Oriolus Monachaa

emdeevee

Headphoneus Supremus
I Put My Money Where My Mouth Is!
Pros: Incredibly deep and powerful bass; Detailed and airy mids and treble; Amazing holographic soundstage; Coherence is perfect; Excellent timbre and note weight; Oriolus tuning in a 4 DD
Cons: Requires a lot of power; Needs an extended burn-in of 200 hours; Expensive
TLDR: I’m going to start this review by admitting my bias upfront; after I demoed the new Oriolus Monachaa for a couple of weeks, I decided to and did purchase them, so let’s get that out of the way…yes, I love them!

I was lucky to get a chance to demo the new Oriolus bird, the Monachaa, a 4xDD, thanks to the WaterCooler tour, thanks @Rockwell75 for arranging this! I was pretty excited to get a try at this, even though I hadn’t been blown away by it at CanJam Socal 2023 where I think it was launched (I wonder if that set had been fully burned in-this set needs it). I’ll skip over its unboxing which is covered by others and unremarkable, but does come with a nice small VanNuys case that could hold a couple of iems along with a Van Nuys iem protector.
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Monachaa is beautifully crafted with recessed 2-pin connectors and on the medium-large size for iems, but it is very light and I found fit to be excellent for hours on end. The shell is a beautiful deep blue/purple color with gold fleck accents on the faceplate. The nozzles are short and stubby, and tip selection is crucial here. Due to the short nozzles, I decided to try the Coreir brass tips which not only fit well with shorter nozzles, but also give the playback a little extra sonic finish depending on the iem. I also found that this iem would push my limits of upper-end energy, with prominent, sparkly, detailed treble, but the heavy sub bass with milder, but beautiful punchy mid-bass, to still offer extremely airy vocals and treble. I hear a neutral to warm U shape with vocals forward. All without any lean or thin quality to the notes, but fans of heavy mid-bass may not feel there’s enough. I also liked the Render Foams, Divinus Velvets, Eletech Baroques and Penon Liqueur tips, all of which further emphasized bass and smoothed treble.
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Of particular note and excitement is the shear scope of the staging – Monachaa’s stage is spherical, wide, tall and holographic, often feeling as though it fully surrounds your head. This is one of the best soundstages from an iem that I’ve heard – exceeded only barely by its brother-from-another-mother, the 3xDD CFA Trifecta, though that’s such a different thing it’s hardly comparable. However, in order to really hear this excellence, Monachaa requires a pretty powerful source (dongle users beware).

The included stock PWA/Oriolus-branded cable was actually great and doesn’t require a change, but since I had a PWA First Times on hand (which was immediately a large sonic upgrade from the stock), I decided to switch that out for most of my listening (until something went wrong with that cable and back to PWA it went for repair). In the meantime, I also found excellent synergy with a drjuggles/Khanyayo copper/graphene cable, while also liking the EA Code 23 and 24 (Code 24c would probably look awesome on Monachaa); all are great at bringing out Monachaa’s incredible deep bass while also smoothing some of the high treble. Tips and cables can do a lot for Monachaa, so it’s best to try what you’ve got to dial in the right sound for you.

Ultimately, my favorite pairing was with the PWA FT, a great cable for Monachaa. It gives Monachaa a nicely balanced U shape with excellent technical quality, elevated sub-bass, clear mildly recessed mids, and extended, sparkly treble with lots of detail, though that detail is across the FR, it’s not limited to the highs; even bass guitar plucks are sharp and identifiable. While not a total resolution monster, it’s not lacking for details, it’s just more musical than analytical; a tuning that is very addictive where positioning of instruments is excellent across the magnificent soundstage. What a great way to get into the Oriolus club! This set really is awesome with pretty much everything in my library (primarily rock across the ages and genres) and particularly nice with vocals, but truly a real all-arounder rather than specialist. I do not usually gravitate to tunings that have such intense treble energy, but this one hits me square between the ears.
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The coherence is also stunning as if it were a massive, single DD, not four(!) – it’s really remarkable! What this does is present beautiful timbre, great transient speed with amazing mids and, of course, an incredibly effective, solid DD bass foundation. Maybe not surprisingly, Oriolus knows how to tune DDs to great effect! This tuning I think would be very wide appeal, with just about nothing to complain about unless you’re a big mid-bass lover. This is certainly not basshead, but its bass is no slouch with incredible quality and just the right quantity, and maybe is the star of the show having amazing quality, speed, tightness and timbre, second only to the open and hypnotic mids and upper mids.

Monachaa played beautifully through the warm and powerful Shanling M9 plus and my L&P P6Pro, though the P6Pro needed to be in high gain with volume levels going very high. I recently added an iBasso PB5 Osprey amp to the chain with P6Pro, and this combination is my favorite. But make no mistake, you need to feed Monachaa a lot of power for it to really shine. Through something like my desktop Hifiman EF400, the power and r2r playback are perfect for Monachaa.
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The comparison that has really intrigued me is with the Penon Quattro, the other 4xDD on the market that is 1/5th the price at under $400. Well, they are completely different, Quattro being a mid-bass monster where Monachaa is clearly not. Other big differences to my ears: Quattro bass slightly veils the FR leading to a perception of less air especially in darker passages of music, Monachaa bass has better quality if less quantity; Quattro is more bass-focused generally with a darker tuning though it has excellent treble IMHO. Monachaa has a more accessible tuning with excellently crafted bass, leading to a more balanced, all-arounder set. I love both and do happily own both – they are very different but each provides a huge amount of pleasure with my library. Each are addictive (if you like them, obviously) and easy listens for many hours. Quattro is bit more of a pounder and Monachaa a bit more of a thumper. Quattro sounds more like an Xe6 where Monachaa is more like an Rn6. All of this DD goodness is such a gift to us audionuts, we are lucky to have such options from $400 to $2000 (come on!).
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Oriolus tuning is legendary – I did try Trailli at CanJam Socal, for all of 2 minutes, but knew immediately why it has touched so many hearts. I was blown away by Trailli in the 2 minutes I listened to it. I cannot now exactly remember that sound, but I wish I could, because I do love the Monachaa tuning as well. Instruments sound so authentic, vocals are strong but not overpowering an otherwise very wide, deep and tall soundstage with holographic effect with good recordings. Listening to dense rock like Pearl Jam reveals what those 2 or 3 different guitars are doing with the bass and drums, all positionally cued exactly where they should be – and I’ve been to enough Pearl Jam shows to know, trust me!

So, in my opinion, this IEM wins based on its spectacular tuning, I guess something which for Oriolus is not that surprising. But here, they’ve done it with 4 DDs, no BAs, ESTs, etc., just DDs. Most single DD lovers know that a DD can do just about everything well, and bass spectacularly. Oriolus did a great job putting these 4 different DD drivers to work – nothing gets sacrificed on the low, mid or high end of the FR with this design. Okay, it’s Oriolus we’re talking about here, so expecting a good tuning from them is, well, expected. And they deliver one here for sure. I think this might possibly be my favorite sub $3000 iem at the moment.
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wolfstar76
wolfstar76
Great review, that EA Code pairing is simply amazing!
Leto Dal
Leto Dal
Great review, thank you!
iscorpio71
iscorpio71
Great review 👏 They're physically similar to the Quattro's, which are amazing! But I just don't see paying 2K for them.

blankdisc

500+ Head-Fier
Quad-DD Madness
Pros: Scales well with better sources and may even sound better than more expensive headphones; Natural DD timbre; Expansive soundstage; Deep and natural DD bass.
Cons: source and eartips dependent tuning; 100+ hrs burn-in.
Intro

Oriolus needs no introduction, the “culprit” of IEMs price spike. Despite the insane price of Traillii, Oriolus as a brand also has a lot of “affordable” or “value” offerings that worth check out. I recently tried their Isabellae and Szalayi, I also own a pair of Oriolus MK2 years ago. Monachaa should fit in the line with Szalayi and may be a replacement of Percivali according to the driver configuration.
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Technology

Monachaa utilized four dynamic drivers including 1 10mm Carnon Nano diaphragm driver, 1 10mm inert material diaphragm driver, 1 5mm titanium driver, 1 square diaphragm driver. It has an impedance of 24ohm and sensitivity of 111db SPL/1mW. The frequency response range is from 20Hz all the way to 28kHz.

Fits and Comfort

I was quite surprised by the size of Monachaa and how it is possible for Oriolus to fit in four different dynamic drivers in such a small chamber. The nozzle is on the shorter side, it helps relief a lot of pressures from my ears. They fit in securely and effortlessly in my ears and do not touch my auricles at all. There are minor driver flexes, it is annoying but acceptable. It is something I’ve been used to, many thanks to EE and UM.
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Sound Impressions

Summary


Before I put Monachaa in my ears, my biggest concern was the multi dynamic drivers’ harmonic distortion. It is almost unavoidable and ineliminable for this type of configuration. Usually, a multi-DD IEMs would have the distorted upper-mid and treble results an unnecessarily bright lousy sound or a boomy, fake bass. Freakingly, Klipsch S4 had both ends distorted back in the day, which was my first multi-DD IEMs and hindered me to try another one for so many years.

Luckily Monachaa didn’t have that many distortions, the treble only gives me a touch sense of compress when paired with a less powerful source. The laidback R2R DACs would also help with reducing the brightness at treble. Across different DAPs I have on hand, P6Pro is yet again my favorite pairing with Monachaa. Thus, P6Pro will be my default testing DAP for this review, I will have a DAP rolling section in the later part of this review.

Monachaa is also very sensitive to cables, or I should say the stock cable really restricted the potential of Monachaa. Don’t get me wrong, the stock cable is not nearly as bad as Aroma Jewel’s “so called” cable. The synergy between the stock cable and Monachaa is probably my least favorite among my cable rolling experience. I will share a few of my findings in the cable rolling section, and I hope you can find the right cable for Monachaa. A good cable can really help this beauty shine.

Soundstage and Image

Monachaa shows a very wide and tall picture in front of my face. It could be the hugest soundstage I have ever heard, at least in recent months. The soundstage is also the most noticeable improvement over Szalayi. It is insanely wide with a lot of roomy space between instruments and sections. The vertical layering is excellent as well, for strings, especially cymbals, you can “see” them placed near the top of the stage. For most recordings, the front to back soundstage of Monachaa is adequate my enjoyment. For some live recordings, I hope Monachaa can have a little extra space front to back that makes the music livelier and more realistic.

Bass

The bass of Monachaa reaches very deep and have a lot of sub-bass rumble. With P6Pro, the bass decay becomes natural and impactful. For lower output AK players, the bass does not expend very much, giving a more controlled bass hit. In the mid-bass Monachaa focuses more on details and definition rather than punchy hits. I thought the quad-DD would give Monachaa a more playful bass performance, however, after a few weeks audition, it is surprisingly neutral and well controlled. The detailed and controlled mid-bass keeps Monachaa in a neutral tone and emphasizes the excellent technical performance and resolving sound.

Mid

Monachaa is one of the few IEMs that has a neutral, clean, uplifting, semi-bright mid to upper-mid frequency that doesn’t fatiguing. The highly resolving and neutral mid-bass/lower-mid transit smoothly to the core mid-range. The mid-range is pronounced, forward and revealing. The sibilance control is excellent for an uplifting sound mid-range. With the stock cable there is a slight metallic tune at around 2kHz, with upgraded cable like FTS and OTL, those metallic notes can be effectively tuned down.

Treble

The treble of Monachaa is very well extended, crisp and intriguing. The ultra-high is reasonably elevated to create more sense of air. Combined the wide soundstage and the well extended treble together deliver a wide open, vivid and fresh sound. The extra air helps cymbals sound livelier and more “wet”. For audiophiles who prefer a darker treble, switching to foam tips can be very helpful.

Tip Selection

Comply Foam
: Comply tips can help warmer the sound of Monachaa. It increases the thickness of lower-mid and increases a little bit of the sub-bass. The treble was tuned down a bit and the sibilance is even more controlled. Generally speaking, Comply foam tips offer a more balanced sound vs silicone tips are offering a more engaging sound.

Symbio W Hybrid: Compared to the comply tips, Symbio W Hybrid offers a more open sound. The sibilance is more pronounced and the upper-mid has more metallic tune. The mid-bass hits harder and tighter, the bass frequency in general has better definition and more articulate.

Pentaconn COREIR Brass Silicone: These tips have some magic to the soundstage in both width and depth, the soundstage is noticeably wider and deeper than both foam-based tips. At the same time the mid-range is more forward, the mid-bass also hits harder. I highly recommend these tips if you are not very sensitive to the relatively bright treble.
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Cable Rolling

The stock cable is not bad, but mediocre to the best. I have tested 4 different cables from different price ranges: from under $500 up to $3000+.

Liquid Links Evua II: Evua II is my favorite cable under $500, and it is also tied with Cleo II Octa as my favorite pure silver cable. Evua II and Cleo Octa share some similarities as high-quality silver cables. They are silver cables that have bass. They both reveal tons of details that I haven’t heard before without making treble sounds fatiguing. Evua II gives more impact to Monachaa’s sub-bass and add bones to the mid-bass. The bass of Monachaa is now have a stronger figure and more physicality. At upper-end Evua II gives more pop-up sparkles, the stock cable is more laid-back in comparison.

Vortex Lavinia: Lavinia is also a high value cable; it pushes the sub-bass even deeper. The soundstage becomes more holographic compared to the stock cable. The front to back dimension is almost 1.5x larger than the stock cable. The upper-mid to lower-treble stays about the same as the stock cable with just a little extra lower treble presence with Lavinia. However, at 10k+ frequency, Vortex fills in more air and details.

UMxPWAudio Deep of Universe (Mentor Stock Cable): DOU is a very “mid-centric” thick sounding cable. I thought it could be a decent pairing with Monachaa based on the sound signature of Monachaa. The result is mostly positive but not as good as I expected. The edginess in the upper-mid and treble was completely smoothed out. The upper region sounds very natural and laid-back. However, the soundstage seems to have become narrower. The bass and lower-mid has a thicker body with DOU, but the texture and details are sacrificed a little bit.

PWAudio FirstTimes Shielding: I almost shouted the F word out of my mouth when I heard this combo. I know it is kind of stupid to pair a cable that costs almost two pairs of Monachaa, but they sound so good together. FTS seems to have a superpower that can smooth all the edginess in the upper-mid and treble, then thicken the bottom end effectively. This combo maintains the wild soundstage of Monachaa while building up a thicker image throughout the entire frequency. That is all I need for Monachaa and that’s all FTS is good at.

DAP Pairing

L&P P6Pro
: P6Pro is the least powerful DAP I have tested. I think it is the threshold for what Monachaa might need. The P6Pro offers a very organic sound, with a lot of sub-bass rumble and smooth top-end frequencies. The soundstage is super wide and tall, but the depth is average.

N30LE: N30LE offers a little extra soundstage depth and width. The bass hit even deeper than P6Pro. The sound is more dynamic and authoritative than the P6Pro. At the top end, N30LE traded the smoothness with extra air and sparkles.

Lotoo Mjolnir: Mjolnir has the best layering across all three DAPs I have tested. The image and separation are extremely accurate. The overall sound goes to a more analytical side vs the analog sounds from N30LE and P6Pro.

Comparison

Monachaa vs Szalayi


Monahcaa and Szalayi have similar tonal balance when use Comply tips on Monachaa. The biggest difference is at soundstage, resolution and treble texture. Monachaa is a clear upgrade in those regards. It offers more way larger soundstage in all three dimensions. The resolution is also a step up over Szalayi. Treble texture on Monachaa is more realistic while on Szalayi is softer.

Monachaa vs Canpur 54E

This is a hard debate between which one would be my favorite IEMs for $2000 price range. Both of them have great sub-bass for the price. 54E has more quantity, though it is a BA bass. Monachaa has more natural bass decay and timbre. The mid-bass is stronger on 54E, the Monachaa has a more modest but physical mid-bass. The upper frequency is smoother and creamier on 54E, Monachaa is crispier and has more air. The 54E has a more balanced tonal balance, however, the soundstage and imaging cannot catch up with Monachaa.

Conclusion

Monachaa is not a bass monster as I expected for a quad-DD configuration. It is a very neutral, highly resolving and detailed flagship level IEMs. The soundstage is second to none, and I was truly amazed by how large the soundstage is. It reminds me of the Sennheiser HD800 to some extent. As a multi-DD IEMs it does not have the annoying distortion as some others. With proper source and cable pairing, Monachaa is truly a high-end IEMs with natural DD timbre and insane technical performance.
vikinguy
vikinguy
Great stuff!
theintention
theintention
Great review, ty. Can’t wait to demo at CJ this year, I love my Sza and this sounds like a nice upgrade.
benjifx19
benjifx19
Great review going to try them on Friday, its between these and the Noble Spartacus
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