Welcome to my quick thoughts on the Kiwi Ears Quintet IEM. In this new category, I will share short impressions without covering all topics I‘d usually try to address in a full review. I received the Quintet on loan and already posted some impressions in German on Hifi-Forum.de.
I had a quick demo of the Kiwi Ears Quintet at the Fujiya Headphone Festival in Tokyo, October 2023. While I always keep on searching for the new best reference IEM, I couldn‘t find an IEM that would dethrone the Softears RS10 – neither at the show nor at the E-Earphone shop in Akihabara which I visited twice during the trip. (ThieAudio V16 Legacy would be an interesting competitor, though, which I clearly preferred over the Monarch MK3.)
Searching for a Fun IEM
With no new high-end flagship to pique my interest, I was left with checking out some new interesting designs. The Japanese brand Madoo was new to me and the Typ821 looked like it was designed by Chord Electronics. The treble of this magnetostatic IEM needs some taming, but this article is not about the Madoo anyway. It could, however, been about the Letshuoer EJ07M which I finally got to listen to. I didn‘t find them very comfortable, though, and a little bit too shouty. As far as engaging tuning signatures go, the Kiwi Ears Quintet left me even more impressed. So why am I reviewing a loaner when I just should have bought it 3 months ago?
The Quintet made me decide that I should try a more fun-sounding IEM as a daily driver. But instead of going with Kiwi Ears, Gizaudio‘s shouty YouTube channel had me convinced I needed the AFUL Performer5 instead. (Detailed impressions to follow.) Having compared both, and if somebody would ask me which one I‘d recommend, I‘d pick the Quintet. Alas, I‘m sharing my impressions and let you know why.
Kiwi Ears Quintet Introduction
I have nothing to share about the company (as I have no insider news this time), and since this post is about ”quick thoughts“ only, I‘m saving myself the trouble of researching IEM specifics. If it‘s worth remembering, the Kiwi Ears Quintet does have a wild conglomeration of drivers: bone-conducting piezo, magnetostatic, dynamic and balanced armatures are all cramped into the tiny shell.
I‘m also skipping the build analysis. For me, the Kiwi Ears Quintet are very comfortable. The cable is of AliExpress average quality and I can think of several details I would have improved. But nothing is deal-breaking and the bottom line is that the product is absolutely worth its money.
The Kiwi Ears Quintet have a very engaging tuning that boosts both ends of the spectrum. Full-bodied bass balances extra treble sparkle on top. In between, the midrange is fairly neutral. (Hmm, the range from 700 Hz to 6 kHz is shockingly identical in amplitude to the Binary Chopin.)
Quintet‘s bass is very enjoyable and well tied into the rest of the tuning. Even though the sub-bass is boosted, there‘s enough focus left on punch and texture. The low-end bleeds seamlessly into the midrange, creating a full-bodied fundament that makes your head nod and toes sway to the music. Kiwi Ears recreates the low-end much better to my satisfaction than Binary did.
While I previously claimed the midrange is “fairly neutral”, this does have to be taken into perspective that overall the tuning is v-shaped. That means that deeper voices sound a bit fuller and higher-pitched voices sound brighter overall. It‘s all nicely balanced and gives the music excitement. The colouration is not enough to ever sound wrong.
When I first heard the Quintet in Tokyo, I noticed a prominent 7 kHz peak. It was very obvious to me then, but silly me didn‘t bring any ear tips so I left the host searching for some that fit my ears. During the demo at home, I found more comfortable tips in my collection and the highs around 7 kHz were far more modest. However, the treble remained very prominent and exaggerated. If you do not like treble details, this might not be the IEM for you. Sparkle can be right in your face and cymbals can sound tinny at times. I know some audiophiles like the extra detail retrieval. Extension is great and spans a wide soundstage.
The Kiwi Ears Quintet are very engaging and dynamic-sounding IEM. They have very competitive performance at the asking price of $219. Among the multi-driver hybrids around the same price, these are among my favorite fun-sounding in-ears. If you want a brighter presentation, check out the Chopin, and for a warmer signature try the Performer 5. For me, the Quintet has the best balance.