KC06 and KC06A review and comparison - giant killers all the way!!!

A Review On: OSTRY KC06 High Fidelity Stereo Inner-Ear Earphones

OSTRY KC06 High Fidelity Stereo Inner-Ear Earphones

Rated # 76 in Universal Fit
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Pros: detailed sound quality, great design and build quality, accessories

Cons: stiff cable

This is a review and comparison of Ostry KC06 and KC06A in-ear headphones.  http://www.ostry.com.cn/item/detailPage?itemid=28 and http://www.ostry.com.cn/item/detailPage?itemid=29


I get a chance to review and to compare a lot of different headphones some of which represent an amazing value with an OK sound while others have a great sound with a price tag that makes you question their value.  Once I got a chance to listen to Ostry's latest KC06 and KC06A headphones, I knew right away these represent a rare combination of both amazing sound and value!!!  As a matter of fact, these headphones got quickly escalated to the top of my all time favorites.  Let me tell you more why I'm so excited about these.




Due to similarities in packaging and design, most of the review will be combined with an exception of sound description where KC06 and KC06A have their own individual style.

Starting with a packaging, I was truly impressed in how much thought went into its design details.  Everything from a foam padded outer sleeve with a distinct cutout to reveal headphones under a plastic display cover to an etched out spec on the back of it (which unfortunately I wasn't able to capture in pictures due to unique nature of it) and ergonomics of accessories placement inside of the box - represent a great level of pride this company took to showcase their flagship product.  I also noticed that original packaging of KC06 from 5 months ago has been re-designed, and now KC06 and KC06A look similar with an exception of red details of "A" version.


When it comes to accessories, both models include an ample amount to keep everybody happy.  You get a pair of soft earhooks to assist with wearing these wire up in addition to a default wire down, a shirt clip, a soft velvet drawstring pouch where surprisingly KC06A had a wider one (more appropriate in my opinion), a warranty/spec card, and plenty of custom eartips.  Both include a set of S/M/L wide-bore short stem eartips (enhances high frequency) and a set of S/M/L narrow-bore longer stem eartips (more balanced with bass emphasis enhancement).  In addition, "A" model includes a very unique set of S/M/L eartips with a built in filter which I found to enhance bass performance even further.  All these eartips look to be custom made, rather than cheap generic ones, and I was able to achieve a great fitment comfort and the best sound with narrow-bore tips.  But for enhanced sound isolation, since I do have a relatively wide ear canal opening, I settled with my go-to UE900 eartips.


Moving on to a build quality, I was very impressed with what Ostry had to offer.  Unlike your typical cylindrical in-ear shape that sticks out, these have a flat vertical design with a very comfortable fitment.  For me personally, these didn't require any additional adjustment after the initial insertion.  As a matter of fact, you can lie down with these on a pillow and they still feel comfortable.  The body of the earpiece supposed to be made with some lightweight titanium material with a very durable construction.  Both models have a similar pinhole opening at the tip and the body of earpiece, overall have an identical size/shape, and the only difference is the design graphics with a more neutral sort of question mark of KC06 and a more aggressive KC06A with red accents.  The wire is attached to the back/side and gets wrapped in a strain relief which blends with a tear drop shape of the earpiece.


The cable between two models is identical with an only exception of red accent marks on KC06A model.  The cable jacket, though offering a great protection, unfortunately is stiff and has a "memory" effect where after unfolding it doesn't get straight.  I guess it's one of those things you have to live with.  Y-splitter has a very interesting "Y" shape design, and the end of the cable is terminated with a very slim 3.5mm gold plated straight connector.  It has a short strain relief, and I would prefer it a little bit longer considering wear of straight plug.  Also, surprisingly there is no chin slider, though it's not a deal breaker and mostly useful for behind the ear wire fitment.  Furthermore, I didn't sense any microphonics.


But as you know, all these eye-candy design details would mean nothing without a sound to back it up.  Here, both KC06 and KC06A deliver with a top notch performance!  Starting with KC06, I was very pleased to hear a well balanced sound with a touch of mid-centric brightness.  Starting with a bass, you get a great quality with a detailed performance.  I can clearly hear separation of sub-bass and mid-bass, but sub-bass quantity is just there to give sound a body rather than a rumbling to make you feel it.  Mid-bass punch is snappy and quite satisfying to my taste.  The bass feels a step above of the reference performance, and it's pleasantly well controlled within it's frequency range.  Mids are very detailed, clear, slightly upfront but still in great balance with the rest of the sound.  I really like how this performance translates into vocal delivery, very organic, with a touch of brightness, and still smooth.  Treble is well extended, detailed, with enough brightness without being too overwhelming, and still very easy on your ears.  For the comparison, if I consider RE400 to have warm reference sound, KC06 has a balanced reference sound.


Now, the KC06A kicks it up a notch into a direction of a more commercial sound signature with a slight v-shape cut (relative to KC06).  Luckily, they did it a smart way without doing any extreme tuning to kill the mids which sounds a bit warmer in comparison to KC06.  The bass here gets a refreshed quantity of rumbling sub-bass that can even put a smile on some bassheads.  You still get a great separation between sub and mid bass where the later one is on par with KC06 performance.  Bass is still well controlled without spilling into lower mids or the rest of frequency range.  Mids are still detailed but now just a bit recessed to bring up a power of the low end.  I was very pleased Ostry didn't reduce the quality of the mids except for smoothing out some brighter peaks, and just slightly scaled down the quantity while keeping most of the original attributes from KC06.  Treble is still well extended, has a similar crisp performance without any hint of sibilance.  Also, I didn't find any significant difference in soundstage width.  A principal change from KC06 and KC06A is enhanced/additional sub-bass and slightly recessed warmer mids.  As a matter of fact, I'm still on a fence if what I'm hearing as "slightly recessed" could be an effect of enhanced bass and a bit of brightness reduction.


Overall, I was very impressed with everything about these fantastic headphones.  Well, almost everything except for the cable where I would prefer a softer jacket to get rid off that wire memory effect.  Now, when it comes to ergonomics of the design and it's comfortable fitment and the sound signature - both KC06 and KC06A quickly got elevated to the top of the list of my current favorite headphones.  I was actually thinking which one I would like better, and it was a hard decision to make because I enjoy both of them very much, and would highly recommend either.  With a current price of around $60-$80 (newly introduced KC06A is higher in price), these headphones represent a true "giant killer" value in every aspect of their design and sound performance.  Can't wait to see what Ostry going to come up with next!!!


Here are the pictures of individual models.
































Great review!
I think I would like the KC06 more, and that's great since they are even cheaper, thx again for the review and nice pictures.
Funny story: "ostry" in polish means, that item is "sharp" :E
Great review. Thanks.
Thanks for the review. I wonder how do these compare to other IEMs? It's a bit hard to judge how good do these really sound without any point of reference.
@Kaizer-J : it's hard to make a general comparison, but from experience of headphones I've tested, a single dynamic driver phones can't quite match micro-details and surgical layering of multi-driver BA headphones.  These are great, but I will be lying by saying they beat details of $500 phones.  But at the same time, I prefer the sound tuning of KC06A over everything I have in my collection, and that goes for W40, IM03/IM50 and even my latest acquisition of VSD3S.  Of course, it's all a matter of a personal taste, but trust me - KC06x have a top notch sound!  If you have any specific questions or comparison to phones I have listed in my sig, drop me a PM.
Excellent review, thanks! I agree with everything said about the KC06 (haven't heard the KC06A) and would rate them at least 90% of my K3003 and UERM in sound quality. Prospective buyers should be aware that they don't offer much isolation though.
Do you have any comparisons to other in-ears?
@Sweden : any specific ones you have in mind?
Any comparison to the GR07 Classic?
@Udi : sorry, don't have GR07 classic.  Been thinking about getting GR07BE though, or its XE800 version.  If I get it, will probably be a good comparison to KC06A.
@twister6 - Very nice review. Any idea on how well does KCO6 version compares against somewhat similarly priced IEMs such as (If you happen to own) TTPOD-T1E or Havi B3 Pro I  or VSD3S ? TIA
@mebaali : KC06A is in a similar sound sig category with T1E and VSD3.  VSD3S is more comparable to KC06 with less bass and brighter upper mids/treble.  B3 Pro I is more toward the warm neutral with some bass enhancement and needs an amp to make it shine.  In a group with KC06A/T1E/VSD3, there are some variation as well, where for example KC06/KC06A has a good width but not as good depth in sound, while T1E has the strongest bass, and all 3 have a different level of upper mids/treble rendering, really up to a personal preference.  With KC06, some people prefer its more detailed higher frequencies, while i found it harsh to my ears, thus preferring KC06A over it.  Some people prefer the wire down fitment of KC06/KC06A and being able to wear them even then when fall asleep, and so on.  Overall, if you don't have external amp, cross B3 Pro I off your list.  If you don't care about strong bass and want more neutral/balanced sound, cross KC06A, VSD3, and T1E off your list.  This way you narrow it down to KC06 and VSD3S :)  See which fitment/style you prefer the best, maybe that will guide you further! :)
@twister6 - Wow! Your reply has in many ways given me answer(s) for which the questions I never raised openly. Seriously speaking, I thought you did a telepathy on my predicament. BTW, I am not at all intending to use an amp, and most of the time my audio source(s) will be one of these - Samsung Galaxy Y, Nokia N97, Transcend MP350, and Fujitsu Laptop. I already own Pistons 2.1, Soundmagic ES18, and expecting to get my KZ EDSE, ES, and LPS in few days time. I listen mainly to EDM, and Post Rock genre. After hearing(reading) so many horror stories about QC issues with VSDS3 cable, I have stricken it down from my list on upgrading my current IEMs. Havi B3 Pro I and TTPOD T1E were final two remained on my list. In the past, I have used Soundmagic PL30 (which was said to be very lean on bass and more towards neutral sounding signature), despite having poor audio sources I thought of giving Havi B3 Pro 1 a go for a different musical experience instead of TTPOD T1E (which according some head-fiers, to be having sound signature pretty close to EDSE which I am about to receive). Till today, never thought about Ostry's but your review has made me very curious now.
Holly ****!!! 90% of UERM for 76€? :O
I heard both and liked KC06A a lot
if i get to choose between the Vsonic VSD3/S and KC06/KC06A which one would be good for Vocals and classical music ;-;
"The cable jacket, though offering a great protection, unfortunately is stiff and has a "memory" effect where after unfolding it doesn't get straight. I guess it's one of those things you have to live with."

Really? The cable on my KC06a must be completely different then, the cable is the softest, most supple cable I've ever had the pleasure to use! It's so nice and soft that cable memory with it would be a joke.

I got mine through Massdrop, maybe that explains the difference? Also I only got one pair of the red screened tips. Still, for the lovely cable, that's a trade I'll make every time!
@DJ The Rocket : you just rehashed 2+ year old review, I'm surprised they still make them :)  And if they do, most likely they revised their design based on the feedback received over 2.5 years since its introduction.  That's very common, and I'm glad they addressed the cable issue because back then it wasn't good.