Planar Magnetic Headphones

Kennerton Audio Thekk . Head-Fi.org

Pros:

  • The Hi-End sound qulaity;
  • Superior technical resolution across the entire range;
  • Smooth, balanced sound;
  • The depth, width, holographic soundstage is amazing;
  • Separation of instruments, natural and lively sound;
  • Comfortable high frequencies with excellent resolution;
  • Deep, fast, detailed punch bass;
  • A light weight;
  • Convenient headband;
  • Stunning leather, wood and metal materials;
  • Special design;
  • A rich set of components;
  • Customization options from the manufacturer;
  • Not hard to drive

Cons:

  • Price can make you think
  • Stock cable of excellent quality, but with a hard covering
  • Availability for purchase

Disclaimer: the review is not an advertisement, not initiated by the manufacturer, everything written is the opinion of an ordinary music lover. I am not an expert, I do not have a specialized education and I am not professionally associated with the audio industry. Kennerton Thekk was bought by me, and the review is a fountain of emotions. You may not hear the same sound and disagree with its description, everything described is a subjective impression and is based on the Cayin N6 mk2 source with the A01 motherboard (High Gain / 55-65 volume level on the balance output, on the stereo – 70-80). For the most complete picture, you may need to connect to powerful stationary amplifiers. I also apologize for the grammar, I am not a native speaker of English.

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Previous experience

My music path was started about three years ago, when I bought the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro. Since then, I have listened to myself, my preferences and new devices. Being a basshead, I still think that I have a sense of beauty and sophistication. Therefore, the further path was related with the search for the Grail – the ideal amount and quality of low frequencies woven into the shameful overall sound quality. Onkyo A800Denon AH-D5200Shure SRH1540Campfire Audio CascadeE-MU Teak visited my home at different times. The latter fit best into my tastes, and, as a result, survived the rest. Then came the era of IEM sound. This is a special world of sound – someone loves it, disgusting to others, and I pretty deeply immersed into IEM world. It seemed to me that I would not return to full-size headphones.

Weight taken on second try

The first acquaintance with Thekk (and the rest of the brand’s headphones) was a couple of months ago. The sound was so distinctive and unusual that I even thought: “How can I listen to such a sound?” After the in-ear earphones, you are transported into a world where everything grows in width and depth. Imagine goes to such a depth that you clearly feel like you are in a concert at the stadium. This is not a metaphor (of course, it is a metaphor), the source of the sound is really at a distance and the sound waves come from a respectful distance. When you get used to the fact that everything sounds in your head and goes to the face, then such a transformation of the soundstage may cause confusion. At this point you must leave the comfort zone.

So I went home with nothing (in fact, I bought other devices, but it’s not about them), but, it seems to me, the virus was already inside me. After that, there was a little acquaintance with some of the popular dynamic flagships Sony MDR-Z1R and Fostex TH900. I also paid attention to Hifiman (AnandaEdition X), but there was no way to listen to them in the local store.

I had a persistent feeling that I definitely want a different sound, something special for me personally, and I got ready for the second try. Let’s skip the lyrics, after a long demo session and sorting out the accessories, I decided to buy new emotions.

Complete set and quality of materials

First of all, everything is packed in an amazing leather bag. There are no hints of eco-leather or substandard materials; these are excellent quality leather, with a premium and solid look.

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As far as I know, only one cable (of the new revision) is put in the standard kit, but I got two cables: the previous revision with a 3.5 mm stereo connector, has a more rigid cover, and the second one – the updated revision with 6.3 mm connector and a softened cover. Both cables are oxygen-free copper (OFC with 5N purity) from the JIB manufacturer. Immediately, I note that they sound very worthy and you may use them the first time without any problems. I’ll run a little further, compared it with a balanced custom cable – the difference in volume was up to 10-15 levels (which is not critical), and there is no gap in sound quality, although there is a noticeable upgrade when replacing the stock cable with a custom one. The cover of stock cable is really hard for me, and this also applies to the updated revision. I listen to Thekk from the portable player, so the comfort of cable is important.

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The standard kit also includes only one ear pads. But I was lucky and I got a second pair of black leather ear pads.

By the way, I also got a limited edition of Thekk, and instead of black leather it is used (in the headband and ear pads) the brown skin of a young deer. And here is my respect! I admit, I really feel sorry for deer of all ages and skin color, however, when I touched this most delicate smooth skin, I experienced indescribable delight. It is like the skin of a baby, tactilely incredibly pleasant, with increased presentability and premium design. Here is the checkmate.

Black leather ear pads are denser, there are no questions about quality, all seams look strong, perforation is also neat and clear. It seemed to me during the demo session that the black ear pads produced a slightly more airy and transparent sound. Brown pads seemed to add weight and aggression. Maybe it depends on the density of the materials used.

In the kit you will also find a headphone care material, an envelope with a certificate, a 3-year warranty, a belt for carrying a bag, a metal 6.3-3.5 mm adapter (it looks just as monumental and weighty in the hand).

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The cups are expertly created: I can’t find fault with polishing, joints, or design. As mentioned above, I got a limited edition pair, the differences of which are purely aesthetic, but quite significant for me. This version also features a special cups design. Bog oak, Karelian birch and bubinga create a kind of tricolor and set the tone in a cool design.

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Can you finally talk about the sound?

Ok, let’s go. The first thing I came across when I first met was the depth of the soundstage. “Hello!” – said my test track, “What the hell are you so far?!” – indignant me.

On the one hand, it was as unusual as possible, on the other, it became a decisive factor. If these were another headphones, with even more bass, or a juicier middle, then what would radically change for my usual sound? Absolutely nothing. I do not want to mislead and create an idea of some wild depth and an incredible distance from an imaginary sound source. I describe only my feelings based on personal experience. If you, like me, prefer a close sound, as it is also called “into your face”, then you will easily experience the same strange feelings. The sound no longer sits in your head, you clearly hear it from the side. This gives a sense of space, creates the effect of being present at an open-air concert venue, or in a smaller room, in some kind of jazz club, for example. Even in a smaller imaginary room, when the sound source is closer, you still do not feel it in your head, but you feel the distance. All this creates a 3D and holographic effects.

Test:
Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli – Stompin’ at Decca (Remastered)

The band plays quite close, warmly, this is definitely not a open-air concert, but a cozy club. The feeling of being at the highest level.

The next thing I noticed how lively sound. The instruments sounded so clear, with natural tonality, I would not confuse this with a synthesized sound. This is not a dry analytical sound, definitely not. Dryness and liveliness here are mutually exclusive characters. This sound is lively, involving.

After that, you dive into a voluminous space where the level of pleasure depends in many respects on the sound engineer. Indeed, space is felt very well and in all directions. Literally every track is interesting to listen to in terms of listening to instrument positioning. If everything is done competently, then you can easily listen to the position of the instrument, vocals, effects. Holography is often so deceiving to the brain that you hear instruments not only on the sides and in front of you, but clearly hear them behind you when the sound comes from the back of the head.

I will emphasize this again. I often listen to music in genres unusual for me only because it is exciting to listen to the work of a sound engineer!

The separation of instruments is excellent, I can focus on one of them and listen to all of his parts. At the same time, the sound is tangible and it seems that it can be touched by fingers.

Test:


Pharoah Sanders – You’ve Got To Have Freedom

Excellent test for speed, separation, detail, working out the upper range. Thekk plays everything without any problems. Each instrument stays in its place and is heard. Highs do not tear your ears and are served in the amount that they played. The saxophone attacks as much as possible and the sound resembles a goose cry, but your hearing will not be affected, and you definitely will not confuse the saxophone with a goose.

Seriously, can you have more specifics about the sound?

Treble

High frequencies have an excellent level of resolution, transmitting the highest octaves without discomfort, frustration, excessive aggression.

Test:

Sunday Service Choir – Count Your Blessings

The choral parts become a challenge of the ears and headphones, climbing to the very top of the range. Since 02:20, the most peak sound begins. Thekk copes by transmitting the correct tonality of voices, the sound does not turn into a sharp spear, but also does not cut off high frequencies. Note: the stock cable in my ear at the highest octaves produces sound vibrations, slightly distorting the voices. Perhaps this is how my ear reacts, but I hear some waviness. Custom cable runs smoothly, naturally, nothing shakes, high ones are transmitted without distortion.

Test:
Pat Metheny – The Sound of Silence

Lower guitar strings sound emotionally and naturally. It is impossible for me to confuse the sound of a guitar string with another instrument or sample. Detail and micronuances are heard effortlessly: touching the string, transitions along the strings, extended metal aftertone.

Midrange

In fact, there will be the same epithets about naturalness, liveliness, involvement. Midrange in its place and sound at the highest level. Like the instruments, the vocal parts sound excellent, bewitching.

Test:

Dead Can Dance – Amnesia

Brendan Perry knows the secret arts, in my opinion, because at some point I go into a trance. Enveloping vocals, timbre, voice transitions, tempo – isn’t that magic? Thekk shows everything voluminously and densely.

Test:
Ane Brun – All Is Soft Inside (From NRK HAIK for Aurora, 2019)

Ane Brun’s vocal sounds very close, intimate, at some point it fills your head and this is a very cool feeling. We pay attention to the nuances, you can clearly hear her breathing, gaining air before the next line. The guitar sounds lively and also pretty intimate.

Lows

At this point, many bassheads can get up and leave. As I said at the beginning, I am a basshead, constantly hungry in massive bass. If you only listened to headphones with dynamic drivers before, like me, then you just need to accept this special bass. This bass is different, detailed, lean, fast, punchy, textural. The big drum will knock naturally and delight with a physical punch. Electronic bass can go deep, and be thunderous. Thekk is a story about a clear midbass rather than an enveloping subbass, about a high-speed kick, rather than a subwoofer in your head. When there are no unnecessary colored effects, you hear all the sounds very clear and crystal. Fast heavy metal does not turn into a mess, and electronic music gives the whole spectrum of emotions from various electro effects and fancy sounds.

Test:


Darkside – Paper Trails

The bass goes very deep, it sounds voluminous, thick, without losing detail and not falling into a rumble. It’s great. The low timbre of the voice also sounds more like another bass instrument, again, the nuances are here, nothing is distorted. At the same time, the guitar remains in its place, does not go into the shade, and is not lost in the bass sound.

Test:
Kilo Kish – SPARK

An example of a physically punch. Thekk concentrates the drums in a fist and beats. This is a literally physically tangible punch, if you increase the volume above average, it becomes extremely uncomfortable, you are simply beaten in the ear. It is not a harsh sound, but focused and gritty.

Test:
T78 – Dragstor

Just surround, deep, rumbling bass. When I write that the bass in Thekk is different, this does not mean that it is any kind of light or weak. It’s just that his nature is different from the dynamic bass, and at the same time it has a punch, both mass and volume.

What about sound customization?

Cable replacement

The cable was made by a professional and a fan of his craft. Again, the cable was bought by me and not provided for review.

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This is a very (very, very) soft, flexible cable of 8 wires of single-crystal copper (OCC / 22 AWG / purity 7N) on rhodium-plated connectors from Furutech. Firstly, it is immediately adds +100 to comfort. Secondly, the cable influenced the nature of the sound. The sound became softer, a little smoother. No, I’m not talking about blunting details or undercutting frequencies, but about warmth. The resolution over the entire sound range is even better developed than on the stock cable. This, for example, can be seen on the choral composition above. The soundstage added a little in depth and width, and more massive lower range. Well, of course, an increase in loud about 10-15 levels.

I think this is an obvious upgrade.

Narrow-perforated Ear Pads

The sound is more biting, it becomes closer, a noticeable increase to the lower range, the spacious narrows, the soundstage becomes more compact, this is clearly for lovers of dark sound.

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The nuances of different leather types have also been described above.

Conclusion

What you immediately notice when Kennerton headphones are in your hands is attention to detail, materials used and quality of production. This is a solidly assembled product with a competent design. There is never a feeling that something is done carelessly. I like it when I buy an expensive thing and it looks at its value. I have many expensive headphones that look $100.

I chose Thekk among the other models of the top line – OdinThridiThrorThekk turned out to be closest to my tastes, having a more significant (comparable to Odin) bass, involving sound, an excellent level of comfort (other models are really heavy).

If someone cares, then these headphones can be used at low volume and they will play perfectly.

In general, the sound of Kennerton Thekk can be described as smooth, balanced, with high technical resolution over the entire range, with air, volume feed, deep, punch bass. The sound is warm.

I never believed in warming up, but I was able to verify that it was necessary in almost a blind test at a demo session when the guys gave me a new pair of Thekk. The sound was a little drier and I had to add 5 volume levels. Therefore, my pair of Thekk can be considered not yet warmed up, and I believe that it will still reveal its potential.

Should you buy them? Buy something that will bring you true pleasure and new emotions. I was lucky with this when I became the owner of Thekk.

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