We review the Kinera Imperial LOKI, which is a new flagship multi-driver universal IEM featuring dynamic, BA, EST, and bone driver technology. It is priced at $3252.
Disclaimer: This unit was directly purchased by me and does not have to be returned. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. We thank the team at Kinera and Audio Essence for their insight and support.
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Note, this article follows our latest scoring guidelines which you can read up on here.
Kinera Imperial LOKI Review
The Kinera Imperial LOKI is a sonically exquisite masterpiece and one that produces a euphoric and captivating listening experience.
The company’s first shot at a multi-kilo-buck flagship level IEM delivers a lush and hyper-detailed mid-range and excellent bone conduction implementation.
Holographic Soundstage & very detailed Imaging.
Excellent Bone Conduction Implementation.
Numerous Universal IEM Customization Options.
Average secondary cable for a flagship IEM.
Treble might be bright for some.
Kinera Imperial has a wide mid-range IEM line-up with offerings such as the Kinera Norn, Kinera Nanna 2.1 Z-Tune Edition, and Kinera Imperial URD.
Their IEM range is priced between the sub $200 to $1,500 mark, so they have yet to create what we might define as a “real” flagship IEM, at least on a pricing basis.
The Kinera Imperial LOKI is the company’s newest addition and flagship IEM with two different versions being released; the International and Chinese versions.
The difference between the two IEMs is within the tuning of the bass, upper mid-range, and treble frequencies with this review based on the International version.
So, how does the Kinera Imperial LOKI perform sonically, and does it take the company to new flagship-level heights? Read on to find out!
Kinera Imperial went “all out” with the Kinera Imperial LOKI as there is no shortage of technology being crammed into each of the LOKI’s shells.
The LOKI uses a mix of 12 drivers comprised of one bone conductor, one dynamic, six BA, and four EST. This is the first IEM within Kinera Imperial’s range to feature bone conduction technology which is an in-house or custom-made driver.
The contact-type bone conduction driver is designed to support the delivery of ultra-low frequency response in tandem with the single dynamic driver. The dynamic driver itself is a custom-made driver featuring a 6mm liquid diaphragm which is designed to handle the sub and mid-bass frequencies.
The six Knowles balanced armatures are split apart to handle the midrange and treble frequencies. Four balanced armatures handle the lower to upper mid-range with the other two balanced armatures allocated to the low to centre treble frequencies.
The four EST drivers deal with ultra-high frequencies and are designed to work in unison with two of the balanced armature drivers.
The Kinera Imperial LOKI has an impedance rating of 12Ω and a sensitivity of 107 dB @1kHz. The impedance rating leans towards the higher side and the LOKI does require some extra raw power to drive properly.
Before we dive into the rest of the design aspects of the LOKI, let’s first address one aspect of the finish that might raise a question in your mind. What is the name of the faceplate used in my unit and where can I find it? The answer is it’s a universal IEM but with a custom-designed faceplate and shell.
Customized Universal IEM
The Kinera Imperial LOKI unit under review features one of Kinera Imperial’s purchasing options which is a custom-designed universal IEM picked from a wide range of customization options to allow you to create your very own unique IEM.
To begin, there is a set of standard faceplate designs to choose from or you can simply submit your design which is the option I went for.
Each faceplate is hand-painted by a dedicated Kinera Imperial artist who can guide you along every step of the way during the design phase.
My design was based on the famous “Chameleon Cloud Complex” which is a cluster of stars photographed by NASA’s Hubble telescope. After a few personal tweaks, the faceplates were created resulting in a personal and one-of-a-kind IEM design.
To make it more interesting, the right and left side faceplates are asymmetrical meaning that each one has a different design. To finish, the Kinera Imperial logo can be found in gold text on the left faceplate whereas the right side features my name in gold font.
Compared to the standard international LOKI version, the LOKI review unit features a similar design for the rest of the IEM shell up to the nozzle except with a slight variation where large, gold stars have been added to match the face plate.
The final step involves coating the faceplate with a final layer of resin to seamlessly meld the faceplate with the IEM shell. The overall finish of the IEM is simply excellent and has a high-quality feel to it.
Standard International Version
The Standard International version of the Kinera Imperial LOKI IEM features an Emerald colorway where the faceplate has a mixture of dark blue, teal, and purple flakes.
It is a simple, yet elegant design which has a 3D-like effect from the layering of the multi-colored flakes.
On the left IEM faceplate, the Kinera Imperial logo is written in silver text compared to the right-side faceplate which features the “LOKI” logo.
The rest of the IEM shell is designed with a cosmic space theme where there is a mix of jet-black background which is topped off with sparkly purple and teal glitter to represent the distant stars.
Other Key Design Features
To highlight a few other key design features, the LOKI comes with 2-pin connector sockets which are slightly recessed, and 3 small holes in the shell for its dynamic driver to vent properly.
The end or tip of the quad-bore nozzle is made of titanium which is lightweight yet durable and includes the IEM serial number engraved into it. Two of the bores are large with the other two being of a much small size. This is a critical element to note as it will impact tip-rolling.
The LOKI is super lightweight for a hybrid 12-driver IEM. The size of each shell is relatively compact and ergonomic making it easy to store and use.
Comfort & Isolation
The Kinera Imperial LOKI IEMs are lightweight and compact coming in at only 7.8 grams per IEM making them excellent to use and wear over long listening sessions.
The nozzle length leans towards the longer side of things but this acts as a perfect counter-balance to the IEM shell itself to provide a snug, yet comfortable fit.
Despite being a vented IEM the LOKI has above-average passive isolation with very little sound leaking in or seeping out during use.
If you are akin to Kinera Imperial IEMs, you would have noticed that they are always (over) supplied with an abundance of ear tips which allows the user to achieve different sound signatures.
The LOKI is an excellent example of how companies should be stocking up their flagship products with ear tips.
The package comes decked out with thirteen pairs of ear tips in multiple sizes. These include 5 pairs of Final E Eartips, 3 pairs of AZLA SednaEarfit Crystal Eartips, 3 pairs of Spinfit CP145 Eartips, and 2 pairs of Symbio F Foam Tips.
I’ve owned and tested many other flagship IEMs from different brands and none of them come close to the sheer amount and quality of ear tips offered by the Kinera Imperial LOKI.
The sound performance from each type of ear tip is as follows:
- AZLA SednaEarfit Crystal Eartips – provides the most vivid and engaging sound. Allows the mid-range and treble to shine through with ease to produce an ultra-high-quality level of sound. Provides the mildest bass boost but with excellent texture. Widest soundstage presentation of all ear tips.
- Final E Eartips – tames the upper midrange and treble by pulling it back. Enhances the mid-bass the most by giving it extra amounts of slam. The soundstage shrinks and becomes more intimate.
- Spinfit CP145 – enhances the mid-bass slightly but allows the mid-range and treble to stay open.
- Symbio F Foam Tips – a similar effect to the Final E ear tips where mid-bass is enhanced with an additional slam and the treble frequency pulls back and becomes less bright.
The Kinera Imperial LOKI comes supplied with 2 stock cables. Before we jump onto the main cable, let’s first talk about the secondary cable.
Stock Cables – Secondary Cable
The secondary stock cable is a 4-wire Effect Audio UP-OCC Copper cable similar to the Ares S without ConX using a fixed 4.4mm termination and Kinera Imperial’s logo on each side to determine the left and right connectors. It is finished in bright copper with light grey connectors and a similarly-finished splitter.
Although the supplied Effect Audio cable does provide excellent sonic performance with the Kinera Imperial LOKI, it is a bit of a let-down to have a basic-level cable come supplied with a flagship IEM.
However, Kinera Imperial did make up for this and supplied another stock cable which is their main cable to be used with the LOKI. The confusion stems from the fact that the Effect Audio cable appears in the main packaging area whereas the main cable is tucked away in the included hockey puck carrying case.
Stock Cables – Kinera Customized Cable
The main cable is also known as the “Kinera Customized Cable” and features 24 strands of gold-plated 6N OCC Copper plus silver-plated 6N OCC Copper.
It features a Litz geometry and comes in a 2-wire braid with a 25 AWG gauge. The plug is a 4.4mm termination made from gold-plated phosphor bronze. Each wire has a polyurethane leather insulation and an outer cotton mesh jacket which gives it a supple and fabric-like texture.
Aesthetically, the Kinera Customized Cable has an elegant and classy finish. The cable jacket has a jet-black colorway which is paired with a black and gold Splitter and termination case.
The splitter and termination case has a similar design to that of the Kinera Orlog cable and comes in a black cylinder where the base is decorated with a crown of golden-colored mountains. Both are finished with the Kinera Imperial logo which is etched in white.
The cable ring has the same design and includes Kinera Imperial’s catchphrase, “Live only for honor”, engraved in white text. In addition, the termination case has a small black crystal attached to it.
Although both cables pair excellently with the LOKI, the “better” cable depends on one’s use case. Simply put, if you prefer more bass with a slightly reduced soundstage, the Effect Audio cable is a better choice.
On the other hand, if you prefer a more holographic and engaging listening experience with a focus on vocals, then the Kinera Customized Cable is the better option.
I found the Kinera Customized Cable to pair better with the LOKI as it provided improved bass texturing, improved dynamics, and a more holographic soundstage.
Packaging & Accessories
The Kinera Imperial LOKI comes supplied in a signature multi-colored large hexagonal box which houses an abundant amount of high-quality accessories and the IEMS within two hexagonal layers inside the box.
The first layer contains a neatly wounded Effect Audio cable with the IEMs themselves. Progressing to the second hexagonal layer, this is where the assortment of ear tips and other accessories including a small, hockey puck style case containing the main Kinera Customized Cable and a leather cable strap.
Most of the ear tips are nicely arranged by size and type of ear tip. The small hockey puck case feels sturdy and has a smooth, black leather finish making it an excellent travel companion.
The gold zipper on the case provides a neat finish and matches the theme of the Kinera Customized Cable.
The internal components of the case are fully customizable allowing one to adjust the layout depending via a series of adjustable velcro strips on the contents inside the case.
Aside from this, a cleaning brush, user manual, thank you card, and design overview card can be found inside the box.
Click on page 2 below for our sound impressions and recommended pairings.
Click on page 3 below for our selected comparisons.