Kiwi Ears Cadenza Review
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMERS:
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is an in-ear monitor (IEM) that uses one dynamic driver per housing. The Cadenza retails for $35 at Linsoul’s Amazon shop. Linsoul sent me a unit in exchange for my impressions.
Medium.com’s image compression has become noticeably worse in the last several months. While I try to find a solution, please visit the link below for full resolution versions of the images in this review:
I have used the Kiwi Ears Cadenza with the following sources:
- Qudelix 5K
- Hidizs S9
- Apple Dongle
I tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to:
XenosBroodLord’s Library | Last.fm
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza comes in a small rectangular black box with a dark blue slipcover. Technical specifications for the Cadenza are provided on the side of the slipcover in English. The IEMs are held inside the box in a foam mounting sheet. The detachable cable, included eartips, and user manual are stored underneath this mounting sheet. The Cadenza includes nine pairs of eartips in three color schemes (3xS, 3xM, 3xL). The eartips are seemingly identical apart from the color. The Cadenza does not include a carry pouch or case.
BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN:
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza has black resin housings. The faceplates feature a swirling pearlescent pattern underneath a lacquer topcoat. There are circular vents adjacent to the 2–pin connector and at the base of the nozzle. The nozzles have perforated metal covers and substantial lips to secure eartips. The finish at the base of both nozzles has started wearing off on my unit. The 2-pin connectors are flush with the housings. It was extremely difficult to insert the 2-pin connector on one side. There are no directional indicators on the housings.
The cable is wrapped in a spiral pattern below the Y-split and uses twin double-helix patterns above it. The cable hardware is a mix of dark rubber and polished grey metal alloy. The 3.5mm jack uses an L-shaped form factor. There is substantial strain relief above the jack but none at the Y-split. There is a rubber chin adjustment choker. The cable uses pre-formed earguides. Large “L” and “R” indicators are printed on the 2-pin connector housings in white.
COMFORT, FIT, AND ISOLATION:
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is intended to be worn cable-up. The earpieces have a moderate insertion depth. The Cadenza is very comfortable, but isolation and secureness of fit are fairly poor. The earpieces require frequent readjustment to maintain a good seal. There is also substantial driver flex if the IEMs are inserted too deeply.
My measurements of the Kiwi Ears Cadenza can be found on my expanding squig.link database:
Kiwi Ears Cadenza — Squiglink by Bedrock Reviews
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza has a U-shaped tuning that is reminiscent of the Moondrop S8, just with more bass.
The Cadenza has fair sub-bass extension, though it would benefit from increased sub-bass quantity. There is a moderate amount of impact to percussion hits. The bass is very textured and more resolving than I would expect at this price point. Bass dynamics are excellent, but bass articulation is a little sluggish. When listening to hard rock, such as the song “First Punch” by Nothing More, I found that bass guitars were more prominent in the mix than with many other IEMs. I do hear a hint of mid-bass bleed.
The Cadenza has a vocal-centric midrange with a prominent pinna gain region centered at 3 kHz. Midrange instrumentation generally takes a back seat to male vocals when both are present. The main exception is percussion, which the Cadenza does an exceptional job of rendering. On the song “Unshakeable” by Celldweller, I can clearly hear the first half of a drum fill at 1:24 which is typically obscured by synthesizers. Male vocals are clear, full-bodied, and gritty. Female vocals are noticeably more prominent than male vocals and are vibrant without being sibilant. Vocal intelligibility is excellent for both. The Cadenza has terrific timbre.
The Cadenza has a middle-of-the-road treble response that splits the difference between smooth and energetic. The Cadenza has moderate upper treble extension, with less sparkle or air than I would like. Detail retrieval is better than the $35 price point would suggest and is closer to what I would expect from a $50 IEM. Instrument separation is average at best, and the soundstage is on the small side.
AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:
While it is possible to power the Kiwi Ears Cadenza with the Apple dongle, I had to use a volume setting of 22/25 on Android to reach my typical listening volume with Spotify Volume Normalization set to “Normal.” I recommend using a different source without the Apple dongle’s hardware volume limitations if you regularly use an Android device. I did not notice hiss with any of my devices.
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is an excellent if not earth-shattering IEM. If you already own a well-reviewed IEM released in the last year at $50 or less, there is no need to pick this up. However, I would personally pick the Cadenza over the CCA CRA+ for a sub-$40 starter IEM because of how similar the Cadenza’s midrange tuning is to the Moondrop S8.
The Kiwi Ears Cadenza is available for purchase below:
Amazon.com: Linsoul Kiwi Ears Cadenza 10mm Beryllium Dynamic Driver IEM 3D Printed with Detachable Interchangeable Plug 0.78 2pin 3.5mm IEM Cable for Musician Audiophile (Verse, Cadenza) : Electronics