The Gjallarhorn GH 40 is my first introduction to the Kennerton brand. And I have to say up front, I’m completely hooked. Especially if you’re a Beatles fan or appreciate anything that glorifies the analogue experience, you will undoubtedly fall in love with these truly unique headphones. Let’s take a look at what you can expect in terms of performance.
In the Box
Gjallarhorn GH 40 headphones
2 meter detachable 1/4 inch cable
Leather carrying case
Soft case with drawstring
Look and Feel
Like any great wooden headphone, the GH 40 is just a pleasure to hold and look at. It’s got that old-school character with big ear cups and a solid, single-piece headband. Though the fit is on the firmer side, it doesn’t wear on you at all, even after long use. The plush leather earpads deliver some nice isolation while still offering that comfortable cushioned feel.
The GH 40 employs a 40mm dynamic horn driver (compression type system) with paper membrane. This setup is designed to bring out a very warm, vintage-like analogue feel, while enhancing musicality and bringing out tonal subtleties. At 30 Ohms, it felt very easy to drive, offering plenty of headspace using just a small Dragonfly DAC.
You’ll hear a good deal of spacial dimension here. The sense of depth is fantastic, as is the accuracy of placement in the stereo field. However, there was less height in the stage, so the sense of dimension felt wide and deep rather than truly immersive on a 3D level. Still, there was enough distance in the imaging to make the listening to feel engulfed in sound.
The bass has an interesting character. The lower bass registers have some decent depth and punch to them, but as it creeps up into the mid-bass registers, it starts to sit back a bit. Certainly, this isn’t a low-end you feel on a visceral level. The bass also feels dry, if not downright chalky in a unique and delicious way, while also giving delivering an entirely analogue feel. Kick drums have muffled, Beatlesque quality, which being a hardcore Beatles fan, I loved.
That fantastic analogue character becomes even more apparent in the midrange, making every track feel like it’s coming out of record player. You’ll also hear a good dose of low-mids in this range, lending an altogether warm sound to songs you wouldn’t expect. At the same time, the upper mids also feel prominent, giving snares tons of blunt impact. Indeed, it’s hard to ignore the nearly muted personality, almost giving one the impression that there’s a blanket draped over the diaphragm. It’s pretty addictive to listen to, and I had a hard time taking these cans off. Unsurprisingly, the separation is better in the upper midrange than it is in the lower registers. Acoustic guitars in the low-mids, at times, almost feel too warm. But the upper midrange reveals great definition, while still maintaining that vintage feel.
The emotiveness of this headphones becomes clearest in the high registers. Strings feel highly expressive and musical. There is more fluidity to the sound than there is detail. However, subtleties in the tonality of the instruments remain obvious. Of course, with a sound signature like this, you can’t expect much sparkle. But these cans definitely excel at producing a weighty, velvety quality of vocals in this range.
If you’re an audiophile who already owns a bunch of headphones, the GH 40 is will be totally unique and fun addition to your arsenal. Warm, expressive and undeniably charismatic, you will get all of the same retro magic that you’d usually only be able to recreate from a record player. If you’re looking for something particularly analytical and highly versatile, these cans may not be for you. But if you love headphones with personality, it doesn’t get any more musical or emotionally engaging than the Gjallarhorn GH 40.
You can buy the Kennerton Gjallarhorn GH 40 at Audio 46.