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Oriveti OH300 Review – The Dark Knight

Pros – 

Balanced across the spectrum, Improved headroom and isolation, Clean tone throughout, Gorgeous stock cable and accessory set

Cons – 

Not as linear as previous Oriveti earphones, Midrange timbre slightly off, Large housings

Verdict – 

The OH300 differentiates itself by capitalising on its hybrid driver platform without overstating its emphasis nor hiding its resolving power behind its dark background.


Introduction –

Oriveti caught my eye almost half a decade ago with their original Primacy. It sported a smooth sound and an excellent metal design reminiscent of Phonak’s perfect fit earphones; indeed that’s what was provided and I remain a big fan. The HK-based company was also among the first to offer such a hybrid driver setup at a reasonable price – in a time where AKG was charging $1000 and other options could be counted on one hand. Unfortunately, the modern market is not so forgiving, hybrids are abundant, cheap and offer myriad flavours of sound. The OH300 and OH500 are Oriveti’s newest offerings coming in at $300 USD and $500 USD respectively with 3 and 5-driver configurations. Oriveti also offers their excellent Affinity upgrade cable for an additional $100 if bundled with either ($199 standalone price). Both offer similar signatures with the OH300 serving as the direct replacement for the New Primacy. In-line, it retains similar emphasis on vocals and tone, now imbued with newfound energy and a complete redesign that brings Oriveti up to speed with the new market. You can read more about the OH300 earphones here and purchase the OH300 here.

 

Disclaimer – 

I would like to thank Oriveti very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the OH300 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Accessories –

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The new Oriveti earphones impress with their unboxing experience much like the Primacy earphones before them. The square hard boxe slides open to reveal the earphones and accessories nestled within a protective foam inlet. Though the aluminium case included with the new Primacy was gorgeous, the same can be said for the button-up leather cases included with the new OH earphones. Meanwhile, the cable and ear tips are housed in separate boxes, the ear tips, of note, come within their own plastic case, a handy addition for frequent travellers. Such a fully-featured accessory set contributes towards a surprisingly

 

Design –

Smooth. That’s the descriptor that first strikes when handling the OH300.  Though sacrificing the compact dimensions and metal construction of the Primacy, the handmade resin OH earphones are shapelier; featuring a snugger, more ear-filling design. They have a total lack of hard edges that permit a comfortable fit and prevent the formation of hotspots during long listening sessions. The lightweight housings and well-angled nozzle ensure the earphones remain stable during active use.

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As they are fairly large, the OH earphones do protrude slightly from the ear, though as the vent for the dynamic driver is on the inner face, wind noise was not an issue during my testing. Isolation is very good, almost on par with fully-sealed models, especially with foam eartips. They are perfectly suited for frequent commuters with their isolating design and stable fit.

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In typical Oriveti fashion, the included removable MMCX cable is excellent. I was enamoured by its 8-core design and ergonomic square braid that resists tangles and minimises microphonic noise. The sheathing is smooth the cable soft and compliant without memory or springiness. All terminations are a uniform anodized black aluminium with ample strain-relief. The new cable also implements pre-moulded ear guides that hug the back of the ear to provide greater fit stability.

 

Sound –

Tonality –

The OH300 is curious as it doesn’t align with any specific signature shape, though a mild W is perhaps most appropriate at a glance. With the New Primacy, Oriveti made waves with their smooth, vocal-forward and dense sound and the OH300 represents a remix that still upholds the same core qualities. Chiefly, vocals lie in the spotlight, and the OH300 is slightly more balanced on behalf of a larger sub-bass emphasis that brings the lows more in-line. Meanwhile, fair lower-midrange quantity helps to maintain vocal body while increased upper-midrange extension trades density for a significantly greater sense of clarity and extension. Highs are rendered in a smooth manner as before, with a small bump for clarity and crispness, maintaining a generally smooth presentation overall despite its newly added clarity.

 

Bass –

Lows are impactful and impress with their clean tone, a signature of Oriveti. This is achieved via a sub-bass focus and a gradually fall off through the mid and, especially upper-bass; effectively creating a neutral tone and a mostly accurate note size. Nonetheless, as sub-bass is emphasized, the OH300 has a thicker, weightier low-end presentation despite the absence of warmth. Oriveti’s previous New Primacy does come across as the more defined bass performer due to its more linear tuning, but the OH300 has more kick and is more dynamic.

And beneath the additional slam of the OH300 lies similarly impressive driver control that prevents notable muddiness and ensures that fine details are retained if fairly smooth in their delivery. Natural decay and a sub-bass focussed tuning result in a grand, enveloping low-end that also retains ample texture. Moreover, this is achieved while keeping muddiness and bloat well at bay while capitalising on enhanced slam and rumble. The OH300 is a little more bombastic than its predecessor though it remains an insightful performer.

 

Mids –

The midrange is defined by its clear, forward vocals. However, it also avoids the pitfalls of a clearer tuning as lower-mids sustain fair quantity and lower-treble is attenuated, contributing towards well-bodied, smooth vocals. Nonetheless, listeners should not expect the full-bodied, velvety presentation of the New Primacy, a by-product of the OH300’s less linear bass/midrange transition and upper-midrange emphasis that sacrifices density in favour of extension and clarity. In return, the OH300 sounds very clear and slightly more tonally transparent.

It no longer possesses the slight warmth of the New Primacy, instead opting for something entirely clean and tonally neutral. The OH300 impresses with equal emphasis on both male and female vocals in addition to its great clarity and openness. Mids are delicate and, despite their clarity, are reasonably natural. Still, timbre is not quite accurate, sounding a touch raspy and even honky on certain tracks. That said, the midrange remains a highlight of this earphone and it is rightfully emphasized to showcase its transparency and delicacy.

 

Highs –

Perhaps the most curious aspect of the OH300’s sound, highs are simultaneously smooth and crisp while being substantially more open than the former Primacy. Implementing rather sharp lower-treble attenuation, the OH300 flatters its midrange and foreground treble instrumentation with great smoothness. On the contrary, percussion, strings and cymbals sound truncated, lacking attack in most instances. Meanwhile, middle-treble receives notable emphasis around 7KHz after which it begins to fall off, increasing crispness and providing additional detail presence.

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Through such tuning, the OH300 manages to be both crisp and clean; the foreground has reasonable crispness even if it is mostly smooth and recessed and the background is on the darker and cleaner side. With a slight bump within the upper-treble, the OH300 is imbued with ample sparkle and top-end extension is impressive for the price, redeeming plenty of micro-detail.

 

Soundstage –

The OH300 constructs a reasonably sized stage nicely rounded between width and depth. Width expands a touch beyond the head while vocals project well into sagittal space. Imaging is a strength of the OH300, delivering a strong centre image to vocals while creating an open soundscape where directional cues are easily discerned. Layers are defined with very clear delineation between instruments and vocals. Perhaps most of all, the OH300 has excellent tri-frequency separation though sub-bass does occasionally overshadow some detail in the mid-bass. Nonetheless, vocals have plenty of space from instruments and layers are defined.

 

Driveability –

With a 13ohm impedance and 108dB sensitivity, the OH300 is efficient and easy to drive from portable sources. Interestingly, output impedance barely affects its signature, the 10-ohm Hiby R6 just subtly more mid-forward and rolled off the sub-bass than the sub 1-ohm Shanling M2X. Meanwhile, more powerful sources such as the JDS Atom yield a more substantial sub-bass in addition to greater low-end control. That said, though it does benefit from a bit more power and scales well with high-resolution sources; due to its efficiency and resistance to higher output impedances, the OH300 is a delight from smartphones and lower-quality sources too.

 

Comparisons –

Oriveti New Primacy ($300): The New Primacy offers a sleeker design and metal build where the OH300 has been beefed up, both with regards to its larger design and sturdier cable. This correlates to the changes in sound, where the OH300 comes across as more engaging with a W-shaped signature and harder hitting bass while the New Primacy is actually more linear, both being well balanced overall. In particular, sub-bass is substantially more present on the OH300 and it has better extension, producing a fuller sound with greater impact and rumble. Through the mid-bass, the OH300 experiences a sharper dip, a trned that continues through its similarly recessed upper-bass. The result is a neutral tone while maintaining great impact. Meanwhile, the OH300 has slightly better control, redeeming more texture and detail despite its added fullness. Within the midrange, however, the OH300’s less linear transitions are clear by comparison to the New Primacy. Chiefly, though vocals are just as forward, despite having more bass and treble zest, they have less body and density. They also aren’t as smooth or coherent, the New Primacy offering higher midrange note resolution and detail, and simply sounds more natural.

Nonetheless, this is not always apparent as the OH300 has substantially more clarity than the New Primacy and those that complained of veil on Oriveti’s former earphone will surely be satisfied with the effortless extension and delicate upper-midrange of the OH300. Within the treble, the OH300 has slightly higher emphasis while its foreground is actually slightly smoother. The result is, once again, greater clarity on the OH300 and a slightly crisper response on the New Primacy. The OH300, has more treble body and it sounds more organic here, the level of detail retrieval is clearly higher despite its smoothness. Moreover, the OH300 extends further, possessing more air and with less apparent roll-off. Both have black backgrounds, though the OH300 has more detail helping to open up its darkness. This is most apparent when comparing soundstage, the OH300 possessing a significantly wider presentation. It also has more defined layers while the New Primacy has more coherent imaging but also less separation.

Oriveti OH500 ($500): The OH500 presents much the same sound signature imbued with additional resolution and engagement. The OH500 is slightly more balanced throughout. Bass has been scaled back a touch throughout, but mostly in the sub-bass, making it a touch more linear. The result is a similarly clean tone, trading some fullness for more accurate note body and greater definition through the mid-bass. The decay and control are fairly identical. The OH500 appears to have a touch more control, however, this impression can also be attributed to the new tuning that aids detail retrieval with greater balance between sub and mid-bass. Heading into the midrange, the OH500 comes across as a touch more natural, its vocals aren’t quite as forward and their timbre is more accurate. It has more defined layers and greater resolution. The OH500 sounds a touch more linear and its vocals aren’t as dry or honky. Meanwhile, it retains a similar sense of clarity and exstension, sibilance is also lacking as the lower-treble experiences a similar trough to the OH300.

The OH500 is clearly more detailed in the treble, and this is amplified by slight revision to its tuning here as well. The lower-treble, in particular, sees a small emphasis at 6.5KHz with another small emphasis in the middle-treble. As opposed to the more isolated emphasis on the OH300, the OH500 provides more lower-treble attack and crispness, its notes are more defined without becoming sharp and it also has a fair headroom advantage. Through the background is certainly dark on the OH500, it has a touch more air and background detail presence than the OH300. Its soundstage is wider in turn, and its layers are more defined as there is more substance to the foreground and more detail in the background, providing more defined spatial cues. Imaging is certainly improved as well, a touch more holographic and

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Shozy BG ($280): The BG is a smaller earphone with a higher driver count and it utilises a pure BA setup to achieve a similar W-shaped signature but with a greater focus on highs. The OH300 provides slightly greater sub-bass extension and substantially more quantity, delivering fuller bass notes with more slam. Meanwhile, the BG has almost as much mid-bass and a touch more upper-bass granting it a slightly warmer tone even if its bass is less present overall and it hits surprisingly hard for a BA earphone. The BG is faster and noticeably more defined through the mid-bass though the difference isn’t as large as usual as the BG decays quite naturally. Into the midrange, both earphones have twin peaks, similar to 2KHz but the OH300 is more even through the centre midrange. In addition, the OH300’s second emphasis occurs at 4KHz as opposed to 3KHz on the BG, with a subsequent 4KHz trough. This creates a noticeably denser presentation on the BG despite its treble being brighter and both are equally smooth and well-bodied as a result.

The BG also sounds a touch more vocal forward. The OH300 sounds a touch less natural through the midrange as a result of its larger upper-bass dip implemented to combat the effects of its larger bass emphasis. Nonetheless, the OH300 has better upper-midrange extension and a touch more clarity while retaining similar body and smoothness, enabled by a smoother lower-treble. And this is the main differentiator between these earphones, the OH300 having a dark background and crisp foreground, the BG being more aggressively detailed in the foreground and implementing moderate middle-treble emphasis too. As such, it sounds a touch more open and has a little more sparkle in the highest registers on top. Meanwhile the OH300 has more defined layers and sounds more composed in its detail presentation even if it smooths off some of the fine detail retrieved by the BG. In terms of soundstage, the BG expands slightly more to the sides with a touch of additional extension while the OH300 provides more depth.

Fiio FH5 ($270): The FH5 is a fuller and slightly warmer earphone, it’s also W-shaped but is more linear with different emphasis. Its sub-bass is more present but it has a steeper fall off through the mid and upper-bass so its low-end isn’t substantially warmer or muddier. However, as the midrange and high-end aren’t as present, the FH5 comes across as more bass focussed. As the FH5 has more of a sub-bass bias, it isn’t quite as natural, however, it does possess a touch more definition through its mid-bass. Both extend very well. The most significant difference in the midrange is the tone and inverse 4KHz region. The OH300 is slightly more vocal forward while the FH5 has a more gradual build-up to a smaller vocal peak before falling off into an upper-midrange trough. As such, the OH300 sounds tonally cleaner, has more clarity and extension but also sounds more strained.

Meanwhile, the FH5 is more organic, warm and dense but also slightly more truncated and honky. Neither are perfectly natural in timbre and preference will vary depending on listener. In terms of treble, the FH5 adopts the twin peak treble tuning of the OH500, sounding more aggressive in the lower-treble and providing a touch more air while the OH300 is more smoother and organic here with a darker background. That said, detail retrieval is actually quite similar on both with a very slight edge going to the OH300. Both also extend similarly at the very top, the FH5 providing just a touch more background detail. The OH300 has a touch more soundstage width while the FH5 is more rounded.

Campfire IO ($300): The IO is brighter and more vocal-focussed. It has noticeably less bass extension with a lighter sub-bass and less visceral rumble. The Oriveti also has a touch more mid-bass while the IO reclaims some warmth with its more present upper-bass. The result is actually greater warmth and a smoother texture on the IO where the OH300 is more aggressive and full. As its note size is closer to neutral and it is substantially more agile, the IO is more detailed through the mid-bass where the OH300 is more dynamic. Entering the midrange, the IO immediately has more present vocals. Both earphones are clean and clear, the OH300 sounds more natural on behalf of its more realistic body and note size where the IO’s boosted vocals are a touch honky and are noticeably thinner. Nonetheless, those valuing clarity, extension and vocal presence will enjoy the cleanliness of the IO which is without a hint of veil or bloat with excellent separation, even though it is achieved by altering the signature to quite a significant degree with twin 2 and 4KHz peaks.

The OH300, on the contrary, sustains its emphasis through the centre midrange and features a lower-treble dip that smooths its presentation and prevents sibilance. Though it too is separated, it isn’t as separated or clear as the IO. In return, it is more resolving of fine detail in the midrange and it is more layered. The IO has the more aggressive treble, a byproduct of its more present lower-treble. Both earphones have a 7KHz emphasis, granting them a crisp, clear foreground. The OH300 has a darker background, dropping off in the middle-treble where the IO sustains its emphasis, sounding more open but also with thinner instrument body and a slightly more brittle timbre. The IO has a slightly wider soundstage where the OH300 has noticeably more depth. The OH300 images much better with a much stronger centre image and more defined layers. Meanwhile, the IO is hyper-separated but it tends to push instruments wide. Still, it is easy to discern details on both earphones due to these qualities.

 

Verdict –

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The OH300 differentiates itself by capitalising on its hybrid driver platform without overstating its emphasis and masterfully balancing resolving power and cleanliness. Furthermore, Oriveti’s new acrylic housings are large but shapely and isolation is improved over past iterations. Oriveti have developed an effective W-shaped sound is unorthodox but balanced, and flattering to vocals with a superb combination of clarity and body. Furthermore, Oriveti have effectively spiced up the high-end, providing a sound that has more headroom than the former Primacy while retaining the same jet black background. Though not as linear as its predecessor, the OH300 is more dynamic, engaging and technically proficient if at the cost of absolute accuracy. Still, this is an enticing earphone that performs well in its very competitive price range; suiting those looking for a well-detailed earphone with smooth, clear vocals and clean yet dynamic bass.

The Oriveti OH300 is available from Amazon (International) for $299 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

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