The New Wave – A Review of the Oriveti OH500 and OH300 Earphones

The Oriveti OH500 is a gorgeously balanced transducer, accomplishing an open and airy soundscape, dynamic, punchy attack, and just enough warmth to keep things from feeling cold. It’s what you would call a gentle U-Shape signature.

Treble is well-extended and sparkly, sculpted to infuse the stage with air and light. It creates a breathable atmosphere that is vast. Details pop and notes hold sharp definition. To my ears the treble is the more prominent frequency range. But don’t take that to mean its overpowering. I’ve heard overpowering highs, and this is not that. With the OH500, it is given just enough room to increase the technical aspects of the tuning, but held back from becoming bright or strident. The highs aren’t thick or syrupy, per say, but there is a subtle sweetness about them that I appreciate a lot. Still, to be exactly to my tastes, I could use a bit more warmth and sweetness in the treble.

The mids are recessed a tad. You can sense the highs and lows threatening to overtake them. But they never do. As I said, it’s a gentle U-Shape, not an aggressive V-Shape. Therefore, the mids are only a step or two back on the stage. They don’t sound exactly small, but you will likely notice they lack a certain presence. In other words, it’s like live vocals at a rock concert, where the instruments are the real showstoppers. But unlike a rock concert, you can still make out the lyrics.

Mid-range instruments have nice pluck and energy, due to those careful treble peaks, and electric guitars are well defined with lovely crunch. Meanwhile, acoustic instruments possess a natural, organic quality, thanks to sufficient low-end bleed.

Bass is very good. Neither ridiculous nor overly tame. Quite controlled. It’s tight and agile, quick and textured. There’s a fullness and earthy warmth which just sounds right. There is a slight elevation from dead neutral, to complete the wonderful balance with those highs. The whole thing comes together splendidly.

Soundstage is rather large. Certainly wider than tall. But there’s a good amount of height. Depth is okay. Nothing to get excited about. Imaging is excellent, and note separation is more than adequate. Resolution is sharp and well-rendered. It fact, it’s hard to find better in this price range.

It’s funny, when I first listened to the OH300, I liked it more than the OH500. I felt the OH500 was lacking something vital. Well, I don’t know if I just didn’t get a good seal at the time, but I favor the OH500 now by no small stretch.

That isn’t to say OH300 is garbage. It isn’t. It delivers a smooth, relaxed, cozy sound that is a delight to kick back and immerse yourself in. There is ample clarity, but warmth and musicality is the main goal here.

Compared to the OH500, the OH300 has a softer, less dynamic sound. I attribute this to tamer treble across the board. Vividness is reduced, details are not as defined. There’s far less air and the soundstage is significantly smaller. The OH300 has maybe a tiny bit more mid-bass, adding more warmth to the vocals and instruments, but for the most part, it sounds like the highs are the main difference. Which gives the OH500 a leg up on all technical aspects. In other words, the flagship product sails ahead. The OH300 is a superb listen, but that additional $200 is well-spent on the OH500.

All the New Primacy owners are likely asking, “If I already have NP, how much of an upgrade is the OH300?” And if you’re not familiar with the Oriveti New Primacy, have a look at my review from a few years back. ($299, Review HERE) Well, there is no mistaking it; the OH300 has the clearer, more vibrant sound. Everything you love about the New Primacy, from its warmth and full-bodied bass, to its organic, natural timbre, is all there in the OH300. It simply increases almost every technical virtue. Just as the OH500 is a significant step up in air and resolution over the OH300, the OH300 is all that to the New Primacy. It is, legitimately, an upgrade. In things like depth, layering and separation, the OH300 outshines the last gen. The only area in which I didn’t hear improvement was soundstage width and height. You will have to go up to the OH500 for that. But since NP was no slouch to begin with, it’s no deal breaker that OH300 shares some of its quality.

I have the Cayin YB04 ($499) on hand, which seems to me a perfect product to compare the OH500 against. Right off the bat, two things jump out at me. First, the YB04 takes soundstage to a whole new level. It is MASSIVE, and easily outstretches that of the OH500. Possibly because the frequency range goes all the way up to 40khz. I’ve heard it said extension into those inaudible realms has a known effect on things like soundstage. I don’t know if that’s true, but whatever you want to attribute it to, I certainly hear a difference. The next thing I notice is lack of warmth. The YB04 does not have much body or note weight. It’s profoundly clear, even more so than the OH500, with superior resolution and air, but I do so miss the bass presence of the Oriveti. Still, if you’re looking for the next level in soundstage and detail retrieval, and long for leaner, more neutral tuning, this IEM is for you. However, if you prefer warmth and musicality, and still want a powerful mix of all those technical things, the OH500 is my recommendation.



Pinky Powers

Pinky Powers

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.


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