KBEAR Diamond i1 - Reviews
Pros: Balanced, highly detailed and natural timbre, well built, easy fit, great accessories.
Cons: Gets lost in a crowded field. The TRI I3 is worth the upgrade for KB Ear/TRI products.
Disclaimer: I received this pair directly from KB Ear’s Ali store in exchange for posting a review. This is my first review set ever and my first formal review. Thanks to Wendy at KB Ear for the offer. I consider this to be a mini review for my own sanity. I burned these in for ~220+ hours before listening for the purposes of this review.

Executive Summary: A great single DD in a crowded field with stiff competition, it is worth a look, but given some of the other products out there, I can only say that it is a very good performer and not a world beater.

Overview: The Diamond is an 8.2mm Single Dynamic Driver IEM with a Diamond Like Coating on the driver (DLC). It is currently priced around $75-80 US on most sites. At this price, it comes with excellent accessories that are quite impressive in the price bracket. I have bypassed the included 2 pin 3.5mm cable in lieu of needing a 4.4mm cable for accurate comparisons with my gear (using a similar FAAEL 4 core OFC Cable terminated to 4.4mm Balanced). I’ve also bypassed the included tips in favor of my go to tips, Large KZ Starlines. Both the aftermarket cable and tips work perfectly. Overall build quality is very nice and fit is very good. They are average/small size and do not protrude out significantly from my ears. I believe this would make this pair particularly good for those who want to wear these while laying with their head on the side of a pillow.
Testing Equipment Used:
Primary: Hiby R6 Pro. Secondary: Schiit Magni 3+, Cayin N3.
Music: My standard mix of mostly Indie, Electronic, Rock, Alternative, Shoegazer and Chillwave. I did not test with Rap or Country, as per usual. My files are a combination of mostly 320kbps MP3’s and FLAC files.

Overall Sound impressions:
Overall, the Diamond presents a delicately styled, mild V-shaped sound that is quite pleasant and not in need of any tweaking to sound good (versus the FAAEL Hibiscus for instance). By today’s standard I would actually call these pretty balanced compared to many sets in this price range. Bass is well extended, tight and on the fast side (versus Rumbly/slower). The bass is tuned, to my hearing, as to not bleed into the mids or cover up any detail. Mids are pleasantly located right in the middle between recessed and forward. Some people state this as meaning that you sound like you’re a couple of rows back in the audience of a show (Sure, why not?)…. I don’t find these to be as V-shaped as others have stated, certainly not to the extent of something like the TRN V90 or KZ ZSX. The mids have nice presence without sounding too thin (many V-shaped tunings make the mids too thin, they are “delicate” here) and the Timbre is VERY natural, and nearing the level of planar mids. Treble is good in terms of extension, there is not a whole lot of sparkle, but there also is not harshness or sibilance that I detect when not using EQ/DSP. Detail is very good, and on par with the best in this price range. These DLC drivers seem to excel at detail compared to other types of DD’s. The bass doesn’t overwhelm as is often the case in this price range for single DD and Hybrid sets. The staging aspects are good. They present good stereo separation and an average to slightly above average soundstage that sounds relatively wide. Imaging is a step below planar imaging and multi-BA setups, but “good for the price” and good by comparison to other Single DD’s.

Select Comparisons:
Blon BL-03 (Single DD, because it’s become so ubiquitous, for cheaper)
The Blon has deeper, slower bass that has more rumble. The Diamond is tighter, punchier and has better definition. The blon has very recessed vocals versus the “Middle of the road” vocals/mids of the Diamond. The blon appears to have a deep, but exaggerated soundstage due to this, while the Diamond sounds much more natural and has better attack/decay than the Blons so that it possesses an overall more pleasant, natural timbre and sound where the soundstage is noticeably wider than it is deep. The Diamond is smoother in the treble than the Blons. The build, fit, finish and accessories are all much better on the Diamond.
Gun to the head, pick 1 only Winner? Easy choice, the Diamond.

FAAEL Hibiscus (DLC Single DD for slightly cheaper)
The Hibiscus is a, similar in theory, DLC coated DD available for about $50. The most positive thing I can say about the Hibiscus is that the driver shows a lot of promise if you’re willing to EQ/DSP your way to an acceptable sound. Otherwise it is in every way inferior to the Diamond and the out of the box tuning is very bad. It sounds thin, incoherent spatially, bloated, and tinny all at the same time. The diamond is a far more polished product that can be plugged, connected to a source, turned on and will sound good. The FAAEL Hibiscus, when property EQ/DSP’ed, can sound a lot like the Diamond, but that’s as high of praise as it will get, as well as it does come with a nice-ish cable (which I’ve since ordered several variations of).

Gun to the head, pick 1 only Winner? Easy Choice, the Diamond.

NiceHCK NX7 Pro (2DD/4BA/Piezo Hybrid around the same price to slightly more expensive)
I threw this in just to make a point. I believe the detail retrieval on this single DD (DLC) set is as good as this multi driver set. Switching back and forth with my preferred settings, I don’t hear anything on the NX7 Pro that I don’t hear on the Diamond and vice versa. Bass is slightly more to my liking on the NX7 Pro given the Dual DD’s and slower tuning which extends deeper and provides more rumble. However, overall, I prefer the more natural timbre and coherence of the Diamond, as well as it having an actual soundstage. The NX7 Pro is brighter with any filter…. My biggest negative of the NX7 Pro is that there is really no soundstage to speak of. If they fix that, they’d be a much better set...
Gun to the head, pick 1 only Winner? The Diamond.

BQEYZ BQ3 (Hybrid Dual DD/3BA around the same price to slightly cheaper)
This is where things get fun. The BQ3 has exceptionally deep bass with good rumble. The tuning is a little on the slower side but the bass is an order of magnitude stronger on the BQ3 than on the Diamond (and most sets). The BQ3 has very smooth mids, but they still sound a little thin in comparison to the more natural sounding Diamond. The BQ3 has a lot of treble sparkle without sounding harsh, which is a difficult feat. The Diamond has nice, steady, average treble that isn’t as lush as the BQ3. Soundstage wise they are both good, but different. The BQ3 sounds vast and expansive, whereas the Diamond sounds more realistic and natural. Both sound precise in terms of imaging, the BQ3 just sounds very Vivid and sparkly compared to the more natural sound of the Diamond. These are two very different sets. Many like the BQ3 for EDM, and I can definitely see why. They’re very vivid and Euphoric sounding, kind of like listening to music on mind altering substances without those said substances….
Gun to the head, pick 1 only Winner? Tough one…. Personally, BQ3 because of the bass. I think most would like the Diamond for its more balanced signature and faster bass but both are worth owning. It has the more “crowd pleasing” tuning.

Urbanfun YBF ISSO14 (10 mm Single Beryllium DD, slightly cheaper)
This is a good set to illustrate how the Diamond is a relatively mild V-shaped tuning. The bass on the ISSO14 is as strong, if not stronger, than the BQ3 but with better speed. Both the Diamond and ISSO14 are great indicators of what a Single DD can do and how a Beryllium coated driver and DLC driver have slightly different timbre’s. They are tuned differently, with the ISSO14 having a huge bass bias that will bleed and cover up some detail in other frequencies. The ISSO14 is surprisingly well refined and a good competitor to the Diamond.

Gun to the head, pick 1 only Winner? ISSO14 because I am a basshead, but beware different versions and QC issues (which supposedly have been fixed…)

Comparisons I’d like to make but can’t because I don’t own them. TFZ No. 3, Moodrop Starfield, Tin T4, Dunu DM480, Shozy Form 1.1.

I can say I would take this pair over my beloved TFZ King Pro.
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Pros: Refined & Sturdy Aluminium Shell
- Fun V-shaped Tuning
- Bass Boost without sacrificing the other parts
- Various accessories included
Cons: Heavy Housing
- A bit limited in resolution
Sound Review by Mikan
Disclaimer: KBEAR has graciously provided us with this sample unit in exchange for an honest review. The views discussed below are a reflection of Project A3's thoughts surrounding the product. The sample has been run-in for at least 50 hours prior to reviewing in order to achieve an accurate representation of the product.

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Introduction:
Originated from Shenzhen, KB-Ear Audio is a new entry of the highly competitive Chinese head-fi market. After quickly firing different models with different configurations, Tri i3 has been successfully attracting people to pay attention to their products, and treat them as a brand with high potential in the community.

The Diamond is the first attempt of single DD earphone which they have ever released. Equipped with an 8.5mm DLC-coated dynamic driver, and priced as US$79, it would be such a great opportunity to showcase the tuning ability of the brand. Available at KB Ear on Aliexpress.

Specification:
  • ·8.5MM PET DYNAMIC DRIVER WITH DIAMOND-LIKE CARBON COATING
  • ·FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20-20KHZ · SPL: 102DB
  • ·IMPEDANCE: 16 OHMS
  • ·SAGE GREEN ALUMINIUM ALLOY WITH CARBON FIBRE FACE PLATE
  • ·TWO PINS 0.78MM PLUGS AND SUPPORT CABLE REPLACEMENT
  • ·4 CORE SILVER-COATED COPPER CABLES

Gear Used & Tracklist:
iPhone 6s | Topping DX3 Pro

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Unboxing:
KB Ear Diamond comes with a rectangle box with premium look. The earphones, two sets of sponge eartips, a pleather case and instruction manuals are seen right after unboxing. The cable and other silicon eartips are included in the pleather case.

Overall, a pleasant unboxing experience, given that other products with the similar price range comes with less accessories.

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Scalability:
Since I am both owning a mobile device with limited output power and a desktop amp which could drive over-ear earphones pretty easily, it is easy to listen if the equipment is power-hungry or not. Based on that, it is confident to say that the IEM performs quite well in different output power, thanks to the 16 ohms impedance that makes it easy to drive. However, the extra bit of the lower subbass could only be heard with the desktop DAC, so feeding a better source to the buds can definitely help it to shine.

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Fit:
At the first look and touch of the shell, it is a very sturdy aluminium shell processed with nicely-done CNC. Because of the aluminium shell is quite thick, it is heavier than the IEMs with resin shell which I own, and during my listening session with prolonged wear, several drops out from the ear were experienced. Although there are drops, I have not experienced any discomfort during the session.

Also, the isolation of Diamond is above-average, thanks to the sturdy shell. It blocks outside noise effectively.

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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
Utada Hikaru & Skrillex – Face My Fears
The DD IEMs can thump the chest pretty easily when it is drove by the desktop DACs. The similar effect could be achieved when driving with portable devices in a less perceptible way. The bass from Face My Fears & Feed are reproduced with lots of impact without being muddy from leaking the bass to lower mids.


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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
Blur – Go Out
My Little Airport – Reason of Being Lonely
Mika – Live Today​

The diamond has amazed me during the first impression of how well tuned the mids are, and it still continues to amaze me. Unlike multiple-drivers earphones, notably V90 and AS16 I have listened, both guitar and vocals, which mainly reside in the mids, sound natural and not boxy at all with the Diamond. Even though some emphasises from mids are lost due to the bass & treble boost with the V-shaped signature that tuned the earphones, it does not sound hollow nor opaque at all.


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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
SOPHIE – Lemonade
Tokyo Incidents – Ride Every Wave
Both tracks some vital parts in treble, and the equipment is required to present them well to make it shine. It is safe to say that the Diamond performs decently and exceeded my expectations. The cymbals and hihats in Ride Every Wave is not leaned back and the impact is spot-on.


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Reference Tracks / Remarks:
Sodagreen – City Trapped by Rain
Most of the basshead IEMs/headphones usually suffered from soundstage presentation with the bass leak into mids, completely ruining the soundstage. This is not the case for KB Ear Diamond, since the precaution is done with tamed higher subbass. With very few bass leaked into mids, the recordings sound clear with moderate soundstage. But then, as there is a lower subbass boost, the presence of bass narrowed the soundstage when compared to that from tracks with only acoustic instruments presented.


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The Diamond is capable of separating instruments from tracks. The vocal is always in the centre of the spotlight, which is also one of the surprises when some of the pricier IEMs encounter difficulties for that essential component to construct the soundstage. Although the separation is a piece of cake for the earphones, the positioning is hindered when complicated tracks are played, a general weakness for single DD IEMs.


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The Diamond is lovely for the tracks with less than pristine production. The flaws from those tracks are not shown clearly as the proportion of lows is more than that of the highs. It is even way more enjoyable when the diamond is paired with EDM tracks, where the main element for those songs – bass is fun and not yet overbloated.


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Because of the fun tuning which the Diamond is adopting, there is not any higher subbass leak into the mids. As a result, the vocals do not sound nasal at all. Moreover, the lead vocal for tracks, which is usually mixed in mono, always stays in the centre of the head, which is surprising accurate in terms of translating mixes. But then, the treble boost of the IEMs may resulted in some sibliance when the vocal has not been done any proper treatments.


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The Diamond excels at maxing out the joy of EDM tracks with its superb bass articulation. Meanwhile, it is also capable to be an all-rounder as the midrange and treble do not sound hollow or too dark at all. However, due to the recessed lower midrange again, the synthesiser and electric guitar is somehow recessed, and the emphasis could not brought to its full potential.


Comparison Chart
How we compare:
We chose other similarly priced earphones or similar offerings from the same brand that Project A3 has reviewed in the past, to ensure that we remain as impartial as possible in our comparisons.
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Conclusion:
From the shouty tuned Hi7 to this very competent Diamond, it shows the passion and the ability of the brand to produce engaging and mature IEMs. The Diamond is the revolutionary product for the brand itself, and it would now be my go-to recommendation for budget bassheads who do not want to miss any details from the recordings.

Be sure to follow Project A3 on Facebook for more reviews*.

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*All ratings are accurate as of date of publication. Changes in price, newer models may affect Project A3's views on the performance and value of the reviewed product.
Pros: Excellent timbre and tonality
Transient response
Great musicality
Superb build quality
Nice cable
Accessories and presentation
Cons: Nothing of note
Perhaps chin slider could be a little larger
KBEAR’s Diamond is the latest product from the company and is a single dynamic driver model featuring a diaphragm coated with DLC, or Diamond-Like Carbon. Seen recently in models such as the Moondrop Starfield and KXXS, it promises a fast response with low distortion. Carbon diaphragms are trending right now with CNT (Carbon Nanotube) technology also popular. The diaphragm diameter is 8.5mm.


The Diamond is very well made, being crafted from CNC machined aluminium finished in an attractive sage green hue, with a carbon fibre faceplate emblazoned with a gold KBEAR logo. The gold-coloured nozzles are of high quality with a silver grille. There is a small pinhole vent at the base of the nozzle and another on the side of the earpiece adjacent to the channel identification. The earpieces are smoothly contoured and have a bit of heft to them, but are very comfortable. The build quality is excellent, matching or even exceeding that of the TRI i4 and Tin Hi-fi T3. The interface is 2 pin and the supplied cable is also of very high quality, being a silver-plated type with a loose 8-core braid. It is very supple and fits very well over the ear. The plug, Y-split and chin slider are all metal with a black anodised finish. The chin slider could have usefully been a little larger, as it tended to get caught on the cable. The packaging is sumptuous and comprehensive, presented in a black rectangular box inside which you will find:


* KBEAR Diamond IEMs


* 8 core silver-plated cable and velcro cable tie.


* 3 sets of grey silicon tips with red bore S, M, L.


* 3 sets of black wide bore silicon tips S, M, L.


* 2 sets of foam tips, 1 white, 1 black.


* Faux pigskin case with magnetic closure.


* Instruction manual.


One of the nicest presentations I have seen.


The IEMs were left burning in for 100 hours to settle down the components, after which they were evaluated using an Xduoo X20 DAP connected via line out to a Fiio A5 headphone amplifier. I used the stock cable. I did try the medium size of the supplied black wide bore tips, but I found that I obtained a wider soundstage and a more natural overall balance with Spiral Dots (size M). The evaluation was carried out in this configuration.


The immediate impression of the Diamond was very positive, with excellent timbre across the frequency range. Bass was firm, well-textured and powerful, with good extension. Sub-bass had plenty of impact and mid-bass was somewhat elevated but nicely contoured, not colouring the midrage adversely. Treble was airy and well-extended with plenty of sparkle and excellent detail retrieval. The overall profile was mildly U-shaped with midrange climbing gradually towards the boundary with the treble and not being overly recessed. I would describe the tonality as “natural” with a little extra warmth.


Bass


Initially rather heavy and ponderous in the bass, after a lengthy burn-in, the Diamond really began to show its quality. The authentic timbre had a vinyl-like quality, which came to the fore in Brian and Roger Eno’s “Deep Saffron” from the album “Mixing Colours”. The deep sonorities and ambient atmospheres in this piece were very impressive. Equally impressive was “Another Land” from “Paradox by Davol. This is a moody synthesiser piece featuring deep bass tones and the Diamond displayed superb power and transient attack, while at the same time preserving the atmospheric nature of the piece with the reverb effects extremely well portrayed. Classical music also impressed, with orchestral bass drum demonstrating power and depth with authentic decay. The second movement, “Conflict”, from Roy Harris’s Symphony No.6 showed immediacy and brutality, with the drum possessing amazing impact. This recording, by Keith Clark with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, was a perfect demonstration piece for the Diamond.


Midrange


The midrange had a wonderfully natural timbre and was rich in detail. There was a little emphasis in the lower mids from the elevated mid-bass but this added warmth and character and an attractive “bloom” rather than endowing it with an unnatural quality.


Cellos and pianos are excellent instruments for gauging the quality of the midrange. Benny Andersson’s “Jag Hor” from his album “Piano” is a good example. The beautiful melody was portrayed with a very natural piano tone, with the harmonic decay well-rendered which added a live feel to the piece. Dynamic shading was also excellent here. David Arkenstone and Kostia’s “The Cello’s Song” similarly displayed the Diamond’s ability to accurately depict acoustic instruments with an authentic timbre. The sweeping orchestral arrangement and soaring cello melody thrilled and impressed in equal measure. Vocals, too were reproduced beautifully. Chris Izaak’s “Wicked Game” and Clannad’s “Newgrange” respectively showcased the Diamond’s handling of male and female vocals, being clear and well-defined and preserving the character of the voices very well.


Treble


The Diamond’s treble was clean, well-detailed and open, with good extension and free of peaks, possessing a “silky” quality which was very appealing and resulted in a very relaxing presentation. This attractive musicality came to the fore in Vaughan Williams’s “The Lark Ascending” in a beautiful recording by the Sinfonia of London conducted by John Barbirolli. Hugh Bean’s wonderful solo performance is a classic and the Diamond’s rendition did not disappoint, with all the delicacy of the violin figuring being projected beautifully and the emotion of the piece coming over in its entirety. The high synthesiser accompaniment to Richard Burmer’s “Across the View” was as clear as I have heard so far, with extra details and ambient effects adding to the feeling of the piece. The upper frequencies were nicely integrated with the whole, a consequence of using a full-range driver.


Soundstage


Staging on the Diamond possessed good width, depth and height, with good imaging, enabling the listener to pinpoint the location of instruments. Classical music benefited from this, with the solo flute in Stuart Mitchell’s “Mausoleum at Halicarnassus” placed precisely in the centre of the image and supported by strings and percussion laid out impressively within the recording venue. The sense of distance in the timpani strikes at the conclusion of the piece was very noticeable. This three-dimensional effect was strikingly reproduced in “I am a Camera” by The Buggles, with synthesisers, reverb effects and vocals all combining to create a holographic staging with the vocals appearing to emanate from a great distance, set against foreboding synth chords.


Conclusion


The Diamond is, without doubt, the best release so far from KBEAR, with superb sound quality, impressive build and attractive presentation and packaging. Single dynamic drivers with carbon technology are popular now, and the Diamond has a very natural tonality which contrasts with the Tin Hi-fi T4, which has a neutral-bright delivery and superb detail retrieval, but occasionally can feel a little thin, and the BLON BL-03 which has a prominent mid-bass and can be over-warm, even allowing for its excellent lush midrange, but which also falls short a little on the detail front. The Diamond treads a middle line between these and offers the best of both worlds. It has an authentic and accurate timbre and tonality, good detail and an attractive musicality, which, after extended listening, becomes more and more appreciated. As a result, the Diamond has now risen to #1 spot in my ever-expanding collection of IEMs.
I received this item at a substantial discount from Sunny at Better Audio US, via Amazon USA.
Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B083TMN2YM/

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Otto Motor
Otto Motor
Nice slate!
Nimweth
Nimweth
Illumidata, thanks. I always write from a musical perspective, because, after all, that's what this hobby is all about!
I
IEManiac
Tempted. I haven't gotten an new IEM in a few days, the hands are tremblin', the ears they be twitchin' for the next fix...
Pros: Smooth cohesive sound, Bass quality, Realist Tonality, Nice female vocal, Big Soundstage, Transparent timbre, Above average resolution, Excellent construction, Excellent cable
Cons: Thin overall mid range, lack of highs sparkle-decay
KBEAR DIAMOND REVIEW

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SOUND: 8.5/10
CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN: 9/10
PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES: 9/10
VALUE: 9/10
If I have one word to describe the young Chinese earphones company call KBEAR, it would be Perseverance.

In about one year, they go from an unknown company to a very visible and talked about brand. The fact they use multiple influencers and even are an official Headfi sponsor sure has something to do with the widespread visibility they earn, but this is just one side of their Perseverance. They seriously work hard to create iem that will stand apart in the overcrowded Chi-Fi market, and even if I seriously doubt about their tuning experience before, I think the experience they accumulate with numerous ‘’hit and miss’’ experience of the past has begun to pay off.

The DIAMOND I will review today is proof that collaborating with diversify tuners can lead to something special.

At 80$, the DIAMOND fall in the sub-100$ market where competition is extremely high, but as it’s a single dynamic driver earphone, this might help him to be considered among best offerings in its price range.

Disclaimer: As I know ”Otto Motor” headfier and, to less extend, Kopi Okaya which are both the DIAMOND tuners, my curiosity was sure triggered to know what their work sounds like. As a big fan of DLC dynamic driver too, I need to try those Diamond and accept happily to be part of reviewers. I have no affiliation with nobody and don’t consider myself as a promoter, hyper or active influencer.


INTERN

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The DIAMOND uses a Diamond-like carbon-coated diaphragm (DLC) dynamic driver, which is known for its fast transient response potential that permits a higher level of clarity and transparency. As well, the housing body is made of thick coated aluminum, which diminish unwanted resonance and distortion. Other earphones using DLC drivers are Moondrop Kanas, KXX and Starfield as well as FAAEAL Hibiscus, JVC HA FD02 and other more expensive iems.

PACKAGING

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KBEAR has come a long way since their first earphones packaging which was just a little box with minimal accessories. The DIAMOND product presentation is very nice. The black box is nice and thick, the earphones are well showed at the side of beautifully packed leather carrying case. The case is of excellent quality and have a distinctive look. One of the highlights is the excellent silver-plated copper cable that is included too. As well, you have a generous of ear tips including 6 pairs of silicone and 2 pairs of memory foams. For the price, the accessories and packaging are more than enough.

CONSTRUCTION

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These don’t look like sub-100$ earphones at all and again, Kbear surpasses themself with the craftsmanship of these beautiful earphones. The DIAMOND are thick, heavy and glossy. They don’t look fragile at all and even the carbon-fiber back plate of the housing doesn’t look prompt to easy scratch. In hand, they are smooth without sharp asperity. Construction is all metal apart from the backplate. 2Pin connector is tightly embedded inside the body without any space, which proves high attention to detail of assembling. The nozzle is long and has the right angle to fit properly the ears.


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CABLE too have excellent construction which is very rare in the sub-100$ market. This choice is surely a costly one which inflicts on the final price and perhaps suggests a low-profit approach. This 8 cores braided silver-plated copper cable is super soft, free of any microphonic, have a well functioning metal slider, metal 2pin connector and high-quality metal jack with gold plated end. In fact, this cable might be among my favorite 2pin cable of my collection.

COMFORT

The DIAMOND is very comfortable for my big ears, but very small ears might find them too large and thick. These are thought to be used over ears with ear hook cable to keep the stability of position, and as they are a little heavy, I don’t think its a good idea to use cable without ear hook. Anyway, the housing design with its angled long nozzle is well done and most of its weight tends to push inside your ears. I never encounter long term discomfort with the DIAMOND nor I feel they can fall from my ears.


DRIVEABILITY


At 16ohm of impedance and 102db of sensitivity, the Diamond are relatively easy to drive but can benefit from good amping source. Due to slightly low sensitivity, I feel you can get the best out of them with either a powerful DAP or portable AMP.


ISOLATION


The DIAMOND cut outside noise quite a lot, offering higher than average isolation. This is surely due to its thick metal housing. For noise leakage, it’s similar to must iem with venting hole, the DIAMOND having one just above its housing do create some minimal sound leakage that can distract sleeping bats or meditating cats.

SOUND

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The Diamonds have a vast, airy, well-balanced sound with an emphasis on the bass, high mid and delicate and scintillating highs. This kind of sound is easy to appreciate, its timbre being silky and transparent, its spaciousness quite precise without falling into artificiality. Yes, I admit that these are the only headphones I have tested from the Chinese company KB Ear which offers a mature, refined and highly musical tuning.


SOUNDSTAGE is quite impressively wide and out of your head, it’s above-average too in deepness and tallness for a single dynamic.


IMAGING is okay, not phenomenally accurate or precise but for not too busy this isn’t an issue and will even feel enough holographic. Still, when the tracks became overly busy, layers of sound begin to struggle for proper definition.


TONALITY is a hint bright and dry, but smooth and quite realist too. Balance is cohesive as well.


TIMBRE is transparent, softly textured and with a little thickness to it that permits to avoid sounding thin.


The BASS, without being particularly flexible and elastic, extends well and offer a fleshy and transparent presence, especially in the section of the low mids which are notably emphasized. This is not to say that we have a sharp, fast and energetic bass, in fact, it is quite relaxed and lacks a bit of control. Indeed, it tends to slide on the lower mediums which are already a little distant. What we have above all is the weight in the presence, which becomes evident with the rendering of the cello, the kick which is thick but soft in its attack and particularly toms which have a well-defined roundness although a shortened echo. The extension to the extreme low lacks a bit of freedom and seems to cut before 20HZ. Despite everything, the almost liquid rendering, round in its heaviness, and anything but too restrained, gives a layer of fun to an otherwise calm sound.


The MIDS has a soft timbre and beautiful transparency, their presence flows naturally with the rest of the instruments, giving a central cohesion to the sound. Free from aggressive sibilance, the tone is realistic even if the tone is thin and minimally textured, grain-free, and tenderly defined. Without being too hot to the point of lacking in resolution, the midrange, especially the lower mid, can sound a bit tamed, lacking in liveliness and energy to make musicality come alive. This is best understood with the male vocals, the saxophone, the acoustic guitar or the piano which sometimes lacks weight in the impact and texture in the presence. On the other hand, the female vocals have more presence and an emphasis on the high mids which energetically push them forward. The transparency of the timbre allows a good definition of the different layers of sounds. We aren’t in thick, warm, lush sound here, more in the slightly bright, smooth and transparent territory.


The HIGHS are a little behind compared to the high-mids, but that does not affect the resolution so much, rather the sound texture in general. Most treble energy came from low and mids-highs, which give extra snap to violin and acoustic guitar, but do not dig for micro details and can make some highs range percussions sound little thin and too metallic. DIAMOND isn’t for the treble head, but I don’t feel them sounding overly dark at all. Still, I feel tonal balance is negatively affect by treble tuning, which feels overly roll-off in the upper end compared to the bass and lower treble boost.

COMPARAISONS

VS MOONDROP STARFIELD (110$)
These two iem are rather similar in sound signature, but less so in tonal balance and timbre. The STARFIELD offer thicker, fuller and more natural timbre while the DIAMOND is more transparent and airy. SOUNDSTAGE are very similar with both but slightly wider with the Diamond. IMAGIN too is a hint sharper with Diamond. BASS is more controlled and extends naturally to its bottom end with the STARFIELD while the DIAMOND is a little more punchy and boomy, with thinner timbre and hint of dryness. MIDS is fuller, has more presence and natural timbre with the STARFIELD, the DIAMOND mids are thinner as well as little more shouty and edgy, this can be good for instrument attack in this range but affect tonal balance negatively. TREBLE sound again fuller and more life-like with the STARFIELD, but lack extra sparkle and decay that add air to DIAMOND presentation. Still, highs sound little more artificial with a hint of metallic brilliance compared to perfectly balanced STARFIELD.


All in all, STARFIELD is pricier and offer a more balanced, natural and refined tuning that enlight DIAMOND micro-imperfection.


VS DUNU DM-480 (80$)
The DUNU is brighter and more energic sounding than the DIAMOND, but this isn’t good news. SOUNDSTAGE is smaller and lack the airy feel of DIAMOND, making IMAGING too intimate in separation proximity, as well, layering isn’t particularly transparent. BASS is slightly faster and more punchy than DIAMOND but more boomy and grainy too, lacking again in natural extension wich Diamond does better. MIDS is notably more bright and aggressive and sounds more artificial than smoother DIAMOND. TREBLE is again harsher, more shouty and less delicate and airy than DIAMOND. It digs more micro-details but throw it at you in an unrefined way.


All in all, DIAMOND sound from another league here, offering better tonal balance, technicalites and more natural timbre as well as vaster soundstage.

CONCLUSION

P1050196

KBEAR DIAMOND stands apart from all other Kbear earphones, as if everything else was just clumsy experiment from another mediocre hit or miss Chi-Fi company similar to KZ and TRN.


What is even more impressive, is the fact they achieve fuller, more balanced and refined sound with only one great single dynamic driver. One might think it’s easier to tune a single driver, but it isn’t true, it’s easier to throw multiple balanced armature drivers so it does the tuning job for you by covering precisely different frequencies range section. In they end though, the sound is less cohesive and can even be disastrous without right implementation, which is rarely done in the sub-100$ price range (you will not found a sound tube in KZ and must TRN multi-BA’s or hybrid iem).


Sure, the DIAMOND is not perfect, but it’s meticulously tuned to deliver a cohesive musicality and in this the price range, we can’t really ask for me.


Not only the sound is smooth, transparent, lively and well-articulated, but the bass has beautiful slam, mids are clear and highs are delicate without harshness. As well, this level of quality of construction and accessories is exceptional for its price.


If you search for something more balanced and transparent than the BLON BL-03 or with a faster transient response than MOONDROP STARFIELD, the KBEAR DIAMOND earns the special place of being one of the best value dynamic earphones you can find under 150$.
Pros: Superior packaging compared to competition
Superior machining, stock cable and ear tips compared to competition
Amazing fit
Good technical capabilities (keeps up with fast material)
Good soundstage for an IEM, especially v-shaped
Bass not overly slow for a V
Cons: Overly v-shaped in my book, which detracts from timbre as the 1Khz region is overly recessed
Could have a bit more sparkle in the highs
KB Ear Diamond review

Context : when I first saw the Frequency response curve of the Diamond, before its actual launch, I expressed my disappointment regarding the elevated bass on head-fi, and Otto from https://www.audioreviews.org/ instead of taking offense, contacted me to arrange a sample sent to me in exchange for a review, stating that he was pretty sure I’d like it anyway.

I accepted, so the disclaimer is that I got this IEM for free, but in no way does it affect my opinion. I have not watched or read any review of this IEM so far to avoid external influence.

The Diamond is a single dynamic driver, with diamond-like carbon coating applied on the membrane, and measures at 16 ohms.

Let’s start with the non-audio stuff : the packaging is quite substantial, and a good surprise. While not looking as premium as say, Moondrop offerings, it certainly looks way above what KZ or TRN provide.



We get some foam tips I won’t comment on, because I can’t put this material in my ear canals, 2 sets of short wide-bore ear-tips, a good-looking, and rather pleasing cable (maybe slightly rubbery feeling if I’m being picky) and a very nice leathery carry case, all arranged in a spacious box.

The shells themselves feel very solid and well-machined. While not a fan of carbon on anything but windsurf masts or formula ones, it really doesn’t look overly “need-for-speedy” on the final product as I was afraid of, and the metal part is a nice grey, not the greeny tint that was on the mockup, looks better in reality. The nozzles are very well machined, and well grooved so the ear-tips are locked in place and don’t slip.



Next comes what is probably the best part about this IEM : the fit. A-ma-zing. As I didn’t find rolling ear-tips to make much of a difference (tried the stock ones, various spin-fits, and TRN stock tips), I settled with the short stock ones, and the diamond sits flush and is incredibly comfortable for me, to the point it’s a pleasure to wear. I’m not exaggerating.

That being out of the way, let’s move on to the audio part.

Here I’m more reserved. As I suspected, this IEM has too much bass for me. While the bass is not particularly slow, it’s not super fast either, and it sounds overall soft and lacks some punch in my book. This is obviously due to the exaggerated v-shape tuning. Too much has been detracted from a flat response and it sounds like a band-pass filter was applied. The Diamond doesn't sound very natural to me, frequency and timbre wise.

This is especially apparent for jazz, jazz kicks are often subdued and need good attack retrieval to be heard clearly, while the walking bass often takes the lead. It’s missing here. Timbre wise, while I’ve heard other IEMs perform worse on double-bass rendition, it’s nothing to rejoice about either. Details of strings attack especially, are missing entirely, due to the 1khz region being so recessed. It does perform ok for slow vocal stuff but won’t be your best choice for a bebop trio session.

However on rock and folk music, where the kickdrum is much more forward, it comes rather nicely together. Jeff Buckley, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, all plays nice with a coherent bass / battery rendition, lively, warm but not overly so. I suspect it was tuned with this type of music in mind.

There’s a bit of bass bleed into mids, but it’s not a problem for me, I actually like it for Rock. Low mids are otherwise not very present, and high mids are more prominent which can cause a bit of fatigue at higher volume, but enhance nicely female voices and guitar solos. It remains a v-shape which is not my preference, but should work quite well for the average western ear.

Trebles are quite inoffensive with good speed and detail retrieval, reasonable extension and an overall airy feeling that helps a lot with the sense of space this IEM provides. Despite having only 2 small vent holes, it sounds quite spacious to me with a good soundstage and avoids the “congested” feeling that many chinese IEMs share.

Testing was conducted with a mix of DSD and flac files, on a Redmi Note 7, a Zishan DSD pro, a Ziku HD-X9 and on PC with a Hidizs Sonata HD.

Comparisons :
Vs Tin T2
The Tin is as flat as it gets on budget, and is imho the superior iem if one is after that type of sound and can cope with the highs. The KBEAR will take the lead for those who love their V and generally a warmer and less bright tuning.

VS Moondrop Kanas Pro Edition
I feel the KBEAR missed the mark of what I'd hope it to be, a more affordable KPE contender. While the KBEAR is ok timbre wise, its v-shape and overly elevated bass recess the very frequencies that makes acoustic music so much more natural and lively, like the sound of fingers sliding on strings, which the KPE retains. The KPE also has more sparkle in the highs, at a frequency that never gets tiring for me, adding to the enjoyment. The KPE remains my favorite non-flat but musical IEM by far.

VS Blon BL-03
I don't own this one anymore, because it could not keep up with fast bebop tracks, but I remember it well and can say it sounded less capable than the KBEAR on fast material, quickly losing cohesion, but better timbre-wise because of the FR. I'd chose the Diamond over the BL-03 because an iem that can't play fast tracks well is a deal-breaker for me, and the Diamond is competent in that domain.

Conclusion :
The Diamond is a well machined, very pleasing to wear IEM which unfortunately was tuned too aggressively on the V side to allow what single dynamic drivers usually excel at, timbre, to shine in direct comparison to some of its competition. While a clear upgrade in my book from the KZ ZS10 pro and the likes timbre, soundstage and imaging-wise for those who like their V, it probably won’t suit those like me, who prefer a more linear frequency response, or a U at most.

Nontheless, tuning is a personal matter, but the packaging, machining and quality of the complete kit is impressive and one more step in the right direction for Chi-Fi.
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DarkZenith
DarkZenith
Very clear, very informative. Thank you.
baskingshark
baskingshark
Nice review. I had an issue with the overly prominent midbass hump initially. After tiprolling around 10+ different tips, I found that wider bore and shorter bore tips (eg tenmark whirlwinds) decreased the midbass and made the tuning less V shaped and more balanced. I'm a basshead and prefer elevated bass any day, but with these tips, the sound is much better IMO. I think eartips are an extremely important part of an IEM and can make or break it.
Otto Motor
Otto Motor
I'll try the Azla SednaEarfit short.
Pros: - Attractive, comfortable design - Well-rounded sound signature
Cons: - Redundant accessories - Excessive mid-bass - Some issues with construction
Greetings,

Today we're checking out the Diamond from KBEAR.

KBEAR is fairly new to the scene but has already established themselves as a major player in the crowded sea of Chinese brands that have swarmed the market in recent years. Competitive pricing, quality designs, and reliable tuning are the name of the game for this brand with most of their releases being well-received within the community. The Diamond is somewhat unique in that it's tuning was the result of feedback from a prominent tuner of products from TRN, as well as a reviewer/tuner/enthusiast from within the Head-fi community. This last point is exactly why I was interested in checking out the Diamond, and asked the KBEAR rep Wendy for the opportunity to review it.

So, how is the Diamond? If you're reading this on Head-fi, you'll already have an idea from the score and Pros/Cons sections. If reading elsewhere, continue on.

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What I Hear Single dynamic earphones were common in the budget realms a few years ago. Like, really common. Anything else was cause for chatter because it was new and interesting, be that a dual dynamic, single armature, or hybrid. While there are still plenty of single dynamics out there and that various prices that retain an engaging sound with various genres, like the JVC HA-FXH30, Hifiman RE2000, CA Atlas, Dunu Titan 1, Hypersense HEX02, and pretty much anything from TFZ, they're not as common as they once were. That seems to be changing with single dynamics making a comeback, and the Diamond is a very competent one.

Treble is rolled off with a small lower treble peak making it easy to listen to over long periods and fairly detailed. However, I found minute details somewhat smoothed over. While I found the Diamond lacking energy and presence in the brilliance region at first, upon comparing with others, it was less a case of a lack of presence, and more a case of the exuberant mid-bass pulling attention. This makes it feel as if the Diamond lacks upper treble counter, leaving the presentation somewhat dull. Another side effect is staging feeling somewhat small and confined. Control is also somewhat lacking leaving effects and instruments sounding slightly loose and splashy. On the plus side, notes hit with a snappy attack, decaying realistically. I'm really not a fan of the Diamond's treble presentation, even if it isn't bad.

The midrange is well weighted with an appropriate thickness, and to my ears finds a nice balance of warmth and clarity. Timbre is mostly accurate, though instruments take on a slightly lighter sound than they should to my ear. Better than most in the price range either way. Male and female vocals are both well represented. Male vocals have more presence despite losing coherence on extremely bassy tracks, while female vocals show more warmth and in my opinion sound more pleasing, more consistently. I am quite impressed with the complete lack of sibilance. Even tracks like Aesop Rock's “Blood Sandwich” and The Crystal Method's “Grace (feat LeAnn Rimes)”, are almost free of it, despite it being prominent in the recordings. I've also seen the word “shouty” being tossed around to describe the Diamond's mids. To that I say, what the fudge? To each their own I guess...

Bass is a very prominent aspect of the Diamond's sound. There is lots of mid-bass with excellent sub-bass extension and presence. Texture is good and notes are well controlled, if not a touch slow on decay. I'm really not hearing the super quick driver others have described. Despite the average perception of speed, consecutive, rapid bass notes are not muddied and remain well defined. Mid-bass basically carries every track due to it's prominence. It's nearly always present and underpins whatever is going on with it's rumbly, sub-woofer-like presentation. Cool, but it does over-stay it's welcome at times.

As noted earlier, the Diamond sounds small and confined. Sounds rarely breach the edge of your head space. Counter to early impressions where I tested only with music, imaging is above-average with sounds transferring channel to channel with a pleasing level of precision. I've really been enjoying the Diamond with gaming as a result. Big bass and good imaging is a nice combo. Layering and separation are also good too, though I'm hearing more width than depth which means the Diamond can handle truly chaotic tracks, just not as well as some others.

Overall, the Diamond is a quality sounding earphone. For my tastes I would like less mid-bass, but as is the Diamond makes for a good listen. This tuning works better outdoors and in noisy environments than in quiet areas ripe for critical listening. Makes sense given it is a budget friendly iem with a v-shaped tune for the masses, and not a top of the line, open-back, neutrally tuned headphone. Good stuff.

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Compared to a Peer (volumes matched with Dayton Audio iMM-6)

Dunu DM-480 (69 USD): Starting with the low end, the Diamond is warmer and bassier with notably more mid-bass presence and similar sub-bass depth and grunt. This gives it a thicker, heavier sound, with a slower response to quick basslines. The DM-480's bass is more textured and detailed. DM-480's mids are notably more forward (upper particularly), more lean and cold, and to my ears better suited to male vocalists. Upper mids are more boosted and display mild sibilance which is not present in the Diamond. Diamond's timbre is more accurate with the DM-480 sounding somewhat metallic and artificial in comparison. DM-480 has more lower treble presence giving it a more detailed presentation, but the lack of upper treble just adds to the somewhat dry presentation. The Diamond has more upper treble presence and sparkle. Despite this, it doesn't do anything to reduce the sound stage edge of the DM-480 which sounds wider and deeper with added space between notes and instruments. Imaging is equally pleasing on them both, with the DM-480 having a negligible edge in in terms of layering and separation.

The DM-480 is more balanced and technically impressive, but gives up timbre quality and realism to the Diamond. These two qualities, in addition to a complete lack of sibilance, means the Diamond gets my vote.

In terms of build and comfort, the DM-480 is smaller, lighter, isolates better, is more comfortable, and has better fit and finish. Both look fantastic. The Diamond's cable is certainly the more premium of the two, however, and the two-pin setup KB EAR went with provides better protection from bends.

TinHifi T4 (79-119 USD): Bass out of the T4 is notably less prominent, but slightly more impressive in my opinion. Like the Diamond it hits low notes with ease, but holds back the mid-bass and dials up the texture and speed. The T4's driver gives off the impression of being exceptionally light and nimble, and feels like it runs circles around the Diamond when it comes to complex passages. That said, I can see the more weighty, thumpy presentation of the Diamond finding more fans because it's a straight up more fun way to tune a low end. The T4's mids are smoother and more refined. Upper and lower balance is improved benefiting both male and female vocals. Clarity is also a step up. Lastly, in my opinion, timbre also sounds more natural out of the T4. I was very surprised to find the T4 had less upper treble energy than the Diamond, with lower treble being similarly emphasized. Normally that would put the Diamond right into my preference crosshairs, but the midbass ends up being too distracting. The T4 also has better note control and is free of the slight splashiness present in the Diamond. Lastly, sound stage sits firmly in the T4's favour with it being much more spacious all around. However, it has vague imaging with limited channel to channel differentiation that doesn't hold a candle to the Diamond. Layering and separation are more in line though.

The T4 is definitely my preferred listen of the two thanks to it's more balanced tune and all the extra detail it provides. Can't help but be disappointed by the imaging though which the Diamond does much, much better.

In terms of build, the T4 is smaller, lighter, doesn't isolate as well, is less comfortable, and has better fit and finish. I think the Diamond has a more appealing design though, and feels like the more premium product. A big part of that is the cable. The T4's cable sucks. It is sticky, bouncy, and the loose braid is sloppy and gives the impression of cost cutting. Very similar to the P1's cable, but worse due to the stickiness. Bleh...

Moondrop Starfield (109 USD): I don't think there is much point in comparing these two because to my ears one clearly stands above the other, but people keep doing it so I'll toss my hat into the ring as well.

Bass on the Diamond is slower, digs deeper (Starfield seems to roll off slighly), and is more prominent, but the sheer presence of the midbass overwhelm. Bass out of the Diamond lacks the texture and nuance of the Starfield. Starfield also has more punch and authority to notes. The Starfield's midrange is more forward and more even in terms of upper and lower balance so male and female vocals sound more evenly represented. Timbre is similarly good with the Starfield having a very slight edge. Treble out of the Starfield is more detailed and better controlled (i.e splash free) though the brilliance region could use a boost to put it more in line with the Diamond's presentation. The Diamond's sound stage lacks the width of the Starfield's, but isn't too far off in terms of depth. Imaging, layering, and separation are all in Moondrop's backyard though, all of which are some of the best I've experienced in a sub-200 USD earphone.

The Starfield's improved detail and technical ability combined with a more balanced signature (still u-shaped though) has me picking it up over the Diamond every time, and listening for much longer periods.

In terms of build, the Starfield has a much neater, more interesting paint job and imo is one of the coolest looking iems around. Fit of the component parts goes to the Diamond though, since seams on the Starfield are much more noticeable. Comfort and isolation are just very slightly better with the Starfield for me, with foam tips making it pretty much a wash. When it comes to the cable, as much as I love the Diamond's I am a huge fan of thin and light braided cables. The Starfield's certainly lacks the durability factor but it stays out of the way and I quite enjoy it. Most will probably prefer the Diamond's cable though.

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In The Ear The Diamond looks and feels like a premium earphone thanks to it's weighty metal shells with gold accented nozzles, carbon fibre face plates, and an appropriately meaty braided, silver-plated copper cable.

When it comes to build quality, the Diamond is good, and more or less on par with what I have come to expect from metal shelled earphones above 50 USD. Fit and finish of the component parts is satisfactory with tight seams, a coherent design, and a snug 2-pin port that provides a secure fit for the cable, though there are a few details that were overlooked. First is that the carbon fibre face plate cutouts do not fully fill the spaces they're nestled into, so if you look closely there are gaps. You can't feel them thanks to the thick clear coat applied over top, and unless you're looking for them it's unlikely anyone will notice, but they're visible none-the-less. Second is that the paint job around the front edge contains small wrinkles on both ear pieces. Maybe dust got caught underneath. Maybe it's just a poorly applied paint job. Whatever it is, it takes away from the visual appeal somewhat. The metal nozzle is a fairly standard size at 6mm in diameter with a prominent lip. If tip rolling is your jam, you'll feel right at home with the Diamond.

At least the Diamond is very comfortable, more so than I was expecting. When the first few images of the Diamond showed up, I was immediately reminded of the KZ AS06 and AS10 with their half-moon shape which borrowed heavily from 64Audio's designs. KB EARS take certainly looked impressive thanks to a classy colour choice and the carbon fibre face place. In terms of fit, the AS06 and AS10 were fine, but the large size made them somewhat ungainly for those with small ears. I was afraid the Diamond would be the same. Thankfully not the case. It is notably smaller and with a nozzle angle that sits more naturally in the ear. The only thing holding the Diamond back is it's weight which leaves it feeling unsuitable for heavy activity. I found the weight pulling the Diamond out of place when jogging.

Isolation is above average in my experience, at least when compared to other single dynamic earphones. With the stock silicone tips (either style), I had no issues listening at my typically low volumes in noisy areas, like the local coffee shop during peak hours. Tossing on foams tips only made it better. I'd have no issues recommending these for someone who spends a lot of time on their local transit system.

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In The Box KB EAR has done a great job with the Diamond's packaging, coming up with something that looks and feels somewhat premium, isn't overly wasteful, and that does a great job showing off the product the moment you get the lid off.

The box is covered in a textured, matte black material that contrasts nicely with the gold KB EAR branding and logo on the lid. On the sides you find KB EAR's website, and on the back a sticker containing the model information. It's all very simple and subtle, and looks fantastic. Slide the lid off and you find the earpieces, two sets of foams tips, and a smaller cardboard box holding the carrying case, all set within a cardboard coated plastic tray. Simple but effective, as it shows off the product well. Within the carrying case are the rest of the accessories. In all you get:
  • Diamond earphones
  • Braided, silver-plated copper 0.75mm 2-pin cable
  • Faux-leather carrying case
  • 2x foam tips
  • Black single flange silicone tips (M x2 / L)
  • Red-cored single flange silicone tips (S/M/L)
  • Velcro cable tie
Overall a satisfactory accessory kit and a wonderful unboxing experience. Some will complain the money that went towards the case could have been better used elsewhere, but for me the inclusion of a nice case is a win. I will say the tips are redundant. The red-cored set uses a mildly stiffer silicone with dimensions nearly identical to the black tips, and in my experience provides a listening experience with negligible differences. Maybe it was an error, but the Diamond I was sent came with two sets of medium black tips, no small. The black tips are the recommended set according to the tuners, meaning anyone that needs small tips will have to settle with a “lesser” experience as provided by the red-cored tips.

Final Thoughts KB EAR has done a great job with the Diamond. It is tuned with a widely appealing v-shaped sound that for the most part provides a quality experience. Mid-bass is much too abundant for my tastes and the sound stage too confined, but those qualities end up being not as bad as they might sound at first. Material quality is excellent and while small details needed some attending to on my sample (crinkled paint for example), I have no doubt this earphone will take some abuse and last a long time. Part of that is because of the beefy, well-matched cable. In terms of extras, I like the quality case and included tips, but the red-cored set could easily be swapped out for something different (bi-flange maybe?). They provide an experience very similar to the tuners' recommended set (black, single flange) and come across redundant.

Overall a very nice earphone and a great value at 79 USD. These are a crowd pleaser for sure.

- B9Scrambler

*If you enjoyed this review, visit The Contraptionist for more just like it.*

Disclaimer Thanks to Wendy from KB EAR for sending over a sample of the Diamond for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are my subjective opinions based on time spent using the Diamond. They don't represent KB EAR or any other entity. At the time of writing the Diamond retailed for 79.00 USD: www.aliexpress.com/item/4000571010605.html

Specifications
  • Driver: 8.5mm dynamic with DLC coating
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 102dB
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
Devices Used For Testing LG G6, LG Q70, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501, Periodic Audio Nickle, Shanling M0, Hifiman MegaMini

I found the Diamond easy to drive. No amping necessary. It doesn't seem to scale much either. Performance is good out of the box as long as you've got a competent source. Recommended to avoid pairing it with warm sounding devices as they may overexaggerate the Diamond's already boosted midbass.

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark's Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams

Attachments

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B9Scrambler
B9Scrambler
@baskingshark Good suggestion. For my personal listening I actually use them with JVC shallow wide bore tips that come (used to come?) with a lot of their iems, but for the purposes of the review I stuck with stock everything. Might revisit the review at a later date and update with cable and tip comments, but I decided to leave that out for now given how much effort went into picking the right accessories out of the box. The stock kit does a great job and I don't want people thinking they need to spend more right away to make them sound "better".
B9Scrambler
B9Scrambler
Thank you mods ✊
Otto Motor
Otto Motor
Not sure whether each of us has the same sound signature. Biodegraded records 3-4 dB more bass than mine - we use the same rig and our graphs usually match.
Pros: Superb tonal accuracy and balance; natural timbre; fast and deep reaching low end; complete accessories.
Cons: Changeable tuning filters would be an asset.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The KBEAR Diamond is a well-accessorized $79 earphone sporting a fast DLC-coated single dynamic driver that creates a seductive, accurate organic sound above its class.



INTRODUCTION


Trident is KBEAR and KBEAR is Trident. This relatively new company has released only a handful of iems so far, none of which was particularly great. Loomis reviewed their TriAudio T4 and I their KBEAR hi7. The KBEAR hi7 was symptomatic for the current state of the highly competitive budget Chi-Fi industry: prematurely thrown on the market with a low-quality cable that lacked a good MMCX connection, 7 generic drivers that failed to create an acceptably balanced sound, and poorly chosen eartips that didn’t work at all for me. Most of us who had spent $89 on these would have been greatly disappointed.

We clearly learnt from this (and other models) that more (drivers) does not necessarily mean better anything (but higher production cost). In fact, less is more in most aspects of life, and the $79 KBEAR Diamond is a good example of this. As you may already know, co-blogger KopiOkaya and I were asked by the manufacturer to help with the tuning of this single-dynamic-driver (DD) unit. This came also from complaints by western listeners, who found the “Asian signature” too aggressive on their ears (Asian signature refers to a boosted upper midrange that adds energy to guitars and vocals but also attenuates their density). KopiOkaya described this in great detail in this article.

But we two were not only concerned with the sound, we also wanted to help create a complete package with a good case, cable, and fitting eartips to be released at an attractive price. This earphone should work right out of the box and not require any upgrades. We already reported this in an article.



SPECIFICATIONS

Brand: KBEAR
Model name: Diamond
Colour: Space grey 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
Tested at $79

Available at KBEAR Official Store



PHYSICAL THINGS AND USABILITY

We tuners had no influence on the earpieces. They are made of an AL alloy and are as good a quality as you could get. Haptic is very good, the earpieces feel premium between the fingers. And the nozzles are long enough for western ears. We also tested eartips and achieved the best sound with low-cut wide bores (the ones that came with the NiceHCK M6). These are the included black set. The grey-red eartips and the foams did not work for me. The largest of the black stock tips fit my ears well and are comfortable even over longer periods, seal is average.


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The 8-core OFC cable is probably the most premium you find in this class: it is soft and supple and has sturdy 2-pin connectors. Good that the memory wire part is not very stiff, which makes this cable comfortable around my ears. We also made sure it harmonized with the earpieces, sound wise (another OCC cable produced a shouty sound). And we dedicated a nice quality (p)leather case to this earphone. KBEAR complete!


The KBEAR Diamond are well driven by my iPhone SE, but they need a bit more juice than a typical multi-BA iem. I sometimes used the Audioquest Dragonfly dac/amp, which made no significant difference in sound quality.



TONALITY AND TECHNICALITIES

My tonal preference and testing practice

Note: this earphone is extremely cable sensitive. If you want to assess its full potential, you must use the stock cable (that was chosen entirely on sound). Also, of the included tips, use the black ones only. If you want to decrease bass, try Tennmak Whirlwind or SpinFits CP-100 or CP-145 eartips.

The main virtues of the KBEAR Diamond are its fast speed, its organic timbre, and its exquisite resolution (for a DD)…all of which yield a very smooth and homogenous sound. Because of the speed of the DLC-coated driver, the frequency-response curve is not reliably indicative of sound. The bass appears a bit strong on the graph, but this is partially offset/diffused by its speed. Yes, the sound is a tad on the bassy side imo (though others will demand even more bass), but the bass is articulate, fast (for a DD), and focused. The extension into the sub-bass is very good, and it stays focussed right to the lowest end. This low end adds a nice depth to the sound image and does not veil the midrange. It enhances the volume of rhythm guitars and male vocals. Vocals, male and female, are very well sculptured, dense, and natural. And although they are back on the graph, they don’t appear back sonically (or, for sticklers: not far back), again owing to the relatively tight bass.


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Frequency response, measured by KopiOkaya with an IEC711 coupler.


The midrange is clear, smooth, with a good note weight, and well resolving (for a DD), better than the 5 BA TRN BA5, for example. The Diamonds can handle busy instrumentations well. Again, this is the result of the fast DLC-coated driver. I always see the most money in the midrange and this one is very good.

The treble is reasonably well extended, also very well resolving, and the imaging of high notes is very accurate, without being piercing or fatiguing. No sibilance, no hardness. I listened to violin concertos with very high notes, which were crisp and clear.

As to the technicalities: I perceive the width of soundstage as average at best, but it is deep and the ceiling is very high. Resolution and note definition, as alluded to before, are outstanding. Timbre is exquisite. In summary, it is tonal accuracy and tonal balance that make this earphone.




COMPARISONS


My personal DD reference is the $250 JVC HA-FDX1, arguably the best single DD earphone on the market. The JVC is smoother and better resolving with a wider soundstage that has a lower ceiling. The added smoothness stems from damping inside its tuning filters. The KBEAR Diamond are a bit grittier, bassier, but they are equally organic sounding.

The most obvious candidate in the price range is the $109 Moondrop Starfield. This is another single DD earphone but it has a Carbon Nanotube (CNT) coating [the coating types are explained HERE]. The Diamond have a bit more note weight and play a bit more relaxed, they are warmer in the midrange and therefore not quite as clear but less prone to fatigue at higher volumes. The Starfield have the midrange signature of the Kanas Pro Edition: lean, clear, clean, neutral, and a bit upper midrange forward. Bass and treble responses are broadly similar between these models. Which one sounds better? Depends on your taste: crisp or smooth? But the KBEAR Diamond are cheaper and better accessoried. Although none of the two would be an upgrade over the other I am happy to be able to enjoy both. My review of the Moondrop Starfield will be published soon. KopiOkaya compared the Diamond with the recently discontinued Moondrop Kanas Pro Edition in this article.

Another crowdpleaser and one of personal favourites because of there organic sound are the $38 Blon BL-03 with their CNT dynamic driver. The KBEAR Diamond has a faster bass and a better resolution. It is the better earphone and a true upgrade. KopiOkaya wrote down his thoughts and the Blon BL-03 vs. the Diamond in this article.


Sennheiser released their new flagship in-ear monitor the $600 IE 500 PRO in 2019 — and we, co-blogger Biodegraded and I, had a good look at it. The Senns have a congested low end that stems from an omitted midrange. They are tuned poorly and do not reach the imaging qualities of the KBEAR Diamond.



CONCLUDING REMARKS

The KBEAR Diamond is an example of how a well-thought out earphone design can work universally for both Asian and Western ears alike. It also shows what can be done with the single DD technology at a budget or mid-tear price — and that more drivers does not mean better sound. I hope that this model will be offered for a long time and not discontinued for the next short-lived superficial hype. After all, less is still more. Thank you for following KopiOkaya’s and my adventure of cutting this raw Diamond — on the blog and Head-Fi. I have enjoyed the Diamond daily for over three months now. ‘Nuff said.

Keep on listening!

This review was originally posted at https://audioreviews.org




DISCLAIMER

I received two betas and two alphas of the KBEAR Diamond (and a handful of cables) unsolicited and with the request to help with the tuning. Neither KopiOkaya (the other tuner) or I received any compensation (monetary or products) or royalties. All we did was strive for an excellent product to please ourselves as potential average buyers following our many disappointments with half-baked Chi-Fi earphones. We also took this opportunity to learn in order to inform you even more qualified in the future. Last but not least am I grateful for the trust the manufacturer gave me after ripping some of their previous models apart – and for good reasons. But I don’t sugarcoat.

My generic standard disclaimer.
Pros: Solid alloy metal housing, good set of accessories and a magnet lid quality hard case, good matching cable, Good technicalities, imaging and detail. Fast beefy bass with good amount of rumble. Scales to higher end cables and amping. Non fatiguing slightly warm tonality.
Cons: Average isolation, included foams are medium only, Treble slightly reserved with a quick decay causing treble tone to be a bit inconsistent. Lacks some shimmer and sparkle.
KB Ear Diamond
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Thanks goes out to Wendi Li of KB Ear for providing a sample of the Diamond for review. KB Ear site is reached here. Purchasing the Diamond is done here. I have zero affiliation with KB Ear and the sample was provided for my honest take on the earphones.

Carbon based dynamic drivers are not a new thing in fact it seems when one company comes out with an earphone with such coatings being used for a dynamic driver, everyone has to get on board. It is no longer hip to have a standard dynamic as it once was prevalent among sub $100 earphones even 3 years ago. It is all about the hybrid in ears and it seems the traditional single dynamic earphone is making somewhat of a come back. But with the caveat that new dynamics earphones must have some type of coating or thin film of some type.Which all claim to give the standard dynamic in ear something special.

My experience with carbon based dynamics goes back to the year 2012 when I bought my first carbon nanotube dynamic earphone being the JVC FX40. Still own a pair and hearing that phone even today has some great technicalities for incorporating a single carbon nanotube dynamic. Today the carbon based dynamic is alive in the form of the KB Ear Diamond. Using a DLC or Diamond like coating PET single dynamic driver in the Diamond. I took the offer to do this review with great interest as I have an understanding of how good these types of dynamic earphones could be.
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Having the driver that can cover the entire sound spectrum is one thing but tuning the sound to to have some musicality is another. I think KB Ear has such an earphone that injects one part technical and another part foot tapping sound all thrown out using a modern version of the classic dynamic with good technicalities speed and a full ranged sound.
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The diamond is build to last. The aluminum alloy CNC machined housing of the Diamond is very welcomed among a sea of all plastic builds that are prevalent among Chi Fi earphones now a days. Hows about good old fashioned alloy metal to house that nice driver. The shells do have some weight but nothing that is actually heavy in the ear. Solid is the word the comes to mind on the housing. Size of the housing is a smaller/ medium in size with a medium sized angled nozzle.
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Accessories are actually done well here. The Diamond comes with KB Ears rectangular magnetic closing pouch engraved with their signature. I am a huge fan of the magnetic lid pouch. It actually has room for the earphones and the cable. Something as simple as a pouch that you can carry around your earphones with is a better throw in vs the zip up cases imo. Zip ups are ok but zippers tend to not work over time so something like this pouch is a better utilized accessory. 2 sets of medium foams and 2 sets of silicone tips are included which round out what you get.
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Diamonds cable is also worth mentioning as the included cable is actually a good solid 8 core SPC cable that I was told was used to help tune the earphones. The cable is a soft, pliable good looking 2 pin .78mm cables. This is the type of cable that should be the norm and not something we have to buy on top of an in ear purchase. So props goes to the package designers of the Diamond.


Now onto the sound.
Sources used: Ibasso DX160, Shanling M5s, Shanling M3s, Sony ZX300,Fiio E12a,IFI Black label

Tuning of the Diamond has a Harmonish based tuning with enhancements for mid bass and upper mids lower treble. Some may call this a U shaped Fr but for music to have some power to have some spunk a neutral flat sound this is not. Sound stage is wider than it is deep which gives a good sense of immersion giving off an average oval type sound stage.

Lower Frequency has a healthy dose of mid bass and here is where I will suggest some burn in for the Diamonds. I did notice out of the box a very strong mid bass emphasis. I love me some bass but it was clearly a bass first iem on open listen which was a bit surprising. After a week of burn in the bass tightens and as a result pushes the mid bands forward a bit and that makes a big difference to my ears. Bass has good speed for being emphasized which is a result of the diamond coated driver. Agile full natured and speedy makes for the perfect double kick drums for metal. Excellent low end punch and sub bass rumble for hip hop and pop music. Sounds great for Jazz bass lines. Bass is enthusiastic but stays away from overshadowing the mid bands.

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Lower mids show a more neutral tonality and in emphasis, mids especially after burn in shows a good amount of layering and detail and while mids could use a bit more forwardness. Due to the clarity in the region does not lack in separation and detail. Upper mids show the steady rise as harmon curves do in the 3Khz range which gives good timbre presence to the mids. The dips in the 7khz and 12Khz regions makes sure there is absolutely zero sharp or grainy tone of any type. Which in return makes the Diamond overall sound slightly smoother and a bit relaxed. SPC cable was a good idea matching up with the sonic tonality of the Diamond. Mids overall has a slightly warm yet even in tone while a bit relaxed in approach. Is for the most part done well showing good clarity and imaging in the region.

Treble here is where I feel it could have done just a bit better. The meat of the treble has most emphasis at about 5Khz than lower shelf in the 8Khz to 9Khz then dips toward the 12khz range. Treble has decent definition and extension which is adequate but lacks a touch of sparkle and air. The quick treble decay adds to a more crisp quick type of treble which in turn is non fatiguing. Synthetic EDM tracks come full bore due to the lower treble emphasis but tracks with rhythmic delicate high pitched treble is barely heard at times due to the big dips in the treble ranges. The benefit of the design is that while this was done to be non fatiguing. In return treble in general does not have the best articulation or tone, micro detail in the treble is a hit or miss depending on which area of the treble it is emphasized.
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Overall the KB Ear Diamond is a good solid dynamic earphone and in the price range I can’t think of another with the same amount of ability and musicality for the price. It isn’t without its faults but considering the whole package I think KB Ear has got a good one to build their ever growing offerings upon. It will be difficult to find a dynamic iem that actually sounds better in the price range but somehow I feel if they had a bit more time in the oven these would have been something special. As always thanks for reading. Oh wait a BONUS!



So just for grins I tired my ISN AG8 pure silver cable on the Diamond. Ya I know the cable is almost 3X the cost of the earphones. Hey I did it for science. With the cable in place. There is no question just how much the Diamond scales to better cables and power. To my ears with this cable. It sounds better in every single way from the stock cable as it should. Amp these, throw on a silver cable and enjoy the ride.

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Pros: excellent technicalities across the board, clear and engaging tuning, premium build, nice cable and carry case
Cons: slight cosmetic CQ issues, not everyone will like exaggerated Harman target type tuning
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The KB EAR Diamond is an in-ear monitor with one diamond-like carbon coated PET diaphragm dynamic driver per housing. The Diamond is currently available for $79. I received the Diamond directly from KB EAR in exchange for a fair and objective review.

This review can also be viewed on my blog: KB EAR Diamond Review

SOURCES:
I have used the KB EAR Diamond with the following sources:
  • JDS Labs The Element
  • Apple USB-C to 3.5mm dongle
I have tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to.

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
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The KB EAR Diamond comes in a rectangular black box. The KB EAR logo is printed in gold on the top box cover, and a sticker on the the bottom of the box lists KB EAR’s contact information and technical specifications for the Diamond. The box contains the Diamond earpieces, a brown leather carry case with velvet lining and a magnetic latch, a braided silver-plated copper (SPC) detachable cable with 2-pin connectors, three pairs of short wide-bore grey silicone eartips (S, M, L), 3 pairs of short wide-bore black silicone eartips (S, M, L), 1 pair of black foam eartips, 1 pair of grey foam eartips, and a user guide. The black silicone eartips have a grippy, rubbery texture that is reminiscent of Sony hybrid eartips.

BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
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The KB EAR Diamond has CNC-machined metal housings with what appears to be glass faceplates. The faceplates have a carbon-fiber pattern set behind the glass, which is inlaid with the KB EAR logo in gold-colored metal. I did notice a few minor bumps and imperfections on the housing surface. The nozzles are brass with a silver-colored metal mesh cover. The color of the brass varies slightly between the bottom and top sections of the nozzle. “L/R” is printed in light black text on the fronts of the housings below the 2-pin connector. The shells are moderately sized. The only hard edge on the housing is along the edge of the faceplate. There is one circular vent on the front side of each housing, below the “L/R” indicator. There is another small circular vent on the bottom ridge of each nozzle. The nozzles have a lip for securing eartips. I did not have any issues with tips coming loose in my ears while using the Diamond. There is no driver flex.
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The Diamond comes with an elegant-looking eight-core SPC cable. The cable uses a straight 3.5mm jack housing with “KB EAR” printed in white on the side. The flush 2-pin connectors are marked with blue dots to indicate polarity. The left 2-pin connector plug is clear plastic and the right 2-pin connector plug is red plastic, but the housings are not otherwise marked to indicate channel. The black 3.5mm jack housing, 2-pin connector housings Y-split hardware, and chin-adjustment choker appear to be metal. The cable has pre-formed clear plastic ear-guides without memory wire. The cable is not tangle-prone or microphonic. There is rubber strain-relief above the 3.5mm jack.

COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
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The KB EAR Diamond is intended to be worn cable-up only. I found them to be very comfortable to wear over extended periods. The nozzles have a moderate insertion depth. I did find that the Diamond had a tendency to migrate out of my ears with the grey medium silicone eartips, but switching to the large black silicone eartips mitigated this issue. Isolation was very good for a vented dynamic driver design.



SOUND:
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The KB EAR Diamond has a U-shaped sound signature that can be described as an exaggerated Harman Target-type sound.

The Diamond has excellent sub-bass extension. The sub-bass is more prominent than the mid-bass. There is no mid-bass hump and no mid-bass bleed into the lower midrange. There is a good amount of impact, slam, and rumble. The bass has astonishing speed, articulation, resolution, and texture for a sub-$100 IEM.

The midrange has a cool tonality. The lower mids are recessed compared to the upper mids such that vocals are generally emphasized over instrumentation. Instruments in the lower midrange have adequate body but clarity is emphasized over warmth. Vocal intelligibility is excellent. Female vocals are slighly more forward than male vocals. Harsh male vocals are conveyed with satisfying grit but are a bit dry. Female vocals are vibrant but slightly sibilant. There is a little too much presence. In particular, distorted electric guitars sound slightly too screamy.

The treble is sparkling and airy with great resolution. The lower treble is detailed without being harsh. The upper treble extension is excellent but requires some initial adjustment to get used to if coming from headphones with a more rolled-off top end. Treble transients are speedy and crisp.

Soundstage is larger than average for a single dynamic driver configuration. Imaging and instrument separation are excellent. Timbre is mostly realistic if cool and slightly dry.

MEASUREMENTS:
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My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The headphones are driven using my Element, which has an output impedance of no more than 1 ohm. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements to published measurements from Crinacle and Antdroid. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. The magnitude of the valley around 7k is a coupler artifact. There is a resonant peak around 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.

EQ:

The only tweaks I would make to the KB EAR Diamond would be to dial down the upper midrange past 4k, specifically to make distorted electric guitars sound more natural. This can be accomplished with the following EQ filters:
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EQ’d FR Average (Green) vs OOTB FR Average (Brown)
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AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:


The KB EAR Diamond can be driven to comfortable listening volumes with a competent dongle. I did not notice hiss with either of my sources.

COMPARISONS:

The KB EAR Diamond is significantly better in all respects than any other IEM I have heard in the sub-$100 space, to include the Dunu DM-480 and the Shozy Form 1.1. I will update this section at a later date with a comparison to the Moondrop Starfield, which I have not yet received.

CLOSING WORDS:
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If you like the Harman Target, get this IEM. It has the best technical performance of any sub-$100 IEM I have ever heard. However, if you find Harman-targeted tunings to have shouty/thin midranges, this IEM is not for you.
Pros: Excellent timbre/tonality - better than the popular BLON BL-03.
Great note weight texture, but even so, it has fast speed/transients, especially in bass.
Great technicalities (imaging, clarity, details, instrument separation) for a single DD
- slightly better than my 2 best single DD (TFZ No.3, Semkarch SKC CNT1) and comparable with some budget multi BA/hybrid sets.
Non fatiguing, no harsh peaks/troughs in tuning - very good for long listening sessions.
No sibilance.
Comfortable, ergonomic, great sturdy build.
Above average isolation.
Stock tips/cables good to go out of box.
Nice PVC leather pouch.
2 Pin connection - better lifespan than MMCX.
Suitable for most genres, no major weaknesses.
Cons: Average soundstage width, but soundstage is deep and wide.
Slight mid bass bump - it's a minor nitpick, and I'm a basshead and enjoy it, but I think those who want a neutral bass may not - this can be easily fixed with tips, sources, burn in or EQ.
Disclaimer #1:
I would like to thank KBEAR for providing this unit for an objective review. My views are my own.

Disclaimer #2:
The Diamond is extremely tip/source/cable sensitive (if you are not a cable skeptic).
For the purposes of this review, I used the stock SPC cable and the stock black silicone tips (differences between the tips and cables will be explained below).

I would also advise some burn in, as OOTB the midbass was overly emphasized to my ears. I know not everyone believes in cables and burn in making a difference to sound, so forgive me if you don't, but I do believe in burn in for DD sets, and FWIW the midbass improved post burn in (well brain burn is possible as I don't have any measuring rigs to prove it).

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Specifications:
- Driver: Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) Coated PET
- Sensitivity: 102dB
- Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Impedence: 16Ω
- Cable: 2 pin detachable cable


Accessories:
In addition to the IEM, it comes with:
1) PVC leather pouch - I'm not particular about accessories for my IEMs as I rather have a well tuned IEM than stellar accessories, but this has to be the best casing I've seen in my previous 20 CHIFI purchases.

2) Detachable 3.5 mm stock SPC cable (2 pin) - I've tried cable rolling and found that the Diamond is very cable sensitive (if you do believe in cables). Copper cables tended to increase warmth and may make the bass muddier, while silver ones may overly increase the treble. I still went back to the stock SPC one in the end as it has the best balance between the treble and bass frequencies. YMMV.
The stock SPC cable is very well braided and thick, with no microphonics. It comes in a 2 pin connector, which in general is more durable than MMCX ones in my experience.

3) Two types of stock silicone tips in various sizes - black and red ones. The red ones have a narrower bore and tended to make the bass a bit flabbier/boomier, with some midbass bleed. On the other hand, the black stock tips are wider in bore size, and it decreased the midbass boom. The midbass bleed was also negligible with the stock black tips.
A few headfiers and myself prefer wide and shallow bore tips like Tenmark Whirlwinds (credit to illuimidata who discovered this good pairing) to reduce the midbass bump, but the black stock tips are very usable OOTB too. There might be a slight loss in isolation with shallower bore tips like the Whirlwinds, but IMHO, it more than makes up for that in the sound department. YMMV, as we all have different ear anatomies and different bass preferences.

4) Foam tips (2 sizes)

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Build/comfort:
The Diamond's shell is not as hard as its namesake, but it's made of metal and built like a tank. I suspect the internals can survive a fall from height, though of course, please don't try this at home. The shell is slightly on the heavier side due to the metal built, but it is very comfortable, ergonomic and well fitting, with no sharp edges. I can wear it for hours without discomfort.

I did not note any driver flex.


Isolation:
Above average. This is tip dependent to some extent, with narrower/deeper tips (eg Spinfits) I can get about 15 dB isolation. With wider/shallower bore ones like the stock black tips and Tenmark Whirlwinds, I can get about 10ish dB in isolation. The Diamond is vented like most other single DD IEMs, so the isolation isn't gonna be as great as some small unvented bean shaped BA sets.

I tried using it on the subway and bus, and there are slight losses of bass frequencies, but I did not need to jack up the volume to compensate for this, unlike some poorer isolating sets like the **** and Toneking Ninetails.

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Soundstage:
Average soundstage width, but has deep and high soundstage.


Sound:
I tested the Diamond with a Desktop -> Khadas Tone Board -> Fiio A3 and Android smartphone and Ziku HK-X9. The Diamond is drivable from smart phones but definitely scales better with a DAC/AMP (in terms of dynamics, soundstage, details and tightening the bass).

I didn't have much hiss with the Diamond on laptops/PC/smartphones.

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The Diamond is a warm, U shaped harmanish set, with a boosted midbass relative to subbass. It has a roll off in the higher treble. In fact, the DLC technology used in the KBEAR is pretty special in that it is very speedy for a single DD set, and the actual sound signature on listening doesn't reflect the graph provided by KBEAR (from its shop) due to its speed in dynamics along the entire FR.
The graph looks a bit sharp in the 3 - 5 kHz areas, but on actual listening, the Diamond is extremely smooth and has no awkward peaks/troughs. The Diamond is very non offensive in tuning and is very suitable for long non fatiguing listening sessions.

A bugbear of mine for budget/midfi IEMs, is that with cranking up the volume, certain frequencies are overemphasized first eg TFZ No. 3 and Jade Audio EA3 has upper mid harshness on higher volumes, but the Diamond is so smooth that despite cranking up the volume, there are no harsh peaks throughout the FR.

I'm a sucker for DD tonality and timbre, and have been looking around for a long time to get a single DD set with both good technicalities and good timbre/tonality. In this journey for single DD audio nirvana, I have personally bought the BLON BL-03, BLON Cardinal, Semkarch SKC CNT1, Sennheiser IE80S, Sony MH755, TFZ No. 3 and Toneking Ninetails in my search; these single DD sets seem to excel at timbre/tonality over technicalities or vice versa, with none managing to excel at both areas.
My 2 most technical single DD sets (TFZ No. 3 and Semkarch SKC CNT1) had a thinner note weight and poorer timbre, whereas the BLON BL-03 had poor technicalities but great timbre/tonality. I hadn't found a set that meshes the 2 areas seamlessly till I heard the Diamond. My first thought was "this sounds like Liquid Gold", amalgating the 2 areas I was looking for!

I found the clarity, instrument separation, imaging and details to be excellent for a single DD driver, it is slightly better than my 2 most technical single DD sets (TFZ no. 3, Semkarch SKC CNT1). It is not too far away from some budget sub $50 multi BA/hybrid CHIFI in the area of resolution, though it won't trump midfi multi BA/hybrid IEMs in these aspects, which is an expected limitation of a single DD at this price range. I generally prefer a multi BA/hybrid for EDM/electronic music and complex music with multiple instrumentation due to their better resolution in general, but the Diamond is no slouch for EDM music, with fast transients in the bass not muddying much in complex movements, unlike the BLON BL-03.

The Diamond has better timbre than BLON BL-03, which was my previous gold standard for timbre and tonality. Classical and acoustic instruments and vocals sound very real and lifelike on the Diamond. Classical, acoustic and jazz aficionados will have a fieldday. The Diamond has great note weight and note texture. Despite the thicker note weight, the DLC technology allows transients/speedy changes in dynamics/notes without being too muddy, unlike the BLON BL-03.


Bass:
The Diamond has good subbass extension/quantity and movement of air typically seen in DD bass.
The mid bass quantity is north of neutral and it hits hard in the midbass, though this is not a basshead set.
With the same tips used, the midbass quantity is about the same amount as the BLON BL-03, so for folks that already disliked the BL-03's midbass quantity or those wanting a neutral bass, you might need to look elsewhere.

The Diamond's bass is of better quality than the BL-03 in being more textured and having better speed and separation. Of the single DD I own, I would rate the Semkarch SKC CNT1 as having one of the faster and more accurate single DD basses, and the Diamond has a similar speed, yet it has a thicker note weight, but still manages to speedily transit basslines accurately. It won't beat the speed of a BA bass, so those that want a speedy and very accurate bass might need to look for a BA bass IEM.

Drum and bass kick timbre sounds very authentic on the Diamond. There are a few CHIFI sets that sound a bit artificial in the timbre for drums (like the ****), where there is no movement of air after a bass kick.

Despite the graph looking like there's a subbass roll off, I found that the subbass extends very well in quantity and it's like listening to subwoofer surroundsound amps in the ears if I could say so. The basshead in me was actually quite pleased with the subbass quantity and extension.

I did notice a slight midbass bleed/bloat with the stock red tips, but this can be fixed with tips (black stock tips or short/wide bore ones like the Tenmark Whirlwind), amping, burn in or different sources.


Mids:
Mids are very detailed despite the U shaped signature, not overly recessed for both male/female vocals despite the graphs. Female voices are slightly more forward than male voices but are not shouty. Guitars are crunchy and well textured. Vocal timbre is a particular highlight on the Diamond, with breath sounds, nasal voices and vibrations in the voice being conveyed naturally.


Treble:
The graph on the KBEAR site looks like there's a sharp 3 - 5 kHz peak (which I was very apprehensive about at first as I'm sensitive to that area and it is a bugbear of mine in CHIFI tuning). To my surprise, on actual listening it is very very smooth and not harsh at the upper mids/lower treble.

A slight 8 KHz peak gives triangles and cymbals a very pleasant resolution but without harshness or some splashy metallic cymbals that plague budget CHIFI sets. There's some higher treble roll off, so maybe only trebleheads will complain, but for the general consumer, I think it is very non fatiguing and suitable for long listening sessions.

The Diamond has no sibilance, unless it was already present in poorly recorded material, then the Diamond will show it.


Comparisons:
1) TFZ No. 3:
- TFZ No. 3 has more subbass quantity/extension and is more basshead than the Diamond. There's a midbass bleed on the No. 3. The No. 3's bass is also slower than the Diamond.
- Timbre wise, the No. 3 has less note weight and poorer timbre.
- Technicalities wise, clarity and details are slightly poorer on the No. 3.
- No. 3 has a slightly smaller soundstage width than the Diamond.
- No. 3 has better isolation than the Diamond.
- On cranking up the volume, the 2 - 4 kHz and 8 kHz peaks on the No. 3 become prominent and may be fatiguing compared to the Diamond, which scales smoothly across all frequencies with higher volume. On higher volumes, the No. 3 tends to have bass distortion too, which is not present in the Diamond.

2) BLON BL-03
- The sound signature of the BL-03 is also harmanish with a midbass bump. Midbass quantity is about the same as the BLON BL-03 (assuming same tips are used between the 2). Though the BLON BL-03's bass is slower and not as accurate, and not as well layered/textured as the Diamond's bass.
- Timbre is slightly better on the Diamond, note weight is about on par.
- Technicalities (clarity, instrument separation, details) are better in the Diamond, with imaging about on par.
- The BLON BL-03 may have a tinge wider soundstage.
- The BLON BL-03 has poorer isolation.
- The BLON BL-03 gets a bit bright in the upper mids with bass distortion appearing on cranking up the volume, and this is not present on the Diamond.

3) Semkarch SKC CNT1 (black filter)
- With black filters, the CNT1 is different in the mids section in that it tuned to have lower mids > upper mids, unlike the Diamond.
- Bass speed and accuracy is about on par.
- Note weight is not as thick in CNT 1. Timbre is poorer in the CNT1.
- Soundstage is slightly wider in CNT1.
- Technicalities wise the CNT1 is just a mild tinge poorer.
- The CNT1 is also special in that with cranking the volume up, no harsh peaks in the FR appear.


Conclusion:
The Diamond has a U shaped sound signature, and comes with a very non offensive and non fatiguing tuning. It combines the best aspects of musicality (timbre/tonality) of the BLON BL-03 with technicalities of single DD sets like the TFZ No. 3/Semkarch SKC CNT1. The tonality is great with no harsh spikes/troughs, contrary to what the graph looks like, and it has great speed for a single DD set in view of the DLC drivers.

The Diamond amalgates smoothness with technicalities, and really sounds like "Liquid Gold". It is well suited for most genres and is gonna be my daily single DD set from now on.
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Otto Motor
Otto Motor
The Diamond have a bit more note weight and play a bit more relaxed, they are warmer in the midrange and therefore not quite as clear but less prone to fatigue. Which one is better? Depends on taste. But I would like to note that the Starfield are qualitatively not behind the KPE -- and that their price is right. Also: you don't need both of them, Diamond and KXXS/Starfield.
baskingshark
baskingshark
@Random Lunatic I don't have the KXXS, but comparing the T800 to Diamond is comparing oranges to apples - T800 (8 BA) is tuned to be a detail monster and is bright and technical vs the Diamond (smooth single DD) that is warm and has better timbre/tonality. T800 can get a bit fatiguing after long listening sessions due to the amount of details and the bright tuning, whereas Diamond is more suited for long chill sessions, though at the expense of details.
baskingshark
baskingshark
Even among the budget to midfi multi BA/hybrid IEMs, T800 has one of the best details, so the Diamond, with the inherent limitations of a single DD driver, will not be able to compete in details with T800. Depends what u want in your music and your preferred music genres, but they are polar opposites.
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