Kiwi Ears IEMs

There have been quite a few Kiwi Ear releases lately and while they have been getting their own thread, I think a main Kiwi Ears thread may make more sense.

Therefore, I will round up the other threads into this one and we can continue the discussions of this brand here.

I have recently begun reviving my IEM collection due to the overwhelming abundance of budget IEMs that have flooded the market. My favorite budget IEMs to date have been the CCA CRA and the Moondrop Chu. Each having been purchased right around $20. I have been blown away at the sound quality they have provided for just $20. Will the Kiwi Ears Cadenza dethrone them as the best budget IEMs? Let’s find out.

Kiwi Ears Cadenza arrived the same day in typical Amazon fashion. What truly lured me in was that the Kiwi Ears Cadenza were on sale for $29.99. So, I figured, why not give them a shot? Extremely excited to hear what these could do, I opened up the package which revealed a tidy blue box that stated, “Live the music.” That sounds like my kind of life.

Proceeding to slide the inner box through I was met with the company labeled black box. Nice touch. A feeling reminiscent of Christmas morning overwhelmed me as I was anxious to open the final box to reveal the shiny gems that awaited.

There they were. Shiny marbled purple wonders. I hoped they would sound as beautiful as they looked.

The cables were fantastic. Connectors were snug into the sockets. I was very happy with this factory detachable cable. Win!

Suddenly, a very disappointing realization. My heart sank as I could see that there was a hodgepodge selection of silicone ear tips. Somehow, mine was missing ear tips, leaving many incomplete pairs.

Was I going to invest wasted time having to deal with returning these? What a major hassle for $29.99 IEMs.

Anyhow, with severe disappointment in my heart I proceeded to connect the Kiwi Ears Cadenza to a SanDisk Clip portable audio player. I was met with a full, fun presentation. Also, full bass! The Moondrop Chu had always lacked full bass. I was content in the past having the lack of bass when everything else more than made up for it. Instantly I was aware that this was no ordinary budget IEM. I was onto something worth much more than it costs. This made me feel a little better.

Next, I proceeded to one of my computer setups to listen with a headphone amplifier. The amplifier that happened to be hooked up at the time is my Schiit Jotunheim 2. I knew that this meant that a slight hiss would likely be introduced into quiet passages of the music as the Jotunheim 2 is not an IEM friendly amplifier. However, listening beyond audible hiss the overall all around reliable performer and upfront presentation that this amplifier provides would reveal much. Plus, later I would go over to my office system to hear how Kiwi Ears Cadenza sound on higher end gear.​

songs from a garden

Firing up the album Songs From A Secret Garden, I was immediately drawn to the emotional reproduction of the violin. Blissful! Some instruments are extremely difficult to reproduce as resonant properties of the instruments are often lost. When the violin wept, so did my heart. In my best Jedi Knight hand gesture I waved to my Kiwi Ears Cadenza and said aloud, “These are the violins emotional resonances you have been listening for.”


At this point I have already become convinced that the Kiwi Ears Cadenza are the budget IEM kings. They have defeated both my Moondrop Chu and my CCA CRA. I don’t need to listen any further. However, I did promise to give them a listen on higher end gear. So, off to the office system we go.

Here we have a Questyle CMA Twelve DAC/Amplifier. The amplifier section in the Twelve is amazing. It has consistently brought out the most performance out of every single headphone I own compared to any other amplifier, of course with the exception of my tube amplifiers.

With the Twelve there was no hiss from Kiwi Ears Cadenza as they were dead silent during quiet passages. I plugged in all three IEMs for a final comparison and it has solidified my conviction that the Kiwi Ears Cadenza is the absolute budget IEM king. Technical performance was improved slightly over the other two. The overall tonality is outstanding. Reproduced clarity is good. The reproduction of hard to reproduce instruments such as violin, french horn, trombone is excellent. In fact, I will no longer be recommending my usual go to full-size headphone/DAC/amplifier setups to those on extreme budgets. This Kiwi Ears Cadenza connected to ones phone or laptop would fit the bill just fine at a fraction of the cost.

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Update:

Is Amazon selling USED Kiwi Ears Cadenza IEMs as new?

Since the original Kiwi Ears Cadenza I had ordered was missing so many ear tips, I checked on my Amazon account which avenues were available to remedy my issue. I chose the option to contact the manufacture. When I clicked on that option, it directed my web browser to the Linsoul website. A Linsoul pop-up window requested me to input my issue and informed me that someone would get back to me. Well, no one contacted me. So I issued a replacement from Amazon.com.

My replacement Kiwi Ears Cadenza arrived the following day. Upon first inspection I noticed that this new Kiwi Ears Cadenza package box was different from my first Kiwi Ears Cadenza package box. The first box had a sticker placed over the UPC barcode. This new UPC barcode was free of stickers. The only sticker this replacement Kiwi Ears Cadenza box contained was on the cellophane wrapper that I had pealed off. This lead me to believe that my original order from Amazon had probably been a used product that had been sold to me as new! Great! I have been mixing someone else’s earwax in with my earwax this entire time.

Lesson - Amazon sucks donkey donuts.

If you purchase Kiwi Ears Cadenza from Amazon, return them if the UPC barcode is covered by a sticker as there is a possibility that it has already been used. I didn’t sign up for this Amazon earwax sharing service.

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I think future reviews of retail equipment should include whether or not the package was shrink wrapped or had any tamper seals. While I have never purchased IEMs with boxes that did not feature tamper seals and/or were not shrink wrapped, I know not all electronic devices come that way, e.g., cameras.

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This thread is to discuss the Orchestra Lite, a 8x BA set of IEMs by Kiwi Ears.

There is no official page for them yet on Kiwi Ears, so I will update this post when (and if) it becomes available.


TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. As always, they have not made any requests or comments and I will do my best to be as sincere and unbiased as humanly possible. However, it is always good to consider that it has not cost me anything to try out these IEMs.

As always, I will leave a link to the Orchestra Lite via Linsoul on my blog (link at the end of this post)
As with all links that I share, this is a non-affiliate link, meaning I do not benefit from the link in any way.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

The original Kiwi Orchestra was a set of IEMs that got quite a bit of praise back in 2021, with Audio Discourse (more specifically Antdroid) saying that it was the best IEM under $500 at the time. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the original Orchestra but I usually find that my tastes align quite a bit with Antdroid’s. The Orchestra (OG) featured 8 BA drivers (2 lows, 4 mids and 2 treble) and retailed for $499.

Fast forward to 2023 and Kiwi Ears brings us the Orchestra Lite, once again featuring 8 BA drivers in the same configuration (2 lows, 4 mids and 2 highs) but this time coming in at $249, half the price of the original.

Now, I obviously can’t compare the Lite to the Original as I haven’t heard the latter but I have heard a lot of good performing IEMs lately and straight off the bat, I can say that the Orchestra Lite is one of them.


Presentation…

The presentation is nothing extraordinary but is nothing to complain about either. Arriving in a simple box with an image of the IEMs on the front along with the logo, it opens to reveal the IEMs sitting in a foam cut out.

Below this we receive a Kiwi Ears branded semi-rigid transport/storage case which contains the cable and a large selection of tips (9 sets in total of three different types).

As I said, nothing out of the ordinary as far as presentation but well packaged and containing the necessary good to enjoy the IEMs out of the box.


Build and aesthetics…

The impression that the Orchestra Lite gives is that it is a very well made IEM, with attention paid to detail. It is a resin build featuring a coloured faceplate and a clear shell through which you can see the drivers, crossovers and even a Kiwi Ears logo on one of the BA drivers.

The IEMs are available in blue or green, in my case I received the blue, and I have to say that they are very good looking IEMs (even if aesthetics are very personal). The marble style swirled finish of the face plates looks great, combining different tones of blue and featuring the Kiwi Ears logo in silver.

As far as comfort, I decided on mid sized tips and found the Orchestra Lite to be very comfortable, even for longer listening sessions. These are on the larger size (think B2 Dusk) so ear size may come into play depending on your anatomy.

One issue to consider is that they are unvented which may cause pressure build up and could result in discomfort to those who are sensitive to this. I did have a few occasions when I felt the pressure build up but reseating the IEMs and making sure to release the pressure when inserting worked well for me personally.


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

Let me start off by saying I used to have a bit of a bias against all BA IEMs (I still do to some extent) as I find that, in the majority of cases, the bass of all BA IEMs is a little lifeless. I don’t mean it is lacking in quantity, rather that it just doesn’t sound natural to me. I believe it is due to the amount of years I have spent listening to bass through dynamic driver speakers (both music and bass playing) and that has just become “normal” for me, so I tend to find that BA doesn’t quite cut it. That is until the Helios came along and threw that theory out of the window. So I am no longer someone who thinks that BA bass will automatically sound unnatural but I do still find that many IEMs do sound this way.

But anyway, enough rambling and lets get into the sound of the Orchestra Lite, fist looking at the graph comparing them to my usual preference target (as always, my target is just a reference, not a rule as to whether I will like something or not):


Starting off in the lowest regions, there is plenty of presence in the usual “Chameleon” test, presenting a low end rumble that is clean and detailed (as far as subbass detail goes of course). I have to say that the seal and fit of the Orchestra Lite is very important, well, it’s very important with any IEM but in the case of the OL, the smallest of issues with seal makes the subbass all but disappear.

The transition from the subbass into the midbass is a little on the warm side but I don’t find this to be a negative on the OL. Listening to something electronic like “Sun is Shining”, there is no sensation of bloat in the midbass at all, with everything sounding clean and balanced in the low end. If you are someone looking for a large bass boost then these IEMs are probably not going to fit your tastes, yet they work well for my tuning preferences in these ranges. For example, “Bury a Friend” has plenty of rumble in those low vibrations but without seeming to lose control or take over the sound signature at all.

If we take something more acoustical, without a subbass presence, the low end could come across as a little “polite” with things like acoustic guitars and basses. In my typical test using “Crazy”, the reverb in the low end of the guitar is present but is never overpowering, making it a very fatigue free listen for me.

In regards to what I said a moment ago about the BA bass not sounding natural (I don’t want to use the infamous “BA timbre” reference), in the case of the Orchestra Lite it is far better than on other BA options I have heard. It is not quite on a level with the Helios (which is to be expected) but is closer to natural than artificial.

Moving into the mid range, the mids are again very clear and well balanced. They portray a good sensation of detail but could be a little on the cooler side, missing a little bit of warmth in the lower mids to round out that natural timbre a little on things like the bass guitar in “Elephants On Ice Skates”.

Vocals are quite forward, especially female vocals, which are clearly the center of the OL presentation. With vocals that are a little harsh in their presentation, such as Alicia Keys in “No One (Acoustic)” or Beth in "Don’t You Worry Child”, this can be a little overpowering on these IEMs due to how forward they are. They are certainly not the harshest of IEMs but that focus on upper mids and treble ranges can become fatiguing with some tracks that are not smooth in their recordings.

The upper ranges are possibly the least balanced out of the whole signature. Sibilance is actually not bad (with the usual “Code Cool” test) but it is noticeable on some parts of the track. There is a decent extension and the upper ranges do come across as detailed but things like cymbals can come across as a little uneven, sometimes seeming to fall behind the upper mids but with peaks appearing now and again.

Details are good in general, with good image placement and a soundstage that is also fairly good, at least above average in IEM terms. I did find that if a lot was going on in the upper ranges then the separation of layers could suffer but in more relaxed tracks it seemed to do a decent job.

One last thing to note is that the Orchestra Lite do reveal noisy sources quite a bit, with hissing (on things like the Go Blu with the balanced out) being more noticeable than on many other sets.


Conclusion…

Not too long ago I reviewed the Kiwi Ears Cadenza and it became one of my favourite budget sets of IEMs, one that I have absolutely no doubts about recommending to those who enjoy similar sound presentations to myself. In the case of the Orchestra Lite that comes in a 7 times the price, I feel that I am a bit more hesitant to do so.

It is not that the Orchestra Lite is a bad set of IEMs, far from it, in fact, I think they are a very good set of IEMs, yet they do have a few things that I can see not working for some people. The performance is good, they are amazingly built, look great and are, in general, something that I think will impress a lot of people. Yet on the negative side, the low ranges are still not 100% natural to my ears and the upper ranges could use some work.

If you are looking for a more analytical sound signature, something that is balanced and maybe leads to the colder side of neutral, then I think that you can expect a lot of enjoyment from the Ochestra Lite, yet if you are more on the warmer and fun side of things, then these will probably not fit your preferences.

Again, I feel that these are a great set of IEMs, just that they won’t be for everybody (well, no IEMs ever are!).


As always, this review is also available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (Acho Reviews - YouTube)

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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I have a pair of these and I have the following pros and cons:
Note: This are my first pair of mid-priced multiple BA based IEM - I have lots of “cheaper” DD IEM’s like the Truthear Zero, Salnotes Zero and the moondrop chu.

Pros:

  1. Build quality is amazing (love how they look and feel) - definitely wow factor
  2. Sound stage / imaging is fantastic - I can pick up individual instruments much better than the cheaper DD IEM’s - must the the technicalities of the multiple BA’s
  3. General tonality is great IMO - but I agree getting the right seal is vital

Cons:

  1. If you like lots of sub-bass this won’t be for you. Sub-bass with the correct seal is nice (maybe “accurate” is the best term) - but it doesn’t “thump you” like a DD
  2. Box is a bit cheap - at 10x times the price of say the moondrop chu the tips and box in general you get are a bit cheap
  3. Probably a bit big for some people (though I have the opposite problem smaller IEM’s won’t stay in place for me but this does over long walks etc)

Overall it was the upgrade in sound quality I was hoping for and IMO for those wondering what “technicalities” sound like at reasonable price this is a great IEM.

3 Likes

Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite Review

INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER:

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is an in-ear monitor (IEM) featuring eight balanced armature (BA) drivers per housing. The Orchestra Lite retails for $249.99 at Linsoul. Linsoul sent me the Orchestra Lite in exchange for my impressions.

SOURCES:

I have used the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite with the following sources:

  • Qudelix 5K
  • Truthear Shio
  • Audirect Atom 3
  • Hidizs S9
  • Apple dongle

MUSIC:

I tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to:

XenosBroodLord’s Library | Last.fm

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite comes packaged in a black, rectangular cardboard box with a dark green slipcover. Inside the box, the IEMs are held in place in a black foam mounting sheet. The Orchestra Lite comes with nine pairs of generic silicone eartips (S, M, L) in three different colors. A black semi-rigid zippered carry case and a user manual are also included.

BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN:

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite has clear acrylic housing with teardrop-shaped colored faceplates. The faceplates feature the Kiwi Ears logo inlaid in silver. The housings are otherwise unadorned. The housings are unvented and the nozzles have three distinct sound tubes. The nozzles lack protective mesh filters or raised lips with which to secure eartips. The 2-pin ports are flush with the surface of the housings.

The Orchestra Lite includes an attractive 4-core 7n oxygen-free copper cable. The Y-split and 3.5mm jack hardware are polished aluminum, and the chin-adjustment choker is translucent plastic. There is strain relief above the straight 3.5mm jack but not above or below the Y-split. The cable has pre-formed plastic earguides. The plastic base of the right-side 2-pin connector is red, which is the sole directional indicator for the set. The included cable is not especially microphonic.

COMFORT, FIT, AND ISOLATION:

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite should be worn cable up. The earpieces have a shallow-to-moderate insertion depth. The Orchestra Lite is comfortable but is not the most securely fitting IEM. The earpieces are on the larger side and tend to rotate backward out of their ideal orientation. The earpieces also extend past the surface of the ear when fully inserted, so the Orchestra Lite is not ideal if one plans to use them at night. Isolation is less than I would have expected for sealed all-BA IEM. However, there is no driver flex due to the absence of a dynamic driver.

MEASUREMENTS:

My measurements of the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite can be found on my expanding squig.link database:

Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite — Squiglink by Bedrock Reviews

SOUND:

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite has a neutral tuning with a sub-bass lift below 200 Hz.

The Orchestra Lite has atypical bass for an all-BA IEM. From memory, it reminds me of the Softears RSV in that it delivers more textured and impactful but slower and less precise bass than one might expect given its driver configuration. The Orchestra Lite also fares better than one might expect in terms of dynamic contrast, although it does not compete at the level of the RSV. Despite the emphasis on an impactful and dynamic bass presentation, bass resolution and articulation remain adequate for the price point.

The Orchestra Lite has a distinct but restrained pinna gain region centered around 2.5 kHz. This is not ideal for my head-related transfer function and results in less separation between instrumentation and vocals than I would prefer. Instrument separation is variable. For example, there is better instrument separation between male vocals and analog percussion than there is between male vocals and distorted electric guitars. As a result, overall midrange clarity is average at best. The Kiwi Ears Cadenza’s more pronounced pinna gain hump, which is centered at 3 kHz, worked more consistently for me. The lower midrange has plenty of body and warmth despite the linear mid-bass response. Male and female vocals are roughly even in emphasis, though female vocals are more intelligible. Female vocals can occasionally sound strident but generally sound excellent. The Orchestra Lite has very natural-sounding timbre for an all-BA IEM.

The Orchestra Lite has a safe and relaxed treble response that conceals very good internal detail retrieval. The upper treble is less extended than I would like, and there is limited air. The Orchestra Lite does respond well to equalization in this region, but other IEMs in the same price range like the SeeAudio Bravery are going to have more up-front resolution. The soundstage is adequate but is less expansive than I would have expected given the number of BAs used per housing.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite can be powered by the Apple dongle. For me to reach my usual listening level with Spotify Normalization set to “Normal”, I had to set my Pixel 7’s volume to 20/25. Depending on your preferences, you may not have to adjust your volume as high. I experienced no hissing with any of my devices.

CLOSING WORDS:

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is a good IEM, but not necessarily the IEM one might expect from looking at its technical specifications. Given its particular strengths, it is perhaps best viewed as a budget Softears RSV as opposed to a budget Moondrop S8.

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite can be purchased below:

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The Orchestra from Kiwi Ears came out in 2021 as a new product and a new brand that was influenced by the design of John Park, a community member who learned how to design and tune in-ear monitors as a hobby. When the Orchestra came out, I was one of the first to listen to this product and I gave it a very good review for its great tonality and one of the better balanced IEMs you could get for under $500 at the time.

Fast-forward a couple years and now every single IEM is tuned very similarly, and even making even my preference target sound a tad boring in some sense. With that said, Kiwi Ears is back again with an all-new Orchestra Lite.

This new iteration on the original still features 8 balanced armature drivers, with some subtle tuning changes, a more efficient sensitivity rating, and a new look. The IEM comes in a bright green or blue translucent shell design with a cloudy mist swirl pattern behind the Kiwi Ears branding. This does not glow in the dark like the original did. (note, I never could get that feature to work either way)

The cable included is a silver-colored 4-wire braided cable with silver metal connectors and splitter. The connectors used are 2-pins, with a 3.5mm stereo jack. In addition, there is a nylon zipper pouch, and a generic set of tips in the box.

On the wearability scale, I found these quite easy to wear and they fit me well without pain. They are on the larger side of universal IEMs, and do feature an above-average bore diameter. Despite this, I never felt pain or any inkling of discomfort wearing them. I have heard other users/reviewers mention that the fit was not best suited for their ears however, so take that as a precaution.

Sound Impressions

The Orchestra Lite is a U-Shaped balanced earphone with a slightly elevated bass response, smooth mids, and what I’d say is a slightly dark treble that is also fairly smooth. The Orchestra Lite adds a few dB of bass and reduces the treble from the original Orchestra.

One of the first things that jumped out at me on the Orchestra Lite is just how resolving it is, especially at $249. Instruments and vocals both come out with extreme clarity and succinctness and from all sides in full detail. I was a bit enamored at being able to hear all these little minutia sounds at first, but I did then start to pick out some of the flaws I did not like about the Orchestra Lite as well.

While the general tonal balance is nice and works well, I did find that it sounded a bit unnatural. The bass is quick with a lot of speed, but it does not have proper decay. It’s elevated, but doesn’t come across as weighty. The mid-range is perfectly leveled, but it presents itself in a very, very forward way – where there is a small soundstage and the setting is quite, quite intimate. And perhaps, that is why the Orchestra Lite comes across as exceptionally resolving. You hear everything, because its all at you, all at once.

The Orchestra Lite is still a balanced tuning, and I never did experience fatigue from things like sibilance and treble peaks - they just don’t exist here, but I did find fatiguing just coming from how sharp and one-noted the presentation comes off as. It is clean, it is clear, and it is well-defined, but it lacks musicality, and it lacks realism in a sense that I am looking for more natural resonance, more natural decay, and more trailing note harmonics.

So, at the end of this all, I came into the Orchestra Lite with some decently good expectations and even a really solid initial impression. I came out of it wanting more. It’s more resolving than the original, but it lacks a certain body and human element to it that makes this product seem artificial.

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Kiwi Ears Cadenza Review

The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is an in-ear monitor (IEM) that uses one dynamic driver per housing. The Cadenza retails for $35 at Linsoul’s Amazon shop. Linsoul sent me a unit in exchange for my impressions.

SOURCES:

I have used the Kiwi Ears Cadenza with the following sources:

  • Qudelix 5K
  • Hidizs S9
  • Apple Dongle

MUSIC:

I tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to:

XenosBroodLord’s Library | Last.fm

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:



The Kiwi Ears Cadenza comes in a small rectangular black box with a dark blue slipcover. Technical specifications for the Cadenza are provided on the side of the slipcover in English. The IEMs are held inside the box in a foam mounting sheet. The detachable cable, included eartips, and user manual are stored underneath this mounting sheet. The Cadenza includes nine pairs of eartips in three color schemes (3xS, 3xM, 3xL). The eartips are seemingly identical apart from the color. The Cadenza does not include a carry pouch or case.

BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN:

The Kiwi Ears Cadenza has black resin housings. The faceplates feature a swirling pearlescent pattern underneath a lacquer topcoat. There are circular vents adjacent to the 2–pin connector and at the base of the nozzle. The nozzles have perforated metal covers and substantial lips to secure eartips. The finish at the base of both nozzles has started wearing off on my unit. The 2-pin connectors are flush with the housings. It was extremely difficult to insert the 2-pin connector on one side. There are no directional indicators on the housings.

The cable is wrapped in a spiral pattern below the Y-split and uses twin double-helix patterns above it. The cable hardware is a mix of dark rubber and polished grey metal alloy. The 3.5mm jack uses an L-shaped form factor. There is substantial strain relief above the jack but none at the Y-split. There is a rubber chin adjustment choker. The cable uses pre-formed earguides. Large “L” and “R” indicators are printed on the 2-pin connector housings in white.

COMFORT, FIT, AND ISOLATION:

The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is intended to be worn cable-up. The earpieces have a moderate insertion depth. The Cadenza is very comfortable, but isolation and secureness of fit are fairly poor. The earpieces require frequent readjustment to maintain a good seal. There is also substantial driver flex if the IEMs are inserted too deeply.

MEASUREMENTS:

My measurements of the Kiwi Ears Cadenza can be found on my expanding squig.link database:

Kiwi Ears Cadenza — Squiglink by Bedrock Reviews

SOUND:

The Kiwi Ears Cadenza has a U-shaped tuning that is reminiscent of the Moondrop S8, just with more bass.

The Cadenza has fair sub-bass extension, though it would benefit from increased sub-bass quantity. There is a moderate amount of impact to percussion hits. The bass is very textured and more resolving than I would expect at this price point. Bass dynamics are excellent, but bass articulation is a little sluggish. When listening to hard rock, such as the song “First Punch” by Nothing More, I found that bass guitars were more prominent in the mix than with many other IEMs. I do hear a hint of mid-bass bleed.

The Cadenza has a vocal-centric midrange with a prominent pinna gain region centered at 3 kHz. Midrange instrumentation generally takes a back seat to male vocals when both are present. The main exception is percussion, which the Cadenza does an exceptional job of rendering. On the song “Unshakeable” by Celldweller, I can clearly hear the first half of a drum fill at 1:24 which is typically obscured by synthesizers. Male vocals are clear, full-bodied, and gritty. Female vocals are noticeably more prominent than male vocals and are vibrant without being sibilant. Vocal intelligibility is excellent for both. The Cadenza has terrific timbre.

The Cadenza has a middle-of-the-road treble response that splits the difference between smooth and energetic. The Cadenza has moderate upper treble extension, with less sparkle or air than I would like. Detail retrieval is better than the $35 price point would suggest and is closer to what I would expect from a $50 IEM. Instrument separation is average at best, and the soundstage is on the small side.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:

While it is possible to power the Kiwi Ears Cadenza with the Apple dongle, I had to use a volume setting of 22/25 on Android to reach my typical listening volume with Spotify Volume Normalization set to “Normal.” I recommend using a different source without the Apple dongle’s hardware volume limitations if you regularly use an Android device. I did not notice hiss with any of my devices.

CLOSING WORDS:

The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is an excellent if not earth-shattering IEM. If you already own a well-reviewed IEM released in the last year at $50 or less, there is no need to pick this up. However, I would personally pick the Cadenza over the CCA CRA+ for a sub-$40 starter IEM because of how similar the Cadenza’s midrange tuning is to the Moondrop S8.

The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is available for purchase below:

Amazon.com: Linsoul Kiwi Ears Cadenza 10mm Beryllium Dynamic Driver IEM 3D Printed with Detachable Interchangeable Plug 0.78 2pin 3.5mm IEM Cable for Musician Audiophile (Verse, Cadenza) : Electronics

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I believe I hav caught them all but if I have missed some, please let me know.

Now on with todays review…


TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Kiwi Ears Quartet

The Kiwi Ears Quartet have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. As usual, Linsoul have not made any comments or requests and I will do my best to be as unbiased as humanly possible in this review.

You can find a (non-affiliate) link to the Quartet via Linsoul by visiting the version of this review posted on my blog.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

There have been a few Kiwi Ears releases lately, two models that I already reviewed and enjoyed. The Cadenza, with it’s single dynamic driver, being one of my top picks in the ultra-budget category, and the Orchestra Lite, an 8x BA config, which I also liked (although I didn’t find them such a “bang for buck” as the budget model). The Kiwi Ears Quintet is another interesting model (1DD + 2BA + 1 Planar + 1 PZT configuration) that will be coming soon but today’s focus is on the Quartet, a dual dynamic + dual BA set up, showing that Kiwi Ears have a configuration for everyone.

The Quartet is available for around 100€ (at the time of putting together this review) which places it midway between the budget Cadenza and the more expensive Orchestra Lite and Quintet options, meaning that they also have a price range for everyone.

I have spent a week or so with these IEMs, using them mostly at my desk while working, before sitting down to do my usual detailed listening with my test track list. I have to say that these have not disappointed me, keeping up the good vibes that I have been getting from Kiwi Ears lately.


Presentation…

The packaging and presentation of all the recent models from the brand is very similar, in fact, almost identical. On the outside of the box, only the model name and the image of the IEM is different.

Opening the box we also find the same contents as with the Orchestra Lite, which is to say the same contents as the Cadenza with only a storage/transport case in addition.

Said contents are the IEMs, the cable, 9 sets of tips in 3 types, a velcro cable tie, a small tool for the dip switches and the storage case with the Kiwi Ears logo.

I had absolutely no complaints with the contents of the previous models so I am not going to start now, they are of good quality and more than adequate to be able to pull out the IEMs and get straight into enjoying them.


Build and aesthetics…

While the aesthetics are similar throughout the models (except the Quintet, but thats for another day), with that marble swirl effect that I like, there are differences in the build. The overall shape of the Quartet is similar to the Orchestra Lite (almost identical) but has the marble swirl over the whole shell, not just the faceplate, and also features 2 dip switches on the back of the IEMs for changes to tuning.

The shape is comfortable, the IEMs are lightweight and I honestly have absolutely no complaints about the build or aesthetics of these IEMs. They are cheerful without being overly blatant and I find I can wear them for long periods without any discomfort.

The cable is simple but is well made and is also comfortable, without being overly thick (I am not one who really chooses overly thick cables on IEMs). It is not a boutique cable but it does its job and, again, I have no complaints.


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

The Quartet features the 2 switches that I just mentioned and these give an option of 4 different tunings. Here is a graph of all 4 options together with my usual preference target as a reference:


As you can see from the graph, there is not a huge difference but it is enough for each option to be distinguished from the others, something that can’t be said for some of the other “tunable” IEMs out there.

I honestly didn’t find any of the tunings horrible but I personally prefer the 0-1 tuning (that is first switch down, second switch up) as I find it tames the midbass a little and gives me a little more presence in the upper mids/lower treble. This gives the Quartet an overall presentation that I enjoy more than the others and, while on paper it may not seem to be anywhere near my usual preferences, I have found that it works well for most of my general listening throughout the day.

Starting off with the subbass, there is a nice presence and clarity in these lower notes, providing not only rumble but also definition. The “dirtiness” in the lower ranges of “Royals” by Lorde is easily appreciated, making for a deep reaching response that I like.

Moving into the mid bass, here the presence is noticeably boosted, giving more presence to these areas than I would personally pick, However, due to the clarity and the way the IEMs handles these notes, they are not overly bloated or muddy. “No Sanctuary Here” has plenty of presence but also good detail in these midbass ranges, working well for this track and a lot of electronic music in general.

With instrument based music, there is warmth in these lower ranges of guitars and basses which can become a little excessive on occasions. My usual fatigue test with “Crazy” doesn’t become overly boomy but is still more towards the boomy side of things than I would like personally. The upper ranges do a good job of counteracting this and the definition of the bass means that I don’t feel overly fatigued with the track, but I would still tame it down a little personally.

In general, while the bass is a little north of my preferences, the performance in these ranges does make up for it, making it quite an enjoyable listen. I did find that the other switch combinations increased the bass even more, which I would not choose personally but I can imagine there will be lots of people who will.

The mid range is slightly recessed to my ears, especially in the mid section but the upper mids do climb and bring back the presence of most vocals, especially female vocals in a lot of my acoustic music choices. I did find that, for example, Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg in “Still D.R.E” seemed a little recessed in their vocals, which was exaggerated even more in other switch configurations, taking a bit of a step back in comparison to the lower ranges and the piano.

However, with something like “Don’t Start Now”, Dua Lipa is present enough and the clean and present bass makes for a great overall presentation. In the case of “Hallelujah”, I find that the female voice is more present than the male voice, but there is still a bit of a struggle for her to break through the bassy chorus vocals.

Moving into the upper ranges, there are a few peaks and dips that can sometimes interact in the wrong way with certain tracks and just in the right way with others. For example, I find that the voice of Zella Day in “Seven Nation Army” has a harshness to it that can make it less enjoyable, however, Paul Simon in “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” is actually less harsh than I usually find it, making it more enjoyable (also, the Quartet do a great job or portraying the fretless bass in the track!).

I did find that other switch combinations could counteract the harshness of some of the tracks that suffer from it, but at the expense of more bass presence (which will be a good or bad thing depending on both your tastes in tuning and music).

Detail is very good in the lower ranges yet not so great in the upper ranges. I feel that there is a sensation of air and the slightly blunted treble region can add to the sensation that the detail is not quite there in the upper ranges.

Soundstage is pretty average, in the realm of IEMs, with image placement that is decent but not amazing. Tracks like “Bubbles” have a decent sensation of separation but not much in the way of space between them. With “La Luna”, I get a very similar sensation, that instruments are clearly separated between themselves but not very spread out, so you still get a sensation of the binaural recording but on a much closer level.


Conclusion…

I find that the Quartet can be a very enjoyable set of IEMs depending on what music you are listening to. There is the option of tweaking the tuning to your individual taste and it is nice that all the tunings are usable (again, depending on tastes), although I mainly opt for the 0-1 configuration. With instrumental electronic music, I find that they can perform very well and be very enjoyable. Even with acoustic instruments, the result can be good, although a little overpowering in the midbass for me personally. Where I find they are a bit of a let down is with vocals.

To be honest, there are certain vocals that sound very good on the Quartet, but there are many that can either suffer from a little lack of presence (being overshadowed by the lower ranges of the music) or can become harsh when those upper range peaks hit just in the right (or rather, wrong) spot.

While these IEMs are not going to suit everyone (including me), they will work very well for certain genres of music and be a good fit for many.


As with all of my reviews, this is also available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.achoreviews.com/youtube)

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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Great idea merging those threads.

I would love to see some more “official” measurements of Kiwi Ears IEMs, I think this company are doing an amazing job building quality IEM’s.

I personally would love to see the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite measured with the BK 5128 as I use it every day ( even though I have allot of other more “popular” IEM’s including the Thruthear Zero Red ).

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Hey I mean, the Orchestra Lite is definitely a good IEM! It has a bit of an “old-school” sound with its all-BA build and small stage but the clarity on it is excellent while maintaining a nice sense of warmth.

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I’ve had the Kiwi Ears Quintet for a couple days now, and I am blown away by this $219 set. The cohesiveness of the drivers, the fullness throughout the frequency range, the musicality, the dynamics, the details, the stage, the comfort. The Quintet brings so much to the table. This set has me looking at my mid tier IEMs and shaking my head. For reasons I cannot qualify, it always sounds like I’m listening to a master track through the Quintet. I attribute this quality to the aforementioned fullness. It doesn’t sound like I’m missing anything, necessarily.

I should mention that I am using the grey stock ear tips (not the black ones) and a balanced cable (Thieaudio EST). The grey tips make the Quintet a little more U shaped, which in turn makes it a little more versatile of a set. I am curious to know if others are as impressed by this set as I am, though the Quintet deserves its own thread :slight_smile: Thanks for reading!

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This unit and other Kiwi Ears units are a hot topic on the head-fi.org Discovery thread. Particularly the inclusion of a “micro planar” driver in the Quintet which is in the format of a balanced armature-like enclosure.

Some folks wonder if it is fair play to call these micro planar drivers, as well as others like the so-called “square planar” drivers, and other flat drivers, as genuine planar magnetic drivers.

Another multi-driver exotically configured IEM was actively discussed as well, the Geek Wold GK100. It was well received at $200.00 and is considered an extremely detailed monitor. I think the GK100 is a natural competitor for the Quintet. I’d like to hear them both for myself.

I’ve been listening to them for the past couple of days and I am also very impressed by them.

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Haha those square-planar drivers (SPD) were quite the talk a while back as the “next step” in planar IEMs after the popularity of the ~14.2 mm planars like the 7Hz Timeless and its copycats. I think there were a few other IEMs with these SPD configurations such as the Tin HiFi T5. I actually have a couple with me but I haven’t had the time to review em. At any rate, my understanding of the square-planar drivers is that they ironically function more like a traditional dynamic driver than a planar, with benefits of neither.

I haven’t heard of the micro-planars however, that would be an interesting discussion.

Okay, I take back the master track sentiment ha. After A/B testing with the Monarch Mk2, Studio 4, and Hexa, I definitely see how colored the Quintet is. But, I still appreciate how full it sounds.

Kiwi Ears Quintet


TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Kiwi Ears Quintet

The Kiwi Ears Quintet have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. Linsoul have not made any requests or comments and I will do my best to be as unbiased as humanly possible, although it is always good to take into consideration that these IEMs have not cost me anything.

You can find a link to the Quintet via Linsoul by visiting the version of this review published on my blog, link at the end of this post.

As always, it is a non affiliate link, meaning I do not receive anything in exchange for clicks or purchases made through said link.

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

I recently reviewed the Quartet, a quad driver IEM by Kiwi Ears, and mentioned that there have been quite a few releases from them lately. The Quintet is the latest of those releases, featuring 5 drivers (as the name would imply) and coming in at just over 200€, from Linsoul, at the time of putting this review together. That places it just a little cheaper than the Orchestra Lite and leaves 2 cheaper models (plus a more expensive Orchestra, which is the TOTL from Kiwi).

The drivers featured in the Quintet are a DLC dynamic driver, 2 balanced armature drivers, a planar magnetic driver, and a piezoelectric bone conductor. This makes for quite a complex setup that is very easy to get wrong. The planar magnetic driver is something they call an MPT (Micro Planar Transducer) and there is some debate as to whether this should actually be referred to as a planar or not. However, I am not here to debate the technology, I am here to tell you what I think about the performance of the IEMs, and let me say that I am impressed.


Presentation…

There is really not much to say about the presentation that I haven’t already said in my last 3 reviews of Kiwi Ears IEMs. The packaging is the same as the Cadenza, which is the same as the Orchestra Lite, which is the same as the Quartet… just the image on the cover and the name of the model changes.

Inside the box there isn’t much that differs from the other 3 models either. Compared to the Cadenza, we get a transport/storage case (which is the same as the one included with the Orchestra Lite and the Quartet). In comparison to the Quartet, we don’t get the little tool to move the DIP switches, which is to be expected, as the Quintet doesn’t have any switches to move.

I will say that I prefer the cable that is included with the Quintet. It is similar to the cables included with the other models but in a greyish brown colour which I am a fan of.

In general the presentation is good, the contents are decent and I have no complaints about them.


Build and aesthetics…

The build and aesthetics are something that sets the Quintet apart from the other models in the brands line up. Where the others all featured a resin shell with a marble effect finish, the Quintet goes for a more discreet metal faceplate mounted on to a plain black resin shell.

To be honest, I really like the marble effect finish but the simple design of the Quintet is not something that I find ugly either. It is certainly more discreet (although the marble effect I didn’t personally find to be too “loud” anyway) and shouldn’t be a turn off for anyone, unless they have a dislike for simplicity.

The build is just as good as on the full resin options, with the faceplates seemingly well attached and no sign of any flaws, but only time will tell in this regard.

While I don’t think the Quintet are anything special to look at, I certainly have no complaints about their build or aesthetics either.


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

Here is where things get interesting and where I found myself enjoying the Quintet very much. Before getting into my usual description of how the IEMs perform sound wise, let’s take a look at the frequency response in comparison to my usual preference curve for reference:


While on the subject of graphs, let me mention something that I find interesting. If you have been following my reviews, especially in the budget section, I have said multiple times that the Kiwi Ears Cadenza are one of my top picks in the under 50€ segment. In fact, they are probably only second to the Zero: Red in this regard.

Well, here is the graph of the Quintet in comparison to the budget Cadenza:


As you can see, the tuning is very similar and to the ear, the Quintet do actually come across to me as a refined and improved Cadenza, with better technical performance and some very slight changes in the FR which I have to say I like.

(By the way, if you want to compare the Quintet to the other Kiwi Ears models, or any of the IEMs I have measured, you can do so here: achoreviews.squig.link)

But let’s go through the usual procedure and start in the lowest of ranges, using my obligatory “Chameleon” bass work out test track. There is plenty of subbass to create those low rumbling notes that are present in this track. Yet, while the presence is there, I did find that there is a clarity that takes away from the background vibrations that are so often present when listening to “Chameleon” on a subbass heavy set. To put it into context, it is like having a couple of small and fast subwoofers, rather than a large and rumbling subwoofer. I say this because, while there is certainly a boosted presence in subbass, I wouldn’t say that, upon listening, that these are focused towards a basshead market.

Royals” is a better way to showcase what I mean, where the subbass is certainly present and clean, showing that dirt that I associate with this track in these regions, yet staying out of the way as far as the low end rumble. I can’t say that it is the best subbass I have heard but it is certainly on the good side of things.

As we move into the midbass, there is a slight boost but it is very well done and works well for things like “Sun Is Shining”, where the bass is very nicely presented in a clean and precise way. My fatigue test with “Crazy” proves to give the guitar a nice body to it without being overly boomy, making the track enjoyable. Yes, there is a noticeable presence but it is not something that I dislike.

John Paul Jones’ bass guitar in “Whole Lotta Love” has a very nice thump to it, making its presence felt and not just heard. I did find that Prince’s bass in “Black Muse” was a little more boomy than I expected but that is a minor thing, it still sounds very good.

The mid range is very nicely balanced, with good presence throughout, climbing smoothly to a presence peak just under 3kHz in the upper mids, bringing vocals forwards into the light. There are tracks which have an overly present midbass range in their recordings that can overshadow the mids slightly, yet with good recordings, I find the balance to be pleasant and natural.

For vocal and acoustic based music, which accounts for a lot of my listening time, I find instruments to have a very nice timbre to them, with a little bit of extra warmth in the lower ranges which I would live without but don’t dislike by any means. For example, the lower percussion in “Hotel California (Acoustic)” does have a bit of boom to it but does not overshadow the guitars or vocals.

Vocals I find to be rather natural, although I do find that on occasions that some female vocals, such as Alison Kraus in “Down to the River to Pray”, can seem to be lacking just a little excitement. As with the slight boomyness in Prince’s bass, this is a very minor thing and is much more of an observation than a complaint from my side.

Moving into the upper ranges, I find them to be very coherent and fairly neutral as far as peaks and sibilance is concerned. Patricia Barber, in my usual “Code Cool” scoring, would be placed around a +1 in my opinion. That is, just above what I would consider neutral but only slightly. In the case of Paul Simon in “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes”, I would again place his voice around neutral as far as sibilance is concerned.

Detail in good, with instruments being nicely separated and lingering effects such as the echoes in “All Your Love Turns to Passion” being easily identified. I wouldn’t say the details are amazing but are certainly above average, especially in this price point.

Soundstage is decent, at least above average for a set of IEMs, although they don’t provide a huge soundstage (not many IEMs do). When listening to the binaural recording of “La Luna”, I find that the instruments are slightly closer than I would prefer, with the right front guitar seemingly more centered than on other “wider” presentations, without as much depth towards the front as on other sets.


Conclusion…

I really like the Kiwi Ears Quintet. I would say that they are my favourite IEMs from the brand to date (note that I haven’t heard the original Orchestra, so I cannot compare there). I still feel like the Cadenza are the biggest bang for buck from Kiwi Ears (and a lot of other brands) but in the price range that the Quintet sits in, they are certainly a great set of IEMs. I think I would even go as far as to place them in the top 10 of IEMs I have most enjoyed out of those that I have reviewed, although I would need to decide that after a longer term relationship.

There are a few things that are not perfect but they are minor things, in my opinion, and would have absolutely no doubts about recommending people check them out if they are looking for a reasonably priced, good all round IEM. Especially if you are someone who listens to more modern, well recorded, music.


As with all of my reviews, this one is also available in Spanish both on my blog (www.achoreviews.com) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/achoreviews).

All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link

All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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