Kinera Tyr: Mini Yet Monsterous
Today we’re checking out Kinera’s entry into the competitive micro-driver segment, the Tyr.
Kinera has been around for quite a while now and is no stranger to the Chinese hifi scene. Unlike a number of other brands, they aren’t prone to pumping out release after release, instead taking their time to craft something unique and interesting every time. Maybe not something that appeals to a wide variety of people, but that’s where more budget oriented gear like the Sif and Tyr come in.
Like the Sif, the Tyr ditches the ever popular hybrid driver setup for a simpler, more honest single dynamic. In the case of the Tyr, Kinera opted for a tiny 6mm driver. (Read the rest of the paragraph in an obnoxious, stereotypical New Yorker accent) I’m not saying this earphone came about as a result of my feedback. BUT, over a year or so ago they did make a post on their Facebook page asking what the community wanted to see from them in the future. Being I’m a little bit of a micro-dynamic fiend, I planted a seed (pun intended) and suggested one. Whatdayaknow? Now we gots ourselves a Kinera 6mm micro-driver earphone. You’re welcome community (End accent).
Was it worth the wait? Is it as awesome as other similarly equipped earphones? Let’s find out.
What I Hear The Tyr has a robust low end presence with more emphasis placed on midbass than subbass. Quality is for the most part pretty good, with notes sounding well textured and reasonably punchy. Some bloat is present though, and on particularly low end heavy tracks you might catch some bleed occurring in the lower mids. Subbass extension is good, but like most drivers of this style cannot provide the same level of visceral feedback as a larger driver that moves more air. Decay is realistic with the tiny 6mm driver handling rapid notes effectively. They don’t smear into one another and remain distinct.
Mids are slightly recessed overall, with an uptick in emphasis in the upper regions. This leads to some very mild sibilance that I don’t think is worth concern. For the most part male and female vocals are represented equally well given the presentation is on the warmer side, and notes are well weighted, if not leaning towards a thinner feel. Timbre is good with instruments sounding close to accurate, if not a touch dry. Vocals and instruments sound crisp and clear with great coherence, except on very bassy tracks where the low end starts to bleed in and soften up the presentation more than is ideal. Other than that, this midrange is quite nice for such an inexpensive earphone.
The Tyr’s high end is handled well with more emphasis being placed in the brilliance region. Highs are crisp and sparkly, though a hint loose and lacking control. This becomes an issue on extremely quick passages where note start to blend. Lower treble is less prominent but still emphasized enough to help maintain strong clarity throughout. Notes are well-spaced and reasonably airy keeping the Tyr from sounding congested.
Like most earphones of this style that I’ve heard, the sound stage is wide but not particularly deep. Sounds transfer from channel to channel accurately and reliably, so I had no complaints using these when playing competitive games online. While track elements are well separated, the somewhat flat and wide stage means layering qualities are acceptable, but far from outstanding.
Overall I find the Kinera Tyr to be a good sounding earphone. I would call the signature either a strong u or mild v-shape, one that will likely appeal to a pretty wide audience. It actually quite reminds me of the KB EAR Diamond, but at a much lower cost, with less bass, and with less technical competency.
Compared To A Peer
Pioneer CH3 (~25.00 USD): The Pioneer comes across a little more balanced and less v-shaped than the Tyr. Upper treble is lacking sparkle in comparison giving the CH3 a more tame presentation, though detail is better thanks to more lower treble emphasis. The CH3’s midrange is slightly more forward with male vocals standing out. It is cooler and drier with a similar note weight, though I do find vocals through the Tyr slightly more clear. The Tyr is more prone to sibilance, though I wouldn’t say it’s an issue with either. Bass on the Tyr is notably more prominent, especially in the midbass which is slightly bloated compared to the CH3. Texture and clarity go to the CH3, while sub-bass extension and emphasis falls squarely in the Tyr’s camp. Sound stage is presented similarly with more width than depth though the Kinera’s extra upper treble emphasis permits it more space between notes and a greater general airiness. Imaging accuracy is basically the same, nor is there much of a difference in terms of layering and separation quality. Both are perfectly adequate and in line with what I expect from sub-50 USD earphones.
In terms of build, neither is a standout in the segment but I’ll have to give the Kinera a clear win. It’s cable is thicker, less prone to remember kinks and bends, and the inline mic is of a higher quality. It’s design is also more interesting to look at, though the extra teeny CH3 (it only has a 5.5mm driver after all) is even lighter and more comfortable.
Overall I prefer the CH3’s more balanced signature, but it falls short when it comes to build quality, the unboxing experience, and quality/quantity of accessories. I’d be happy to spend an extra couple dollars on the Tyr because it feels like it’ll last longer, and it comes with higher quality tips as well as a protective case, something the more mainstream CH3 is missing entirely.
Final E2000 (~40.00 USD): The E2000’s overall presentation is more linear and even. Upper and lower treble have a similar level of emphasis through the E2000 with notes sounding slightly better controlled and more natural. The midrange of the E2000 has a slightly warmer, thicker tonality with a more natural feel to instruments. The Tyr’s upper midrange is more prominent. It isn’t as smooth and almost sounds strained or strident at times in comparison. Bass on the E2000 is again smoother with less midbass emphasis. It doesn’t provide the same level of impact, though texture and detail are slighter more prominent. Sub-bass on the Tyr stands out more, rolling off on the E2000 before it can give the same level of visceral feedback. The Tyr’s soundstage is just a smidge smaller with default staging falling a hint closer to the head. Imaging on the E2000 is a step up with sounds moving more freely and with greater precision. Layering and separation are also lightly improved with the E2000 retaining more clarity on busier tracks and at higher volumes.
In terms of build, the Tyr once again takes it. The E2000 feels more delicate. With it’s oddly complex plastic nozzle arrangement, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was easier to damage. Their cables are once again quite similar with the E2000’s being slightly more plasticy. It gets much stiffer in cold weather, but transmits less noise. It also has a chin cinch which the Tyr could benefit from.
The E2000 remains one of my favourites under 50 USD and the Tyr won’t be replacing it. It provides a similar enough experience, however, and for those who just can’t stretch their budget to get the E2000, it would be an excellent alternative.
In The Ear The Tyr has a fairly traditional barrel-shaped housing which combined with such a compact driver means it has a very small footprint. The all-metal housings, probably aluminum or an alloy of some sort, are very well constructed. End caps are chrome while the main body is matte black with Kinera neatly printed on each ear piece. Seams between the component parts are present but instead of trying to hide them, Kinera incorporated them into the design by tapering the edges. It was a smart choice that adds additional elements to the overall design and makes them visually intriguing should you decide to take a closer look. Where the cable enters you find a lack of strain relief, however Kinera did add a red ring to ensure you rarely mix up the channels.
The cable is a very standard black rubber affair and is affixed to the ear pieces. No cable rolling with this little guy. I don’t think that going to be a huge issue though because it’s a decent cable overall. The rubber sheath is flexible, doesn’t tangle easily, and isn’t sticky allowing it to slide easily over cloth and other materials. Noise transmission is an issue, but that can be addressed by wearing the Tyr over ear instead of cable down, a big plus of going with a barrel-shaped ear piece.
Strain relief is absent at the ear pieces, but can be found at the inline mic, bottom of the y-split, and on the compact straight jack. I would prefer it to be a little longer, but that it’s there at all is satisfactory. Hardware like the straight jack and y-split is quite plain looking and won’t win any design awards, but everything is metal so it’s all good on the durability front. The inline mic is all-metal too, save for a plastic button which responds to presses with a reasonably tactile “snick”. If using the mic for phone calls, I’m sure you’ll find the quality acceptable. Voices sound reasonably dense and weighty with good clarity, though background noise isn’t blocked out as much as I’d like.
When it comes to comfort, there is little to complain about. The Tyr is small, light, and has a fairly standard nozzle diameter of around 6mm. Most common aftermarket tips will fit it just right, so if the stock kit doesn’t do the trick, something else you’ve used surely will. Since the earphone can be worn cable up or down equally easy, those who prefer one style of the other will have their needs met too. Isolation is pretty average, if not slightly above, for a vented dynamic based earphone. Using them purely as ear plugs exterior noise is dulled with voices remaining coherent, just more quiet than normal. Toss in some music and you’ll only need to compensate for outside noise by raising the volume a little bit. Foam tips further help avoid the need to listen at higher than adequate volumes.
In The Box The Tyr follows the Sif’s lead when it comes to packaging, arriving in a unique hexagonal package. Things are a little less flamboyant compared to the Sif’s take on this box, with the package being mostly black with only a grey flame-looking thing set behind a brand slogan “All You Need Is Tyr”. In addition to this slogan is notification that the Tyr features use of a 6mm micro driver, but micro is spelled incorrectly as “Mirco”. Oops. Flipping the package over you find a list of specifications and product contents, along with social media information.
Lifting off the lid you’re greeted by a hexagonal card suggesting you join the Kinera online community, a very simple user guide card, and a circular leatherette carrying pouch. Lifting those items out you find some spare ear tips and the Tyr itself. In all you get:
- Tyr earphones
- Carrying pouch
- Final Type E single flange tips (s/m/l)
You may notice a lack of images of the complete accessory kit. That’s because at some point Kinera teamed up with Final Audio to include their awesome Type E tips, something my Tyr sample did not come with. Just know that should you buy this earphone, it comes with a set of ear tips that if bought separately cost around 15 USD, so the value quotient is off the charts here. Another aspect that was unexpectedly handy is that leatherette pouch. It looks nice and feels expensive, but given it’s just two strips of material sewn together, I wasn’t expecting it to actually have enough space inside to hold much of anything, let alone the Tyr. Well, I was wrong. Three-finger wind the cable and it slips in just fine, and you can even still snap it shut.
Overall a pretty fantastic unboxing experience for such an inexpensive earphone. You get a cool box, some of the best ear tips in the business, and a pouch that is both unique and functional. Great job Kinera!
Final Thoughts Kinera is on their game, and the Tyr is proof of this. It’s got a widely appealing tune in a form factor that is suited to a variety of ear sizes, and at a price that most can afford. The packaging and accessory kits are well thought out and have a premium air to them that isn’t found in the competition. Value is through the roof too thanks to the inclusion of Final Type E tips.
Some will lament the use of a fixed cable, while others will appreciate that they won’t have to worry about losing an ear piece. I found the midbass presence to be a little more than is ideal, and treble control could be somewhat tighter, but overall its audio performance is quite satisfying and well worth a listen.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive earphone to take up the mantle of every day carry in your portable audio kit, the Tyr is worth checking out.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer Thanks to Nappoler with HiFiGo for arranging a sample of the Tyr for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions based on time spent listening with the Sif. They do not represent Kinera, HiFiGo, or any other entity. At the time of writing the Tyr retailed for 29.99 USD: https://hifigo.com/products/kinera-tyr-dynamic-driver-in-ear-earphones
- Driver: 6mm micro dynamic driver
- Impedance: 16ohms
- Sensitivity: 105dB +/- 1dB
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Devices Used For Testing LG Q70, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501, Periodic Audio Nickle, ifi hip dac, Shanling M0
Some Test Tunes
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams