A Mature Design - Kennerton Thror Palisander Headphones Review

by - January 06, 2020

A Mature Design - Kennerton Thror Palisander Headphones Review 


Kennerton is a huge luxury audio company from Russia, part of Fischer Audio, and their Thror is their current flagship headphone, priced at 3000 USD. This places it at the top of our lists, and it has to compete with other flagships like Crosszone CZ-1, Rosson RAD-0, and HIFIMAN Arya. It will also be paired with titanic Amplifiers and DACs, like Wells Milo Amplifier, M2Tech Young MK III DAC, Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, and iBasso DX220 (AMP 9).





Introduction

Kennerton Audio is the Luxury branch of the hugely known Fischer Audio brand. Kennerton is considered by many to be one of Russia's best audio companies, and they have a lot going on for them, with the release of many critically acclaimed models just past the last year, with Thror being their flagship, and the most expensive and lavish model from this line. You can expect handcrafted items, headphones built from scratch and a sound to match their design from Kennerton, along with support that matches the price tag and expectations, so when you decide to go with their products, you will also receive service to match their name. 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Kennerton Audio Equipment or Fischer Audio, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank Kennerton Audio Equipment for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Kennerton Thror find their next music companion. 



About me

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Packaging

First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:











The idea behind the package of Kennerton Thror is simple, they come in a large cardboard box, but inside that is their real case, which is a real wooden carrying case. I'm not even joking, they bundle their Thror headphones in a real wooden carrying case, with the headphones seated in a foam cutout. 

They realised that you won't be able to carry the headphones in that carrying case, so they included a leathery pouch, along with the proper paperwork and warranty. Everything is top notch, feels high-end, and although you don't get spare pads, the original pair is very good quality, and it works very well for Thror. 

The cable included in the package is also of a very good quality, and it did last the test of time as I've been using it for a while and it didn't degrade one bit, so although Thror comes with one cable by default, it is of a good quality and you're probably best getting a different set of aftermarket cables. 



What to look in when purchasing a high-end In-Ear Monitor

https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html




Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

Kennerton Thror is one heck of a well built headphone, with real wood, real metal and real leather, real life and real soul. 


Thror is a bit on the bulky side, but this means they are built really well, they are made to last a literal lifetime, with high quality real wood in the cups, real thick leather in the earpads and headband, and a high quality cable included in the package. The headphones weigh a bit more than most flagships, about 480 grams, so you're in for a lot of quality with them, but also in for a heavier headphone. This isn't necessary a bad thing, but if you were looking for a light headphone, Thror just ain't it. This being said, Thror is much lighter than other previous flagships from Kennerton or Fischer Audio, like Odin, which weighed about 680 grams. 

The aesthetics go for a classic look with Thror, something that will please both younger music lovers, as well as more seasoned listeners. The wood is treated with high quality laque, and it offers a really nice feel to the touch. Thror is an open-back headphone, and it leaks quite a bit of what you're listening to, and it doesn't really isolate you from the outside noise, so you're best using it indoors. This being said, Thror is really easy to drive and you won't have any issue using them with a high-end portable DAP. 

The fit is on the tight side, and they don't sit loose, so you do feel them on your head. On the other hand, although I don't see many doing this, you can take them on the go, as they will not fall off your head while walking. This is actually an interesting point about them, because as I see them, they're a half-half headphones, they are so good for being used while on-the-go that I'm not sure if I'd recommend them more portably or for desktop usage. This being said, just because of their high price tag, I will be considering them a desktop flagship. 


One thing I noticed more recently is that the fit is actually highly configurable from the screws, basically, you can adjust both the size of the headphones, but also the swivel degree of the earcups, so you can adjust thror to be exactly the size and shape of your head, making them one of the most comfortable headphones ever created. This is actually something I didn't discovered quite at first, and didn't even manage to include in my first video, as I didn't apply enough force to swivel and rotate the earcups in their respective joints. 

The cables are connected to the headphones via mini-XLR jacks, which are the same as other flagship companies include with their headphones, like Audeze have for their high-end models. 

In the end, Kennerton managed to produce a headphone that's acceptably light for both desktop and portable usage, is easy to drive, is comfy and easily configurable for your head shape and size, making them comfy regardless what you're coming from. As an open-back headphone, Thror takes advantage of this design and provides excellent soundstage and air for their music to breathe. 



Sound Quality

This is where the fun begins, because the sound is where a real flagship would start to shine, and Thror is no exception. Although Kennerton has surprised us with high-quality wood, excellent comfort and a headphone that can be configured for your head, and even with a luxury package, the sound is where they impressed me the most. 


The sound is very well balanced, but natural, they have an incredible extension both in the lows and in the treble, Thror conveys a very natural staging and has a side for micro-details and for revealing even the most fine nuances in your music. They don't necessarily work well for one music style, but instead they really render music as it was recorded and will work amazingly well with any musical style, from rock all the way to classical and electronic. The thing about Thror is that they have a Zero-Grain sound, with a very smooth transition between instruments and elements, resulting in a very pleasing, musical and fun overall listening experience. 

The overall tonality balance is balanced-natural, basically sounding like what you'd expect music to sound like, with no coloration. This makes Electronic music a bit less engaging than when it is played through a V-Shaped signature headphones, and the same may apply to rock and metal, but ultimately you will find that Thror plays everything more naturally and can be listened to for more hours in a row without fatigue. 


The bass is one of the smoothest and most natural found in headphones at this price point. Really, most flagships tend to go for ultra-quick or overly warm bass, like for example, how HD800 from Sennheiser goes for a much lighter bass, and how HE6SE from HIFIMAN goes for a lighter bass as well, both headphones being considerably brighter, and resulting in a sound that is more revealing at first sight. There are also headphones that are warmer and more prone to having a thick and heavy sound, like Audeze LCD-MX4 and even Rosson RAD-0, both of which are tilted towards a warmer and thicker sound. Then, there's Thror which has a bass that's just natural, both in quantity and decay, all bass guitars have the right thickness and impact, depth and resolution to sound natural. 

The midrange also keeps this naturalness, which continues to astound the listener with an impressively natural tonality and well-balanced overall presentation. The soundstage is not the widest, and headphones that are made for a large soundstage, like HIFIMAN Arya or Crosszone CZ-1, both convey a much larger and more holographic scene, but the magic of Thror lies in its precision and naturalness, a very clear and precise stereo separation and overall instrument separation, precise placement, and although this is done within a natural-sized stage, you never feel like you're suffocating or looking for more air, but instead you're attracted to the smooth overall midrange that is grain-free, the great clarity and natural voicing. You can hear just the right amount of texture in guitars in metal music, the right emphasis and depth to male voices, and the right amount of emotion to female voices, especially in room music like Jazz, the presentation being just magical. 

The treble of Thror is also something interesting, as you'd probably expect a brighter presentation, especially if you were coming from Kennerton's previous flagship like Odin, which was a bit brighter, and more neutral. This being said, Thror is not to be taken lightly and provides a very clean and clear treble, with excellent extension and air, but isn't one bit bright, instead being the fatigue-free, easy-listen type that you will keep on your head for hours without ever wanting to take off. The detail retrieval is at the right level for a flagship at this price point, and so is nuance and dynamics, punch. 

Overall, Kennerton managed to design a headphone that is natural, has good punch, depth, is well-balanced and will sound magical and just right with any musical style, so regardless of your musical preferences, Thror should do a great job and satisfy your desires. 



Portable / Desktop Usage

As I said earlier, Thror is both a portable and a desktop headphone. At first sight, you may think that not many would venture outside wearing a 3000 USD flagship, but I've seen more folks wearing a HD800S from Sennheiser and other flagship than I expected, so I wouldn't put it behind me that Thror makes an excellent travel companion, especially if you have a higher-end DAP and are willing to have a really classy-looking earpiece on your head. 


The first thing you notice when you try to use Thror portably is that their cable is finished in a 6.3mm Single ended connector, so if you plan on using them with a more recent DAP, especially portably, you can always purchase aftermarket cables that would be ended in a 4.4mm Balanced connector, or at least with a smaller, 3.5mm Single ended connector, as besides iDSD Micro Black Label from iFi, there are very few portables that have a 6.3mm output. 

Now, if you plan on using Thror portably, you have to take into account the fact that they don't isolate at all, but at least they provide excellent comfort and won't fall off your head while walking, or rather, they will provide one of the best comfort you can find in a headphone, especially if you like the way the sheepskin leather pads feel on your head. 

The lack of isolation won't be an issue if you'll be using Thror at home, or at your desktop while working. Here, unless you'll be blasting them at full volume, you will be able to use them in an office, or while you're in a room with other people. I began listening a bit quieter lately, and not once has anyone told me to stop using Thror, so either they leak a bit less than other headphones that are open-back, or I really lowered my main listening volume. 

While at home, you can connect Thror to any large and high-end amplifier like Wells Audio Milo, and although Thror doesn't need a lot of power, it can surely reveal the differences between when it is connected to a more entry-level setup, and when it is connected to a high-end setup. 

At the end of the day, Thror is a dual-purpose headphone, and it works well both when used as a portable headphone, but also as a desktop headphone. 



Comparisons 

For the main competitors against Thror, I have chosen Crosszone CZ-1, Rosson RAD-0, and HIFIMAN Arya. I will expand a bit within each of those comparisons why I picked the said headphone and how Thror compares to each. 


Kennerton Thror Palisander vs Crosszone CZ-1 - I know that the comparison part of the review is what you're looking for, so let's start with something really unusual, even more unusual than Thror, the CZ-1. The package of CZ1 is similar to the one Thror comes in, on the inside, but on the outside, CZ-1 comes in a cardboard package, where Thror comes in a full wooden package, one that impressed me so much I kept using it as a background for the photos of other reviews. The overall build is very different, with CZ-1 having three drivers for each ear, and all of them being dynamic drivers, where Thror is a full sized planar magnetic headphone, with a very different technology. In terms of sound, CZ-1's main strength is its soundstage, a really wide experience, with a light and gentle sound, a presentation that really compliments classical and soft music, where Thror has much more punch, impact and dynamic, Thror provides a better fit and comfort, with more clamping force, and although CZ-1 is also driveable from a DX229, CZ-1 is not portable, it has a very light and gentle grip, and will fall off your head. Both headphones have a similar weight, but the lighter grip on CZ-1 makes them easier to wear for long periods of time. If you are looking for a really soft and gentle headphone, CZ-1 still holds the crown for that, but if you like a natural-sounding headphone that has very little coloring, but provides good impact, dynamics and a very precise instrument separation, Thror makes a really compelling argument and should make it to your collection and even become your main headphone. 

Kennerton Thror Palisander vs HIFIMAN Arya - HIFIMAN Arya is less expensive than Thror, but is a good example of a barebone experience, which is Arya, vs a truly luxurious experience which is Thror. Arya comes in a very basic package, and offers little in term of build glamour as well, they are a plastic headphone that is light, very comfortable, and very usable, but doesn't look very interesting in terms of aesthetics. I found it pleasing in my review, but I noticed that many were asking for a bit more wood, a bit more glamour, a bit more color. Then, there is Thror with a wooden design, a wooden package, and indeed a beautiful overall build quality, that includes metal and high-quality materials. This being said, the two headphones sound amazing, both of them, but have different signatures as well. Arya is considerably brighter, has a very spacious presentation, a lot of detail, and a really large stage, lots of air between instruments, a clear and strong dynamic, and excellent detail. Arya is harder to drive than Thror, and requires more than most portables provide to get at the same levels as thror. Arya is also more open, in terms of both sound, it sounds more open, and it is more open in design, it leaks more and you hear more from the outside. The presentation of Thror feels much more tied together, more focused, with a smaller soundstage, less overall dynamic, but more punch and more impact, less treble amount, with the treble feeling smoother and less sibilant than Arya, with a warmer overall sound, and with more kick for sounding natural rather than detailed and large. Arya is better for Jazz, Classical, and music that is supposed to sound atmospheric or large, like prog metal, where Thror is more of a generalist headphone that will sound excellent with anything, but will shine especially with metal, electronic, room-music like small performance, and with Cabaret. The choice between the two is clear, for space and stage, for a simple yet effective experience, Arya is the choice, but for a Luxury headphone, and for a high-end experience, for a high-end headphone that looks and feels like it, and which is pecise, natural and clear, Thror is the choice. 

Kennerton Thror Palisander vs Rosson RAD-0 - This comparison is very interesting because the two will have similar description in their reviews, especially at the sonic level, where RAD-0 also feels very natural, smooth and coherent, and is grain-free. But let's start with the package, which is quite excellent for both. I actually feel like RAD-0 has a better package because it is more effective at protecting the headphone, but for a more luxurious experience, Thror surely delivers. In terms of drive-ability, RAD-0 is even easier to drive than Thror, and is literally drive-able from a typical smartphone, where Thror eats a bit more power to reach their full potential, more than most smartphones can deliver. In terms of comfort, RAD-0 has thicker pads, and thicker headband padding, and although it is similarly heavy when compared to Thror, it has less clamping force and feels more comfortable to wear. I have used both portably, and I actually prefer RAD-0 for a high-end portable headphone, although I would normally still go for something less expensive and less heavy, like HIFIMAN Sundara. The sound is much thicker, much more grain-free, much smoother, and much more impactful on RAD-0. Compared, Thror sounds larger in the soundstage, it has more instrument separation, is less warm and more neutral, has a less smooth and more precise / detailed sound. Guitars are sweeter on RAD-0, but Thror has much better treble and upper midrange, with more emotion and compliments female voices much better than RAD-0, which sounds sweet most of the time, and which lacks the emotion and balance than Thror has. At the end of the day, both are amazing headphones, and both will satisfy you, but for very different reasons. I would go with RAD-0 for most rock, room-sized music, and for music that I want to sound sweet and pleasing. I would go for Thror if I liked my sound balanced and priced female voices the same or more than male voices, as RAD-0 presents female voices always sweet, and gives better male vocal performance than Thror. Each is amazing in its own way, and I hope my comparison will help you identify which is better tailored to your tastes.



Recommended Pairings

When it comes to pairing Thror with a source, I went with a few high-end setups, as Thror does take advantage of a better source. I would like to mention that they do work better with a high-end source for portables as well, so when you pay about 3000 USD for a headphone like Thror, it would make sense to invest in a high-end DAP, like iBasso DX220 (AMP 9), or a Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, or a high-end setup like an M2Tech Young MK III DAC + Wells Milo Amplifier. 


Kennerton Thror Palisander + iBasso DX220 (AMP 9) - DX220 running on AMP 9 is a very good example on how easy to drive Kennerton Thror can be. Thing is, you could do with an even cheaper and less flagship-level DAP for DX220, but with DX220, you really get why I recommend using a proper DAP to drive Thror, the level of impact, depth and control is simply insane. You would expect this kind of sound from a really expensive headphone and desktop setup, but nowadays, thanks to companies like iBasso and Kennerton you can have this level of quality with the convenience of taking it portably. DX220 also provides Thror with Streaming services, including MQA decoding abilities, as well as a really good sonic performance. AMP 9 has a very organic midrange that's slightly emphasizes the upper midrange with Thror, and also gives them a really emotional overall sound. The bass is quick, the treble extends nicely, and everything just compliments the signature Thror already had. 

Kennerton Thror Palisander + Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ - Brooklyn DAC+ is another DAC/AMP that I paired Thror quite a bit with, and for this one, the reason was a bit different than with DX220, here the portability was not the main reason, but the soundstage. Brooklyn DAC+ is an interesting DAC/AMP on its own, but one thing that some people tend to miss when judging it is the headphone amplifier section, which has a very very wide sound, and comes through as holographic even. Thror is complimented well by this, as they were average-sized in their staging, so Brooklyn DAC+ makes them considerably more holographic and gives them more air to breathe. If you wanted Thror to sound wider, but loved their overall sound, Brooklyn DAC+ surely helps with that, and can also act as the main DAC unit in your high-end speaker system, thanks to the very good implementation that made the company well-known for years now. 

Kennerton Thror Palisander + M2Tech Young MK III DAC + Wells Milo Amplifier - Here, i went with a slightly different setup, so this time I combined an even wider, but colder and brighter sounding DAC, from M2Tech, but also a very organic and sweet-natural sounding Amplifier, from Wells Audio, namely the Milo, which is a solid state amplifier, but which aims to have the same magical sound of a Tube Amplifier. I even named it the closest thing to a crossover between a tube and a solid state amplifier in my review, giving it great praise for taking advantage from both techs, despite relying on just one. When paired with Thror, you can totally hear what I described there, and with Young MK III being the DAC being a really wide and bright sounding DAC, you get a final presentation, that with Thror, comes through as very Spatial, warm-ish, yet impactful, natural in the midrange, yet with a good sparkle in the treble. The combo has everything you may be looking for, including good resolution, detail and dynamics, punch and a good amount of nuance. This being said, the combo is quite expensive, and it is a full desktop setup, which means that it weighs a lot and it is not comfy to use outside of the comfort of your home. 



Value and Conclusion

The price of Kennerton Thror is pretty high, and they are indeed a flagship headphone priced as such, and at a 3000 USD price mark, they must and will be compared to the best of the best, including HIFIMAN HE6SE, and others. This doesn't place Thror at a disadvantage though, and they do make a name for themselves even at this price point, and you can always enjoy them, although the high quality wood, metal and leather in the build really do increase the price of this flagship.

When it comes to their package, Thror comes packaged in one of the best, most fancy, and realistically, most interesting packages I've ever seen to date, and if you follow Audiophile-Heaven, especially if you read my reviews, you will notice that especially before our new team member, Haru, joined, I have been using the wooden box of Thror as a background / support for many of the headphones / DACs / DAPs / Amplifiers when taking photos, so that really is one heck of a nice package. The headphones also come with a carrying pouch that would protect them from scratches, along with a high-quality cable, and a reliable warranty card. Although not a lot of extra is included in the package, I've been using Thror for long enough to know that you won't need a lot of extras, they simply are built to last, and when it comes to cables, unless someone made a desktop cable that was modular, extra cables weren't really a necessity. 


The build quality is simply outstanding, with real metal, real wood and real leather all being part of Thror, but this also made Thror a bit heavy. Also, they are an open-back headphone, but they are easy to drive making them a good choice if you want a portable open-back headphone, especially if you don't mind the slightly higher weight of 480 grams. 

The sound of Thror is as natural as it gets, with a natural bass, natural midrange, and a fatigue-free, grain-free treble that makes you listen to them for hours in a row, without ever getting tired and without ever wanting to take them off. This also means that they work with a multitude of musical styles, including rock, pop, metal, and electronic, they have very good dynamics and are plenty punchy, but if anything comes to mind as a disadvantage or something you should take into account, the sound also has a natural soundstage, and doesn't go into being the very large-staged type. Instead, Thror relies on a good instrument separation and instrument placing, producing a very pleasing experience in the end. 


Before the end of this review, I would like to add Thror to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame for providing excellent build quality, excellent sonic performance and pleasing aesthetics, along with really wood, real leather and no plastic in their build, being indeed one of the most luxurious, yet fashionable headphones I've used to date. 


At the end of this review, if you're looking for a nice headphone, one that is well built, has a natural sound, is plenty punchy and has a good amount of comfort and can be moulded to your head, Thror makes one of the best flagship-grade headphones, and even if you don't have a lot of flagship devices lying around already, don't worry, they are easy to drive and sound sweet, grain-free and musical. 



Full Playlist used for this review


While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy. 




Youtube Playlist


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_cjBXGmwSHSdGcwuc_bKbBDGHL4QvYBu




Tidal Playlist


https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b




Song List


Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date

Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage 
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead 
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir 
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us 
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong 
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw 
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare 
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop  
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Dope - Addiction
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source 
Fall Out Boy - Immortals 
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel - Addicted
Hollywood Undead - Levitate 
The Offspring - Special Delivery
Escape The Fate - Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe 
Dope - Rebel Yell
Crazy Town - Butterfly 
Silverstein - My Heroine
Memphis May Fire - Not Over Yet




I hope my review is helpful to you!





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