KINERA IMPERIAL SKULD Review: Smooth and Sweet like Honey

-smooth neutral to mid centric balance
-thick and natural timbre
-beautifull male and female vocal
-good layering
-full bodied mid bass
-full bodied mid range
-intimate and holographic soundstage
-no sibilance no harshness non fatiguing
-fast yet mellow in impact bass
-permissive of hissy or bad recording
-splendid cratfmanship
-generous accessories

-niche dark tonality
-average resolution
-rolled off sub bass
-average imaging
-rolled off treble
-foggy-euphonic definition and attack edge
-average technicalities
-not competitive sound value


TONALITY: 8.5/10

Kinera is a Chinese company specializing in hybrid earphones and also known for its great care in the aesthetic design of these. Having had the chance to test their other mid-range model such as the Freya, I can tell you that their sumptuous design is a real treat for the eyes, as for the ears, the Freya lacked softness and organicity in the musicality for my taste. But Kinera is also known for its evolution in tuning target.
Today I will review their multi balanced armature IEM, the Imperial Skuld which use 3 knowles BA and 2 custom BA.
Priced 550$, the Skuld promise a ”smooth neutral tonality”.

”After tuning and testing by machines, we are surprised to see that our beloved Skuld has a smooth flat frequency response range with a difference of no more than 4dB in the 0-8kHz frequency range. This is our flattest frequency response curve after Kinera Odin. Flat frequency response doesn’t mean it will be dull or less engaging by any means, we have made sure to make the Skuld convey emotions of your favourite music with great clarity, great resolution, and high transient dynamics. We are pretty sure you will love the dynamic and engaging sound will keep you hooked with all its clarity and detailing.”

Their product description promise a mature tonal balance that should be different from more energic and brigh Kinera NorN or Hodur, which I review in the past”

Let see in this review if the Skuld offer an enjoyable musicality that hold it’s ground in term of technical performance.



The Skuld are magnificent looking IEM, they are hand painted so it mean each pair are unique. Shinny, eye catching yet not elegant, we can’t understate level of artistry and craftmanship of these beauties. They are made of gih grade resin plastic, which is thick, smooth and very solid. The 2pin connector are just slightly recessed, which secure the connection and promise versatility for different 2pins cables. The shell have an organic shape, is light and extremely comfortable: you forget you wear these after the music begin. The nozzle is long enough to permit deep or not fit.
Talking about this nozzle, it’s large, long and have tree hole at it’s top, this mean that too small nozzle ear tips might block or interfer with proper sound projection, so i would advice to use the wide bore eartips included in accessories to achieve wide open spatiality with well articulated sound layering.


As always with Kinera, the packaging is a piece of art in its own right. As well it include a generous amoung of good quality accessories. We have 5 pairs of Final Audio eartips, 3 pair of standard silicone ear tips, 3 pairs of short wide bore eartips and 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips. As well as cleaning brush, magnetic leather case and a 4.4mm balanced cable with 3.5mm and 2.5mm adapter.


The cable is of excellent quality, it’s an 8 cores silver plated cable with sturdy 4.4mm balanced jack. It feel smooth and flexible as well as very sturdy.
To be honnest, we are never disappointed with Kinera accessories, and this Skuld is no exception. Yet, I would have prefer a modular cable like their more recend model, but all in all, it’s very good and the adapter can be use with other cables I have.



The Kinera Skuld are nichely tuned, dark and neutral to mid centric with slight warm but well felt mid bass boost.

Those are for vocal lover, those are smooooooth, those are similar to Idun Golden with superior yet understated technicalities and smoother more organic balance.

Dark but not dull sounding since we have fast attack snap and hint of spice mid treble spectrum, but it roll off fast, so, not for treble head seeking vivid highs, nor for basshead, perhaps neutral head but it’s a ”romantical neutral tuning” I would say.

As a mid range addict audiophile that listen to lot of piano, acoustic instrument and female vocal, this type of tuning sure trigger lot of listening joy in me. The fact whole balance is smooth and creamy help this enjoyment too, since when the loudness gain is too raise for female vocal, soprano singer become shouty and fatiguing, lotta harman tuning tend to create that as well as offering thin mids, here it’s not the case at all.

Again, fan of Idun Golden 2.0 should at least give a try to those.

The balanced armature has always some kind of trade off when it come to bass, even the fancy one like GSaudio SE12 don’t have proper rumble and Skuld is no exception. Yet, firstly, we don’t have distortion which is nice, even with rumbly track like No Signal from Muni Long, the rumble here is more about resonance presence but the punch is there, not perfectly define in presence, a warm boom done well that doesn’t distract, that warm the mids from the back and add the minimal fun for versatile kick performance. Sure, vocal stole the show and bass stay at the back, glued to mid range but very well layred at the same time, it doesn’t mix up messy way and both bass and mids have minimal transparency helping this appealing dynamic articulation.
Its dark in texture too. I was expecting way worst bass performance in fact, Knowles woofer is a good one and has been dampened here to offer a mellow hit that have good speed but not sharp separation and resolution, so, we struggle to get proper positioning of bass instrument in busy tracks and sub and kick can feel a bit sticked togheter in a fluffy, again, pleasant tone-timbre wise.
This is not problematic for acoustic instrument enjoyment, which sound full, warm and natural in tone. Cello and contrabass aren’t thin here, but rich in both presence and density vibrance. Again, this underline that the Skuld perform very well with acoustic music and vocal, sure, contrabass extension will not dig down to 20hz in cleanest way, the resonance sustain is a bit scooped-warmed, but very enjoyable still as well as well layered organicaly as we can expect with a 5bas IEM of this price range.

Oh boy, this will be a wordy mid range section: be ready since the Skuld are all about the mids! And not in a clinical or analytical way, nope, it want those mids to be lush, natural, velvety and avoid any balanced armature roughness, grain or metallic sheen and to my ears it succeed well.
So those are dense, rich fowards mids that have both dynamic presence and low harmonic boosted to magnify a gently euphonic naturalness. It’s not agressive but smooth in upper mid register, so sibilance free and hint creamy, a hint softed in definiton edge too, so I wouldn’t say it’s cleanest mid range. In fact, mid bass transition is thick and embrace lower mids.
Both male and female vocal sound full bodied. Piano note are well rounded, fast in attack, but not very clean in natural decay, there a hint of warm sustain to the attack, but piano is never sounding recessed, it’s center of the show when recording tell it so and its sens of fullness is highly gratifying musicaly wise.
Its not what i would call high fidelity mid range though, since it’s a bit colored to magnify lushness and avoid both harshness and recession of presence without overly boosted the timbre texture details.
I would have love a hint more open mids, but they are envelopping and intimate, as well, audio source you pair with will greatly inflict on the rather sensitive Skuld, clean sounding DAP like Tempotec V6 and Hiby RS6 boost sens of transparency and openess and will improve imaging.
Back to the female vocal, the Skuld are among finest multi BA i’ve heard for this very task, but not the clearest or most intelligible due to softed upper mids that affect certain word articulation. So for communiting, i would not suggest the Skuld I guess. As said, presence is very centered too, i would prefer wider one, more airy-envelopping and better separated vocal, but this would have come with some drawback surely. I really try hard to nitpick things I like less with the mid range but all in all, I do sincerly adore it, it’s both softed in lead attack energy and bite yet weighty in impact, dense in timbre and buttery yummy yummy.

Now, the less interesting part of the Skuld: the treble. Its understated and roll off fast after 10khz, it’s not sparkly, nor airy, and do lack brilliance. Add an EST to cover 10-20khz section and perhaps these would become end game!
Its smooth, darkish and thick treble. We have sens of fullness but not alot of micro details, it tend to pick up minimal things, like important part of percussion, their surely a slight treble spike somewhere in mid treble but lower treble is lean and smooth, so instrument like violin or electric guitar will lack excitment in attack as well as abrasive texture for proper excitment but sound dense and fowards enough. Snare is softly snappy as well as overall percussions but they sit in the back and will go darker and darker when their alot of mid range instrument or a vocalist. This is good news for treble sensitive people, since long time listening is rather safe with these, as well, the fast layering of ba’s avoid plain muddyness, but don’t expect highly resolved music with these, don’t expect to find micro details you haven’t heard too.
Yet, it’s not what i would call bad treble quality, it’s rich, I mean, their 2 BA’s for highs here, so it’s sure no thin and anemic, and the sens of sounds layers is there. With calm jazz trio, i don’t struggle to find the percussions and i can hear minimal brilliance and crispness, but it will not open up and tend to have less amplitude to fully blossom the natural sparkle decay, this will make splash cymbals seem hint foggy too.

Spatiality is quite wide and tall enough, not very deep, it act like an holographic tapestry envelopping you. It feel dense in layer and that you are part of these layers too, so it’s an intimate cozzy and wide enough soundstage.

Imaging wise, it’s not plain bad due to more than decent sound layering capacity of these 5 balanceds armatures driver, but a bit foggy in definition accuracy making spacing not very clean for static instruments positionning. As well, you are quite near the instrument, as if you were playing with the band some time, so


The Skuld is very ear tips picky due to its big nozzle with 3 tubes hole in it that most not be block. Using a short wide bore silicone ear tips is highly suggested, or something similar wide bore. This kind of ear tips models are often necessary for multi-BAs only IEMs, so it doesn’t compress spatiality and mess up with BAs resonance amplitude…
And, yes, they are sensitive to impedance output of your audio source, so lower than 1 or even 0.5ohm is greatly suggested as well, to get proper clean and dynamic sound rendering.




Norn are brighter, bassier and more V to W shape. Notably less neutral to mid centric, less smooth and more foward and agressive in dynamic. Bass hit harder, have more rumble and more weight in impact, it seem to extend deeper too, which is to be expected from a dynamic driver. Mids are brighter and more recessed, less full and natural in timbre, it have more upper mids presence and bite, texture is more boosted hint more grainy too. Female vocal are thinner and more shouty, they can create fatigue unlike the Skuld. Treble is more detailed, way more detailed in fact it can feel saturated with details and sounds layers, Skuld is darker here but both lack sparkle and sens of air on top.
Soundstage is less wide than the Skuld, but a notch deeper due to recessed center stage where mids happen. Imaging of both these IEM aren’t very impressive, I would say on par.

All in all, Skuld is better balanced, have a more natural tonality but less brightly resolved sound. There no doubt i prefer them even if technicalities aren’t as boosted and in your face.


Ok, these aren’t really similar, and the Penon is about 2 times cheaper but this is an interesting comparison because Fan2 isn’t bad at all. Here the Fan2 is more W shape to crisp neutral, with similar mid bass boost that isn’t over powering, bass is better define and more flexible and dig deeper, it have more headroom in resonance impact too. Then the mids are brighter in presence but not agressive, yet, less warm and thick than the Skuld and sens of transparency is higher due to less euphonic rendering. Timbre is not as ”colored natural” and charming as the Skuld and sens of mid range note weight is lighter, airier, this make overall sound more open with the Fan2, and deeper…again, due to part of mids being more recessed and lean. So we have more lower treble bite and presence too with the Fan2, overall clarity-resolution is superior to Skuld, it’s less dark, airyer, snappier, but hint spikier too. In other words: less smooth and organic in macro resolution and balance.
Spatiality is notably more open, wider and deepr with the Fan2. Imaging is crisper, more accurate and spacious in separation and positioning.

All in all….i’m quite surprise by this comparisons and would conclude something surprising: technical performance seem superior with the Fan2 but tone-timbre is feeling more natural and appealing with the Skuld….but is it guilty pleasure after all?



The Kinera Skuld are charming my ears, but it doesn’t mean it will charm your since it’s a dark, dense, rich mid centric tuning that make plunge the listener in a colored form of ”neutrality”, not one i would call ”high fidelity”. Imagine a darker Final E4000 with better layering performance or a smoother Kinera Idun Golden and your not far from what you’ll got from the Skuld.
This is an IEM for creamy musicality seeker that favor tone and timbre density and ”naturalness” as well as warm layering richness.
This is an IEM that don’t lack soul, nor lack dynamic fullness.
But might lack treble crispness for some.
Yet, I do find the Skuld very appealing and immersive, and these are among my favorite Kinera IEM I try.
They are as sweet and thick as honey.

Enthusiastly suggested for those that favor natural mid range, for vocal lover as well as treble sensitive audiophile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s