Kennerton Gjallhorn GH 40 vs GH 50 JM Review

The Gjallhorn GH 40 was my first introduction to the Kennerton brand, and I immediately fell in love with the warm, analogue character of the sound. So, I was expecting the GH 50 JK to simply be an elevated version of the GH 40. But in actuality, they have quite different personalities. What similarities and differences can you expect from these two models in terms of sound and performance?

Look and Feel

Although both headphone models are similar in weight, the GH 50 definitely feels like a more luxurious wear. It sits a little looser on the ears, hovering over the head with the suspension headband, making it also feel lighter on the head. In contrast, GH 40 has a tighter clamping force, and the leather ear pads are not as plush and soft as those on the GH 50. On the flip side, the GH 40 has more effective natural sound isolation.

Kennerton Gjallhorn GH 40 vs GH 50 GM Headbands


As the model names suggests, the GH 50 employs a 40mm dynamic horn driver, while the GH 50 sports a 50mm dynamic horn driver. However, these two models are also designed with different driver membranes. The GH 40 uses a paper membrane, giving it an “old-school” analogue flavor, while the GH 50 has an incredibly strong graphene membrane, thus, producing a rather different sonic quality altogether. Both headphones, have a similar impedance (GH 40 is at 30 Ohms, while the GH 50 is 33 Ohms), and are equally easy to drive.

Kennerton Gjallhorn GH 40 vs GH 50 GM sound quite different

Sound Impressions


One of the various major differences between these two models lies in the soundstage. The GH 50 is vastly more spacious, producing a much greater sense of distance than the comparatively intimate stage of the GH 40. With respect to the GH 40, instruments from far away retain the same color as instruments closer to the ear. And this characteristic is quite different from the GH 50, which presents a less saturated and more natural sense of space and dimension.


The GH 50 presents a deeper, more visceral sounding bass and sub bass. However, because the GH 40 has more closed feel, the mid-bass is often displays greater in-your-face punch. Although both headphones do a fantastic job of revealing subtleties in string instruments, the tonality of double basses on the GH 50 was far more natural, conveying the true depth of the instrument in comparison to the more affected presentation on the GH 40.


Perhaps because the GH 50 is a more open headphone, the GH 40 sometimes presents a warmer, and once again, more intimate sound in the mids. The exception to this is when there is notable bass presence in the mix, in which case, the GH 50 has a far more all-encompassing feel. But one’s first impression may be that the GH 40 is more full bodied in this range. And vocals, for instance, sounded much closer in the mix on the GH 40 than they did on the GH 50. I was surprised that the GH 40 didn’t fall too far behind the GH 50 with respect to the impressive level of separation, even in the low mids. They both deliver such a clean sound. But once again, where the GH 50 excelled over the GH 40 was in its ability to remain authentic in its handling of acoustic instruments. In contrast, the GH 40 has a comparatively adulterated sound, which in no way subtracts form the enjoyment of the GH 40’s analogue character. In fact, that’s what makes the GH 40 so special. But certainly, if you’re basing your purchasing decision on sheer skill, the resolution on the GH 50 is significantly superior.


Strings in this range were treated more delicately on the GH 50 than the comparatively heavy handed GH 40, again, revealing an entirely uncontrived sound. Once again in this range, the GH 40 felt a lot thicker and more colored in its presentation. Although the GH 50 was more transparent in this range, neither headphone is particularly sparkly. The main difference here lies in the weight of the sound; vocals on the GH 40 in the highs, for instance, sound fleshy and velvety, while the GH 50 delivers more buoyant and delicate feel.


Surprisingly, comparing the GH 40 to the GH 50 JM, is like comparing apples to oranges. So, if you’ve read positive reviews about the GH 50 JM, but can’t afford to spend that much, don’t expect to get a similar sound from the more affordable GH 40. While the GH 40 produces a very individual and specific analogue quality, the GH 50 JM is less about charisma and more about skill. So, if you’re buying your first high-end headphone and want something highly versatile and analytical, the GH 50 JM is the sure winner. However, if you’re a seasoned audiophile, and already have some well-balanced high performance cans, the highly pleasurable GH 40 would be a more interesting and unique addition to your arsenal.  

You can buy both, the Kennerton Gjallhorn GH 40 and GH 50 JM at Audio 46.



Kennerton Gjallhorn GH 40

Kennerton Gjallhorn GH 50 JM


Composite Paper

Graphene Membrane

Driver Unit

40 mm

50 mm

Frequency Response

10-43000 Hz

10-50000 Hz


115 dB / 1 V

116 dB


30 Ohm

33 Ohm

Maximum Input Power

100 mW

250 mW

Cord length

2 meters length detachable cable made from OFC wires is terminated with gold plated 6.3 mm TRS connector

2 meters length detachable cable made from OFC wires terminated with gold plated 6.3 mm TRS connector


Gjallarhorn GH Dusk, Gjallarhorn GH Light

Gjallarhorn JM Edition Dusk, Gjallarhorn JM Edition Light


360 g ( w/o cable)

406 g ( w/o cable)



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