Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to Oriolus in any way and do not benefit monetarily or in any other form for writing this review. I purchased this in-ear monitor with my own resources and I am simply giving my honest review of the product!
Review by: “Gloryrain” from The Little Audiophile
TLA Score Physical Attributes
Ease of Wearing: 9/10
Noise Isolation: 7/10
Value for Money: 8/10
Awwwww snap… Earphones + Black box for packaging = Classy. Dats quick assumption. But seriously though, how does the packaging choice work out for the Forsteni? Well hot damn, the Oriolus Forsteni does come in a really gorgeous black box with “Oriolus” on the top cover. It is such a simple box, but yet looks really professional and screams “EXPENSIVE STUFF INSIDE!!!”. Good choice, people at Oriolus.
In the box, you will get a cable manager, a shirt clip, foam tips, three sizes of silicon tips and three sizes of double flanged tips, a cleaning tool and cool egg shaped leather carrying case. BUT DO YOU GET THE ORIOLUS FORSTENI IEM ITSELF? go figure
BUILD AND DESIGN
Sexy looking Forsteni… The main housing is made of a polished black plastic with “Oriolus” engraved in gold on the brushed silver faceplate, which is cover with a clear plastic layer that is chamfered at the edges to give a really smooth touch. The main housing is pretty solid and well built with no rough edge on the IEM. The 2-pin female connector is recessed into the housing itself which makes the housing look real sleek with no angles.
The wire on the Forsteni is really unexceptional. The 3.5 mm gold-plated plug looks really unexceptional and strain relieve is basic. Upwards, the wire is thick and sturdy and looks like it could hold up to some accidental pulls or tugs. The ear hooks are memory wire which finally ends with a 2-pin connector that is housed in a metal housing.
The 0.78 mm 2-pin connector secures well into the housing and does not come out without a good pull. Being a 2-pin connector, it does not rotate about the axis like an mmcx does.
The Forsteni has a short nozzle which does not sit too deep into the ear. Thus, there is no pain or excessive pressure on the inner ear canal. There are also no angles that put stress on the outer ear. No heat build up is felt over extended listening periods that we have tried. The bass vent on the housing does reduce isolate slightly though.
The Forsteni delivers a U-shaped sound signature with a higher emphasis on the treble (which is smooth) as compared to the bass, as such, the Forsteni is pleasantly detailed without an intrusive bass. Soundstage is above average and there is more width as compared to the depth. Also due to the lean and clean body, paired with the impressive treble, instrumental separation is delightfully delightful!
Bass… oh dat glorious bASS indeed. The Forsteni’s bass extends all the way down the crevices of the sub-bass which manages to stay composed and controlled. There is good (not headache inducing) amount of rumble to the sub-bass which adds that punch to the lower regions. Bass is slightly on the elevated side but is still leaning towards neutrality and is far from being boomy.
Mid-bass is tight and is generally enough for most listeners…but if you are a bASS lover, this IEM ain’t for you. Oh yes, them mid-bass ain’t bleed into the lower mids, thus mids are not muddied.
Mids and lower-mids are slightly recessed as compared to the upper-mids. Upper-mids are ever so slightly elevated which really enhances vocal clarity and detail, especially for female vocals. Vocals sound intimate and engaging without taking the back presentation in the music.
Nonetheless, the mids sound clean and airy and are very well presented.
Trebles. How does the Forsteni perform in this region? Honestly, unexceptional really. Treble emphasis is good for an IEM in its price range, but extension could be better and it could sound harsh to some people. Sibilance does show up on “essy” songs such as “Bangarang” by Skrillex, or “New Face” by Psy.
The Oriolus pairs well with Warm or U-shaped sources. Using a V-shaped source recesses the mids a little too much for our liking.
Oriolus Forsteni might as well be the synonym to price to performance ratio. With a solid built and impressive sound, they are a good option if you are a budget-phile kind of audiophile. The overall easy to like sound and good tonal balance finished off with a beautiful, head-turning, attention-seeking, comfortable-fitting design really works out for the Forsteni. If you are looking for a mid-fi IEM, this could very well be the one for you.
Cons: Bass quantity may not fit for everyone, Slightly big body,
Oriolus Forsteni “Fifty Shades of Grey”
Oriolus is a boutique audio company located in Japan. After the success of company's first product “Oriolus MK1- MK2” they created “Forsteni”, aimed right at the 300- 400$ market. Since its launch, I was waiting eagerly to get my hands on it and I finally did. I am here with the Grey Oriolus Fosteni. Allow me to introduce you to this awesome creature!
Sensitivity: 111 dB/mW
Frequency Response: 10 Hz -40 kHz
Configuration: x2 BA x1 Dynamic Driver
Cable System: 2-pin Removable
PW Audio No.5
Single Crystal OCC Technology
Flexible Insulation Design
i have used quite a few gear to unleash it’s full potential.
List goes like this:
Lotoo Paw Gold (Main Source)
Audioquest Dragonfly Black
Accessories | Box
Forsteni comes with a box which can be definable as plain. The stylish Oriolus box includes 3 types of tips. Package content is a bit weak but it is enough with a storage box and various tips sizes.
Foam Eartips S/M/L
Silicon Eartips S/M/L
2 Flange Eartips M
Manual & Warranty Card
Design | Build | Fit
Forsteni’s material quality is a lot like Oriolus MK2, its body is black acrylic. Faceplate seems elegant in silver color under different light angles. Housing feels durable and 2-pin sockets are quite strong & firm. Do note that Forsteni’s housing is smaller than Oriolus MK2’s.
I really liked Forsteni's fit. It is quite comfortable and it has a better fit than MK2. I don’t think anyone would have any problems with the fit.
Forsteni’s sound signature is balanced across the spectrum with added warmth of the dynamic driver’s bass. Mids are not in front like its big brother MK2, bass is less deep and less. Forsteni has really good mids as MK2, with really clear and relatively back mids, vocals are joyous. It is compatible with LPG and AK120 as source. I recommend to use Forsteni with warmer daps.
The most distinct difference between Hybrid and Armature earphones shows up at comparing bass performances. Dynamic drivers are wider, stronger, can go deeper and slower comparing to armature drivers but Forsteni doesn’t have slow bass despite its dynamic driver. Most of the people can define it as armature driver. it has natural bass.
It catches the emphasis in bass, passages are fast and it does not miss the details. Extension in strings are natural, beats like drums are fast and firm. Bass reactions in rapid genres like EDM or Metal are quite satisfying.
Forsteni's speed meets the bass expectation more or the less but the amount of the bass may sound a little less. Bass is %15 rear relatively to MK2. Bass hits fairly enough when needed and does not hit like earthquake as it is at MK2. If you don’t mind the amount of bass, thequality of the bass would be very satisfying. However, it shouldn’t be recognised like bass light. Forsteni has tremendously strong and satisfying bass.
Dynamic driver shouts ‘here i am' when it needed for EDM, R&B and Pop. To sum up, Forsteni has very successful bass regarding quantity, speed and resolution which does not presses the general sound character.
Mids of Forsteni are shrill and regarding the bass they are slightly behind. Even though the Mids are lagging behind the sound is absolutely solid body. As tune i can say it is almost natural. Vocals are clean enough sounds slightly behind. I have to admit that Forsteni is more successful with the female vocals. They sound softer. I also really like the instrument distinction. When there are polyphonic songs you can easily make positioning. All the details of the vocals and instruments are very good and musical. For the lower mids there may be I can complaint. It sounds little less but the success at the other fields doesn’t feels like it. The people who like Mid-bass very much may say it would have been more but it doesn’t sound like it is a drawback.
This is where Forsteni is most special. Really its performance is above its price. It’s fast, high resolution, detailed and crystal clear. The first thing took my attention is the resolution of the treble when i first put on the earphones. Treble sounds very relax, stretches adequate and highly controlled. it wont loose control in the fast songs and does not mix the instruments. Highly enjoyable at the stringed songs. It is possible to hear every piece of bell notes. Also very successful at the discrimination. Trebles are slightly shine but as I listened never encountered shining or sibilant. Besides I have to remark that it is very compatible with PW No5 cable comes with it. Different cable variations would change the reactions. Probably it wont be a good combination to use it with silver cable. I couldn’t tried that because i don’t have a pure silver cable. (Ordered PW Single Core Silver but not received yet.)
Forsteni is doing a great job with the subjects such as presentation airiness, reality
The most attention to the stage is the completeness for me. Unless there are instruments playing far away from each other, it is difficult to get an integrity. Instead of playing in a very wide area and creating far distance, Forsteni protects the music integrity by keeping the instruments in a reasonable position and putting a clear gap between the instrument and other instruments. Mid is also slightly behind, the soundstage feels like it is quite wide in the distance. The soundstage is also deeply satisfying.
Every product of Oriolus company is getting much more interesting now. After a magnificent earphone like the MK2, the Forsteni is a very good earpiece with the current build quality, sound quality and price tag.. I would definitely recommend it for those who want to balanced, slightly warm and musical sound around 300-500USD. Also PW No5 is very good combination with Forsteni.
for letting us borrow this demo unit at no cost for the purposes of this honest review. We are not affiliated with them in any way.
This review was written on my own blog, which I would also like to share to the Head-Fi community.
After its success with the original Oriolus, Mini Audio has come up with another hybrid offering, the Oriolus Forsteni. Named after the Grey-collared Oriole instead of the Golden Oriole, it’s half the price of the original with a slightly different driver configuration. They’ve managed to get a very pleasing sound out of it despite having 1 less balanced armature driver.
Continuing with their taxonomic naming scheme of the different birds in the oriole family, the oriolus forsteni (not to be confused with a bunch of fish, snakes, and tortoise that are also named forsteni…) is another hybrid IEM from Mini Audio. With 1 dynamic driver and 2 balanced armatures instead of 3, the Forsteni is a surprisingly pleasing IEM that comesvery close to recreating the sound of the original. But before we talk about the sound, let’s take a look at its…
Packaging, Accessories, Design
Just like its predecessor, the Forsteni doesn’t waste resources on packaging. A minimalistic foil stamped black cardboard box, a carrying case, a packet of silicon and foam tips inside a plastic ziplock, and warranty cards are all you get. It differs in that it comes with a hard leather case instead of an aluminium case. Undoubtedly a more portable choice, and they also deserve some props for going further with the bird theme. I was pretty amused when I first opened the packaging to see its egg shaped design. The accessory selection and quantity is generous as well – Large, Medium and Small size silicon tips, two pairs of black foam tips, a cleaning brush and also cable clip. I personally like the L size tips.
The Forsteni comes with a dark matte plastic coated replaceable 2-pin connector cable instead of the flashier braided copper cable of the original. It also has a small sized 3.5mm L-plug with an interesting faceted angular design. L-plugs are my favourite since they’re better for mobile device in-pocket use as straight plugs can stick out too far and are more prone to be bent which can potentially damage both the socket and the plug. Microphonics of the cable are minimal which is great. However, the sleeve material of the cable which is slightly stiff, combined with a weak over-ear memory wire makes for a floppy over ear cable experience. I would prefer it to be stiffer so that it could be molded to fit my ear properly.
The design of the driver housing is pretty similar to the original’s organic amorphous shape, and also in terms of width and length, but it’s actually a little thinner in terms of thickness, probably because there’s one less driver. The inner face also has that now-popular “universal-custom” form factor which helps it get a snug fit within the concha area of our ears instead of the round bulbous form of the original. The Forsteni also uses the same high quality glossy black plastic, but has a brushed silver coloured faceplate with “Oriolus” text in gold instead of black faceplate. The slightly smaller size is nice, but since the width and length are basically the same it may still not fit people with smaller conchas easily, although I haven’t had a chance to let other people try it.
Instead of three sound bores, the Forsteni only has two, probably as it’s a two-way configuration instead of three. Other than that there are only very minor differences to the original such as more rounded looking bores, and a slight curve to the faceplate surface and edges instead of the slightly flatter and sleeker forms of the Oriolus.
Actually, I don’t have any specs yet. I think its a 2 way configuration with 1 DD and 2 BAs on each side and it runs easily out of your typical smartphones. Sorry.
Finally, the sound!
I hate to be constantly comparing the Forsteni with the original Oriolus, but it’s hard not to since they’re so similar in design, and after trying the Forsteni over this week I’m actually quite surprised at close they managed to get it to sound. For the sake of readers who haven’t tried the original, I’ll try to do a sound impressions review without constantly comparing it to the original Oriolus till the end.
Despite what I said about the similarities in sound between the two, the first thing I noticed about the Forsteni was not bass rumble or forward vocal midrange, but actually its just north of neutral tuning with a boost to the high range and ever so slightly to the lows. In fact, after a week of listening and comparison I thought it was somewhat like a Westone 4R with its politeness shackles off. What I mean is that Westone’s offerings tend to have a very smooth tuning that never emphasizes one any frequency that much and keeps everything tight, while the Forsteni isn’t afraid to push a brighter sounding high end as well as the more “chaotic” sounding dynamic driver bass sound.
The second noticeable feature is the Forsteni’s highs. They’re very crisp, airy and deftly bring out many of the details in this frequency range, and leans towards bright rather than deciding to shimmer more subtly in the background. Highs are reproduced with a rather dry tone and plenty of bite to them. To me it sounds like there’s very short decay in this range, such that they don’t linger around in my head after the initial attack, especially noticeable in cymbals sounds.
Transitioning to the midrange and bass, I actually find it a rather neutral tuning with roll-off as it transitions down to the lower mids. Quite dry as well, it leaves a lot of space for airy high details and the very subtly tuned low bass frequencies. The mids in the vocal range focus also on a sense of “air” in singers voices, so people used to fuller sounding vocals may find it a bit lacking in the Forsteni, but for those who enjoy hearing every breath and a bit of higher vocal tuning, it’s an excellent choice. I listened to We Don’t Talk Anymore – Charlie Puth (Kina Grannis, KHS, Mario Jose Cover), and Mario Jose’s breathy tenor vocals in the opening were quite amazing with the Forsteni.
The Forsteni’s bass quality is actually very similar to the Oriolus’ mk2’s sound – very natural sounding dynamic driver sound with deep extension, a subtly audible rumble in the background and good mid bass impact which isn’t too tight as is typical of balanced armatures. I suspect they may even have used the same driver, and according to Derek from Jaben, they added some damping material on the inside to restrain the bass. However, the quantity is probably about 10-15% less, and in my experience there’s less rumble and tighter sounding mid bass, which in turn helps to emphasize the high mids and highs more.
The Forsteni’s restrained bass frequency region extending up to the mids which is also a somewhat flat, combined with the bright-leaning highs makes it a great choice for the listener looking for a more neutral sounding IEM with a focus on details rather than warm sounding bass and mids. I was very impressed with it despite finding the highs a tad bright for my liking and lacking some bass impact, but that’s why I went with the original Oriolus. All in all a highly capable product with good sound and build quality – I would just criticize its over ear cable design which is a little floppy and makes me want to constantly fix it.