Kinera, a chi-fi brand that started comfortably with their budget offerings has expanded their portfolio and started introducing proper flagship IEMs still makes some of the most intriguing lower mid range IEMs and at times introduces under QoA ( Queen of Audio).
I didn’t had a chance to try Kinera’s flagships from 2020-21 like Baldr or Nanna or Odin but I had a chance to listen to a couple of their mid range IEMs Norn and Skuld and I was unable to recommend them to anyone. Then Kinera decided to introduce a subsidiary brand named “Queen of Audio” or QoA and their first big launch was the Mojito which didn’t do a lot. But the flagship EST IEM introduced last year, Margarita, was one of the best all rounder IEM around $500. I loved it.
I was super impressed with the Urd too. These two in fact are some of the best IEMs under $700. They have polite and civilized presentation but are highly capable IEMs with EST drivers. Kinera has just launched their flagship offering Loki, while we get Aviation for QoA. It is a hybrid just like the Norn but has one less BA and is priced sweetly at $199. Comes in two color schemes too, Mirage and Galaxy. What I have here with me is the Galaxy variant. Thankfully the presentation and balance has changed a lot (from Norn) and I like these changes. Let’s find out how this IEM does against KiwiEars Quintet and Hidizs MP145.
Get one from here:
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
Aviation comes in a small and tidy retail box with a trick under its belt. Up front we are greeted by the earpieces, two replaceable plugs and the square faux leather carry case stuffed in foam. Unlike most of the leather cases this case feels sturdy and looks awesome. The cable is placed inside this carry case but where are the other tips? I expected them to be inside the carry case but lift the upper layer of foam and Voila!! What I like here is the tip organizer, you do not need to struggle at all. There are 2 set of silicone tips in S/M/L sizes ( blue, smoked body and other are colorful). Blue tips have a wider opening while the other set is slightly narrower. Some documentation and a Velcro strap end the list of items out of the box.
I have no doubts that this 2pin 4 core Litz coaxial 5N OCC, grey colored, modular cable is one of the best sounding cables that has ever shipped with an IEM priced under $200. Its sonics are super and it easily opened up the KiwiEars Quintet, delivering much bigger stage and air. This cable has superb sound quality.
It behaves well too. Its reasonably supple and fairly soft to the touch. It has slight bit of resistance because of the slightly tighter braiding and layer of PVC on the cores but still has no microphonics or bad memory to worry about. The components used in this cable are high quality too. They have superb finishing and are light weight. The Y splitter is small too.
BUILD QUALITY AND ERGONOMICS:
Build quality of this IEM is superb. We get 3D printed, cured resin shell in a semi custom design. This shell will not survive a fall on hard floor but it feels solid and stable. We get a single vent for the DD to breathe while the drivers are pouring into a 3 bore system. The back plate looks superb and is fused nicely into the body.
Aviation has a semi custom type shell which is reasonably small and super comfortable inside the ear. Ergonomically its as good as it usually gets. The inner wings provide very good grip and stability inside the ear. No discomfort or need to adjust even when eating or yawning.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
Let’s me be clear about this, Aviation is one of the most happy go lucky kind of IEM and barely complains about the source. Its 39ohm resistance might feel a bit high but it’s 118 db sensitivity makes it super loud. It barely has any issues with any of the sources I have used with it. Let it be my mobile phones, Hidizs DH80s, TC44PRO or Shanling UA5, it retains its consistency and never gets sharp, thin or dull but the source definitely leaves an impression on it and a bassy source brings in the extra bass, stage or a bit more forward presentation.
The best thing is, Aviation is a marked improvement over the Norn. This is a lot more natural and effortless with stage, presentation and accuracy. It’s detailed, has very good clarity and still is a lot more fun. It’s bassy and its abilities to adapt to the different type of tracks is superb, exhibiting its superior technical abilities.
With its W shaped signature this IEM easily attracts the attention of bass heads without being dark or dull.
I am using stock vocal tips, Hidizs DH80s and Sound Blaster X5 for this review.
My initial impression was proved wrong when this IEM opened up and delivered one of the best lower end I have heard under $200 in a while. No doubts these new generation of lower mid range IEMs are getting super capable than they were few years ago and the biggest improvement in the area is the dynamics. Aviation is capable of hitting a wider range of frequencies with very good control that it amazes me given it’s bassy signature. Its control and accuracy is so good that its marginally superior to even the KiwiEars Quintet. It has very good details with its texture filled layers which unload quality rumble when asked for.
Is this a bassy IEM? Yes, it’s a bassy IEM but not on bass head level. It can deliver full bodied wholesome notes I have heard in a while. The area of impact is big when needed and has a lot of weight behind its slam. Its punches are focused and satisfying. Sub-bass has good extension is rumble. Mid bass is a bit fuller with meatier body, serving evenly weighted slams. The decay can feel a bit faster than other bassy IEMs, exhibiting it’s technicalities with clean and clear notes. Its dynamic abilities are more apparent with the upper bass notes. The way this IEM manages to deliver harder, dry, upper bass notes without introducing unwanted decay residue is superb, in fact it’s the best given that it provides this slower decay when needed shows its superlative control and precision. This IEM is far far better than the monotonous and boomy IEMs like Timeless when it comes to technicalities and dynamics.
Why do I feel this IEM is as good as the KiwiEars Quintet? Because of its improved clarity and energy with the vocals. It has similar texture and details but the pop it has with the vocals is more engaging. Along with this pop we get a bit more grippy texture and slightly sharper finishing definition which aren’t extra energetic. This mid range puts a smile on my face.
Yes we have a W shaped signature but there is no sharpness or thin notes to worry about. It has a bit of pop to the vocals but we get impressive timber and texture from it without any extra tall or sharp notes. The drop in energy of instruments around the vocals is minimal and the clarity, layering and separation of instruments are very good. We get fuller and slightly warmer to neutral tonality with a hint of dry yet organic tonality. Both instruments and vocals sound crispy yet cohesive. It’s nicely paced decay delivers accurate amount of throatiness and grunt. We get beautiful, fuller notes and superb texture with male vocals while female vocals are precise and tight bodied, they are sharp but without an unnaturally thin body or finishing, making the vocals highly detailed yet enjoyable. We get some of the best contrast and layering under $200.
Instruments have very good clarity yet have no sharpness or aggression to complain about. There is a bit more energy in the upper mids but has no discomfort to write about.
We get sparkly, engaging and lively highs with very good details and clarity. We get gripping texture and definition. We do have some of the best transparency with lower and mid treble notes. Micro details are presented with very good clarity. No sibilance or spikes to worry about yet this isn’t the smooth or dark kind. Tonality is very accurate with a more lifelike timber. Air between instruments is surprisingly good. Layering and separation are excellent for the asking price. Upper treble is a bit less emphasized with lower energy that that’s done to keep the sharp and aggressive notes away and it doesn’t rob it off of the extension. Notes in this region are a bit less forward but they still have the sparkle and energy to make their presence felt.
STAGE AND IMAGING:
Before anything else I got attracted to the stage size. It’s surprisingly big for an IEM with this setup and price. We get a tall stage with aptly wide X Axis expansion. It’s illegal to expect a lot of Z axis expansion yet get some movement in this axis too. Bass notes hit in and slightly upward. Most of the vocals and some instruments originate inside the head and move out. Further placed instruments do originate outside the head and stay out. We get even instrument distribution with very good air between them. Imaging too is high quality with superb note’s body and formation. Cue placement is very good and so are the sonics. Movements of instruments are clear but could have been a bit cleaner but that’s asking for a lot.
VS Sivga Nightingale and Oriveti OD200:
If you are reading this, you have been looking for a very good all rounder IEM under $200. You want bass, very good clarity and mostly listen to rock and pop music and definitely want the best possible value for money. Notes are sooooo beautifully presented that it’s hard to complaint about minor niggles.
You have come to the right place. Aviation is one of the best IEM under $200 and has superb value proposition. It not only has fantastic bass body with very good control, an engaging and detailed mid range, a slightly relaxed yet well defined treble region, it’s set of accessories are build quality is outstanding too.
Aviation is one of those IEMs that can handle most of the type of music. Yes, it’s not bloated or super smooth or dark so bass heads and laid-back presentation seekers can look for other options. For everyone else, this is one of the best option under $200. It’s hard to not like this.