Another positive from Kinera.
Sound is quite dynamic for the price.
Cons: Case is horrible.
Needs more detail, but hey it cost $29usd.
The Tyr was sent to me by HiFiGo for the purposes of an unbiased review.
I have heard and own many Kinera from the original SEED to the limited-edition earbud (still one of my favorite buds) to the iDun with its gorgeous wood faceplate and the Sif with its all-white look and sound, which built upon the iDun. To me, Kinera has tried hard to present an interesting look for their products, while providing competent sound. After the fuss calmed down, the iDun proved to be pretty good at its price, as did the SEED and Sif. I enjoyed them all as what I would call niche-market items, which were meant to give the consumer an option at each price. With much fanfare, the Kinera options were pretty successful.
Here, the Kinera Tyr takes a different approach with the shape and affordability. Utilizing a cable which cannot come off has its merits and drawbacks as well. But for the listed $29 price, you really should not fret or worry about such trivialities. And in fact, I didn’t. After checking to ensure all was well, the Tyr was loaded onto my Shanling M2x for 100 hours. I will state that it really does not matter if you believe burn in or not. I want to know what the item of choice sounds like down the road after 6 months and it is out of the limelight. Thus, I do this for all IEM’s/items received.
Kinera SEED ($35ish
Kinera Sif ($37)
Kinera iDun ($139)
Dethonray DTR1 (w/ HA-2 as well)
XDuoo x10t ii/iFi xDSD
Kinera does a nice job with the Tyr. The small bullet-shape is not only compact, but well put together. The increase in their QC clearly shows through. I welcome the shape, fit and finish. Done in gloss black surrounded by two chromed pieces the Tyr is of three pieces, which house the 6mm micro driver. A large lip on the nozzle is appreciated, except for the fact that if you take one of the tips off, it is darn near impossible to get back on. A smaller diameter lip would do the same thing without problem. It does seem that IEM’s/buds from budget to TOTL are starting to include the Final Audio Type-E, which is a welcome addition. These are among the only silicon tips I will use. They were standard on my Legend X and standard here. That said, I have been using a pair of Azla SednaEarfit, which are quickly becoming my favorite as well. Providing a bit deeper reach of bass than the Type-E, the air coming between notes is about equal. Both work well.
I do enjoy from time to time a simple plug in the ear type bud such as this, and for quick listens will often pull out my CA Atlas, which follows the same approach. There is much to be said for the ability to quickly ingress/egress your listening choice. Since the critter in hand is small, I had no problem with in-ear fit, using the large sized tips of both varieties mentioned. Isolation even with the large is above average as best, and the pluck of my loud MBP keyboard can be heard between songs readily. The cable is prone to tangling a bit, but due to the springy nature of the rubberized coating falls easily into place. Microphonics is another case as there is noticeable sound coming from even a minor tap or brush of the cable. Since this has controls on the right cable, this can become a bit bothersome. Not perfect, and a bit disappointing from Kinera, here. Even a minor fabric coating would have stopped this all together, heightening the listening enjoyment. In today’s market, this is a must.
Initial listening aside, the bass came across strong and present from that mini-me driver. Tip selection plays a paramount roll and once found, can heighten the feel of the bass. It is enjoyable and felt on such songs as TWP’s Glowing Eyes. Not gut punching mind you, but when called upon, it adds to the overall signature in a good manner. I enjoy good bass quantity as much as quality, and this has good quantity, with minor bleed into the lower mids. But we are talking about a sub-$30 earbud. So not unacceptable. The quantity does belie the size of the micro driver, so it does put out a good amount, which is not unpleasant at all.
Vocals such as Tyler’s of TWP come across quite good, but a bit behind the scene. In talking with peers who currently have the Tyr, we agreed male vocals are a bit colored, but personally I would not say veiled. There is a bit of too much “S” sound coming on some songs such as Heavydirtysoul. This only becomes slightly grating at high volumes, and even then, not bad. I can turn the volume up without harm even with my treble sensitivity. Overall though, the mids provide a pleasant enough experience to not be fatiguing over time, coupled with enough definition to keep you interested. One can clearly hear the snap of drumstick and support instruments, but they do come across as a bit like a mass of kids running towards the lunchroom. They are hungry that’s all. It is not unpleasant, and acceptable.
Thankfully, the treble does not offend me, as there is a slight roll off. If Kinera had kept the scenario going to the top, this would have quickly become a grating sound. Thankfully, the treble is appreciated by my ears. Not the most succinct or clear, but with enough detail to yet again keep my interest. When moving to female vocals, which to me can move into the bothersome sounds to me if not drawn upon appropriately, I find Jamie Drake’s To My Love comes across in good manners. Not that sibilant song, she does present her voice to where a less than stellar presentation could be had. Thankfully it all works out. Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain has given me trouble over the years, with her enunciation. With the Tyr at higher volumes, she sounds as sweet as can be out of a $29 earbud. Not punishing at all and I could raise the volume to near-ear splitting levels. Such a fine voice she has…
Keeping with Adele, one can discern levels of not only transparency, but separation as well. Many of her songs are thoroughly congested as a mass of sound and meant to be as one harmonious menagerie. The Tyr represents that honestly if not entirely clear. But on songs such as Send My Love the guitar intro and her voice work in harmony together well. I had forgotten how much I like her music and voice. A nice surprise on this snowy day.
Thoroughly enjoying the Adele memories, layering is slightly above average, but quite adequate for this price. Again, Adele marvels as melding all music together into a mash of sound, which envelops you. And the Tyr does well here. Placement within the sound stage is average, with a slightly elevated center point in the box of near equal proportions. Slightly wider than ear, this is what I would call an average sound stage, but there can be levels of intimacy, which is appreciated. At this point I kick back and enjoy One And Only for what it is, a superb reveille of vocal proportions. Sometimes just listening is appreciated and the Tyr does that. With a bit too much push up top in this song, I do have to turn the volume down after a bit, though. Not unacceptable.
Kinera Tyr ($29) vs Kinera SEED ($35ish):
I did enjoy the SEED upon its release, finding it a very affordable alternative to the masses released by others. QC problems kept it from becoming a long-term hit, and my cable has suffered the dreaded oxidation problem. I find the vocals too elevated on the SEED, with a pinching of the mids unpleasant upon revisiting. This was a model, which seemed to be rushed out to reviewers as beta testers, and the subsequent model then came out. I cannot turn the volume up like I can on the Tyr. For a first effort that came out when the trademark ChiFi sound was of brilliance, the SEED followed that route, but a bit less so. It is obvious (to me) that the Tyr betters the SEED in all categories save a replaceable cable.
Kinera Tyr ($29) vs Kinera Sif ($37):
The Sif followed the SEED, with better QC and I still see some current reviews coming out. As far as longevity goes, the Sif is better than the SEED, with more enhanced bass, which bleeds into the mids more than the Tyr, and a touch of sibilance in the treble. It was as if the engineers tried to overcompensate for the SEED’s fallacies. I do like the signature even with those shortfalls, and this as reports have it works for commuting. But I cannot turn the volume up like the Tyr without sensitivity, which is a major shortfall to me. The Tyr presents a much smoother signature, without stepping on any toes such as the Sif. Those who value treble with bass reach will like the Sif, but I prefer the sound signature of the Tyr.
Kinera Tyr ($29) vs Kinera iDun ($139):
The iDun was Kinera’s concerted effort to move upscale after the quasi-success of the previous models. As such, it presented a more premium feel in look and cable. I really like the tactility of the cable, and the look of the wood faceplate. Presenting a very forward mid structure to me, Adele’s vocals show no doubt where they are. Up front and in charge. Bass is definitely a support mechanism meant to give balance. I find the mids to be too far forward and would EQ them back a good bit to appreciate the character of the iDun. The move upscale worked in looks but again fell a bit short to me in sound. Many with more versed ears do appreciate the tuning of the iDun, and I respect that. But I prefer not to EQ my IEM’s or buds unless absolutely necessary.
The maturation of Kinera through the Tyr shows that they may have found a path in which to follow. They have taken a cautious approach to the tuning as opposed to the iDun and I appreciate that.
Dethonray DTR1/HA-2: Running the DTR1 alone, I find the Tyr to be wonderful on my current favorite test track Crazy Mary. Deep rich bass can be heard if the IEM/bud presents itself that way, and vocals are laid bare with the soulful sound from Todd’s voice. Thoroughly thick in sound and with a voice, which can go right through you, the IEM/bud had better be ready for that. The DTR1 is also an outstanding device all on its own. The Tyr happily comes along even if a bit congested in song. This is not a slap at the sound, but the limitation of a sub-$30 listening product. A bit less dark than the Cayin, nonetheless the pairing works well, without running into trouble in the treble range. Throw on the HA-2, and you not only up the volume, but to me I sense a bit better definition. The pair of amp/DAP together is one, which others have described as very good to outstanding and I would concur. This pairing will appear in most of my future reviews as a result. A thoroughly captivating combo with good sound.
Shanling M2x: Running both SD and Tidal this would be an ideal pair for throwing in one’s commuter bag. Affordable is a definition of one’s own need or level. I hate to throw that term out, when many would simply use the Tyr on a Smartphone and be thoroughly satisfied; but on the Shanling I find the sound to be 70-75% of the DTR1. Providing me with the warm tone of my favor, the M2x drives the Tyr thoroughly well, but with less verve. The sound is outstanding but seems a bit thinner. Verifying this on my Shanling M5s, I concur as the M5s provides a thicker, meatier sound, just a bit. Don’t get me wrong, the M2x is outstanding and my go to portable for a reason. And paired with the Tyr is a very acceptable offering. Plus, the more I listen to the pair, the more I enjoy them together.
I cannot fault Kinera for what they have tried to achieve. Trying a different path is filled with potholes, carnage and success. By and large their following has stayed true. In talking to some recently I find they still enjoy the older products and welcome this one. Even though I say the times have moved past the above offerings, the Tyr is the tie, which binds the past and present while providing a look into what the future may provide. Platitudes aside, I do thoroughly enjoy the Tyr (barring the cable microphonics) and do recommend a listen for something good at the sub-$30 price point. An excellent alternative to those freebies included with Smartphones even though that gap may be shrinking.
I thank Nappoler and HiFiGo for the review sample. The Kinera Tyr is worth a look. Cheers.