Oriveti provided these IEMs free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.
When Oriveti reached out and asked if I was interested in reviewing their new IEMs, I immediately said yes. That’s not a given, these days. In order to keep my backlog to a manageable chaos, I turn down many offers. Furthermore, I don’t spend a lot of time in this price-range. But I remember quite liking Oriveti’s last offerings, and I wished to see their newest developments.
The OH500 and OH300 are beautiful creations to inhabit the audiophile world. The OH300 keeps much of the simple elegance of the New Primacy, while the OH500 reaches a bit further, resembling fossilized amber, or something along those lines. They are both extremely comfortable headphones, and whilst wearing them, I could not tell a difference in size between the two.
In both appearance and design, the OH300 declares itself the successor to the New Primacy, utilizing the same 2x Balanced Armatures and 1x Dynamic setup. The 8mm DD handling low-end frequencies and the dual BA covering mids and highs.
On the other hand, the OH500 is a new creature, and Oriveti’s current flagship. It’s a 4+1 design: 4x Knowles Balanced Armatures to cover mids and highs, and 1x 8mm Dynamic Driver for bass.
Like all Oriveti products, they use MMCX cable connectors. I’ve never been a fan of this design. In fact, I broke one of the cables trying to swap it out. Not surprising in the least. MMCX is a bitch to work with. Your fingers will bleed and you’ll likely damage the product. Do not be distressed. This is all part of the MMCX plan. Your suffering is a goal.
Other than the connector type, I am impressed with the cable. It’s even better than their last launch. And I loved that cable as well. Oriveti takes this aspect serious. They understand the importance of suppleness and ergonomics. And now they’re giving you decent conductor width, for a full and powerful sound.
Both IEMs come with the same case and accessories, which are plentiful and of high quality. You should not be disappointed by what you find. Other brands could take note. This is how you do it… with style.
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.
The pairing section I shall dedicate to the OH500. Why? Because. All you really need to know about the OH300 is that it’s easy to drive, and it’s rather warm. So, neutrality is probably best. Something really clear and detailed, to counter all that warmth. As for the OH500, it’s far more balanced. A fantastic blend of musical and revealing. Really, any source will do, but if you wish to nudge the balance one way or another, it’s easily done.
iBasso’s DX220 with AMP9 ($899 + $250, Review HERE) was the source I used during the sound descriptions on the last page. It’s a beautifully warm and robust player, with such a tremendous soundstage. And goddamn does it pack the goods in terms of performance. This device helped the OH500 reach its full potential. For my tastes, I cannot imagine a better pairing.
Unless, maybe, it’s the Cayin N6ii ($1,199). For those looking to emphasize transparency, cleanliness, and resolution, the N6ii does that even better. And it does so with even more energy and attack. There is notable warmth, and a mesmerizing sense of depth. Indeed, this may be the best pairing for the OH500, feeding all its strengths and maintaining the brilliant balance. I don’t envy those trying to pick between these two high-end players.
For a nice mid-tier solution along the warm and musical side of things, the Shanling M5s ($399, Review HERE) is one hell of a fine choice. It gives you a lot of what the DX220 does, only on a smaller scale. There isn’t as much soundstage or dimensionality, the detail retrieval isn’t as jaw-dropping, but you save a lot of money and still get an exquisite experience of richness and dynamism, power and transparency. The M5s and the OH500 feel made for each others.
Finally, for those on the ultimate budget, the Hidizs AP80 ($149, Review HERE) is my personal favorite player at under $200. I’m constantly impressed by the sound quality of this little thing. It aims for neutral done right, as I call it. Meaning, it takes clarity and detail just as importantly as fullness and organicity. Not to mention, it has quite a punch. The OH500 really comes alive, and sounds utterly amazing. This could be the perfect traveling setup.
Oriveti has released two stellar IEMs in the OH300 and OH500. Simply upgrading the sound of the New Primacy with the OH300 would have been enough, as it is indeed quite the upgrade. But Oriveti went much further, creating something truly spectacular in the OH500. The mid-range market has just become a lot more interesting.