The Kinera Customized Cable, stock AZLA ear tips, and the Cayin 30th Anniversary N30LE DAP were used to obtain the following sound impressions.
The Kinera Imperial LOKI delivers an excellent sound performance. Its strength lies within its bass and mid-range presentation and its ability to provide a captivating listening experience with its hyper-detailed resolution.
Supported by a holographic and 3D soundstage with impeccable imaging capabilities triggers you to revisit old, nostalgic tracks just to see what they sound like at this level of quality.
The LOKI uses its bone conduction and single dynamic driver to focus on sub-bass depth and texture presenting this in a more pronounced and forward manner compared to the mid-bass.
The bass presentation sets the overall foundation of the LOKI’s tuning and is superb with its sophisticated structure of layered bass notes.
The sub-bass digs very deep and with the right soundtrack and recording quality, it can make its presence felt right at the very end of the response range.
The bone conduction technology kicks in with the quality of the sub-bass as it adds that extra bit of tactility and reverb.
The sub-bass is by no means overdone nor does it linger or have an extra-slow decay which brings it towards an overpowering “bass-head” presentation. However, it is more representative of a deep and impactful sub-bass with excellent dynamics and bass texture that is well controlled.
Speed and attack of sub and mid-bass notes can be appreciated here as the dynamic driver allows the bass to work in tandem with the bone conduction driver to deliver a mix of punchy, tactile, or slower decaying bass notes.
Drums come off with just the right amount of rumble and reverb making it extremely satisfying to hear. Within the mid-bass, there is a mild boost within the overall frequency response however Kinera Imperial’s tuning was directed toward bass quality and resolution rather than the amount of slam.
Bassheads may be “wanting” more decibels from the LOKI’s bass however there is sufficient depth, reverb, and rumble to satisfy most owners.
The forte of the Kinera Imperial LOKI lies within a very coherent midrange presentation, one that is also very detailed, lush, smooth, and at times ultra-realistic.
To give you a picture of how the midrange is presented, the lower to center midrange is linear and more or less in line with each from 300Hz to 1kHz. From this point onwards, the center to upper mid-range becomes more forward between 1kHz to 2kHz before dropping back again at 4kHz.
The overall result is an upper mid-range focussed tuning which is far forward but just slightly behind the sub-bass. The upper mid-range is by no means harsh or piercing.
The resolution and quality of the mid-range is outstanding. Violins and guitars being strung sound lush and ultra-detailed so that it gives you another level of awareness of how certain instruments sound.
With the boost from the bass frequencies, there is a superb level of volume to midrange notes which provides an added layer of realism.
In particular, the LOKI excels at female vocal presentation which comes off with a very high level of detail and delicateness that makes it sound very smooth and organic.
The LOKI’s treble is presented with a bright and well-extended tuning that has a decent amount of sparkle. Treble has plenty of energy beyond 6k but sits just behind the upper midrange.
Between the lower to upper treble frequencies, there is a vast amount of space and airiness within the ultra-high frequencies which is supported by 2 of the balance armatures and 4 of the EST drivers.
The treble does come off bright but it does not become too harsh or sibilant. The sound quality of cymbals, high hats, and upper-pitched male and female vocals is excellent and the LOKI can present them with an ultra-high level of detail.
This is a crisp sound but with excellent definition and extension to enable the listener to pick out the finest of details in the upper regions.
The Kinera Imperial’s soundstage is grandiose and holographic allowing for a very immersive listening experience.
The staging dimensions are more to the spherical side but combined with that 3D effect it allows the instruments and vocals to be spread across the stage in all directions resulting in a very articulate and engaging imaging experience.
The Kinera Imperial LOKI has an impedance rating of 12Ω and a sensitivity of 107 dB @1kHz. With its multi-driver setup that includes bone conduction, dynamic drivers, BA, and EST, the LOKI does take quite some power to drive to achieve optimal sonic performance.
As a result, the LOKI must have access to devices and DAPs with additional power settings to achieve the desired results. Despite being on medium gain with a 4.4mm balanced output, you may find yourself setting the volume 4-5 clicks higher than usual.
When paired with multiple DAPs and dongles, the LOKI produced a pitch-black background where there was no unwanted hissing or idle noise. It is also important to note that the LOKI’s sonic performance scales well with better-quality sources.
During the review testing phase, the Kinera Imperial LOKI was paired with multiple DAPs including the Cayin 30th Anniversary Amber Pearl DAP and the Cayin N8ii.
Between the two DAPs, there are additional power settings such as “Hyper” and “P+” modes that produce additional voltage which the LOKI benefits greatly from. The added voltage noticeably brought out the sub-bass, added more thickness to mid-range notes, and expanded the soundstage which was a welcome addition.
Although both the Cayin N8ii and Cayin Amber Pearl DAPs are excellent pairings with the LOKI, the Cayin Amber Pearl DAP was the best overall pairing. This is due to its “Hyper” mode combined with the different NuTube timbre settings.
Whilst using hyper mode coupled with the Modern NuTube timbre setting, the sub-bass rumbles even more with the mid-range gaining more volume and transparency whilst allowing the soundstage to expand in all directions.
Detail retrieval improves and is at its pinnacle allowing for an epic listening session. There was an injected hint of warmth from the Modern NuTube timbre setting which blended well with the LOKI.
Using the solid-state timbre mode on the Cayin Amber Pearl DAP produced a highly engaging sound without any distortion to the LOKI’s cool timbre settings. The soundstage was still wide, tall, and deep although not as much when compared to the Modern NuTube timbre setting which faired better.
The Kinera Imperial LOKI was paired up with the Questyle M15 and the Cayin RU7. For simplicity, the dongles were paired with an Android mobile phone for the review with the use of USB Audio Player Pro as the interface.
Although both dongles paired excellently with the LOKI, the Cayin RU7 was the dongle that provided a more engaging sound and therefore the better matchup.
The mid-range on the RU7 was lush, smooth, and highly detailed which was supported by a deep sub-bass. The Cayin RU7 features low and high gain settings making it suitable for the power-hungry LOKI.
Furthermore, the neutral timbre and slight boost to the bass and treble regions play well into the LOKI’s tuning as the sub-bass and treble receive that extra bit of detail and quality.