Welcome to our first entry in an exploration of neat audio products from Linsoul. Linsoul is a leading marketplace for earphones, headphones, and audio equipment, bringing brands from around the world together and making them accessible to a global audience. We’ve been lucky enough to take a look at quite a few neat headphones over the years. In this limited feature series, we’ll be taking a look at groups of IEMs that caught our attention and sharing our impressions on each.
It’s a shotgun blast of neat audio tech in a brand-new, easy-to-digest format, beginning with neat entries from Kiwi Ears and 7Hz, two of our favorites over the last two years. In particular, we’re taking quick looks at the Kiwi Ears Melody, Quintet, and Cadenza, the 7Hz Legato and Sonus, and the Tripowin Kailua. Most of these products are affordably priced and each is a good value, so join us as we take a closer look and share potential gifts for the gamer or music lover on your list this season.
The Exploration Begins - What Is It?
As a tech reviewer, I’m lucky enough to try lots of different gear. I’m also an audiophile, so the prospect of trying different headphones and earphones is always exciting to me. Often, these products get full 1,800+ word reviews where we dive deep. But, as I looked over the “to be reviewed” pile, I decided to take a different approach to get this content to you faster in a “straight to the point” format.
I have two goals with this series. First off, to share neat products that might resonate with you. My hope is always to share something that might enhance your life and to help warn you off of things that won’t. Second, it’s to cut through a lot of the “extras” that would leave you waiting on these reviews for weeks into the future. We’re going to look at different products and get right down to it: how do they sound, what makes them special, and are they worth picking up for yourself.
This series won’t replace full reviews. We’ll still do those for the majority of audio gear. But with the holiday season upon us, these shorter mini-reviews may help you to find the perfect gift for a loved one, or a treat for yourself, without having to wait so long to get that information. We’re gamers. We’re music and entertainment lovers. That’s the angle we take with our reviews and we’re proud to be one of the few outlets that covers this tech with both viewpoints in mind.
With that said, let’s start with the reviews!
Kiwi Ears Melody
- Current Price: $89.99 (Amazon, Linsoul)
- THD: < 0.5%(at 1KHz)
- Drivers: 12mm Planar Driver
- Rated Power: 5mW
- Freq: Response: 5HZ-40KHz
- Impedance: 18 ohms
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-80kHz
- Max Power: 10mW
- Impedance: 18 Ohm
- Cable Interface: 3.5mm
- Sensitivity: 102dB(at 1KHz/mW)
- Plug Type: Detachable 0.78mm 2-pin
At only $90, the Kiwi Ears Melody is probably the best planar under $100 right now. It’s simply designed with dark gray faceplates and smoothly contoured resin shells that are comfortable to wear when you find the proper tips. It also has a pretty basic 3.5 cable, but it’s soft and woven and gets the job done well. There’s also no storage case. Don’t go expecting extravagance here: what you’re paying for is planar sound quality on a budget and you definitely get it.
If there’s one thing Kiwi Ears knows how to do, it’s tune its IEMs for mass appeal and the Melody hits the right notes (pun definitely intended). The Melody is tuned a bit differently from many of the other popular planars in this space, emphasizing a fun tuning with added bass. This warms up the sound quite a bit, but it’s a great fit for gaming, pop, and electronica. Bass guitars and synths have lots of body, which gives these an especially full sound.
If you’re worried about planar clarity and detail, don’t be. While I still find IEMs like the Tangzu Wu Zetian and Timeless to be more resolving, these have plenty of detail and a surprisingly spacious sound. There’s good separation between the layers and a nice depth to the soundstage, which is a boon for gaming and music alike.
At their current price, these are a steal. If you’ve been curious about planars but don’t want to go all-in on an expensive set just to see if you like them, this is an excellent choice.
Kiwi Ears Quintet
- Current Price: $219.99 (Amazon, Linsoul)
- Type: In-Ear Monitors
- Drivers: 1 Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) dynamic driver, 2 balanced armature (BA) drivers, 1 planar magnetic driver, and 1 piezoelectric (PZT) bone conductor
- Cable Details: 1.2 Meters, High-quality Oxygen-free Silver-plated Copper Cable
- Cable Connectors: 2-pin 0.78mm
- Cable Termination: 3.5mm Stereo Cable
The most expensive set in this list, the Quintet offers an impressive listening experience that builds on the company’s successes with the Quartet and Orchestra Lite. It’s also the most complicated IEM on this list with five different drivers per ear in a very unique configuration. Altogether, we have a dynamic driver that handles the bass, two balanced armatures, a planar magnetic driver, and a piezoelectric bone conduction driver. It’s a lot, all working in conjunction but Kiwi Ears has done a good job of blending these together into something cohesive and enjoyable. There’s a uniqueness to its sound, especially in the upper mids and treble that lends these a crispness that’s very enjoyable.
Build-wise, they have a lot in common with the Melody but have a lighter-hued metal faceplate and are larger overall to accommodate the extra drivers. The cable is also very similar but has silver hardware instead of black. This model also comes with a semi-hardback travel case.
The sound here is simultaneously bigger yet also closer in than the Melody. There’s more bass and a more scale to the sound, a slight grandiosity that isn’t present with the Melody. This is likely due to the dynamic driver and bone conduction driver. The planar, BAs, and piezo work together to give these earphones a brighter sound overall with added crispness in the mids and upper mids. This makes them sound more resolving and higher resolution, though treble sensitive listeners might find them to be a touch sharp at higher volumes.
Overall, I really like this set. There’s a unique timbre to the sound that really makes the listening experience sound crisp. Even though there isn’t as much depth as the much more affordable Melody, it’s bigger and bolder profile really gives this a unique identity all its own in Kiwi Ears line-up.
Kiwi Ears Cadenza
- Current Price: $35 (Amazon, Linsoul)
- Drivers: 10mm Beryllium Dynamic Driver
- Sensitivity: 110dBSPL/mW
- Frequency Range: 20Hz-20KHz
- Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Earphone Material: Medical grade resin
- Cable Interface: 0.78 2-pin
- Cable Plug: 3.5mm
The Cadenza has been out for quite a while at this point and was a genuine hit when it released. The hype has died down a lot since then but don’t let that dissuade you: this was and is a great set of affordable earphones. At only $35, they cut back on the extras, so you’re getting a simpler cable and no case, but there are three sets of three different kinds of eartips so you can find a comfortable fit. They also painted faceplates that are genuinely quite pretty. They’re also small enough to find a comfortable fit that nestles right into the ear without standing out too much.
What really stands out with these earphones is vocals. There’s a clarity and forwardness to the vocals that really makes them come forward. They’re also tuned to balance out a generous amount of bass with risen treble that makes percussion pop. These are a very safe bet for listeners who might be new to the IEM game or who like to listen to radio hits and mainstream genres that lean into foot-tapping fun. The bass is quite impactful giving these and engaging, yet warm, tonal quality.
Very good for the price.
- Current Price: $109.99 (Amazon, Linsoul)
- Drivers: 12mm and 6mm dynamic drivers
- Diaphragm: Fourth-generation DLC composite diaphragm
- Impedance: 26 Ohms (@1KHz)
- Sensitivity: 108dB/v@1KHz
- Frequency response: 10Hz-20Khz
- THD: <1%/1Khz
- Cable: OCC+silver-plated OCC
- Connector: 0.78mm 2-pin
- Case Material: CNC aviation-grade Aluminum
In my estimation, the Legato is 7Hz’s earphone dedicated to bass lovers. It uses two dynamic drivers, a 12mm and a 6mm, to craft its listening experience. They’re extremely well built, featuring fully aluminum shells, and are simply designed with contoured texturing on the faceplates. They also come with an excellent travel case. It’s not pocketable, but it’s large, zippered, and fabric lined. It will keep the earphones safe and lead you plenty of space to store accessories.
Back to the sound. The Legato is a mid-bass heavy earphone. Bass guitars, synths, kick drums, explosions, gunshots, low-end strings in soundtracks… these come forward with boldness. It’s perfect for hip-hop, pop, and electronica. The bass does tend to bleed into the mids, however, which can make them sound a bit husky with male vocals especially. There’s also a distinct roll-off in the treble which blunts some of the sparkle you’d find. This lends them a very warm sound that’s not fatiguing at all. They’re also fairly spacious, which surprised me. I would consider these to be a good pair of earphones for gaming because of it.
If you’re a bass head, these are a good, affordable option that are made to last. If you’re not all-in on the lows, looking elsewhere in 7Hz’s catalog might be a better choice for you.
- Current Price: $59.99 (Amazon, Linsoul)
- Frequency Response: 10-20KHz
- THD: <1%/1KHZ
- Impedance: 30 Ohms (@1KHz)
- Connector: 0.78mm 2Pin
- SPL: 109DB/V@1KHZ
- Material: Medical-grade material front chamber + aviation-grade aluminum back chamber
- Cable Material: High-end silver-plated OCC cable (49 wires per core, 4 cores braided cable)
The Sonus is an interesting earphone for multiple reasons. First off, it’s a hybrid design from 7Hz, utilizing a single dynamic driver and a balanced armature. It also drops the circular or ovular shape of some of its previous models (as did the Legato) and is quite small and easy to fit. The cable is unlike any I’ve seen before and uses a ribbon style — there’s no braid, the strands are literally side-by-side. It’s different, though a bit more tangle-prone in my experience.
Sonus uses a metal faceplate with a resin shell but applies this neat wave to its plate that plays with light and shadow in an interesting way. If you’re the kind of person that wants their earphones to look good (and honestly, that’s a lot of people in the hobby) these definitely do, in a simple, non-ostentatious way.
The sound of the Sonus is closer to neutral than most other 7Hz earphones I’ve heard. It still leans toward warmness, but I enjoyed its clean sound signature. This is a good earphone to use if you want to dig into the details of the listening experience, or need exceptional positional awareness. Their leanness gives way to natural mids and somewhat sparkly treble. There isn’t a whole lot that stands out, however. They’re a pretty tame set in most regards. Which, maybe you want from a set that’s so much closer to neutrality? Overall, these didn’t really stand out that much to me. They’re not bad but I wouldn’t rush out to recommend them for any one area either.
- Current Price: $79.99 (Amazon, Linsoul)
- Type: In-Ear Monitors
- Drivers: 10mm DLC Titanium-Coated Dynamic +6mmTitanium-Coated Dynamic
- THD: <0.5%(at 1KHz)
- Sensitivity: 106dB(at1KHz/mW)
- Impedance: 19 Ohm
- Frequency Response: 12Hz-36KHz
- Rated Power: 5mW
- Cable Details: 1.2m±5% Detachable High-purity OCC Copper Cable
- Cable Connectors: 2-pin 0.78mm
- Cable Termination: 3.5mm
The Tripowin Kailua is a collab IEM with Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews, or Hawaii Bad Boy (HBB), on YouTube. HBB has produced a number of collaborations at this point and this is one of the most affordable. It’s important to understand that the library it’s designed for largely consists of classic rock, hip-hop, and some classical. It’s largely V-shaped with powerful, prominent bass and some sparkle in the treble. The technicalities are only so-so with average soundstage and fairly tight layering between tracks and audio sources. There is fun to be had here, especially if your library aligns with HBBs. He knows his stuff when it comes to tuning and this is an affordable entry-point to that style of sound.
At this price point, you might expect the earbuds to be plastic, but I was surprised to find that they’re completely metal. This definitely helps their durability. The cable, on the other hand, is pretty thin for this price point. It works well but I would have loved to have seen something a bit higher quality here. There’s also no carry case with this set. With that in mind, having watched BGGAR for quite some time, I understand that the emphasis here was to get the price as low as possible while still delivering on his goals for sound and it’s a success on that front.
That will wrap us up for this first exploration! Let us know what you think of this quick-hit, mini-review format in the comments below! As always, products purchased through our links result in small commissions that go to support the site but authors are not paid on clicks or commissions.