IN-EAR
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CU KIS

LITTLE DOT

Rating

Price

8.5

620 €

Review published:

08/2020

Driver

4

per Side

2

Dynamic

2

Balanced

Impedance

18 Ohm

PZ/ES/PL

0

Sound

9

Bass

8

Mids

8

Trebles

Sensitivity

105 dB

8.3

Handling

9.5

Haptic

D

Value

0

Daily Life

Frequency

12 - 40000 Hz

Intro

I am happy to have the opportunity to present you the new IEM products from LITTLE DOT, which were kindly made available to me for review as a loan unit.

The company is specialized in headphone amplifiers, loudspeaker AMPs and DACs. They are less known for their IEMs, in which they also invested years of development. Not only one model, but four of them, where each model should appeal to a certain target group and this in different price ranges

CU RAD - audiophile entry-level | 70 €
CU WYN - Basshead | 170
CU CEN - voice oriented | 450 €
CU KIS - Flagship - balanced | 620 €

Although I like to save the best for last at dinner, in this case I start with the review of the KIS, which is the most convincing in the line-up for me regardless of the price.

Handling

The scope of delivery of the KIS and also the other models is enormous. I can't quite tell if it's the standard accessory or if I have added an additional supplement, but you can't escape the choice of silicone tips and a set of foamtips is also included.

The cable is equipped with a 3.5mm balanced jack which is rather rare and has to be adapted to 3.5mm stereo with the included adapter if you want to use the CU KIS on a device without balanced output. There are more adapters to get from the 3.5mm balanced jack to 2.5 and 4.4mm balanced. Something for everyone I would say!

The housing is completely made of aluminium and the design is as ergonomic and space-saving as possible. The fact that there is room for 4 drivers and that they work together is remarkable. All CU models (except the wired RAD) use a 2-pin connector which is turned outwards and is completely covered by the cable connection. This provides additional stability and prevents pin breakage.

I find the CU KIS extremely comfortable to wear and although the cable (4 cores) has no additional stiffening, it stays where it belongs, even with faster movements.
It feels very good haptically and makes a valuable impression. If I use the left and right headphones side-inverted, I can easily carry the CU KIS straight down without having to put the cable over my ears.

Sound

The CU KIS is an extraordinary IEM, but sometimes it doesn't make it easy for me. It is audiophile through and through, but not an all-rounder. Songs like "My Baby Just Cares for Me (Live) - Friends 'N Fellow, or "My Girl" - Patricia Barber are a feast for the ears, but it can't always be 100% convincing with energetic songs (rock) or brighter voices.

Part of the fact that the KIS can be a feast for the ears is definitely the bass, which is played by a dynamic driver. The bass is, or rather can be divine and the "why" is not easy to describe, but it has this natural and potent kick, the uncompromising extension in the sub-bass and above all a beguiling detail reproduction, with very good agility and precision. On the one hand... On the other hand he sometimes leaves me a bit surprised, because he suddenly acts more reserved than I would expect. This sometimes causes confusion, but these fluctuations are tolerable. I'm only sometimes disappointed when I experience the bass full-bodied, well dosed but with great dynamics and he doesn't deliver that constantly. If there is a lot of bass, the facial features can slip away from him for a short time, but he always keeps his composure.

The mids show similar characteristics as the bass, also regarding the driver type. They are extremely detailed and find a very good mixture of natural sound and direct, hard response. This makes for liveliness and can be very entertaining.
In the complete quartet of the CU series from LITTLE DOT, the mids of the KIS branch out most relaxed, but are still quite hot in the upper range. This gives you some idea what to expect from the other members of the series. The mids have energy, but unfortunately this can also be intensified when the music is full of energy, which makes it uncomfortable. Then voices have too much presence and tend to overdrive. This is especially noticeable with brighter voices, but doesn't have to happen all the time. Here it's exactly the other way round like with the bass. I have a negative expectation and get positively surprised. With Michael Jackson for example I have a little more difficulty than with Kesha, Sia, or Magan Trainor.
I celebrate the mids for their mostly physical, harder and musical approach, but can't always follow them completely at full volume.

I would describe the highs (2*BA) most consistently, but in terms of sound they can't quite keep up with the mids and excellent bass. Nevertheless, you can expect a good degree of quality from them. They are not always quite level stable and need high quality input, as they are less forgiving, but when this is given, they can score with clarity and transparency. They lack a bit of the top end, but so they rarely tend to get fatigued, even if sibilants do have some presence. A positive example is the CAMPFIRE SOLARIS, which shows the CU KIS how to be confident in the high frequencies. So the high frequencies of the CU HIS are detailed and natural if the input is right, but not overwhelming.

In its spatial dimensions the CU KIS offers quite a lot of space, even if it is not quite equal to the always remarkable stage of ULTIMATE EARS IEMs. Nevertheless, it can deliver strong performances with its clear instrument separation and imaging qualities.

Outro

What actually distinguishes a balanced all-rounder? Well, actually it's mostly IEMs that don't necessarily specialize in one detail when tuning, but try to cover the complete range as well as possible and are willing to compromise. One of the best all-rounders I can think of is the 64 AUDIO TIA TRIO, which always manages to maintain its outstanding level and you only have to accept small cutbacks or a subtle upgrade when changing genres.

If I now have an IEM that concentrates on the bass, vocals or individual instruments, for example, which can be achieved by specific increases and decreases in frequency response, then this IEM can sometimes be outstanding for, say, piano music, but with a guitar it can sound a bit weird and in the worst case unnatural.

Another point is certainly how an IEM performs in everyday situations where you sometimes need to listen at higher volumes. Here, for example, the CU HIS is too brisk and uncomfortable in the long run.

So the CU KIS is an in-between thing and therefore a bit contradictory. It is not an all-rounder, but it is definitely not a niche IEM. Its strengths lie in the low frequencies, and with its sometimes more, sometimes less controllable energy, it manages to breathe life into strings, for example, not only a rich body, but also dynamics.
The reproduction of voices can vary, which can express itself in aggressiveness. I also find a piano for example to sound a bit too offensive ("You Can't Lose What You Never Had" - Muddy Waters). So it sometimes turns out to be a little wonder bag that can create magic moments, but not with constancy.

I love the CU KIS in quiet moments on the couch, or in bed at a lower volume, where it can also show off its audiophile qualities to the full, but I find him a bit overwhelming in everyday life and he is certainly not the most harmonious. All in all, the CU KIS has become too expensive for me, even though it offers some rays of hope that can make it quite competitive in the price segment.

Legend

Haptic:

Here the processing plays a role and the usability of the scope of supply. Additionally the appearance, wearing comfort and robustness.


Value:
Here I evaluate for me subjectively the price/performance ratio - does not flow into the evaluation!

Z: No Brainer

A: money well spent

B: all right, you can do

C: gives better for less money

D: overpriced

E: collector's price

Daily life:
Here, I focus on the long-term audibility and whether I can hear it well out of the box. This is of course very subjective and therefore only a minimal deduction or bonus. 

(-0.1, 0, +0.1)

Frequenzgang

Rating in Letters

S: 9.5 - 10

A: 9.0 - 9.4​

B: 8.0 - 8.9​

C: 7.0 - 7.9

D: 6.0 - 6.9​
E: 5.0 - 5.9​

F: 0.0 - 4.9​

CU RAD

CU RAD

CU KIS

CU KIS

...

Contact:

chi-fier@gmx.de

CHI-FIEAR © 2020 by David Hahn

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