KB Ear KS1

General Information

Notice: The TFZ connector is more suitable for KBEAR Lark, If you want to order the Upgraded cable, Don't make the wrong choice!

Product Specifications:

Brand: KBEAR

Model: KS1

Interface: 2PIN 0.78mm(TFZ)

Frequency response: 20-20kHz

Sensitivity: 109dB

Impedance: 16ohm

Earphone material:

Color: black, white

Cable material: 4 core 4N pure copper cable

Plug type: 3.5mm L-type gold-plated plug

Driver Unit: Dual Magnectic Circuit Single Dynamic driver

Latest reviews

twiceboss

Headphoneus Supremus
the Budget DD
Pros: Lightweight
Comfortable
Detailed for the asking price
Cons: One note bass
Recessed mids
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Disclaimer
I received the KS1 from KBear for an exchange of my honest opinion.

Introduction
This is a budget single DD set from KBear to compete at $20 mark. There are a few $20 amazing DD's in the market lately, especially the new Tanchjim Tanya and the Final E500. The former went toward bassy neutral and the latter is balanced neutral. I chose “neutral” to mention that there are no weird peaks I can hear while listening to it. KBear on the other hand went for a V Shape iem. This time I will change my review style. I will bring Tanya and E500 together in the writings rather than giving bullet points.

Looks
This is an over-ear design iem instead of bullet from Tanya and E500. Very light weight plastic that comes with 2 pin extruded style.

Sound Signature
V-Shaped

Source
iPod 7th Gen + Apple Music Lossless
Radsone ES100
Dell XPS 13

Sonic presentation

Bass

Worst of the three. The Tanya comes on top while giving a good impact and not smearing to the mids. E500 on the other has a tilt for warmth but things never bloat and nothing is over emphasized. KS1 has an issue with a one note bass where it bleeds to the mids. Quite blunt with the transient.

Mids
KS1 is a v-shaped iem and hence the mids are recessed and sounded thin. E500 owns this part where it sounds balanced in the mix without being recessed. Meanwhile, Tanya has a slightly less forward mids but is covered up by lower treble, which overall sounds a bit upper mids and lower treble emphasized.

Vocals
E500 owns this part as well where both male and female sound very good on this set. KS1 on the other hand has a lower treble to dominate in vocals which give a perception of thinness and detail. Tanya is a bit mixed up depending on source as it can sound great with certain neutral source but recessed on certain sources; including Apple dongle usb C.

Highs
Treble is where KS1 has a bit of an edge. It doesn’t mean it excels. KS1 treble can be described as detailed but not piercing. E500 has a relaxed treble meanwhile Tanya has a hint of lower treble but nothing special up top.

Soundstage and Imaging
Staging on KS1 is fine, nothing bad or good. Kind of average. E500 has width but no height. Meanwhile, Tanya has height but not really width. One advantage that KS1 has is the layering. Even with a bass heavy tuning, it is considerably good for the asking price.

Song and Genre
IU, Heize, Taeyeon, AKMU, Yerin Baek, Alesso, Martin Garrix, Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion and more.

Verdict
KS1 is a budget single DD iem that is not for me. It has the clarity up top for the asking price but the mids are recessed for someone who appreciates vocals. The bass is a bit blunt with a one note perception. However, this doesn’t stop me from looking at more KBear sets, especially the Starshine that has good use of the EST driver for the graph. This review came short as I think the set is a bit average considering the competition given by Tanya and E500.

Gallery
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kmmbd

100+ Head-Fier
Less is More
Pros: Good build for the price.
- Inoffensive tuning with good timbre
- Vocals have accurate tone
Cons: Sub-bass can get too much on some tracks
- Average staging/below-average imaging
- Not the most resolving IEM in its price class
- Treble is too muted, can sound splashy in cymbal-heavy tracks
Budget single-DD IEMs are on the rise lately, and KBEar decided to join the party as well with the KS1. This time they’ve ditched the way-overused “Balanced armature driver in the nozzle” bit and I am glad they went that route.

Let’s see if the KS1 has what it takes to stand its ground.

Note: the ratings given will be subjective to the price tier. Wendy Li of KBEar was kind enough to send the unit. Disclaimer

This review originally appeared on my blog.

Sources used: LG G7, Sony NW-A55
Price, while reviewed: ~13 euros. Can be bought from KBEar’s AliExpress store.

Build: The KBEar KS1 has a rather generic build with a white/black ABS housing and a gold metal nozzle. There are two vents on the inner-side of the IEM. The faceplate design is rather simplistic. 2-pin ports are slightly recessed but not completely so, thus making it more suitable for TFZ-type connectors. The shell quality is good for the price though the seams are quite visible.

All in all, good build quality that falls short of excellence.
4/5

Accessories:
The KS1 comes with a bunch of tips and a super-tangly, thin, nightmarish cable. The cable has to be the worst part of the package since it manages to tangle itself up if you even look at it wrong. I’d recommend one of those budget upgrade cables if you plan on to use the KS1.

As for the tips, they were fine for me though some failed to get a good seal. I will recommend KZ Starlines if you’re having some fit trouble.
3/5

Comfort:
Given the pseudo-custom shell design and its lightweight nature, the KBEar KS1 is very comfortable to wear. Isolation is decent with stock tips and excellent with Final E-type tips.
4/5

Driver Setup:
The KS1 uses a dual-magnetic circuit dual-cavity dynamic driver with a PET diaphragm. The former ensures Tesla level of magnetic flux whereas the latter boosts bass frequencies. For a budget device this is a fairly interesting driver setup indeed.

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All sound impressions were done with the stock cable and tips.

Sound: The presentation of the KBEar KS1 mostly leans towards the low frequencies and exhibits a warm, V-shaped tuning, though treble is mostly kept in control.

The bass here is voluminous and definitely the star of the show with large, thick bass notes. Couple with that the slower decay and you get a sub-bass-oriented presentation that caters well to modern bassy genres. Sub-bass frequencies extend until 25Hz though the sub-sonic rumble is missing to some degree. That being said, sudden bass drops still have the punch they need, though it’s somewhat flabby due to the slower driver. Moreover, bass texture is lacking even compared to the price bracket.

Given a V-shaped response, many would assume the midrange to be overly recessed which fortunately isn’t the case at all. Male vocals do take the back seat but they aren’t drowned out. Female vocals are even more up-front and the midrange in general has a good timbre, thanks to the mids peaking ~2.5Khz. There’s no shoutiness whatsoever. Acoustic instruments sound fine though the undertones seem to get more focus due to the bass heavy tuning. Finer details like the subtle plucks of strings are lost.

Finally, the treble is inoffensive. It’s just there to make sure that things don’t sound overly dark but it takes the furthest seat in the entire presentation. Cymbals hits sound muted, they easily smear into each other, and there is hints of splashiness despite the recessed treble. It doesn’t draw much attention to it, but when you pay attention to the treble — it’s not good in terms of resolution/timbre.

Soundstage is decently wide, stage depth is lacking. Imaging is basically left and right, no center-imaging to speak of. Ordinal imaging also suffers. Dynamics sound compressed, so large swings in volume aren’t portrayed well, neither are minute gradations in volume.

Overall, the sound is competent if unremarkable and will cater well to those who need a bassy signature.

Bass: 3.5/5
Mids: 4/5
Treble: 2.5/5
Imaging/Separation: 2.5/5
Staging: 3/5
Dynamics/Speed: 2/5

Amping/Source requirements:
The KBEar KS1 is very easy to drive, no specific amping needed.

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Select Comparisons
vs Rock Obsidian ($10):
Rock Obsidian is another single-dynamic offering and goes for a “darker” signature than the KBEar KS1. It does have more refined treble and the lower-mids are quite lush, making them sound engaging/inviting in certain genres. The bass focus also shifts towards mid-bass rather than sub-bass though this may vary upon tip change.

Soundstage is deeper on the Obsidian, imaging is also more accurate. It does require above-average amping to sound its best which is kinda odd for such a budget offering. As for the rest, the housing is metal which is definitely a step up from KS1’s plastic housing, but the cable is non-replaceable and even worse than the KS1 cable so there’s that.

For my money, I’d likely pick the Obsidian given a good amp in stow. However, for driving with regular phones and due to the flexibility that the detachable cable offers, KS1 will be a more practical purchase.

vs KZ ZST X ($15): KZ ZST X offers a similar shell design and has a slightly better stock cable/tips. However, the ZST X timbre is definitely more “artificial” in tone and the treble has more instances of splash than the ZST X. Staging is similar on both though the ZST X has an edge in imaging.

The ZST X is a fun sounding IEM but due to the BA+DD config it sounds less coherent than the KS1. If you’re not too particular about coherency issues/timbre I think the ZST X is a good option. Otherwise, KS1 is the better pick.

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Conclusion
Single dynamic drivers are going through a resurgence and the KBEar KS1 is testament to that. It’s build decently, is good to go in stock format, and it sounds pretty good for the price. In the end it’s the price that’s the most attractive part of the KS1. The bang-for-buck factor is good enough to ignore the mundane treble response, below-average imaging, and overzealous at times sub-bass.

On a simlar note, I am glad KBEar went with the single-driver route instead of stuffing the nozzle with a cheap, unrefined BA driver. Less can be more after all.
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Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
KB EAR KS1 pure dynamic
Pros: Very good dynamic earphones from KB EAR on the cheap, easy to tip and cable roll due to 2 pin configuration. V sound signature with decent stage, average isolation and good dynamics. Surprisingly spacious sounding. Scales well to amplification and better sources. Solid all plastic build with a good sound for casual use. Vented well so zero driver flex or suction effect.
Cons: Not the most technical or resolving. Soft timbre and comes with a bare minimum of accessories. Which is ok for the price point. Cable change and a tip mod highly recommended.
KBEAR KS1
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It is actually KB EAR and not pronounced like the cuddly BEARs you know from the 90s kids shows. KB EAR KS1 is one of their newest earphones utilizing a single PET polymer 10mm diaphragm with dual magnetic circuit in a dual cavity design. The dynamic design has seen a resurgence and this tried and true design is not going away any time soon. As a single dynamic can easily cover the full sound spectrum. KB EARs KS1 is affordable but has some surprises in store for the enthusiast.

I would like to thank Wendy Li of KB EAR for being awesome on the threads and being an awesome rep for KB EAR. She has graciously asked me to do a review for her so how can I say no to that. The KS1 was provided for review purposes. Here are my thoughts about the KS1. You can purchase a KS1 here.
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The KS1 build quality is what you would expect in the price range, an all plastic build but you can tell the plastic housing used for the shells are of a higher quality. The review set was in white and It looks and feels similar to a ceramic aesthetics vs being purely plasticky. The big surprise to me was that these had some decent isolation. Comes with a standard single ended cable and 3 pairs of tips in various sizes to go along with it. Nothing out of the ordinary here but ultimately even for $20 or less during sales it comes down to the sound.

Sound analysis was done using my sources Fiio M15, Shanling M6pro, M5s, M3s, Pioneer XDP-30R, Ibasso DX160, Fiio M3ii, Cayin N5ii, IFI black label for amping.

KS1 does seem to benefit from a good run in so I advise folks that dive into a set to give them a good beat down for at least a week. They also benefit from an upgraded cable with your better tips. However I discovered that the stock tips works great with an inverse mod I will show later. Sound design is a mild V shaped signature with a moderate level of resolution detail and stage. You can’t expect something that costs $20 to have world class technicalities but for what the KS1 presents for the bucks you really can’t do much better. I can see a clear use case for the KS1 as they are supremely comfortable with a very ergonomic shape and since it is utilizing a single dynamic the size is smaller and thinner for the housing than most semi custom designs.
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Also due to that single dynamic design coherency is not an issue with the KS1. Tonality is leaning toward slightly warmer in tone with a softer timbre of note lacking a bit of weight. However imaging and stage is surprisingly good. The slightly warmer tonality is due to the relatively controlled balanced treble with an uplift toward lower mids with a peak in mid bass emphasis. Resolution of the KS1 is what you would expect but this being said I don't think you can really do much better unless you throw in a BA in the mix like the KS2 but the trade off there is somewhat artificial sounding BA timbre vs a more natural dynamic timbre of the KS1 which to my ears is more agreeable vs its sibling the KS2.

Treble has good control and presence and here is where treble sounds more natural in tone and emphasis and is relatively clean. KBEAR has found a middle ground in treble performance for the KS1. It isn't too lively yet at the same time does a good job picking off detail on a macro level. Again you can’t expect world class treble but for what is on the KS1 it is non offensive and has good enough presence and energy to balance out the enthusiastic bass end.
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Upper mids sees a pinna gain of 10dbs which is enough for good presence and helps detail for the overall sonics of the KS1. Mids has a recession which gives credence to bass performance of the KS1 and here is where I wish KBEAR would consider tuning with a bit more balanced approach for their next earphones. Most of the earphones I have heard from KBEAR all seem to have a degree of the tried and true V shaped sound signature which is fine but I would love to see something a bit better balanced for the mid bands. Mids presence here comes off a bit flat and not really projected to an immersive degree. The phones sounds like you're hearing your music which is the goal of such earphones but it lacks an immersive quality for the mids.
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Mids do exhibit good fundamentals with a slightly soft timbre yet natural in tone, while taking a step back from the treble and bass ends, mids emphasis is not forward yet not overly recessed. Again I feel if the balancing was a bit better here these would get even a higher score from reviews and from myself. However in doing a V shaped signature means you're going to get a better sense of stage for the KS1 and this aspect is a stand out for the KS1.

Stage is surprisingly spacious for a compact design. Overall stage is wider than it is tall or deep so that is the trade off. For earphones they have a moderate medium sound stage and certainly does not sound confined or constricted. Venting here is done well so no pressure build up or driver flex I can detect. I appreciate KBEAR going with a 2 pin design as 2pin connectors will last much longer, and are easier to use than mmcx connector types.
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I do notice better sound quality using better cables and tips and much like most dynamic earphones, the KS1 does scale better to more power. Your best cables and tip rolling is highly recommended to get the best results from the KS1. KB EAR happens to sell some of the best budget cables on their own web site. And yes you will have to spend a bit more on a nicer cable but in this case it is OK to get a better cable to use on the KS1. You're still not going to spend a lot but you will certainly get better performance out of the KS1 especially if you need a balanced cable. Their KBEAR Limid pro 8 core pure silver cable highly recommended for better technicalities for the KS1 stock sound which results in better balancing, a tighter bass, cleaner treble and better imaging.

A V shaped signature means it will have pronounced bass and I feel the bass end of the KS1 is done in good taste and nothing that is overly cooked. Bass has surprising detail with ample presence. There is a certain fun and charm to the bass end which is not the fastest or has the most depth or the most textured but honestly you're not gonna find too much better in the price range for bass. Bass has good agility and for a sub $20 earphone is very well done in the region and is another of its strong suits for sound design of the KS1.

Simple tip mod using the included stock tip.
This tip inversion method has been popular on headfi and there are some tips that this trick works great with and some tips that are useless. The good news is that the included tips works awesome to open up the sound of the KS1. You need a longer nut screw tool to invert the tip inside out. This video will give you an idea of how to do this with the stock tip. The end results is the sound is much more open when using this tip in this way and it is now usable for me.
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These 2 sets of tips are the same tips. The bottom half is inverted and the mod I highly recommend you trying out. This simple mod will surprise you.
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In conclusion there is a need for good audio at all price ranges and KB EAR has been providing some of the best in ears for the price and here we get a very nice sounding single dynamic on the cheap. But that dont mean the sound has to be. I applaud what KB EAR has accomplished with their KS1 and even their KS2 designs in that these are more than affordable for the casual enthusiast the sound really is not going to get much better for the price range. In fact I would love to see the next evolution of the KS1 tuning using a higher end dynamic and a more premium shell with better balancing for their next dynamic earphone. They managed to squeeze out the most out of a simple design and you're going to be surprised how capable a $20 earphone can be from KB EAR. As always I appreciate you taking the time to read. Happy listening as always.
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