Kanen KM-948 Review

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Reviewed Mar 2010

Details: Utilizing a shell similar to JVC HA-FXC50, the KM-948 a huge step up from my previous Kanen IEMs
Current Price: $7 from dx.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: 90 dB | Freq: 18-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9’ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: Jays Single-flange Silicones
Wear Style: Over-the-ear or straight down

Accessories (1/5) – Silicone single-flange tips (3 sizes)
Build Quality (2/5) – Plastic housings with molded strain reliefs, thin cabling with Sennheiser-style Y-split, and heatshrink-covered 3.5mm plug do no inspire confidence but will last if not abused routinely
Isolation (3/5) – Impressive isolation with the right tips, especially when worn over-the-ear
Microphonics (2.5/5) – Microphonics are bothersome when worn cable-down but fairly low when worn cable-up
Comfort (3.5/5) – Due to having a longer nozzle than JVC’s FXC-50, the KM-948 can be worn over-the-ear with the extrusion of the shell pointing outward. They may look a little odd when worn this way, but comfort is greatly improved

Sound (3.7/10) – The sound of the KM-948 is surprisingly tolerable for a $5 earphone. The bottom end boasts impressive extension and good impact. Insertion depth is key in achieving good bass response with these – when inserted shallowly bass impact is too sharp and drums can be downright painful. When inserted too far the bass can be a touch boomy, obscuring other frequencies. However, with the right insertion depth treble comes forward and the bass stays controlled, if a bit hollow. The midrange is articulate and smooth, boasting good clarity for the price but sounding a little thin at times. Treble response is a bit spiky, rolls off early, and lacks information compared to pricier earphones. With a shallow seal they can sound shrill and I found them somewhat tiring, but only after very long listening sessions and not with the Jays silicone tips that I ended up using in the long run. They do one thing very right, though – the $5 KM-948 have better separation and an airier presentation than most other earphones in the <$20 range.

Value (7.5/10) – The KM-948 is an all-around improvement over the older MD-51. At the $5 price they are an extremely competitive product, providing good isolation, comfort, and sound quality. For those willing to experiment with the fit, the KM-948 can be an even more rewarding experience, coming close in certain aspects of their performance to some much more expensive earphones.

Pros: Very reasonable sound quality, quite comfortable, solid isolation
Cons: Mediocre build quality, stock tips are not ideal


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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