Penon Orb

CT007

500+ Head-Fier
Penon Orb - Transparent, but not clear!
Pros: + Smooth, full sound without any obvious ailments (sibilance, harshness, pressure, driver flex, etc)
+ Beefy bass
+ Good sparkle, without being excessive
+ Beautiful, simple, and durable
Cons: - Too muted / lacking clarity
- Average dimensionality and precision/technicalities
- Unclear how tip colors affect sound
Intro/Mission Briefing: After having ISN H40 for a short time, and not being impressed with their extra warm, bass-smeared presentation, I decided to load up an Orb on my ship to see if the sailing was(hopefully) any smoother. I've always seen a lot of potential in Penon's IEMs, as they have always been a top-notch company from the customer's end(at least), but have they reached that potential with Orb..?

Description: Orb is a very lightweight, hybrid, 2-pin(0.78mm) universal IEM, powered by 1 dynamic driver(10mm, graphite fiber silk paper dome) and 1 balanced armature driver. The solid, smooth, transparent shells are made of medical grade resin, by hand. It currently sells for $249 USD with stock options. Options include: 3.5mm or 2.5mm balanced cable; extra microphone cable(+$15); expedited DHL/UPS/EMS/FEDEX shipping.

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Accessories & Unboxing:
- 1 set silicone tips (transparent; green core); S/M/L
- 1 set silicone tips (transparent; orange core); S/M/L
- 1 set silicone triple-flanged tips (black); one size
- 1 brush
- 1 cable
- 2 pouches
- 1 zip carrying case
- 1 cable/shirt clip
- 1 velcro cable strap thingy
- 1 lifetime of love from Penon


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Fit: I would describe these as normal-sized, and they fit me quite well. I have no complaints here. I also have no issue with how the stock tips fit or feel, but I used my Spiral Dot tips for the sake of familiarity.

Bass: There is good extension, high strength, OK/fair definition and satisfying kick. The strength and kick are my favorite characteristics of Orb, with mids in general coming after. Bass, the likely most prominent feature of Orb, is definitely boosted, which is rarely a problem in my book. These are fun, not neutral, and can sometime get slightly boomy. My main wish here would be for more texture/definition. Bass guitar has nice body and growl, though comes off a bit soft due to a lack of texture/definition.

Mids: Male vocals sound very good overall; natural sounding with no real sibilance or harshness. Probably a bit thin, and not as clear as could be, to critique. Mids in general feel a little distant and thin, but vocals often sound correctly placed. Female vocals can sound more warm than normal, and seem more subdued/lifeless/soft, and less correct/natural, than male, though far from bad sounding. Piano and keys have a mostly good, natural tone(on the warm side) that is enjoyable. Acoustic guitar sounds quite good and smooth, though can sometimes sound slightly thin and soft. Electric guitar sounds better, overall.

Treble: I find treble to be the most difficult area for audio reproduction devices to nail, and this is also the area where Orb's tuning takes a major left turn. I would broadly describe it as muted/muffled, though some portions still have good detail and sparkle. Horns/brass can sound pretty muted and lacking texture. Acoustic guitar string plucks do not have the expected crispness and tautness at the finish, and synthesizers lack top-end bite. The trade-off for this is a heavy dose of smoothness, and directing the focus more toward the mids and bass. It seems that the lower treble offers the most clarity, therefore sounds occurring in/near the lower end should sound more natural than those toward the upper end. Overall, I find common instruments like electric guitar and drums to sound good and tonally correct, but simply masked/muted. This masking effect may be making Orb sound lower resolution than it otherwise might, as small details in my test tracks were difficult to hear. Cymbals, bells, the upper octaves of piano, and similar sounds at similar upper frequencies render more dry and woody than they ought, though cymbal splashes and decays sound correct.

Soundstage: I would describe the amount of space presented as average or one step above, where there is a noticeable amount of distance between you and the source of the sounds you hear, but nothing extreme. Good instrument air can be heard, under the right circumstances, though most things sound well-grounded. I find imaging to be pretty good from ear to ear, frontally, but depth into the sound is more two-dimensional/flat than I would like at this price. I don't find the soundstage properties of Orb suitable for FPS gaming or similar 3D environments where positional audio is a priority, though it is perfectly acceptable for typical music or similar applications.

Conclusion/Mission Debriefing: Unlike many IEMs I've heard and disliked for obvious reasons(sharp peaks, sibilance, ear pain from a sharp shell, etc), Orb really has nothing bad about it. Whether you would like such an IEM comes down to tuning preference. Orb certainly sounds unusual to me, with a sound equally as unique as Fan and H40. If you have a general aversion to treble, or prefer it toned down more than usual, with very nice vocals and meaty bass, Orb should be a great option. Or, if you're just looking for something very different sounding than the usual recommendations/tastes. Personally, I have to take points off mainly for the lack of clarity, since I feel the tuning/balance is off, and secondarily for the lack of precision(depth, texture, air, resolution, etc). I feel Orb is best-suited for straight-up, bright rock material, such as:


Special thanks to @Ace Bee for the endless, supernatural moral support and laundry tips, and to @Penon for being such a genuinely kind, caring, fast-working company that makes and sells interesting, unique product such as Orb, Sphere, Globe, and hopefully one day Cannonball and Space Marble.
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Codename john
It's a tough one. EST11 will be an upgrade from the 2001. Allegedly the signature is very similar. Due to the electrostats the highs will sound a lot smoother. The FD5 is a significant upgrade over the H40. More dynamic and aggressive. Soundstage is huge. Bass is tighter. Highs are more extended and layered. Don't think you can go wrong with either 🙏🏿
CT007
CT007
@alexandros a If you have a preference for very high quality bass, soundstage, air, imaging/separation or resolution in general, FD5 are incredible at what it does well, and are better at many things than my other IEMs. The primary drawback is the bright treble, that can certainly be bothersome with bright content. The fit is also not my ideal, but not poor. EST112 certainly looks good to me, without having heard them, but they also cost more and are not semi-open, so I would expect a lot more from them than FD5.
C
Codename john
Agreed. Treble was tamed when I used the tips from the Zen. It also the sibilance which was an even bigger problem for me initially. EST 11 sure looks interesting but I have spent too much money on iems. Have to take a back seat for a while.
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Asakurai

100+ Head-Fier
Penon Orb - Male Vocal Dream
Pros: ● Solid Build Quality
● Smooth Tonal
● Fit and Comfort
● Good Male Vocal
● Excellent Imaging
Cons: ● Upper-treble roll-off
● Probably Lack of a bit resolution in the price range
Penon Orb – Male Vocal Dream
Penon Orb can be bought from Penon Audio (https://penonaudio.com/penon-orb.html). Big thanks to Penon Audio for great service and fast delivery. Review 100% based on my experience using Penon Orb for ± 100 hours..

Sneak-Peek Penon Orb
MSRP: $259
Tuning Style : L-shaped, warm, musical, non-fatigue, really good Male Vocal
Frequency Distribution (Total 10): Low (4) – Mid (3) – High (3)
Suitable Genre : Male Vocal, Ambient Music
Wear Comfort : Excellent / Good / Normal / Poor
Build Quality : Excellent / Good / Normal / Poor
Isolation. : Excellent / Good / Normal / Poor
Microphonic : None / Minor / Normal / Poor
Analytic Level : Excellent / Good / Normal / Poor
Mic : Optional
Balanced Cable : None
Detachable : 2-Pin 0.78mm

Frequency Graph:
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Brief Introduction to Penon Orb
Penon Audio, one of the well-known audio retailer based on Hong Kong, also known as retailer that brings “unknown” brand to international market.
Penon Orb is the second IEM (after Penon Sphere) from Penon Audio, using 10mm Dynamic Driver and 1 Full Range Balanced Armature with impedance 10 Ω so it’s supposed to be easy to drive using your phone. Orb housing using clear shell which you can see the driver inside.
Penon Orb equipped with lot of accessories such as 6 pairs eartips (3 pairs S-M-L green silicone eartips and 3 pairs S-M-L orange silicon eartips, 2 Velour Pouch and Big Blue case and lastly 8-core SPC silver cable.
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Sound Quality Evaluation
This Review using YinLuMei A1S, KAEI DAP MK2 and F.Audio FA2 as source
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High Frequency
Smooth, relaxing with just enough sparkling, airy, good detail though lacks a bit micro detail, there is Roll-off on upper –treble, non-fatigue,

Mid Frequency
Male vocal has nice position with very good imaging, rich and thick enough which give perfect weight note especially for Heavy Male Vocal (such as Zhao Peng, Christian Willisohn, Andrea Bocelli, etc), though for female vocal you will find it recessed sometime. Sibilant Free and clear midrange but Upper-mid a bit surpressed which make some instrument lacks of "bite".

Low Frequency
Deep bass, sub-bass focused, quite impactfull mid-bass, well-controlled, Good atmospheric presentation, Authority bass.

Separation, Soundstage & Resolution:
Soundstage width is good, depth is really good in Orb. Instrument separation is good. For Resolution it lacks a bit in micro-detail.
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Personal Comment
First of all, Penon Orb is not your all-rounder IEM, it's warm bassy IEM so don't expect it will does well on song with lot of energy in the upper mid - lower treble area. So, which song will make the Orb shine? Male Vocal / Heavy Vocal, the heavier vocal the better. For Example: this Caruso by Christian Willisohn is presented really well, or you can choose any song from Zhao Peng. Rather than being all-rounder Orb is Very good at Heavy Vocal, probably the best in the price range

This is my third encounter with Penon IEMs, and I would say Penon really know how to tune relaxing and musical IEM. Orb still relaxing and musical, but it does very well for Heavy Vocal which reminds me with my tube speaker setup

Should I buy Penon Orb?
I would suggest Penon Orb if your playlist have a lot Heavy Vocal singer. it does excellent job at that genre for the price range. and yes Female Heavy Vocal does exist such as Chie Ayado, Imany, Shirley Bassey, Jamyang Dolma, etc

That’s all my review of Penon Orb, hope it helps, Cheers~

*Thanks for Neptone to help me provide the Frequency Graph

Ace Bee

1000+ Head-Fier
Penon Orb: Smooth Musicality
Pros: Deep subbass
Musical Mids
Smooth but Unique Highs
Airy presentaiton
Expansive soundstage
Brilliantly smooth sound signature
Cons: Slightly rolled off upper treble
Slightly foggy backgroound
Introduction:
I have forever preferred a sound that is slightly on the brighter sound, brings out the tingles in the highs beautifully, paired with a punchy bass that can be felt and a not too thin not too thick midrange. I must say, all of these requirements never got fulfilled together, and generally I tended to prioritise the highs a little bit more, as it makes the sound more exciting, and I hate a dull sound.

But I faced a problem - during phases when my mind wanted to relax as well as to listen to songs, the brightness tended to intervene with the relaxing, and subsequently I had to stop listening to songs and just rest.

When I read about the Penon Orb, I was honestly not impressed. I was still a bit fresh into the audiophilia and thought that if dedicated drivers for high, mid, and low are not provided, separation and soundstage will be affected. One single driver can not, of course, provide separation and soundstage like multiple drivers. That the sound signature was smooth was also a reason of disinterest to me. Smooth was equivalent to Dull to me then. I had no idea how much influence tuning can have on these aspects as well.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for one friend who assured me of their brilliance, I would not have gone for it. But after I went and acquired it, I discovered that I really really needed it in my life.

And I have to say, the Orb is a looker! Looks so beautiful in its transparent shell with the drivers so boldly presented...creates a signature of its own.

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Configuration:
Driver: Balanced Armature full frequency + Dynamic driver 10mm (graphite fiber silk paper dome, soft, grainless overhanging diaphragm)
Impedance: 10 Ω @1khz
Sensitivity: 112 ± 3dB @1khz
Frequency response: 20hz-20Khz
Connector: 2Pin 0.78mm
Plug: 3.5mm Audio
Cable length: 1.2M
Price: $259

Packaging:
Pretty barebone packaging, and I love that. No extra unnecessary foam cut out iem capsule housing or extra packaging. Penon kept it short and simple: A beautiful premium blue zipper case of a good size, a smaller felt carrying pouch with snap button (that I use daily), a tiny felt pouch for no idea what purpose. Penon also included a small metal clip, but I failed to understand its purpose as it has no provisions to attach to the cable. A cleaning brush with metal loop is also provided, it has a little magnet at the end of it also.

2 different sets of eartips (S, M, L). I am using the green wide bore one.

The SPC cable is very supple, strong connectors, and aesthetically very pleasing. Sonically it performs very well as well, perfectly complementing the iems.

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Sound Impression:
I will have to tip my hat to Penon for the tuning they have done with just one single BA and a single DD here. I did not expect the performance of the full range BA driver to be as extended as this one. And attaining the level of separation and staging is quite a feat in itself!

Bass:
A very tastefully tuned one - that’s all I have to say. I love my bass to have a good punch, to have a good body, just enough rumble, and an average decay so that it does not linger more than necessary, but does not feel hollow. Orb almost hit that sweet spot. Just the right amount of punch, a good amount of body, satisfactory rumble, and slightly longer decay but not too much - together they create one of the most refined bass responses ever in this price range. Subbass is the star, it reaches deep, the rumble is pretty good, and puts a smile on my face. Subbass rumbles may occassionally sound very slightly on thicker side, but not obscenely obese. Brings out the texture pretty good as well, but the body sometimes gets precedence over it. Basslines are a delight to listen to on Orb. Kickdrums sound just perfect. But one thing to note is that Bass absolutely stays away from smearing the mids.

In Massive Attack - Teardrop, the subbass rumble is very much present and slightly on the thicker side. The articulations may feel less pronounced because of the thickness, but not at all smeared.

In Muse - Showbiz, the kick-drum hits with a satisfactory punch, bass guitar sets up an immensely pleasing bassline right from the beginning that acts as a strong background which never becomes intrusive, yet maintaining a considerable presence throughout the track, surfacing and again submerging to the base as and when required.

In Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude To War, the big drums punch and rumble like thunder, yet never obscure the violin, the bass, or the other high-range instruments (failed to identify them sadly).

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Mids:
The most refined mids I have listened to in this range. Overall it’s somewhat forward sounding - giving the sound signature a W shape. Transparency is very good throughout the spectrum: no muddiness at all. Lower mid has a very good body, very slightly on thicker side. Texture is quite good.
Male vocals are a bit on the smoother side but definitely not dull or blunt. It’s amazing how they sound detailed yet inoffensive - striking a very good balance (won’t say perfect, I wish they were just a bit more crisp). Tonality of male vocals are very good - does not sound unnaturally thin or overly thick - very natural.
Female vocals have a wonderful tuning. While they do not sound tonally off, the peaks of high pitched vocals are very thoughtfully tuned down. There is no lack of energy though, just no sharpness. And yet they manage to sound quite crisp, full of life, not at all dull or blunt, again (I may sound repetitive, but honestly I was amazed by this particular trait so much I cannot stress it enough). Although, I must say, I would not have minded if they were very slightly on the thinner side, but it’s not something to lose my sleep over.
Instruments sound similarly balanced between smooth and crisp. Snare drums sound a bit on the thicker side, but not offensively. They still retain the crispness. String instruments sound especially delightful. Speaking of guitar, the body is very good, crunch can be felt but won’t bite on your eardrums. No instrument in this region lacks energy.
And lastly, the air! Orb has a very nice airy presentation of mids, where all different sounds are cleanly and carefully separated, not masking each other. It’s incredible how a single BA can do this effortlessly.

In Battlestar Galactica Season 2 OST - Prelude To War, the snare drums sound slightly less emphasized, and slightly less crisp than how I would have liked it. But nevertheless, they are still very well represented, not mushy or washed out at all. There are a plethora of instruments in this track and each has its own distinct position in the headspace created by orb. Violins sound especially good.

In Yao Si Ting - Scarborough Fair, Yao Si Ting’s incredible voice sounds like a mildly chilling wind flowing gently within your head. Her voice has very audible sizzles in this track, which can cause discomfort on bright sounding iems. But Orb handles it so perfectly that you can enjoy her sizzling voice to its full extent without any discomfort. There is a very nice headspace created also by the background violins.

In Poets Of The Fall - Kamikaze Love (Temple of Thought) Marko Saaresto’s voice has the right amount of fullness and texture I look for. It sounds very natural, not restrained or overly bloated. From 02:50 minute the second voice can be clearly distinguished as soon as it comes into play.

In Silversun Pickups - The Royal We (Swoon) the electric guitar sounds unapologetically crunchy and gritty, yet never it crosses the threshold of comfort.

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High:
This is something unique. On first listen I really wasn’t much impressed by the highs. It was tuned a bit smoother than my liking and had a bit less energy than my liking. But over time as I kept listening I realised even though the tuning was smooth and has slightly less energy, it is tuned very well and has good extension, and while it does not grab your attention, it makes its presence felt in a very skillful way that does not leave you wanting. Even I, a natural bright sound lover, got totally hooked on this tuning. Highs sound very right, but not seizing my attention and not offensive at all! It helps me enjoy the music in its totality without focusing on any particular aspect. The lower treble has the right amount of energy to pull off this tuning. Cymbal crashes are quite audible but not overly pronounced. Upper treble is slightly rolled off - which compromises the shimmer and sparkles a bit. I would have liked a bit more emphasis here, in a busy track the cymbal shimmers get difficult to distinguish occasionally. Depending upon the mixing of the track, the cymbals can also sound forward or in the back - whereas in bright sounding iems they are almost always in the forefront. Also, needless to say, highs have a pretty good amount of air too.

In Muse-Showbiz the cymbal crashes are very much audible, but the ride cymbal rolls are pushed to the background which on very few occasions gets lost behind the guitars, drums, and vocal. I do not mind, though.

In Silversun Pickups - The Royal We (Swoon) cymbal behaves the same way. Crashes are quite audible, shimmers sometimes become difficult to distinguish. But overall - the experience is still pleasing.

However, in Metallica - The Four Horsemen the cymbal crashes and shimmers are very much present, sounds brilliant, and easily distinguishable - that shows how the mastering of the track affects the presentation.

In The Witcher OST - Ladies Of The Wood there are some beautiful shimmery high notes playing all along the track. Orb plays them beautifully, and in conjunction with the deep subbass the overall presentation is very much musical rather than uncomfortable.

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Soundstage and separation:
Soundstage is one of the best I have experienced in this price bracket. It extends very very well in all three directions: width, height and depth. Soundstage is one of the key factors in my preference, and I was immensely pleased on that front when I first put these on. Separation again is very good, different sounds can be easily distinguishable. It has a very airy presentation, no hint of congestion is there. Imaging is good also - I can easily pinpoint the positions of different instruments and vocals.
The only gripe here is that the background is not exactly black or clean. It is slightly foggy. Because of that, even though the presentation is very airy, the air feels slightly unclear. That is the only chink in armour for Orb. Although it’s nothing that will keep nagging in my mind. Once I put it in my ears, I immediately get immersed in music. I feel no need for any kind of analytical listening then - such is the unique trait of Orb.


Comparison:
Vs. BQEYZ Spring 2 - Spring 2 has a better treble. It has got more energy yet it is not uncomfortable at all. The treble is indeed brilliantly tuned on spring 2. The background is also cleaner compared to Orb. Mids have slightly more bite to them. But that’s where the superiority ends. Bass on Spring 2 sounds somewhat bloated compared to Orb. Orb has a better controlled bass, and much more expansive soundstage, better separation, and much more airy presentation. Compared to Orb Spring2’s representation sounds a bit compressed. Also, the fit of Spring2 is a nightmare.


Conclusion:
If you have not yet got the message, I am very very much impressed by the Penon Orb. The tuning of it is a very refined one, and I am in love. It is indispensable now for me. The deep subbass, musical midrange, and unique treble, coupled with an amazingly airy presentation totally won me over.
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Codename john
Ace Bee
Ace Bee
Happy new year to @alexandros a and @Codename john .

Thank you for your kind words. I tried my best to convey my exact emotions. Looks like I didn't fail 😄.

I auditioned the grill modded H40 too, but couldn't like it since the bass seemed like ever present. Too much bass. Fit was an issue also.
CT007
CT007
There are 3 sets of tips :wink:

Audio Fun

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Class leading musical tonality
Clear and well textured vocal
Natural timbre
Deep and punchy bass
Smooth and musical
Detail retrieval and clarity
Build
Fit and comfort
Accessories
Cons: Bass decay is on a slow side (somehow unrealistic?)
Lack on upper treble airiness and micro detail
Technical performance
Colored sound doesn’t work for everyone
Introduction
Penon audio is well known as the online retailer for wide range of audio brand. They start their own house brand under the name Penon audio since 2017, and they manufacture the IEMs, earbuds and cable. In this review I am checking out the Orb, the drivers configuration is 1DD+1BA, price of it is $259.

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Disclaimer
I would like to thanks Penon audio for given this opportunity, and the review will be based on my honest opinion through the music I listen to.


Package & Accessories
The Orb come with the small and compact box. The box has Penon audio logo in golden front located at the front, whereas the specifications at the rear side of it. After opening the box, there is the carry case with IEM and cable contain inside, along with the ear tips contain in small carry pouch. There are cleaning tool, cable wrap and cable clip contain inside the carry pouch under the bottom of box after removing the carry case.

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Accessories list:
1 pair x Penon Orb In-Ear Monitors
1 pcs x 0.78mm 2 Pin Detachable Cable
4 pairs x Orange Silicone Eartips (size S/M/L)
4 pairs x Green Silicone Eartips (size S/M/L)
1 pcs x Blue PU Case
2pcs x Carry Pouch (Small and large)
1 pcs x Cleaning Tool
1 pcs x Cable Wrap
1 pcs x Cable Clip

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The accessories it come with is rich and luxury. The carry case included are nicely made with PU material in blue color with golden Penon audio front and zipper, it allow the users to store a least one pair of IEM, with different sizes of accessories slots inside, which is great for cable, ear tips, cleaning tools or SD cards.... It also contain two different sizes of carry pouch finished in fluffy material with brand logo on top.

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The Orb come with two types of ear tips to provide the the best fits and sound to users. It also come with the additional cleaning tools, cable wrap with their logo and cable clips, which is great for users.

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The Orb come with the 8 core silver plated copper cable, it has 3.5 mm straight connector in silver metal finished with brand logo. It features the 0.78mm 2 pin connector with L&R to show left and right. The Y-splitter are in metal shell as well as the 2 pin connector. There are cable slider in silver metal finished. It is overall well build and flexible cable.

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Design & Build & Comfort
The shell on orb has a good ergonomic design. The shell are superb clear and fully transparent. It is handmade with the medical grade resins, which is solid than the 3D printer shell. The faceplate has a word Penon in the golden color located on the left earpiece, while the word ORB located on the right earpiece. There are the blue and red mark on the dynamic driver inside of the IEM to indicate left and right. There are the vents on the back of the shell with filter.

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The build quality on Orb are really good especially the shell are superb clear. The shell are well rounded, with out any gap and sharp edges. The Orb has resin filled in at the sound bore part of the IEM for holding the components. The BA and dynamic driver in side are perfectly placed at the place, while the wire inside are organize in the high standard. It has two sound bores and holes for each of driver, the nozzle are perfectly drilled and divided into two holes. The 2 pin female connectors are tight, and do not have sign of wear and tear after I swapped few times of cable.

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The Orb has really good ergonomic design with short nozzle. The fits on Orb are really good with average isolation. There are no pressure build up after an hours of listening, thanks to the vents on the shell.

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Technical Specification
Impedance: 10 Ω @1khz
Sensitivity: 112 ± 3dB @1khz
Frequency response: 20hz-20Khz



Sound

Paring

I use the orange ear tips with the stock cable run through my music library on the Fiio M11. The orange ear tips has less bass and more treble energy.

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Overall tonality
The Orb has mildly U shape tonality, it has smooth and melodious presentation.

Bass
The bass is full bodies with slightly thick timbre. The sub bass has above average extension with moderate decay speed. It has above average rumble impact and punch. It has moderate speed with good levels of control. The detail retrieval are pretty well, while the clarity are above the average. The bass on the Orb is probably the best I ever heard for under the $500USD.

Mids
The midrange is well textured and musical. The low midrange has good amount of bodies and depth presented in lush yet clean manner. The upper midrange has well emphasis, it has good amount of bodies and presented in melodious yet lively manner. The midrange show extremely good levels of texture without losing the detail and clarity.

Treble
The treble has smooth yet clear presentation. The treble has average extended with a fatiguing free listen. The upper treble has average amount of airiness with moderate amount of sparkle and crisp. The detail retrieval and clarity are slightly above the average.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage is average on both of width and depth.
The imaging are slightly above the average, as the background is slightly muddy.



Comparison
BGVP VG4 ($229USD)

Bass
The ORB has more sub bass and bass quantity compare to VG4. The sub bass has better extension on ORB, whereas the VG4 provide the quicker decay. The bass has more weight on the ORB and sound warmer, while the VG4 has close to neutral type bass. The ORB has better punch and impact in the bass, while the VG4 has quicker speed and slightly better clarity. Both of them has good amount of detail, but the VG4 did it cleaner.

Mids
The midrange has warmer and lusher presentation on ORB, whereas the VG4 has more slightly less fuller and colder presentation. The lower midrange has more bodies and sound lusher on ORB, while the VG4 has more clarity and own the cleaner presentation. The upper midrange are both push forward and, the ORB has fuller timbre and sound more natural in my opinion. The VG4 has more vividly presentation with better transparency levels. The detail and clarity are better on VG4.

Treble
The treble are both smooth, but the VG4 has brighter tonality. The treble has better extension on VG4 with more open sound, while the ORB provide the smooth and fatiguing free listening. The upper treble has slightly more sparkle and airiness on VG4, whereas the ORB are smoother here.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are wider on VG4, with similar depth.
The imaging are better on VG4


Oriveti OH300 ($299USD)

Bass
The sub bass on both has similarly quantity, the sub bass has better extension on ORB, while the OH300 has quicker decay. The bass has more weight and sound thicker on the ORB, while the OH300 has cleaner and less warmer presentation. The bass has better punch and impact on ORB, while the bass on OH300 are quicker with speed with better clarity. The bass on ORB has more depth compare to OH300. The detail retrieval are fairly similar.

Mids
The midrange has more texture and sound lusher on the ORB, while the OH300 has close to neutral tonality with tad of warmth. The lower midrange has more bodies and sound significantly lusher on ORB, while the OH300 has better clarity and sound cleaner. The upper midrange are more vividly on OH300 with better transparency levels, while the ORB has fuller and more natural presentation. The clarity and detail retrieval are both pretty good on both of them.

Treble
The treble on both are smooth, but the OH300 has brighter treble with better extension. Both of them provide the fatiguing free listening, while the ORB has fuller and softer presentation. The upper treble has similar amount of sparkle and airiness, but the OH300 feel slightly more open. The detail retrieval are better on OH300. The clarity on are well done.


Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are wider on OH300, with similar depth.
The imaging are slightly better on OH300, as the OH300 has cleaner and darker background


Final audio E5000 ($269USD)

Bass
The sub bass on the E5000 has warmer tonality, while the Orb are cleaner. The sub bass has slightly better extension and quicker decay speed on Orb. The bass has thicker timbre with slightly more weight on E5000, while the Orb has less weight but offer clearer presentation. The bass has better punch and impact on the Orb, it also provide the deeper bass. The detail retrieval and clarity are better on Orb.

Mids
The midrange on both are smooth and well textured, but the E5000 has warmer and slightly lusher presentation. The lower midrange sound slightly lusher on E5000, while the Orb provide more clarity. The upper midrange has more lively presentation on Orb with higher levels of transparency, whereas the E5000 has more bodies, which sound more natural. The detail retrieval and clarity are bette on Orb.

Treble
The treble are both tuned toward the laid back manner. But the Orb offer slightly more airiness and sparkle. The E5000 has darker tonality, while the Orb has crisp presentation on the upper treble section. The detail retrieval and clarity on Orb are slightly better.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are slightly wider on Orb, with same level of depth.
The imaging on both are pretty average.


Obravo Cupid ($250-350USD)

Bass
The sub bass and bass has more quantity on Cupid, while the Orb offer the better extension. The bass has more weight on Cupid, whereas the Orb has clearer bass with slower decay speed. The bass on boss has good levels of impact and slam, but the Orb has deeper bass and punch more pronounce. The detail retrieval and clarity are better on Orb.

Mids
The midrange are more recessed on Cupid with thinner timbre, while the Orb has lusher and warmer tonality. The lower midrange has more bodies and depth on Orb, while the Cupid has thinner presentation. The upper midrange has vividly presentation on Cupid with thinner timbre, whereas the Orb has fuller timbre, which sound more realistic and lively in my opinion. The detail retrieval and clarity are both pretty good.

Treble
The treble has brighter tonality on Cupid, while the Orb offer a fatiguing free listen. The Cupid has more airiness and crisp on the upper treble, while the Orb are slightly laid back here. Both of them have good amount of sparkle. The detail retrieval and clarity are better on the Cupid.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are wider on Cupid, deeper on Orb.
The imaging are better on Cupid.


Etymotic ER4XR ($305USD)

Bass
The ER4 has less sub bass and bass quantity, whereas the Orb provide better sub bass extension and go deeper. The bass has more weight and sound fuller on the Orb, while he ER4 has quicker bass decay. The Orb has more rumble, impact and punch, while the ER4 sound relatively clearer. The detail retrieval and clarity are both pretty similar.

Mids
The midrange has more bodies and sound lusher on he Orb, while the ER4 has less bodies and tuned toward the neutral target. The lower midrange sound fuller with more bodies on the Orb, while the ER4 has slightly better clarity. The upper midrange has similar kind of presentation, but the Orb has slightly more bodies and sound forward in comparison. The detail retrieval are similar, while the clarity are slightly better on ER4.

Treble
The treble on both are smooth and tuned more laid back, but the Orb has more airiness and crisp at the top end. The upper treble has slightly more sparkle on the Orb. The detail retrieval and clarity are both similar, probably Orb did it slightly better in comparison.

Soundstage and imaging
The soundstage are wider and deeper on Orb.
The imaging are better on Orb, but the ER4 has better layering thanks to cleaner backgrounds.


Compare to my relatively more objective Head-fi star ranking, this ranking will be more subjective based on my personal preference and it doesn’t take price into my consideration.

Scoring system:
4/10 and below: Waste of money
5/10: Average
6/10: Above average
7/10: Good
8/10: Great
9/10: Excellent
10/10: OMG


Penon ORB:
Overall tonality: 8/10
Bass: 8/10
Mids: 7/10
Treble: 5/10

Overall: 7.5/10


Conclusion
The Penon Orb has top build quality, especially the internal driver wiring is the neatly I ever seen. The tonality on Orb are excellent, it has extreme musical and smooth presentation with enough of treble energy. The vocal has well texture with top tier timbre. The bass on Orb are just amazing. The Orb will be added to my best $250USD to $300USD list. If you are looking for IEMs in this price range should not miss it. Lastly, I am glad to tell you all, the Orb is the best IEM in my collection, no matter what the price is!!

Penon audio official website:https://penon-official.com
Penon Orb product page: https://penon-official.com/product/penon-orb/

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HansBarbarossa

Head-Fier
Penon ORB: anatomy of sound
Pros: Sound, design, ergonomics, kit, price
Cons: No (not for this price)
Penon ORB: anatomy of sound

Hi friends!

Today we have Penon audio again, this time with ORB hybrid IEM. Quite recently we got acquainted with their earphones based on one BA - Sphere, and now an even more interesting two-driver model IEM, built on the dynamics (DD) and one BA driver, has arrived to us.

Penon ORB really turned out to be very, very interesting IEM, both in terms of design and ergonomics, and in terms of sound.

For those who skipped a summary of the previous series: Penon audio is one of the largest specialty stores in China and is the official dealer of most of the world's brands in the portable audio field. Apart from the dealership, Penon is also successfully launching its own developments on the market: excellent IEM's cables, as well as earbuds and IEMs.


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Specification

Driver: Balanced Armature full frequency

Dynamic driver: 10mm

Impedance: 10 Ω @1khz

Sensitivity: 112 ± 3dB @1khz

Frequency response: 20hz-20Khz

Connector: 2Pin 0.78mm

Plug: 3.5mm Audio

Cable length: 1.2M




Appearance, kit and ergonomics

The earphones are carefully packaged in two layers: the upper part is a printing wrapper in a juicy yellow color with a photo of the headphones, a brand logo and a description of the contents. From it we extract the pretty purple-terracotta cardboard box with the gilded "Penon" logo on the front side and technical characteristics on the other, already familiar to us from the previous brand's products.


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In the bowels of this box, we find a soft beige wallet case and a chic blue hard case made of leatherette with a zipper. We solicit the latter and find a lot of interesting things inside: the ORB IEM with a detachable cable, a soft case with two sets of silicone tips of different sizes, a brush for caring for the sound guides, a velcro strap and a metal clothespin for attaching the cable to clothes. In general, as always with Penon, the "all inclusive" package, you don't even know what else to wish for!


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Fully transparent PENON ORB shells are made of medical resin using 3D printing. Through them, in the smallest detail, you can see all the internal content of the IEMs: wires, dynamic and BA drivers, as well as acoustic tubes. Well, just the anatomy of sound!


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The shape of the earbuds is reminiscent of CIEM, made from an individual ear impression. Indeed, ergonomics are at their best, everything is very comfortable.


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On the outside of the IEM is the golden logo of the "PENON" brand. On the inside of the shell, there is a sound pipe with two outlets, to which acoustic pipes are connected. In the upper part there are connectors for a cable plug with 2pin connectors.


In addition to the aforementioned convenience and remarkable appearance, I would like to note that ORB is even just pleasant to hold in your hands - there is some kind of attractive tactility in them.


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The IEM is expected to be worn behind the ear. Sound insulation is above average, which allows you to enjoy listening to your favorite songs even in noisy city transport.



Silver-white cable, extremely lightweight and flexible, with soft silicone earhooks. Consists of 4 braided veins. Jack plug - straight, TRS 3.5 mm. He's really good: handsome, comfortable, very flexible. But I did not expect anything else, we know perfectly well that PENON are real masters in cable making!



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In general, the appearance, workmanship and ergonomics of ORB evoke extremely positive emotions in me. Nothing to say, well done PENON!

But the most important thing is ahead: let's prick up our ears and move on to the sound.



Sound

Listening (audio testing) was conducted on: MyST DAC 1866OCU V.2, Lotoo paw Gold, iBasso DX220 (AMP7), iBasso 220 MAX, QLS QA-361, & iFI xDSD.

ORB sounded good with all devices.

I recommend taking a responsible approach to the tips selection process, as it makes a significant contribution to the creation of the sound picture.

Let me remind you that each IEM contains one BA and one 10mm DD driver.



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I would describe the sound of PENON ORB as well-balanced, comfortable, with a technically forced section in the low-frequency register, smooth, extremely musical, melodious middle and the most comfortable, delicate high-frequency range. It's a warm and rich manner.



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ORBs deliver massive, extremely melodic sound, rich and euphonious, with a lot of focus on macro contrast. Listening to such a sound is an incredible pleasure. He, like a duvet, softly and gently wraps you up and you don't want to get out of there at all.



This pair of dynamic and BA drivers in ORB is implemented perfectly. There are no gaps in the sound processing that interfere with listening due to the inconsistency of the two types of drivers, but there is a solid canvas, stitched together from all broadcast sounds, where the sound registers politely and harmoniously complement each other. But, I emphasize again, you will get such a rich and cute musical picture if you take the time to choose the right tips.



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The beat is powerful, deep, going to the very bottom, the bass parts sound rich, clear and distinct. The dynamic driver is well tuned and produces a solid, dense "Boom", filling the mids with living bodily substance. There is no hum and daub, but there is a clear working out of the low-frequency range, which most tactfully contributes to the overall sound tonality.

The low-frequency register works harmoniously with the mid-frequency range, without overlapping it in any way. This skillfully creates a light velvety background and adds mass and depth to the overall sound. Beautiful, juicy and massive - you won't find fault.



The mids are smooth, detailed, comfortable and melodic.

Musical images are drawn large, convex and tangible. The middle is rich, mature, without the slightest hint of distortion. At the same time, ORB chicly convey the emotional component of the composition. They easily charm the listener, lure him into the deepest musical pool and do not let go of the mellifluous orgy until the very end.

Vocal parts are conveyed cleanly and expressively, and strings sound rich and realistic.

The timbres and reverberations are conveyed beautifully, musically, deeply and tirelessly.

I would call such a presentation thick and detailed at the same time. Mids seamlessly transition into the low frequency range and are carefully complemented by high frequencies.



High frequencies are clear and concise. They are energetic, moderately restrained and charming. Where necessary, they can throw a graceful "spark", in other cases, they will work out their own precisely and harmoniously, and then with dignity, fading away, they will go into silence. This register is transmitted correctly, clearly enough, without excessive sharpness and obvious distortions. Their quantity and quality raises no objections.



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The virtual stage is medium in size, it is spaciously built in width and slightly shallower in depth.

In terms of genre preferences, Penon ORBs are quite universal, they beautifully and interestingly play instrumental music, jazz, electronics, rock, and brutal genres.



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Conclusion

I declare with full responsibility that PENON ORB are wonderful IEMs with their charm and graceful, extremely luxurious musical flavor. PENON engineers tinkered with sound tuning once again, bravo!

Good kit, high quality workmanship, design, and of course the sound are all commendable. In their price range, ORBs are completely competitive.

On the website of the penonaudio manufacturer, the cost of the ORB IEM model is $ 259. As you might guess, I recommend this model for purchase without any hesitation. PENON ORB are simply made to enjoy music!
ngoshawk
ngoshawk
Nice review, Hans. Excellent pictures as always, too!
HansBarbarossa
HansBarbarossa
Thanks my friend ✌️

davidmolliere

Headphoneus Supremus
Singing Angel
Pros: Outstanding bass at any price point striking a superb balance of power, control, punch and rich textures
Engaging and lively midrange with good balance and good instrument timbre
Forward and clear vocals
Energetic and refined treble
Excellent soundstage with a coherent image (stage height is outstanding)
Scales with better sources
Good fit with very lightweight shells
Cons: Very tight 2 pin socket on my unit (your mileage may vary)
Isolation is average (but shells are very lightweight)
Product Page : https://penonaudio.com/penon-orb.html
Price : 259$​

Fit, Build & Isolation
The Penon Orb features a fully transparent medical grade resin material shell, highlighting excellent craftsmanship of its internal. The Shell is on the smaller side and very lightweight. I found the Orb to have only average isolation, but the shells are so light I am not too suprised. This shouldn’t be an issue in real world condition for most with music playing except for noisier environment if you’re a low volume listener like me. Note that the shell is quite deep to lodge it’s dynamic driver meaning it protrudes significantly, something that can be of importance if you want to listen in bed lying on the side.

Other than this disclaimer and unusual use case, the Orb is very comfortable IEM to wear with an average depth insertion and very lightweight it’s quickly forgotten and disappears in the ear.

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The Orb features a 2 pin socket and comes with a low footprint small gauge 8 wire cable in my case a 2.5 balanced version but the Orb comes with a 3.5 cable unless you take another option. The cable is supple and with good ergonomics. The sockets on my unit was fairly tight, better be careful there at first and plug – unplug a few times with the stock cable before trying out upgrade cables.

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Introduction
Like most people I know I have enjoyed Penon as an online shop, a trusted distributor of many brands I love like Dunu, Astrotec or ISN to name a few. Penon started building IEMs (the BS1 earbud in 2017) and great value for money cables (like OS849).

In 2019 they launched their first IEM the Sphere and it was a success. Lately they have been on the roll with many highly praised products : the Orb and the flagship Volt IEM as well as cables such as the OSG cable (I’ll soon review it) and the flagship cable Totem.

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As can be seen in the picture above the Orb packs a dynamic driver. This is a fairly unique design that I know of as its a custom 10mm driver is made of graphite fiber silk with a paper dome driver featuring a grainless overhanging diaphragm. Interestingly it also packs a full range balanced armature, quite an interesting choice as it implies a crossover-less design. Overall quite an advanced design at this price point.

The Orb is not just another hybrid IEM, Penon clearly had an intent to build something different there and it’s very nice to see this kind of effort at this price point. Penon advertises punchy bass, crystal clear vocals, crispy and sparkly high frequency with a holographic soundstage.

Does that hold true? How does the advanced technical design translate in terms of sound quality? Let’s check it out!

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Sound
Upon the very first listen (after proper burn-in), it’s clearly apparent that Penon’s tuning goals are fulfilled : the Orb features powerful and physical yet controlled and refined bass, full and smooth mids, energetic and well extended treble. The stage has very good width and depth but more impressive is its height which is excellent, with a very coherent image.

The Orb is a very engaging listen, a clearly fun IEM built on solid technical foundations. Let’s dive a bit deeper!

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Bass
Bass is clearly an outstanding feature of the Orb and is nothing short of impressive : it’s a powerful bass but strikes a rare balance of power, control, punch and rich textures. Usually IEMs tend to fall either towards faster, snappier attack and quicker decay for a punchy and clean bass or towards a smoother attack and a bit slower decay with richer textures. The Orb is quite singular in that respect in my opinion as it seems to have squared the circle with usually contradictory qualities.

Could that be that the full range balanced armature is complimentary to the dynamic driver in the bass section providing both the qualities of the BA and DD? Just a theory but I think Penon has built a very special IEM there : it’s both punchy and richly textured, detailed and physical with good slam.

The sub bass is well extended with good rumble and a welcome physicality and presence is to my ears spot on. I like to have enough sub bass to feel the subs but not too much as to not overshadow the main message. The Orb is able to provide a sub woofer like bass like few can, only other IEMs that come to mind are ISN H40 (comparison at the end of this review) or Campfire Solaris. My usual test tracks like Sohn “Falling” and Aphex Twins “Ageispolis“, Marian Hill “Differently” and Phanee de Pool “Amstram” were so enjoyable with the Orb.

The mid bass is very balanced in terms of presence with the sub bass and there is no tilt either way. The bass line is strong with beautiful textures, in Ruben Gonzàles “La Lluvia” the double bass is really sublime and as good as I have heard it with lot of interpretation nuances conveyed. The deep percussions on Ayo “Throw it away” is equally impressive, as is Nenad Vasilic “Lupafte” or Okvsho “Algoriddim”. Again, regardless of price point the Orb is simply one of the best bass around, please Penon keep the recipe for future IEMs as it’s really something special!!!

Let me say I spent much more time on the bass section for this review than any review I have done for a while, as it’s so enjoyable and impressive. I just kept delaying going into the mids testing all the tracks in my bass review playlist. I really was shocked at how good the Orb is again at any price point, especially with cable upgrades like PW n°10. I would need to compare but it’s reminiscent my memory of 64 Audio N8. The maturity of the bass tuning and its performance is a shocker. Hats off!

Mids
The Orb mids are full bodied but with good bite, with clear vocals that are forwardly positioned. It’s an engaging and lively midrange with good balance and good instrument timbre.

The lower mids have good presence, the Orb doesn’t rely on lower mids dip for clarity but rather as we’ll see on its upper mids presence and treble extension. Instruments are full bodied but not thick either, a wise choice as given the bass presence it would have made the Orb congested. Instrument separation is not the greatest but it’s quite good for a full bodied IEM thanks to its upper treble presence.

The upper mids are tuned both for forward vocal placement and for instruments to provide good energy : snare drums are crisp, hi hats and cymbals have good sizzle and brass have a nice bite making for an engaging presentation and a good balanced with the full bodied mids. This makes the Orb a versatile IEM as well and I enjoyed jazz very much there.

Both male and female vocals are a treat on the Orb. Thanks to the full mids male vocals are deeply seated with good power, Pete Alderton “Malted Milk” and Jack Savoretti “Written in scars” gritty voices were adequately portrayed with both power and nuances. In a very different register, James Blake “Vincent” benefits from the upper mids bite conveying a lot of emotion. Depending on tips, on some tracks like Diana Krall “Let’s fall in love” I found hints of sibilance though but it’s very slight (your mileage may vary) and is also source dependent. Only DX160 exhibited this, while Lotoo PAW S1 and AAW Capri lightning cable didn’t. Cable rolling can also help there, I tried the 8 wire copper Null Audio Tiburon and PW n°10 with the DX160 and it definitely smoothens out the issue.

Treble
The Orb treble is very balanced with slight lower treble emphasis. It’s an exciting treble but not a fatiguing one either.

The lower treble energy is spot on to my ears with an accurate tone. The Orb is energetic and it shows, electric guitars in Spin Doctors “So bad” have satisfying buzz, piano notes in The Hot Sardines “Come love (l’amour s’en fout)” have good weight, presence and overtones are faithfully portrayed. The Pixies “Where is my mind” is a good test of how safe your treble is and the Orb does a great job of being totally engaging the hi hats sizzle as well as guitar riffs play with the limit without ever crossing the threshold and I loved it on the Orb.

The upper treble has less presence than the lower section but it packs very good extension and is what I consider to be a refined presentation with the right amount to provide air and boost resolution without placing details too forward like some IEMs which I always find detrimental to the musical message. The Orb doesn’t disappoint and tracks like Guthrie Trapp “Buckdancer’s choice” or Laurie Anderson “Born, never asked” are portrayed with a level of refinement that I didn’t expect at this price point.


Select comparisons

ISN H40
If you’ve read my ISN H40 review you know it’s among the best value for money of its segment and given their respective tuning the Orb and H40 will naturally be compared. How do they respectively fare against each other? Let’s see!

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The H40 massive bass presence was a memorable aspect of its signature and it holds true : the H40 sub bass extends a bit more but more importantly it has more presence and is clearly into bass head territory. The H40 sub bass is more physical and is more prominent in the signature while the Orb is physical but with a more balanced signature. The Orb bass has less presence but it doesn’t mean it lack punch or physicality, just that it’s less predominant. I also find the Orb bass to be more detailed with richer textures so I’d give the Orb the edge on bass quality where the H40 has the edge if bass quantity is your priority.

The midrange is maybe where the H40 and Orb are more similar than different with a full bodied midrange with good bite. Despite the similarities there are significant differences. I hear the H40 being fuller, more forward with a more forward vocal placement as well as more upper mids bite. The Orb has better clarity and transparency and is the more balanced of the two, with also better instrument separation.

The H40 treble is again not too far off the Orb at least in the lower treble department : both feature very good energy and remain safe of any hotness with the Orb being a bit smoother and nuanced. The main difference lies in the upper treble were the Orb clearly takes the edge with more extension and presence. This is where the Orb leaves the H40 behind in terms of sheer resolution as well as better air and separation between instruments. The H40 has the edge on soundstage size but the Orb features a much more precise imaging.

If I had to sum it up the H40 and Orb share quite a bit with great bass, full exciting mids and energetic treble but the H40 is the more physical and powerful while the Orb is the more refined and mature tuning.

Dunu DK-2001
If you’ve read my DK-2001 review you know how high I rate it in the segment in fact it might be my favorite along with H40 so far. Given it’s pricing and tech, it’s only natural to compare with the Orb. Let’s see how both fare against each other!

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Bass wise the DK-2001 has good slam but comparatively to the Orb a softer attack and decay and the Orb is therefore the punchier bass of the two. This is furthered by better sub bass extension on the Orb providing more physicality on top of a snappier attack and quicker decay. Both provide very nice textures but the Orb packs more detail. Overall DK-2001 is engaging but more relaxed than the focused and more energetic bass of the Orb.

The midrange is somewhat of the same story, the DK-2001 is a more relaxed IEM with a more linear midrange. The Orb has both a bit more lower mids presence as well as much more upper mids bite and more forward vocals. It’s both fuller and clearer and overall more articulate with better separation. Both feature surprisingly refined mids for the segment, but the DK-2001 is more relaxed and linear where the Orb is more exciting and forward.

The treble of the DK-2001 shares the same balance as the Orb treble with no particular focus on either the lower or upper treble in terms of presence but they differ in how this is executed. The DK-2001 has a slightly warm tone to its lower treble where the Orb is accurate. The Orb also has a bit more energy and again the DK-2001 is more relaxed. Both have good note weight but the Orb has slightly more and piano notes for instance are more accentuated. The upper section is more of the same story, the DK-2001 is well extended and has good upper treble presence and good air smoothly delivered but the Orb has a snappier treble with faster decay. I hear the Orb has having more air and being more resolving.

If I had to sum it up, I’d say the DK-2001 like the H40 shares quite a bit with the Orb in terms of the general tuning but with very different execution : the DK-2001 is more relaxed with softer attack and longer decay where the Orb is snappier and more energetic across the range with better resolution and imaging.


Verdict
It’s really hard to believe that it’s only Penon second IEM after the Sphere given both the maturity of its tuning and the price to performance ratio reached by the Orb. The Orb is up there with the best in the segment namely ISN H40 and Dunu DK-2001 which is no small feat in my opinion. As we’ve seen there are similarities but the Orb is both snappier than the DK-2001 and more refined than the H40 so it will come down which tuning fits your preferences best. Note that the Orb also scales very well with better sources, I plugged it into my Hiby R8 and let me tell you with more power and headroom, it reaches even more impressive performance and refinement levels. If you have a desktop amp handy, plug it in and see!

If you’re looking for an IEM with of the very best bass, a full yet clear articulate midrange and refined treble then it’s hard not to recommend the Orb as one of the very best value for money on the market! A no brainer in my opinion. If you’re a basshead then the H40 might suit you best and if you’re looking for a more relaxed listen then the DK-2001 should be on your list.

About the title
The title was inspired from a Shakespeare quote from the Merchant of Venice : “There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st But in his motion like an angel sings”

Listening notes
I spent approximately 30 hours with the Orb, listening on iBasso DX160 and Lotoo PAW S1 using the stock cable, Null Audio Tiburon 8 wires and PW n°10.

Special Thanks
Thanks to Penon for providing a review unit of the Orb. As usual, this review is my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.

Accessories
  • Hard leather carry case
  • Tips
  • Stock 8 wire SPC cable
Specifications
  • Driver: Balanced Armature full frequency + custom 10mm Dynamic driver graphite fiber silk with a paper dome driver featuring a grainless overhanging diaphragm
  • Impedance: 10 Ω @1khz
  • Sensitivity: 112 ± 3dB @1khz
  • Frequency response: 20hz-20Khz
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C
Codename john
Great review. I have all 3 and I agree you won't find better than this trio in this price bracket. It's a very tough call. All 3 are superb and unique. I can't call it. I'm very very happy that I have the luxury to own 3 wonderful tuned and special iems 🤓

suman134

Headphoneus Supremus
A lot to like
Pros: Very good bass depth and thump.
Excellent timber and tonality, highs have good energy and extension.
Stage is very good.
Excellent set of accessories. Very good cable.
Cons: The floor can be a bit more cleaner.
Just like some other Chinese stores Penon had also jumped into the IEM market a few years ago but the recently launched ORB has been making plenty of waves in the audiophile market. After the success of the Sphere which was received well both critically and commercially they had to up the ante and added an extra dynamic driver to a full range BA driver.

The Penon ORB has only one color option, clear and is priced at $259. It faces tough competition from DM7, DK2001 and ISN H40. Let's find out what is so special about this piece of earphone.

Get one for yourself from here:

https://penonaudio.com/penon-orb.html

https://penon-official.com/product/penon-orb/

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WHAT'S IN THE BOX:-

The ORB comes with a small but aptly spacious looking box. Most of the accessories are placed inside the Blue colored carry case, which is slightly on the bigger side with room for an extra cable or even a DAP with small pouches for I think adapters or ear tips. The case is made out of semi hard material but still can withstand plenty of beating and rough handling. The earphone, cable and all the tips are placed inside the carry case. There are few things placed under the case too.

There is small and soft velvet pouch if you just want to carry the earphones. A cleaning tool along with a cable clip is placed inside it. Another interesting thing is a small pouch to carry some extra accessories, it can't hold cables so I assume it is for tips.

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WHAT IT FEELS LIKE:-

Just like most of the earphones in this price range the ORB too uses medical grade resin material as the shell which eliminates any type of irritation. The shell is not exactly semicustom type as it lacks a concha wing for better traction and grip inside the ear. Thanks to lack of higher number of drivers the shell is marginally smaller than the DM7 but the DK2001 is even smaller. The ORB has a basic type of driver setup and only has two bores design and thanks to that the nozzle is not big and can fit anything from T200 to T400 size tips without much problem. Some might find the nozzle to be on the shorter side but it is perfect for most of us and provides plenty of isolation with right tips.

The build is sturdy. Don't put brute force on it and it will survive without any problem. It might not survive drops on marble or concrete floors either. Thanks to the resin material and lesser number of drivers the ORB is very light and stay comfortably inside the ear without falling out.

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HOW IS THE CABLE:-

The ORB ships with an audiophile grade SPC cable with total of 8 cores braided fairly loosely without having any memory problem. The cables are really supple, suppler than any other cables in this price bracket. It has a more premium feel than the TSMR 4 and AF180 mk2 cables. It complements the ORB aesthetically.

The cable guides are very supple, holds the ear nicely and don't exert much pressure on the ear. The cable splitter has a low profile. The cable slider or chin slider is neither very loose nor very tight and slides smoothly on the cable. The straight 3.5mm is very light and feels solid to the hand. This cable barely has any microphonics to worry about.

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PAIRING WITH SOURCES:-

The ORB has a sensitivity of 112 ± 3db and get very loud without dialing up the volume, much louder than most of the hybrid earphones. Impedance value is just 10ohm at 1khz. It is a nearly a child's play to drive the ORB. It does scale well with more capable source but it still plays well with most of the mobile phones and less capable sources.

Is it necessary to feed it properly? No, not at all, the difference is insignificant but yes, it is better if you can.

SOUND QUALITY:-

The ORB has only one DD and one BA driver to do the heavy lifting. What impresses me is the way the ORB does it effortlessly. There is no holding back at all. The bass is deep and full, the mid range is well balanced and the treble is well projected. Its tuning is inclined towards a musical sound without sacrificing technicalities.

The sound signature is on the warmer side but still is on the more balanced side than most hybrid earphones. It doesn't have much emphasis on any part of the spectrum and the W type sound signature is bound to please most of the consumers with very good details and clarity.

I am using Wide bore tips for this review. The ORB has been put through 70-80 hrs of various noises and sweeps. I am using the Shanling M6 and HUD100 mk2 (paired with LG G7) for this review.

BASS:-

The lower end is pleasing. The 10mm dynamic driver earphone is capable of delivering some of the deepest bass notes under $500. There is barely any earphone that can do deeper bass than the ORB. The rumble along with the sub-bass extension is the icing on the cake. It just makes the lower end much more satisfying and complete. The mid bass region has a bit more volume which gives the lower end its fuller and meatier feel. It is not huge but the impact is bigger. Decay is on the slower side, it is slightly slower than the DUNU DK2001. The precipitation gives it the juicy feel. It rides on very good amount details and texture. The slam has the much better dynamism which I had not seen with earphones in this price range. Most of them at times get monotonous. The ORB can adapt much better to the need of the track. The slam can be more delicately hard and soft depending upon the track. It is not forward or emphasized while contributing to the more rounded and punchy feel. The upper bass is nicely contained and melts nicely into the lower mids. The dynamic driver has a nice organic feel to it.

Where does it stand? Far above the DM7, more than both Spring 2 and DK2001 and slightly less than the ISN D10.

MID RANGE:-

The ORB most uses the single dynamic driver to best effect and delivers an engaging and tonally accurate mid range. The whole mid range has excellent transparency and very good amount of details. The transition from upper bass to lower mid is nicely done without losing much energy or forwardness while maintaining very good amount of details and clarity. Instruments have appropriate amount of bite to them along with accurate body giving the ORB natural timber and organic feel. None of the instruments have sharp finishing except the cymbals. They have a bit of unnatural transparency and shimmer to it. If in the song, the cymbals stand out of the whole spectrum. Notes have nice agility and good amount of crispiness. It does not have a very technical feel to it as the background and foreground instruments do not have separation like the DM7 or AV3.

Vocals have excellent tonal accuracy and crispiness. Both male and female vocals are equally impressive with very good amount of texture and details. The decay is paced with musicality in mind, the crispiness of background instruments is slightly compromised but this thing emulates a neat and clean feel. The upper mid range is well under control with good amount of details and clarity. It doesn't sound lush in any way but is not unnaturally presented. If you can forgive the elevation of a few instruments it doesn't have anything else to worry about.

HIGHS:-

The ORB has no extra tricks under its belt. The single BA driver with its full range abilities manages to deliver a very good treble which is not exceptional but does get the work done without exhibiting any obvious flaws. It has good amount of spark and energy but things are a bit muffled at the upper treble region. It has very good amount of air between instruments. Thanks to its neutral nature it resolves good cleanliness and transparency. It still lacks a bit of micro details but it is nothing a non critical listener will notice. The transition from upper mid to lower treble region is nicely done without losing transparency or clarity.

The ORB has very good treble extension but it starts losing some spark once it's past the mid treble region. Level of details retrieval is up there with other hybrid earphones but BA based IEMs do better. Cymbals and pianos have very good transparency. If you like an organic kind of feel and an inoffensive notes presentation the ORB doesn't disappoint. Separation and layering is good with good amount of air between instruments. The treble stage is well spread and has a spacious feel to it.

STAGE AND IMAGING:-

The ORB has very good stage with excellent width and height providing good amount of space in between. It does lack a bit of depth when compared to the DUNU DK2001 but it still is well rounded. Instruments are evenly distributed without overlapping. The imaging is placed more inside the head with only a few instruments and cues are dynamically placed outside the head. Slight nit picking will be the not so clean stage floor, which feels sticky and a bit muddy.

EFFECT OF CABLES:-

The stock cable is very good, it looks nice and sounds aptly good too. I am a bit critical about how the cable looks but what if you have something with improved visual appeal and sound at the same time? The ORB deserves a good sounding cable and buying an upgrade cable makes much more sense.

PENON ORBIT ($129):- What is an upgrade to the stock SPC cable? A Type 4 LITZ SPC cable with 154 strands in each core. The first thing that comes to attention is the bigger stage size. It feels much more expanded in every direction with improved distribution of instruments. The bass get deeper with slightly better sub-bass rumble while the mid bass sheds some body delivering equally good amount of texture and details. The bigger change comes with improved clarity of the mid range. The Vocals are a bit more delicate and accurate. The whole mid range sounds slightly more organic. Treble gains some maturity with better control over notes and the bigger stage makes it much more enjoyable. The Orbit brings more details and accuracy with excellent contrast between background and foreground instruments. The treble region feels a bit more extended, energetic and sparkly.

If you have an IEM you hold close to your heart, you definitely should invest in a decent cable and the Penon ORB should lead the way with excellent price to performance ration.

COMPARISON:-

BGVP DM7 ($270-$289):-

The DM7 houses 6 BA drivers and is tuned for accuracy and precision. It is a more technical sounding earphone with similar build quality and set of accessories. The DM7 is tuned for a more analytical output, delivers cleaner and clearer notes. The ORB is tuned to be a fun and engaging earphone.

The lower end is not very voluminous and lacks a bit of extension in comparison. It moves lesser amount of air but still have good thump to it. The mid bass is smaller with body but still delivers satisfying amount of slam. The decay is tighter without losing texture. The mid range of the ORB is a bit more forward but the DM7 counter it with more pleasing timber. Both male and female vocals are better with texture and details. It can feel a bit dry and thin against the ORB's thicker notes. Instruments have more energy in general but do not have the upper mid emphasis of the ORB. Treble maintains better energy till the end and has better micro details too. Layering and separation is better than the ORB. The stage size is a bit less wide and tall but has better depth to it.

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Vs DUNU DK2001 ($300) and BQEYZ Spring 2 ($140-170):-


CONCLUSION:-

The Penon ORB has a lovable tuning. It is cohesive and engaging. The tonality is unique. Notes are not very detailed but involving. It has excellent lower end with class leading sub-bass extension and rumble, the mid range too is very engaging and involving. The treble is well presented with good amount of spark and energy but it is not the most detailed sounding IEM for under $300. What It is, is one of the most fun still relatively detailed sounding IEM. It has a unique kind of tuning which gives a different kind of tonal balance and engagement. What sets it apart is its ability to cater to all kind of listeners. No one will regret picking it over anything else.

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justrest

500+ Head-Fier
Penon Audio ORB
Pros: Dynamic and musical sound, addicted bass performance, great fit with ergonomic, p/p ratio, material and build quality.
Cons: Not the detail monster.
Before starting this review, I would like to share technical aspects and package details.

Here is the link of Penon Audio ORB: https://penonaudio.com/penon-orb.html

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Specifications:

Brand: Penon Audio

Model: ORB

Driver: Balanced Armature full frequency + 10mm Dynamic driver

Impedance: 10 Ω @1khz

Sensitivity: 112 ± 3dB @1khz

Frequency response: 20hz-20Khz

Connector: 2Pin 0.78mm

Plug: 3.5mm Audio

Cable length: 1.2M

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Package Details:

Penon Orb with cables

Silicon tops

Cleaning tools

Case

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Test Equipment:

Opus #1

THX AAA 789 & D50s

Earmen TR-Amp

Chord Mojo

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Package, Design;

Penon Orb comes with fairly small yellow cardboard box. All the accessories, earphones and cables are inside of the beautiful blue carrying case. There is a plenty size of tips which you might easily find the best for your ears. Blue carrying case feels nice to touch with great build quality. You don’t have to worry about potential damage when you store it inside. It has solid feelings. There is also plenty of room, so if you want to upgrade your Orb with thicker and bolder cable, you can still keep it inside of the case. Orb body is made of medical grade resin with translucent color, and yes there is no any other color option, but it is so beautiful in its naked form. You can see the drivers and other components inside and that looks pretty gorgeous. There is a gold Penon and Orb print on the faceplate. Orb uses industry standard 2pin socket that you can always upgrade to aftermarket cable. Stock cable looks good and feels pretty ergonomic with its soft form but I think that Orb deserves a much better cable. There are 2 cables coming with Orb which exactly the same but one of them has microphone. Body is not small but not big either, I believe that most people may find it pretty comfortable with its ergonomic shape.

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Sound:

Trebles is not the most successful part of Orb and they are more of a smooth and warm texture. There is no roll off, and it does not have high level of details and resolution but It is extremely comfortable to listen with its smooth and creamy presentation, and it doesn’t give any fatigue while long listening session. It lags a bit behind in terms of performance when it comes to giving micro details, but I can say that it has quite sufficient performance when the tag price is remembered.

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The Mid frequency is quite rich and full, and this full-bodied presentation combined with the natural timbre which creates a sound that is extremely musical and comfortable to listen to. The partially leading vocals combined with the natural and warm presentation give a pleasant performance. The details and resolution level of the mids are also quite adequate and better than most of the earphones I have heard at this price band. The instrument distinction is also extremely successful and you can easily distinguish its placement in the stage. However, I prefer to listen to Orb with high bass performance EDM style instead of instrument-heavy music.

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Bass are undoubtedly the most delicious part of Orb. Greetings to the dynamic driver that produces strong and deep bass, it is very pleasant to listen. Rich and full bottoms go well with any kind of electronic music. EDM with Orb relation is like meat and wine combination. The level of bass in terms of quantity is definitely at the bass-head level. Basses dominate the general atmosphere a bit, but still cover the mids and highs and never give a muddy presentation.

Soundtage, Orb does not promise a great wideness and holographic presentation, but it is still quite spacious and successful enough to distribute the instruments well onto the stage.

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Comparison:

Penon Orb vs Dunu DK2001:


Both earphones are great in terms of design and material quality. DK2001 is made of aluminium while Orb has resin body. There are no fit issues with DK2001 which is great with its smaller form factor but Orb provides better seal and fit, even with its bigger body. Both earphones’ stock cables are great but DK2001’s modular cable is better and it offers more flexibility. Orb’s sound is fuller with its rich and vivid presentation while DK2001 is more balanced and brighter when I compare side by side. Bass notes are more punchy and powerful with Orb which is more exciting while DK2001 has better control and speed, it’s slightly tighter. Mids are bold and thick on Orb which is more natural and smoother while DK2001 is slightly recessed and brighter on upper mids. Trebles are more extended and brighter on DK2001 which is slightly better in terms of resolution and details but on the other hand it might be sharp and fatigue for some people. Orb is smoother and relaxed on trebles but it extends pretty well and provides good details and resolution. Soundstage is slightly wider and more open on DK2001 but there is no obvious difference to be honest.

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Penon Orb vs Audiosense T800:

Audiosense T800 is really great earphone for its price and it’s pretty popular in community with its sound performance. T800 has 8 balanced armature drivers per side, while Orb has 1 dynamic driver with 1 balanced armature driver. Both earphones’ material is resin and has similar body shape. Both earphones provide great seals and fit in ears and pretty ergonomic for long hours listening. Like Orb, T800 has also fuller and richer sound with powerful bass notes and warm signature. Bass is almost same in quantity but Orb has some extra rumble and it goes slightly deeper. T800 has better control and speed but it is lack of texture and punch that Orb has. Mid frequencies are thicker and bolder on T800 which gives you warmer tonality while Orb is slightly better recessed feelings with natural and smooth response. Trebles are smooth and warm on T800 which gives you more mellowish notes while Orb provides slightly more quantity and extension in this area. Soundstage is almost par but somewhat T800 is slightly wider.

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Penon Orb vs JH Audio Billie Jean:

Billie Jean is 2 balanced armature drivers earphone and price tag is $100 more, but I would like to compare it anyway. BJ is made with ABS plastic and its body shape is smaller than Orb. BJ provides pretty good seal and isolation on ear but Orb is much better in this sense. Orb looks and feels more premium in hands. BJ comes with cheap thin black plastic stock cable while Orb comes with 2 stock cables and the cable quality is much better. Bass is quite powerful and deep on BJ but Orb is better for both quantity and quality. It goes deeper, articulated, textured and dynamic driver bass is so delicious when compared to BJ’s dry and dull bass performance. Both BJ and Orb have recessed mids but vocal performance is more forward on BJ. Trebles are more pronounced and extended on Orb which provides better details and resolution, BJ is laid back, feels rolled off. Soundstage is wider and deeper on Orb and separation is more distinguishable.

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Verdict:

Penon Audio continues to make great earphones since Sphere and it is obvious that we will see better earphones in the near future. Orb is really great performer for its price with thunderous bass with lush, musical atmosphere. Bass performance is so great and it keeps you to listen with bassy tracks. Orb proves that you don’t have to spent big numbers for the good sound. I can easily recommend Orb who wants dynamic, punchy and musical earphone.
Ace Bee
Ace Bee
Also, even if the T800 has thicker mids, the soundstage is wider? Doesn't the thicker mids eat into the soundstage slightly? I experienced the same with TSMR-2.
Additionally, how is the separation of Orb compared to T800?
illumidata
illumidata
Great review, great photos. Not often I get to see comparisons to gear I actually own - much appreciated!
alexandros a
alexandros a
The most amazing photo section i have personal ever seen in head fi ......................

alexandros a

500+ Head-Fier
Tiny Little Miracle
Pros: - Fantastic bass responce (Speed/Texture)
- Amazingly true to life vocal
representation with unique tibre
- Clear / Musical /Transparent Midrange
- Superb resolution and image
- Ergonomicall design and superb fit
- Price to Performance Ratio
Cons: - Really......None that i can think of right now.....
Friends audiomaniacs.....
till recent years was trully an odyssey just to get a decent sound from in ear monitors and could easily cost everyone a fortune to get a high end sounding in ear monitor set.
Nowdays this is just a bad dream from the past...since more and more audio companies from all around the globe have gained a strong reputation in audio market proving themselves each and every day with their products...
A veteran in Audio business ,PENON being a retailer in the industry for years now ,just recently started producing IEMS with their own brand name
- First example were the SPHERES (1BA) which gathered some very positive opionions from audiophiles around the globe,followed soon after by the ORB (1DD,1BA) which grabbed my attention and finally purchased it after all.....
You can purchase the ORBs directly from penon for $259 at the time...

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But just lets get straight into that, dont mean to waste any of your time guys
Before that, just want to say Thank You
@Dsnuts
,if it wasn't for your suggestion I wouldn't had the opportunity to grab this wonderful iem..
Penon used for the shells medical grade resin material and each shell is made by hand resulting in jewel alike monitor very very pretty and with a high degree of craftamanship too....
Ergonomically speaking the fit is superb and fits my relatively big ears like a glove..
The packadge is simple enought with 2 sets of silicone ear tips a cleaning tool,a very handsome carrying case,some stickers etc....

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Specifications

Driver: Balanced Armature full frequency + 10mm Dynamic driver

Impedance: 10 Ω @1khz

Sensitivity: 112 ± 3dB @1khz

Frequency response: 20hz-20Khz

Connector: 2Pin 0.78mm

Plug: 3.5mm / 2.5mm plug

Cable length: 1.2M

ORB prooved to be a real gem at least for my ears just straight out of the box,and really made me a very very happy person indeed.
Regarding the sound :

BASS
Really fast,fully articulated,speed and texture are both fantastic,providing this way a solid impact on each and every note there.....Even bassheads will be pleasantly amazed by the quality bass here...which do not overshadows any of the other frequencies nor bleed into the mid frequencies as well...this quality bass contributes in a fascinating dynamic presentation and do not dominates the scene by any negative way anyway
Subb-bass is more than noticeable here and comes across where called for, with authority and decent rumble....

MIDS
there is an open feeling all across the mid frequencies,vocals come across with depth and unbelievable clarity,so transparent but yet solid that makes you feel its the closest you can get from a monitor to real life circumstances....
the degree of clarity/transparency is more than evident in the mids
male & female vocals are much enganging and with plenty of musicality as well.....

TREBLE
High frequencies regarding the orbs are smooth as butter with zero to none degree of harshness or metallic feeling....Everything flows naturally here,the timbre of the cymbals/hi hats is most natural/thus mesmerising.....
even if not the most extended treble in iems ,the feeling remains extremely pleasant and quite natural as well providing this way a most relaxed listening and totally recommended for long listening sections without any sign of fatique feeling to your ears....
Its totally suitable for most music genres,from acoustic /instruments/vocals to modern produced IDM/eletrconica/heavy bass tracks (especially in this kind of music the bass impact /rumble is just out of this world.....)

SELECTIVE COMPARISONS
Having tested the ORBS with lots of different sources(sounded great and even greater when amped) and have compared them to some othere iems in my small collection like ISN H40,MANGIRD TEA & iBASSO AM05 this is what i found out:

Penon ORB:
It's the most natural /analogical sounding iem i have ever heard,on par with ISN H40 i would say.
I mean it's the closest to real life reproduction or studio master if you prefer..... Correct imaging and strong resolution in much highier volumes
Every note has the correct weight and presence, every instrument has it's correct placement in the scene, impressive separation & soundstage, dynamic life like presentation.

Mangird Tea:
The most airy/sensitive sounding of them all here.....
3 dimensional sounding portraying each and every tinny detail in the recording.
The most noticeable difference between this and the ORBS is the air flowing between the instruments giving a brilliant sense of space and in addition to this the TEAS compared with the ORBS its for sure a detail monster all right......not saying that the TEAS are in any way analytical sounding but its really extreme detailed particullary in the treble/upper treble region.

iBASSO AM05:
Precise, linear, reference like sound, very fair in the entire frequency spectrum not favoring any region in the cost of any other, musical and engaging as well..... Bass is linear & superb but feels light when compared to the impactfull bass of the ORBS, and in direct comparison the air flowing between the instruments seems greater on the ORBS

ISN H40:
Its a completely different animal or..beast i should say.....
BASS dominates everything here but.....in the most fantastic manner you have ever heard........
very thick but with quality as well,weighty sound,FANTASTIC soundstage hollographic,3D surrounding ,much more prominent bass than the ORBS and midbass especially,smoother treble and more extended than the ORBS as well
its more like a 3way speakers experience than any other iem i have tried so far.

FINAL THOUGHTS
At this price range (200-300 $) lies plenty of competition especially in the chi-fi market,where the ORBs could easily cost (at least to my opinion more than 300$ easily)
i could easily say that resolution & image quality there rivals straightly with way more expensive iems (Fearless S6ui/ iBASSO AM05 etc...)
The bass and only that, is one strong reason for listening at least to this tinny miracle
it's quality its out of this world..its a stellar BIG BASS performance guys....
IMO its a totall gem at this price and should grab your attention regardless the competition out there......
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cscales
cscales
Tinny is not a misspelling of tiny? Explain, please? My apologies if I presumed😅.
alexandros a
alexandros a
Probably, yes indeed it is
My fault
cscales
cscales
I only smiled because "tinny" would actually not be a good thing with an iem. It's a charming mistake to make under the circumstances. I like to laugh at myself a little bit when I do stuff like that😁.

Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Best of both worlds. Excellent full range BA plus high end 10mm dynamic. Spacious full bodied, rich, dimensional sound with crisp non fatiguing treble and one of the absolute best vocal and bass presentations for earphones. Superb musicality with a very immersive sound. Clear attractive, all resin semi custom shell with very good passive isolation. 2 pin design. 2 different types of silicones that provide slight sound tunings. Smaller medium sized shells that are very comfortable to wear for hours.
Cons: Lacks a bit of micro detailing in the treble and mid bands but makes up for it with superb imaging and one of the best vocal performers for IEMS. Does not come with a balanced cable option. Your gonna wish your other in ears had the same bass.
Penon Orb
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I have been looking forward to this particular review as I am a big fan of what Penon has done with their Spheres I wrote about here. Using a single full ranged BA and tuning the heck out of it. The full ranged sound was very good. The only aspect of that earphone that I had some qualms about was the lack of a real bass impact and extension. Which is difficult for even multi BA offerings let alone a single BA.

So with that a half a year later Penon has released their newest offering in the form of a tried and true hybrid the Orb consists of a 10mm dynamic and a single full ranged BA. A continuation of the Sphere sound? Yes but this time the 10m dynamic driver addresses the only real weakness from an otherwise fantastic Spheres.
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I would like to thank the kind folks at Penon for the review sample. These are my thoughts regarding this newest entry which also happens to be their 2nd IEM to the Penon line of products. What I know about Penon besides running one of the best online shopping experiences out of Hong Kong. If you haven’t shopped on their site here. You need to get to know these folks. They are serious about sound and isn’t that what you want in a vendor? Not to mention really nice folks. Even before I got to know them. They were the one shop that would happily send out a greeting card during the holidays and one year I even got a nice scarf.

How many scarfs have you gotten from your vendor? These guys do care about their customers and it shows. Big props to Penon and their dedication to their customers. Now onto the Orbs!!
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The Orb is a fairly simple package. It is identical to the packaging you get for their renowned cables. The package consists of a hand made 8 core SPC cable unfortunately only in single ended. There is a 2ndary option to get an extra 2 pin cable with a mic on it for on the go use for an extra $12.50. A bit of extra but might be worth it for people that plan on using the Orb on the go. Two sets of silicones that have different sound effects on the tuning of the Orb, set of double flange tips and a nice handsome blue semi rigid zip up case. A soft felt case. Cleaning tool and clip.

While the packaging is minimal what you're getting is a very select handmade earphone that Penon put their own label on. You're not going to see a dozen models of earphones here. You're going to see 2 earphones on their website. 2 earbuds and a bunch of cables. Their 2 earphones are the Spheres and the new Orbs.These guys sell just about anything related to earphones and audio in general on their site yet they only have 2 earphones they sell. Very selective yes. So what they deem good to them must be good right?
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The build of the Orb is as good as they look. It is a 2 pin .78mm variety all resin housing and that bodes well with folks that like to tinker with cables. Housing is a medium sized clear semi custom resin filled shell. You can see the design and how the drivers are put together in the clear shell. The smart venting design on the Dynamic means you won't get driver flex for one and passive isolation is simply excellent on the Orbs. It clearly passed my passive isolation test with ease. What does good passive isolation do for an earphone sound? You're not gonna lose out on the detail of your music. An earphone with weak isolation properties means you will hear more of your surroundings with your music and who wants that. In fact the Orbs make for a perfect out and about earphones. On your walks or in my case for my drive. I know it is not safe but this is how I test my IEMs for isolation. If I can hear detail and all that lucious bass then we have a winner. Not so scientific I know but this is a real life example here.
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The custom 8 core SPC cable is a good cable but is nothing like the custom cables Penon sells. Just know that better cables on the Orbs does mean better sonically and so cable rolling is encouraged. Especially if you need to use your cables for balanced listening. Will cover some cable effects on the back end of the review but for now all sound analysis was done using the stock cable with my players Fiio M15, Shanling M6 pro, M5s,M3s, IBasso DX160 and Cayin N5ii.

The Orbs are very easy to drive being sensitive at 10 Ohms. However I didn’t find them to be particularly a hiss magnet like my CA Solaris. This being said it is recommended to have a source with a low IO to bring out the best sonic ability of the Orb. No amp needed but a good sounding dap is always a plus when using the Orb. Due to the already full bodied rich nature of the Orb sonically. Neutral sources are recommended for best synergy.

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The base tuning of the Orb has its foundation in a balanced tuning. While their graph would show a slight V shaped Fr. These are much better balanced than the graph would indicate. First let's take a look at the abilities of the BA being used. BA timbre can be clinical and somewhat artificial, depending on how it is tuned and the quality of the BA. I can tell by the tonal quality of the Orb. The BA being used is of a higher quality. A smooth warm tonally rich in quality represents the Orbs full ranged BA. Music sounds natural without the artificial brightening for the sake of resolution. I have one too many BA based earphones where it clearly lets you know treble is at the forefront of the sonic signature. Orb is not one of them. The mids take center stage. Treble highlights the rich tonal quality of the Orbs mid range and not the other way around. The Orb is more tip dependent than your average in ears, so your can of tips will come in handy.
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The Orb comes with 2 sets of silicones and both have a different effect on the sound balancing of the Orb and how you will hear the sonics. They both have a medium wide opening. What looks like a 3.5mm opening. The stem of the tips however are different. One set is shorter and another set is longer. The shorter tips the sound bores will sit closer to your eardrums which gives a more balanced fuller sound to the sonics. The longer tip gives a bit more to the treble and bass end giving a more fun take on the Orb sound. I went a bit further and experimented with my go to earphone tips. In the end I did settle on my Spiral Dots but tip rolling is encouraged to get the best sonically from the Orb for your particular hearing. You can enhance everything from bass, mid forwardness, to slight treble increase using the right tips.
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Treble of the Orb has good clarity and is perceived in a crisp manner with no treble grain or piercing qualities. Dependent on the tips you choose you can get a bit more in the way of sparkle and shimmer. Reason why I chose the Spiral Dots. The Orb is not a treble first earphone as stated earlier and it shows in the tonal character of the Orb being slightly warm vs a cooler tone. Treble has an excellent non fatiguing presence about it that rises to the occasion and has good but not outstanding presence and detail. Here is where I feel muti BAs has an upper leg on the treble compared to a single BA design. Treble while adequate is clearly attached to the mids of the single BA. Transition is fluid as a result but for folks that live by high end detail and extension in the treble. The Orb is ever so slightly reserved in these aspects .

Treble end lacks a bit of micro detailing and is more apt at macro details in that if a track has good treble in the recording it will sound very natural and complete. However slight nuanced micro details in treble will not be as evident as a secondary higher end BA that is dedicated to the region. This is actually more nit picking on my end vs how the treble actually sounds. For what it is, a single BA that does the full range sound from the super highs to the lower mids the BA chosen by Penon will give you the goods where it matters. For folks that are sensitive to treble with a bit too much in the highs will not have to worry about that on the Orbs. Treble overall goes along with the smooth mids and has an overall non fatiguing good quality and detail.
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Mids transition from the treble is seamless while upper mids has a natural and steady rise starting from the 1.5khz in the 3Khz region. The rise is done tastefully and is not prone for shouty or overly forward vocals that can be associated with the region. The sonic presentation is bold with a spacious height and depth with a wider head stage for in ears that throws out a surround sensation. The Orbs have a full body mid range and sounds very natural in tonal quality. I attribute the slight warmth in tone due to the ample bass and a treble end that is not exaggerated compared to a lot of earphones that try hard in the region. The mids here benefit with a rich tonal quality and comes at you with a full smooth sound.

A well tuned BA has the mids that sounds slightly forward. You will definitely take note of how good the mids are on the Orbs. While instrument separation is not quite as good as higher end multi BA designs. Layering of the mid range is exceptional and adds a euphoric weighty vocals rendition which sounds absolutely sublime. Be it female or male. Vocals have great range and depth. Instrument details come at you in an intimate form with a large spacious sonic presentation. Immersion is what the Orb excels at and you will be floating in your music with the grand sound presentation of the Orbs.
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A clean crisp treble to a rich full bodied mids section, the bass is the area where Penon gave the Orbs some pure adrenaline. Penon gave us a plus on the dynamic aspect with a nice higher end 10mm dynamic driver being used on the Orb. Described as a 10mm graphite fiber wire paper dome, grainless vibrating membrane. It is stated that they took precise care in matching up the dynamic driver with the BA on the Orb and it shows. This driver is clearly several steps above your garden variety dynamic driver. Because these simply don’t sound like your garden variety dynamic drivers. Bass ability and definition is a stand out on the Orbs. Superb bass! .

Bass fans rejoice you are getting a benchmark level quality bass on the Orbs. Owning and reviewing my share of hybrids and dynamic in ears. The Bass end of the Orbs takes no prisoners. It will slaughter any bass note with emphasis you wished you had on your TOTL IEMs.
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I am a fan of different sound signatures but going back to my roots of being a full fledged bass head. Who doesn't like some soul in your music? Bass can make or break an earphone sound and here we get a very nice high end dynamic pushing that air with subsonic goodness you deserve. Rumble is for real on these. Like a good well aged subwoofer the subs reach into the abyss and let you know every bass note in your recordings and how it is supposed to sound. The bass quality is crazy good on these and has plenty of juice when you feel you want to jam out with your bad self. The bass end injects some serious Ooomph to the sonic richness of the Orbs and what do you get when you have such bass on an already great sounding full ranged BA?

Bass has roundness, The type of bass real enthusiasts love to listen to. Subbass has that grunt with the perfect mid bass impact when called for. Morphs into every bass note imaginable. That textured rumble is one of the best if not the best in the price range I have heard. Fan of high quality bass? You got a 15 inch sub in your living room? You're gonna love the bass ability of the Orb. Oh wait it gets even better.
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Since the Orb isolates extremely well. You're gonna get that rumble when out and about. Much better than other in ears. Need a warm bass massage?. That killer bass quality comes alive when walking about and who doesn't want that bass when walking? Bass for the most part stays away from the mids but this high quality bass is reason alone to get this earphone. It will not surprise me one bit of the bass on the Orb becomes your bass benchmark in the sub $500 range of earphones. For guys that are looking for neutrality. Time to look up something else with weak bass.
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But this earphone is not a one trick pony. It has ability and versatility. Bass only comes alive when it is in your tracks. It can go from no bass to full on trunk o funk. Who don’t like the occasional trunk o funk? Mix dat low hitting punchy bass with a large spacious rich sound production. A well made, well isolating earphone with a very comfortable fit. And there you have it. The Orb. As always, thanks for taking the time to read.

BELOW CABLE SECTION. Your not a cable guy stop reading.

In this section I will cover some cable effects of the Orb. Myself being a cable aficionado, cables make changes to the sonic flavoring to the Orb like your favorite condiment to your steak. First up. Hows about supercharging the Orb. with Penons own highly regarded OS849 cable. My review on these here.
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Due to the warm smooth nature of the Orb sonic character I feel silver plated copper variety of cables synergized well with the stock signature sound. A pure copper cable would add even more warmth which is not needed. The mix of copper and silver however does well to max out the abilities of the Orb. Stock cable also happens to be a hand made 8 core SPC cable.

This pairing is unreal. I just did a review of this very cable and how well it matched up with my IBasso IT04. Well I can say it is even a better one for the Orb. With this pairing you couldn't possibly get better sonically from a cable on any earphone. The Orb base sound was described as I stated above but what this cable adds are a lot of pluses. Better clarity, tighter better defined bass, better definition in all regions of sound. Better perceived treble sparkle. Meaning this helps address the one nitpick I had with the micro details. Better imaging. Better expansion of stage with added depth.

So the Orb goes from a very good sounding earphone to something great with this cable. I know I know the cable is expensive at $120. If you want the absolute best. The OS849 is not just an upgrade but a substantial one for the Orb. There simply isn't anything that will make the Orbs sound quite like how it sounds with this particular cable. I have tried the Orb with some generic aliexpress cheaper SPC cables. They all enhance the Orb to a certain degree but not quite like how the 0S849 does it.

Why a cable upgrade you ask? Well for one there is no balanced cable option for the Orb. 2ndly why not! You like a sound of a particular IEM why not get the best you can from it?
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ISN SC4. Using both pure silver and a crystal copper wire. You can read my review on them here. ISN SC4 gives a wider stound than the stock cable. Treble has slightly enhanced and bass sounds tighter giving the ISN SC4 a well even balanced take on the Orb sonics. I would give the edge to the OS849 but where the advantage of the ISN SC4 comes into play is that these are only 4 cores very soft and is much lighter than the OS849. These are most definitely an upgrade on your stock cable and gives the best balanced properties to the Orb.
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Last but not least my most expensive pairing the Penon Leo plus you can read more about this cable here. Leo Plus gives the best sound separation with the blackest of backgrounds and the widest stage on the Orb. So this is the one cable that breaks my rule of not using a cable that costs more than the earphones. But it does give the best definition to the Orb sonically out of these cables. Best clarity out of the 3 cables and stage but for sheer bang for buck upgrade again I would go with the OS849. But for guys that want a higher end sheen to the Orb and money isn't a problem. The Leo plus attached to the Orb injects more air to the sonics and ends up making the Orbs sound super high end. A very nicely matched pairing.

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DBaldock9
DBaldock9
I've got a set of HotFi HM2 (2017) Earphones (16Ω, 112dB/mW, 18Hz-22KHz, 2x Dynamic, 2x Single & 2x Dual Balanced Armature (8 Drivers per side), MMCX [$400.00]), and I like them. They sound good, with smooth & coherent Midrange & Treble, and without issues where the drivers overlap.
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But, the ORB [$230.78] sounds better - with impressive Bass impact, along with the great Midrange & Treble.
Gabriel Sontag
Gabriel Sontag
Can someone compare the soundstage to the one of the sony ex1000?
John Massaria
John Massaria
I’ve searche and wasted time and money on dozens of IEMs and the orb is my number one favourite IEM bar none under $1000
Most fun stop reading and splurge on the orb and don’t look back
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