Review - Fosi Audio SK02

Review - Kiwi Ears Quartet

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TLDR version on YouTube: TDLR - Kiwi Ears Quartet

The Kiwi Ears Quartet have been sent to me by Linsoul in exchange for the publication of this review. As usual, Linsoul have not made any comments or requests and I will do my best to be as unbiased as humanly possible in this review.

You can find the Quartet via Linsoul here: https://www.linsoul.com/products/kiwi-ears-quartet

(non-affiliate link)

To avoid being repetetive in my reviews, you can find all the info about how I create the reviews, equipment used, how I receive the products and how to interpret my reviews by visiting: About my reviews


Intro…

There have been a few Kiwi Ears releases lately, two models that I already reviewed and enjoyed. The Cadenza, with it’s single dynamic driver, being one of my top picks in the ultra-budget category, and the Orchestra Lite, an 8x BA config, which I also liked (although I didn’t find them such a “bang for buck” as the budget model). The Kiwi Ears Quintet is another interesting model (1DD + 2BA + 1 Planar + 1 PZT configuration) that will be coming soon but today’s focus is on the Quartet, a dual dynamic + dual BA set up, showing that Kiwi Ears have a configuration for everyone.

The Quartet is available for around 100€ (at the time of putting together this review) which places it midway between the budget Cadenza and the more expensive Orchestra Lite and Quintet options, meaning that they also have a price range for everyone.

I have spent a week or so with these IEMs, using them mostly at my desk while working, before sitting down to do my usual detailed listening with my test track list. I have to say that these have not disappointed me, keeping up the good vibes that I have been getting from Kiwi Ears lately.


Presentation…

The packaging and presentation of all the recent models from the brand is very similar, in fact, almost identical. On the outside of the box, only the model name and the image of the IEM is different.

Opening the box we also find the same contents as with the Orchestra Lite, which is to say the same contents as the Cadenza with only a storage/transport case in addition.

Said contents are the IEMs, the cable, 9 sets of tips in 3 types, a velcro cable tie and the storage case with the Kiwi Ears logo.

I had absolutely no complaints with the contents of the previous models so I am not going to start now, they are of good quality and more than adequate to be able to pull out the IEMs and get straight into enjoying them.


Build and aesthetics…

While the aesthetics are similar throughout the models (except the Quintet, but thats for another day), with that marble swirl effect that I like, there are differences in the build. The overall shape of the Quartet is similar to the Orchestra Lite (almost identical) but has the marble swirl over the whole shell, not just the faceplate, and also features 2 dip switches on the back of the IEMs for changes to tuning.

The shape is comfortable, the IEMs are lightweight and I honestly have absolutely no complaints about the build or aesthetics of these IEMs. They are cheerful without being overly blatant and I find I can wear them for long periods without any discomfort.

The cable is simple but is well made and is also comfortable, without being overly thick (I am not one who really chooses overly thick cables on IEMs). It is not a boutique cable but it does its job and, again, I have no complaints.


Sound…

All tracks mentioned are clickable links that allow you to open the reference track in the streaming service of your choice (YouTube, Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc.)

The Quartet features the 2 switches that I just mentioned and these give an option of 4 different tunings. Here is a graph of all 4 options together with my usual preference target as a reference:

As you can see from the graph, there is not a huge difference but it is enough for each option to be distinguished from the others, something that can’t be said for some of the other “tunable” IEMs out there.

I honestly didn’t find any of the tunings horrible but I personally prefer the 0-1 tuning (that is first switch down, second switch up) as I find it tames the midbass a little and gives me a little more presence in the upper mids/lower treble. This gives the Quartet an overall presentation that I enjoy more than the others and, while on paper it may not seem to be anywhere near my usual preferences, I have found that it works well for most of my general listening throughout the day.

Starting off with the subbass, there is a nice presence and clarity in these lower notes, providing not only rumble but also definition. The “dirtiness” in the lower ranges of “Royals” by Lorde is easily appreciated, making for a deep reaching response that I like.

Moving into the mid bass, here the presence is noticeably boosted, giving more presence to these areas than I would personally pick, However, due to the clarity and the way the IEMs handles these notes, they are not overly bloated or muddy. “No Sanctuary Here” has plenty of presence but also good detail in these midbass ranges, working well for this track and a lot of electronic music in general.

With instrument based music, there is warmth in these lower ranges of guitars and basses which can become a little excessive on occasions. My usual fatigue test with “Crazy” doesn’t become overly boomy but is still more towards the boomy side of things than I would like personally. The upper ranges do a good job of counteracting this and the definition of the bass means that I don’t feel overly fatigued with the track, but I would still tame it down a little personally.

In general, while the bass is a little north of my preferences, the performance in these ranges does make up for it, making it quite an enjoyable listen. I did find that the other switch combinations increased the bass even more, which I would not choose personally but I can imagine there will be lots of people who will.

The mid range is slightly recessed to my ears, especially in the mid section but the upper mids do climb and bring back the presence of most vocals, especially female vocals in a lot of my acoustic music choices. I did find that, for example, Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg in “Still D.R.E” seemed a little recessed in their vocals, which was exaggerated even more in other switch configurations, taking a bit of a step back in comparison to the lower ranges and the piano.

However, with something like “Don’t Start Now”, Dua Lipa is present enough and the clean and present bass makes for a great overall presentation. In the case of “Hallelujah”, I find that the female voice is more present than the male voice, but there is still a bit of a struggle for her to break through the bassy chorus vocals.

Moving into the upper ranges, there are a few peaks and dips that can sometimes interact in the wrong way with certain tracks and just in the right way with others. For example, I find that the voice of Zella Day in “Seven Nation Army” has a harshness to it that can make it less enjoyable, however, Paul Simon in “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” is actually less harsh than I usually find it, making it more enjoyable (also, the Quartet do a great job or portraying the fretless bass in the track!).

I did find that other switch combinations could counteract the harshness of some of the tracks that suffer from it, but at the expense of more bass presence (which will be a good or bad thing depending on both your tastes in tuning and music).

Detail is very good in the lower ranges yet not so great in the upper ranges. I feel that there is a sensation of air and the slightly blunted treble region can add to the sensation that the detail is not quite there in the upper ranges.

Soundstage is pretty average, in the realm of IEMs, with image placement that is decent but not amazing. Tracks like “Bubbles” have a decent sensation of separation but not much in the way of space between them. With “La Luna”, I get a very similar sensation, that instruments are clearly separated between themselves but not very spread out, so you still get a sensation of the binaural recording but on a much closer level.


Conclusion…

I find that the Quartet can be a very enjoyable set of IEMs depending on what music you are listening to. There is the option of tweaking the tuning to your individual taste and it is nice that all the tunings are usable (again, depending on tastes), although I mainly opt for the 0-1 configuration. With instrumental electronic music, I find that they can perform very well and be very enjoyable. Even with acoustic instruments, the result can be good, although a little overpowering in the midbass for me personally. Where I find they are a bit of a let down is with vocals.

To be honest, there are certain vocals that sound very good on the Quartet, but there are many that can either suffer from a little lack of presence (being overshadowed by the lower ranges of the music) or can become harsh when those upper range peaks hit just in the right (or rather, wrong) spot.

While these IEMs are not going to suit everyone (including me), they will work very well for certain genres of music and be a good fit for many.


All FR measurements of IEMs can be viewed and compared on achoreviews.squig.link
 
All isolation measurements of IEMs can be found on achoreviews.squig.link/isolation

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