” by Okkyung Lee, the sometimes chaotic instrumental was all given their proper fullness, and when it sounds like the instruments are being thrown across the room, the Thror is there to make sense of all of it.
With the highs, I can’t honestly say that I’ve heard a more laid-back treble than the one presented here. That being said, the Thror never once sacrifices any fidelity in its high-end to achieve this timbre. Keeping with the overall natural and clean theme of this headphone, the Thror also presents some sweet treble, the most textured part of the whole signature. However, the response is much more subtle, avoiding overemphasis and sticking to the headphones’ naturalness. Any track you run through the Thror will have this treble, with little to no brightness to be found. While the frequencies don’t call attention to themselves, they still add character to the highs and the sound signature as a whole.
Listening to the Kennerton Thror is quite the experience. It wasn’t what I expected out of the sound signature, but in its place, it gave me a natural timbre that anyone can enjoy. The build quality is unlike anything available on the market today and shows a ton of value in its longevity. It’s an extremely impressive, but pricey headphone that might take a lot of convincing to spend your hard-earned dollar on. The ones that already know what the Thror is will love it, and be more than willing to throw down that kind of money. However, for some, comparing the Thror to other endgame type headphones might be more difficult due to its specific timbre. When it comes to my experience, I think they’re one of the most soothing headphones around.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Excellent build, Natural timbre, Clean tonality
Cons: Price, Not as wide
|Driver Unit||80 mm|
|Frequency Response||10-55000 Hz|
|Cord length||High quality 2 meters detachable copper cable (6.3 mm)|
The Kennerton Thror is available at Audio 46.
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