Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite

Surprisingly Good – With A Balanced Cable

Pros: Good Lows
Good Mids
Decent highs
Great build quality
Gorgeous IEM
Excellent price
Good packaging with lots of ear tips
Cable has a nice feel

Cons: Highs can be a bit sharp and sibilant
Highs don’t have the best presentation, but that’s not uncommon in this price range
Stock cable ruins the sound from these

OL Close.JPG


Up for review today is the Kiwi Ears Orchestra Lite from Linsoul ( These were generously sent to me for free from Linsoul in exchange for a review – as always this will not impact my usual sarcastic/honest review style, which Linsoul may regret that decision by the end of this review (guess we’ll see). You can buy one HERE from Linsoul.

The Orchestra Lite (OL) is basically the same as the Orchestra, same tech, and the same 8 BA drivers, but more efficient at half the price (betcha original Orchestra owners aren’t happy about that). Yes, this has a very similar setup to the Vision Ears VE8, probably the best 8 BA driver IEM I’ve ever heard (at 10x the price of the OL). No, these are not tuned the same, and sound nothing like the VE8 – there, that’s out of the way in case anyone was wondering (I was). They match much more closely to the frequency response of the Moondrop S8 (another 8x BA driver IEM) but are still their own unique animal (especially in the highs). The drivers in the OL are Kiwi Ears custom BA drivers with 2x for the lows, 4 for the mids, and 2 for the highs. The OL also has a 3-way passive crossover for layering and to reduce distortion – always a good thing, but the test songs will determine whether they pulled it off. So, enough Tech Talk, you can read about that on their website – on with the review!

OL Front.JPG

Accessories/Earpads/Eartips (8/10):

Pretty nice if nothing mind-blowing. There’s a colorful out box to remind me that they sent me the Blue ones instead of the Green ones I really wanted (it’s fine, it’s fine haha). Under the sleeve is a nice shiny Kiwi Ears logo on an all-black box. Inside that box are the IEMs inside some foam – nice presentation, it really lets you see how good-looking these are as soon as you open the box. It reminds me of the Moondrop Blessing 2 – a LOT. Underneath the foam, you have a nice rugged case with the cable and 3(!) sets of ear tips. I have no idea what the difference is between them since they all look like silicone tips to me, the white ones look the squishiest while the red ones look the most firm with the black ones somewhere in the middle. You’ll get slightly different tuning and fits from them, so just play with them to see what your favorite is or pop on your favorite aftermarket set.

Yeah, that’s all they come with, which is actually better than the bare minimum, especially in this price range. The $1,100 Custom Art Fibae 5 comes with something like 4 ear tips, so 3 sets of different types of tips is a big step up! There is no cleaning tool that I’ve seen, but I’ve also never used one of those so it’s not much of a loss. A solid 8/10 – nothing crazy but better than most. As always, I’m using my Spinfit W1 tips since they’re the best I’ve found (You can buy them here if you want a set:

Cable (6/10):

OK, I know that some people seem to think that balanced cables don’t do anything to the sound quality of a headphone. The OL and the LCD-XC laugh in the face of people who think that. Both of those seem to need a balanced cable to get their best sound. And no, I have no way to measure the difference on my test rig because it doesn’t do balanced connections. I promise you though, the OL do not sound at their best on the stock 3.5mm cable. You can pick up a $20 Linsoul Zonie cable for under $20 from Amazon, and it will make these sound significantly better.

I understand why a 3.5mm cable came with these – very few people buying IEMs in this price range have a 4.4mm/2.5mm balanced output. So, the people using an Apple dongle with these, do yourself a favor and grab a TRUTHEAR SHIO (or whatever, the HiBy FC3 is decent too) and a balanced 4.4mm cable – it takes these from just OK to very good, especially at this price. The 3.5mm cable that came with it is a really nice silver-plated copper cable – it’s supple, flexible, and super legit – but it just doesn’t make these sound as good as ANY balanced cable. I tried the $20 Linsoul Zonie, the $70 Kinera Leyding, and the $250 Eletech Azriel – each of them gave the OL the sound quality it was meant to have (the Azriel gave it the best sound, but it costs as much as these IEMs, so I won’t use that for testing or recommend it). I have no idea why the stock cable sucks the life out of these, but it does. It’s fine, don’t believe me – I am literally the last guy to recommend aftermarket cables (read my other reviews), so do with it what you will. 6/10 points for the cable because it’s a really nice cable – that ruins the sound of these and probably causes more returns than Linsoul would like.


Build Quality/Comfort (10/10):

The build quality is excellent. Not only are they a gorgeous clear shell that lets you see all of the electrical goodies, but the transparent blue faceplates are awesome. The shiny silver logo on the faceplate is also classy. Yes, these give me Blessing 2 vibes, but I like them better, and they cost less. I love being able to see all the drivers, and yes, the faceplate is probably a $.20 piece of plastic, but they coated the whole IEM well in acrylic for a nice one-piece finish. It feels like they would be hard to scratch up and would survive a drop or two.

The OL aren’t the lightest IEMs out there, but they’re nowhere near TOTL heavy either. These make the IEMs in my top 5 list feel like bricks. The comfort is really good for me. They’re medium-small, have a little shelf to keep them in your ear better, and fit quite nicely in my ears – small ears may disagree. The included white tips get a good seal for me and the Spinfit W1s also do a good job. 10/10 here, no complaints, and no discomfort.



Check out the below to see how these compare to the Final A5000 that I have on my desk to compare them against. These are two pretty differently tuned IEMs and the A5000 is a single driver to the OL’s 8 drivers. So we’re going to see some pretty significant differences here, despite my liking both IEMs. According to the Frequency Response Graph, the sub-bass is more pronounced on the A5000 along with the low-mids. At around 700 Hz is when we see the OL overtake the A5000 to a pretty steep peak at 2.5k, followed by a pronounced drop into the highs. The A5000 maintains the highs energy until around 8K before dropping off. Keep in mind that the measurement below was taken with a 3.5mm unbalanced cable, so the balanced cable could provide a different sound signature on the FRG.

Orchestra Lite A5000.png

I am powering these off my HiBy RS8 DAP through the 4.4mm balanced connection using the Kinera Leyding cable I’ve used for a bunch of other reviews – again because the stock cable makes the OL feel flatter and sharper. I am using Tidal Hi-Fi as my source with MQA enabled and the Spinfit W1s as my ear tips. I am running the OL at around 42/100 volume on medium gain.

Lows (16/20):

I’m starting off with the Mid-bass/Sub-bass test I’m using David Guetta’s “I’m Good (Blue).” The impact is pretty good here, not TOTL, but the bass drums in the intro have quite a bit of slam and impact. The sub-bass is more pronounced than the FRG implies, with a strong sub-bass response. It’s not Fibae 5 levels (few are) but it does get close to the A5000 and Campfire Trifecta’s levels. That is to say that you won’t be unhappy with the bass here unless you are a massive basshead. There is a tab bit of bass bloat/reverb in the mid-bass though – something to keep in mind, though you’ll have to listen hard for it. 8/10 points.

Up next is Demon Hunter’s “I Am A Stone,” which I use to test whether the bass is too strong and overwhelms the mids as that is just as important as how strong/good the bass is. The mids maintain a good presence throughout this song with the bass only overwhelming the mids every once in a while. It’s not the best presentation ever, but it’s surprisingly good at this price point (just not with the stock cable). 8/10 points.

Mids (15/20):

Weaving The Fate’s “The Fall” is my test song for clean/dirty guitars and sharp vocals with background instruments to see how clearly and well-presented the vocals can be heard. The intro clean guitars sound pretty good if a bit lacking in detail and a tad flat. The distorted guitars are overwhelming, though you can still hear the cymbals and drums in the background if you listen for them. That’s pretty impressive at this price point, but I need to turn down the volume during the chorus because it can easily be a bit painful when there is a lot of noise all at once. The OL do a good job presenting the mids here overall, with clean, forward vocals, and good guitars – they’re just flatter and more overwhelming than I’d like in certain parts of this song – surprisingly, the noble Ronin had the same issue on this song (the overwhelming bit, not the falt bit). 4/6 points.

Staind’s “Something to Remind You” has clean electric guitars and wonderful vocals – this song tests vocal quality and background noise in addition to detail. The OL performs admirably here. Each guitar note can be heard quite clearly and you hear the fingers on the strings in the background as well without it being too distracting – so good detail. The vocals have excellent breadth and depth – truly a good vocal presentation, though the vocals do sound a tad pushed back in the soundstage. The bass guitar in the background manages to be present without overwhelming the mids. I’m impressed here that I’m listening to $250 IEMs. 6/7 points.
Side Note: Just for kicks, I switched back to the stock cable here to see if I was just going crazy – massive difference. The breadth of the soundstage disappears, the detail drops pretty heavily and the overall song presentation becomes worse – the emotion behind this song disappears and it would drop these to a 4/7 instead of a 6/7. Very weird.

To test classical instruments in the mids, I’m using The Piano Guys’ “Code Name Vivaldi.” The detail on the intro strings is very good and the bass strings sound full of character. The piano can be clearly heard in the foreground and it’s not shoved to the back like on some IEMs. The overall presentation here is a little more 2D and a little sharper than I’d like again, but I have to keep reminding myself these are only $250. In the busiest parts of the song, the OL can get a bit overwhelming again with poor layering and all the sound coming at you at once. However, the OL still do a better job here than some IEMs I’ve heard costing 4-10 times as much – it’s a much more emotional experience than some. 5/7 points here – and yes, the stock cable ruins this song.

Highs (12/20):

To test sibilance on headphones I use Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes. There’s quite a bit of sibilance here, but it’s not so bad that I have to remove the IEM like with the FiR VxV. 3/6 points here – pretty average.

Dream Theater’s “The Alien,” is the highs test song I use to see if the cymbals/high-hats/snare drum can be clearly heard and distinguished from the rest of the music (also good for instrument separation testing.) Unlike the VxV, the cymbals are pretty hard to hear here in front of the rest of the music. That said, you CAN hear them, so that’s better than a LOT of headphones and IEMs. Still, it’s muted, and very hard to hear individual drumstick strikes. I’m giving the OL 4/7 points on this song.

Michelle McLaughlin’s “Across The Burren” is another of my favorite highs/sharpness test songs as it can easily sound painful on some headphones. There’s a touch of sharpness here, but it’s above average. There’s also a little detail lacking here, but it’s still a good showing – 5/7 points. Sharpness is about the same with the stock cable, but all the goodness of this song disappears and it becomes a flat soundstage with the notes feeling like they’re far away – these IEMs are really making me into a balanced cable believer.

Soundstage/Instrument Separation/Imaging (6/10):

I use MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” to test soundstage, instrument separation, and imaging. Yes, the OL earns a terrible score here with the stock cable, but with a balanced 4.4mm cable, it’s pretty impressive. The soundstage is bigger than you would expect and the imaging is pretty good. As previously mentioned, the instrument separation can get a bit rough if there are a lot of instruments playing all at once and the layering takes a hit. Most of the time though, it’s pretty good, even compared to much more expensive IEMs. This is a solid 6/10 points – a really good score for this price range.


I am comparing the OL to my current best under $500 IEMs, the Final A5000. I’m using the A5000 with a 4.4mm balanced cable and Spinfit W1 tips also to make it fair. The sub-bass is definitely more pronounced on the A5000 – so is the mid-bass. So, if you want slightly more bass-focused IEMs, the A5000 is a better choice already. The A5000 has slightly more pronounced highs also with deeper low-mids and less pronounced high-mids. The treble on the A5000 still comes through cleanly and is possibly a little more pronounced than the OL. The A5000 are also smaller and fit into your ears with a more flush fit – all pretty amazing from a single-driver IEM. Yes, they’re not as cool looking, but they are lighter and have a more rugged finish – pick the OL if you like to show off what’s in your ears. The packaging is pretty similar, though the OL has more tips and a less annoying case. I would say that these two play in similar waters (and price), though the A5000 is $20 more, which you will have to spend on a balanced cable anyway for the OL. If you don’t want more bass or more pronounced highs, the OL is a much better option. So really, it comes down to personal preference – obviously, the hybrid will have better layering and separation than the single driver as well, so the OL is the better choice there – it also has a bigger soundstage. I’d probably rank this as my #2 under $500 and above quite a few over $500- that’s no mean feat, and if you want less bass than the A5000, these will be your #1 under $500 most likely.

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I cannot understand for the life of me why the stock cable here does such a bad job with the Orchestra Lite. My initial impressions were pretty bad, but that took a 180 as soon as I switched out the cable to a balanced 4.4mm. There was so much more body/soundstage breadth, etc. It took these from a 1080 Standard Definition TV to a 4k TV and really brought them to life. So please, if you get these, get a balanced cable and a balanced player or dongle. If you do, you’ll get a really well-balanced IEM that punches far above its price point – and easily beats the Blessing 2. If you decide to stick with the stock cable, please keep in mind that my score below drops by about 10-15 points. Linsoul should just include a balanced Zonie or Magic Rope with these – it would immediately solve that problem. So, overall, these are gorgeous and excellent IEMs for the price – and they can compete with significantly more expensive IEMs with just a $20 upgrade cable. And yes, a 73 is a really good score on my grading scale, especially for a $250 IEM – my #1 right now has a score of 89. Enjoy!

Headphone Scoring (v3):
Accessories / Earpads / Eartips (10 pts):8​
Cable (10 pts):6​
Build Quality/ Design / Comfort (10 pts):10​
Lows (20 pts):16​
Mids (20 pts):15​
Highs (20 pts):12​
Soundstage / Instrument Separation / Imaging (10 pts):6​

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