Pros: Neutral, accurate sound, superb resolution and treble refinement, tight bass with excellent texture, very comfy due to the light weight, wood cups look very nice, cable doesn’t annoy me like many stock cables
Cons: Cups don’t swivel, price is high, headband assembly is the same as some other Kennerton models costing 1/3 as much (it still looks and feels great though)
Kennerton Audio is the upscale division of Fischer Audio, which – although perhaps still not so well known in some circles – has been around for quite a while by now. I remember first using the Fischer FA-003 about a decade ago, and that same pair is still going strong after being gifted it to a friend who uses them daily. While I always felt Fischer made high-value gear, Kennerton is significantly more upscale – with pricing to match.
Kennerton is not just throwing together fancy looking headphones and charging a bundle for them. The company is known for their beautiful wood cups which come in a wide variety of finishes, but they also have their own custom-designed 80mm carbon fiber planar magnetic drivers. As far as I can tell, these same drivers are utilized in several headphones in their lineup, with each model using unique tuning, cup designs, and headband assemblies to achieve very different results. Kennerton also has some dynamic models using interesting designs (graphene drivers, horn loading) which fall beyond the scope of this writeup.
The focus of this writeup is their latest model, the Kennerton Thekk. I haven’t spent a ton of time with their other products such as the Odin, Magni, or Vali, and I’ve never heard the Thror or Gjallarhorn, so this review will mainly focus on the Thekk and its place among other headphone models from outside the Kennerton stable.
The Thekk sells for €2,680 which is roughly $3,000 at time of writing (but will fluctuate depending on the exchange rate), and can be purchased directly through their website. I’m told there is not currently a specific North American distributor at this moment, but readers in other countries may have more luck with local dealers.
$3000 is not an insignificant sum for a set of headphones. In terms of pricing alone, that puts Thekk in the same general ballpark as Audeze, Sennheiser, HiFiMAN, Focal, and others, all of whom would like to claim supremacy in the high-end headphone category. So what does Kennerton give us for that money?
Build and Presentation
Thekk’s packaging and cable both feel appropriate for the price. I’ve seen more luxurious packages but also far more sparse presentations for the money, and Kennerton’s leather storage bag is actually more useful than most headphone boxes. The stock cable is good enough to where I don’t immediately want to replace it, and feels reminiscent of the Fostex TH-900 cable which I’ve always appreciated. But thanks to their choice of mini-XLR connections, Thekk can accept the same cables as Audeze, ZMF, Meze Empyrean, and probably others that I’m forgetting at the moment. I love that, and frankly wish it would just become the standard at this point.
My Thekk has Bubinga cups which are simply gorgeous. There are plenty of other options, all of which look nice from the pictures I’ve seen, so you really can’t go wrong. Being an open design, I doubt the wood choice influences tonality much, but you never know.
The best part about Thekk is the comfort. The light weight (listed as 390g but I swear it feels like significantly less) plus the well-done self-adjusting headband system makes for an effortless feeling when worn. Clamping force is light enough for extreme comfort but not so light that it feels unsecure on the head. The (real leather) pads are excellent as well, making the whole experience nearly perfect.
My main issue is the fact that the cups do not swivel from front to back. As you can see from the pictures, the headband assembly holds them in place with no swivel mechanism in that direction. The design relies on angled pads to help conform to the human head, which is of course wider behind the ear. This mostly works for me but I could use another few degrees of angle for optimal fit. I’ve messed with trying to bend them slightly – they are somewhat flexible – but the design does not lend itself well to permanent bending in that particular direction. And frankly I don’t feel I should have to resort to that in a $3000 headphone. In the end I do achieve a good fit but I could see how it might be an issue for some people.
My other (very minor) quibble is the fact that this same headband assembly is used in several of Kennerton’s significantly less expensive models. That feels a bit weird when dealing with a headphone in this price class. I suppose Focal and Audeze do the same thing, but at least they throw in some carbon fiber bits to help differentiate the higher models. Again, I really like the self-adjusting design overall (apart from the non-swivel cup mounts) as it reminds me of one of my favorite old-school designs – the K1000. No, not AKG’s classic ear speaker, but the rare Kenwood KH-K1000 which had a conceptually similar headband design to Thekk (but it actually swiveled). If Kennerton could somehow make Thekk swivel it would be just about perfect for me.
The Kennerton Thekk is characterised by its lightning-fast, highly-detailed presentation, which manages to avoid feeling cold or clinical. Low-level detail is fantastic – in the right system, with a good enough recording, it will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. While that aspect is what initially jumped out at me, I need to clarify that this is not an in-your-face bright headphone. The presentation is generally neutral overall which makes for a versatile experience without any significant flaws.
The treble approaches the most accurate and resolving I’ve heard regardless of driver technology (dynamic, planar, even electrostatic), which was actually something of a surprise for me. The entire Kennerton line, while very nice to look at, has a sort of steampunk vibe to it, in contrast to the more high-tech feel of a Focal Utopia or Sennheiser HD800. So I figured it might have a lovely tuning with only moderately strong technicalities (which is how I would describe some of the older Kennerton models such as the Vali). And yet, when it comes to digging out extreme detail from a great recording, Thekk is right up there with Stax, HE-6, Utopia, etc, all of which I feel outperform the HD800 in treble performance if we consider the total package and not just the initial “wow” factor. HD800 initially might feel superior in resolution but flaws are readily apparent after further listening. Meanwhile Thekk is not overly sharp or peaky, not sibilant (unless it’s in the recording), and does not feel bright when paired with neutral equipment. Seriously – if you love treble clarity, this is a headphone you really need to try out.
The great part about Thekk is that it isn’t a one-trick pony. That exceptional treble performance is accompanied by engaging midrange and very fast, well textured lows. Tonality is thick enough to keep from being shrill or losing timbral accuracy. Bass speed is phenomenal, and impactful enough to feel believable. There might not be enough slam to satisfy bassheads, but those who like a generally neutral presentation should be pleased. I personally wouldn’t mind a roughly 2dB bump below 80Hz but it’s not a big issue assuming I use the right amplification. Did I mention the bass is fast, tight, and really accurate?
Listening to double bass virtuoso Larry Grenadier’s recent release The Gleaners is thoroughly impressive, as is pretty much all jazz and folk. Metal is also fantastic – I very much enjoy using Thekk for highly technical metal from Obscura, Meshuggah, Revocation, Fleshgod Apocalypse, etc, as the speed and accuracy make for a nearly perfect match. Grimey underground hip-hop or rumbling drum n bass? Still quite good though perhaps not ideal for this sort of presentation – I tend to go with a warmer/more forgiving headphone in those cases. Still, I’d say Thekk is highly versatile overall, and never sounds completely out of touch with any genre.
Thekk is also very open and layered, which makes it beautiful for all sorts of classical music. While staging is slightly less wide than HD800, depth is clearly superior, which to me is the more impressive achievement. Utopia feels a lot more intimate, and HE-6 can be huge but imprecise, but Thekk feels “just right” to me.
A Few Comparisons
The last Kennerton I heard was the Vali and that was a fun, somewhat laid back headphone with very punchy bass. Thekk is something different entirely, playing in a significantly higher tier. Unfortunately I haven’t heard their Thror model so I don’t know how Thekk compares – Thror is priced slightly higher but Thekk is newer, and from speaking with the folks at Kennerton I get the impression it may be the more complete sonic package. I have heard Thror described as having lovely detail but lacking a bit in fullness – if that’s true, Thekk solves that issue, but I’m speculating here.
Since using Thekk for the past few months, I haven’t had any desire to reach for an HD800, HD800S, or Utopia. Thekk just scratches my itch for detail whilst retaining “musicality” – that dreaded generic word – more than any of those. HE-6 or Susvara, when driven by herculean amplification, can match or even exceed the Kennerton, but that’s easier said than done… only a select few amps can take us there.
I do hear some similarities to the HiFiMAN HE1000 family. Not necessarily in overall frequency response but rather with the lightness and speed of the sonic portrayal. Thekk fits somewhere in between my particular HE1000 v1, which sounds slightly richer, and HE1000SE which is lighter and more threadbare in tonality. But Thekk avoids the sense of “softness” in the transients that I hear from HE1K (both models, to some degree) so I think it may be the superior headphone in many cases.
Lastly, the Meze Empyrean is an interesting comparison. Both headphones sell for just about the same price, and both are attractive and well built – each in its own way. Empyrean has a beautifully organic, warm, smooth presentation which still does detail retrieval quite well. Conversely, Thekk has more of a focus on treble brilliance, but does not go so far as to become cold or clinical, and it offers very clean, tight bass response despite that aspect not being the focus. It really comes down to whether one prefers a top down (Thekk) or bottom up (Empyrean) approach. I tend to reach for one or the other based on what I’m listening to, as well as the system I have assembled at that moment.
The level of performance I’ve described does require a very nice system to achieve. When used with more modest gear, Thekk takes a few steps back in terms of clarity and fullness. And with a bright or thin setup it does become somewhat unbalanced to my ears. So despite being fairly easy to drive in terms of volume, it ends up being fairly demanding when it comes to system matching.
My reference amplifier for Thekk is the Niimbus US4+. That’s pretty much the ideal amp for getting neutral, fast, highly resolving results from this headphone. I then choose my DAC for a slight flavoring – Resonessence Mirus Pro Signature for supreme resolution, Exogal Comet Plus for a more reserved top end with added midrange oomph, or ModWright Oppo 205 for a focus on textural thickness. Thekk plus Niimbus US4+ very clearly highlights the signature of each source, and is great as a review tool.
Interestingly, the SparkoS Labs Aries comes very, very close to the Niimbus level of performance for significantly less money, so that’s definitely a solid recommendation as well. It’s single-ended only but so is the stock Thekk cable so that’s not a major drawback. Not a ton of info about the Aries around these parts but I highly recommend it – pretty ruthless in terms of demanding a great source, but it really rewards the listener.
The Cayin HA-6A SET amp brings out a bit of midrange bloom and opens up the soundstage even more than the Niimbus. Upper mids and treble still sparkle, but the focus shifts more towards the presence region. Again, an excellent combination, which could be tweaked even further with tube rolling.
Schiit’s Asgard 3 makes for a surprisingly good match considering how affordable it is. It takes a bit of emphasis off the treble but still allows for clarity with reasonable extension. Mids are rich, bass is tight, and the whole thing is really engaging. Apart from some refinement and resolution, the largest sacrifice I hear is soundstage, which feels restricted compared to the above amps.
All-in-one DAC/amp units offer a great value – assuming both aspects perform to a high enough level. Thekk doesn’t always pair well with these types as it tends to sound best with fairly stout amplification. A lot of the integrated units I tried (Mytek, Benchmark, Chord) left Thekk sounding threadbare, overly soft, or just plain boring.
Wyred4Sound’s intimo is a great match though, and actually proved to be one of the best ways to enjoy this headphone. It gives a large portion of the performance I hear from Wyred’s upscale Anniversary DAC paired with my Pass Labs HPA-1, but for a mere fraction of the cost. $1500 isn’t cheap, but this is among the best “value” propositions I’ve heard from Thekk.
Also sounding excellent is the Violectric V590, which takes the amp stage of their famous V281, upgrades it, and then packs an excellent AKM-based DAC in the same chassis. V590 is in the same sonic ballpark as intimo in terms of signature, but expands on it in both performance and price. I recently had a friend visit who is big into speaker-based audio but totally out of the loop with modern headphones. This is the combo I chose out of all my gear to show him how far the hobby has progressed since the old HeadRoom Desktop/AKG K701 days. He was absolutely floored – and that’s coming from someone who owns some crazy nice Rockport speakers.
Kennerton Audio has always felt a bit mysterious to me. Their wood-clad headphones are consistently beautiful yet have a wide range of sound signatures – I don’t really think they have any persistent “house sound”. That’s actually refreshing as plenty of headphone makers tend to churn out one incrementally different headphone after another.
With Thekk, the company has achieved something very close to my view of neutrality. The focus is squarely on detail and resolution, without compromising listening engagement across the rest of the spectrum, and the presentation is extremely open and layered. Feed it mediocre music on a bright system and you’ll likely find yourself unimpressed, yet Thekk handsomely rewards a quality chain – in that context it performs in an elite field with only a select few competitors.
I still wish the cups swivelled. And – like all high-end headphones these days – I wish it was less expensive. Apart from that I love this headphone. Despite my natural preference for the warmer Empyrean-style sound, I find myself choosing Thekk regularly for all genres of music. Anyone looking for an alternative to Utopia, HD800S, etc may find Thekk to be their ideal match.
- 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
- 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.
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 A800, Denon AH-D5200, Shure SRH1540, Campfire Audio Cascade, E-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 (Ananda, Edition 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
High frequencies have an excellent level of resolution, transmitting the highest octaves without discomfort, frustration, excessive aggression.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The nuances of different leather types have also been described above.
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 – Odin, Thridi, Thror. Thekk 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.
Of course I would like to review the top over ear headphones more often, but unfortunately it happens once or twice a year. As a consolation I can note that the quantity is compensated by quality and today I will dpeak about the Kennerton Thror flagship.
Of course I would like to review the top over ear headphones more often, but unfortunately it happens once or twice a year. As a consolation I can note that the quantity is compensated by quality and today I will dpeak about the Kennerton Thror flagship.
I think it is no secret that Kennerton trademark belongs to well-known Fischer Audio company. When they have switched to creating the flagship models from scratch, it has become evident they have needed a new brand and Kennerton has become just it. The first flagship Odin model has received warm welcome and many positive reviews, users have appreciated full of drive and emotional presentation of those isodynamic headphones, however, the weight has been abundant — 700+ g. is no joke.
The developers have spent much time changing the model construction and have been able to significantly reduce weight by using less metal and more modern materials like carbon. They have also tuned the sound differently and have presented a new, more neutral model, named Trhror. Odins have been re-worked as well, and are sold with a reduced weight under the name Thridi.
The price of flagship varies from 3000 to 4000 EUR depending on the used wood and the model still has steady demand.
- Transducers: 80 mm, isodynamic
- Frequency range: 10 Hz – 55 kHz
- Impedance: 42Ω
- Sensitivity: 100 dB
- Max power: 500 mWt
- Cable: 2 m, detachable with Mini XLR connectors
- Jack: 6.3 mm TRS
- Weight: 480 g.
Packaging and accessories
Here is where we get luxury. The headphones are sold in a stylish wooden box with fabric cloth inside. This makes us take them serious and underlines status of the model. The box has become more compact than in Odin’s but still occupies whole shelf.
Inside there are headphones and warranty card in envelope, soft pouch for storage and stock cable.
Design and comfort
The appearance is similar to the previous model — and yes, why change something that is good? The company is proud of wooden cups created by their own technology. They pass lots of processing stages and are not only stylish but durable. There are different wood choices, starting from simple, such as ashtree or nut-tree and also exotic, including variants from hardened wood.
The second know-how is an interesting system of headband fixation to forks that allows not only to conveniently set the size but also an angle vertically, and this allows to get better fixation and better sound as a result. The headband itself is made of springy still with leather on top. There is leather below as well that spreads the load. It copes with its task well and in combination with less weight brings more comfort, especially you can feel it during the transition from Odin.
The ear cups are made of high-quality leather, they are angled and have perforation that makes sound better. The insides are soft so they do not create excessive pressure.
The headphones are fully open, the outer grille with stylized T letter is made of plastic to reduce weight. Due to open structure the model is only suitable for home usage, but I doubt someone might want to wear Thrors outside.
The cable is detachable with 4-pin Mini-XLR connectors, so you won’t have trouble in getting a spare cable for those — the ones from Audeze and ZMF will fit. The stock 2-meter cable is somewhat noisy but not too much. It is acoustically rather good, but most of users will change it for something better looking.
The headphones have great build quality, there is almost no plastic, maximum of well-processed wood, leather and metal.
I have used the following equipment for listening purposes.
- Yulong DA10 and Resonessence Labs Concero HP as DAC and amp
- Apple MacBook Pro Retina 2016 as a source
- Audirvana+ as a player
- Lotoo Paw Gold Touch, Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000 as portable players
- Hi-Res recordings in Lossless-formats (Dr. Chesky The Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc and others)
I have allowed 120 hours of burn in prior to final listening with audible changes for the first 100 hours.
The presentation of Thrors is opposite to those of Odins, those headphones have been created for neutral sound with leaning to technical side for those who appreciate the lack of artificial accents.
The bass of this model is linear without any obvious accents. There is a bump in midbass region but it is not huge and can be neglected. Lows are speedy and very detailed, with good weight and thickness (as far as the amplifier allows). Upon the whole the lows are typical for technical and neutral isodynamic models but not as dry as some HiFiMan models, the bass here is good in terms of power and weight, as well as such technicalities as depth, control and textures.
Mids have the same character of good isodynamic models. They are natural, detailed, with good balance between micro details and macro contrast. They do not bring anything from themselves, they are critical to recording quality and you will hear exactly what is in the recording. Good recordings can bring much joy with their naturalness and correct weight of instruments and vocals. The sound stage is close to a record-breaking value in width and slightly less in depth. The volume is a great plus of this model and it is still likely to technical isodynamic headphones.
The highs are somewhat accentuated with main peak in the region of 9 kHz. I like this bump as it adds transparency and clarity and this plays vital role in sound stage building. To my hearing highs are not over abundant, but still you have to listen to them first if you consider yourself too treble-sensitive. Of course treble is technical, detailed with good length and realistic attacks and decays. The correct weight of this frequency range provides great naturalness and good layering will appeal to those who love rich overtones and nuances.
I have very little number of headphones with such price tag and there is no sense in comparing top to something that lies lower, so there will be won’t much to compare.
Kennerton Odin I have already said about brief difference of current and previous flagships but will underline them again. Odins are more emotional and have more accentuated bass and macro details. Thror are more monitor, it’s like virtuoso vs rocker.
Meze Audio Empyrean Those models are somewhat similar, the developers seem to have had the similar tasks — to make neutral but not too dry headphones for lovers of honest presentation. But there is devil in details, of course and there are differences between them. The most obvious one is the lack of bump in highs and this makes Empyrean sound sometimes more natural, but in direct comparison the lack of clarity is sometime obvious. Also the Romanian model has slightly better micro details while losing in macrodetails somewhat. The Empyrean bass is more accentuated but more lightweight, but I wouldn’t call this a day and night difference.
The headphones are moderately demanding so they won’t require too much power. On the other hand those are top-class isodynamic headphones, so the power won’t be excessive, as well as resolution and good frequency range controls. Of course they should be best used with desktop DAC/amp of starting top segment and up. You might want to avoid exceedingly bright devices since in combination with elevated highs there may be abundance.
In terms of style Thror are absolutely universal, it is necessary to understand that they do not add anything from themselves and show all the flaws — 8 out of 10 in terms of recording quality sensitivity.
Miles Davis — Give it Up The track recorded in 1985 and released only this year provides us with the only question — why has it taken so long? Great jazz in versatility and quality performed by virtuoso and well-recorded. Take good headphones (Thrors) and feel the juicy bass line and piercing trumpet improvisations, as well as percussion appearing from left and right. It is a great attraction underlined by neutrality and technicality of Thror.
A Perfect Circle — Disillusioned Another example of what I have said in one of previous reviews. A Perfect Circle is a supergroup that has been created by prog artists for relaxation. You should find its roots in Tool that has released the first album in 13 years recently. Disillusioned is great in such fragile beauty that Wilson usually measures quite well, but the track is more dynamic. Thrors bring joy to this and allow to enjoy this elegant and great track with some aggression.
Prince & The Revolution — Purple Rain Of course I like to find something unusual and new but sometimes it is worth to turn back and to assess well-forgotten past. Pity that the new remaster album of Prince does not include his biggest hit, but there is nothing to do about that — we will listen to the first version with the help of neutral Thrors. They help to feel all the choir beauty, the guitar solo, brand vocals — everything that has allowed Prince Roger Nelson become one of the pop-music kings.
Great synthesis of construction and technicality beauty in sound. This is the case when you get not a mere stock item, but an exclusive model built from scratch with well-thought details where every sound peculiarity was planned and is not accidental.
Translated by: Vadim Kolchev
Today we’re looking at the Thror, the Planar magnetic reference headphone created by Kennerton Audio Equipment.
Disclaimer: This post is part of our Picture Sunday series, you can find all of the previous ones here.
Kennerton Audio Equipment
Kennerton as a luxury brand of Fischer Audio was founded by professionals with a single purpose – to provide its customers with high-end quality sound. Fischer Audio have been watching the evolution of the audio industry for a long time and noticed the decreasing amount of products that offer quality sound particularly the large number of fancy looking, low quality models made by famous brands. Fischer Audio is not willing to accept this. Their policy is that you pay for nothing more than the quality of sound.
KENNERTON is the pinnacle of sound offered in an integrated line of audio products from Fischer Audio brand. Fischer Audio engineers are making every effort to reveal the potential of each model and optimize every detail to find the best balance between price and quality – high quality sound at an affordable price is the fundamental principle of the company.
KENNERTON consists of only of the best models which have incorporated the most advanced technology, highest quality materials and the best service. These headphones are designed by audiophiles for audiophiles.
A long time ago I reviewed the Kennerton Odin which at that time was the flagship model of the Russian brand. You can find that review here: https://www.headfonia.com/review-kennerton-odin/
Now Kennerton is back with an even more improved version of that headphone, and they have named it Thror. No, we’re not talking about Tolkien’s dwarves but about e newest reference headphone from Kennerton. You can find the Thror product page here: https://kennerton.com/headphones/thror-palisander
Thror, like Odin, is available in different types of wood and depending on the wood chose, the price can increase all the way up to $3,986USD for the exotic Stabilized version. The version we have received is the Palisander one, and that unit will set you back 2,835€ or $3,195USD.
So Thror is Odin’s successor and it has a new, higher class and better performing driver. The new driver is made of high-tech materials and includes a new patented membrane, which delivers better resolution, extraordinary tonal balance and a perfect sound scene. In addition Kennerton fixed the main Odin’s issues – the weight. Thror is much lighter – 480 gr vs. Odin’s 680gr. The new model also has a new, more comfortable headband and a high class cable.
Thror sounds powerful and fast, especially when hooked to to a powerful amplifier, and that way it is always in control with excellent prat. For me a a high end amplifier and source is absolutely necessary to get the very best out of Thror, as only then it will show you what it really can do.
I’ve been using the very powerful Auris Audio Nirvana as main tube amp with this headphone and the Flux Lab Acoustics Atlas as solid state DAC/AMP. Thror sounds gorgeous with both amplifiers but it also sounds different. Thror is transparent and you will for sure hear your source and amps characteristics in it when you’re listening to it. But one thing is for sure, Thror loves power!
The full Thror review will be published on Headfonia.com over the next few months, with a sound section that will be a lot more detailed . We’ll also be describing its sound in combination with a whole series of tube and solid state amps and of course we’ll be comparing it to the other flagships.