Superb sound with a questionable design.
The original Nanna is known for tonal balance and technical capability. The new Nanna 2.1 Z-Tune Edition tribrid IEM is the result of a collaboration between Linsoul, Kinera, and Zeos Pantera (Z Reviews), with a limited production of 500 units worldwide. Enhanced bass, a new design, and an upgraded modular cable are featured.
- Excellent fit and finish
- Gorgeous color and sparkle inlay on the left shell
- Comfortable fit for long listening sessions
- Nearly perfect ergonomic pairing of the cable and chassis
- The tuning will appeal to audiophiles who appreciate tonal balance and clarity
- Layering, technicalities, and detail retrieval are outstanding
- Crossover implementation is smooth with excellent coherence for a tribrid
- No prominent or harsh EST or BA timbre
- High-quantity and quality included accessories, including the tips, modular cable, and travel case
- Limited Z-Tune edition and logo may be what a true fan wants
- Sound quality and presentation are extremely ear tip dependent
- Bass is still somewhat conservative and would benefit from another slight increase in the sub-bass and mid-bass to improve impact, despite demonstrating adequate extension
- Expensive, price/performance ratio is not favorable
- Mismatched left and right side shell designs will offend aesthetically-minded buyers
- The placement of the Z logo over the faceplate design is polarizing and compromises the look of a premium model
Kinera Electronic Company, Ltd. began in 2010 as YuTai Electronic Acoustics in Dongguan, China, developing the world’s first high-resistance 5mm micro dynamic speaker for military hearing aids. In 2013, they began mass manufacturing balanced armature drivers. In 2014-15, Yutai Electronic Acoustics patented numerous driver technologies, including bone conduction.
In 2016, they released the first hybrid driver IEM BD005 by the Kinera brand, and one year later, the H3, their second hybrid driver IEM. The original Nanna was released in 2019, Kinera’s first EST IEM. Kinera also produces custom IEMs and a limited-edition TWS earbud, the Kinera YH802.
Kinera has a specialized R&D and design team, plus full product development, production, and assembly capabilities. In addition, they are OEM suppliers for other audio companies and produce products under their brands, including Kinera, Celest, and QoA (Queen of Audio).
- Style: IEMs, with ear hook cable
- Drivers: (2) Sonion EST + (1) Sonion BA + (1) 7mm Dynamic
- Impedance: 60 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 110dB/mW ± 1dB
- Frequency Response Range: 5Hz – 50kHz
- Connector: 2-pin 0.78mm
- Plug Type: 3-in-1 detachable cable (2.5mm/4.4mm/3.5mm interchangeable straight plugs included)
- Cable Length and Type: 1.2m (4 ft), modular 6N OCC + 6N OCC silver-plated
- Color: Black with designer faceplate
- Weight: 4.5g (each)
My first meeting with Kinera feels a bit like meeting royalty. The Nanna 2.1Z are stunningly presented to their new owners in a magnificent box, with charm and high fashion. Everything inside and out feels special and enchanting, every detail thoughtfully and artfully considered.
Unboxing is an elevated experience that exceeds my expectations, the finest finished packaging I have seen to date. No one with an appreciation for aesthetics would dare discard the box.
Inside, under a hexagonal booklet, is a foam block with precise cutouts for the Nanna 2.1Z, Final Type E and foam ear tips, 4.4mm and 2.5mm balanced plugs, and a leather case.
After removing the booklets and glimpsing the IEMs, I thought, “This must be a mistake – an incorrect IEM was placed in the box.” Since I only know their cost and not their appearance, I’m finding the mismatched colors and designs of the faceplates… disturbing.
Sadly, I’ve confirmed it’s not a mistake.
In the box
- Kinera Nanna 2.1 Z-Tune Edition IEMs (in-ear monitors)
- One 1.2m (4 ft) modular 6N OCC + 6N OCC silver-plated cable with interchangeable 4.4mm, 3.5mm, and 2.5mm adapters, with .78mm 2-pin connectors
- Five pairs of Final Type E ear tips and a guide booklet
- Six pairs ( RS-B45 & JH-FY009-B) of Kinera silicone rubber custom ear tips
- Two pairs of foam tips
- Premium genuine leather storage/carrying case
- Cleaning brush
- User manual and warranty card
This edition includes an upgraded attractive, lightweight, excellent intertwined 6N OCC (oxygen-free copper) + 6N OCC silver-plated cable. Despite a rubbery feel, it does not stick or tangle.
The standout feature is the swappable terminations – 4.4mm, 2.5mm (balanced), and 3.5mm (unbalanced). The modular system is secure and works flawlessly. The robust metal plugs are attractive, functional, and sturdy.
The ends are color-coded, making identification of the left and right sides simple. The ear hooks are smooth and compliant and maintain their shape, exerting slight pressure and remaining comfortable for long listening sessions.
There are no microphonics to complain about (which I most certainly would if they are an issue!). The sliding cinch takes effort to slide up and down the cables that lead to each IEM, meaning it will stay where you put it.
Build & Design
While Kinera does not specify, the Nanna 2.1Z’s lightweight shells appear made of a seamless molded resin. They are medium-large, well-shaped, and ergonomic. The fit and finish are excellent.
There is a vent hole on the top of each IEM. Kinera makes no mention of this in their literature. I assume the hole is there to minimize pressure buildup and potentially to help with tuning. I have not noticed any driver flex or discomforting pressure.
Kinera generally applies its script name logo on one ear shell. While I find it a bit tacky, it is understandable and can pass for classy if the colors coordinate.
The Nanna 2.1Z’s left and right IEM face plates are different. The left side has a gorgeous, deep orange starry glitter design, and the other has an equally stunning galaxy-like orange, blue, and cloud swirl.
The radical difference and mismatch between the sides make no sense to me.
They don’t share any common design elements or complement one another whatsoever. The Nanna 2.1Z would be better served with one shared theme, like most of Kinera’s IEMs.
Considering the Nanna 2.1Z’s medium-large size, the overall fit works well for me and is comfortable. The body’s surfaces are superbly smooth, and the IEMs sit well when pressed into place.
The nozzle length is longer than average and helps ensure that the IEMs do not make uncomfortable contact with my outer ears. In addition, the angle should fit most ears well.
The excellent cable contributes to a superbly comfortable fit.
The Nanna 2.1Z’s nozzle diameter is 5.8mm. The large included selection is helpful as the ear tips drastically affect the sound of the IEMs.
- Final Type E: enhanced bass, less detail
- Foam: rich vocals and deeper bass
- JH-FY009-B Balanced (blue): balanced sound
- RS-B45 Vocal (black): present the original sound of the IEMs with pleasing vocals
After much experimentation, only one pair of the thirteen included ear tips provided a proper seal and sound.
Despite the extensive variety, I struggled to find ear tips that worked for me.
The drivers included in the Nanna 2.1Z are:
- Treble: 2 Sonion EST65DA01 composite electrostatic drivers that deliver high-fidelity audio resolution from 7kHz to 40kHz
- Mids: 1 Sonion 26A008/5 high-efficiency, full-range balanced armature driver
- Bass: 1 Kinera 7mm titanium-plated dome PU composite high poly fiber diaphragm dynamic driver
Kinera paired the electrostatic units intending to produce treble with a rapid transient response and bright vocals. In addition, the sound of the Sonion 26A008/5 BA driver is claimed to produce a warmer sound, serving to make the Nanna’s transparent and natural.
Kinera’s dynamic driver has a flexible PU composite diaphragm, providing deep bass. In addition, the titanium-plating process is intended to make the diaphragm more rigid, resulting in a clear and uniform sound.
Kinera Nanna 2.1 Z-Tune Edition Sound
For evaluation, I listen to a great variety of music through numerous sources, including:
- Sony DVP-S7000 CD Player
- LG V20 & LG V40 phones (both have Quad DAC and headphone jacks)
- Samsung A71
- Lenovo IdeaPad 3
- Khadas Tone2 Pro
- S.M.S.L SP200 Headphone Amplifier
- TempoTec Sonata E44
With a relatively high impedance of 60 ohms and a high sensitivity of 110db, these IEMs are relatively easy to drive. Passive sound isolation is excellent with proper-fitting ear tips and a strong seal.
Thankfully, the unpleasant sharpness and dynamic variability that I experienced just after I pulled them out of the box disappeared after extensive run-in time, which the Nanna 2.1Z seem to require to smooth out their sound.
The Nanna 2.1Z, as promised, offer “studio-grade technicalities” in the audio, with a high degree of separation between instruments, integrative layering in the sound, and depth to every note. Timbre is consistently natural, with rare hints of the BA’s and EST’s presence elevating the oversharpened details of instruments producing higher frequency sounds.
The Nanna 2.1Z’s imaging and soundstage are above average. Recordings sound natural, not exaggerated. Binaural recordings highlight the imaging specificity they are capable of.
Zeos and I spoke about a host of things while catching up at CanJam NYC 2023. He had this to say about the Nanna collaboration:
For this review, I visited the following artists and locations:
- Germany: Bajo La Luna Mix and La Luna (Binaural) by Ottmar Liebert
- Canada: Cien Fuegos and Café Tropical by Johannes Linstead
- United States: On Me by Ilan Bluestone, featured on Tritonia 426 by Tritonal
- United Kingdom: Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major, Hob.VII e/1: I. Allegro featuring Alison Balsom
Both Ottmar Liebert and Johannes Linstead are world-renowned for their Spanish-style guitar virtuosity. Tritonal is a powerhouse DJ/producer duo from Austin, Texas, United States. Lastly, Alison Balsom is a celebrated English trumpet soloist, arranger, producer, and music educator.
With a more powerful custom 7mm dynamic driver, the Nanna 2.1Z’s bass region from 5 to 250Hz has been elevated by 3dB to create a more substantial rumble and powerful sub-bass resonance from the original.
Kinera claims that this update brings about more fullness in the overall sound of the Nanna and makes for more exciting and engaging listening compared to their previous version.
While I have not heard the original Nanna, I would likely find the bass lacking, as the Nanna 2.1Z deliver just enough to be satisfying with all genres of music.
Bombastic bass heads will want more.
Bass extension is deep with no roll-off. I have heard no distortion when listening at moderate to loud volumes (for testing). Resolution and texture are virtually perfect to my ears for natural instruments such as cello and upright bass.
The Nanna 2.1Z’s midrange is distinct and present, capable of creating a strong center image for both male and female vocals. They do not suffer from recessed tuning, nor intrusion from lower frequencies. Overall, brilliantly balanced with high detail.
Treble extension, similar to the bass, is amazing, thanks to the dual Sonion EST drivers. They have a remarkable ability to be highly detailed and transparent without being compromised by excessive harshness or sibilance.
The stunning clarity may be mistaken for a bright tuning. The treble may also be overwhelming for the uninitiated and require acclimation time. Similarly, a new experience for many will be the sense of air and space between instruments and sounds, seldom a strength of entry and mid-level IEMs.
Where to Buy
I am normally more focused on performance and comfort than design. I am also not usually skeptical. In this case, I am.
This “collaboration” seems little more than a sales and marketing ploy, which I find disappointing for such a superior product. There is no change in tuning from the original other than a minor bump in the sub-bass.
The major change is to the faceplate design, and I am completely confounded by who thought this was a good idea other than Zeos and perhaps Kinera’s marketing teams. Who approved the final design?! The Z logo could have easily gone elsewhere and the IEMs color-matched.
Maybe this is petty of me, and you disagree. I don’t appreciate the design choices; color me unimpressed. I would be harping far less on the design if the Nanna 2.1Z were USD$150 or less. I expect premium design choices to accompany a product with a premium price tag.
This feels like merely an attempt to create an aura of being a collector’s special edition.
If you can overlook the misguided design, the Nanna 2.1Z are an excellent technical tour de force, worthy of consideration.
Despite my design displeasure, and somewhat begrudgingly, these are currently my favorite IEMs. While they are not distinctly exceptional in any frequency range or sound highlight, I can confidently say that these are among the best all-around high-performance IEMs I have heard – no reservations.