KB Ear F1

General Information

KBEAR F1 Balanced Armature Customer HIFI Sport Monitor In Ear Earphone

With 3.5MMCX Gold Plated Headset Metal Plated LOGO Earbud
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Latest reviews

CharlesRievone

Head-Fier
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.

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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.

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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).

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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/

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*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.

fireboltr

New Head-Fier
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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paulwasabii

100+ Head-Fier
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.

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