Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite Review
The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t receive monetary or any other kind of compensation and I don’t use affiliate links. Their price is $249 and you can buy them exclusively from Linsoul.
Kiwi Ears are relatively new to the earphones market but they have a great expertise because their team was behind tuning some very popular IEMs by other well known brands. Their aim is to produce earphones that are both suitable for critical music listening and professional use, something that they managed to do with their first creation, the Kiwi Ears Orchestra.
Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite
The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is built on the same foundation as the original Orchestra, yet redesigned to be more efficient, both in performance and cost. The Orchestra Lite features the same 8 balanced armature driver configurations and the famed tonal balance as its predecessor. With close partnership with the driver manufacturers, they have been able to develop custom Kiwi Ears balanced armature drivers that deliver a more efficient performance at the same specs. The Kiwi Orchestra Lite features two custom ultra tweeters for the treble, four custom midrange balanced armature drivers for the mids, and two Knowles, large subwoofer drivers for the lows. The Orchestra Lite still had to perform at studio monitor-like calibers in order to be suitable for professional musicians and audio engineers. For this reason, the Orchestra Lite utilizes a three-way passive crossover strategy using 5 independent passive components to achieve intricate layering and reduce total harmonic distortion. The bass has been restricted to sub-bass frequencies, with a peak of 8dB volume from 20Hz to 200Hz. The mids region is retained at neutral, with only a 2dB difference from 200Hz over to 800Hz in order to provide an ever slight hint of warmth without muddying. The treble has been perfectly matched with the human ear’s pinna perception, with a 7dB peak at 2.5kHz and a slow natural decay towards 10kHz. This precise treble engineering allows every detail and nuisance to be heard, while remaining comfortable and free of any harshness. In short, the Orchestra Lite perfectly reflects the sound of professional studio monitors and is the perfect companion to stage musicians, audio engineers, and music enjoyers who want to listen to music as it was intended.
Build quality and fit
The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is made from a skin friendly resin compound with a semi-custom, anatomical shape and is available in two faceplate colors, green and blue. The design is rather dull and uninspiring but it has a professional simplicity that doesn’t call much attention. The earshells are not very bulky and they fit very well, offering a long term, comfortable user experience. The rather deep insertion adds great stability during head movement and excellent passive noise attenuation making the Orchestra Lite suitable for stage use.
The Orchestra Lite has been paired with a 4-core 7n oxygen-free copper cable to best enhance its sound. The cable is intentionally designed to be light and comfortable for stage or portable use, and is fitted with a removable 2-pin connection for cable-swapping. The cable is of good quality, it is soft and lightweight without microphonic noise but it ends in a fixed 3.5mm plug when most of the competition now comes with modular cables.
Except for the cable, the package includes three different types of silicone ear-tips, in three sizes each, and a compact sized, hard carrying case.
Power requirements and associated gear
The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is rated at 16Ω/112dB so it is very easy to drive but you should use a dead silent source because the earphone is very sensitive to noise. I have mostly used the Chord Mojo 2, the EarMen TR-Amp and the FiiO M11S with an aftermarket balanced cable. Per manufactures request, the earphone was burned for more than 100 hours before listening evaluation.
True to the brand marketing literature, the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite has an absolutely balanced tuning with a neutral frequency response that when combined with its excellent transparency result in mirror-like source fidelity. Moreover the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite doesn’t sound like the usually boring and sterile monitoring earphones but it manages to stay very enjoyable and musical. At first listen it might sound too exposing and revealing but give it a high quality source and it instantly transforms into addictive and involving, connecting the listener with the music by establishing a firm sentimental bond. Nothing is perfect though, this is a full balanced armature earphone, without dynamic drivers, so better expect the typical balanced armature bass that is lacking in physical impact and body weight. The texture is lean and rather dry but in exchange you get top class clarity and definition with prime layering. Sub-bass extension is excellent, the earphone can easily reproduce the lowest of the tones without any artificial boost but you shouldn’t expect rumbling and thundering bass. Interestingly enough, the bass might be lacking in impact force and physical power but the macro dynamics are rendered with a stellar antithesis and contrast. The rest of the bass is absolutely neutral up to the mid-range without a single trace of unnecessary coloring, masking or bleeding while it is lighting fast and well controlled. With four balanced armature drivers for the mid-range alone it is not of a coincidence that this part of the region has the higher quality characteristics. The mids are just a bit forward and present with a good overall tonal balance without too much of an upper mids prominence. Clarity and transparency are of top class, the presentation is textured and finely articulated while resolution and detail retrieval are tonal accuracy is good, the timbre is mostly natural and all instruments sound lifelike. Overtones are not as saturated and colorful as in some single dynamic driver earphones, the leaner texture doesn’t help either, but still there is quite plenty of harmonic variety and not much artificiality in order to make the listening experience enjoyable and realistic enough. The treble is extended, energetic and luminous but carefully tuned without sounding bright and irritating, at least with good quality recordings since the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is revealing and exposing so don’t expect it to smooth out sibilance and harshness that might be present in your source. The texture is still lean and on the dry side, time decay is little faster than the ideal so certain percussion instruments can sound thin and lifeless. The timbre is mostly natural although not devoid of occasional artificiality, but the quantity is not enough to make the sound sterile and fake. The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is a speedy earphone with fast transients, excellent detail retrieval and resolution while the lack of distortion makes for a refined listening that doesn’t cause fatigue.
The soundstage is the typical of mid-tier balanced armature set-ups, it is wide and spacious with pinpoint imaging and plenty of airiness, it never sounds congested but it is mostly flat without any significant depth layering, relatively lacking in holography and grandness. The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is excellent for all critical listening applications where tonal accuracy and transparency are desired but without compromising in musicality and enjoyment factor.
In the end
The Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite is a very interesting proposition as it manages to sound neutral, balanced and transparent, making it suitable for critical music listening and professional applications, but without sacrificing musicality and engagement.
All target groups will also appreciate the excellent passive noise attenuation and the comfortable fit while they will remain satisfied by the generous accessories pack and the build quality. All things considered, the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite offers a great price for performance ratio and it gets highly recommended.
Copyright – Petros Laskis 2023.
+ Balanced and neutral sound signature
+ Natural and realistic timbre
+ Great bass technicalities
+ Mid-range resolution and refinement
+ Smooth but not subdued treble
+ Very easy to drive
+ Comfortable and lightweight
+ Great passive noise attenuation
+ Good quality cable
+ Plenty of accessories
+ Value for money
– Lean and dry texture
– Bass is lacking in physical impact and weight
– Mostly flat soundstage
– Treble timbre has a touch of artificiality
– Sensitive to source noise
– Cable isn’t modular