In the right setting, the Antlion Audio Kimura Duo headset is fantastic. Just think through how and when you will use this product before ordering; if the cable and 3.5mm headphone jack aren’t going to be an issue for your use or needs, then I know you will love this headset. You’ll also wonder how they kept the price so low for something of this quality.
- In-ear monitors (IEMs) are comfortable and sound very good
- The microphone delivers excellent sound
- The cable is long and permits you to shift positions without worry that you’ll pull on it
- They are priced under $150!
- Long cable makes this more for use at one’s desk or at a gaming console than when walking around
- No option for wireless audio
I’m a fan of in-ear monitors and have two pairs of custom in-ear monitors (IEMs) I’ve reviewed and continue to enjoy using. Both sadly lack a microphone and, as a result, are only good for listening to audio. The new Antlion Audio Kimura Duo changes all that with excellent IEMs and an integrated microphone for calls and video, and it’s available at a shockingly low price.
Kimura comes from Antlion Audio, a company that made its mark with the ModMic headphone add-on that allows people, especially gamers, to add a microphone to a pair of audio-only headphones.
It’s clear that, when designing the ModMic, the creative team at Antlion Audio stood back and looked for the easiest, most convenient, but still effective way to add a microphone to over-the-ear or on-ear headphones that didn’t ship with one.
They did the same thing with the Kimura and realized that, because of the small size of the in-ear monitors, the adaptation needed to be made in the cable connecting the IEMs to the audio source.
For the uninitiated, in-ear monitors (IEMs) are a style of earphones that are inserted into the ear canal. They usually offer impressive passive noise isolation and, when used with the right ear tip, can stay securely in one’s ear for hours at a time.
The result of this microphone placement is that the Antlion Audio Kimura Duo is effectively a replacement IEM cable that adds a high-quality microphone where there previously was none. But they didn’t just stop there.
Rather than simply selling the cable as an accessory (they do that too, and you can get one for $59.95), they paired the cable with a rather lovely pair of IEMs. Then, shockingly, they decided to sell the Kimura Duo for under $150!
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here is what Antlion Audio has to say about the Kimura Duo.
KIMURA The Most Advanced In-Ear Headset! Transform any pair of MMCX or 2-pin IEMs into the ultimate in-ear headset. Kimura features our patent-pending around-ear design for maximum stability and minimal torque from regular head movement. Combined with our legendary high performance microphone and optional solid resin IEMs, there’s never been anything quite like it!
As previously noted, you can buy the Kimura cable as an accessory and use it with MMCX IEMs you already own. But the company also sells the Kimura Duo, which pairs the cable with capable IEMs, so you get a complete kit in one convenient place.
Inside the box, you will find:
- One Kimura Microphone Cable (MMCX)
- One Pair of Kimura Duo IEMs
- One set of memory foam ear tips
- Small, medium, & large silicone ear tips
- One shirt clip
- Antlion Audio Y Adapter
- Hard shell carrying case
- Instruction manual
As I mentioned earlier, I have two pairs of IEMs that were custom molded to fit my ears. One set ($399+) required me to get molds cast of my ears by an audiologist to create the perfect fit. The other set ($499+) used newer technology so I could get a custom mold of my ears at home, which I then returned to the company so they could create personally fitted IEMs without me having to leave my house.
The Antlion Audio Kimura Duo IEMs take a less bespoke path. Rather than custom molded earpieces, the Duos come with an assortment of ear tips. After a bit of trial and error, I was able to find the ones that offered a proper seal. So while they aren’t custom, they are almost as comfortable, and they fit almost as securely as my custom IEMs.
The housing of the Kimura Duos’ earpieces is hand-crafted from solid resin and polished to a smooth surface. They look great and have just enough color to make them look interesting. Inside each resin, the housing is a dynamic driver and a balanced armature for increased clarity. As they explain,
DYNAMIC DRIVER & BALANCED ARMATURE: Our top of the line dynamic driver delivers a wide soundstage with fantastic bass response, while the additional balanced armature delivers precision high frequencies for better imaging and positional audio.
Antlion Audio notes that combining their IEM design and the custom drivers “creates the optimal chamber for audio imaging and snappy bass.” The resulting sound is clear, punchy, and quite impressive, especially considering the price.
Attached to the cable that leads to the right IEM is the Kimura microphone; a small microphone on a relatively rigid but still flexible boom, the Kimura mic can be adjusted to sit in the optimal position to your mouth.
It is permanently affixed to the cable, but the flexible boom lets it push it out of the way when not needed.
The Kimura microphone is the cornerstone of the Kimura line. Don’t underestimate the size, this little mic delivers an incredible signal-to-noise ratio, and the behind-ear design ensures it won’t pull on your IEMs.
Kimura Omni-Directional Microphone Specifications:
- Frequency Response: 100Hz – 10kHz
- Sensitivity:-42±3 dB
- Impedance: 2.2(Max)
- S/N Ratio: 60(Min) dB
- Maximum Input Sound Pressure Level: 115(Max) dB
- Standard Operating Voltage: 2.0 Vdc
- Operating Voltage Range: 1.0~10 Vdc
The Kimura employs an MMCX connector between the IEM and the cable. You can easily disconnect the included IEMs from the cable.
This is a huge advantage, not only if the cable fails and needs to be replaced, but because you can also swap in a different pair of IEMs so long as they also employ the MMCX connection. That’s especially great if you already have a pair of custom IEMs and want to add voice functionality.
Unfortunately, neither of the custom IEMs I have to make use of the MMCX design. Of course, if you do have custom IEMs with an MMCX connection, you might buy the Kimura cable on its own and save a few dollars.
In all, the Kimura is an interesting idea and certainly has a more refined design and cleaner look than the ModMic, which has to be stuck onto a pair of headphones and looks like the “add-on” that it is.
There’s a lot to like here, but I have to admit that I’m a bit mixed. I’ll start with the “good.” The Antlion Audio Kimura Duo is a pair of IEMs with a dynamic driver and a balanced armature for under $150.
That’s impressive, even without the addition of the microphone.
The Kimura Duo headset is comfortable, delivers excellent sound, and it ships with a variety of ear tips. In addition, the cable is a thick, slightly rigid material that doesn’t get tangled up in itself. That is especially important when you consider the fact that it is a six-foot cable, and six-foot cables tend to become a bird’s nest of tangles.
And then there is the microphone.
One of the issues I’ve long had with my IEMs is that they are only appropriate when I know I only need to listen to music or a video. The lack of a microphone isn’t an issue per se, but it does limit the times I choose them over headphones that have a microphone and are, therefore, more flexible.
Antlion Audio Kimura Duo gives me the best of both worlds by delivering high-quality IEMs and a quality boom microphone that improves the audio for video calls, gaming, or simply recording video exponentially.
Plus, if you have custom IEMs with the right connector, you can use them with the mic instead.
And did I happen to mention that the price for all of this is just $149.95?!
But that brings us to the one thing that keeps me from being utterly exuberant about the Kimura Duo.
At a time when wireless headphones have come into their own and offer increasingly good audio and battery life, the Antlion Audio Kimura Duo has a six-foot cable. That makes them appropriate when sitting at a desk or in front of a gaming console, but that cable makes them far less useful when you are out and about. Unless you’re Gen Z and think wires are cool, who wants to deal with cables when you’re on the go?
But there’s more.
In addition to having a long cable, the Kimura Duo uses a 3.5mm headphone jack. In fact, the Duo’s cable ends in two different cables that each have a 3.5mm jack, which is why the package includes an adapter that combines both 3.5mm plugs for computers and gaming devices that use a single port for both the microphone and the speaker.
All of this makes the Antlion Audio Kimura Duo feel a bit like it belongs in the early 2000s rather than in 2023.
But here’s the thing.
If you’re looking for a good headset for video calls when seated at your computer, this headset is fantastic; it’s comfortable and delivers great audio on both sides of the conversation.
If you’re a gamer and are tired of the pain and fatigue caused by large, over-the-ear gaming headphones, this headset is fantastic. It’s light enough to keep you discomfort-free during long gaming sessions while still allowing you to become immersed in the gaming experience.
In other words, in the right setting, this headset is fantastic. Just think through how and when you will use this product before ordering; if the cable and 3.5mm headphone jack aren’t going to be an issue for your use or needs, then I know you will love this headset. You’ll also wonder how they kept the price so low for something of this quality.
The Antlion Audio Kimura Duo sells for $149.95; it is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: In-ear monitors (IEMs) are comfortable and sound very good; They come with a variety of ear tips to create a good (although not custom) fit; The microphone delivers excellent sound; The cable is long and permits you to shift positions without worry that you’ll pull on it; They are priced under $150!
What Needs Improvement: Long cable makes this more for use at one’s desk or at a gaming console than when walking around; No option for wireless audio