loading
loading

Dark or Light
logo
Logo

Kiwi Ears Quartet Review

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Kiwi Ears is a newer brand but has already managed to make waves with its Orchestra and Orchestra Lite models. The original Orchestra, and more recent Orchestra Lite, featured eight drivers in each earpiece. The Quartet features four drivers, two titanium-coated dynamic drivers for subwoofer-style bass and two custom balanced armatures for the mids and highs, all for less than half the price at only $109. They’re a comfortable, high-value set that’s an excellent buy for gaming and music alike. 

We would like to thank Linsoul for providing the sample for this review. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: $109 (Linsoul, Amazon)
  • Model: Kiwi Ears Quartet
  • Drivers: 10mm Dynamic Drivers (x2), Custom Balanced Armatures (x2)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 110db APL/mW
  • Impedance: 32ohm
  • Earphone Material: Medical-grade resin
  • Cable Material: High-quality oxygen-free silver-plated copper cable
  • Connector: 0.78mm 2-pin
  • Cable Length: 1.2m±5%

Kiwi Ears Quartet - First Impressions and Key Features 

The Kiwi Ears Orchestra are the third pair of earphones released by the brand this year, and are one of the most compelling yet. It began the year with the budget focused Cadenza (review coming soon), and then followed that with the very good Orchestra Lite (reviewed here). The Quartet are perhaps the most interesting, however, because of their design.

Rather than the typical dynamic driver and balanced armature arrangement, the Quartet combines two dynamic drivers (DDs) with two additional balanced armatures. Dual dynamic drivers are looking to be the next big trend, but this is one of the first sets to use them in conjunction with BAs to create their sonic profile. 

How Kiwi Ears is using them is also interesting. Like the Truthear Zero, the dynamic drivers are configured to act as subwoofers. Using an electronic crossover (a small device that directs certain frequencies to individual drivers), the dynamic drivers are only set to engage below 350Hz, so they’re well and truly dedicated to bass and nothing else. Indeed, the mids and highs are handled by a full-range customized balanced armature. The final BA covers the ultra-highs, acting as a tweeter. 

What we have here is a distinctly bass-focused set, and Kiwi Ears has invested in making sure the bass impresses in quality and quantity. The dynamic drivers are titanium coated for improved speed and performance, and it works well. The low end is powerful, impactful, and very rich. It's a great fit for modern pop, rock, hip-hop, and even metal. At the same time, the sound tuning offers sufficient resolution in the mids and highs to enjoy good high-range details without being fatiguing.

The sound is also customizable with two switches that control the bass and mids/highs respectively. They ship in the “on” position (up), which raises the volume of the bass and the mids/highs above 1kHz or so. This gives them a distinct U-shape which should please most mainstream listeners. Ticking either switch down lowers their respective ranges, so if you prefer more clarity and less bass, or vice versa, it’s easy to dial in. It’s a noticeable difference but isn’t game changing, so as is always the case, you shouldn’t count on these to completely reinvent the stock sound. Instead, they exist to tailor it to your personal tastes.

The design of the Quartet is exactly in line with the Cadenza and Orchestra Lite. The earpieces are formed from medical-grade resin that is very smooth to the touch and comfortable in the ear. The ear pieces are purple and black with glittery swirls that I find quite nice. They’re formed in a universal IEM mold which is based on the shape of the average human ear, so they’re quite comfortable. 

The set comes with a number of accessories. These are stored within a hardback zippered travel case that’s small enough to be pocketable (though you’ll still probably want to put it in a bag) and reminds me of the case included with the Sennheiser IE300. Inside you’ll find a plastic coated detachable cable that connects to the buds with a standard 2-pin connection. It’s fine, but nothing to write home about, and ends in a standard 3.5mm connection. Also included in the box are three different types of silicone ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes. 

Kiwi Ears Quartet - Fit and Comfort

The Kiwi Ears Quarter offer a comfortable fit that remains that way even over long hours of gaming and listening. They have reasonably sized nozzles that were easy to find a fit with and don’t cause soreness or strain over time. 

The shells adopt a universal IEM shape, which are smoothly contoured and have slight hooks to nestle into the outer ear. I found this design to be especially comfortable. Like the Orchestra Lite, Kiwi Ears has delivered another exceptionally comfortable earphone. 

Kiwi Ears Quartet - Listening Impressions 

Image Credit: Super Reviews @ Squig.link

The Kiwi Ears Quartet has been designed to be a bass-centric IEM. As you can see from the graph above, it features a U-shaped tuning. Depending on how you configure its tuning switches, this can change to add more bass or treble, which impacts the middle frequencies as well. For this review, both switches were generally left in the On position, but know that adjusting them provides a noticeable shift in the frequency response — something that’s not a given, even though a growing number of sets have these switches. 

Bass: The bass is the star of the show on this set. Kiwi Ears really seemed to be out to create a bass-centric set here, and devoting two dynamic drivers pays dividends. The quality of the bass is quite good. There’s ample punch and rumble, and I was impressed by its speed. The titanium plating on the driver diaphragms allows them to start and stop more quickly, clearing up bass hits and impacts like gunshots and explosions. There’s also plenty of textural detail in this range. 

The default tuning is great for mainstream pop, rock, and hip-hop. Any genre that leans into the low end, even for machine gun kicks like in Atreyu’s Bleeding Mascara works well here. It’s also quite enjoyable for gaming. You get a similar level of impact as a good gaming headset, but the quality of the sound is clearer and higher resolution.  

With only the bass switch flipped, the profile of the Quartet changes to be quite warm. The mids get a touch over-lush as the low-end crowds in. The shift in balance has the knock-on effect of making the treble sound reduced too, impacting its clarity. It’s all personal taste, but I found that just engaging the bass switch made things a bit too hazy for my liking.

Mids: Vocals on this set are particularly nice. The weightier low-end gives male and female vocals a bit of huskiness that’s very nice in mainstream music. This tuning really helps to give guitars and mid-centric instruments extra body that’s very engaging and fun. It might not be accurate in the truest sense of the word, but that’s not the focus of these earphones. These are much more about fun, and the mid-range follows suit.

The mid-range has adequate but not exceptional detail. Small micro-details, like fingers on fretboards and minute textures like how strings ring out, can get lost in busier sections. 

For gaming, this tuning is good but not great. The extra body is certainly more fun and doesn’t impact positionality. Small details, like breaking glass being trod under foot, doesn’t pop out quite as much when there’s a lot going on. These get the job done and are enjoyable, so I still dig this range for gaming.

Treble: The treble on this set is engaging and somewhat bright in the “switch up” tuning. Highs have detail and bite, which is evident in classical and strings, though they can at times tend into sharpness in this configuration. There’s enough detail here to be engaging but they’re not especially airy. Turning the switch into the “off” position definitely helps smooth this range out, though with the bass switch engaged, it can sound too boomy. If you’re sensitive to treble, I would recommend toggling both switches to off and engaging a gentler sound overall. 

Technical Performance, Soundstage, and Imaging: The Kiwi Ears Quartet offers technical performance that’s about on par for its price point. The stage isn’t the widest and while there’s a perception of layering (more so with the treble switch engaged), there isn’t as much space between. The Quartet doesn’t sound congested or “in your head” but it won’t wow you with its spacing either. It’s fine, not distractingly closed in, and there’s still good positionality with instruments and sound sources, but it won’t wow you with its depth.

Gaming: These earphones are good for gaming. Even though they don’t offer the widest soundstage, their positionality is still accurate enough to be able to pick out the direction of enemies and to have an immersive experience. The enhanced bass can also make for some impactful moments and add to their immersiveness. I would definitely turn on Dolby Atmos to add spaciousness to the sound, but they deliver a reliably fun gaming experience. 

Overall Impressions and Final Thoughts

The Kiwi Ears Quartet are a very good set of earphones. I really enjoyed them. They’re not as detail-centric as the Orchestra Lite but aren’t intended to be. These are much more about bass and low-end fun, and they pull that off well. What makes them most compelling, apart from the dual DD subwoofer arrangement, is their affordable price. With a little tweaking using the switches on the back, you can really dial in a fun sound for gaming and music and you don’t need to break the bank to get there. That makes them an easy recommendation for a comfortable, all-day wear.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Articles may include affiliate links from which we may earn a small commission to help support the site. Authors do not earn affiliate revenue or commissions.          

7.5Good
Pros
  • Comfortable fit
  • Interesting and engaging driver arrangement (dual dynamics acting as subwoofers)
  • Powerful, high quality bass
  • Good positionality for gaming
  • Good value
Cons
  • Details can take a backseat to tuning
  • Switches are best left both “on” or both “off”
  • Highs can sometimes sound a bit sharp


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight