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These beautiful 3D printed IEMs will lure you in… and wear you out!
When it’s time to get really intimate with your music, there’s no better way than with a pair of IEMs. Sealing you off from the world around you, they deliver their music in a direct way that regular headphones rarely achieve, and they do this in a highly portable package that’s lighter, more compact, and simply easier to live with.
Today there is a vast selection of IEMs to choose from, suiting different ears, as well as tastes! Until you’re ready to pay for a pair of custom IEMs to really maximize the experience, good off-the-shelf pairs can be had for very reasonable prices, and in this review, I’m dipping into that affordable end of the market, with an impressive set that comes in under $50!
Kinera has roots going back 10 years, and 5 years ago, they launched their first product under the Kinera brand – the BD005 – as well as producing drivers for the wider OEM market. In recent years the company has been focusing on developing and refining a range of hybrid balanced armature and dynamic earphones, seeking to benefit from the best of both driver types in their designs.
The BD005 Pro, featured in this review, is the latest incarnation of that highly successful and original version.
Entertaining from the word go, it’s easy to see how this model has succeeded for so long.
- Form: IEMs
- Drivers: Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic + 30095 Series BA Driver
- Impedance (Ohm): 16
- Sensitivity (dB): 108
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz
- Removable Cable: Yes
- Mic: Yes
- Plug: 3.5mm TRRS
The BD005 Pro come well packaged in a distinctive hexagonal box, with a colored sticker denoting which color sits inside. I would describe the packaging as minimal but well designed, and I like that Kinera chose to name specific members of the packaging design team on the inside of the box: a nice human touch you don’t see often. There’s also a card encouraging the new owner to connect with the brand in various ways, online.
In the box
- The IEMs, fitted with one set of silicone ear tips
- A 1.2 meter braided cable
- Two additional sets of ear tips for fit
The supplied carry pouch is the perfect size to throw into a bag, or even a jacket pocket, helping to protect the IEMs when out of the home. Most of the packaging is recyclable when you no longer need it. There’s also a small instruction leaflet, though you may need a magnifying glass to read the tiny writing on it!
The world of IEMs is full of flamboyant, eye-catching designs that suggest something special. It’s not often that kind of design flair is seen at under $50, but Kinera has certainly pulled that off with the Bd005 Pro.
No question, the Kinera BD005 Pro are a beautiful set of IEMs. They come in three colors that Kinera describes as Murky Blue, Granite Gray, and Jewel Red. Having seen two of these colors with my own eyes, I’d say these were good names. The red pair I was supplied looks very premium and certainly a lot nicer than the actual asking price would suggest.
The earpieces themselves are a 3D printed design, that look almost custom. The branding has gold lettering, and there are small gold-colored flecks that catch the light from different angles. It would be easy to overdo this kind of design, but Kinera has hit the perfect balance of stylish looks and taste.
There are two tiny connectors for the cable and a small port. The cable itself has a shaped ear hook and usefully includes clear L & R labeling to make it easier to orient them correctly in low light. I find the cable easy to live with, as it resists tangling and has minimum microphonics.
For use with a smartphone, there’s also a play/pause button and an in-line microphone on the cable if you need it. The cable is terminated with a 3.5mm right-angled plug.
Punchy, powerful bass reaches deep and leaves a strong impression.
Although you can’t quite see them through the semi-transparent earpieces, inside the BD005 Pro is a hybrid of dynamic and balanced armature drivers, seeking to deliver the best characteristic of each driver type – punchiness and detail – with a fast and accurate response.
Kinera BD005 Pro Sound
When it comes to reviewing the sound of the BD005 Pro, I was torn between assessing them for quality at their price point or against reference sets. Just to be clear, that’s a compliment because these IEMs punch well above their weight and can justifiably be compared with more expensive models.
The first word that came to mind for me was ‘entertaining’. I had fun listening to these, thanks to their detailed resolution, and seductive v-shaped frequency response, with lows and highs that really stand out. They have a bright signature, but never harsh. Occasionally I found myself getting distracted by the level of technical detail they were relaying to my ears, so I almost lost track of the music, focusing instead on the reproduction of individual instruments.
For my listening, I tried the Kineras with my desktop THX headphone amp, a MacBook Pro, and an iPad. With each, they were easy to drive, requiring no additional gain to produce satisfying volume levels.
Great detail in the lows and highs made the Kineras entertaining to listen to.
If bass is your thing, you should absolutely take the BD005 Pro for a test drive. Listening to the latest album by Yello, I experienced powerful, well-controlled, and deep bass that reached down to the sub-bass with ease and almost felt as though it was shaking me!
Upper bass is less prominent but still shows up well, with electric bass guitars sounding crisp and easy to follow. Overall, they have a very satisfying bass response.
Audio equipment is always so subjective, and I imagine most will find the bass very satisfying on these IEMs. As I was listening, I noticed that the bass can almost be too intense at times, especially with electronic bass. At times I found myself feeling overwhelmed and reaching for the volume. You may find this kind of bass a desirable characteristic, so I’m just noting my own experience here. Listen and hear for yourself.
The midrange on the Kineras is slightly recessed, so they never sound harsh. Vocals sound natural for the most part, and acoustic instruments work very well.
As my listening continued, I noticed some muddled details and a lack of finesse that spoiled the fun. The prominent snare drum on Superposition by Young the Giant began to sound mushy and artificial. I’m used to that drum sounding sharp and percussive, with faster transients than I experienced here.
Once I’d noticed this, it crept up elsewhere as well, never causing me to stop listening, but limiting my enjoyment of certain tracks. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by other high-end gear, and it’s good to always keep in mind the price of the BD005 Pro. Factor that in, and the complaint seems unfair. For their price, they keep the mids balanced, never shouty, and compete well.
Again, very much a matter of taste, but no matter which source or music I chose, I found the BD005 Pro to be simply too sparkly and bright sounding. At first, this added to the entertainment factor I mentioned previously, but as my listening session went on, I noticed fatigue setting in.
This was less of an issue with simpler recordings, but as layers of instruments and vocals built up, the brightness started to irritate more. One example was on Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a complex, multi-layered track that I found these IEMs struggled with, the vocals sounding just a little too sibilant.
I should stress that all my listening was done at home in a quiet setting. A brighter top end often works better in an environment with more ambient noise, and I could see the Kineras working well on the commute or in the gym. But for home listening, I’d probably choose something with a smoother response at the top end. Again, all very subjective.
Perfect to throw in your bag for a day out and about.
Where to Buy
The Kinera BD005 Pro made a strong first impression. I enjoyed seeking out the most dynamic, punchy tracks with the deepest bass in my collection and playing them through these IEMs. In the end, though, I found they started to become fatiguing. After listening for a while, I wanted to switch to headphones with a flatter response curve.
Their v-shaped tuning will appeal to some more than others, and if you listen mostly to electronic music, I think they’ll prove very entertaining. I also think these will work well on the move. They’re light, comfortable, and have a sound signature that’s ideal for commuting.
It’s also worth remembering their price. At under $50 they make an excellent first pair of IEMs or a compliment to a pair of bulkier headphones that are less suited to daily use out of the home. In those scenarios, I’d say the Kinera BD005 Pro are a solid value and definitely worth the price of admission.