-smooth and balanced tonality
-natural creamy timbre
-warm neutral with bass boost
-beautiful male and female vocal
-beautiful woodwinds instruments
-good sound layering
-good note weight
-full mid range
-no sibilance, harshness
-impressively organic and cohesive for 8BA
-great housing construction
-good sound value
-average resolution and transparency
-not the best bass separation and quality
-some instrument sound more textured than other
-average instrument separation
-not very edgy in definition
-lack of air and openess (average soundstage)
-not the most engaging musicality
SOUND VALUE: 8.2/10
Kiwi Ears is a rather new earphones company from China. Their best seller is a single dynamic driver call Cadenza and offering high sound value at 35$. Their first IEM release was the Orchestra, and today I will review the little brother of this very IEM, call Orchestra Lite.
Priced 250$, the Lite is a 8 balanced armature IEM promising balanced and natural musicality.
Let see in this review if this promise translate reality.
The construction and design of the Lite is simply amazing. It scream quality and durability. It’s made of thick resin plastic that feel invincible and is very smooth for the skin. This kind of high quality is unexpected at this price point and sure will make smile the consumer. I love the bright green back plate too. The 2pin connector aren’t recessed but its flat so we have a secure fit still. Strangely, their zero venting hole to the housing, so it can create ears pressure, which isn’t an issue since driver flex doesn’t occur with BA unlike DD.
The cable is OK, it’s stated to be a 4-core 7n oxygen-free copper cable , but look like silver plated too.
The packaging is very minimalist, nothing impressive yet it lack nothing. Well, the carrying case is very cheap and this might disappoint some nit picking buyer. We have generous amount of silicone eartips. All come in a small box so ecological foot print is minimal too.
Ok, this seem to be a multi-BA IEM tuned for those that dislike multi-BA IEMs, this is the very first though that come to my mind when listening to the Lite. In the sens, even if your search hard, you will not find infamous BA timbre metallic sheen nor feel it sound feel or shouty, something very common with multi-BA even in mid-tier range.
Kiwi Ears aim for timbre density with a dark natural texture, it aim for cohesive organic smoothness and favor sens of note weight and dynamic before boosting presence in a bright way of putting treble fowards in a vivid way.
Niche tuning then? Hum, yes, but not in a drastic way that will make the musicality non versatile. Yet, i’m confident to say these will have hate/love reception among audiophile. These aren’t for treble head, nor for basshead, perhaps for mid centric listener and those that seek a sirupy balance . Treble sensitive too might put this on their list.
The tonality is hard to pin point but i would call it warm neutral with slight bass boost to dark W shape with rolled off upper treble pass 10khz. It doesn’t mean the Lite don’t have some snappy treble spice going on, but it’s minimal, its there to add sligth sens of energy and openess.
The bass is boosted in sub bass region and have a chunky thump too it, a warm one, well bodied and fast enough but mellow in punch energy and loudness. The rumble is a bit unique, it doesn’t resonate very long nor have big head room, it feel a bit compressed in vibrance which make it thick and warm insteadn of long in decay and transparent. This affect definition bite and texture, so it’s more about extra physical impact than high fidelity restitution of bass line or kick drum. In fact, kick drum lack texture and bite as well as clean separation. It’s a bit pasty in restitution but did have enough punch to it. Bass line and kick are well layered enough in the sens their density doesn’t mix up in very muddy way, but the lack of mid bass texture result in a somewhat dark roundness. The Kiwi use 2 BA woofer per side, this might explain unique articulation of bass response but as always with BA, the deep extension isn’t stable nor down to 20hz, this is more problematic with contrabass which is difficult to read tone pitch wise sometime, but that’s very nit picky since we don’t have distortion nor low quality bass, just short rumble sustain-resonance.
In fact, for a multi BA the bass is quite excellent again due to this good layering articulation. I never feel it lack punch or rumble but i would prefer sharper more spacious separation and extra mid bass energy.
Mid range is the highlight of the Kiwi Ear, and this isn’t easy to achieve with a multi BA, to offer a sirupy and cohesive and full bodied mid range that doesn’t go shouty or overshadow other frequency. It feel both relaxed and full in presence, with good note weight for piano and smooth natural timbre. It’s not the cleanest nor the clearest, yet, doesn’t feel lacking in that regard due to good but thick layering.
Vocal and woodwind instrument sound marvelous, wide enough in presence and dense with air richness. I really enjoy saxophone and female vocal though a bit more laid back, are creamy, breathy and non sibilant. The attack edge is softened, so don’t expect a bright or abrasive mid range here, we have extra lower mids thickness, tone is right, transparency is good enough too, for slow or calm music, like chamber jazz or classical, the result can be mesmerizing. With a track like ”Hyper Ballad” from Adam Baldych Quintet, the Kiwi show its true talent and leave me speechless, well, not really since I can say it sound more open and deep now, violin, piano kick drum, percussions and contrabass are well layered and fully bodied, without timbral imbalance, lower note piano have lot of weight wich is very impressive and nothing sound offensive yet have the right amount of dynamic and presence to it. Yes, the Kiwi excell with acoustic music more than electronic or rock. Mid range lover will not be disapointed with those. Male vocal too will love the Kiwi, since lower mids are thick and present, it give a full bodied male vocal that is smooth too, not pushed in texture, making the presentation very appealing and favorize in tone and body over brightened presence and definition.
And now the treble, which is a bit understated yet not lacking anything apart perhaps a bit of air and sustain sparkle like with all multi-BA IEM have try before. It’s smooth, thick treble without harsh grain or metallic sheen to it. I would say it’s dark if it wasn’t for this extra snappy spike that extract micro details and percussions and tend to make it more separated from other instrument, so, we have a bit of high vividity that add a bit of crispness and spatial openess but tend to surprise the listener. Why? Because everything is smooth and organic in coherence but some part of highs are sharper and snappier and ediger than other, this will add energy to some snare attack or favor some micro details over other one. Yet, it’s far from being unpleasant, or plain unbalanced, and in fact add a welcome livelyness to an overall laid back musicality. The Kiwi aren’t agressive, harsh, shouty or trebly at all, it’s creamy plus hint of cripsness, with liquid layering that tend to be gratifying in the long run. Acoustic guitar sound quite nice but don,t have long airy decay, violin are beautifull, lush and fully bodied with gentle attack lead and softed texture. Clavichord sound a bit muted and overly tamed in dynamic and natural decay, same goes for harps. Electric guitar too aren’t abrasive and bright enough to offer attack crunch we need. But this is all I can find for instruments that aren’t magnify by the Kiwi. Overall treble is very refined and perfect for long listening session or treble sensitive listener that still want good amount of details and especally well layered spatiality.
About this soundstage, don’t expect a gigantic one, the Kiwi offer an intimate musicality where you are part of music, your in the middle of sound layers here. Depending of ear tips used, you can achieve average wideness, but deepness is lacking, especially when bass occur.
The imaging isn’t class leading due to warm bass and mids and smoothed attack edge, but this is saved from plain foggy spatiality with an excellent sound layering capacity, thanks to the 8BAs used which permit this acoustic rendering we can discern presence body of instrument. It deliver an holographic presentation where 3D tactility of sounds layers are well perceive but not sharply positioned.
While the Kiwi are 16ohm impedance and shouldn’t be that sensitive, i feel it sound cleaner, better and more transparent and balanced with low gain and low impedance source. For ex, with Moondrop Dawn 4.4 at high gain, its more warm, thick and bassy.
As well, these are very ear tips sensitive, and it seem their no venting hole so the pressure will be high and act like ear plug if you see what i mean. My favorite eartips is Kbear KB07 for these, while short wide bore eartips open up soundstage it make the bass looser too.
Isolation is quite good too.
Source wise, It pair better with bright, crisp or neutral clean source with good dynamic, too warm or dark will make the Kiwi sound overly smooth and lean.
VS AUDIOSENSE T800 (8BA-300$)
The T800 use 8 knowles balanced armature and offer a brighter W shape with heftier dynamic and crisper clarity. Overall technicalities are from another league with T800. Bass hit faster, have more texture and definition and is better separated too, it have more sub bass natural resonance but rumble is less thick and warm, yet overall bass performance is cleaner, more natural in extension and better layered with T800. Kiwi have thicker louder punch, but less well define and detailed. Mids are fuller and thicker with the Kiwi, but less transparent and detailed and open, less textured too. Lower mids are more present and thus present male vocal more foward and bodied. T800 mids are thinner and have less note weight but again they are superior in technical aspect from resolution to imaging to attack control and speed. They are more wide open and clarity is superior. Then the treble is notably darker-colored-smoother with the Kiwi, its less bright and crunchy too, and just have minimal air so T800 sound more sparkly snappy and open.Again highs seem more extended and higher in resolution, it have more attack bite too for violin leand and clavichord is more upfrond, dynamic and textured.
Spatiality is wider, taller deeper with the T800, but not intensely so. Imaging is more accurate, cleaner with more edgy instrument separation that have more space and more transparent layering that permit us to dig further in soundscape.
All in all, these are quite different, and here that T800 balance is a bit more vivid and spiky yet well done enough, but organic sirupy cohesion will go to the Kiwi even if they are notably inferior in technicalities from attack speed and control ,to resolution, imaging and soundstage openess.
VS PENON SERIAL (3DD-300$)
First thing that hit me is how more open, transparent and holographic sound the Serial, then it’s the sub bass extension and clarity that seem way superior. The Serial feel mroe U shape too, not as thick in timbre, both in bass and mids, while for treble its notably more energic, textured and detailed.
Kiwi bass is warmer, darker and thicker, but more muddy too and less transparent in separation, kick drum while less chunky is better define and texture with the Serial, and sub bass is leaner and dig down to 20hz naturaly while it it feel more boomy-pillowy way with the Kiwi. Mid range is quite different, its more open and wide sounding with the Serial, its more detailed and textured and louder for female vocal, but not as thick and dark and smooth. Note weight is superior but attack is less energic with Kiwi. Treble is so much richer with the Serial, it dig way more sound info prooving 1DD can surpass numerous BAs when it come to treble natural richness. Its less colored tough, and don’t have this peculiar percussions snap emphasis of the Kiwi, which tend to darken other sound info around it. So, for ex, cymbals crash will have longer resonance and more texture details with the Serial but hit hat will not feel as fast and snappy.
Soundstage is without a doubt way wider, taller and deeper with the Serial. Imaging too is notably superior due to more transparent layering and greater space between each instrument, as wella s less compressed intimate spatiality that permit a more realist and accurate positionning.
All in all, Serial is superior at all level here, both tonal balance and technical performance wise, but it’s less thick and mid centric too, so this will depend what tonality you seek.
The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite are different than numerous other IEM i’ve heard before, and it’s a good thing because it’s not due to bad tuning or innaccessible musicality.
Sure, the smooth balance, creamy timbre and mellow overall dynamic will not please everybody, especially those seeking highly engaging and sharp sounding IEM, but while the Lite is some kind of ”Jack of all trades, master of none” this time it’s not in a pejorative manner.
If you favor timbre and tone over resolution texture and crispness, you will love these, if you can’t enjoy thin timbre, the Lite will please you, if you smooth and bodied vocal you will love these, if you like lush thick musicality with thumpy warm bass and near mid centric musicality: you’r in for a treat.
The Kiwi Ears Lite are cozzy to listen and not boring due to good bass weight and punch as well as superior layering capacity that offer an intimate and holographic spatiality that enveloppe the listener.
Not bad at all.
PS: I wanna thanks Linsoul for sending me this review sample. I have no official affiliation with this audio distributor and these are my 100% unbiased audio impressions.
You can buy the Kiwi Lite for 250$ here:https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwi-ears-orchestra-lite?variant=43713163002073