Kiwi Ears IEMs have attracted fans for their stylish shell designs, particularly the budget Cadenza model. The Quartet continues this trend with black medical-grade resin shells adorned with metallic purple swirls, creating a fantastic look.
Unlike the solid resin Orchestra Lite, the Quartet’s shells are hollow, but retain the standard 0.78mm 2-pin sockets and come with dual-bore nozzles. The most exciting feature is the dual tuning switches that offer four distinct sound profiles.
Not only are the shells eye-catching, but they’re also extremely comfortable, surpassing even the Orchestra Lite. The Quartet also boasts excellent passive noise isolation, making it a great choice for live musicians.
The cable is similar to the Cadenza’s and is supple, robust, and free of microphonics. Considering its price, the Quartet has stunning build quality.
Unlike many IEMs, the switches on the Quartet make a real difference to the sound. As a result, there are 4 distinct profiles to choose from. They range from balanced to near-basshead and there’s sure to be one that suits your preferences.
My preferred configuration is 01 (0 = off, 1 = on) so that’s the sound signature I’ll be describing below.
Gear used for testing includes the SMSL C200, xDuoo Link2 Bal and Shanling M0 Pro. The Quartet is a pretty efficient IEM and doesn’t require a lot of power. However, I found the bass control to improve with better quality sources.
The Kiwi Ears Quartet takes a unique approach compared to many of its peers, delivering a bold and colourful sound with a powerful bass response. While it could be classified as a “basshead” IEM, there’s much more to it than that.
The Quartet features weighted bass, but instead of following contemporary trends by emphasizing the sub-bass shelf, it places more weight on its mid and upper bass. This departure from the norm allows for a distinctive sound signature that sets it apart from most other recent ChiFi IEMs.
The bass is dense and authoritative, commanding attention. Needless to say, if you’re looking for bass neutrality, the Quartet isn’t for you. But while purists may bemoan the warmth and level of the bass, those who enjoy a pronounced low-end boost will feel right at home.
Despite the sub-bass roll-off on the graph, the Quartet’s rumble can be heard and felt. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a basshead IEM but it’s hovering pretty close to it (depending on the switch configuration).
The Quartet truly shines when playing old-school funk tunes like The Whispers’ “And the Beat Goes On.” The kick drum thumps with palpable physicality, while the groovy bass line receives its deserved affection.
Quartet’s midrange possesses a lush and velvety texture, imparting a sense of richness and depth to the music. It strikes a perfect balance between warmth and clarity; however, in some cases, it could benefit from more bite.
Male vocals resonate with a sonorous and chesty quality, providing a powerful and commanding presence. On the other hand, female vocals exude a silky and seductive charm, captivating the listener with their alluring tonality. Furthermore, when it comes to string instruments like cellos, Quartet renders their sound with a rich and full-bodied resonance.
At first listen, one is immediately struck by the treble’s gentle demeanour. It exhibits a slight softening and smoothness, providing a comfortable listening experience. However, this tranquillity is far from a compromise, as the treble manages to maintain an airy quality that contributes to the creation of a soundstage with good proportions.
Eschewing any flashiness or sparkle, this treble assumes a laid-back disposition. Its subtlety becomes a strength, enhancing the overall musicality by counterbalancing the warmth of the bass while simultaneously adding a layer of clarity and definition to the mix.
Soundstage and Technical Performance
The soundstage of the Kiwi Ears Quartet IEM is a testament to balanced proportions, offering equal measures of width and depth. Its black background and instrument separation enhance the experience, while the resolving sound signature uncovers layers of musical information. The Quartet’s natural tonality adds authenticity and realism, and its surprising detail retrieval ensures that nothing gets masked or hidden.
The Legato (review here) has a warmer tonality and is more V-shaped. It focuses on the sub-bass while the Quartet takes aim at the middle and upper bass. The Legato has more bass quantity but both show good control and slam.
Legato’s midrange is more recessed and darker in tone. Both IEMs have smooth treble but Legato’s is more laid-back and softer. When it comes to soundstage, Legato has more depth whereas Quartet has a wider stage.
In conclusion, the Kiwi Ears Quartet IEM presents a distinctive and colourful sound signature with a powerful bass response. While it will appeal to bass enthusiasts, it offers more than just a low-end boost. With its weighted bass that focuses on the mid and upper frequencies, the Quartet sets itself apart from contemporary trends, resulting in a unique sonic character.
The lush and velvety midrange, complemented by the gentle and balanced treble, further adds to the Quartet’s appeal. Combined with a well-balanced soundstage, excellent technical performance, and natural tonality, the Quartet is easy to recommend at this price.