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KB Ear F1

Rating:
3.5/5,
  • KBEAR F1 Balanced Armature Customer HIFI Sport Monitor In Ear Earphone

    With 3.5MMCX Gold Plated Headset Metal Plated LOGO Earbud[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

Recent Reviews

  1. CharlesRievone
    A Valiant Attempt, But Fell Short This Time
    Written by CharlesRievone
    Published Aug 26, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - - Mid-centric "Clean" Sound Signature
    - Originally designed earphone housing with a versatile form factor
    Cons - Some QC Issues
    SQ and Tuning Needs Improvement
    I'm late to the party with the KB Ear F1, so I'm just gonna go ahead and dive right in. Info about other stuff like specs and package inclusions should be available on other reviews posted by other members of Head-Fi.

    20190824_002650.jpg

    The Good:
    - Lightweight driver housing. Very unique design, too, and comes in a variety of colorways to choose from.

    - Detachable/replaceable cables. This is always a plus for easy maintenance once the cables need replacement due to breakage or if it becomes too oxidized (which I'm guessing is most likely to happen with this type of cable).

    The Bad:
    - No "lip" on the nozzles, so the eartips can easily slip out. High chance of loosing eartips when using these as an everyday carry or for listening to music while sleeping. I recommend using eartips with narrow bores for better grip to compensate.

    - The y-split on the included cable is located too far down, and there are no chin-sliders/keepers, which makes the cable prone to tangling.

    - No way to repair anything on the housing. If a wire inside the housing becomes loosely connected for example (which is probably less likely to happen), or if either the nozzle or he female MMCX end gets broken, it will be really hard to do some first aid repairs for them.

    - While I give my props to KB Ear for deciding to launch their line with an IEM with an original design, they need to work in the quality control of the construction of the housings. The female MMCX connector that is held by the resin mold on one of the IEMs is slightly skewed at an angle. Not exactly much of a big deal, but I just have to mention this and I hope KB Ear takes this as a constructive feedback.

    20190824_003121.jpg

    The Ugly:
    - Metallic treble, which also has sibilant tendencies. Cymbal tail-ends seem to be cut-off early, and can sound too congested at times. There's an obvious spike in the lower treble region, which can probably be fixed with a bit of manual equalization.

    The Great:
    - Plus points again for the original design of the housing.

    - The versatile form factor of the housing makes it easily worn either on "cable-down" or "over-ear". I personally like wearing them with the cables over my ears as it makes for a good comfort and fit.

    - A very "clean" overall sound signature. While the 1BA configuration shows it's weakness on the bass frequencies, it makes up with a clear presentation in the mid-range and lower-treble region. The F1 is definitely not an "all-rounder". While it is borderline bass-light, the bass-drops never clip nor distort when it tries to push it's limits to the single BA driver. The mid-bass is fast and punchy, never bleeding into the mids. I never sensed a "veil" in the sound presentation while using the F1. Bringing up the treble region again, I feel kinda conflicted. The spike in the lower treble region makes the overall sound as if it is an "analytical" IEM but the sibilant tendencies and metallic rendering can sometimes be bothersome. The perceived soundstage is actually pretty ok. I'll say this, soundstage and imaging greatly depends on how the song was recorded in the first place. I think the F1 is able to convey the illusion of a decent breadth of soundstage in it's presentation. Not bad for a single BA configuration. Not bad at all.

    Some suggestions to improve your experience with the F1:
    - The included set of eartips are not the best kind there is, but they're decent enough. However, I still suggest buying and using other eartips that are more comfortable for your ears.

    - The stock cables are decent, too, for the price, but KB Ear also sells their own version of a 16-core configuration copper cable, which I highly recommend getting. It is less prone to tangling and seems to be more durable overall in comparison to the stock cables. Do note that the cables have ear-guides, but as you can see in the pic below, I have removed them because I like it that way. The cables also help in determining which side is which (Left or right side channels).

    20190826_221523.jpg

    In conclusion, I can say that the F1 is a commendable and valiant attempt by KB Ear to put their name out there in the plethora of emerging Chinese brands in this scene and age of modern portable hi-fi. They haven't blown everyone else out of the water yet with the release of the F1, but they have the potential to get there, if they do well with their future releases.

    The KB Ear KB06 is on it's way to me, too. Stay tuned.

    KB Ear on Aliexpress:
    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/5017064?spm=a2g0s.9042647.0.0.78114c4dmh62vH

    KB Ear Official Group on Facebook:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1839109692856710/

    20190824_002438.jpg


    *The fine print:
    A representative from KB Ear reached out to me a few months ago and offered to send to me a review unit of the KB Ear F1. I happily obliged. I did not received any monetary compensations, but I also did not have to return the review unit. Please take the opinions above as my own. Thanks for reading.
  2. fireboltr
    KB EAR F1 A Good Entry
    Written by fireboltr
    Published Aug 5, 2019
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Good price, comfort and isolation
    Cons - HEAVILY rolls off at both ends
    Here's my review and impressions of the KB EAR F1 earphones.
    These earphones were provided for an honest review graciously by the seller who wishes to stay anonymous.
    KB EAR is as far as i can tell a newcommer to the CHIFI scene.
    The F1's have one balanced armature driver per side. A claimed 20HZ-20KHZ frequency range ( more on this later) @22ohms with a max input power of 10mw seems that they will be driven well from portable sources.
    [​IMG]

    Packaging
    The F1's come in the standard slip cover box that seems to dominate the CHIFI market at the moment, its minimalist but functional.
    Ripping the sleeve off reveals a user guide, below this is where the magic happens.
    The F1's are sitting pretty in foam to protect during transit, beneath the earphones in the foam are 4 more eartips besides the 2 that come pre-installed.
    Beneath the foam is the "goodie box" that houses the cable, and more eartips.
    [​IMG]

    Units Themselves/Build Quality
    KB EAR has decided to go for an all resin build on the F1's, mine are in the "honey" color and allow me to see whats going on inside. In the bottom of the unit they have decided to go with an MMCX connector allowing for using replacement/different cables. Following the wires up from the connector you see the single balanced armature leading into the metal sound tube with a metal screen. The included cable is silver and well made/braided, with only one caveat (more on this later). The eartips included are s,m,l dual density red core silicone tips and s,m,l KZ starline tips.
    Build quality seems very high for the price point as there really isn't anything that could go wrong with them, being solid resin I see no reason why these shouldn't be durable.
    [​IMG]

    Sound Impressions
    Audio equipment used for listening is as follows: Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Topping NX4 DSD, Hidizs Sonata II, Khadas tone board running into a JDS Labs atom amplifier. Audio files ranged from MP3 V0 to 24 bit flac.

    Overall the F1's are relatively pleasing to listen to on the appropriate types of music (bassheads run away) I really enjoyed live music as well as vocal/jazz, they also did rock/metal justice. I tried the included dual density silicone red core tips, memory foam tips, big bore, and starlines. The starlines gave me the best overall sound but YMMV.

    Bass 6/10
    The bass is clean tight and articulate, but its heavily rolled off below 80hz. The F1's are not going to be for any basshead whatsoever. I played with the tone controls and could regain some of the depth but the balanced armatures were easily over driven.

    Midrange 8.5/10
    This is where the F1's really shine. The mids are front and center detailed and in your face.
    I didn't notice and midbass bleed (what little there is) pretty much smooth sailing from from male vocals up into the upper female range.

    Treble 7/10
    Treble extends well into the upper registers, although it heavily rolls off above from around 13khz. The treble sensitive will love these. The highs are well detailed thanks to the balanced armature but subdued way to much and does hurt the soundstage and airiness above vocal ranges.

    Comfort/Isolation
    The F1's are relatively small and extremely comfortable considering their square shape. The shape bodes well to a deep insertion if desired which helps provide really good isolation. The cable loops over the ear well staying out of the way for the most part. KB EAR decided to go with the crazy long leads from the Y to the earphones allowing them to kinda do whatever they want, getting hung up at their will (looking at you KZ). The sound leakage is excellent if your worried about bothering those around you.

    Overall/ Conclusion
    I feel that the KB EAR F1's are a great entry into the market, and an extremely good earphone for those looking for a "mid centric" sound signature. The soundstage and separation are about average for an IEM, but having a more focused sound is good for some music.
    For the low entry fee of ~$35 (I remember spending dramatically more for Etymotic with a like sound signature back in the day) I can see most people being able to enjoy these ENTRY level IEM's.
  3. paulwasabii
    KB EAR F1 - Unique design, love the mids
    Written by paulwasabii
    Published Aug 3, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Unique body design
    Detailed vocals
    Vented BA helps with the low end
    Cons - Not as good for bass-heavy or orchestral music
    Price range has a lot of more general purpose competitive products.
    Intro: The KB EAR F1 was the second earphone from KB EAR between the Opal and the KB10. The Opal is a single dynamic driver and this F1 is a single balanced armature. This is the first BA only earphone I had tried so I had some preconceived ideas of what it would sound like without a dynamic driver. Luckily my assumptions proved wrong and the F1 turned out to be a unique and capable addition to my collection.

    Gear: LG V30+ phone, USB Audio Player Pro (kept it in Bit Perfect mode), most tracks either MQA from Tidal or local FLAC.

    Fit and Finish: As you can see from the image, the F1 is a unique transparent resin L-shape with MMCX connectors. The cable is clear plastic-coated silver cores with aluminum casing on the gold-plated connectors. There is a metal KB EAR logo inside the body. There are L/R markings on the cable, but nearly impossible to see without good lighting. I guess a red or blue dot would have ruined the clear aesthetic.

    Comfort: I am partial to IEM style fit with the bud flush in the ear and cable around the ear. The F1 sticks out of the ear more than an IEM and with enough weight outside of the ear, I found myself pushing them back in the ear to make sure the orientation was correct. In most cases the fit was fine, but I kept doing it because it felt like the bud had moved. Overall these are comfortable but you will need to get used to the shape and how it feels hanging from your ear. Beyond comfort, a very tight fit is required to hear the full sound from the F1. A loose fit will sound thin across the board and you will try to EQ the heck out of it, but go with large tips and make sure it is a tight fit.

    Sound: Before the F1 arrived, I assumed the F1 would be lacking in the bass department, but what I didn’t expect was the flat frequency graph which you can see here. I like the typical V-shaped graphs and do not mind the emphasized lows and highs at all. Take a break and let your ears adjust to hearing music in its more natural state and everything will sound great.

    Despite my assumptions, the F1 has plenty of sub-bass. KB EAR chose wisely on the vented BA. Rolls off a bit fast for my taste, but I was surprised it could rumble at all. Royals by Lorde sounds great, just a bit fast on the sub-bass. Royals pushes the bass and the F1 can respond, but on songs where the sub-bass is not as deep, the roll-off will be more evident. There is also plenty of mid-bass but my impression is it is fast and tight. Similar to the sub-bass, when not pushed it can sound thin, more like a drum machine than a drum, but always enough of the initial punch. I like songs with quiet, airy vocals and that is where the F1 is in the sweet spot. Think about Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Dido, and Peter Gabriel who have vocals in the lower ranges. Moving from the mids to the highs, the word “detailed” stuck with me. Try the 24bit version of Dido’s Hurricanes. So much detail and transparency in the quiet vocals. I do not find the treble bright at all, similar to the low end, rolls off a bit quick. If there was a point I wanted to turn off bit-perfect and EQ a bit, it would be to bump the treble a bit. I think that might be the trade-off with the vented BA, better low end at the expense of a high end that rolls off quickly. Personally, I prefer the detailed vocals over the perfect cymbal crash. These might not be for those seeking the soaring strings of orchestral music. Soundstage is average width but not deep. Instrument imaging is good for a few instruments, but will sound crowded with more layers. Again, vocals are in the F1 sweet spot, not complex, layered arrangements.

    Pros:
    Unique L-shaped design in clear resin.
    Detailed, airy vocals

    Cons:
    Better suited to music in the mid ranges, not as good for bass-heavy or orchestral.
    Other products in the same price range may be better for general purpose listening.

    reddit.jpg reddit.jpg 2019-08-02 18.23.23.jpg
  4. NymPHONOmaniac
    The potential is there, but the musicality is not
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Aug 3, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Great construction, flat soundsignature, great cable
    Cons - Congested sound, dry treble, lifeless, in your head soundstage, unpleasant ''musicality''
    KB Ear F1 REVIEW :

    P1020815.JPG

    SOUND: 6/10
    CONSTRUCTION: 9/10
    DESIGN: 9/10
    VALUE:6.5/10


    KB Ear is a newcomer in ‘’chi-fi’’ overcrowded audio universe, but unlike some unserious audio company that lauch immature products just good for the trash, Kbear look like to put serious effort in creating their earphones.

    As some already know, i’m very curious about new housing design, whatver where it came from, sov when I fall on the Kbear F1 earphones by pure hasard on Aliexpress and see this L shape transparent housing with a single armature driver solidly stick inside, my curiosity about sound potential as well as good fit push me to personally contact the company for a review sample.

    Strangely, I fall on some positive impressions of this very F1 iemafter I order it, so, now, my expectation go higher, a little too much perhaps but still let say it already : this is welol tuned single driver that is sure competitively priced at 30$. And more interestingly, it do not follow same tuning path and choose instead a more audiophile and flat sounding response that will certainly appeal to serious and mature audio enthusiast.

    Now, let’s see if it worth more than a niche attention.


    SPECS:

    Item Name: Earphones
    Material: Plastic + TPE + Metal
    Type: In-ear Design
    Impedance: 22Ω±10%
    Sensitivity: 105±2dB
    Frequency Response Range: 20Hz-20KHz
    Plug Type: 3.5mm L Plug Earphone
    Connector: MMCX
    Connector Features: Wired Connection, In-ear Headphones, HiFi Sound, Universal Cable Length: 1.2m ± 5cm/47.24" ± 1.97" (Approx.)



    ACCESSORIES, CONSTRUCTION& DESIGN :

    P1020817.JPG

    UNBOXING is similar to KZ budget earphones, with the exception of including a nicer 4 cores MMCX silver plated cable that impress me for its quality at such low price. Appart fromthis you got silicone eartips and that’s about it.

    P1020813.JPG P1020812.JPG P1020811.JPG P1020814.JPG

    CONSTRUCTION is impressive too for the price, I like the housing material that look like thick resinous plastic with an appealing transparence to it that show inner driver. Most of all, this material look invincible and promess irreprochable durability, but we can’t tell if the life spent will be that long due to average MMCX connectore used.

    DESIGN again, was well done and I find the F1 very comfortable to wear due to their unique shape, whatver you wear it standard way or over ear it will fit nicely due to its rather small size. In another hand, i don’t think their lot of work about acoustic design of the housing here, its really like puting a balanced armature directly into your ears, wich remind me Final Audio F serie iem but with the disadvantage of doing your own tuning work with your collection of the right eartips to expend soundstage, imaging and bass.


    SOUND :

    P1020816.JPG


    First impressions wasn’t that positive due to overly grown expectation as well as bad eartips choice and not so good pairing with the Xduoo X3 DAP I use with F1. Yes, the F1 benifit from enough amping and can handle high volume quite well for a single balanced armature, as well, you will want to use rather big and enough long silicone eatips to get a more spacious sound with fuller presentation. I will never repeat this enough : everybody have different ear shape and most find a tips that give maximum seal as well as enough air to let sound pressure send freely the soundwave.

    At first, i find the F1 sounding thin and fowards and lack in instrument separation department, but when I find the right eartips and pair it with enough powerfull DAP like the Xduoo X20 or Ibasso DX90, the sound blossom like dandelion in debut of summer. It was still a BA soundsignature but with wide soundstage, smooth slightly dryish timbre, fowards and very clear mid range and crisp tigh treble that avoid agressive peaks.

    SOUNDSIGNATURE is near neutral with smooth mid centric approach and extra treble energy in upper range to make this flat presentation more lively.

    SOUNDSTAGE without being intimate isn’t particularly out of your head, it just got enough widnest to avoid feeling congested.

    IMAGING is average with good sens of transparent layering, we aren’t in precise holographic presentation here and the limit of a single armature driver show its weakness. In fact, it lack space between instrument wich make it a little congested and sounding like a intimate wall of sound you look at.

    BASS is good for a single armature and beat more expensive single BA iem in term of control and deepnest like the Brainwavz Koel, but that doesn’t mean it sound full and natural. Nope, slight roll off begin around 50hz wich make sub bass sound dry and light. Still, no distortion whatsoever, wich is a big plus for me, as well, the mid bass is very energic without sounding too agressive or lifeless. Even Aphex Twin sound kinda okay with the F1 wich tell alot. Anyway, we can say its a quite light, dry and not very detailed in timbre kind of bass, with good tonality but serious lack of lower impact as well as space to properly separate from mid range (even if no, it do not bleed on it as it do not move any air!).

    MID RANGE is foward with smooth timbre and natural tonality, but lack in texture and separation. This is the biggest issue with F1, it sound thin and congested, and it look like audio engineer try to compensate this with a push in upper mid range that do not help at all for injecting more life and fullnest to vocal, in fact,yep, we got some sibilance and an overall metallic timbre instead. Yes, at least we have some transparence that can help discerning sound loayers, but its not in a appealing or very musical way, it very fowards and lack refiness even for a 30$ iem.

    TREBLE isn’t the best part of F1, and this is surely due to the use of a cheap bellsing balanced armature that just can’t deal with everything at same time, so, yes, it barely have a full frequencies response, but to the cost of making it primitive in term of timbre, texture, details, attack, decay, sparkle and snapiness. To me it have an old transistor radio feel, but even those radio sometime use tube that inject more life and appealing warmness to it. Instead of details in timbre we have subtle noisy grain, the percussion are splashy and grainy but not in a harsh way, the classical guitar doesn’t have lot decay to it and lack grip too, but it have good clarity nonetheless. As well, you will not find easily lot of micrdetails with the F1, so, its a verystrange mix of darkness and brightness here. Yep, treble is indigest for the one searching appealing musicality.

    LOWER BASS :6-10
    MID BASS : 7-10
    MID RANGE : 7.5-10
    TREBLE : 6.5-10
    TIMBRE : 6-10
    SOUNDSTAGE : 7-10
    IMAGING : 5-10
    ATTACK-DECAY : 5.5-10


    COMPARAISONS :

    P1020807.JPG



    VS FINAL AUDIO E1000 (30$) :
    Construction is the only place where E1000 loose here, because the F1 have great housing as well as nice 4cores SPC cable while the E1000 have cheapish plastic housing and average basic cable.
    When it come to the sound, audio engineer of Final Audio would have a good laugh listening to the lifeless F1. Soundstage is way wider, deeper and have an around your head feel while F1 is intimate and stock in your head. BASS is beefier, more impactfull with good roundess and brightish timbre that feel more detailed even if not perfect, F1 bass feel thin and shadowed by a messed up wall of sound. MID RANGE have thicker timbre and smoot naturalness with hint of dryish warmness and F1 only have the dryness with sub par instrument separation. Vocal aren’t inviting at all with F1n even if very foward, while the E1000 have great clarity and just enough fowardness to them, again sounding full and lush compared to thin and dry F1. TREBLE is less peaky with E1000 as well as slightly less extended, but more balanced in its presentation while the F1 have extra brilliance in upper treble to help craving some unatural details, making percussion sound too metallic and lacking in body.

    P1020809.JPG

    VS KZ ZS10 PRO (35$) :
    Yeah, sorry Kbear, thats kind of crual comparaisons I do here, but its really the iem in same price range that fall in my hands. I mean, I SEE your potential, really, there something here but its not ready to be lauch in the sun. KZ ZS10 PRO have some similarity with the F1, in timbre, wich perhaps confirm they use same bellsing drivers…..but man, KZ have 4 of them plus a dynamic too! And its well tuned in a fun, punchy cohesive way! So, yeah, BASS dig way deeper, have better separation and mid bass slam is incredibly lively and weighty compared to dry, shy, congested one of F1. MIDRANGE is a little similar in timbre but have better clarity, imaging and energy with the ZS10PRO. TREBLE extend further with the PRO and offer plenty of details that are well layered and have their own singularity even if the crunchy timbre of percussion or some instrument can sound slightly off. All in all, the PRO is from another league far above the F1 here and the punchy dynamic it have make it like comparing an hyperactive and muscular (but little primitive) athlete to a…..dead body.


    CONCLUSION :

    I don’t like writing negative review, especially when the price is 30$, but i’m NymPHONOmaniac and I listen to near an hundred sub-100 budget earphones, I mean….even at 20$ I would have been harsh with the F1, but at 10$ i would have applause the flat, near neutral tuning that tend toward a more audiophile crownd, the problem is perhaps that tuner aren’t audiophile with absolute ears at KB.

    There some great potential here, I heard it, the clarity is good even if imaging is congested, but bellsing drivers never have been that great for attack and decay, as well as timbre fullness. Still, perhaps mixing Knowles and Bellsing could achieve a mix of sound colors that will make cohesive musicality with fuller sound, I don’t know, dynamic driver sure help to inject more body to overal sound. So, i’m not finish with KB and keep some hope with their other iem project, especially the last one that use a Knowles+dynamic driver.

    Continue doing your audio homework KB, but perhaps you should change the balanced armature of F1 for a Knowles ASAP.
  5. DallaPo
    KB EAR F1 | 1*DD | Rating: 8
    Written by DallaPo
    Published Jun 25, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - clear and clean mids and highs
    degree of detail
    analytic listening
    Cons - bass extension
    sometimes unpleasant peaks
    overdriven at high volume
    Intro
    KB EAR sends a Single-Dynamic Driver and a Single-BA Driver into the race to get started with its product list. The latter is scolding F1 and surprises with its unusual design. A Bellsing driver is installed, which should cover the entire frequency range. The F1 doesn't bother at all with a powerful and deep bass to score but focuses on the midrange and voice reproduction and a good resolution high frequency range. This was also to be expected with a single BA driver, especially with this price tag.

    Handling
    The first thing that stands out is the unusual design. It resembles a pistol and is completely cast out of resin. The F1 is available in an amber transparent version and in black. Unfortunately there is no elevation at the sound openings, which consist of metal, so that not every tip holds on to it and gets stuck also sometimes in the ear. The F1 seems unbreakable at first sight, due to its workmanship and compactness and I can't claim anything to the contrary even after intensive use. In addition, no one should have difficulty using it, which works equally well with the cable down, or over the ear. The comfort leaves nothing to be desired.

    The packaging is similar to that of the OPAL, but instead of 3 pairs of silicone tips, we get nine in total and a silver-coated copper cable. So a scoop has already been put on it.

    The F1's isolation is excellent. If the seat is correct, neither anything penetrates to the outside nor to the inside, which requires special care in road traffic.

    Sound
    You should be aware that you can't expect an exceptional bass, but it plays surprisingly low and very clean. However, you can also force it to its knees at higher volumes, making it overdrive and inaudible. If you don't overdo it, you will get a defined bass, which acts primarily in the mid bass but still gives you an idea of the sub range. Of course I wish for more punch and more base, especially on drums, or bass guitars, but I can also get a lot out of this lightness and precision. The F1 is less suitable for hip-hop or electro.

    The mids are the strengths of the F1, voices are reproduced cleanly and naturally. Seldom can a sibilant slip through, or at higher volume it can be a bit unpleasant, but this is a rare side effect. The mids are clear and flat, but without getting boring. In general, one can speak here of a rather balanced, flat signature, which pushes the mids a bit and drops rapidly in the high frequency range after 10 kHz. This takes some time to get used to if you come from a clear V-signature, but then you quickly recognize the potential of the mids.

    Despite the fast drop after 10 kHz, the highs still have a lot to offer in the upper range, and subjectively one would attest them an even greater expansion. They look airy and light, but occasionally tend to have unpleasant peaks. The level of detail is really high for the single BA driver and it's fun to discover the smallest details in the music. However, especially in the high frequency range it sometimes sounds a bit too metallic (cymbals).

    In terms of space, the F1 also does a lot right, even if no concert hall is to be expected here. Nevertheless, instruments are well separated and voices are pleasantly intimate and natural. Compared to the dynamic driver, however, the F1 lacks some dynamics and is more suitable for analytical listening, especially when it comes to mids and highs.

    Outro
    What F1 and OPAL have in common is their quite bright tuning. But the F1 sounds much rounder and more musical than the OPAL. Here the tuning of the single BA driver is right and fans of analytical, quiet listening will get their money's worth. The F1 is a cheap, but technically well done entry-level single BA. It impresses with its clean and clear presentation of the musical content, but also does not completely neglect the low frequency range, which might have been expected. But you should always keep an eye on the volume. For me it is a welcome alternative in the Chi-Fi universe because of its sound characteristics, but also because of its design, in order to treat the ears to other impressions.

    ___________________________________________________________
    More reviews: https://david-hahn.wixsite.com/chi-fiear
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CHIFIEAR/
  6. Wiljen
    KB Ears F1 - A promising start for KB Ear.
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Jun 8, 2019
    3.0/5,
    Pros - warm, non-fatiguing signature with forward mids.
    Cons - Early roll-off at both ends, can get congested on complex tracks.
    [​IMG]

    disclaimer: The rep from Kinboofi recently asked if I had an interest in a new company named KB Ear and if I would like to try a new single BA in-ear from them. I quickly said yes and Kinboofi provided the KB Ear F1 for review. If you have an interest in these, they are available through Kinboofi’s amazon store at roughly the $35 price point.




    Unboxing / Accessories:

    The Box is a sliding cover design with picture, model and logo on front and details on the reverse. Inside is foam tray with the earpieces and two set of tips showing. A small box with the KB Ear logo sits below the foam and contains the remaining accessories. A total of 6 sets of tips come with the F1. 3 resemble the KZ Starlines while the other 3 look more like spin-fits. Having both narrow and wide bore tips provided is a nice touch, but some indication of the expected impact of using each tip style would be wise. Typically the wide bores increase bass impact while the narrows are more neutral. We can assume the same here.

    kbear-F1-box-front.JPG kbear-F1-box-rear.JPG kbear-F1-box-left.JPG kbear-F1-box-inside.JPG kbear-F1-kit2.JPG



    Build/Fit:

    The F1 has kind of an odd shape and it takes a minute or two to get past that. The shells are L shaped transparent acrylic with the nozzle exiting one end of the L and the mmcx connector at the opposite. The entire body of the iem will fit on a US penny (sans Nozzle) just to give a size reference. Fit is easy as the body is smaller than most and is somewhat reminiscent of the Campfire Comet. Obviously materials and sounds are quite different, but shape lends to a similar fit. Isolation is good as the tips sit fairly deep. The F1 can be worn tip up or tip down with the one caveat being that if worn tip down, the vertical portion of the shell may be very snug to the side the head on larger ears. They fit snugly on me which prevents them from shifting, but not tightly enough to be uncomfortable so I am probably about as large a person as the F1 will fit comfortably in tip down mode.

    kbear-F1-ba1.JPG kbear-F1-ba3.JPG kbear-F1-ba5.JPG kbear-F1-feature1.JPG


    Internals:

    The F1 sports a single Bellsing 32257 balanced armature driver with an nominal impedance of 22Ω and a sensitivity of 105 dB/mW±2db. The F1 is easy enough to drive from a phone and scales some, but not dramatically with higher power sources. The Bellsing seems to be a fairly close clone of the Knowles 32257 which is a vented (damped vent) BA in thier RAB series which is designed for high efficiency systems in small enclosures. The vent is clearly visible in the photos on the underside of the earpiece. The BA is very small and is roughly the same size as the metal nozzle used.




    Cable:

    The cable on the F1 is very similar to those of the TRN models and some of the recent Nicehck models as well. The cable starts with a straight jack with a brushed aluminum casing. A short strain relief exits the jack and then yields to a 4 wire braid of silver plated copper wire with a clear casing. The braid runs to the splitter, also made of brushed aluminum and then exits as two wire twists to the earpieces. The cable does not have earhooks to facilitate tip-up or tip-down wear. The cable terminates in clear housings with mmcx connectors that appear to be gold plated. The cable is fairly typical of items at the price range.

    kbear-F1-jack.JPG kbear-F1-splitter.JPG kbear-f1-mmcx-2.JPG


    Sound:

    [​IMG]

    Bass:

    I’ll admit to expecting a single BA iem to be bass lacking. I’ll also admit, I was only half right. Sub-bass is indeed quite limited, but mid-bass is better than anticipated with both good control and reasonable quantity. There is a little perceptible bleed into the mids that gives the F1 a warm overall tone reminiscent of the Campfire comet while not being pronounced enough to hide much of the details. I do think the Comet is more detailed than the F1, but tonally the two are more similar than not.



    Mids:

    Mids are very much the focus of the F1 with a big push forward beginning as you come out of the bass range and plateauing at the true-mids. That plateau stays level until we reach the lower treble where another rise kicks in. Vocals are forward and well rendered although I found lower register vocals to be a bit more natural than their upper register counterparts. Acoustic guitar is also well presented and a bit more realistic than its electric counterpart. Detail and dynamic range are not class leading but not enclosing either. The mids are one part of the F1 that KB ear got right for sure.



    Treble:

    The lower treble has a bit of a spike at around the 3kHz mark, but while it contributes a bit of extra energy to the signature it is not so pronounced as to be fatiguing and with a slight adjustment of the EQ it can be brought back inline fairly easily. I found that a -3dB at 3k worked for my ears and left enough energy to give vocals the desired presence without pulling too much life out of the signature. Upper treble rolls-off rapidly above about 9kHz which provides enough top end to let snares have a satisfying crack but stops short of giving enough top end to really make cymbals sound realistic. A bit more energy in the 10-12kHz range helps with the cymbal realism but even EQ is not much help here as the driver itself doesnt seem particularly sensitive in this respect.



    Soundstage / Imaging:

    Soundstage is wider than deep and only of average dimensions. Instrument separation is directly related to how complex a track is. The F1 does better with pop and rock than with orchestral pieces as the higher the instrument count, the more cramped the F1 can begin to feel. Imaging is also limited as a result of the separation issues. With less complex pieces, imaging is fairly accurate but when pieces start getting complicated, imaging is often crowded into the available space and feels congested and inaccurate.



    Thoughts / Conclusion:

    I was given two models of KB ears to review at basically the same moment by two different vendors. Kinboofi provided the F1 while KB ear themselves sent me the Opal. For two models coming from a new brand, they have little in common. The cables and tip selection are very similar, but that is where it ends. The Opal is a single dynamic driver in a teardrop shape, while the F1 being reviewed here is a L shaped single vented BA. Ambitious to take on two different technologies and to start with a minimalist approach of using a single driver and tune the system rather than just adding another driver. KB Ears should be applauded for that approach and I hope they will continue on that path. A lot of multi-driver models lately are proving that it is harder to get right than the manufacturers anticipated and a return to sanity from the “How many BAs can you fit in a shell challenge” is nice to see. The F1 has a lot of the issues that single BAs are typically known for, but manages to offset one (the low end roll-off) by use of a vented BA. Overall, it represents a solid value at its price point for those looking for a mid-forward in-ear for rock and pop music. Those who enjoy classical will probably want to hold off for now and see what KB Ear releases next. If they continue to improve, it should be a good one.

    images

    1. kbear-F1-feature3.JPG
    2. kbear-F1-internals.JPG
    3. kbear-F1-internals4.JPG

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