Penon Orb - Reviews
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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OleOlafOle
Thanks man!
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OleOlafOle
If you buy these, guys, don't forget to the put the free Penon Anniversary Gift into your cart!
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.
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