KBEAR Diamond i1

General Information

SPECS

Brand: KBEAR
Model name: KBEAR (Diamond) i1
Colour: Space gray with carbon fiber face-plate
Nominal impedance: 16 Ohm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20KHz
Sensitivity: 102 dB/mW
Driver diameter: 8.5mm
Diaphragm material: Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coated PET
Total Harmonic Distortion: <1%
Shell material: Aluminum alloy
Connector: 3.5mm straight jack
Price: $79

Two Head-Fiers assisted with the tuning and accessories selection [pro bono].

ATTENTION: The whole KBEAR Diamond package was assembled to work optimally out of the box. The idea was to avoid "upgrades" that add cost. I, a user, recommend to initially test the Diamond with the stock cable and the black stock tips...as the Diamonds were tuned like this. The drivers are extremely cable sensitive and I don't know why, but you can easily test this yourself. For example, attaching a pure copper cable thickens the sound substantially.

Available now from aliexpress and Tobao.

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Latest reviews

dankthropod

New Head-Fier
Good performer, poor tuning.
Pros: Impressive build quality!
Good cable.
Good for Rock and Metal.
Good isolation
Not harsh nor silbant
Cons: Mainstream tuning
Dark, and lack of sparkle in treble
Recessed vocals
A bit muddy sometimes.
Disclaimer:
1. Take my opinion as a grain of salt, it may vary from yours.
2. I may be wrong
3. I have not tried all the headphones/iems/speakers/dacs/amps/daps in the world.

To be honest this was a kind of blind purchase for me. For you guys to better understand my review, I will explain my music preference and the songs that I used to carry out this review. I enjoy pop-rock from the 70s and 80s mostly, classical music, and classic and experimental jazz. As you can see, vocals are important for me, and a punchy and fast bass for jazz is almost a must.

SONGS USED:
  • Thriller - Michael Jackson
    Very vocal heavy. I love the parts were the eerie voice talks, it really makes some mid-centric headphones shine. Here with the KBEAR diamond I find they were very recessed and lacked the forwardness I was looking for. In fact, they sounded dead, thin and boring, ruining the excitement of such a song.
  • Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
    The bass line from this song is stuck in my head. These IEMs really bring it out, and with the fast driver it uses, It's a pleasure to listen to. That said, the vocals, once again were very recessed. Christie McVie voice sounded thin and difficult to hear over the bass and crashes. Here is were some muddiness starts to slip through the cracks.
  • In My Room - Jacob Collier
    My favourite part about this song is how wide it sounds and how well mastered it is. It was not bad in this IEM, but I would prefer headphones every day.
  • Hip to be square - Huey Lewis and The News
    Same problems that the other 70s and 80s songs from this list.

BUILD QUALITY:
The build quality was fantastic out of the box. It is true that the glass parts are fingerprint magnets, but it isn't very noticeable from afar. They look very elegant on your ears, and the cable was top quality. There is nothing to mod out of the box.

WARNING: The right driver did sound less out of the box, but thankfully it went away. Don't be scared if it happens, it took like a week to fix.

SOUND:
As you can see from the songs list, my problems are mostly with the tuning of this IEM. It is so sad they ruined how it sounds even though it was a good performer. It blends in with most mediocre and mainstream IEMs, and not what I was looking for:

BASS:
Ah the bass, it is something this IEM handles great. It's fast, punchy, detailed, and exciting. Yet there is one big letdown, the amount of it. There is simply too much. Way too much. It ruins the mids, and speak about the devil:

THE MIDS:
For all of you newbies reading this, the mids is where most of the music lives. Everything except the bass, kickdrum and cymbals. Sadly this is were this IEM performs worst. Vocals were recessed and thin, some instruments were muddy because of the mid-bass boost. It was hollow, not rich at all. I guess it would sound good to the mainstream and maybe that is what KBEAR were trying to target, but I would use my arias all day before using this due to the mids. And it was squashed between the bass and the

TREBLE:
They lacked resolution and detail. Even though there was a lot of treble, there was no sparkle. It just sounded... lifeless. I mean it was there, but not what I was expecting from an IEM.

VEREDICT:
It's kind of hit or miss, the may be up your alley or a disappointment. For me, it was the latter. But let me remind you again. This is my opinion, and I am a dumbass. So on that note, goodbye.
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SifatBD

New Head-Fier
KBEar Diamond Review
Pros: Awesome Build Quality
Provides all needed accessories, Cable doesn't require any upgradation
Love it's Bass
Non-Sibilant, Non-Fatigue
Doesn't sound Harsh
Excellent for those who cannot tolerate Treble.
Isolation is too good
Cons: Recessed Vocal
Sometimes Muddy in Mid
Sound separation & imaging is average
Let's get straight forward to the Review without any un-necessary description

Engineering Talk:

The reason behind it's name "Diamond" is it's Driver's material. The KBEar diamond has a DLC or Diamond-Like-Carbon Coated PET Diaphragm .DLC has the rigidity of Diamond and the conductivity of Graphene which is basically a low power consumed isotope of Carbon.

PET or polyethylene terephthalate is a kind of poly film on which the DLC material is coated. The PET mainly works for LOW frequency.
The Processing of DLC is slightly complicated that's why the Diamond cost like 69$ which can be said is accurate.

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Build Quality:

Build quality is up to the mark. It has a gorgeous look. CNC Cut, smooth finishing, true carbon fiber on the faceplate. 8.5mm single Diver inside the earphone.

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I have liked it's color most because Olive and Black are my favourite colors. Slightly weighted like 12gram each but I haven't felt bother for long time use. Shiny copper nozzle which is perfect in size. there are 2 vent. The 1st one near the pin connector and 2nd one is on the nozzle.

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Accessories:

The Carrying pouch is made of PU Leather, Skin is rubbery. The pouch gives a Aristocrat feel.
There are total 7 pairs Ear tips. 2 pairs are made of foam (very wide bore) ad others are made of silicon.
The stock cable is fantastic. 8 core OFC(Oxygen-Free-Copper) 0.78mm Cable provides smooth sound with articulate bass. Tangled free. It is not compulsory to change or upgrade the stock cable but if you wish you can do that.

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Sound Quality:

Bass:


The earphone is made of a single Dynamic Driver which is basically designed for LOWs.The Sound Signature is V-Shaped. The bass is wide and of good depth but not punchy.Power full source can significantly make the bass more broaden.

Sub Bass could be separated from mid bass and it dominates mid bass.
Actually Sub Bass is more clear and articulated.As it is made of DLC driver and the transient response is smooth so the speed of attack and decay was good too.The mid bass was slightly bleeded which make it warmth sounding.
Overall the diamond has good weighted Bass.

Mids:

If you you like vocal then any other things then it is definitely not for you. Male voice slightly recessed but does not fade away under the instrument sound. But it does not have any problem if the voice slow. Female voices were muddy in some songs.Tonally accurate, The guitar and Strings sounds good.
It's mids is different from most of the Asian Sound signature.

Treble:

The upper mids start to increase and continues till about 4.5 kHz.
The sound is crunched here, does not get harsh. less sibilance is present in this earphone. Because the frequency which is liable for sibilance was decaying which is a positive thing for many people. That's why it does not sound fatigue.
The added energy at 8.5khz (pierce) and 12.5khz which gives some air. Extension was missing. It is a good success in Highs for those who could not tolerate the treble or sibilance.

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Soundstage/Imaging
Instrument sound and voice come together Coherency. The sounds coming from upper sides/central side cannot be separated , so it is not for gaming obviously

Isolation:
I will not like to say anything about it , I will give 10/10 in this matter.

Conclusion:

The KBEAR Diamond is value for the money.
There aren't any complain about the Build/accessories/Cable. Vocal could be more fuller, Separation could be more better.
Non Sibilant, Non-Fatigue, Excellent in Bass. Accurate Timbre and tonality is great.It has perfect fit for most of the users and has great isolation.
If you like Rock , Metal, or instrumental songs ,not a fan of vocal based song, love a lot of bass then this is definitely for you .

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WAON303
WAON303
I was lucky to find a used unit at Amazon for 30ish.

Bass texture is quite good but the overall tuning is too V-shaped for my taste.

Not a bad IEM overall, accessories are excellent for the price.

kmmbd

500+ Head-Fier
In the Rough
Pros: Fantastic build quality
- Well accessorized
- Good sub-bass rumble and extension with above-average speed
- Smooth midrange
- Non-fatiguing tonality
Cons: Can exhibit a bit of driver flex
- Recessed lower-mids
- Lacks sparkle and extension in treble
- Can be too dark for some
- Average staging and imaging
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This review originally appeared on my blog.

Letting other people tune your earphones is quite a bold move.

This particular tendency, however, is in vogue lately and I won’t necessarily call it a bad thing. Other than having yet another shouty sham or treble trash-can, why not let the (experienced) users find the “right” sound for a change?

Solid idea, and the buyers shall be the judge of the execution.

KBEar took the decision to allow user-input/feedback into the tuning decisions of the KBEar diamond, their highest-end single-dynamic offering. While I did briefly audition their two previous earphones: the F1 and Hi7, those failed to spark any awe whatsoever. Will the Diamond, with that blingy name, break that trend? Let’s find out.


Note: the ratings given will be subjective to the price tier. Le Yoo was kind enough to send out the review unit of the Diamond. Disclaimer

Sources used: Yulong Canary, Questyle QP1R, Cayin N6 II, LG G7
Price, while reviewed: $70. Can be bought from
AK Audio Store (unaffiliated)

Build:
I’ve already covered the builds, accessories, and packaging comprehensively in the initial unboxing/first impressions video. Check it out for further details:



To reiterate, the build quality is superb. The dense greenish metal shells coupled with the glass-back/carbon-fiber inlay and the shiny copper nozzle give these a very steampunk vibe. I adore this look but at the same time it might be polarizing for some. The 2-pin connectors are recessed and the nozzle length is adequate with a lip that keeps the tips in place. Due to the dual vents driver-flex isn’t an issue.
5/5

Accessories:
The accessory set is rather fleshed-out. You get total of 7 pairs of eartips (5 pairs of silicone +2 pairs of foam ) and a rather nice carrying case. The 2-pin SPC cable, while being tangle-prone, is rather soft, easy to manipulate and the memory wire is quite malleable.

The PU leather carrying case has plenty of room and is quite a looker but unfortunately this particular design isn’t practical if you prefer carrying earphones inside your jeans pockets. The unsightly bulge (no pun intended) will surely look… awkward.

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One thing to note is that it’s best to use wide-bore tips with these IEMs as narrow-bore tips tended to make them too dark in the treble. Stock tips have a wide-bore so you’re all set.
4.5/5

Comfort:
Despite the dense housings, these are quite comfortable once you get the right tips on (I am using JVC Spiraldots). They don’t outright disappear into your ears, but they aren’t as intrusive as their bulk might make you believe. Isolation is also above-average despite the two vents so commuting is on the cards.
4.5/5

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Now, onto the sound.

This is a single dynamic-driver setup (8.5mm), with the PET driver diaphragm being coated with a Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) layer. This particular diaphragm technology usually offers very fast transient response, and KBEar Diamond definitely displays that. The overall speed of the driver is very unique in this range (for a single-DD driver that is) as typical CNT (carbon nanotube) drivers don’t have the same speed.

The general sound signature is V-shaped, with the sub-bass focused bass boost contrary to the usual mid-bass bump, a recessed lower-mids and a rather dark treble response that lacks extension in the upper-treble region. This results in a bit of unique presentation in this price bracket: a V-shaped IEM that’s not spiky in the lower treble.

Lows: Definitely the standout aspect of the KBEar Diamond is its bass response. The sub-bass focus over mid-bass basically gives this 2.1 subwoofer-esque feel to the overall signature where the sub-bass feels separated from the rest of the sound. It’s not necessarily a coherency issue, more like a psychoacoustical phenomenon that arises due to the ~40Hz peak in the bass region. Do note that this is with wide-bore tips. If you use a narrow bore tip e.g. Final E-type, the mid-bass also gets a bump but that’s more destructive than constructive as it bleeds into the midrange and generally gives the sensation of uncontrolled bass.

This bass response can definitely be divisive, but on genres that focus on deep bass rumble the Diamond delivers in spades. Tracks like Siamese Youth’s Nariyah Thanei sound sensational with sudden bass drops being perfectly portrayed. Bass speed is commendable as well, and definitely blows past most single-dynamic earphones in this range. John Mayer’s Clarity showcases this, esp the first 1:20 seconds of the track. Bass is articulate with great texturization of instruments.

The issue lies with the under-emphasized mid-bass vs the sub-bass. Snare hits, when accompanied by an underline sub-bass line, lacks the weight you’d expect from a V-shape tuning. In isolation though, they sound really good, case in point: the opening 40 seconds of Godsmack’s Straight out of Line. This is the only reason why I won’t categorize these as bass-head dream, but they get quite close indeed.
4/5

Mids:
Owing to a lack of mid-bass bleed into the lower mids, and a rather steeply recessed lower-midrange, the male vocals sound distant. They don’t really sound thin per se, but they lack the fullness you’d expect if you’re coming from a more neutral/reference earphones/headphones. Take Johnny Cash’s Hurt for example. The lowest octaves of the virtuoso’s voice isn’t perceptible, and that does take away somewhat from the presentation. This mostly occurs in baritone vocals or deep death growls (for metalheads), and typical Pop/Rock vocals are mostly fine.

The upper-mid, fortunately, isn’t subdued at all and has a pretty significant boost to bring back some clarity in the midrange. This doesn’t lead to any shoutiness rather mostly helps in reproducing the upper-harmonics for string instruments (check out the guitar strumming on Daniel Cavanagh’s The Exorcist to have a feel for this). Female vocals are also less distant as a result, though again the lower-octave vocals lack the fullness you’d expect.

Overall midrange tonality is relaxed and smooth, without any harsh peaks and the timbre is quite accurate. The lack of depth in some instruments and vocals is what robs it off of perfection.
4/5

Treble:
Laid back — in two words. There is absolutely no treble peak whatsoever and it’s rather refreshing to find in this range. Unfortunately, I think the downward slope is a bit too steep from 3KHz onwards, and should have taken a slower downturn. The sudden drop is very noticeable from 6KHz onwards, and this results in cymbals abruptly fading away into nothingness. On Breaking Benjamin’s The Diary of Jane the cymbals are rather muted, failing to reproduce the raw and aggressive nature of the track. The upper treble extension is also negligible and definitely the weakest point of this IEM.

Despite all that, I don’t mind this non-offensive treble response given it’s better to have slightly muted treble response than a grating/harsh one. However, if you need treble sparkle, the KBEar Diamond won’t be for you.
3/5

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Note: the following two sections may have varying perceptions for each individual due to a number of factors e.g. pyschoacoustics, insertion depth, ambient noise etc.

Soundstage: While the soundstage height and depth on the KBEar Diamond can be categorized as average to above-average, the soundstage width is definitely below average. Voices and instruments float just around the periphery of the earphones, so you don’t get an out-of-head soundstage. Nothing to write home about, really.
3.5/5

Imaging:
Lateral imaging is good, with a really good left/right separation. Where the imaging falls apart is the ordinal imaging, that is top-left/top-right and such directions aren’t portrayed well at all. The central image is also hazy, thus centered-vocals seem to come from the same distance and position despite their position relative to the instruments in the original mastering. Again, just average even when compared to cheaper IEMs.
3/5

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Bang-for-buck: When it comes to overall price-to-performance ratio, the Diamond is in a good position I’d say. The dark treble response shouldn’t distract from the stunning build, good accessories and a generally safe tuning that will cater to those who likes a dose of bass boost without sacrificing midrange tonality or timbre. You’re also getting the speed of DLC driver at $70, and it’s also a great option for treble-averse listeners and one of few such options in the price bracket.
4/5

Source and Amping:
The KBEar Diamond, with 102 dB/mW @ 16 ohms sensitivity, is rather easy to drive. The impedance curve is also fairly linear, so pairing with higher output-impedance sources won’t result in a disaster. In short: very much a plug-and-play with little need for dedicated sources.

Select Comparisons

vs
Tin T4 ($80–$100): The sound signature is polar opposite. Tin T4 aims for a bright, analytical signature whereas the KBEar Diamond goes for a dark, bassy, smooth rendition.

The build quality and general Quality Control is miles better on the KBEar Diamond. The T4 has several Quality Control issues that shouldn’t be swept under the radar. I ended up returning mine due to the wobbly mmcx connector. Comfort is also markedly better on the Diamond without the odd fit of the T4.

In terms of bass response, the T4 bass is more coherent with a mild mid-bass boost and mostly linear sub-bass response. The Diamond’s bass reaches deep however with visceral sub-bass impact. As for the mid-range, the T4 has a cold mid-range that can get shouty rather easily. While the male vocals on T4 is more up-front than the KBEar Diamond, its tendency to get grating and harsh can be problematic. String instruments do have more bite and energy on the T4 so I’d say they are more suited to acoustic genres.

The treble response is where my contention lies with both of them. The T4 is a bit too bright, and the Diamond is a bit too dark. Soundstage feels closed in on both of them, and while central imaging is better on the T4, overall it’s nothing too special either.

Yin and Yang. Choose you side.

vs Final E3000 (~$60): Speaking of relaxing, dark-ish earphones, the Final E3000 is one of those IEMs that caught be off-guard. I got them mostly for review, and planned to give them away as a gift once the review was done. In the end I liked them way too much and now they are my EDC (everyday carry).

In terms of overall build: I’d hand it to the KBEar Diamond. E3000 lacks a detachable cable and the stock cable is flimsy. However, comfort is even better on the E3000 as they just disappear into your ears thanks to the barrel-type shape and excellent Final E-type tips.

When it comes to the sound, both of them have a relaxing signature. The E3000 doesn’t sound as dark as the Diamond however thanks to its greater lower-treble emphasis and more extension in the upper-treble region. The sub-bass is definitely more rolled off on the E3000 vs the Diamond, but the midrange has much more body to it resulting in great male/female vocal reproduction. I’d even call the E3000 the midrange specialists in the <$100 price-bracket since their mid-range rendition and overall instrument separation is excellent.

Soundstage and imaging is also significantly better on the Final IEM, and all these results in a more engaging listen on the E3000 compared to the KBEar Diamond. However, if you prefer more bass emphasis and is wary of the build quality of the E3000, the Diamond will be more up to the task.

vs Moondrop Starfield ($109): The Starfield costs slightly more than the Diamond and is often touted as the default recommendation in the $100 price bracket. I tend to agree with that statement, but the Diamond have a few cards up its own sleeves.

The build and accessories, again, goes to the Diamond. The Starfield’s paint chips off if you don’t handle them with care, and the stock cable is awful. Diamond fares much better in this regard. I’d say comfort is mostly similar on both of these IEMs though I find the Starfield a tad more comfortable.

Sub-bass, again, is more pronounced on the Diamond. Starfield has more focus on the mid-bass and lacks the rumble that the Diamond can produce. The midrange is rendered better on the Starfield I’d say, along with the treble. Soundstage and imaging is also better on the Moondrop offering, though the difference is not as stark as it was against the Final E3000.

If you have the budget for either of them, I’d recommend the Starfield between these as they align more to my own tastes and generally sound more balanced. However, do take into account the ~$30 extra price, and add to that the cost of a third-party cable. You’re basically paying 50% of the price of the Diamond to make the Starfield up to the task, so there’s that.

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Conclusion

KBEar has come a long way with the release of the Diamond. The build quality belies the price-tag, the accessories are great and won’t likely require additional purchases. The tuning is inoffensive, and caters to an audience that many ignore nowadays: the treble-averse listener who won’t mind a beefy sub-bass. Most importantly, it ditches the ever-so-popular lower-treble peaks that most manufacturers go for these days and I’d definitely chalk that up as a positive.

Unfortunately, I am just not convinced that this particular tuning will garner many fans. It lacks the immediate clarity that many look for while auditioning IEMs, and that’s something a more pronounced lower-treble would’ve fixed. However, it will reward the long-term listener and will likely grow on you with time. The smooth midrange is especially soothing, though I wish it had a fuller lower-mid since most of my playlist is with male vocals. Also, the soundstage and imaging isn’t as good as I hoped them to be.

Thus, we end up with a mostly well-rounded rough gem that just needs the last bit of polish to attain budget-perfection, or a version of it at least.

Overall rating: 3.5/5
Recommended, conditionally (if you’re treble averse and don’t mind bass)

https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/04350ebe-1582-4785-9984-ff050d80d2b7
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Comments

F700

Headphoneus Supremus
It looks exactly as a cheaper BQEYZ Spring 1... Odd...or not
Ok, I thought they were pretty similar... You are one of the "tuner" for the Diamond, right? How would you shortly describe their differences in terms of SQ?
 

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
It looks exactly as a cheaper BQEYZ Spring 1... Odd...or not
Both have an excellent midrange and midrange resolution ad are very similar in this respect. The BQEYZ has a very wooly bass which I personally don't like and always have to get used to. If it had a tighter bass, it would be a stellar earphone. The Diamond has a fast bass for a single DD and a very natural timbre. Its bass is a bit stronger as I would find optimal, but it was very difficult to tweak it exactly to our liking. If you have the Spring 1, you don't need the Diamond (too similar)...it would not be an upgrade but a side grade.
 

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
Looking forward to see how these compare to the Tin T4.
Actually, from what I read, the T4 are leaner sounding. One of my co-bloggers will have access to both. What I am looking forward to see how the folks like these. I think they are stellar, but I am probably biased -- and I am a DD guy.
 

Speed King

New Head-Fier
Looking forward to see how these compare to the Tin T4.
Just by looking at the graph I would say that the i1 would probably have more bass and expecially subbass than the T4.
However in my opinion graphs says very little about the real sound of an iem, you have to put it into your ears and start to compare.
 

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
Looking forward to see how these compare to the Tin T4.
Yes! And this graph says particularly little as the speedy driver compensates for the graphical shortcomings. I also checked a beta with less bass, but this doesn't work universally...maybe ok for classical but not for rock. Not that less bass boosts the perceived upper midrange, it just produces less depth of the image.
 

Speed King

New Head-Fier
Looking forward to see how these compare to the Tin T4.
I don't prioritize bass as something essential to me as it would be for others, however, if you present me something well controlled, even if boosted, I'm gonna prefer that kind to of bass to a less impactful and authoritative one.
 

Otto Motor

Headphoneus Supremus
Looking forward to see how these compare to the Tin T4.
I am very sensitive to bass: not too pounding, not too weak...this one is a tad too strong but the speed compensates for it...it doesn't get fatiguing to my ears. One of my evaluation criteria of an earphone is HOW FREQUENTLY I use it. Right now, all my eartime is split between the Blon BL-03, JVC HA-FDX1 (arguably the best single DD on the market), and the Diamond. This makes reviewing difficult when you have to spend time with iems that are not your personal choice.
 

eantala

100+ Head-Fier
I been away from the site for a long while...but my I have 2 full size headphones Focal Utopia and Senn HD800(for classical) if you want to know where I'm coming from.

I recently started getting back into things and got the Blon 03 which is just crazy performance, for the price. Intrigued I wanted to try something with a similar tonality but with more transparency and airy highs. I just got these KBear Diamonds yesterday. These things deliver the goods period, when you factor in price its compelling.
The fit and finish on these is really good, they look and feel high end, lover the carbon fiber.
The cable is very nice as well. But the sound, its just fantastic very full and punchy, but yet still smooth but still a ton of transparency. They had all the details without sound bright, sibilant or ever sounding hard or harsh. The sound signature of these is right in congruence with my preferences, the tuning is ideal and there isn nothing I feel lacking that that I would want to change on these.
I remember years ago having some iem's like the Earsonic SM3 , Westone umx3, etc but I find these KBear Diamond to be so much better for a fraction of the price.
I haven't bought audio related stuff in a while but want to thank Otto and KopiOkaya I had read their work in tuning this when I decided to pick it up, still stunned how good these are!
 
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