Current testing methodology is v1.2
October 28, 2022
Kiwi Ears Cadenza
4.53 x 3.15 x 1.38 in
I recently got the Kiwi Ears Cadenza.
Kiwi Ears was a brand that popped up back in 2021 and back then, they were a relatively new brand that no one’s heard of before. Their entry into the IEM scene was fraught with curiosity as their debut release was a single IEM.
This was none other than the 8 BA driver Kiwi Ears Orchestra, which garnered much acclaim for its illustrious neutral tuning that cradled a rich midrange experience.
Today in 2023, more of their releases just keep pouring, seemingly after just months of announcing the release of their previous products. This has now left them with four IEMs in their catalog that have all found their way into the hearts of many audio enthusiasts and consumers.
Today, we’ll be looking at the model that came after the heavyweight value of the Lite, Kiwi Ears’ first budget offering – the Kiwi Ears Cadenza. Let’s see how it does!
Kiwi Ears Cadenza
Expensive sound at an affordable price
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is a warm, neutral IEM that places its focus on the musical experience. Its smooth and natural qualities glazed with an ample serving of warmth makes music tender and soothing to listen to while retaining excitement and articulation in its delivery.
The technicalities of the Cadenza aren’t calibrated to impress but rather serve to complement its strengths in its tuning and tonality. At its price point, it offers performance and value that transcends past offerings that cost twice the price.
- Driver: 10mm Beryllium Dynamic Driver
- Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Sensitivity: 110 dB/mw
What’s in the Box?
- Kiwi Ears Cadenza earphones
- Detachable 0.78mm 2-pin cable
- 3 x pairs of ear tips
- User manual
Stuff I like
- Good sub-bass extension and beautifully textured lower midrange
- Thick and syrupy tonality and good note weight
- Smooth glide on the pinna gain
- Treble is resolving yet non-fatiguing
- Natural and pleasant timbre
- Good technical ability for the price
Stuff I like less
- Mid-bass dynamics lean on the lighter side
- Bass tends to sound monotonous
- Lacks a touch of airiness in the treble
- Note edges are too smooth at times
I can’t discount the craftmanship Kiwi Ears presented here.
The shells of the Kiwi Ears Cadenza are simply a beauty to behold and I very much like the painted resin designs. With the faceplates, I must say I’m very charmed.
The shells feel substantial to the touch and have a nice lightness to them. Despite them being a budget set, the Cadenza feels durable.
There’s a small vent near the nozzle that’s pretty inconspicuous, so I guess that’s an extra grade for style points. I do like that the resin helps keep my ears comfy for longer and that my skin doesn’t react to the material.
The cable it comes with is a detachable 0.78 two-pin cable, and while it’s nicely braided and has better qualities than most stock cables, I feel that swapping for a thicker core cable would benefit the aesthetics more.
Overall, the build quality gets a chef’s kiss from me.
Fit and Comfort
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is among the few IEMs that I consider to be extremely comfortable. The shape is very ergonomic and they practically just disappear on the ears.
Passive noise isolation is relatively good but external noise is still audible if you’re not listening to music. Overall, the wearing experience is pleasant, and I couldn’t be happier.
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza’s signature can be described as a warm, neutral tonality with a slight bass boost.
I remember having watched a video of an audio blind test, pitting the Kiwi Ears Cadenza versus the Moondrop Blessing 2 in a blind test with four people. Now, I know that the Blessing 2 is technically superior but I was really surprised that most of them preferred the Cadenza’s tonality.
On the other hand, I can understand why non-audiophile people favor the Cadenza. I’ve listened to warm-sounding IEMs before but there’s just something about the Cadenza that’s pleasing.
I’m imagining sitting on a park bench on a quiet autumn noon, watching the sunset as the day draws closer to twilight. The warmth of the tonality is almost like a sensation.
As with fidelity, on the other hand, coherence is done well with all three frequencies. Kiwi Ears nailed the coherency here by choosing to go with a single dynamic driver.
The low end adopts a sub-bass focus, presenting well-textured notes along with rumble. The midrange is smooth and natural, colored with overtones from the warm low end. The treble is lively and has good extension but is tuned to avoid both sibilance and fatigue.
And while I do love this tuning, the sharpness of note edges is sometimes rendered to be soft, ever so dulling macro dynamic attack in the process.
Overall, despite the Cadenza’s uber-smooth tuning that rounds up the treble, it still manages to sound engaging. A peak at 8kHz adds some sharpness without introducing any shrill tones. This makes sure that the Cadenza still has enough energy and sparkle up top that it doesn’t devolve into anything timid.
In the end, what we end up with is a very polished sound that enamors you with its organic warmth and smoothness.
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza’s low end reaches good depth in its subfrequencies. Although its bass shelf is lower than that of the Blon BL-03, its sub-bass fares well and trades hits.
I find the low end especially good at rendering texture, replaying bass lines with ample grunge and bite.
The mid-bass is particularly lighter on the kick, somehow making certain passages lose out on their supposed dynamics. This makes the presentation a little monotonous at times especially when handling genres like rock. I find that modern songs as genres like R&B don’t suffer as much from this.
Despite the linear mid-bass qualities, the bass presentation, as a whole, offers deep textured lows and moderate kick and slam. I find that, while it’s not the most thunderous bass and especially not even bass head standard, the execution gives you a more balanced reproduction with quality texturing.
The meat of the tuning is always the midrange, and that’s because the majority of what you’d hear in a song lives within the midrange. That doesn’t mean that everything else doesn’t matter, but a good midrange is a fundamental aspect that makes or breaks an experience.
With the Kiwi Ears Cadenza, the mids are forward in the soundscape. You’re met with an oozing warmth to the vocals and instruments.
The lower midrange is tuned with naturalness and musicality in mind, imparting both male and female singers a rich heft to their tone. The midrange is generally smooth as compared to a revealing or clinical sound, but it’s tuned to be very organic sounding.
The rise on the pinna gain is subtle, with a gradual glide that follows the Harman-adjusted target up until 3KHz. Then it eases down on 4KHz and makes a rounded peak at 5KHz. The rather flat presence region makes vocals avoid shrillness, while the subtle boost at 5KHz ensures that percussions have good dynamics.
I can’t rave enough about how pleasant of a midrange it is. It’s fairly balanced and has a unique sauce that makes it addictingly sweet.
The upper end of the Kiwi Ears Cadenza is relatively energetic and has a good splash and sparkle to it. I find sibilance to be minimal and only ever pops out at higher volumes.
And while it does a good job at maintaining the overall signature of the mids, it foregoes what could’ve been a chance to inject more edge into the sound. Notes can be too smooth at times and I find myself looking for sharpness at the tail ends.
As for the air region, I find that it extends well and peaks 15KHz before finally becoming muted. The sense of atmosphere here is more limited. It lends itself to sound open but it lacks a few seconds of decay time needed to fully reproduce natural sustain.
Regarding the technical chops of the Kiwi Ears Cadenza, there isn’t any element that stands out.
The stereo separation is nice but not above average. The layering places instruments and vocals just a breath apart, making the presentation slightly prone to crowding but relatively tidy. The staging is quite intimate and rightfully in line with the forward midrange.
The macro-dynamics are good as well but lack a little bit of attack. The decay is rather fast than what I prefer but it remains acceptable. The detail retrieval isn’t its forte and the rounded notes refuse to build the illusion.
For the Cadenza’s price, I wasn’t expecting anything to punch above average. Average is good in my books and as long as the tuning isn’t disabled by its technical aspects, I take what I can get.
Due to its neutral tuning, the Kiwi Ears Cadenza is pretty flexible with genres. It can handle just about every kind.
And while I do find it lacks the authoritative slam that upbeat genres need, it’ll try to please in its capacity. Rock tends to overwhelm its separation but makes it up by giving you textured guitars and vocals.
Overall, I was amazed by the Kiwi Ears Cadenza’s performance. I say this because audio products have evolved to sound this good for virtually lower prices than it’s been in the past.
It’s something that would’ve easily cost $80 and yet here it is selling for less than $40. It’s not market-disrupting or completely outrageous that I’m here busting doors telling everyone to go cop one but it has a solid tuning at a very low price point.
And with that, it warrants my glowing recommendation for anyone who’s looking to dip their toes into the audio hobby – or just anyone who loves music.
Gavin is a college student who has a lot going on. From collecting IEMs and modding mechanical keyboards, to different hobbies like digital drawing, music mastering and cooking. It is safe to say he is a complete multi-faceted geek (and he's kinda cool too)
This post was last updated on 2023-12-03 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.