About shared planar drivers with different voicing: "Even though the drivers across these particular models are all planar, they aren't identical. For example, Thror's and Thekk's use carbon frames, Wodan's steel. Further construction details diverge. So does damping and the acoustic geometry of the ear cups. The basis for our planar models is the original 80mm Kapton-polyimide membrane—the full size of the driver is 95mm—with a symmetrical 2-sided magnet system with semicircular magnets from our 2014 patent.

"The driver housing for the first Odin and subsequent models was steel. This doubled to reinforce the magnetic field. In Odin, membrane thickness was still 10μm. For Thridi and Wodan, we already went to 8μm. After reducing membrane thickness and changing how we corrugate and apply our traces, we developed additional reinforcement to protect and stabilize the membrane field with a honeycomb structure of false tracks. This significantly increased the membrane's quality and reliability without needing added reinforcement and at the same time created superior alignment."

"Simultaneously we carried out work on our new carbon frame. We had already concluded experiments with magnetic strength and membrane tension methods. Carbon significantly reduced weight which together with changed tension arrived at our reference Thror. Most of our R&D was on acoustic design, damping methods and optimized airflow for both sides of the membrane. All these variables can create many different sounds from one general type driver.

"Another way to introduce deliberate sonic changes is to work in different types of natural leather, with different cup shapes and perforations. In our opinion, work on the enclosure's internal geometry is no less important than the development of the actual driver." [At right, Wodan superimposed on stacks of Kennerton leather skins.] Once we think of ear cups as miniature rooms on our ears, we see how their size, shape and relative lossiness/reflectivity have as big a sonic impact as our room has on speakers. Changing ear pads to change their perforations, foam density, wall thickness, shape and depth is like moving speakers into a new room. Aside from changing the wiring harness, it's how a user can easily alter a headphone's tuning. Swap pads.

It's why Kennerton offer two different types in various colors and eight different cables. Always the cup terminations are the superior self-locking mini XLR4 we know from Audeze. It meant that our various aftermarket Audeze cables would swap over to Wodan. Heavy rolling ahead? When Vladimir's UPS tracker hit my inbox, he'd broken down the shipment's contents as the headphones proper, a standard 6.3mm cable, an extra balanced custom cable, an extra pair of ECL-02 ear cushions to test their smaller perf pattern and a protective carrying case.

With Odin and his son Váli, we're deep into the same Norse mythology which US brand Schiit cull from. Thridi is another name thus aspect of Odin, Thrór a kingly dwarf in Tolkien's Hobbit canon. Gjallar was the horn of Heimdall, the guardian of the rainbow bridge by which the gods pass between heaven and earth. Wodan was an ancient Teutonic sky then war god so very much Odin's equivalent as Wotan. With my German/Scottish ancestry going back to the clan McKay, it only seemed fitting to first cross paths with Wodan. As sky god, I tracked his celestial movements in the UPS network from St. Petersburg to Moscow to Köln/Germany before he hit Ireland in first Dublin, then Shannon. It's not often that one gets a hifi care package from the Russian Federation. My last had been from Moscow's S.A.Lab years prior. For more on their domestic brands, here's our 2019 MHES coverage, Moscow's winter hifi show. Outside Russia, two of the best-known emigré designers are Vladimir Shushurin of Lamm Industries and Victor Khomenko of Balanced Audio Technology. For hifi designers who remain in the country, our list now adds Vladimir Milashin and his team. And then there's this. In German, Kennerton loosely translates as connoisseur (from Kenner as the knower plus the ton suffix as in simpleton for example).

Coincidence? Either way, for me it was time to learn more about this brand. Become at least a Kenner even if earning the 'ton' suffix should require familiarity with far more of their lineup than a single model. Still, one must start somewhere. For me it'd be Wodan.

Welcome to the Wo-Dan Clan? Given Vladmir's model pick based on my input, we'd expect Wodan to be their fastest most detailed planarmagnetic. Thror and Thridi should be bassier and heavier. For direct planarmagnetic open-backed contrast, I had Audeze LCD-2, Final D8000 and HifiMan HE-1000 & Susvara. My guess? Wodan would mimic the latter two for their quasi 'electrostatic' character. Drivers would be Questyle CMA-800r monos and Soundaware A1Pro for balanced, Bakoon AMP-13R for single-ended.