Kiwi Ears Orchestra Review



The Kiwi Orchestra is an all-new IEM from a new brand within the Linsoul family. This product features 8 balanced armature drivers on each side including 2 vented lows, 4 mids, and 2 treble drivers. The Orchestra retails for $499 and is priced in an market place that was void of good IEMs in this range, but has seen several good ones show up in the past year. How does the Orchestra compete? Let's find out.

First, though, I would like to thank Linsoul for providing this review sample to assess and provide my opinions of. I also do want to note that I do connect with the designer/tuner of this IEM online, however these opinions of this IEM is as bias-free as possible. 

With all that said, I will just get right to the chase. I really like this tuning, and this IEM as a whole. It really puts itself on the map for me at this $500 price point with its clean looks, great fit, and stellar tuning that has a nice combination of neutrality, warmth, and extension. It's a laid-back reference monitor that has taken a lot of learnings from Thieaudio products in the past, and puts it together for a nice cohesive package as Kiwi Ears.



Where to start...


The Kiwi Ears Orchestra comes bundled with a nice blue fake-leather case that has a quality look and feel to it. I do want to caveat that the case is perhaps just a tad too small. With the copper-colored and slight thick braided cable coiled up as best I could, I still find it difficult to place neatly into this case and close it tight. It just didn't seem to fit this cable well unfortunately.

The cable, though, is very attractive. It has a clean look to it, and has a thicker sheathing that makes it look bold and stunning from afar. Despite being a little bulky, it is pretty flexible and easy to use. In general though, I do prefer a thinner and lighter cable, but this isn't a bad choice either.

The Kiwi Ears shell design is very simple, and the fit works wonders with my smaller ears. I never felt any discomfort and fatigue from wearing these over hours of use. The shell pattern is a black carbon fiber look with an in-lay background that looks white and a little out of place. Apparently this background lights up a neon blue color when exposed to enough UV lighting. Unfortunately for me, almost all of my interior lights inside my home is LED lightning and I was unable to get these to glow even after putting it though a UV-C cleaner box or my florescent light bulbs on my vanity mirror in the bathroom.



The Sound Impressions


A few months ago, I reviewed an IEM from SeeAudio called the Yume. It was tuned very close to my preference target, but even then, I felt it was missing something special about it. Okay, sure the tuning was right in-line with what I wanted, sans the upper treble. That upper treble extension, though, is critically important to how I perceive and enjoy music. It is of utmost importance to many music selections in my daily music rotation of rock, jazz, indie, bluegrass, and electropop. The Yume also was missing some technical staging and utterly lacked resolution for its price point even, and really showed me something I already knew: that Frequency Response target isn't the only thing that matters. It's a big part of it, because tonality is very important, but it doesn't provide context to everything else going on.

So what is this rambling dialogue about a completely different IEM have to do with the Kiwi Ears Orchestra? Well, it is one that also follows my preference curve quite well, with a slightly raised bass section, even mid-range, although a little less gain in the upper-mids than I normally would prefer, and extended treble. This additional treble is what really sets it apart from the Yume, and is probably why I am finding it to sound more complete and more defined.



The other big factor between this and the aforementioned Yume is that the technical capabilities of the drivers chosen seem to really shine. The Yume chose to use a dynamic driver to carry the lower frequencies, while the Kiwi Ears Orchestra chose two vented balanced armature drivers; apparently the same two that can be found in flagship products like the 64 Audio U12t. This gives the Orchestra a lot more definition than other IEMs with dynamic drivers. With this, I am particularly calling out the Thieaudio Legacy 5 and 9 for example, which are in the same price range as this one.

The upper mid-range has a tame nature to it, but it does not sound in any way dark or hazy. This gives a bit more body to female vocals than many other chi-fi counterparts, and strikes a good balance between the controversially bright chi-fi IEMs and the typically hazy western brands, and comes off at some quite ideal for my eclectic mix of music choices.

One area where I think Kiwi Ears excels in, and can be unique at this $500 price point, is the extension of treble up to 15KHz. This gives a much needed energy to strings and percussions that I feel really rounds out the music, and makes it complete and whole. The Kiwi Ears has no problems here.




I have said quite a lot of good things about this IEM so far, but where do I find it lacking?

There's some minor gripes, but nothing that I find as a deal breaker, especially considering this price tag and its great comfort.

The first thing is of course the bass isn't powered by a dynamic driver. The vented BA's do an admirable job here, and give a good balance of resolution and decay, but it is still a little shy of the potential of a well-executed dynamic driver. Now, as I mentioned above, many DD-BA-hybrid IEMs around this price point have pretty incapable dynamic drivers. The cost cuts typically go here, and so many lack resolution, while having plenty of quantity. Do you prefer blunted and rounded edges or a little more precision of an attack?

The second minor gripe is that the Orchestra isn't the most resolving IEM I have heard. It fits squarely in this under $1K range, and while it has 8 solid BA drivers, I do feel like it doesn't hit the top of the line resolutions that IEMs past 1K achieve. In this comparison, I took the Orchestra against the Unique Melody MEST (CIEM) and found the MEST just beats it in some micro-details with a better sense of depth and improved imaging to go along for the ride. Both of these IEMs actually have some similar tonal traits, with similar upper-midrange and treble quantity, however the MEST has a slightly bigger sub-bass boost which gives it a little more impact and a more clarifying upper treble extension that has a bit more zing and bite to it, in addition to giving it more air.



With all that said, the Kiwi Ears is still a very very good IEM and I think the best under $500 you can get at this point in time. Some may ask how it compares with the slightly over $500 Dunu SA6, and I'll say it's probably a toss-up, with the Kiwi Ears sounding a little more correct to me, while the Dunu SA6 having just slightly better resolution and technical capabilities. Both are my two favorites for this price range and are easy recommendations moving forward.



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