Antlion Audio Kimura Duo Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears, lots of experience, and sufficient technical knowledge. Even for the experienced auditioner, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. Furthermore, many self-proclaimed audiophiles are susceptible to biased write-ups due to placebo effects from false advertising. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best evaluator for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.

As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for sound quality. As the evaluator, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it sounds like a paradox. For all tests, I plugged directly into a Focusrite Scarlett Solo for audio tests. Microphone tests were conducted with the Kimura Duo plugged into my ASUS motherboard. After over 75 hours of break-in time -- well above the typical required period -- I put the Antlion Audio Kimura Duo to the tests. All tracks are uncompressed or high bitrate audio files. For gaming, I played VALORANT, League of Legends, and Genshin Impact. First-person shooter games are probably the most crucial games to test these headphones, as gameplay can heavily rely on hearing additional sounds. The other games have aspects where audio is useful, but this is less of a factor.

Starting at the bottom, the bass of the Antlion Audio Kimura Duo was decently solid. It offered a good amount of depth with a rounded and solid feel. It was a bit boosted in this region, which lent to a good amount and kick. This was felt in the kick of the bass drum and the riffs of the bass guitar. Even so, it still felt controlled and with punch, which are all great characteristics for the low-end. This boost, however, did bleed into the lower midrange region. In games, the lower end translates to sounds like footsteps and other environmental cues that would be helpful in gathering spatial information about your enemies. Other sounds like explosions and blasts also benefit from good characteristics in this region.

Moving to the midrange, there was a bit of a recessed feel here, more so in the vocals, albeit this was slight. Instruments and vocals still came through clearly even with multiple layers. This region sounded detailed even if it was a bit diminished. Acoustic instruments like pianos and guitars sounded clean and resonant. Vocals were thick and relatively warm for a natural feel. This is not too much of a sacrifice for games, as this region is often recessed. It still is important for cues like vocal dialogues and hearing your teammates in communication.

Finally in the trebles, we had a very pleasant sound with a sharp and bright sound. Sounds from the high hat and cymbal crashes were natural without sounding overly clashy. Instruments like violins and flutes were crisp in sound without feeling too shrill. Sibilance was not too much of an issue either. In games, this is helpful to hear cues like glass breaking or gun reloading. Overall, the sound was tuned to what you might expect for IEMs with computer use. While not marketed for gaming directly, it offered similar gaming qualities with a V-shaped sound, although I would say the bottom-end was a bit more emphasized than the top trebles. This gave it a generally fun-sounding pair of IEMs, especially with its deeper bass and bright trebles.

Moving to soundstaging, the Antlion Audio Kimura Duo's were surprisingly wide with its sound. There are still physical limitations, especially when compared to over-ear headphones, but the sound definitely did not feel cramped. This offered good imaging in games, providing both depth and width in determining the location of enemies. In music, this also provided a nice sound image for a wider feel, without making the audio sound larger than just between my ears. Overall, the image felt pretty realistic, thanks to its wide soundstage.

As for layering, I felt like the Kimura Duo offered a sound that was clear and detailed. Even in more complicated music with multiple voices, the reproduced sound kept its details well. There was still good separation between the frequencies, even with the bleed from the low-end into the midrange. Everything felt cohesive with generally smooth transitions between the layers as well. The overall sound felt clean without any muddiness.

In terms of fit and comfort, I think IEMs can be tricky and vary from user to user, especially with how it sits in your ears. For myself, I took a bit of time to get adjusted to getting the Antlion Audio Kimura Duos into my ears. Even now, I do have to spend a few more seconds getting them ready to put on. However, once inserted into my ears, they felt relatively light. I could easily wear them for hours on end without any discomfort. This was aided by the hooks that kept everything in place. Their fit was snug and thus they did not fall out by accident. The one thing I think Antlion Audio could improve upon is the cable noise, as knocks or bumps against the cable easily resonate into the ears. This is reduced by using the cable clip, which anchors it to your top and reduces accidental movement, but it is not completely removed either.

As for the microphone quality, I utilized Audacity to record and exported the captured audio as an MP3 file. Antlion Audio is well known for their excellent ModMic, and this translated into an excellent boom microphone on the Kimura Duo. The boom arm was easy to adjust and once placed in a good location, it easily picked up my voice with clarity. The recorded audio was quite usable and worked well for gaming communication and even for light streaming. It may not offer the same openness as a dedicated microphone, but that is to be expected. Some things you should be aware of is the fact this omnidirectional microphone easily picks up external noises, including keypresses on the keyboard and button clicks on the mouse. Secondly, I did have to boost the gain a bit to capture audio on the Kimura Duo's microphone. Even so, this is probably one of the best microphones I have used on a headset.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion