KBEAR KB04

General Information

Specs:
Drivers: 1BA + 1DD
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Sensitivity: 104db ±3db
Frequency response: 20Hz - 40KHz
Cable type: 0.78mm 2 Pin

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Latest reviews

Pros: Precision, definition and speed of the lower zone.
- Resolution, brightness, detail and nuances of the high zone.
- Expressiveness and extension of the treble.
- Size.
Cons: Thinness of the lower-mid zone.
- In the same way that treble can be a great advantage, it can be somewhat excessive in certain situations or in more sensitive people.
- Weight of the capsules.
- Absence of bag or box for transport.
- Not the most suitable profile for long listening.
Introduction

KBEAR is a relatively recent brand, originating from Shenzen, China. It has been growing rapidly, bringing out economic models to the market, and then creating more expensive ones. To its credit, successful models such as the Diamond or the KB06 stand out. Interestingly, KBEAR has another brand, under which it brings out more expensive models. Its name is TRI. The I3 is its most emblematic model, a hybrid IEMS, which mounts a magnetic planar unit, a dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver, at a price below $150. Under this initial premise, TRI has taken out a real Flagship, handmade, which consists of 4 electrostatic transmission units, 2 BA drivers and 1 dynamic driver. Its price is currently under $800, a price that is not within the reach of everyone...

However, on this occasion, the IEMS to be reviewed are well below this price: less than $30. A very hard segment, where, currently, reigns the so hype BLON BL-03. The model in question is the KBEAR KB04 and its name gives an idea, about the number of total drivers: 1 DD + 1 BA for each capsule, 4 drivers in total.

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Specifications

Drivers Type: 1DD + 1BA
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 40kHz
Sensitivity: 104dB ± 3dB
Impedance: 16Ω ± 20%
Connector Jack: 3.5mm
Cable length: 120cm ± 5cm
Capsule Connection Type: 0.78mm connector
Copper cable, silver-plated, 4-core.

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Packaging

The KB04 come in a small box, almost completely black. Only its base has another color: green. Its dimensions are 78x122x36mm.

On the front face, there is a photo of the capsules, the model name at the bottom left and the brand logo on the green base. Its back side is presided by the brand logo. Below it, you will find the specifications. Finally, at the bottom, you can read information about the brand: address and contact e-mail.

The box is sealed in transparent plastic. The outer sleeve slides vertically, so that it can be opened. Inside, the box is white and rigid. The first thing you find in it is the instruction booklet and guarantee. Once removed, the grey capsules appear, stuffed in a soft black foam. Under them, in the same mold, are two pairs of black silicone tips, sizes L and S. The medium tips are inserted into the IEMS. Under the mold, a white box with the logo in black, in its center, keeps the rest of the accessories, in a zip bag, transparent plastic. In summary, the content is as follows:

  • The two capsules.
  • 3 pairs of black silicone tips, sizes SxMxL.
  • 3 pairs of grey silicone tips, red core, sizes SxMxL.
  • 1 clothes clip.
  • 1 twisted 4-core silver-plated copper wire, black plastic coated.
  • 1 user guide (Chinese/English) with warranty card.

The box is small, sober, but designed with good minimalist taste. Both sets of tips are welcome. But a carrying case or, at least, a protective pouch is very much missed. This detail, of minimum value, lowers the score in this section.

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Construction and Design

The capsules are made of zinc alloy. The first sensation that is perceived, is its weight; the second, the small size. The result is a clear impression of density. The galvanized surface of both IEMS is highly polished, offering a highly reflective and smooth finish. Its colour is bright grey. The shape of the outer face is almost triangular, with extremely rounded corners. The capsules are made of two clearly divided pieces: the outer and inner sides. The outer face has a bevelled edge and a thick, deep slit that extends all the way around, creating an island inside. The inner face is very flat. Two circular depressions stand out, inside which are the letters R and L, created in relief. Under each letter there are two holes. They are not the only ones, because at the base of the nozzles there is another one, slightly smaller in diameter. The nozzles are metallic and seem to be screwed into their base. At the equator, there is a thick ring that allows to secure the tips in a very safe way. At the outer end, its diameter is 5.7mm. The inside of the nozzles is protected by a metal grid, whose holes are elongated oval. This grid is not located at the same outer edge of each nozzle, but is slightly deeper.

The capsules are relatively small, but thick. The 0.78mm connectors are sunk a couple of mm and are located in the middle of the division of both bodies of each capsule. The base of the connectors is made of translucent plastic.

The cable has four coiled cores, the inside is made of silver-plated copper. Its exterior is black plastic. The connector is 3.5mm, gold-plated and angled. Its sheath is made of plastic. The splitting piece is a conical, small, elongated piece and also made of black plastic. The pin is a small oval piece, with two holes, one for each channel. It slides with difficulty, offering a durable fit. The two-pin 0.78mm connectors are gold-plated. Its cover is a rectangular piece, made of black and rigid plastic, in whose outer edge, a small dots can be seen, made of red or blue paint, as an indication of the channel. The cable, at this end, together with the two-pin connectors, has a semi-rigid plastic coating, which gives it a question mark shape, to facilitate its adjustment over the ear.

In short, the cable is very simple, extremely sober, but totally functional, with low microphonics, flexible and with little tendency to get tangled.

The capsules have the classic metallic grey colour, with a mirror effect. Their construction is rigid, they feel somewhat heavy; they offer a hard and very consistent look. But, in my opinion, the line that divides both parts of the capsules is too evident, subtracting refinement from the overall picture. On the other hand, the inner side, with its embossed letters and the assembly of the nozzles, seems to me to be excellent.

Internally, the KB04 uses two drivers: 1 DD for the low frequencies, whose 10 mm diaphragm is made of PU and 1 dual BA for the high frequencies. They also feature a two-way electronic crossover, with the intention of achieving a more coherent and smooth sound transition.

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Adjustment and Ergonomics

A priori, the somewhat high weight could affect both the fit and comfort. The weight of the capsules, which are inserted almost superficially, may contribute to their tendency to fall out. It is therefore very convenient to find tips that allow for a firm adjustment as well as a secure fit. Luckily, the design of the nozzles and the shape of the capsules integrate very well into the ear canal, achieving a tight and precise placement without too much effort. This is when the weight of the capsules becomes minimal and the cable guides appear to be as unobtrusive as possible. A good choice of tips becomes a fundamental step in obtaining the best possible fit, which the ergonomics of the capsules can provide.

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Sound

Profile


The KBEAR KB04 have a moderate V-profile. You could discuss a W profile, looking at its graph, seeing the different peaks that exist from 2kHz onwards... But I don't think it would help to reflect anything new.



Bass

As a good V-shaped earphone, its most energetic point is between the transition from sub-bass to mid-bass. This does not indicate that the sub-bass is light, far from it, as the KB04s manage to descend quite authoritatively. However, it is true that the greatest impact is perceived in this transition.

One of the most remarkable impressions is the texture of the lower zone: it has a roughness that is perceived in the ears, as a very pleasant tickling. It is not smooth, nor anodyne, but is characterized by a particular vibration, a mixture of speed, depth, impact and definition. Without a doubt, it is a differential nuance, which raises the value of the range.

On the other hand, despite its V-profile, these KBEARs do not colour the lower zone, but have a very good control, for some IEMS of their range. The definition is remarkable and, even in the most complicated passages, they do not run out of control, nor do they exceed, maintaining the performance in a surprising way, without swelling at all. Thus, the level of definition they exhibit is very good, describing the bass with precision and that characteristic color.

The lower zone is very enjoyable, I would have only asked for a little more sub-bass to raise the depth level.

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Mids

And suddenly we enter the mid zone, in the valley of the V. Then, the sound is pushed into the hollow, into a smaller and narrower confinement, simplified, thinner, less emotional and also less descriptive. The positive thing is that light is not lost and clarity becomes the best ally. Although, the smaller space does not imply congestion, it does show little body and a weaker packaging, without reaching delicate. Definition is not lacking, but the emotion is sought and does not appear, as its profile turns to the analytical side.

The high part recovers, but it decompensates the range, contributing to limit the width of the voices and to punctuate those more sharp. It follows the ascent, which ends at a critical point, at the point most sensitive to the human ear. The KB04 play, at this point, heads or tails: win or lose, over or under, is the crux of the matter. When they fall below, the result is very good. But when they exceed, as a result of certain recordings, brilliant players or negative effects of a high output impedance, the KBEARs border on sibilance, becoming fatiguing. But with warm sources and good or soft recordings, KB04s prove that not everything is black or white.

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Treble

V or W? Anyway, the treble comes in and the range is fun without punching, sharp but uncut. Can it be? Yes, KBEAR proves it: micro detail and controlled brightness, definition without losing the naturalness, analytical resolution without sounding strident, expressive nuances that are not sweet, but yes, tasty. And we also talk about extension and air, clarity and cleanliness, something that is never lost, anywhere in the sound spectrum.

In this range, KBEAR has bet hard and won many KZs. It is undeniable that the range possesses emphasis and proves to be forward oriented. But, although they would not be the best IEMS for long listening, they are very suitable for energetic and detailed listening. Please note, however, that those with sensitive ears are warned against this range.

Again, the Tip Rolling, is very interesting in this regard, as a measure to refine the sound of each range, to our preferences.

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Soundstage, Separation

The separation, in absolute terms, is superior to the scene. Due to the remarkable level of definition and resolution, a great clarity is easily perceived, which gives a good feeling of cleanliness, space and precision.

The scene, however, is not fully expanded. One must take into account the price range... The sound is not narrow, it has height and an average level of depth. The location of the instruments and details is large, but the origin is frontal.

Technically they are good, their capacity of analysis is surprising. They do not have congestion, on the contrary, they enjoy an abundant amount of air. Although, all this, does not extend the scene towards excellence.

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Comparisons

Blon BL-03


The first comparison is obvious, against the well-known BL-03. The profile of both is clearly different: the V of the KB04 is felt from the first bass hit. They have a more complete bass, with more impact, contents and tightness, but with more amplitude and good depth. The texture and the descriptive power of the low zone, improves the offered by the BL-03. These last ones, on the other hand, offer more depth and go down a little more. But the body is superior in the KBEAR, while the BL-03 remains somewhat short in width, compared to the more present and wide area of the KB04. Undoubtedly, they are two different styles of presenting the bass: In those songs where the sub-bass predominates, the Blon will sound more natural. Meanwhile, when the low zone is more extensive, the amplitude of the KB04, will be presented as a more appropriate, accurate and fun option.

The turns change in the central area. The KB04s are lacking in the first half of the mid range. Comparatively, this void is observed as a lack of body, compared to the BL-03, which are capable of filling the voices and other instruments, of this initial part. If we pay attention to the voices, this time, the BL-03s do have a greater amplitude and are able to draw them with more smoothness, sweetness and serenity. The KBEAR polarize the voices, recreating them thinner, with less texture and a clear more crisp and bright accent, not even a trace of the smoother and more pleasant tone offered by the BL-03. Although, it is true, that that flash, a double-edged sword, gives it a point of greater detail and a spark of energy. On the other hand, it's something that doesn't stop one from preferring to hear the voices in the Blon.

In the second part of the mids, again, there is a change: the upper mids remain relaxed in the BL-03s, following the tone that characterizes these IEMS. They are harmless, compared to the energy provided by the KB04, in this part. The mid-high range is clearly explicit in the KBEAR, sounding clearer, more detailed and defined, also fuller. Comparatively speaking, the BL-03s tend to sound almost veiled, as opposed to the descriptive and resolving energy that the KB04s present in this half. Of course, this energy can lead to sound fatigue, and can even be a bit harsh in certain circumstances.

In the high range, again, it is appreciated how the V of the KBEAR, shines above the Blon. The high frequencies of the BL-03 are docile, softer, more controlled. The KB04 sound free and dynamic, with more presence. They are fine and energetic, crisp, defined and offer a high level of detail, nuance and clarity. However, the BL-03s do not have such explicit flashes and the nuances are drawn back, being perceived as more distant, limited, less diverse and even natural. The extension and the amount of air, is also superior in the KBEAR.

At the scene level, the KB04's V-profile narrows and focuses the sound. The greater width of the mid zone and the greater depth in the BL-03, give it some advantage in this aspect, without this difference being very large. While the KB04 has a greater feeling of height, the width is greater in the Blon.

The separation is felt, in both, in a similar way, but the clarity prevails in the KB04, as a strong point, something that gives it an advantage in this aspect, together with the better definition, resolution and that more analytical aspect, against the greater homogeneity and harmony of the BL-03.

Both IEMS are metallic, shiny and polished, of the same colour and have a visible division between the faces of the capsules. Their shapes are different, which can clearly have an impact on the ergonomics of both models. In particular, I find the Blon more comfortable and adjusted to my anatomy, without the KBEAR being unpleasant, far from it. But, when changing from one to the other, I feel that the BL-03, fit better in my ears, being more convenient, for long listening. They are also slightly less heavy. However, I prefer the cable of the KBEAR: I like more its finish and its spiral winding, making it smoother, softer and more manageable. At the conductor level, there doesn't seem to be any difference. You can only notice that, after the splitting, the cables that reach the capsules, seem thinner in the Blon.



NiceHCK DB3

NiceHCK produced quite economical IEMS, with a very pleasant profile, the result of a refinement of several hypes of the moment, managing to hit the nail on the head. The sound of the DB3 is more relaxed than that of the KB4, especially from the mid-high, onwards. Even the low zone is perceived differently, the bass of the DB3 is thicker, more prevalent; while in the KB04 they sound more concise, defined, even less intrusive. In the DB3, the bass rumbles, especially in its central zone. This is something that happens to a lesser extent in the KBEAR, whose hitting is located, agile and faster, oriented towards the deepest side.

The mid zone of the DB3 is slightly contaminated by the thickness of the bass. The situation differs in the KB04, where they feel more liberated, in this sense, and also, clearer, sharper and more vivid, due to their upper half enhancement. The voices, in the DB3, are soft and smooth. The BK04 offers flashes that go unnoticed on the DB3, polarizing the mid range and sharpening the V profile. Still, the greater clarity is an advantage, offering more nuances, better definition and resolution. The result is that the central zone of the KB04 appears to be more dynamic, sharp, but fun and explicit, when on the DB3 everything is simple, smooth and straight. In spite of this, the voices, in the DB3, have a more enjoyable warmth, sounding less thin and with a greater point of emotion.

The biggest difference between the two IEMS is in the treble: the DB3s provide a safe and low-risk area, offering a gentle but not very explicit presence. On the other hand, the KB04, bets for a more exuberant and daring presence, of greater risk. Many times, the KB04 win the battle, in this range, since only they can lose, by excess. The DB3, in this range, bets for a classic profile, inoffensive, that worries about higher flashes, that, sometimes, are also dangerous, because they are unbalanced. Meanwhile, the KBEAR don't lie, nor only loosen, extending the area beyond; bringing, even, more brightness and air. The high zone of both IEMS is opposite: if you like risk, your IEM is the KB04. If you prefer something safer and "boring", take the DB3.

The greater clarity, analysis capacity, refinement and precision of the KB04, gives it more sense of spatiality and separation, although, in the end, the differences are not so great, in this aspect. The scenario, limited rather by the price range, is somewhat wider on the DB3, but overall larger on the KBEAR.

In terms of weight and size, although DB3s are larger, they weigh less. The adjustment is simple in both, but the bigger size, plays in favor of the DB3, because its fit is better, getting them to move less, by avoiding rotation inside the ear. In long listenings, the weight and the softer fit, favors the NiceHCK. On the other hand, although the cable is just in both IEMS, I prefer the dark simplicity of the KBEAR cable, as opposed to the undefined colour of the DB3.



Conclusion

I have a debt to KBEAR: initially, I did not pay due attention to it. It was because I have already been hit with some big disappointments, with other brands that have overpopulated the market, in the low price range. But, after reading many other reviews, maybe I was wrong. And I was. KBEAR's work with KB04 should not be taken lightly. It is true that their profile is the classic V, but they have taken risks in the high zone and, I think, they have been victorious, since they have managed to get away, from the ghost of the excessive peaks and the unnecessary and unnatural brightness. However, this great work is also noticeable in the low zone: it is not easy to find the speed and precision of their bass, in their price segment; combining, moreover, a special and particular sonority.

There is risk, yes, but he who does not risk, does not win. Do you dare?



Sources Used During the Analysis

  • xDuoo X3II.
  • Tempotec Serenade iDSD.
  • HiBy R3 PRO.
  • Burson Audio Playmate.



Ratings

  • Construction and Design: 75
  • Adjustment/Ergonomics: 78
  • Accessories: 60
  • Bass: 85
  • Mids: 78
  • Treble: 84
  • Separation: 75
  • Soundstage: 73
  • Quality/Price: 90



Purchase Link:

https://es.aliexpress.com/item/4000799521600.html

You can read the full review in Spanish here:

https://hiendportable.com/2020/06/01/kbear-kb04-review/
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Pros: Great build quality, good soundstage, punchy bass, smooth highs.
Cons: Rather thin mids.
This is taken from my personal blog: https://willyboy.home.blog/2020/05/19/kb-ear-kb04-in-ear-monitor-review/

This is my first earphone from KB Ear. Following the popularity of their KB06, F1, and Diamond, I got interested in their KB04, which reportedly offers some refinements over its predecessors. Let’s find out!

Packaging/Accessories: The KB04 arrives in a simple but sturdy and attractive packaging. Black and green dominate the color scheme, with white lettering. Mine is the non-mic version. Six pairs of tips and one shirt clip were supplied.


Build Quality: The KB04 is made of polished die cast alloy. Very impressive for this price range. The fit and finish is excellent. The cable is thin but is very supple with almost zero microphonic. The 2-pin connector snaps in positively, and they’re best left plugged in, in my opinion. There is very little to hold on to if you want to remove them. Going down, there is a rubber chin slider that actually holds itself therefore making it very effective. At the other end is the L-shaped plug with gold plated contacts.


Fit and Comfort: The KB04 is meant to be worn over the ear. As you can see below, the tips have different shapes. The black tips are umbrella-shaped, while the grey ones are more of ‘pitted olive’-shaped. I find the medium grey tips and the large black tips equally comfortable. The factory-supplied tips are nicely made. Isolation is very good, and noise leak is minimal. I feel the all-metal construction is contributing to the great noise blocking if this IEM.

Listening Preferences: I listen to anything from jazz, blues, world music, to classic rock and reggae. Martin Miller Band, Chrisye, Steely Dan, Kings of Convenience, Queen, Emi Fujita, Michael Franks, Bruno Mars, and others lent their music for this review.

Sources: Spotify and YouTube HD via 2016 iPad Pro to represent portable setup. FLAC, WAV, and 320kbps MP3 with Vox player on a 2011 MacBook Pro and Burson Playmate to represent desktop setup for scalability.

Tuning/Sound Signature: With the KB04, one cannot address the matter of sound signature without addressing the ear tips. The two style of tips change the sound quite considerably. In general, the black umbrellas bring what I perceive as the more ‘neutral’ tuning with a slight bass boost. Meanwhile the grey olives brings a V-shape sound signature, with a little bit more bass boost to give it a ‘fun’ flavor. My music genres are better suited with the black umbrella tips, therefore this review is based on my impressions with the large black umbrella tips. The overall frequency response is smooth with no annoying peaks. You can enjoy two different tunings just by changing tips, that’s a win in my book!


Soundstage and Imaging: Soundstage on the KB04 is above average for a budget IEM. On good live recording tracks, the KB04 renders a semi circular stage in front and around your head. It definitely extends beyond your left and right ears. Even intimate recordings feel more open and airy. I love it. Instruments are placed firmly, and stereo effects such as panning is rendered nicely by the KB04. I can say that soundstage and imaging is one of the strong suit of KB04.

Lows: The lows on the KB04 is thick and plentiful. It extends to the sub-bass territory, without bleeding much to the lower mids. Running bass lines are rendered effortlessly. Kick drums and electric bass are also rendered with satisfying punch that makes you tap your foot with the rhythm of the music.

Mids: Midrange on the KB04 is neutral and rather laid back, in my opinion. Vocals are taking a step back, and forms a wide, slightly diffused image. Could it be the crossover point of the DD and the BA? Perhaps. Having said that, there is good clarity and detail in the midrange. They reveal layers of instruments within the midrange, which helps you to appreciate multi-instrumental music. Electric guitar has crunch and bite that will surely satisfy any rock and blues lovers.

Highs: The highs on the KB04 can be described as smooth and sweet. It has enough detail to be lively, but never harsh. It has good detail and its timbre is quite natural, which is commendable for a budget balanced armature handling the highs. It is not prone to sibilance nor does it have sharp peaks.


Scalability: Despite the low impedance and high sensitivity, they beg to be driven with a lot of gusto. Please don’t do them the disservice by plugging them to your mobile phones and then expecting them to shine. Feed them with clean, hi-res files via a good DAC and a decent amp, they’ll return the favor in spades. Trust me on this one.

Conclusion: I can easily recommend the KB04. It offers a more mature sound signature compared to the majority of IEM in its price range. It is well built, comfortable to wear, and offers a variety of tuning with some ear tips rolling. It does girl-and-a-guitar and your classic jazz trio beautifully, but multi-instrument, high-paced music is where the KB04 truly excels. Take it a step further and feed the KB04 with clean, high-amplitude signal, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Note: This unit was purchased from AK Audio Store in AliExpress. I received some discount on this purchase, in exchange of this review. With that said, I am not affiliated with the manufacturer or distributor of this product, nor will I receive any commission if you purchase anything from the AK Audio Store. The above is my honest personal opinion, and subject to change as my knowledge, experience, and associated equipment grow. Please feel free to comment with any input or question. Thank you for reading!
Pros: Nicely constructed – Powerful low end – Solid detail retrieval
Cons: Inconsistent midrange and timbre – Quite heavy
Greetings!

Today we're checking out KB EAR's inexpensive follow up to the Diamond, the KB04.

KB EAR is still a young brand but they've been aggressively pursuing the budget market. They've become a sponsor on Head-fi, tune around feedback provided by prominent tuners in the community, and pull in popular reviewers for that much more exposure. If their products sucked, none of that would work in their favour. Despite some early teething problems, they seem to have found their stride and along with the Diamond, the KB04 is a competitive offering in it's respective price range.

Let us check it out in greater detail, shall we?

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What I Hear The KB04 has a light v-shaped tune with good detail and appreciable technical prowess for the price range. The armatures and dynamic driver do present somewhat different tonalities, however, resulting in a bit of a mismatch. The warmth heard in the low end gives way to a somewhat cool, dry sound in the upper mids and treble. The pairing is close enough to be fine for the application and in my opinion is much more enjoyable than the mismatched gulf I hear on most piezo-equipped earphones, such as the NiceHCK N3.

Treble out of the KB04 is distinctly lower region focused with upper treble lacking slightly in sparkle. Cymbals and chimes slap with a cool, dry edge. Decay is nice and quick and notes hit with a precise, strong attack. It's all very snappy and pleasant. The KB04's upper end presentation is well controlled, something I commonly find an issue with inexpensive hybrids. Notes aren't splashy and show clear definition, though particularly busy or congested tracks do tend to overwhelm the single armature. Lower treble is neatly bumped giving the KB04 good detail down through into the midrange. I don't find there to be any uncomfortable peaks or anything overly offensive going on here. A hint more emphasis in the brilliance region would balance it out nicely, but as is I'm certainly satisfied.

The mids show an upper region bias which combined with the lower treble emphasis results in a slightly lean, sometimes shouty sound that could benefit from some extra warmth. Vocals are very clear and coherent, but with male vocalists often lack a bit of body and authority. It can work with modern male rap and hip hop artists, but it seems more at home with classic rock and acoustic-backed stuff. That said, there are exceptions, like Childish Gambino. His voice works. You'll need to explore to find where the KB04 shines. Female vocalists fare better, even if they too could use some additional warmth. The power and emotion is there, and they don't come across as lean and light. The KB04 feels more flexible and universal here. In terms of timbre and tonality, the KB04 is a mixed bag. I find stringed and woodwind instruments to sound reasonably accurate, but brass and percussion to run somewhat cool and dry, a quality that can be heard in electronic music too. I really think it comes down to that driver tonality mismatch.

The low end is where the KB04 is at it's best, and with the right track is going to make you forget about issues elsewhere. Depth is excellent with the KB04 reaching low and providing a satisfying physical rumble. There is plenty of texture and detail with a punchy, articulate midbass backing everything up. Notes hit with authority and decay quickly, though not so fast that extended beats end unnaturally abruptly. I'm not really hearing much bleed into the lower mids either, at least nothing worth whining about. A pretty kick @$$ low end that competes with the best in the price range.

I found the soundstage of the KB04 to be pretty average, but slightly improved over the more expensive Diamond. Default position is right at the opening of the ear canal with sound occasionally breaching this space and cascading off into the distance. For the most part the presentation is reasonably intimate. Imaging is good with clean channel-to-channel transition. I don't find it super accurate, but it's good enough for music. Layering is decent with separation being quite good. Only with very busy, treble heavy tracks was I finding the KB04 to get somewhat overwhelmed and start blending individual track elements.

Overall the KB04 makes for a pretty darn enjoyable listen. I enjoy the quality treble and meaty bass which is let down only by a lack of sparkle and a midrange that lags behind in quality thanks to an inconsistent presentation. It's not enough to ruin the experience though and the KB04 remains a very compelling sounding product in this category.

Compared To A Peer

KZ ZS4 (~20 USD): The ZS4 is KZ's 1+1 hybrid take on the ever-popular ZS3, a single dynamic released right at the forefront of the intense hybridization of the KZ lineup. Compared to the KB04, the ZS4 has more upper treble presence giving it the upper range shimmer and sparkle the KB EAR is lacking. It might be a tad overdone though since it can be somewhat tiring after listening sessions of moderate length, and it doesn't improve on clarity and detail over the KB04. In general the ZS4's treble presentation isn't quite as clean and tight. The midrange is where the ZS4 is a step ahead. While similarly emphasized, the balance is better with less upper mid and more lower mids. This results in a more even and predictable vocal presentation. Neither is particularly timbre accurate, though the ZS4 gets the clear nod for it's consistency and lack of the dry, crispyness heard in the KB04. Bass is where both are in their element but the KB04 is the superior offering. Both extend very well and provide plenty of visceral feedback. The KB04 is better balanced, reigning in the midbass quantity so it more evenly presents along with the subbass. The ZS4's low end presentation, especially on sustained notes, is somewhat loose and it can't quite handle quick transitions and complicated passages the KB04 breezes through. When it comes to sound stage I find the ZS4 to have a wider, deeper presentation. Its vocal presence is set slightly further away which also helps with this impression. Imaging is cleaner and more accurate out of the KB04, and it does a better job with instrument separation thanks to a cleaner presentation, though I felt the ZS4 better layered track elements.

Overall I prefer the tuning of the ZS4, particularly the midrange, timbre, and sound stage, though the treble refinement and bass control make a strong case for the KB EAR. The next section does a better job determining which would be a greater value (it's the KB04...).

When it comes to build the KB04 wins hands down. Dense metal shells versus weightless plastic shells. It's not hard to guess which one feels more expensive, and as if it could take a beating and a half and keep on trucking. I was pleased to see that the cables were quite comparable, though I'd take KB EAR's 10 out of 10 times for one reason alone; preformed ear guides vs memory wire. KZ does memory wire better than almost everyone I've seen using it because of that whole “memory” thing. You shape the wire, it stays. Most brands get the ability to shape the wire part down pat, it's the 'staying in that shape' aspect they can't nail down. Even so, great memory wire simply isn't as good as a competent preformed ear guide, and that's what KB EAR gives you.

For the fun of it I swapped cables and what do you know, the ZS4's cable works amazing well with the KB04 providing a near identical wearing experience. The KB04's cable on the ZS4? That results in one of the most comfortable, highly isolating wearing experiences I've had. I might leave them like this...

KB EAR Diamond (79.00 USD): When I first listened to the KB04 I was pretty darn impressed, and though that I might actually prefer them over the Diamond. I then listened to them back-to-back.. was reminded of why you a/b. Despite their similarities the Diamond is unquestionably superior, a big part of which is owed to it's much more stable and accurate midrange as well as the timbre quality. Treble out of the KB04 is more emphasized in the presence region. While emphasis is similar in the brilliance region, the quality of the Diamond's shimmer and sparkle is cleaner and more natural. In terms of note control, I found the Diamond slightly loose and nearly splashy compared to similarly priced offerings. While similar, the Diamond has a very slightly neater presentation. The mids of the Diamond are much more satisfying with a warmer tone and thicker overall presentation. None of the shoutyness I've heard from the KB04 is present. Instruments sound pretty much like they should through the Diamond with none of the dryness inherent to the KB04. Bass is much more comparable. Extension is similarly excellent, and both are nicely textured. The Diamond feels a little less linear in the transition from lower to upper bass, with midbass standing out the most. The KB04 is also a hint punchier and sounds a little quicker, though I never really found either struggling with complicated passages. I'd say their bass quality is basically a wash. Sound stage presentation is also quite similar with the KB04 having a slight edge to my ears. That is probably down to the extra spacing provided by the extra emphasis in the treble. Despite the hybrid setup, the Diamond has slightly better layering and separation, and more accurate imaging, though the performance here is again quite close.

Overall I quite prefer the Diamond. The KB04 performs on a similar level in some aspects but is let down by the midrange consistency (or lack thereof) and timbre quality. Fine for the price, but not above.

When it comes to build the Diamond is without question superior. How could it not be with more attractive design, better fit and finish, and improved ergonomics. The cable is also a heck of a lot more premium thanks to the improved core count, more plush sheath, and higher quality hardware. No competition really.

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In The Ear Like the Diamond before it, the KB04 features a heavy metal shell in a half-moon shape. The KB04 is slightly shorter, yet thicker than the Diamond, with a similarly hefty weight. The two piece chromed (read: finger-print magnet) zinc-alloy shells are nicely constructed with a third section taking on nozzle duty. The KB04's nozzle is slightly broader than average with a ~6mm diameter. The flange for retaining tips comes in at around 7mm. Those with small ear canals take heed. This nozzle design looks like it could easily be upgraded to accommodate a removable filter system, so I honestly wouldn't be surprised if a “Pro” version came out in a few months, similar to what NiceHCK did with the NX7. The 0.75mm 2-pin ports are heavily recessed which in my opinion is a good thing. While it does limit third party cable options to only those with very small plugs, durability is vastly improved since the pins are not the only thing holding the cable upright.

Speaking of cables, I keep reading that this one should be replaced out of the box. For the life of me, I can't understand why. Outside of the fact that it is easy to tangle if you're not careful, this is a really nice cable to be included with a budget earphone. The black rubber sheath is flexible and well behaved with just enough slickness to it to slide over clothes without feeling too rubbery or plasticky. The 90 degree angled jack is small and well relieved, and the tiny rubber y-split contains a neatly integrated chin cinch that produces just enough friction to stay right where you set it, while adjusting without too much effort. The preformed ear guides use a slightly rough, matte shrink wrap. While flexible, they still hold the cable behind the ear during extreme movement. The compact plug hardware is a familiar sight, having been seen recently on the Moondrop Starfield, as well as on 2018's BQEYZ KC2, among numerous other earphones.

Comfort is generally a positive with the KB04, though I oddly found the smaller size a detriment when compared to the similarly shaped Diamond. It rests neatly in the outer ear with the weight distributing fairly evenly across the antitragus, though never feels quite as stable is it's larger, similarly shaped cousin. The thick nozzle may be to account for this, though the preinstalled black tips are thin and flexible enough to more or less counter that in my experience. Just one of the many reasons I like them.

Isolation is quite average thanks to a fairly shallow fit and ample ventilation. Thankfully those vents are all on the inside so wind noise isn't much of a concern. Still, while using them while typing I can still clearly hear each snick of the keys, they're just dulled. The same can be said for cars and people talking nearby. With foam tips things obviously improve. These would work in very noisy area, just be prepared to compensate with a volume increase.

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In The Box The KB04 arrives in some pretty straight forward packaging. The exterior sheath is mostly matte black with a digital model of the earphones in the front, along with the usual branding and model information. Flipping to the rear you find the KB EAR logo and a list of specifications;
  • Driver Type: Dynamic + Balanced Armature w/ 2-way crossover
  • Cable: 0.75mm 2-pin silver plated copper
  • Sensitivity: 104dB +/- 3dB
  • Impedance: 10ohms +/- 10%
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 40KHz
Sliding off the sheath reveals a user guide with a 12 month warranty form on the back, the earphones and some spare tips tucked into a foam insert, and a smaller box containing the rest of the included accessories. In all you get:
  • KB04 earphones
  • 0.75mm 2-pin silver plated copper cable
  • Black single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Green single flange silicone tips (s/m/l)
  • Shirt clip
Overall a pretty standard unboxing. While the green tips are pretty basic and I could do without them, the black tips I love. I've come across a few earphones in my years of reviewing that came with the same tips and they always find their way into my tip rolling lineup because they are very comfortable and seal wonderfully. They're a little tough to install on the KB04 thanks to a flimsy core, but your patience is rewarded with a great sounding tip. Props to KB EAR for including them.

Final Thoughts The KB 04 is an attractive fingerprint magnet with a nicely built and reasonably comfortable but heavy shell. The included cable and set of black tips are (imo) quite nice and do not need to be replaced out of the box. In terms of sound, the punchy, well-extended low end backed by good clarity and detail through the mids and treble make for an appealing listen, even if timbre quality isn't quite up to par and the vocal presentation is a bit messy.

Overall a satisfying earphone, one KB EAR definitely should not be ashamed of. It does lots right, little wrong, and for the price is a solid value for a durable daily driver. Good stuff.

Thanks for reading!

- B9

**If you enjoyed this review, there are tons more to be found over on The Contraptionist.**

Disclaimer Thanks to Doona from MissAudio Store for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the KB04, and for arranging a sample. The thoughts within this review are my own subjective opinions and do not represent KB EAR or MissAudio. At the time of writing the KB04 retailed for 39.99 USD but was on sale for 26.39 USD. You can order yours here: www.aliexpress.com/item/4000800062960.html

Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, FiiO M3 Pro, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

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
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