My Video Review:
Before I move on with my actual review, I want to tell you first why you should consider Kennerton headphones in the first place.
I never meet Kennerton’s CEO: Valentin Kazanzhi in person, but after exchanging emails in a span of a few months, I feel like I know Valentin for a lifetime. You know, growing in the Eastern Europe and looking behind all my family photos, I don’t see us smiling in every single one, but when we do that, it comes from the heart, those aren’t poker faces, but real emotions. I don’t know why, but Eastern European countries and Russia have few things in common and I’m not about strong drinks, culinary traditions, folklore and weird English accents, not my fellow enthusiasts, I’m about the way of life. The lives around men living in these lands are like my family photos, as anything they do in their lifetimes is done with an open heart, including their work. Take Valentin as a very good example, as every email of mine, was replied with care, his words came as articles that I couldn’t wait to read, those felt like huge stories telling parts of his journey. He explained down to the smallest details, why they went with the Norse mythology, why using Odin names for all their flagship headphones, why using wood cups and why it’s so cool making custom headphones, transforming an off the shelf soulless product into your own unique creation. Even ear-cushion design and cable conductors were explained down to very small details. He is not about throwing a few words and then pressing the Send button as fast as possible, it doesn’t represent him. He’s a walking encyclopedia for all things headphones, this is not only his full-time job, but his biggest hobby as well. Luckily, this is my way of life and my biggest hobby too, so all our discussions felt very familiar and heartwarming to me. I will say with confidence that everything this man is doing, including work, is coming from pure passion and from his heart alone.
When you invest in Kennerton headphones and start asking questions, you might get replies from the CEO himself, you will be getting proper service and a real warranty and I can’t say the same about any other headphone manufacturer out there. I like being close to a manufacturer, I like learning from them and sharing ideas with them, it is like having an open discussion with somebody. Kennerton is that kind of company, they are proud about their achievements and they love everything they do. This is precisely why you should consider any products they make. They can make your headphones unique if you really want that, they will custom engrave it, you can choose custom wood cups and lacquer finishes, you can even customize the leather headband and ear-pads. As of right now, nobody is doing it in the headphone business. Kennerton puts love and passion in crafting headphones and that is why I will always support their work and the mastermind behind them. If those things resonate with you, you came to the right party.
In recent months I’ve already tested some of their closed-back mid-level offerings such as €690 Magni and €1080 Gjallarhorn, but this time around I’ll be doing an in-depth look for their God-tier headphones. It is their newest open-back planar-magnetic headphone, the-all-knowing Wodan that sells for €2222.
Undressing a God
In traditional Kennerton fashion, Wodan came with a lot of extra goodies that are adding a lot of value to this package. Wodan came double boxed and that is already a norm in high-end headphone business, a stamped and hand-signed 3-year warranty statement is a rare-sight nowadays, very pleasing to experience that first hand. A big leatherette headphone case can be found in there that holds all the extra goodies inside. Besides the headphone itself, you’ll find a high-quality detachable cable wrapped in a nylon outer jacket. There is a soft headphone pouch used as an extra protection measure and a thin cleaning cloth for your beloved music making creature. Besides the standard ECL-01 leather earpads pre-installed on the headphones, they also added another pair of bass and mood-lifting ECL-02 earpads so I could choose the one I like the most. When you are placing your order, you can choose for linear sounding ECL-01 or for smile-inducing ECL-02 earpads. If you cannot decide which one is for you, you can buy separately additional hand-stitched earpads from their web-store right here. Finally, there is a strap that transforms the leatherette bag into a comfy shoulder bag in long or short trips and that is all you will need to carry them safely to your listening station.
Build Quality & Looks
When I’ve seen natural woods and leather ear-pads on their €690 Magni and then on their €1080 Gjallarhorn GH-50 headphones, it became obvious to me that these guys are very serious about their build quality and looks. Wodan is right now their newest planar-magnetic headphone and it is part of their high-end line. All their planar-magnetic headphones are impersonating the same deity and since the all-knowing Odin has more than 200 names, Kennerton has enough of them to craft headphones for a very long time.
Actually, except for their entry-level Jord, any other headphone in their portfolio is using real wooden cups and natural leather earpads and whatever headphones you choose, a high-quality craftsmanship will be surely delivered to your door.
Wodan is using pretty much the same steel frame of their Magni and Gjallarhorn and that is a very good idea. It is strong but lightweight, good looking and doesn’t have additional rods and screws to adjust your desired position. You just put them on your head, they will automatically adjust to your head size and put little to no pressure on top or around your ears. Some folks are bending the metal head-band so they would clamp less, but for my melon the standard factory size is absolutely perfect. The only thing that is different compared to their Magni and Gjallarhorn is obviously the wood-cup design, its geometry and all the tech inside them since these are planars and the former are using graphene coated dynamic drivers. Sadly, I can’t remove the textile material that is securing the planar driver, so I couldn’t film or take pictures of its internal structure.
My particular pair is using Curly Maple wood that has a beautiful looking texture and for the same price you can get them in regular Maple wood, in a Dark-Chocolate glossy look or in a limited two tone Palisander & Maple. Here is a picture to be more precise.
If you have money to burn, you can even ask for some exotic woods and you can laser-engrave anything on them if you please. I’m happy to see 3-pin XLR jacks on the headphones end, instead of 3.5mm jacks they are putting on mid-level stuff. That XLR connector is my personal favorite, since it’s fully balanced, has a bigger surface area, a better current delivery, a lower resistance and it is very sturdy long term.
At just 480 grams, these are very lightweight by planar mafia standards. Audeze LCD-4 at 735 grams and Erzetich Phobos at 690 grams improved my neck muscle mass considerably in the last months, but you know, sometimes I just want to relax with headphones disappearing from my head and Wodan are much better at that. Wodan are scoring huge points in terms of comfort level and I have no desire to bend their headband or mod them in any way, I like them as they are in their stock form.
Overall, their build quality is top notch and so it’s their comfort level. Wodan are crafted only from premium materials and that can be felt immediately after opening its package. Their mean and unique looking wood-cups are adding plenty of style points too!
If you asking yourself why Norse Mythology? It’s simple: Novgorod, Rurik and Oleg of Novgorod, Kiev, Askold and Sviatoslav the Brave, plus many other Varangian (viking) figures and settlements are part of their current culture, it it’s running through their veins.
Wodan = Odin = Flagship and as all their flagship headphones instead of a graphene over mylar dynamic diaphragm, some custom planar-magnetic drivers are resting inside them. Yes, those are custom made in a facility that also works for aerospace and military industries, which ensures highest quality and durability of those expensive membranes.
Its planar driver itself is manufactured from multiple layers of 10 µm polyimide films that together are creating a reliable and long-lasting driver for the harshest and most-extreme environments. As most high-end planar headphones, 10 powerful Neodymium magnets are arranged in a symmetrical Push-Pull configuration, so you can be sure that transient response would remain intact for some lightning quick musical notes.
The surface area of the driver is 80 mm – that’s a big driver, but power is nothing without control so technologies as phase coherence, flat impedance and low-mass diaphragm were implemented too.
If you are wondering why Kennerton went with planar drivers, instead of chiseling their own graphene coated drivers, their explanation is simple and straightforward: “In our eyes, we see the perfect headphone as a cross-breed of the dynamic and electrostatic technologies combined into one. Whereby taking the airy and extremely detailed sound of an electrostatic driver, and combining it with the power and impact of a dynamic transducers. This enables us to achieve a sound that’s both natural and engaging. One of our core goals was to minimize internal structure resonances and optimize sound wave patterns, in order to create a clear, low-distortion sound frequency. To achieve this, we created several patent-pending core innovations. Its magnetic structure is designed to eliminate both unwanted resonances, and unify magnetic field distribution over the total frequency range.”
Their high sensitivity comes from using powerful magnets and a low-mass diaphragm, making them one of the very few planars that can work well with portable devices. Instead of regular rectangular shaped bar magnets, they went with semicircular bar magnets, that are offering a uniform magnetic field, greatly reducing internal resonance.
Compared to their former planar headphones as Odin and Thridi, Wodan is considerably more comfortable and lighter weight, since it adopts their newest metal frame and headphone adjustment. My fellow readers, it is time to have a proper listen to the mighty Wodan.
I. Preliminary Impressions
I just returned home from a 5-day trip in the mountains, where I could charge my batteries, breathe some fresh air and listen to some music alone while watching the dusk with a glass of mulled wine near me. A FiiO Q3 slipped in my pockets that easily connects to any modern smartphones (iOS / Android) and transforms into a powerful audiophile package, delivering enough power and a superior digital to analog conversion. Can you guess which headphone I took with me in this trip? Yep, it was the mighty Wodan! There are multiple factors at play here. With its high sensitivity of 106 dB per 1mW of power, you can blow your ear drums with pretty much any headphone jack that is driving them. Kennerton made it this way, so you could enjoy it anywhere. Heavyweight and kilo-buck amplifiers are not really needed to drive them to their fullest. That tiny Q3 worked as a charm with them, I never went past 50% of volume and with a Tidal Hi-Fi subscription, I was rocking lossless music in the middle of nowhere.
Wodan themselves are mighty fine and definitely flagship material headphones. These are extremely resolving and will unfold your music like a candy in front of you. Wodan have one of the nicest midrange performances I ever experienced with headphones and I am placing them here at the same level with Audeze LCD-4 ($4000) and Meze Empyrean ($3000). I much prefer their ECL-02 earpads and I am recommending them to you as well. Those will elevate its sub-bass performance by a notch and will level it with the mid-bass and midrange. Wodan sounds exactly like its name suggests, it carries a powerful and full-bodied sound, it has a denser type of sound with a lot of bass and midrange presence, being very extended in the treble, even past top-octave, yet without being bright at all. It delivers a powerful kick and impact with every single note, it hits like its son - the God of thunder. No matter the song I was listening through them, music felt scattered around the listener, airy and really expanded. This is my first open-back headphone from Kennerton and it delivers everything I hoped it would do. Soundstage size is impressive, imaging is precise and it sounds holographic enough for me. Thanks to its push-pull magnet structure, everything decays naturally, without lingering too much.
It is very natural and life-like sounding, it is like listening to the music itself and not to a reproduction of it. As of right now, Wodan is in my top 3 headphone list that I have ever listened to. It is below the Hifiman Susvara and just by a notch below the Audeze LCD-4. In my view, it outperformed a lot of headphones in the same price bracket and in the latest chapters of this review, I will be comparing it with several headphones of the same caliber, so stay tuned for that.
II. Power Requirements
Wodan is the second planar-magnetic headphone that is not obeying popular beliefs as it is extremely easy drive thanks to its high sensitivity of 106 dB per 1mW of power. As of right now, Wodan together with Erzetich Phobos are pretty much the easiest to move and control planar headphones I know of. Multiple factors are at play here, its low impedance of just 38 Ohms, its super thin 8μm metalized low-mass polyimide diaphragm, its surface area of 80 mm and of course its very high sensitivity. Those are some one of the reasons Wodan went with me in a long trip and not something else that would require additional electronics to be carried around.
I have several portable and desktop headphone amplifiers at my disposal and thankfully Wodan works absolutely beautiful with any of them. Its natural tonality and powerful dynamics make them easy to match with warm or bright sources and amplifiers. I’m not joking, it really worked good with them all, from tube-based amplifiers to portable or desktop solid-state amplifiers, it sounded pretty much the same and not a whole lot better with huge desktop amplifiers. My smartphone and laptop could drive them as well, but I’m advising getting at least a portable dongle like Audioquest Dragonfly, iBasso DC01/02, Cambridge Audio DACMagic XS and there are many others. You can even go with a Bluetooth dongle as FiiO BTR5 or Shanling UP4 and call it a day.
According to the Audiobyte HydraVox, Wodan is more power efficient compared to Hifiman Arya by 12 dB, more efficient than Audeze LCD-4 by 13 dB and by 28 to 30 dB more efficient to the Hifiman Susvara! Wodan needs more or less the same power as the Erzetich Phobos, as these two are currently the easiest to drive planars I know of. This is quite a big deal if you ask me, because buying a separate desktop headphone amplifier is not even needed for the Wodan. HydraVox DAC with its headphone output, had 25 dB left on tap, Loxjie D30 had 10 dB left on tap, Matrix Mini-i Pro 3 about 20 db left, that portable FiiO Q3 had 50% of headroom left too. I’m reinforcing that Wodan are sounding mighty fine out of any headphone jack that was specifically made for music listening. I don’t recommend connecting them directly to a laptop or smartphone, Wodan is still a high-end can and it deserves something better. A portable Hi-Res DAP, a Bluetooth dongle or a portable DAC+headphone amp combo would be more than enough to drive them to ear-bleeding levels.
On the other hand, if you want only the best without half-measures down the line, I recommend going with a true-balanced desktop headphone amplifier that will be better controlling its drivers and would increase its soundstage size and depth even further.
III. Transient Response
Putting huge magnets at both sides of the diaphragm, aligning them symmetrically, one would be pushing and one will be pulling a diaphragm that is 90 times thinner than a human hair, sitting just between the hammer and the anvil, you can already imagine that transient response cannot be affected in a design like this and no matter how hard I’ve tried, it had a flawless rendition of speed and a nice impact in the eardrums. Its drivers are phase corrected and have a flat impedance, meaning that nothing is stopping them from firing canon-like bass notes with some fiery music as electronica, rock and metal and even with jazz or simple acoustic music.
Don’t forget that Wodan are quite sensitive headphones and don’t need that much power to be moved. In all fairness, that small and lightweight FiiO Q3 was capable of driving them close to their maximum and it was a delight with fast and impactful tunes. I went through a series of tracks and Wodan kept going and going, firing impressive dynamics and always keeping up with an increasing tempo. I like a lot that I can relax my spirits and listen to some soothing music or I can rock-out and increase my dopamine levels with a faster paced album and Wodan will have no problem with any of that. Double Drums? Easy-Peasy! How about lightning-fast electronica as Infected Mushroom or Noisia? Wodan smiles back and is asking to hold its keg of beer. In the later stages of my review, some measurements will prove that it has a fast nature with a close to perfect rendition of sub and mid-bass tones, carrying fast natural decays.
From a bigger collection of planar-magnetic headphones, Wodan is exchanging punches with Audeze LCD-4 as I believe both are pretty much on the same level when it comes to speed and impact, only Hifiman Susvara surpassed them once it is connected to a 130-Watt power amplifier.
Sincerely, there is not point of going through a series of tracks just to arrive at the same conclusion that Wodan are merciless, fast, visceral and engaging with the right music, or can be smooth and easy going with some other tunes. They will alter its voicing depends on your playlist.
IV. Soundstage & Depth
In my past reviews for closed-back Kennerton headphones as Magni and Gjallarhorn, I’ve called them as the widest sounding closed headphones I’ve tried and Gjallarhorn still holds that title. With Wodan, they went fully open-back, putting just a thin layer of textile material behind the driver so that unwanted resonances would move outside of the ear-cups. Wodan are of course bigger and airier sounding than its closed-back siblings. It is more accurate and has a sharper image and all that amplifies the sense of a holographic 3D sound that is surrounding your head.
With Wodan, everything happens around your head and not inside it, sounds are going past my shoulder level and I am basically looking at a bigger picture in front of me. All my favorite headphones are open-backs and Wodan joined forces with them helping focusing on any note I want, without overlapping them on top of each other. I can sense the inception and decay of each and every note and all that happens without closing my eyes. Headphone listening is quite a big part of my life and I strongly believe that Wodan strikes a nice balance between being technical and musical, sounding wide enough but also accurate and precise in its layering and depth.
Again, I didn’t need reference recordings to observe a much higher quantity of air circling around me, the air bubbles in which musical notes were sitting were bigger, void spaces between the notes increased, leaving textured innards and a perfectly defined shell, so I could feel not only the sharpness of the music, but its air mass and weight that is hitting my ear-drums. Wodan are far from ethereal sounding, lacking body and weight how some Hifiman headphones would do, instead it has more meat on the bones, more hair on its chest, carrying a warmer and a heavier tonality in the process.
They have what I would call a natural soundstage, exactly like that of the Erzetich Phobos, Hifiman Arya, Susvara and of the Audeze LCD-4 and it is not artificially enhanced like it happens on Sennheiser HD800. Still, if you would like to further improve it, just use a headphone amplifier with a close to zero channel crosstalk, usually true balanced ones are having that, or go with an all-tube amplifier that will enrich harmonics and will throw even a bigger picture in front of you.
Depth is also very good and it still one of the strongest points of all planar-magnetic headphones. It has a perfect layering; it is so easy appreciating that some sounds are closer to you and some are farther away. If you ever tried binaural recordings, to some degree Wodan will render stereo music with a little bit of binaural flavor on top, creating an impression of a 3D sound completely surrounding your body.
V. Detail Retrieval & Transparency
Being open-back and having a close to perfect transient response, arranging all the notes nicely in the scenery can be done only with a see-through transparency. Kennnerton is perfecting their planar magnetic driver for quite some time now and I’m sure every single time they squeezed some more transparency, revealing more details out of our tunes. I cannot go further without mentioning that Wodan are again exchanging punches with Audeze LCD-4 and this regard is being outperformed only by the Hifiman Susvara in here. Wodan surpassed other planars like Erzetich Phobos, Quad ERA-1 and Hifiman Arya and I can say that it even surpassed the Meze Empyrean in terms of how much information it could pull out of my tunes. Wodan is a clean and detailed sounding headphone, it is not adding a beatifying filter over my music and leaves it always as it is. Yes, it increased the perception of detail in my music and it does that without adding ringing in the treble, brightness or listening fatigue. I like listening to them, because I know that Wodan will extract the smallest nuances and micro-details, without adding grain or treble sharpness.
I can easily listen even to bright recordings with them, I can use them with bright or ultra-linear setups - like I’m having and Wodan would perform absolutely the same, preserving the body and soul of the music and by extracting the finest details in an easy natural way.
VI. Frequency Response
If I’m using its ECL-02 ear-pads, bass performance is pretty much close to perfect. Sub-bass goes low and hits hard. It is only by a little rolled off somewhere between 20 to 30 Hz, but past that point, it becomes linear and straight as a line. Helped by a good transient response and by a push-pull magnet configuration, its bass feels always visceral, engaging and hard hitting. Wodan possesses a clean bass performance, it is breathing type of bass, that is layered and very detailed sounding. If there are multiple layers of bass, Wodan would easily render all that and show it to you. In terms of pure bass heft, Wodan sits currently at second place outperforming all current planar-mangnetic headphones I’ve tried with the exception of Audeze LCD-4, that has is linear starting with 20 Hz.
Mid-bass is pretty much perfect and there is nothing more to say about it. It’s linear, it doesn’t go up and down, it is very defined, meaty and visceral sounding all the time. Part of what makes Wodan so special is happening exactly in here as I believe Wodan has one of the nicest planar bass I’ve experienced. Quantity and quality wise, it is simply exceptional in here.
I’ve approached to the key ingredient of what makes Wodan so interesting and appealing. It has a very good rendition of the midrange, it is really extended in here and doesn’t have any roll-offs. Everything that has to do with midrange as string instruments, piano and voices are soul-grabbing and natural sounding to me. In this regard, they remind me a lot about the Meze Empyrean, Audeze LCD-4 and I strongly believe they are outperforming all Hifiman headphones in here. Midrange performance is the standout of this headphone, about this I’m sure, it’s their spearhead that pierces through competition and if you really love your midrange, you should give them a try. I’ve listened to a lot of folk music these past days when I was in the mountains, Heilung, Warduna and a bit of Eluveitie energized me for a long period of time. All that was a delight via Wodan and enjoyed every second of it.
Kennerton is playing a safe game when it comes to treble. On one hand there is a roll-off somewhere between 3 and 6 kHz that drives brightness and sharpness away. On the other hand, past 6 kHz it goes back to normal and I find it very extended in the top-octave. The most sensitive part of our hearing is rolled-off a bit and that makes Wodan a perfect companion in long listening sessions. Other than that, I find it having a clean and articulate treble, outlined and defined sounding most of the times, sans the over-sharpness some other planars are adding into the mix. Wodan is non-aggressive in here and its siblings performed the same. Generally speaking, Kennerton is not having a house sound as of yet, but there are multiple similarities between all their headphones, non-aggressive treble is probably the most obvious one.
There is just one thing I dislike about its treble: tambourines and cymbals are less defined and a bit muted in their intensity, it is either a plus or a drawback depending on what type of listener you are, it is a small drawback for me. Audeze LCD-4 and Meze Empyrean are performing basically the same in here, so no major complaints at all.
Overall, I find their frequency response extended from the lowest bass notes to the highest registers, with just a few drops in the treble that will make them smoother and gentler with harsh recordings and bright sounding audio setups.
Since Matrix Audio Element X was moved in the living room driving directly a power amplifier, all my listening sessions and measurements were done via an Audiobyte HydraVox DAC that was driving a Benchmark HPA4 headphone amplifier, Wodan were used always in balanced mode. The measurement rig was the MiniDSP E.A.R.S. calibrated with HPN (Original Headphone Compensation) files. Do note that MiniDSP EARS is not following any IEC standards, meaning that my readings can’t be used as reference measurements or anything like that. I’m doing them only to get a general idea about their sound signature.
I redid my measurements several times since the leather earpads were staying on top on the metal screws around the silicon ears of the MiniDSP EARS system, breaking the seal and recording a non-representative frequency response. It took me a few attempts before I found the perfect position with a perfect seal. I didn’t apply any pressure on the earpads and every measurement was made in a free-standing position in a quiet environment (~20 dB).
These are their RAW measurements without any kind of smoothing applied. Driver matching is good, the graph itself looks quite impressive if you ask me. There is a tiny roll-off in the sub-bass as you can clearly see and a bigger one between 3 and 6 kHz that scares away all that brightness, everything else looks perfect to me. Wodan was clearly tuned for an engaging experience, moving your attention mostly to its bass and midrange area.
Applying a 1⁄12 smoothing, I am getting this graph and not a lot of things are changing. You can clearly see a slope in the mid-treble area, it is not a huge one like I’ve experienced with other headphones, it’s not a big deal actually.
Their Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of just 0.21% across all the frequency range is a very good result, it has just a bit of ringing in the sub-bass, but none in the treble which is nice to see.
Spectral decay is showing a speedy recovery of the driver, I’m quite impressed how fast that treble is, reinforcing my statement that Wodan are speedy and impactful sounding.
Waterfall is showing the hot zones where you can better spot all its drops and rises in the FR.
If you are curious how Wodan fares versus the likes of Erzetich Phobos (€2000), Hifiman Arya (€1800) and Audeze LCD-4 (€4000), here is a juicy graph that will tell you more. Out of them all, Wodan came out as midrange kings.
Overall, I have recorded a very low THD reading, a good driver matching, a very good spectral decay and waterfall proving its fast-sounding nature. It is a bit uneven in the treble, but every headphone is doing that and the drop between 3 kHz and 6 kHz could be considered beneficial to some that can’t withstand brightness.
A. Kennerton Wodan (€2222) VS Hifiman Arya (€1800)
Build quality wise, there is no contest that Wodan is made out of higher-grade materials. It has only two smaller pieces of plastic and Arya has a lot of them. Arya uses leatherette ear-pads and Wodan real-leather ones, plus wood-cups instead of plastic ones. Wodan simply looks much more premium to me. Arya is slightly lighter and it has plushier ear-pads making them a bit more comfortable long term, but honestly I find Wodan extremely comfortable too.
Their sound signatures are quite different, Arya will impress mostly with its lightweight and ethereal sound, almost electrostatic in their presentation. While they sound by a hair more transparent due to its open shade-system, I find them lacking body and midrange presence. Voices are far from guttural or soul-grabbing on Arya and that bothers me the most. Wodan are polar opposites with its full, meaty and heavy midrange presence in all my tracks. Vocals sounded correct on Wodan, with heavy and imposing male voices and light and soothing female voices. The pitch difference between them was higher via Wodan than via Arya, making Wodan a much better choice for vocal and midrange intensive music as jazz, classical or acoustic music. While on paper Arya has a better sub-bass delivery, in real life Wodan had it more visceral and impactful sounding. Anything that has to do with bass sounded better via Wodan that delivered more of everything, including nicer kicks.
Treble region was the only area where Arya was winning the battle, it had it clearer, more detailed and textured. It could appear sometimes as being bright sounding, but only with some particular tracks or with bright sounding gear. Detail retrieval is basically the same on both models, with the exceptions of the treble area that is more pronounced on the Arya, and bass & midrange regions being more pronounced on Wodan.
Soundstage is more natural sounding on Wodan, it is taller but narrower on Arya making it a bit weird sounding at first. Both are really airy and expanded sounding, but Wodan has a closer to reality soundstage size.
Another huge plus is that Wodan needs much less power compared to Arya, about 12 dB to be more precise. Wodan can easily work with portable sources and with DACs that have simple headphone outputs. Arya can’t work with them and demands only serious desktop power.
Overall, it really depends on what type of listener you are, but I much prefer the Wodan due to its nicer bass and midrange performance that is adding more body and emotions.
B. Kennerton Wodan (€2222) VS Erzetich Phobos (€2000)
Another close competitor is coming from Slovenia. Phobos are hand crafted, exactly like Wodan is and are using a lot of wood and metal parts. Erzetich is not using plastic but several leatherette parts in its construction. I don’t like their stock pads that are making a squeaky sound and in summer days I’m sweating a bit with them, since those aren’t natural leather earpads. Phobos are much heavier, much bigger headphones, with bigger drivers too. These are actually the biggest headphones I ever seen, Phobos are simply massive and will dwarf any other headphone around it. I find Wodan more comfortable long term, I like their stock cable more and I like its travel case compared to that simple display case of the Phobos.
Sound wise, both are very clean headphones, very technical with a lot of things in common between them. Starting with sub-bass, Wodan takes the lead as it can awaken subterranean bass notes, a thing that Phobos can’t do as good. With Phobos I always want just a little bit more impact and a better control, a thing that will probably never happen with Wodan. Mid-bass and midrange performance is more or less the same, with just a minor preference towards Wodan that has less grain and ringing in the midrange. Treble performance is a double-edged sword on the Phobos, on one hand is has it extended, it is the most impressive headphone in the top-octave since I’ve recorded driver movement even past 24 kHz, which is really impressive. On the other hand, Phobos has even more ringing in the treble, it is uneven and it has a higher distortion in there too. Phobos is brighter and less controlled in the treble and that can pose a problem long term.
Soundstage size is the only part where Phobos is winning a bit of lost territory, armed with a bigger 95mm driver, with a wider shade system, it is simply moving unwanted resonances outside somewhat faster. Phobos are open wide sounding and are probably the widest performing planar headphones I’ve tried.
I will be honest with you, Wodan just outplayed the Phobos in most key areas. I really liked them and I still do, but Wodan is just better at it.
C. Kennerton Wodan (€2222) VS Audeze LCD-4 (€4000)
I really like how LCD-4 are looking, those are proper flagship headphones made only from highest grade materials. Problem is, when you add hard woods, a lot of metal here and there and everywhere, plus some heavy-duty leather earpads, you will be making them Mjolnir like heavy. LCD-4 sits at 735 grams and it is currently the heaviest headphone I’ve tried. Thanks to them, my neck is stronger than ever, on the flip side I cannot wear as much as I want, as in about an hour and half I need some short brakes before I can listen to them again. Wodan are much lighter and more comfier long term. Side by side, LCD-4 are looking more expensive because in reality it is almost twice the price of Wodan.
Sound wise, I’ve called Wodan as its brother from another mother. These two are very alike sounding. I find them both pretty much the best when it comes to midrange presence. Both are very natural sounding, so life-like and so inviting to listen to. I cannot wait to listen to any of them when I’m in my office. LCD-4 is winning when it comes to sub-bass performance and so far, no other headphone outperformed them in here. If you really like your electronica, I’m yet to hear a better headphone than LCD-4. Their treble performance is again, very similar, LCD-4 is also rolling the most sensitive parts of our hearing, making it perfect in long listening sessions and Wodan are pretty much the same.
In terms of frequency response, LCD-4 is winning only in the sub-bass as everything else is very similar on both models. Soundstage size is also very alike and I cannot different one from the other. No matter the song, with both I was surrounded by music and I didn’t need to force myself as I was easily picking sounds in crowded tracks. Depth and layering were by a hair better on LCD-4, especially bass layers felt clearer, there was a better sense of air in my music, the difference wasn’t that big, but it was there.
Thanks to a nicer sub-bass rendition, LCD-4 felt slightly more visceral and impactful sounding, but only out of serious desktop balanced headphone amps. If I would move to portable devices or to less impressive amplifiers, then Wodan would take the lead. Wodan are much easier to drive, by about 13 db easier to be more precise and can be used with any headphone jack. LCD-4 on the other hand will demand only the best desktop amplifiers, so take that into consideration.
Wodan reminded me the most about LCD-4 from my collection and came to them as close as possible, they didn’t remind me at all about Hifiman headphones as someone else pointed out. It sits on the opposite pole with any Hifiman headphone to be more exact.
If money is not an issue, LCD-4 are slightly better sounding, but with them you will need a powerful desktop headphone amplifier that could cost as much or even more than headphones themselves. Taking world economics into this equation, Wodan comes as a winner costing half the price and it’s not requiring Thor-levels of power to be moved. I am ending this cold war with a tie as in reality I like them equally well!
I am apologizing that it took me so long to finish this review as when I put them on, I can’t gather my words, my thoughts and I just want to listen to music for hours on end. This review is about 3 months in the making, it was my hardest so far, on the merry side I didn’t rush it and offered back an in-depth look.
From six planar-magnetic headphones that I’m using, Wodan is brawling for the second place with Audeze LCD-4, it is really that good. Considering that Wodan is just half the price, I cannot go further without awarding it our highest Gold Award.
Congratulations to Kennerton Audio and to everyone involved in making them! A truly marvelous, technical and yummy sounding headphone that deserves your highest attention. Kennerton Wodan is not an affordable headphone by any means, but considering their immaculate performance, their asking price of €2222 is fully justified and I consider them as the biggest headphone bargain you can have right now. Strongly recommended!
You can get them directly from Kennerton web-shop right here, and if you fancy a custom one-of-a-kind Wodan, shoot them an email, they will surely help you out. Any version you choose, leave a comment below and let me know how they are treating you.
- Great build quality using only premium materials
- handcrafted headphones with love and passion
- Custom wooden cups are adding uniqueness and a sense of pride
- Comfortable long term due a good weight distribution
- Great tonal balance, lots of midrange presence!
- Full-bodied, warm and natural sounding all the time
- Wide natural soundstage, airy and extended
- Precise pin-point imaging and note placement around the listener
- Top detail retrieval and transparency
- Top-class transient response with right electronics
- Incredibly easy to drive, even portable DAPs, USB or Bluetooth dongles worked perfectly fine
- A really nice packaging, with plenty of accesories
- Great value
- Treble roll-off should be taken care of in the future
- DACs: Audiobyte HydraVox + HydraZap, Matrix Audio Element X, Flux Lab Acoustics FCN-10, Burson Conductor 3X Performance
- Headphone Amps: Benchmark HPA4, SparkoS Labs Aries, Flux Lab Acoustics FCN-10, SMSL SH-9
- Power Amps: KECES S300
- IEMs: Meze RAI Penta, RAI Solo, FiiO FA9, FH7, LittleDot Cu KIS
- Portable headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 2, Meze 99 Classics
- Full-sized headphones: Kennerton Wodan, Kennerton Magni, Kennerton Gjallarhorn, Audeze LCD-4, Erzetich Phobos, Erzetich Mania, Hifiman Susvara, Hifiman Arya, Quad ERA-1, Ollo S4X Reference
- Loudspeakers: KEF Reference 3
- Interconnects: QED Reference (x3)
- Speaker cables: Kimber PR8, Audioquest Type4
- Power Cables: Isotek EVO3 Premier (x3)
- Balanced Isolation Power Conditioners: PLiXiR Elite BAC400