KB Ear KS1

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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Attachments

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kmmbd

500+ 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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RenEh

100+ Head-Fier
Do these dethrone the Blon BL-03?
Pros: Resolution, Detail & Soundstage! Good enough stock tips/cable.
Cons: Can be shouty with wrong tips. Needs a lot of burn in. Mid range slightly recessed.
QRD

MAKE SURE YOU BURN THESE IN!

Who should buy this? If you own a Nintendo Switch buy the KS1 and thank me later. Are you looking for a fun sparkly v shaped iem with good soundstage and impressive resolution for the price? Buy the KS1. Don’t want to buy an amp/dac/aftermarket cables/aftermarket tips buy the KS1. They sound good stock. Sound even better modded, see below.

Who shouldn’t buy these? Like to play on retro consoles i.e. Gameboy Advance or older? Don’t buy these. Are you looking for a more natural and relaxed tone and are willing to trade off resolution then don’t buy these. In the same price bracket, pick up Blon BL-03, but you’ll probably need aftermarket tips and needle to mod them at a minimum. Google mesh mod.

Gear Used For Testing

Amps

Apple Dongle
AudioQuest Dragonfly Red
Massdrop THX 789 (In Singled Ended Only)
Flux FA-12 (In Single Ended Only)

DACs
Schiit Modi 3
Denafrips Ares 2

Cables
Stock Cable
Linsoul HC-08

Tips
Stock Tips
Spinfit CP145

The Good

String instruments sound fantastic. Listen to with these to Father and Son by Cat Stevens. Piano sound great too, shout out to Ru's Piano on youtube.


Scaling

These scale surprisingly well with better dac/amp. Bass tightens up and they can get fairly resolving. In fact, these IEM’s scaled with all of the gear I own. It may sound silly to use a $20 IEM with $2K in gear, but use better and get better out of KS1! Emotion and micro detail is on full display. They still sound good coming out of my MacBook's headphone jack, but it can come off as harsh at times. A better DAC/AMP smoothes out the sound.

Comfort

A safe shape that is more comfortable than the Blon BL-03 for long listening sessions for my ears.

Tips

The tips are a big surprise. They’re fairly comfortable for my ears, and the sizes provided seal nicely. I found them more comfortable for short listening sessions than the Spinfit cp145’s and they sound better too. Contrast this with what’s included with the BL-03 and it’s a revelation. The BL-03 has completely unusable tips that do not seal well. You’re getting a lot of value with this iem with just the included and very useable tips.

Cable

The included cable is ok. It’s a good step up with what’s included with the Blon BL-03. In that it doesn’t tangle up as easily and has a more comfortable fit around the ear. It is a good cable for free and the right angle 3.5mm connector is awesome for portable gaming.

The Bad

Packaging was adequate in that it will likely protect the IEM’s, but that’s it. I don’t care much for fancy packaging as I think that money is better spent on the IEM’s themselves, so this is fine by me.

Isolation is only ok. You're going to hear the outside at low volume.

The Ugly

The sound out of the box is… bad! These need 72 hours of burn in with very bass heavy music at loud volume. If you ever want to experience the magic of burn in, buy these IEM’s!

Sound Impressions

Highs


Detailed, crisp and a little airy. If you’re using these IEM’s for video chatting, you’ll be surprised at how clear and in the room voices sound. Consequently, soundstage is much, much better than the Blon BL03. If you’re looking for positional cues from IEM in this price range this is a great choice.

Mids

The mid range can come off as a little distant and thus not as natural compared to the Blon BL03, but detail is good. Main issue is that on very busy tracks, think jpop with synth and classical instruments at the same time, the mid-range can get muddled. Perfect for less busy tracks with string instruments or piano.

Lows

Bass is slightly elevated in a fun way, but it’s still more nuanced than a stock Blon BL03. Sub bass rumble was very enjoyable for movies and games.

For Gaming

Gear Used

Nintendo Gameboy Color
- KS1 picks up slight noise due to sensitivity less of an issue with the less sensitive Blon BL-03.

Nintendo Gameboy Advance - KS1’s are too sensitive and pick up a lot of hiss. Mine is IPS screen modded so YMMV

New Nintendo 3DS XL - Powered well with volume to spare. Treble is nicely detailed without being too fatiguing. Very spacious sounding.

Nintendo 2DS XL - Sounds similar, but not as good as the N3DSXL. Less volume to spare as well. Treble is a bit peaky and not as spacious.

Nintendo Switch – This is the reason to own these IEM’s! Very, very detailed coming out of the Switch with volume to spare and a black background and good dynamics. If you have a switch, just BUY THE KS1!

Sony PSP powered well of headphone jack, but treble can be a bit peaky

Sony PS Vita – Lots of volume to spare, very dynamic sounding and not fatiguing. Just awesome for the Persona dancing games.

iPad (Remote Play) - Sounds good out of the apple dongle or the older 3.5mm jack. Can get fatiguing for long sessions, 2+ hours of music, but great for games/Netflix.

Want EVEN MORE Performance out of the KS1? Use spinfit CP145 tips and mod following this guide for smoother but still detailed treble and a more present mid range. https://www.head-fi.org/threads/kb-ear-audio-impressions-thread.912673/post-16297103

In stock form the KS1 bests the Blon BL-03 in most areas except for natural and relaxed tone. If you don't want to mess around with mods, tip rolling or cable switching, just buy the KS1 over the Blon BL-03. If you intend to mod the Blon BL-03 or the KB Ear KS1 it's a much tougher fight with tone winning on the Blon BL-03, and detail winning out on the KB Ear KS1.

Buy them here https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002184896879.html?spm=2114.12010615.8148356.2.547a335eCnb6of? (not an affiliated link)
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baskingshark

Headphoneus Supremus
KBEAR KS1 Review – UnBEARably Safe
Pros: Well fitting, light, comfortable.
Above average isolation.
Good organic and analoguish timbre.
Laid back tuning, smooth and non offensive.
No sibilance, safe treble.
Easy to drive.
Cons: Bass bleeds, not the most textured bass.
Intended V shaped tuning, not for mid or vocal lovers.
Technicalities below average.
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DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank KBEAR for providing this review unit.



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The KBEAR KS1 is a well done bassy V shaped set, featuring good timbre and tonality. It features a warm and analoguish non fatiguing tuning. It is bottlenecked at the technicalities aspect, but would otherwise make a fine addition for those who are new to this hobby or those who want a laid back tuning that is different from the usual budget CHIFI fare.



SPECIFICATIONS
  • Driver configuration: Dual Magnectic Circuit Single Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20000Hz
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 109 dB/mW
  • Cable: 2 pin 0.78 mm
  • Tested at $18 USD


ACCESSORIES

Other than the IEM, the KBEAR KS1 packaging comes with:
  • 4 core 4N pure copper cable – A bit too thin for my preference, but very usable sonically.
  • Silicone ear tips (3 sizes)
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Accessories wise, nothing much to complain for the price, this is par for the course for a sub $20 USD set. I do think the accessories here are rather usable OOTB, but of course experienced CHIFI users will straight away throw the stock stuff into a drawer (or dustbin) and whip out their own tips and cables. TBH, I’ve actually seen some CHIFI retailing for much more that provide exactly the same accessories (cough cough a CHIFI company that has 3 alphabets starting with T).

For the purposes of this review, the stock cable and tips were used, so as not to change the sound signature with aftermarket gear.



BUILD/COMFORT

The KBEAR KS1 shell is made of plastic. I got the white version, which really looks like some Stormtrooper armour. It is very light and comfortable and well fitting. No complaints from me on this aspect.

I didn’t find any driver flex for myself (but YMMV once more as this is somewhat dependent on ear anatomy and types of ear tips used).

I liked that the KBEAR KS1 uses 2 pin connectors, as I’m not a fan of MMCX connectors in general, as they tend to have shorter longevity especially if cables are swapped too much.

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ISOLATION

The KBEAR KS1 has above average isolation. Not too bad considering it is dual vented, though some pure BA type IEMs without vents will probably beat it in the isolation department.



DRIVABILITY

I tested the KBEAR KS1 with a Khadas Tone Board -> Topping L30 amp, Sony NW A-55 DAP (DMP-A50 FEv2 Classic Mr Walkman Mod), smartphone, Shanling Q1 DAP, Tempotec Sonata HD Pro, ESS ES9280C PRO DAC/AMP, and a Khadas Tone Board -> Fiio A3 Amp. The KBEAR KS1 is quite easy to drive, and amping is not really required. Though like other single DD types, amping can increase dynamics, soundstage and perhaps microdetails a tinge.

The KBEAR KS1 is a bassy and warm set, so in general, I found it paired better with perhaps neutral or brighter sources. Warmer sources may make the sound too thick, veiled and bassy, but YMMV.



SOUND & TECHNICALITIES

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Graph courtesy of KopiOKaya from Audioreviews (IEC711 compliant coupler). 8ish kHZ area is probably a resonance peak.


In a nutshell, the KBEAR KS1 is a well done bassy V shaped set, featuring good timbre and tonality. It doesn’t suffer from the usual sibilant hyperboosted treble/upper mids that plague a lot of budget CHIFI sets. In fact, the KBEAR KS1 is warm and analoguish and the tuning is pretty non offensive and non fatiguing. Some might even find the KBEAR KS1 too safe in tuning actually. As this is an intended V shaped tuning, mid and vocal lovers best look elsewhere, as vocals and the mids are in the background, and at times may be a bit hollow.

Bass on the KBEAR KS1 is midbass focused with some subbass roll off. In terms of quantity, I would classify it at a level shy of true basshead levels. Quality wise, unfortunately, the midbass bleeds into the mids and isn’t too textured. Bass is also at times boomy and one noted.

Mids are recessed as per the V shaped tuning. The lower mids are obscured not only due to the V shaped tuning but because of the midbass bleed from the copious bass. Some may like the added warmth, but some may not, so kind of a YMMV situation. Upper mids are mildly boosted but are very smooth and not shouty. As discussed, mid and vocal lovers best consider alternative IEMs as this is a deliberately tuned V shaped set. Female vocals are more forward than male vocals, but the vocals (especially male ones) do take a backseat in this tuning, but consequently, this is a very safe upper mids tuned set, with not an ounce of fatigue with longer listening sessions. This set is a far cry from the usual hyper boosted upper mids section we frequently encounter at the budget CHIFI segment.

Treble in the KBEAR KS1 is a safe and very non fatiguing treble, so this is not a very airy set. Sibilance is not present. Notes are rounded and smooth, and may at times lack bite. This can be a pro or con depending on whether you want more edge definition/bite in the notes.

Soundstage width and height are about average, but soundstage depth is below average. The tuning is rather analoguish, technicalities like clarity, imaging details, instrument separation are below average at this price bracket, music can occasionally be congested especially with faster/complex instrumentation or competing riffs. So this is not a technical set for critical listening or analytical listening, but more for sitting back to chill and enjoy the music.

In terms of timbral accuracy, the KBEAR KS1 is very natural and organic for acoustic instruments, as per its single DD roots. It may be a bit too bassy and V shaped for classical and jazz genres per se, but if your music incorporates acoustic instruments, no worries about any instrument sounding artificial or fake as per some budget hybrids/multi BA sets.



COMPARISONS

As hybrids/multi BA have their own strengths and weaknesses, I have left out the KBEAR KS2 (hybrid) from comparisons here below, but have incorporated some other “hyped” $20ish budget single DD sets below.


BLON BL-03

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Graph courtesy of KopiOKaya from Audioreviews (IEC711 compliant coupler). 8ish kHZ area is probably a resonance peak.


The KBEAR KS1 and BLON BL-03 are both V shaped, but the KBEAR KS1 is overall brighter.

The KBEAR KS1 has a slightly more accurate timbral accuracy for acoustic instruments than the BLON BL-03, which also has excellent timbre, though I find the BLON BL-03’s timbre is quite coloured and a bit tubish. I would say both are analoguish sounding, the BLON BL-03 more so.

In terms of technicalities, both are below average compared to other similarly priced CHIFI. These 2 sets are very close in technicalities, I think the KBEAR KS1 is just a bit better in the instrument separation and details departments. Soundstage and imaging is a bit better on the BLON BL-03.

The Kbear KS1 is easier to drive and has a much better fit. As CHIFI collectors know, the BLON BL-03’s fit is very famous (or rather infamous) due to the too short nozzle, requiring most folks to use aftermarket longer nozzles or spacer mods. The BLON BL-03’s stock cable also had a very stiff cablehook which tends to yank the IEM out of the ears, so most users have to resort to buying aftermarket tips/cables and this adds to the cost, so the BLON BL-03 is not $20 – 30 USD but rather closer to the $40 – 50 USD mark.

So essentially, both sets feature a warm bassy tonality with an analoguish feel, but the KBEAR KS1 is much easier to fit OOTB without the need to spend on aftermarket mods.


BLON BL-01

BqBKJNq.jpg

Graph courtesy of KopiOKaya from Audioreviews (IEC711 compliant coupler). 8ish kHZ area is probably a resonance peak.


The tonality of the KBEAR KS1 is quite similar to the BLON BL-01, perhaps the KBEAR KS1 is a tinge more V shaped (slightly more midbass and slightly more treble).

Like the BLON BL-03, in terms of technicalities, both of these sets are below average in this department. I think the BLON BL-01 just nudges ahead a tinge in the imaging, instrument separation, details and soundstage departments. Timbre is slightly better on the KBEAR KS1.

The KBEAR KS1 is much easier to drive and has a much better fit. The BLON BL-01 also has quite a bad fit, though probably not as bad as the aforementioned BL-03. However, the BLON BL-01 sounds very meh from a low powered source, and really needs amping to shine. No offence though, I’ve seen some audiophiles on audio forums recommending $200 USD amps just to get the BLON BL-01 to sound good, which IMHO, is a bit of an overkill for a $20 USD IEM. It is kind of putting the cart before the horse to get a source costing 10 times more than a budget IEM, especially since the clientele purchasing at the budget segment are probably not that interested in delving into expensive sources and amps when they are first dipping their toes into CHIFI waters. If we were talking about more hardcore CHIFI connoisseurs who purchase midfi to TOTL gear, then yes, they have different priorities and perhaps an amp will unlock the sound for audio nirvana and future proof this hobby, but I honestly won’t recommend beginners to invest so much into sources when they are getting a budget CHIFI set.

Between the 2 sets, the BLON BL-01 is probably a tinge better in sound (if amped), but the fitting issues and the need for a higher powered source would mean I would give my recommendation to the KBEAR KS1, unless you have a good amp on hand.



CONCLUSIONS

The KBEAR KS1 is a well done bassy V shaped set, featuring good timbre and tonality. It features a warm and analoguish non fatiguing tuning. It is bottlenecked at the technicalities aspect and in the bass quality area, but I feel it would otherwise make a fine addition for those who are new to this hobby or those who want a laid back tuning that is different from the usual budget CHIFI fare. It is a set well suited to sitting back and chilling and enjoying the music for what it is, not the gear.

Indeed, the KBEAR KS1 will also make a good alternative to the hypetrain BLON BL-03 and BLON BL-01, especially since there is no need to worry about fixing the fit with aftermarket tips/cables and there is also no need to source for a powerful source (no pun intended), just to get the IEM to sing. Perhaps hardcore CHIFI addicts who have amassed a drawer full of CHIFI trinklets would have owned and heard something better, but for the price of sub $20 USD, it is far from bad and I would easily skip the price of a restaurant meal just to get my paws on this one.

Once again, enjoy the music!
WendyLi
WendyLi
Awesome review!
earmonger
earmonger
To my ears the vocals are not particularly recessed--they are much more prominent than on some other V-shaped IEMs I have heard. It may be my aftermarket silicone tips, but I'm not straining at all for vocals, as I have with some highly touted Chi-Fi. I put on David Bowie's "Blackstar," a really complexly layered mix, and he's clearly at center stage. And listening to a beautiful new song by Allison Russell, "Nightflyer," which has some deep bass drum, crisp acoustic guitar and churchy organ, and she's cooing and harmonizing right up close. Enjoy the song, even if you disagree.

baskingshark
baskingshark
Hi @earmonger aftermarket eartips can change the sound quite drastically. I generally try to give input on an IEM with stock cables and tips (as per this review), so as to give it a fairer comparison of what others may hear out of the box. Eartips can definitely make or break an IEM -> case in point BLON BL-03 with the bad fit that most users face when using stock tips. Eartips can also affect seal and hence isolation and subbass response.

Also the upper mids area (where in general vocals are more prominent), can be influenced by hearing health, volume played at (Fletcher Munson curve), ear anatomy (pinna gain) and even recorded music quality. Hence this hobby is highly subjective in some aspects.

Wretched Stare

Head-Fier
KS1 simple Review
Pros: Decent V-shaped fun signature and cost effective , lightweight and comfortable. A great beginner IEM.
Cons: Signature is safe, advanced audio enthusiast might be underwhelmed by the build and safe tuning
20210328_104804.jpg



Packaging is simple and plain, the accessories minimal but adequate. This is in the Ultra budget norm. The Shell is resin or plastic very light in weight and a typical shaped used. The above photo is the KS2 and the newer KS1 from KBEAR.

I found them very comfortable with the stock tips, the cable was average budget quality but nothing unexpected.
Sound: V-shaped with a mild smooth tuning.

Bass:
While Sub-Bass has some kick on many of the songs I listened too, I found the Mid-Bass had more focus here with a great amount of punch. Texture and quality is good and the the bass does bleed into the Mids giving them Warmth as with many V-shaped Signatures.

Mids:
Are clear for the most part, their is a recession and even a push forward in vocals its noticeable but not uncommon. The Mids are far from shouty and brighten up in the upper region , overall they sound good and natural for a V-signature.

Treble:
Good quality treble here , nothing too sparkly or harsh, its very safe and well mannered sounding with a fair amount of details.

Soundstage and Imaging:
Soundstage was average with the typical wildness one expects from a closed headphone/ Earphone depth and height were equally proportioned giving it a intimate feeling. Imaging was better than average with enough details for something in this price range.

Conclusion:
The KS1 like the KS2 is a good performer V-shaped IEM in the lower budget region. It has a safe tuning most should find enjoyable, while nothing sticks out as amazing, it also doesn't do anything wrong and at under $20 its hard to find something well rounded that performs as good.


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ChrisOc

500+ Head-Fier
KBEAR KS1 REVIEW
Pros: Good value for your money.
V-shaped IEMs with sufficient details.
Good quality bass
Easy to drive
Cons: Sub-bass in short supply
Mids are recessed
Congestion on busy tracks with high volume.
Disclosure
A review unit of the KEAR KS1 was sent to me (at a nominal price) by KBEAR on the understanding that I would be free to give my honest opinion of these In Ear Monitors.

The usual retail price of KS1 is in the region of £14 - £18 and obviously lower during sales.

All opinions are my own with no influence as I avoid reading other reviews of the same item before I have written my review. I make an effort to ensure that I give the reader factual information.

Intro
The KS1, a product of the KBEAR brand, is a recent release, not to be confused with the KS2, which has been on the market for a while now.
My setup for this review
I paired them with Samsung galaxy note 10 plus and Fiio M11, as my source, and for amplification variably, a Samsung dongle, Fiio BTR5 and the Littlebear B4X "pseudo tube" DAC/Amp, mostly balanced 2.5mm on high gain. I also used the Fiio Music Player Application, but primarily the PowerAmp v.3 Music Player Application plus YouTube Music Application, Amazon, Idagio (for classical music) and Soundcloud streaming Application.

Form, Fit and Function
The physical form of the KS1 is a standard smooth IEM shape (without contours which mimic custom IEMs). They are light in weight and look very good regardless of the colour you choose.

I like the contrast between the black cable end on the white buds, while the black sets have a nice sheen to them. For my ears the fit is quite comfortable and fairly snug.

Although, I have to say, I imagine their isolation of external sounds may not be exceptional. I have not had the opportunity to test the isolation with current lock-down in the UK. However, for everyday use it has been very good at isolating everyday sounds.

The KS1 has a Dual Magnetic circuit dynamic driver. The KS1 comes with detachable cables. The cable in the box is the standard 1.2m braided 4N pure copper cable with a secure TFZ 0.78mm 2-pin connection to the ear pieces. At the other end of the cable is a standard 3.5mm gold plated plug. Of course, you have the option of a microphone on the cable, although I opted to get the uninterrupted cable (no microphone).

The KS1 are rather easy to drive with the impedance at 16ohm and 109 decibels of sensitivity. You do not need to amplifier them excessively or at all to get good quality sound out of them. Your smart-phone will do the trick.

The sound
In short if you do not want to read the whole review: The KS1 impressed me because they give this wonderful impression of a sense of space. What do I mean by the sense of space? The sound produced by these IEMs is one that appears to be wide and coming from all around you, rather than two small ear pieces. They are V shaped giving good sub and mid bass, which to my ears is fast, the mids are recessed but give you clear presence so as not to feel you lack information in the mid spectrum of the frequency range.

I must say, if this is what we get for budget IEMs in 2021, this will be an interesting year for IEMs. They are impressive to my ears at under £13 to £14 in the current Ali Express sale. These are analogue type sound with the emphasis being on the harmonic rather than the analytical.

Bass
The sub-bass feels full in terms of sonic quality in that they sound well-rounded, but you do not feel a huge mass of sub-bass, rather the sub-bass is present rather than prominent.

The mid-bass is more emphasised and for me it is the quality of the bass which stands out, it does not overwhelm, so that it is not thumpy or lumpy, it is smooth and relaxing.

The fact that these are dynamic divers mean that they represent the sound of instruments in a natural and realistic manner.

Jonny Guitar Watson - Ain’t that a bitch:
Sufficient but not excessive bass, is how I perceive the bass on the KS1. On this track, there is the potential of ear damage on some monitors. This track can be presented as heavy and invasive bass but not on the KS1 to my ears, it is well-mannered with good quality.

Mids
The dynamic driver gives you a recessed but very well presented mid-range. You will not get a shouty mid range here….BUT….. I have to warn that these are easy to drive which means that you can blast your ears out out with the volume you generate from these earphones.

That is not to say, at reasonable volume levels, you will have a shouty presentation of the mids, because they are not tuned to focus on the mid range, to my ears.

Bob Baldwin - Lately:
The track starts with a smooth piano piece on a Yamaha which is mesmerising. Incredibly beautifully presented by the KS1. The advantage of of the KS1 to my ears, is that because they are so easy to drive, if you want more of a mid range focused track like this, you just increase the volume and you get nothing less than a forward presentation of the mids.

Clearly, it goes without saying that if the track is focused on other frequencies, your mids will not be the focus. However, on tracks like this track, Baldwin’s version of Stevie Wonder’s Lately, the volume just brings his piano work to the fore.

The Fairfieldfield Four - These Bones:
These are four Acappelo singers with a DEEEP voice baritone. The presentation by the KS1 is a healthy does of a good voice, which sounds realistic and satisfying to my ears.

Treble
The treble on the KS1 is not shy, it is clear and present, as you would expect from a V-shaped IEM set. The treble is not only present, it is detailed with good separation and clarity.

The treble is also enhanced by the wide sense of space which the tuning of the KS1 gives one. The presentation being analogue type harmonic tuning, gives you the sense of being surrounded by the music, quite expansive and enveloping.

Stan Getz and Charlie Bird Jazz Samba - Quincy Jones, Big Band Bossa Nova:
I have linked to the full album because, for those who like this type of music, it is worth listening to.

This track just puts you there, in amongst the bossa nova big band, with the sound coming from every angle. The detail is not lost, the KS1 does not use big surround sound to hide the lack of detail. You still get good clarity and separation of instruments.

Conclusion
I keep wondering, if this is what we get at the sub £20 range in 2021, what will we get at the £1000 range. I am not by any means saying these are better than £1000 sets, what I am saying is that this puses up the quality we get at this price range so much that it appears to squeeze the ranges above. Is the market ready for the bunch-up?

I suspect it will be an interesting year for IEMs.

How would we justify the cost as we go higher up the price range. I am intrigued and looking forward to what IEMs we get in 2021.

Enjoy your music!

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dooxtypoox

Head-Fier
Pros: + Satisfying big bass!
+ More well-rounded than traditional V-shaped IEMs
+ Price
Cons: - Mid-bass is boomy and one-note
- Pre-formed ear hook could curve a bit more
Video Review
Special thanks to Vivian from KEEP HI-FI for arranging to have the KBEAR KS1 sent over for a full review. You may purchase the KBEAR KS1 with the non-affiliate links below.

Price and specifications
Price: USD19.99
KEEP HI-FI Official Store
KBEAR Official Store

Specifications
Interface: 2-pin 0.78mm (TFZ)
Frequency response: 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 109dB
Impedance: 16ohm
Plug type: 3.5mm L-type gold-plated plug
Driver Unit: Dual Magnetic Circuit Single Dynamic Driver
photo_2021-03-28_16-46-23.jpg

Accessories
Black 4 core 4N pure copper cable
(S), (M), (L) silicone ear tips

Comments on accessories
No complaints on the ear tips which are pretty standard. But I find that the pre-formed ear hook on the stock cable could curve a little more aggressively as they tend to barely sit on the edge of my ear, ready to fall off with the slightest disturbance.

Build, comfort and isolation
The simple plastic housing gets the job done and are comfortable for extended use. Isolation is average as with any other UIEM.

Tonal Breakdown
photo_2021-03-28_16-46-28.jpg

Bass
KS1 is a warm, V-shaped IEM with a large amount of mid-bass, almost to the point of being boomy. The relative lack of control in this region also makes bass thumps tend to sound one-note.【1】Let's be honest, I don't think anybody would expect a sub $20 IEM to come close to even the mid-fi tier in terms of tuning - these budget beaters have to appeal in a different way and the KS1 has done so in its low-end.

It isn't heavily sub-bass focused for a dramatic (theatrical) thunderous rumble but the vast amount of warmth here is a guilty pleasure to me. Let's put aside these technical terms on being one-note or being boomy aside. I have a soft spot for these ear buds not only because of the price, but also because the KS1's bass tuning is absolutely perfect for listening to lofi livestreams on youtube. The KS1's sound signature remains easy on the ears with bass that is pure ear massage.

Mids
Mids are not as recessed as other V-shaped IEMs, with presence at 4kHz and 5kHz giving the warm-tinged vocals a slight edge to cut through the warmth.【2】Although the upper mids and lower treble are raised for balance, the overall signature treads on the warm side of things with a clockwise tilt on the frequency response. Upper-mid dominant J-rock tracks are not overly sharp【3】and lower-mid forward Western-rock tracks maintain a sense of clarity.【4】

Treble
The KS1 tops this off with a controlled mid-treble boost to round off the tuning. The energy at 8kHz does not tonally skew vocals more than it needs to. The control serves to maintain the warmth of the KS1 and deliver a tight treble response with cymbal crashes (my preference).【8】

Technical summary
KBEAR KS1 2.png

Detail retrieval is good which puts it at a score of 2.5 and all remaining components are average with a score of 2.

Comparisons
KBEAR Lark "4k"
Unfortunately I don't have the retuned Lark for comparison. Both are V-shaped IEMs with a mid-bass bump but the KS1 has larger quantities of this mid-bass which appealed to me with casual lo-fi listening. But more on the audiophile side of things, the KS1 delivers a more natural and balanced vocal presentation than the Lark. The Lark borders on shoutiness and sibilance from its excess energy at 4kHz and 8kHz; this has ramifications on vocals, causing them to sound brittle and hollow. Technicalities are generally slightly better in the Lark but it should be noted that I prefer how the KS1 can sound just as detailed without the overzealous treble boost of the Lark.

BLON BL-01
Both are V-shaped IEMs. The KS1 has slightly more mid-bass than the BL01, with the KS1 being able to hit bass notes harder than the BL01 - the BL01's bass response is less defined. The key difference lies in the vocals which are more recessed in the BL01 due to decreased presence in the upper-mids and lower treble which is compensated for by the mid-treble boost. This would be a matter of personal preference but I find the KS1 to sound more well-rounded for better playback of more genres than the BL01 since it doesn’t forgo the mids as much. The KS1 is marginally better than the BL01 in terms of detail retrieval. For this reason and the fact that I prefer the KS1's tuning, I'd pick the KS1 over the BL01.

Conclusion
While the KS1 falls under the umbrella of "generic V-shape" tuning, KBEAR pretty much nailed the tonal balance in the KS1 - big bass for a warm listen and highs that don't pierce the ears. The KS1 is amazing for its price, I'm happy to take my audiophile cap off just for the KS1 for easy listening and I love that it also makes a great gift for non-audiophile friends because its tuning is very consumer friendly. The only warning I can give to those who are ready to buy this is that it might have too much bass for some listeners. But if you don't mind and just want something warm and easy-going, the KS1 is definitely worth the blind buy.

Thanks for reading! You may find more reviews on my Head-fi thread.
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These are some of the notable tracks used to come to my conclusions for those who're interested (not exhaustive).
Sample tracks for reference: Artiste 1Song 1, Song 2. Artiste 2Song 1…
1. The Glitch Mob - Carry The Sun, Come Closer. NF - CLOUDS, LOST.
2. Gryffin - Nobody Compares To You. Hydelic - Connected (Yours Forever).
3. MAN WITH A MISSION - Evergreen. HYDE - WHO'S GONNA SAVE US.
4. Falling In Reverse - Losing My Mind. Architects - Animals.
5. RADWIMPS - IKIJIBIKI. ONE OK ROCK - Nobody's Home.
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captione

100+ Head-Fier
Boom Boom Boom!
Pros: Easy to drive
Well extended highs without sibilance
Safe V-shape tuning
Cheap!
Cons: Almost too safe of a tuning
Boomy bass
Midrange lacking with vocals sunken
QC issue reported by various people
Kbear KS1 Review

Tl;dr : 1DD setup. Safe V-shaped tuning with a cool/dry tonality. Bass is plenty boomy and midrange sunken with voices not rendered properly. Highs are well controlled and extend without sibilance. It pairs well with warm and smooth sources. Very easy to drive.

A bit of background and disclaimer:

KBear gave me a large discount for my unit, rest assured my opinions are not influenced by them, I hope my review can guide Kbear on their products, and guide some curious consumers. Check them out if you wanna buy those pairs @ Lazada PH!

I'm also new on reviewing so please tell me your inputs about it! I'm happy to listen and learn from you guys!


Packaging:

· The Kbear KS1 came in a small white box with the product name and render printed on. It’s the usual KZ/TRN affair that you might have encountered giving you the pairs in its plastic holder, the cable and 3 size tips on a separate packaging and warranty and other papers. There’s nothing special.

Build:

· The shape consists of the repetitive ZSN-type shells, with a glossy plastic body that may scream cheapness or not, but they have a relatively thinner size compared to the other ZSN-type ones I tried. The cable is also the usual 4 core thin braid with an L-shaped jack, there is microphonics though but it’s alright. Overall, it’s not bad.
Be aware though, there are some reports of its nozzle falling apart by some users, so take note of that when tip rolling. I hope Kbear solves this, one way or the other.

Fit and isolation:

· They fit normally as any ZSN-type shells do but the nozzle is in decent depth on my ears. Isolation is normal but can depend on the tips. Tiprolling is VERY MANDATORY because of the subpar tips provided, did not fit or isolate well. I used a custom tip that I made mimicking Symbio Mandarines, which gave me very good results with fit and isolation of the pairs.

Sound:

A bit of background for the source, I used my Meizu DAC (on my phone and laptop) and my music player (Samsung YP-Q2) for the testing, but mostly used the music player due to the synergy, and they’re very easy to drive. My library consists of MP3 and FLAC albums on 16/44khz and few 24/96khz ones. Here is my lastfm account to see what I listen to: https://www.last.fm/user/varia_ble

- Bass: Very present, but with a mid- bass focus, texture is decent, but slam is not tight for my liking, a bit boomy at times. It can also overwhelm the mids in tracks but can be well controlled in some sources like my music player.

- Mids: They are the least prominent of the whole signature, but are still present enough. It sports a cool/dry tonality. Voices are bit thin or nondescript sometimes. Timbre is average for a single DD (I was expecting more in this part), with technicalities being a bit subpar and some instruments lacking definition, but pairing them well with a warm, smooth source pretty much negated that problem.

- Treble: This is probably the star of the show for this pair, details come through. It is surprisingly well controlled and extends well, but not to the point of sibilance. Lower to upper treble shows excitement and air but almost nearing the point of being metallic sometimes. Unfortunately the lacking midrange and the boomy bass doesn’t help bring this region to its fullest potential.

- Soundstage, Imaging and Separation: The soundstaging is a bit below average, feels like a tight space.

Imaging is pretty OK, a bit blurry due to the bass but I can definitely feel some movement of various musical elements.

Separation is good, with well-defined spatial positions, but the cramped soundstage prevents it on getting its full potential.

Thoughts:

The KBear KS1 is a decent set of earphones, but unfortunately there is almost nothing special to talk about, a bit too safe for my liking. You won’t go wrong starting with this (a safe mainstream tuning with all the standard bells and whistles), but you have better options if you’re looking for a second pair to own. The QC issues I see in various forums also makes me prevent a full recommendation, so if you’re gonna buy one, beware.

Although, with that negatives, the enjoyment while pairing them on my music player (YP-Q2) is undeniable. The bass is now well controlled, midrange more present and treble even more refined. I thoroughly enjoyed Eggboy’s 98-05 compilation album while strolling with my small player. If you pair them well, they shine through. :)

Thank you for reading!

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Chenkw

New Head-Fier
KB Ear KS1 Short Review, Another Affordable IEM for Bass Lovers
Pros: Powerful Bass
Loud Volume
Lightweight
Affordable
Simple and Modern Design
Fits Perfectly to ear
Good quality cable
Cons: Slightly Above Average highs, lows and mids
Ear hook is acceptable
Acceptable soundstage
Feels cheap
Vocal not clear, but acceptable
Eartips provided feels cheap
I have just recently got my hands on the newly released KB Ear KS1, and I have been testing it for around 2 weeks. For this K Bear (kinda cute), or KB Ear (actual) depending on how you would call it, below is my simple HONEST review for this amazing IEM.

WhatsApp Image 2021-03-26 at 11.41.09 PM.jpeg

Design
Single dynamic driver design. Super lightweight modern design and feels solid, but with cheap 'plastic' feel. Comes with a braided cable which looks awesome. IEM size fits perfectly to the ears. Fingerprint magnet due to the Black color with glossy finishes.

Performance
First impression is that the volume produced is loud, but vocal is not as clear and detailed as my other IEMs. Typical V-shaped sound signature and well tuned for the price. Super punchy and powerful for bass lovers, strong treble. Average and acceptable soundstage & separation, . Sound performance could be improved with better quality cables which can be bought separately. Above average highs, mids and lows, Good for listening to music with bass, and gaming. Average and acceptable sound isolation,

Conclusion
Overall a great 'Chi-Fi', well build and come with V-shaped sound signature. Don't expect too much, but it is well built and worth the value considering the affordable price range as compared to other brands. Highly recommended for budget starters for its price.

Nimweth

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Deep powerful bass
Good timbre
Entertaining sound
Smooth upper register
Cons: Recessed mids
Mid bass emphasis
Bass bleed
Stage condenses in complex tracks
Treble lacks extension
Tangly cable
The KBEAR KS1 is the latest super-affordable IEM from the company. It is a single dynamic driver design with a 10mm diaphragm and dual magnetic circuit with an impedance of 16 ohms. The diaphragm material is not specified.

The KS1 comes in a small white rectangular box similar to those of KZ, with a line drawing of the IEMs on the front and a list of specifications on the back. Inside, the earpieces are presented in a black plastic tray with an embossed KBEAR logo. Underneath is stored the 2-pin cable with QDC connectors and two sets of silicone tips. The box contains:

* KS1 IEMs (Medium tips pre-fitted)
* 2-pin black braided cable
* Two pairs silicone tips (S, L)
* Documentation

The accessories, as expected, are very basic but are acceptable at the low price.

The KS1 resembles the earlier KS2 model in appearance. The earpieces are smoothly contoured and light in weight. Available in plain black or white, the faceplate is emblazoned with a prominent KBEAR logo in the centre. The interface is 2 pin, 0.78mm and QDC connectors are used. There are two small circular vents for the dynamic driver on the inner surface.

The 4-core cable is black and tightly braided and the material is 4N copper. It is terminated in a right-angled 3.5mm metal plug with silver accents. The QDC connectors and the Y-split are finished in black plastic and there is no chin slider. The cable is quite prone to tangling.

The KS1 was tested using an Xduoo X20 DAP. The stock cable and pre-fitted tips were used and I achieved a comfortable fit with good isolation. A burn in period of 100 hours was carried out. Adequate volume was achieved with no need for additional amplification.

First Impressions
Before burn-in, the KS1 displayed an over-warm profile which was lacking in definition. The running in process transformed the sound, resulting in a warm, entertaining V-shaped tuning with a strong bass which dominated on some material and produced a little bleed into the midrange. The tonality was generally natural and "analogue" in quality. Midrange was recessed but possessed good timbre and reasonable levels of detail. Treble was above the level of the mids and there was an emphasis in the lower treble and a mild roll off in the highest frequencies which resulted in some loss of detail. Staging was average in width and depth, with height very well reproduced. The sound was eminently suitable for long-term listening.

Bass
The bass was powerful and deep and possessed a good impact and weight. Slightly warmer than neutral, it had a vinyl-like tonality, but it did dominate on certain material, especially in the mid bass.

In Mike Oldfield's "Tubular World" from "The Songs of Distant Earth", the bass reached down to the nether regions with excellent weight in the synth bass with the rhythmic integrity maintained well. The texture of the bass guitar was very well rendered. There was some dominance over the other frequencies, but this suited the piece, with the KS1 delivering an entertaining and foot-tapping performance.

Aaron Copland's famous "Fanfare for the Common Man" received a stirring rendition from the KS1. Though perhaps a little over the top, the bass drum resonated impressively and the timpani were impactful while the brass shimmered high up in the orchestra. The KS1 delivered a dramatic and enervating performance in every way in the wonderful recording by the Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue.

Midrange
Although somewhat recessed, the midrange was still articulate with a somewhat warmish cast in the lower region deriving from the mid bass and it became brighter towards the boundary with the treble. Generally the timbre was natural and with a good transient response.

Davol is an American electronic music artist with a series of imaginative albums to his name. "Mystic Waters" is the title track from his eponymous debut album. Smooth synth patches introduce the track which are joined by a solo guitar-like voice in the bridge. On the KS1 the solo displayed excellent clarity and projection while accompanied by solid bass and atmospheric effects spread horizontally. The sense of space and ambience produced by the KS1 was palpable.

"Bring him Home", from "Les Miserables" received a heart-warming performance from The Piano Guys. The timbre of the cello and piano was very authentic. The effect was perhaps a little larger than life in the lower notes, but the emotion and feeling of the piece was conveyed most effectively, with the two instruments both contrasting and complementing each other. This kind of material was perfect for the KS1.

Treble
The KS1's treble was fairly well-tuned. Detail retrieval was reasonable and there was a minor roll off in the high frequencies, but nonetheless, the overall effect was smooth and easy to listen to with no disturbing peaks. However, I found myself wishing for a little more detail and sparkle.

Mark Dwane's series of albums showcase his imaginative MIDI guitar productions. "Paragons" from the "Archives" album begins with jangly electric guitar chords accompanied by electronic and percussive effects. It came over impressively clearly on the KS1 with good separation and layering with the character of the instruments well portrayed but with the leading edges losing a little bite.

The syncopated rhythms and lively orchestration in "Morning" from Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" was depicted attractively on the KS1. The staccato brass and woodwind stood out clearly but could have been a little more incisive. As the piece progressed the staging condensed and the attack was somewhat soft which led to the urgency of the performance being diminished and the sense of space in this classic recording by Andre Previn and the LSO losing some of its atmosphere.

Soundstage
The stage was average in width, not reaching beyond the ears, but depth was equal in dimension, resulting in a circular soundstage with a very good impression of height. Layering and separation were generally very good but in more complex pieces and at higher volume, the stage lacked depth and suffered as a result.

"Unsquare Dance" by Dave Brubeck features an unusual 7/4 time signature. Hand claps and clever percussion rhythms, supported by double bass and piano, were presented in a most entertaining way on the KS1 with plenty of verve and life. I enjoyed it so much I played it again! The whole was presented in a realistic, intimate space.

Andreas Vollenweider's albums featuring his electric harp are always beautifully produced. "Hirzel" from "Book of Roses" begins with the harp backed by a small ensemble. Later on in the track there is a prominent electric guitar solo and a powerful complex accompaniment. The KS1 gave a good account of itself in the simpler part with good imaging and separation but struggled with definition in the more complex section with the stage losing depth and becoming crowded.

Comparisons
BLON BL-01 (single DD)
Like the KS1, the BL-01 has a warm V-shaped tuning with a mid-bass emphasis, recessed mids and average detail retrieval, but a believable natural timbre. In this respect it resembles the earlier, similar-sounding BL-03. The bass has a mid bass emphasis and is slower than that of the KS1 which has a better transient response. The mids are more recessed than the KS1, but the treble on the two is quite similar. The KS1 achieves a much better fit than the BLON which is problematic with its very short nozzles and poor cable, although the build quality is superior. The more even response of the KS1 just nudges it ahead for me.

CVJ CSA (1DD + 1BA)
The CSA has a more neutral tuning than the KS1 and is much brighter in the treble. Bass is sub bass focused with good extension and no bass bleed, the mids are forward with good detail but perhaps not as natural a timbre, and the treble is bright and extended. As a hybrid, it is more accomplished technically than the KS1 and is more immediate in its presentation but is more analytical than musical and therefore may be considered as an alternative rather than a competitor.

KBEAR KS2 (1DD + 1BA)
The KS2 is KBEAR's previous entry-level IEM and is a dual hybrid. It displays a similar strong V signature with powerful basshead-style low end, recessed mids and bright treble. Perhaps its best quality is its large soundstage which is very extensive. It has an unashamedly "fun" tuning, not unlike the KS1 itself, but the KS1 is not as V-shaped and has better timbre with a more even sound profile and is preferable.

Conclusion
The KS1 is an accomplished single DD IEM at a very affordable price. Its V-shaped profile follows the trend in this sector, but its excellent timbre, lively presentation and controlled treble propel it to the head of the pack.

The KS1 enters a crowded marketplace with highly regarded models from KZ, CCA, BLON and others vying for dominance, but it holds its own against the competition. It does have a prominent bass and recessed mids and could benefit from a little more treble extension, better detailing and a more expansive stage, but at this price this is acceptable. It should be on your shortlist if you are looking for a high-achieving entry-level IEM.

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gadgetgod
gadgetgod
I kind of like the simplistic design of these. Great write up mate.

Zerstorer_GOhren

100+ Head-Fier
KB EAR KS 1: Kilo Sierra Uno
Pros: - Affordable IEM for starters.

- Easy to drive on any sources such as smartphone, laptops, tablet, DAPs etc.

- Commendable bassy set.

- Good, clean dynamic tonality.

- No hint of sibilance.

- Light and good fitting seal for isolation.

- Good curve on ear hooks on stock cable as it offer snugly fit behind my ears.

- Recommended for long listening session due to its laid back sound.
Cons: - Somewhat feels cheap due to its glossy polycarbonate shell.

- Lack of spacing on separation on instruments.

- Not for complex multi-instruments tracks as it will sounds congested.

- Lack of airiness on treble due to its limited extension.

- Average revealing on microdetails.

- Typical contents inside that you will find in a budget IEM segment.

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cappuchino

Previously known as sub30
The Next Chi-Fi Legend?
Pros: Well-extended on both ends (bass & treble)
Midrange is natural and lively
Raw “DD” timbre
Detail-retrieval is insane
Comfortable shell and decent quality cable (sans earhook)
Under 20 USD
Cons: Average soundstage, imaging and separation
Aggressively-shaped earhooks
Instances of splash
Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Ms. Mei Liu and KB Ear for sending a review unit of the KS1. Rest assured that my impressions written in this review are my own personal thoughts/opinions and in no way influenced by outside parties.

I am not an expert in this hobby nor claim to be an audiophile. I just love listening to music and am fond of writing articles.


Introduction:

It’s been two years since the community witnessed the legend of the Blon Bl-03. I, personally. have not tried any Blon product as I never got into its looks and didn’t want to endure the “fit” issue. Since then, people have been looking for the next Chi-Fi gamechanger. The KB Ear KS1 - a 17.99 - 18.89 USD, single-DD IEM, available in black or white, that KB Ear released to challenge our preconception of how much you need to spend to “hear” great sound. Exploiting the "new user/buyer" promo can lessen this cost by 3 USD. It is the cheapest KB Ear IEM available in the market right now. Rated at 109 dB of sensitivity and 16 ohms of impedance, these are easy to drive but even a cheap amplifier will slightly improve SQ.

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These were plugged to my iPhone 5s with the SD01 amplifier for the review. OOTB, the bass was overbearing, slow, loose, and wobbly. After a few hours of burn-in, it settled down considerably (if you believe in that). It might have also been the tip size used as I initially put M tips and then switched to S tips. The vent might have been blocked and thus resulting in a slow and loose bass response (increased quantity as well). The KS1 is also source-dependent, sounding overly bassy when plugged to a source that elevates that region.

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Build and Comfort: It looks like a typical plastic shell but there’s a subtle difference. The shell itself is quite thin/sleek compared to the other generic shells I have, and sits flush on your ear. Has a normal-sized metal nozzle that should fit aftermarket tips, so that’s a plus. There are two vents at the front of the IEM – one near the base of the nozzle and the other located at the center. Stock cable quality is good/usable and doesn’t look like it will untangle (L-plug as well). It also has aggressively-shaped earhooks, so it gets uncomfortable after a few hours of use (YMMV).


Now, onto sound:


For this review, the IEM was left in stock mode (tips and all), without mods or “cable changes”

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Bass –
definitely elevated, with a mid-bass emphasis. But the thing is, while I personally do not prefer elevated mid-bass quantity, the KS1’s bass is just so well done. It stays controlled and is very textured. Very engaging as well, having this impact with each strike due to the really good extension. Good bass attack that has a nice decay (not too slow, not too fast) and keeps up with all of my tracks. It has this “body” to it that I can’t explain in words (like consuming, but in a good way). Some might prefer this, others not. The bass quantity on this set might be too much for others as well, as the extension allows for the “shaking” sub-bass rumble.

Midrange – No shouty-ness or graininess. It has this “alive” attribute to it, with vocals being rendered in a full manner, no thinness or hollowness whatsoever. It is also very natural which lets the midrange, particularly the instruments, deliver emotion and weight with each note played. These have the bite that makes you wanna nod your head and thump your feet along with the music. No sibilance whatsoever, as well.

Treble – well-extended. It is elevated but does not pierce. For some tracks, particularly with really, really fast, continuous crash cymbal strikes, there are instances of splash. Due to that extension, it also gives a nice air to the presentation, which is very much welcome given the elevated bass, allowing it to avoid the “congested” or “muddy” sound.


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Timbre –
nothing offensive sounding. I would even say it’s organic, as the presentation sounds very raw, like you’re listening to the song live.

Soundstage – average. It doesn’t sound claustrophobic but it’s not expansive (quite narrow as well). I’d say it’s more of an in-your-head presentation. It lacks a bit of width for me to consider it holographic. But it does have really good depth and instrument layering.

Imaging – does its job. You can easily locate where sound is coming from and panning isn’t blurry at all but it’s not the most “focused” I’ve heard.

Separation – good enough. No matter the track, instruments won’t go over each other.

Detail-retrieval – revealing. This is where it hits the mark. The detail-retrieval is insane. Ride cymbals and toms in particularly have this distinction with each strike, especially when they switch types or where they hit it (subtle changes w/ sound produced). You hear the scratches with each guitar strike as well as when the fingers slide while changing chords. There is also the breath at the end of each line of the vocalists and the imperfection/s with each word spoken. It let me hear detail on songs I thought I knew by heart.

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Conclusion:


It’s still a V-shaped IEM, but it’s the best V-shape I’ve heard. If you want a lively-sounding IEM with nice, rumbling bass (goes deep), raw-sounding, “alive” midrange, extended treble, and the insane detail-retrieval for the price of 17.99 USD (no mic variant), then this one’s for you. It has no weakness whatsoever, other than if you consider it being average on soundstage, imaging and separation a weakness. Who knows, these just might be the next Chi-Fi legend the community has been waiting for, two years ever since the hype of the Blon BL-03.


****If you have other questions/concerns with the IEM mentioned, feel free to message me****

UPDATE: Outclassed by other budget models. Rating brought down.
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cappuchino
cappuchino
Thanks a lot! I can actually see the KS1 getting hyped when others receive their pair (remember to burn-in).
paulwasabii
paulwasabii
Long live the KBLON
A
alamnp
I agreed with your review. I just got KS1 and listening through BTR5, very well executed tuning.
This is as crazy as BL03...
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