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Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEMs: Review

$2,299 USD for IEMs? The Letshuoer Cadenza 12 might be one of the best we have heard in many years. Reference quality? Read on.

Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM Kit

When Letshuoer announced the $2,299 USD Cadenza 12 True Virtuoso IEMs before CanJam NYC 2023, there were a few readers who recoiled at the pricing and wrote us privately that one needed to be slightly crazy to spend $2,300 on a pair of IEMs — just how good could they possibly be to warrant such an expenditure. From our perspective — that was a very good question and we reached out immediately for a review pair.

I must confess that I have become somewhat blasé about IEMs and headphones between $1,000 and $4,000; brands such as Ultimate Ears, Oriiolus, and Vision Ears have been offering IEMs with rather stratospheric pricing for many years and it has become rather commonplace.

However, just because one can introduce a $2,300 pair of IEMs — doesn’t mean that the market is going to react to it positively and it is actually rather difficult to gain traction with experienced listeners who attend every CanJam event and have tried everything.

The Letshuoer Cadenza 12 come from an established brand that has done rather well with specific models priced between $200 and $800; the company was founded in China in 2016 by Danny To and Jeff Wong with the goal of producing world-class IEMs.

Having reviewed some of their earlier products, my opinion has been that they hit the target with regularity — but also miss it with IEMs like the Tape that was far too bright sounding for my liking. Other models such as the Letshuoer EJ07M were very good for the money.

None of their models so far were priced above $1,000, so it raised a few eyebrows when the Cadenza 12 were announced at $2,299 USD.

Could they possibly be worth it?

In The Box

Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM In The Box

The packaging set the tone and in the best possible way; not that having a fancy box makes something worth the money. The shipping box with its reflective silver packaging and the understated black cloth lined presentation case proved to be a perfect backdrop for the IEMs. And that’s before we found the dog.

The supplied kit includes the Cadenza 12 IEMs, modular cable with 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm headphone jacks, nine sets of ear tips (three vocal/base/balanced), leather carrying case, dividers to turn the presentation box into a travel case, cleaning cloth, manual, and a plaque of a dog playing a violin.

You read that correctly.

Letshuoer has created a complete kit that is what you should expect for the rather high price.

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The plaque is a limited edition copper plate featuring a dog (the company mascot) and was inspired by an old Chinese saying — “Being as steady as an old dog.”

A lot of pride goes into all of their products and one gets the sense that they really do care if you love the product and become a customer for life.


The carrying case is built to survive being taken everywhere and the cloth lined interior features quilted padding on the inside of the lid, and the foam surrounds used for packing the IEMs for travel are removable; a pair of dividers split the case into four compartments for cable, case, tips, and the IEMs.  

This is a great idea as it makes it easier to retrieve items from the case without having to dig them out of the foam each time. The IEMs have a bright polished metal shell with the Letshuoer name in blue down the leading edge, and the model and L/R indicators on the top surface.    

Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM Pair Showing Top and Bottom

The shell design is a common semi-custom shape and is moderately sized especially considering the number and types of drivers integrated within. The faceplates are quite thin with a small Phillips-head screw immediately in front of the bi-pin connectors being the one industrial element in an otherwise quite eloquent design.   

At first glance one would expect a highly-polished metal shell of this size to be heavy but with the Cadenza using a titanium alloy instead of steel, it is actually quite light.   

This accounts for some of the cost of the Cadenza as titanium is not inexpensive and polishing it requires more effort than other materials. Letshuoer did an excellent job as all edges are radiused and fit and comfort are first-rate.    

Cable for Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM

The supplied cable displays a similar high level of finish and offers one of the most useful modular jack systems we have seen for any pair of IEMs. The 204 strand cloth-wrapped cable is pliable and never exhibited any issues with tangling. The jack system allows for simple changes for 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm connections and is very robust ,

The cloth-wrapped cable gives way to a two-wire twist at the splitter that is finished with a clear casing; the design puts the 6N oxygen-free copper and silver strands on display up to the bi-pin connectors. The connectors are not finished with L/R indicators but the right side features a red disk at the base of the pins for easy orientation of the cable with the earpieces.

The overall construction of the earpieces, connectors, and cable is what we’ve come to expect from IEMs in this particular price category. The ergonomics, durability, and parts quality are excellent across the board.

Driver Technology

Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM Left

The Cadenza is a hybrid IEM utilizing a single 10mm dynamic diver and eleven balanced armatures per ear; the dynamic driver uses an LSS Kevlar diaphragm for added rigidity while minimizing weight.

This single design decision added to the development and manufacturing costs but Letshuoer felt that the Cadenza 12 benefits enormously from the higher performance driver.

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The balanced armatures are a mix of Sonion and Knowles models; there are Sonion mid-bass and midrange drivers, along with super-tweeters that are paired with the Knowles tweeters.

The six-way crossover and five sound bores ensure that all those drivers remain in-phase and work together seamlessly contributing only that which each driver does best within its respective range.

Letshuoer could have gone for less expensive (but still very high quality) off-the-shelf drivers from both vendors but instead decided to invest in custom drivers that took much longer to engineer and test.

The results were more than worth it.


Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM with Astell&Kern DAP

We had very high expectations for the Cadenza 12 and decided that a legitimate evaluation would have to include using the stock cable with multiple varieties of desktop and portable headphone amplifiers and DAPs. We also used a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter (DDHiFi) so that we could test the IEMs with my RME ADI-2 PRO FS Black.

The Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier was also used to evaluate the Cadenza; the two products are in the same price range and the HPA-1 is considered to be one of the best headphone amplifiers available.

Most consumers considering IEMs like the Cadenza 12 are likely to use a DAP as their primary digital source and we decided to use the Astell&Kern SP2000T, KANN Alpha, Cayin N8ii, Sony WM1A, and FiiO M17 models to see how they would respond to very high resolution and powerful sources.

The tuning was not what I expected based on my experience with other Letshuoer designs; whilst the overall sonic signature is very neutral, there is some added emphasis in the bass range that provided excellent definition and impact with all genres of music.

That low end impact could have bled into the lower midrange, but we found that the bass was not only well defined and robust, but extremely clean sounding with excellent speed and detail. Clarity in the upper bass and lower midrange was superb.

The overall result was a very strong foundation with accurate timbre and texture and some added warmth that really made the low end stand out in a good way.

The lower midrange had some mild emphasis which gave male vocals some additional presence in the mix, but without pushing them too far forward of the instrumentation.

Guitar notes exhibited a sharp edge with sufficient growl and a very natural sense of decay.

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Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM Right Bottom

Much to my delight, the Cadenza 12 proved to be very strong with strings; violin notes had very accurate tonality with enough energy and detail to sound very natural and listening to chamber recordings was a very strong example of their capabilities.

Piano notes had ample weight and a very natural sounding presence that never overwhelmed other instruments in the mix; and that applied to rock, classical, jazz, and blues.

There is some added emphasis in the upper midrange that made female vocals stand out in the mix, but it never made them sound too forward or separate from the rest of the instrumentation. Choral and acapella tracks had excellent focus and definition and very accurate timbre.

Frequency Response Graph for Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM

The lower treble exhibited some mild emphasis between 2kHz and 3kHz but flattened out between 4kHz and 6kHz giving the Cadenza 12 a fairy safe upper range.

There was a dip in the treble between 6kHz and 9kHz that prevents the Cadenza 12 from being strident or overly aggressive and there didn’t appear to be any additional emphasis until 10kHz where the treble remains rather neutral until 17kHz where it begins to roll-off.

The tuning gives the Cadenza 12 enough air at the top to feel open but lacks a touch of sparkle found in other competing products; the end result is a more laid back sounding treble range that proved to be more enjoyable over longer listening sessions.

A few things remained consistent; excellent texture and detail retrieval, speed, a genuine sense of control, and a very strong sense of clarity.

Nothing I threw at the Cadenza 12 could trip it up; complex orchestral pieces, heavy metal, synth pop and electronic music — the Cadenza 12 was always very composed and engaging.

The biggest surprise was its soundstage and imaging capabilities. Some may scroll back up to my comments on the treble and wonder how that is possible, but the Cadenza 12 delivers an extremely well proportioned soundstage with excellent depth and precise imaging. Those elements created an incredibly three dimensional soundstage that felt almost holographic.

Movements are easily tracked in space and seating the orchestra is very clean and precise with no overlaps, gaps, or odd placements. I can’t say that the Cadenza 12 has the largest soundstage I’ve ever heard from an IEM; that distinction belongs to an open-back planar model, but it does have the most accurate sounding and precise imaging of any IEM I have heard so far — and that would be a very long list of models from over 50 brands.

The Letshuoer Cadenza 12 is reference quality in that department.

The other good news was the Cadenza was easy enough to drive that I didn’t find any drop off in quality when switching to portable sources or any issue with lack of headroom when using those same battery powered DAPs.   

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Letshuoer Cadenza 12 IEM Pair Showing Top and Bottom


Having listened to some of the best IEMs available, evaluating the Letshuoer Cadenza 12 was actually much easier than I expected — it’s the position on the list that really surprised me.

The Cadenza 12 is one of the best IEMs I have ever heard; it belongs on any serious list of reference quality IEMs regardless of price or country of origin.

Having said that, if you decide to audition the Cadenza 12, be sure to give these IEMs some time because they are not the type of earphone that will blow your mind immediately.

With each passing album, you will notice how consistently great they are with almost every genre of music; their ability to deliver super dynamic range and accurate timbre will grow on you.

Those looking for a near-neutral sound signature that engages the listener and draws them into the performance will find the Cadenza 12 a great option.

Who might not like them?

Detail freaks who prefer a more aggressive sounding treble might gravitate to the Empire Ears Wraith or Oriolus Traillii. Both of those models are more than double the price of the Cadenza 12 and I am not convinced that the difference in price is worth it.

When you add in the imaging and soundstage performance, build quality, cable, connectors, and carrying case — it is rather easy to make a strong case for these IEMs.

It is too early to bestow the Letshuoer Cadenza 12 with “Best IEM of 2023” — but it is one of the best we have heard in recent memory and that places it in some very elite company.

if the price doesn’t turn you off — you need to try these.

Where to buy: $2,299 at Audio46

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