Kennerton is a division of the well-established Russian Fischer Audio brand and they aim to offer premium aesthetics and finish with a great sound quality as they believe lots of the fancy looking products being released these days, lack the sound quality you would expect at the asking price. While they do have a case, the high quality engineering and finish does have an increased cost, so it will be impressive if they can combine sound and finish in a well-priced IEM. To quote them directly:
“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 our company.”
The product being reviewed here is their flagship IEM, the cream of the crop of this new Kennerton branding, it retails at $449 or approximately £300 plus taxes and shipping. With the pedigree of past Fischer Audio IEMs there is a lot of expectation as well. The Algiz uses a single 10mm dynamic driver made from an unspecified composite which, they say “delivers unparalleled clarity and precision compared to any other comparable solution available today.” Mmmm ok, we shall see about that one.
This is an earphone that is tuneable with two sets of filters that are supplied. One is a “neutral” tuning and the other is a “V shaped” tuning. If you like having this versatility then great this has it and if you are like me and couldn’t care less for tuneable earphones, just leave the V shaped in the box… I will obviously talk about the sound of each a little more in the sound section later on.
Onto the first thing I really like about these earphones, it’s the 100 Ohm impedance and 100 dB sensitivity. I hate it when an earphone is so unbelievably sensitive that I really worry about accidentally nudging the volume wheel, VE6 I’m looking at you! This earphone is different though, you are able to use more of your volume wheel which has the effect of giving me more precise use of it. This is really cool and also opens you up to using a wider range of amps and players too, well from a power perspective anyway. I want to see more high impedance earphones!
The Premium Pack
I will keep it brief; we get a few tips, two cables (one microphone, one without), a brown “leather” case which feels incredibly plastic for a ‘premium’ product. We get the tuning filters too, one of which is bassy and more relaxed whilst the other offers a more prominent treble and very upper mid-range boost. The cables have a shirt clip which is handy for on the go however this doesn’t excuse some of the less helpful characteristics of the cable I will talk about later.
£300 and a bold marketing stance of focusing on luxury and quality means that the Kennerton’s really should impress here, and from the packaging it does seem like you are heading that way. It’s no cheap card with some drawings and standardised font all over, it is definitely one of the nicest earphone packages I have seen at any price and it does have a premium look and feel.
The earphones themselves look remarkably like the Monster Turbine earphones that used to be quite popular in the consumer sound area, this isn’t necessarily negative though, and I quite like how they look. The all metal housing is both solid in construction and well-engineered to give a quality feel. The gold addition on the rear of the housing doesn’t suit my tastes but some markets will love that little detail. Overall I can’t knock build quality and I can imagine these being a very durable earphone.
Whilst we aren’t big fans of tuneable products, I do have an appreciation for the quality of the method by which these earphones can be tuned. The ability to securely twist the filters on and off is cool, and I do prefer this method to the likes of a screwdriver and dial, I also prefer it to a switch because with this, you can’t accidentally change one! A positive there then, nice job Kennerton.
I have tried loads of tips and while I get a seal relatively easily, I just can’t manage to sit with these earphones in for any meaningful length of time. 30 minutes is a struggle and it really doesn’t sit nicely in my ear. As lots of you will know I do have very small ears so it could be something that isn’t an issue with most, but the weight of the metal housing and of the heavy duty cable do concern me a little. I don’t get amazing isolation either, I mean sure I get some, but nothing like the TDK BA200 or even the RHA M750. Sonny chirping in here and with my more normal sized ears, I have no problem wearing these for longer periods.
Sometimes I come across something that genuinely makes me furious in this hobby. This cable is one of those things. I cannot comprehend what Kennerton were thinking when they decided that this cable would be ideal for their flagship earphone. Yes the cable is removable, but it is a proprietary connection that is big, ugly and fairly fragile if not carefully inserted. Then we come to the cable itself. It is thick, ugly, very bouncy and stiff. It doesn’t hang properly or sit comfortably; it’s a pain to do anything with, even getting back in the case. Oh, and to top it all off, it is horribly microphonic.
Having had a Double Helix Cables Complement 3 at Sonny’s I know that sometimes if a cable has terrible ergonomics you will use it anyway because it is sonically excellent and you love it. The thing is though this isn’t that, it’s a stock cable on a consumer product meant for portability. The only thing I can say that is nice about this cable is that it is very durable, that’s it. I don’t know why they made the choice to go with this cable, I really don’t.
Also while these use a removable cable and a two pin connection, it is not the industry standard, in fact it is a proprietary connector I have never seen before. So as much as I want to, I can’t even change the cable.
These are a ‘consumer’ product. They have that unnatural but fun kind of signature with a bass emphasis and a bottom end treble/upper mid spike. This is the general sound of these earphones but there are obviously adaptions with the filters. Not surprisingly they gave me De Ja Vu moments of the Widing ME-10EL seeing as Widing were the OEM company behind these earphones.
Specifically the stock filter (bassier) first, followed by the brighter filter:
A Bass that Whollops
They have a strong emphasis here in weight and quantity. Extension is very good, as is impact. The problem is though, it isn’t very detailed or texturally adaptive which means it can sound repetitive and this does become fatiguing to me. Decay isn’t as slow as some of the other bass heavy earphones of late which does give the benefit of a more controlled response and diverges from a boomy, messy sound that is all too easy to fall into.
With the brighter filter there is a still lot of low end but it becomes far more articulate and lets you hear that this dynamic driver does have potential. Whilst the mid bass certainly retains the slightly repetitive nature it separates itself slightly from the mids which opens up the sound somewhat, I much prefer this. Yes it is still too much for me in quantity and it could be more detailed, but it isn’t bad, it’s well weighted, punchy and very well extended. I can see lots of people liking this area as it shows dynamic drivers still have some qualities BA’s can’t match.
Middle of the Park
I said there would be two sections but I’m going to just do one here. With both filters I find vocals too recessed and quite laid back sounding. The brighter filter does separate them a bit and it’s the only way I can honestly feel happy listening. They are smooth and they really aren’t ever shouty or aggressive, I just find them to sound a bit flat and lifeless! This takes a lot of the realism away and it’s an area I struggle to find positives in. As I said earlier, lots of people are all about bass and treble and don’t care much for the mid band (we get asked for this sort of thing regularly), so I can see this not being a problem among people who like that kind of signature, the more commercial preference…
A Strong Top End
With the stock filter, treble is still quite prominent so don’t think thought there was going to be nothing up top whatsoever you are wrong, there is still plenty going on. It builds up to 7kHz strongly and it does have a nice metallic shimmer when necessary but again, it’s not without flaws. I find it splashy and lacking finesse or subtlety which makes it fatiguing over time and somewhat unrealistic sounding. I also find it doesn’t quite have the cutting edge extension some earphones have.
With the treble filter we have more obviously but we also put an emphasis right at the top of the mids which gives a more airy sound, better clarity too. Everything becomes more exciting, there is more going on and I genuinely don’t mind the sound over short periods of time. Yes, not long periods. The splashy-ness is still there and whilst the good characteristics are enhanced and we add a bit of spaciousness up here, it’s too much for me. It becomes uncomfortable and I just find it too much hard work for a £300 earphone.
It Has It’s Good Bits
Whilst there are many flaws, this earphone has some great positives and some qualities that make me think this driver genuinely has potential. The soundstage and imagery is really quite admirable, depth and width are better than I expected them to be and with the brighter filter everything is well separated and imaged in its own space too. I didn’t give soundstage its own section but I must point out it really will impress. Bass is bold but not of poor quality and that seems to be a bit of an industry challenge at this price. I want to like these earphones and I think lots of people will, as we do get asked for this kind of sound, but if I bought them and had to listen to them a lot I would be frustrated with the lack of realism in sound and that awful cable.
But Not Everything
I think these earphones have potential, with a soundstage and precision like this I feel there must be more to get out of the driver, they do a lot of things well but it isn’t the luxury, good value product they market it as. I’m disappointed about the Algiz as I think there is more to be gotten out of them but as they are now, at £300 there are too many flaws for me to honestly enjoy them for longer periods. Worth mentioning though is that this shouldn’t put you off Kennerton, the thing with Fischer Audio is because they work with such a range of companies to develop products, they have always had real winners and some that weren’t quite there, these fall into the latter category sadly but that might not be the case for the others.