Kiwi Ears Quartet Review

Kiwi Ear Quartet

This is a review of the new Kiwi Ears Quartet. The Quartet is a hybrid quad-driver 2DD+2BA IEM with shells made from cured and polished medical-grade resin. The price is $109.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Linsoul for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are based on my own experience with the product.

Kiwi Ears Quartet Review
Verdict
The Kiwi Ears Quartet has a distinctive, colorful signature with powerful bass and balanced tones.
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Pros
Hard-hitting bass
Natural, warm tonality
Soft airy treble
Comfort and passive noise isolation
Cons
No included tool for changing switches
Treble could use some extra sparkle
4.5
Our Score

Kiwi Ears Quartet

Specifications
  • DRIVERS: 10mm Dynamic Drivers (x2), Custom Balanced Armatures (x2)
  • 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%
  • PRICE: $109.00 USD
What’s in the Box
  • Kiwi Ears Quartet IEMs
  • Detachable 0.78mm 2-pinc OFC cable
  • 9x pairs of silicone eartips
  • Carrying case

Design

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.

Quartet with stock cable

Switches

Kiwi Ears Quartet frequency response graph-2
Kiwi Ears Quartet (red = 11, blue = 00, green = 01, purple = 10).

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.

Kiwi Ears Quartet with cable and switch

Sound

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.

Bass

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.

Midrange

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.

Kiwi Ears Quartet switch
Treble

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.

Quartet shells with cable

Comparisons

7Hz Legato
Quartet vs Legato
Kiwi Ears Quartet 01 (red) vs 7Hz Legato (black).

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.

Quartet faceplates

Verdict

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.


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GoneToPlaid
GoneToPlaid
11 months ago

The Quartet has a fairly enjoyable for music. My Quartet came with a metal tool for the switches. The tool was in the small bag for the white eartips. I instead chose to use a dental flosser after using a pair of nail clippers to chop off a tiny bit of the extremely fine pointed toothpick end. See:

comment image?im=Resize=(1200,1200)

I did this since I like the idea of plastic pushing against plastic dip switches instead of the provided metal tool pushing against plastic dip switches.

I somewhat prefer the 01 or DU settings for the switches over the default 11 or UU settings for switches. While I find that the Quartet is rather enjoyable for music, I also find that the Quartet is a bit lacking in some upper midrange details due to frequency response dips in the upper midrange and treble. With this said, I discovered that the Quartet is a nice IEM to use for watching programs on Netflix and other online serials since the dip switches do come in handy for tweaking the overall sound signature to compensate for the deficiencies in the audio mastering for such programs.

Since the Quartet’s sound signature from 20 Hz to 300 Hz never changes (except in perceived volume level), I chose to create graphs which show the effect of the four different switch combinations relative to 300 Hz. So here you have it:

comment image

As you can see in the linked graphs, you can use the Quartet to tweak upper midrange sound signature between 1 kHz to 4 kHz, and also separately tweak the sound signature from 4 kHz to 20 kHz. This will allow you to somewhat compensate for audio which was not mixed properly.The idea is that you can learn about which switch combinations which you might want to use when watching specific programs on Netflix or Paramount or whatever, in addition to using the switches to compensate for somewhat less than ideally mixed music.

Tobi
Tobi
11 months ago

I also ordered a unit on June 12 and received a switch tool. It was in the bag that the clear ear tips were in. Maybe they changed it because they realized that it doesn’t make much sense to deliver it without one.

Zaen
Zaen
1 year ago

do you have a problem with the switch? because my left quartet can’t be turned down

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