In 2007, Nassim Taleb wrote a book called ‘The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable’, in which he introduced the concept of a ‘Black Swan’ event. He describes it as an event that was unpredictable before, but became completely rationally explicable in hindsight, and also triggered some significant consequences.
Why am I telling this to you?
It’s no secret that all Kennerton headphones have a strictly subjective setting, and the manufacturer themselves have repeatedly stated that they try not to focus on the measurement graphs, but to use their own hearing and subjective understanding as reference for the way different items should sound. I’d say, such an approach is a viable one, since it allowed Kennerton to gather a community of loyal fans around their headphones.
And that is why the release of the M12S 2021 edition was a complete surprise for me personally. Below I will try to explain why I absolutely fell in love with these headphones and think they’re one of the best among all the current company’s models.
Let’s start by answering a simple (but not too simple, actually) question: what are the headphones sound parameters that can be measured at all? Or, more precisely, the sound parameters that are usually measured. I’ve divided those into two categories: the main ones – the most significant and frequently cited, and the additional ones – less significant, but also important.
The frequency response is the dependency of the sound pressure level on the frequency of the reproduced harmonic signal at the headphones output. The frequency response is a reflection of the played sound volume at different frequencies. In the audiophile universe, it’s called tonal balance. The frequency response is the most significant characteristic of the headphones sound delivery. This is what we most often pay attention to when describing the sound.
The cumulative spectrum (waterfall) reflects resonances and reverberations at different frequencies after the headphones stop playing the signal. Each resonance adds a certain emphasis to its corresponding frequency. If the amplifier also introduces some distortion, such a distortion is going to be amplified at the resonant frequencies. At some point, the resonances can be considered as a qualitative parameter, where less is better. However, it’s still more correct to address it as a versatility indicator, like less resonances mean less glitches visibility on the amplifier side.
The impulse response — a response to a single shortest possible impulse. The pulse response wave form primarily depends on the frequency response, the attenuated resonances and reverberation of the headphones themselves, as well as on the acoustic test chamber stand. The total length of the impulse is about 5 seconds, while visually it’s somewhere around 2-4 milliseconds long.
In my pursuit of a perfect pair of headphones, I laid my hands on the next wireless Bluetooth model, which is the Shure Aonic 50.
On the Shure website, there’s a hint about the Aonic 50 having to deliver a smooth sound, because ‘some comfortable, high-quality headphones with studio-class sound are the least we could do for you’. And since I’m a big fan of neutral sound delivery, my audiophile libido immediately kicked in.
After all, ‘studio-class’ should be neutral, right?
Reviewing any wireless Bluetooth headphones is always quite difficult, because they’re all, well… pretty bad.
If you’re looking for some decent sound quality, every model of Bluetooth headphones, whatever their cost is, has a wired competitor that sounds better, but costs less or at least doesn’t cost a lot more. Of course, the sound source and its cost needs to be taken into account, too, but that only makes the expensive wireless models situation even more deplorable: if the wireless headphones cost somewhere around $200, then for this money you can buy both decent wired headphones and a nice sound source. And this headphones/sound source combination is going to be a whole lot better then the wireless analog from the same price segment.