We’ve had the honor of reviewing quite a few of Kennerton’s products here at Major HiFi lately. Their Vali model was an exciting new experience for me to take on as Kennerton cites it as one of their most popular models. This open back headphone runs for $1,079, putting it in the middle of Kennerton’s price range. I’ve been highly impressed by their other models including the Magni, Thror, Gjallarhorn, and Thekk. Let’s see how the Vali holds up to Kennerton’s high standards. I also did a video review of the Vali, you can watch it here if you’d like!
What’s in the Box
- Kennerton Vali
- High quality 2 meters OFC cable with 3.5 mm Rhodium Plated connectors and Gold Plated 6.3 TRS connector
- Carrying case
- Strap for carrying case
Look and Feel
The Vali follows the rest of Kennerton’s models with its vintage look and overall larger build. They have a sizable metal frame containing their headband and ear cups, which sport a wooden casing. Covering the speakers is a honeycomb grill, which adds a more modern accent to their appearance. These are perhaps not the slimmest build, and weigh in at 490 grams. If you appreciate a throwback look and don’t mind some bulk, the Vali is an overall very luxurious feeling headphone. Additionally, it’s automatically adjusting headband and ear cups are very plush, making them especially comfortable and easy to wear for hours.
Like many of Kennerton’s headphones, the Vali takes advantage of the company’s signature designed ultralight Graphene material. The Graphene is used to coat the diaphragms on their 50mm dynamic drivers. This unique diaphragm is supposed to reduce unwanted resonance and distortion. In addition, the speaker grill is made of cast zinc allow which is meant to further reduce excess resonance.
The Vali has an impedance of 32 Ohms and a frequency response of 10Hz-28kHz
Kennerton is a great company for anyone wanting a soundstage that packs a punch, as many of their closed backs already feel almost like they could be open backs. The Vali has a soundstage that feels consistently 3-dimensional but shows its full width in a subtle, selective way. I listened to Eryn Allen Kane’s “Bass Song,” full of sky-high vocal stacks over incredibly recorded, energetic horn and rhythm sections. The Vali let the vocals sweep the sound field with plenty of room, but their true width was shown in the smaller percussive additives in the song and stereo horn stabs. It felt like a very realistic representation of the band, and the Z-axis kept the countless backing vocals in their own prism so the soulful lead vocal could charge through.
Throughout, the Vali has a natural, organic sound. The way the high end contributes to this character is through its gentle definition and gradually sloped tuning. The high end feels conservatively boosted. I never got a distinct sense of shine from these, but they’re clearly bright. Their high end seems to have controlled saturated quality to it. They lean towards smoothness more than snap in the highest audible frequencies, and get into more pointed definition the further downwards we go on this area of the spectrum. They aren’t too shy about adding some resonance as we get towards the high end/high mid crossover point. Their high end overall feels tight and pure, with a tasteful amount of added grit.
The high mids on the Vali are fairly resonant. They have a crisp bite reminiscent of Kennerton’s Magni model, and somewhat analogous, though less colored, than that of the Focal Celestee. The high mid is fairly honest on these. I felt exquisite warmth from many tracks and a bit sharper sound to others songs that may have had this attribute covered up by many headphones. Listening to the lush R&B composition in Yola’s “Faraway Look,” The Vali gave the song’s vintage sound an airy, light touch. Per their slight resonance, the vocals cut through the mix exquisitely, while the string section, backing vocals, and organs felt to have a very filling, colorful body to them. These do not shy away from some more bite on the mid range similar to the Magni, which makes them great for getting a very up front sound.
The Vali does not seem to be here to make a big deal out of the low-end. It’s focus strays away from an extended sub range and more towards a tight, attack heavy character. The bass is part of the bigger picture on the Vali as apposed to a breakthrough performance. A sense of natural definition and clarity allows the low end to keep somewhat mellow leveling without feeling underrepresented. I did find the Vali gave a more heavy hitting bass response when listening to The Black Keys’ “Weight of Love.” The loose kick and distorted bass felt guttural and thick, creating a dense foundation for the rest of the song to spread out upon. Throughout this listen I found the Vali showed me a new side of its low end, proving its overall versatility.
The Vali feels like yet another well-tailored, successful model from Kennerton. It has an individualistic take on the classic HiFi, open back sound. With its colorful midrange and precise low end punch, there’s a lot of fun listens to be had on the Vali. Similar to a lot of Kennerton’s headphones, I think as they continue gaining traction, they have the consistency and gratifying sonic edge to render them classics in the audiophile world.
You can purchase the Kennerton Vali at Audio46
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