Comfortable and isolating, Warm, full but clear midrange, Well-integrated and detailed treble
Stiff cable, Mediocre soundstage expansion, Fairly recessed male vocals
The v1.1 is a nice choice for commuters searching for a well isolating earphone with a warm, focused sound that doesn’t disperse in the presence of ambient noise.
Kalkul is a new Japanese audio manufacturer striving to bring cutting-edge innovations to the audio world. Their first in-ear, the V1.1 sports 3D printed housings with an intriguing laser sintered finish. Internally, the V1.1 utilises a dual BA setup featuring a high-volume, vented woofer in order to produce a full sound well suited towards portable use. Kalkul implements an acoustic horn in the nozzle similar to Jomo’s Haka in addition to 3D printed sound chambers to provide an extended treble response.
The earphones also feature a handmade cable with palladium jack, all high-quality and costly materials. From perusal of the V1.1’s specifications, it’s clear that Kalkul are a serious contender and their IEM carries a confident $300 USD price tag to match. I recently took a few months off my website due to work. I feel that living with the products I receive for review for an extended period of time has given me an appreciation of their intended uses in addition to a stronger understanding of their shortcomings during daily life. You can read all about the V1.1 and purchase one for yourself here.
I would like to thank Kalkul very much for reaching out to me and for providing the v1.1 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The V1.1 has a very minimalist unboxing congruent with the company’s philosophy. The earphones ship within a static-proof foil bag inscribed with the buyer’s name and basic model number and specifications. A separate bag contains 6 pairs of ear tips, 2 pairs of each size. In addition, medium sized tips come pre-installed on the earphones.
The tips are of the memory foam variety, well suited towards the V1.1’s particular style of tuning and their increased isolation aids an uninterrupted listening experience when on the go. Of note, the earphones and accessories are all made in Tokyo, definitely not something you see every day. It’s strange to see the absence of any kind of case seeing as the earphone is built for commuters.
The V1.1 is intriguing and unlike any earphone I’ve ever tested. Its nylon housings are on the larger side but still find an ergonomic fit. They have a two-piece construction with very visible and palpable seam, however, in the context of the V1.1’s design, it compliments their aesthetic rather than detracting from it. What surprises most is the finish of the earphones with a very aggressive, tactile texture. Finish is a common issue with 3D printed products, and I find it impressive how Kalkul have used this to their advantage, using laser sintering to exacerbate its rougher edges. Though far from the immaculate Campfire Audio products I recently reviewed, the result is a product that finds an unconventional appeal in its chaotic complexion.
Despite being on the larger side, the earphone’s design places the bulk of the housings outside the ear, minimising contact and therefore the formation of hotspots, enabling higher long-term comfort. As the plastic housings are very lightweight, the v1.1 has no issue maintaining a stable fit during commute, aided by an over-ear fit. This impression is reinforced by their strong passive noise isolation. Like the CA Comet, the V1.1’s drivers may be vented, but its outer housings are fully-sealed. Combined with long nozzles that promote a deep fit and the exclusive inclusion of foam ear tips, the V1.1 provides excellent isolation, retaining low-end in the presence of ambient sound.
The V1.1 has a fixed cable, not ideal within this price range and strange considering that they were designed for commuters. That said, the cable itself is thick and very sturdy with long strain relief on both the earpieces and jack. Kalkul state that the cable is coaxial copper shielded silver. I can’t comment on its particular sound due to its fixed nature, but it is a mixed bag ergonomically. The two channels are separated below the y-split, a good idea sonically, however, it does introduce the risk of splitting. The cable is also fairly stiff, it doesn’t conform especially well over the ear and introduces more microphonic noise than most over-ears – though still significantly less than a cable-down earphone.
Next Page: Sound, Comparisons & Verdict