KBEAR KB04 - 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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Pros: Entertaining V-shaped tuning
Powerful bass
Well integrated drivers
Clean treble with few nasties
Generally good timbre
Cons: Some bass bleed
Soundstage could be larger
Minimal accessories
Recessed connection limits cable choices
The KB04 is the latest model from KBEAR, who have certainly given us variety in their releases so far. They began with the Opal (single DD), then came the KB10 (5BA), F1 (single BA), Hi7 (1DD + 6BA), KB06 (1 DD + 2BA) and the Diamond (single DLC DD). The KB04 is a dual hybrid, (1 DD + 1BA). It comes packaged in a small rectangular box similar to that of the Opal and F1, a black box with green accents featuring a colour image of the IEMs on the front and specifications on the back. Sliding open the box reveals the IEMs sitting in a foam insert below which there are two pairs of wide bore tips and a white box containing the 2 pin SPC cable and three sets of grey narrow bore tips. A brief instruction manual is also supplied.


The IEMs are made from a dense zinc alloy in a bright silver finish. The profile is gently curved and the faceplate has an incised line with a raised section in the centre. There is a small pinhole vent at the base of the nozzle and another similar vent below the clearly marked channel identification on the underside, which is smoothly contoured and very comfortable. The 2-pin sockets are recessed and will only take a small connector so this may be an issue if changing cables. The drive units featured are a 10mm dynamic driver with a PET diaphragm and a balanced armature driver covering the treble region. The type of BA is not specified but is most likely the ubiquitous 30095 unit. The SPC cable is a black braided type with a right angled 3.5mm metal plug. There is a metal Y-split and small chin slider.


The IEMs were left burning in for 100 hours to settle down the components, after which they were evaluated using an Xduoo X20 DAP. I used the stock cable and the supplied black wide bore tips which gave a good fit and seal and so I did not find it necessary to change them.


The immediate impression was of a well-balanced V-shaped presentation with solid, satisfying bass and good extension and texture. Mids were only slightly recessed due to the excellent detail and separation. Treble was generally smooth and delivered good detail and extension, largely free of harshness. The transition between midrange and treble was well-handled and avoided the peaks often found around the crossover frequency in similar dual hybrid designs. The overall sound profile resembled that of the popular BLON BL-03 but with a little extra brightness and sparkle up top.


Bass


The bass was north of neutral with good sub-bass presence, gradually declining towards the midrange but still displaying a warm tonality. Depth was well-handled, as evidenced in space music maestro Jonn Serrie’s “Fantasy Passages” from his album “And the Stars Go With You”. The deep electronic effects and bass drones formed a solid foundation for the piece with some decent rumble on offer. Likewise, the orchestral bass drum in “Albeniz’s Castilla” conducted by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos possessed good extension and impact while at the same time retaining a natural timbre. The powerful drum parts in Pink Floyd’s “Cluster 1” from “The Division Bell” also impressed with good weight and power. The extra warmth did, however, sometimes soften the transient response and there was a little bleed into the mids.


Mids


The midrange showed a gradual brightening from the boundary with the bass up to the treble region. The lower mids were coloured by the bass bleed but this resulted in an attractive “bloom” to this area. In “The Cello’s Song” by David Arkenstone and Kostia, the solo instrument gained some warmth which, as another reviewer commented, produced an over-romanticised” effect which was actually very pleasant and relaxing. Further up the frequency range, the sound became better balanced and more detailed. The various string sections in Kurt Atterberg’s “Varmlands Rhapsody” performed by the Camerata Nordica were well differentiated and had good attack and clarity. The timbre here was spot-on. Vocals were also clear with male vocals sounding natural and female vocals just a little more forward. Al Stewart’s “Palace of Versailles” from his “Time Passages” album was a good example. Al Stewart’s voice is light and expressive and the KB04 preserved its character very well, with the studio reverb on this track being easy to discern.


Treble


The treble region was elevated above the midrange, but did not suffer from the common malaise of inexpensive hybrids where the upper mids and lower treble are emphasised leading to harshness and sibilance. The extension was good and did not roll off too early. The crystalline sound effects in Andreas Vollenweider’s “The Glass Hall” from “White Winds” were clean and bright with abundant detail. The accompanying harp and female vocals were also very distinct and the whole of the complex production could be appreciated. Clannad’s “Fairy Queen” from the “Magical Ring” album features Celtic harp and guitar in an intimate acoustic and the KB04 made a very good job of this with the bright sonorities and clean transients producing a “live” feel to the track with excellent atmosphere. Charles Ives’s “The Unanswered Question” is a modern classical piece with leanings towards serialism. In the version with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, a quiet sustained string backgound supports sudden atonal woodwind sound clusters and the effect is magical. The KB04 handled this very well, retaining bite but without harshness on the woodwind climaxes, which was very praiseworthy.


Soundstage


The soundstage was largely spherical with equal dimensions in height width and depth. Positioning was very good, In Mark Dwane’s “Galaxis Chaos” the synthesised guitar sounds moved around the image very impressively, adding to the excitement of the piece. The positioning of instruments within an orchestra also impressed. In “Greenwich” from Hubert Clifford’s “Kentish Suite conducted by Martin Brabbyns, it was possible to imagine oneself seated in the concert hall with the musicians laid out in a very natural and authentic way and the brass, strings and percussion all occupying their correct position in the hall. “Song of White” from Vangelis’s “Antarctica” soundtrack also sounded very good with the desolate lonely solo voice echoing across the landscape, before the full main theme entered triumphantly filling the stage.


Conclusion


The KBEAR KB04 possesses a warm V-signature with a pleasant well-contoured treble, yet not lacking in detail. It avoids the mid/treble emphasis found in models such as the CCA CA4, KZ ZSN Pro and TRN ST1, instead opting for a smoother presentation perhaps inspired by the BLON BL-03. The overall profile does resemble that of its more glamorous sister, the Diamond, and in fact, I would say the KB04 manages to deliver a significant proportion of the Diamond’s performance at around a third of the price. This represents excellent value and if you are in the market for a well-balanced, well-made IEM which has no major shortcomings (bar a little bass bleed) then the KB04 recommends itself at this price point.

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waveriderhawaii
waveriderhawaii
Fantastic review as always B9.
Nimweth
Nimweth
Thank you! CVJ CSN and BLON BL-05 coming next!
Pros: Clear accurate sound, fast tight bass, cohesive tonality, richly detailed treble, smoothly bright, great technicalities for the price, built like a tank, great value
Cons: Thin uninviting mids, slightly harsh lower treble, average imaging and soundstage, not versatile 2pin connectors
KBEAR KB04 REVIEW

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SOUND: 8/10
CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN: 8.5/10
PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES: 7.5/10
VALUE: 9/10
KBEAR has been around for about a year as a growing up Chinese earphones company, they are known under the name of TRI Audio too. Earning from trial and error from their first models, this company has been hit or miss with their first earphones but has made very competent budget IEM too like the KB06 or lately the Diamond which is an excellent single dynamic driver earphone.

Since they begin their collaboration with audio enthusiast tuner Jurgen Kraus and Kopi Okaya, I feel KBear expand their horizon and takes more seriously the tuning of their earphones. The DIAMOND has a kind of brightish Harman tuning curve, very well balanced in tonality and lively in musicality, it offers as much fun than accuracy and the new KB04 model I will review today is tuned by the same team, which now look like to have their own ”house sound”.

The KB04 has a similar tuning curve to the DIAMOND, but this time it’s a hybrid IEM with 1DD and 1BA. This type of hybrid invades Chi-Fi market, especially in sub-50$ price range, we can think of TRN IM1 or IM2, KZ ZSN or even their own KB06.

Priced at 30$, these are supreme budget earphones, so my expectations aren’t very high. Let’s see in this review if it shall be on your impulsive buy list.

You can buy the KB04 at the best price (26$) from KBEAR STORE.


SPECS


1. Product Name: KB EAR KB04
2. Brand: KB EAR
3. Model:KB04
4. Earphone type: In Ear
5. Impedance: 16Ω±20%
6. Earphone sensitivity: 104db±3db
7. Frequency response range:20Hz-40KHz
8. Plug Type: 3.5mm L Bending
9. Cable Length: 120±5cm
10.Color: gun
11.Whether with cable: Yes
12.Earphone connector:0.78mm Pin connector
13.Whether with mic:With mic
14.Whether can replacement cable: Yes
15.Driver unit: 1BA+1DD


PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES

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Nothing to look at here really, it’s a minimalist package similar to KZ and TRN. You have minimal accessories, or in fact, no accessories at all apart from 6 pairs of silicone eartips. The included 4 cores cable isn’t that bad and does not justify the urgent need to upgrade, in this regard, it’s better than KZ.


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CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN

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The construction is very impressive for the price, it’s a thick heavy metal and you will not find any plastic apart from the 2pin connector embedded deep into the housing. In hand, it feels sturdy like a tank and I’m not afraid at all of dropping them on the hard floor. As well, metal finish isn’t easily scratchable, which questions me even more why flagship IEM that can cost 1000 to 2000$ still use housing finish that is easily scratchable. For 30$ you got earphones that look way pricier, is very beautiful, and have enough ergonomic shape.


DESIGN is strictly thought for over-ear wearing. The nozzle is quite long so you will not have trouble having a proper fit, but housing shape can touch the side of your inner ears. The real issue is with the 2pin connector that is too deep inside the housing, so you cannot use any 2pin cable, in fact, lot of the 2pin cable I test give me false hope about compatibility as it does connect, but will suddenly disconnect after some time of use to the point the KB04 fall off the ground. This never happens to me with any other earphones so this is a serious flaws to take into account, only stock cable and similar 2pin cable will match the KB04. For example, the DUNU DM-480 is compatible, but not the….KBear Diamond cable (which is one of my favorite cable). Stock ear tips do not fit well my ears so I use longer KZ Starline ear tips. Too deep insertion isn’t suggested with KB04, because the housing will perhaps press on your ear tragus.


DRIVEABILITY

At 16ohm of impedance and 104db of sensitivity, the KB04 will be properly drived by any source, should it be a phone, a DAP or DAC-AMP.

ISOLATION

ISOLATION is excellent and does a great passive noise canceling job. Even at low volume, it cut most outside noise. Thanks to its thick metal housing and the fact it does not have back venting hole, the KB04 will satisfy those searching to only hear their music and nothing of the outside world. Sound leakage do exist due to the 2 front venting holes, but it’s not as high as you could expect, still, it’s just average in that regard.

SOUND

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The overall sound signature of KB04 finds it’s placed between V and W shape signature, with fast tight punchy bass that do not take front seat, slightly bright mids with high clarity and crisp lively treble. It has a very good tonal balance for it’s price and timbre while on the thin side is nicely textured and not overly grainy as it can happen with IEM using entry-level balanced armature. KB04 is technically competent and have impressive cohesion between it’s 2 different drivers.

SOUNDSTAGE is just above average for its price, it has enough wideness to not feel stuck in your head and quite good deepness, especially when using bigger longer ear tips which improve overall headroom size.

IMAGING is again average for its price, and sharper in the treble region for instrument separation. Layering isn’t very transparent and instrument separation space is minimal, which can make you struggle to pinpoint instrument placement.

THE BASS is quite impressive in speed, impact and control, it’s a thumping kind of bass where mid and lower mid lows are more chunky than lower sub-bass. The extension do not dig down to 20hz which affect the natural bass response of instrument like an acoustic bass, but this isn’t an issue for slap bass, electric bass, synth bass as it has enough slam and weight to give good presentations. The separation is very good too, with minimal bleed to lower mid-range. The texture is a hint warm, but not too opaque or liquid. Cello sound quite nice, but acoustic bass is a little muffled as said. Anyway, I find the KB04 bass quite versatile for diverse genres like electronic, pop, soul, R&B, rock…well, anything but jazz really.

MIDS are perhaps the weakest point of KB04, in the sense is the less full sounding area, especially in lower mids up to 2khz where you have more energy. An instrument like piano sounds thin but the attack is fast and accurate. Mids are crisp and energic, slightly bright, and female vocal sound more forward than male vocal. You have a minimal amount of sibilance, which is quite great in this price range where harshness is common. The tonality is quite good, not artificial or grainy. I find timbre not very transparent and separation in mids not particularly accurate, it’s rather intimate and compressed, again thin but not with the transparency we can expect with thin timbre. I don’t think KB04 is tuned for mids or vocal lovers, even if they are far from bad it’s just not a lush immersive presentation, it’s very forward and sharp.

TREBLE is perhaps my favorite part of the KB04, and this is perhaps due to the fact I’m not treble sensitive, but not only that, it’s due to the fact the balanced armature driver does not sound as artificial or bright as I was expecting. I don’t know the model used, but it’s not those KZ BA that is very grainy and shouty. Highs are vivid, crisp, and sparkly, this is where we have the best separation too with good space between percussions and instruments. No splashiness nor shortness, it’s well-controlled and balanced and while it sure is slightly pushed more forward than the rest of the spectrum, it keeps its cohesion and avoids sounding overly trebly. You have an excellent amount of micro-details for the price and a very snappy attack too. The whole treble is extended so it sounds full too, percussions or instruments like clavichord do not sound overly metallic and the attack-decay is fast and edgy. Electric guitar sounds great, violin too, in fact, anything but woodwinds and piano instruments sound great from 3khz to 15khz.

COMPARISONS

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VS KBEAR KB06 (20$)

The KB06 is a similar hybrid IEM, but smaller and more comfortable. It has open back so isolation is rather poor compared to KB04.
SOUNDSTAGE is wider and more out of your head with the KB06, but it isn’t as deep as the KB04. IMAGING is very similar with both, but more precise with KB04. BASS dig lower and is more controlled with the KB04, it’s more thumping too, while KB06 is sloppy and warmer and tend to veil the lower mids more. MIDS is more forward with the KB06 but more grainy and warm too, tonality isn’t as realist as KB04 and separation is messy with the vocal that can overshadow rest of the spectrum. TREBLE is more forward and aggressive, it have more emphasis in upper highs than smoother KB04, you do have more sparkle to the cost of unbalance and overly metallic-brilliant timbre.

The overall tonality of the KB06 is brighter with a weaker bass response and less natural tonality than more refined and balanced KB04 which offer notably superior technicalities.

VS BLON BL-03 (30$)

In the Chi-Fi geek world, it looks like we MUST compare any new sub-50$ contender to the mythical BLON, and there no better way to try hyping a newcomer than stating it’s a BLON KILLER! Well, the KB04 isn’t a BLON killer in term of overall tonal balance, timbre and bass extension, but let’s see if in term of price-performance or technicalities it keep up its ground.

SOUNDSTAGE is taller and wider with the BLON, while it’s slightly deeper with the KB04. IMAGING is sharper with KB04 with better separation even if the instrument has less space between them. BASS has a more natural extension with the BLON, sub-bass is fuller making the sub-bass line of KB04 sound boxy, mid-bass of KB04 is tighter and more punchy, it’s faster than BLON too. MIDS of the KB04 is thinner, edgier and brighter, BLON has more transparent mids with more natural timbre, the vocal is less sibilant while instrument in mid-range sound wider and fuller. TREBLE is more forwards with the KB04, it’s shoutier in upper highs which can sound unbalanced with rest of spectrum, the BLON have more natural highs, warmer and thicker in presentation as well as more sparkly in the attack. The KB04 do show more micro-details and have faster attack but lack overall cohesion of BLON.

All in all, the BLON has a better tonality, fuller timbre, and more naturally balanced sound than more aggressive and forwards sounding KB04 which is better in attack speed and resolution.

VS DUNU DM-480 (70$)

The DM-480 is a dual dynamic earphone with a small universal custom shell that is way more comfortable than KB04. The cable included is of better quality too, but at 2 times the price of KB04, it is to be expected.

SOUNDSTAGE is again wider and more out of your head with DM-480 but about the same tallness and less deep. IMAGING is less precise with the DM-480, but layering is more transparent. BASS is more boosted with the DM-480, but it has less sub extension and is less thick than KB04 which has more balanced and controlled bass making the DM480 more V shape and boomy. MIDS is more recessed with DM-480 but has a wider presentation and more transparency, making tonality slightly more natural for vocal which is warmer and less clear than KB04. TREBLE is richer, faster, and more detailed with the KB04, it’s crisper and more snappy too, the DM-480 has crunchy highs wich fastly roll off and lack air and minimal sparkle of KB04.

The overall tonality of DM-480 is darker and bassier with a less balanced V shape signature and inferior technicality and tonality, which makes the KB04 sound like a 70$ IEM and the DM-480 a 30$ IEM.

CONCLUSION

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People that have stubborn closed mind never evolve in life, and the fact KBEAR open their mind for tuning target make me more interested in their new product. Since the DIAMOND, they became one of the very few Chi-Fi companies in ultra-budget realms to keep an eye one and the KB04 justify this even more.

For 30$, these Hybrid IEM offer an impressive amount of technicalities that translate into fast transient response, cohesive balance between the 2 drivers, realist tonality, and high level of clarity. If you search for a maturely tuned slightly V shape earphones that have high resolution and well-articulated sound and is a great all-arounder for anything but sub-heavy music, I think there nothing to loose buying these earphones that hit above their price range.

Yep, I’m now a KBear believer! Amen!


(for more honest reviews, give a look to my BLOG)
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Pros: solid build, well balanced sound, non-fatiguing
Cons: Imaging is not particularly precise, not as detailed as some and may be too laid-back for some.

Disclaimer: The KBear KB04 was sent for review directly from KBear after a conversation on Facebook about the new model. I have no financial interest in KBear, nor have I received any instruction or compensation for this review beyond the item itself. If you have an interest in KBear products, you can get more information on their facebook, or website and buy their products through their ali express store.

Unboxing / Packaging:
Those familiar with the typical budget packaging used by KB-ear will recognize the slip-cover style packaging of the KB-04 with graphics on the front and specs on the reverse. Once the cover is removed the earpieces sit in a foam surround above a small box with the remainder of the kit. In total, the kit contains the cable, 6 sets of tips (SML in 2 styles), a shirt clip, and the user manual. No case, cable tie, or foams are provided but with a price of sub-$30 USD, a lot can be forgiven here.



Build/Fit:
The KB04 is an all metal shell of a 3 piece design with faceplate, inner-shell and nozzle. Shape is a 1/2 egg with the split along the long axis so it narrows at the front and widens a bit at the rear with a rounded lower edge and a flat upper surface. The inner and outer surfaces are flat as well giving the KB04 kind of a boxy feel, but the rounded edges keep it from being uncomfortable. The inner flat has 2 vents one near the nozzle on a small step at the front and a larger vent close to the rear of the shell directly below the L/R designation. Nozzles have a slight forward and upward rake and a lip for tip retention. The bi-pin connector on the top rear of the shell is recessed and unlike some models, the connector is partially in the face and partially in the inner shell meaning both parts have recesses cut for the connector and require polishing around the connector. This is a nice touch on a budget in ear as it almost certainly requires more work than putting the entire connector behind the faceplate so only one part has to be cut to fit. The polish on the KB04 is also quite good if not quite the mirror that the Moondrop models tend to be, the downside is that it collects fingerprints to a level that could be used in a police investigation.






Internals:
The KB04 uses a balanced armature driver to handle the treble and a single 10mm dynamic driver featuring a polyurethane diaphragm to handle the lows and mids. A 2 way cross-over handles the distribution duites between the two. I have seen a couple Ali sites listing the KB04 as a triple driver, but the official KBear page and the exploded diagram below clearly show it as a single. While I couldn’t find a definitive answer to which BA is used, it appears to be the 30095 that is common in this role. Nominal impedance is listed as 16Ω with a sensitivity of 104 dB/mW which means the KB04 should be fairly easy to drive and my experience confirms that as it worked equally well from a dongle dac or something with considerably more power. The KB04 does scale some qualitatively as the bass seems to tighten up a bit with higher powered sources.



Cable:
The provided cable starts with a 90º jack with a proper strain relief as an extension of the black plastic housing. Above the housing, a 4 strand twist exits and runs to the splitter. KB-ear lists the wire as pure copper but does not go into more detail than that. The splitter is as small black plastic V shape with a chin slider sitting atop. Above the split two wire twists run to pre-formed earhooks and then to black plastic housing with .78mm bi-pin connectors. L/R are not printed on the connectors but a blue and red dot on the leading edge does help with indexing and the earpieces do have a large L/R marked on the inner surface of the shell. The cable isn’t fancy, but it works well and is fairly durable with little tendency to tangle when coiled.




Tips:
The KB04 ships with two styles of tips. One is black with a wide bore while the other is grey with a narrower bore. The two do modify the sound a bit so I recommend trying both (and maybe some others) to find what works best for your listening preferences. I found the mids to be a bit more forward on the wide bore and thus preferred that style. The grey does bring a bit more low end emphasis for those that desire that.

Sound:


Bass:
Sub-bass is a focal point of the KB04 with a center at about 60Hz and a gradual roll-of below that. Rumble is good with roll-off becoming evident in the mid 30Hz range. Speed is middle of the road so attack is slightly blunted and decay lingers enough to contribute a bit of extra thickness to notes. Mid-bass transitions nicely and does drop back slightly from the sub-bass peak but not enough to feel recessed. Textures are about average here and there is some perceptible bleed that again contributes a bit of weight and warmth at the expense of a little clarity in this range. Overall bass is slightly north of neutral and results in a mild V tuning but is not pronounced enough to be called dominant or to make the bassheads happy.

Mids:
The lower mids start out colored by a bit of mid-bass bleed but then open up above that with improved clarity and good tonality. Again not the most detailed of presentations, but good body to the notes and a fairly realistic tone for male vocals. Guitar growl is good, while violins feel a little thick which isnt particularly surprising considering the tuning and intended market. The mids climb a bit forward as you move up and female vocals tend to stand out a bit farther in front of the instrumentation as a result. Here I found tip selection important as some accentuated the push while others tamed it a bit. If you find female vocals a bit too aggressive try a narrower bore tip like the Shure olives as they seemed to tame it a bit.

Treble:
The lower treble continues the climb of the upper-mids and reaches the level of the sub-bass. it has good detail and clarity, but sometimes becomes a bit fatiguing due to that extra energy. I won’t class it as piercing or excessively treble forward, but at moments it is enough to contribute to some fatigue. The treble sensitive may want to audition these before purchase to be safe, but for most it isnt enough to be a major concern. Tip selection may also play a role here so some tip-rolling may be in order. Above the lower treble plateau, the treble drops back to a level roughly equal to the lower mids which probably also helps keep the KB04 from crossing the line between slightly fatiguing and outright harsh. Cymbals are not quite realistic but still manage to sound fairly good and snare rattle is reasonably well rendered as well but lacks just a bit of snap in the attack. Final roll-off becomes audible just over 12kHz and gives the KB04 some top end air but sparkle is somewhat limited.

Soundstage / Imaging:
Stage has a bit more width than depth (not uncommon) but does retain enough depth to keep it from feeling overly intimate. Instrument separation is quite frankly a bit better than I expected considering the slight thickening of the sound and driver speed. Seating the orchestra is fairly straight forward with the occasional placment more side by side than front to back due to the stage shape. Imaging is average at best with direction lacking some precision and placements being more area than pinpoint as a result. Layering is also somewhat limited with an obvious compression to the sound as tracks get more complex. This was particularly evident with tracks like “Blues Hand me Down” -Vintage Trouble where a lot of that complexity is in the mids and lows.

Comparisons:
At the $30 price point, I chose the CCA C12 that can be found on sale for roughly the same, the KBear KB06 as the predecessor, and how do we not compare against the Blon BL03 as the darling of the class.

CCA C12 – These two have little other than price point in common. The C12 is a Hybrid with a single dynamic (used for sub-bass) and 5 balanced armatures while the KB04 is a 2 driver hybrid with much more of the overall load being carried by the dynamic driver. The C12 is a metal faced, plastic shell with a separate nozzle while the KB04 is all metal and a bit higher quality in the looks department. Sound wise the C12 has a bit more sub-bass emphasis while the mids are a bit less set back on the KB04. Both have similar pushes to the upper-mid/ lower-treble regions and both fall back below that plateau. Extension favors the C12 slightly as does detail but the trade off is it also tends to get a bit more fatiguing than the KB04.

KBear KB06 – Build on the KB04 is markedly different from both a shape and materials standpoint with the KB04 easily looking like the higher quality of the two. Mostly plastic in the KB06 and all metal in the KB04. Driver wise, both are hybrid with a single dynamic driver but the KB06 has two balanced armatures while the 04 sports a single ba driver. The 06 uses one of the ba drivers to handle the mids while the KB04 uses the dynamic for everything below the treble. The KB06 had a bit more sub-bass than the KB04 but with less mid-bass and mids which gives it a more V shape when compared side by side. At the top end, the treble of the KB06 was a bit grainy by comparison and detail levels are roughly equal with perhaps a very slight edge given to the KB06.

BLON BL-03 – This has to be the most hyped in-ear of 2019 and is still going strong in early 2020. The BL-03 is a single dynamic driver vs the hybrid design of the KB04 but while the KB04 settles for Polyurethane for the diaphragm, the BL-03 steps it up with a carbon nanotube diaphragm that at least in theory should give it a speed (weight) and rigidity advantage. The two are both mostly metal so except for the odd cable angle of the Blon, its a tough call to in the build department. Sound wise, the KB04 almost seems to be modeled after the BL03 with a very similar low end and a bit cleaner mids and top end to go with. The BL03 has a bit less of a scoop to the lower mids, but the KB04 has a bit better clarity in that same range. Things the BL03 did well were cohesiveness, and natural timbre and in both of those it is slightly better than the KB04. Things the BL03 fell down on were detail retrieval, and top end extension and the KB04 betters the BL03 in both of those categories. Those in love with the BL03 probably will not be seduced away from it by the KB04. Those like me that liked the BL03 but thought there were things that could be improved may find the KB04 checks several of those boxes.


Thoughts / Conclusion:
The KB04 is a very solid effort, pun intended. Its all metal shell is a step up from previous KBear budget models and while it may be a bit of a fingerprint magnet, it is certainly durable. Tuning also shows a maturity level that wasn’t present in some of the early models. I think the KB04 shows that KBear has taken the lessons of earlier models and is applying them and genuinely trying to improve their craft. For that, I applaud their efforts. For a price that approaches $25 USD when on sale, the KB04 offers great build quality, an industry standard removable cable for easy replacement should the need arise, and better sound quality than one has any right to expect for less than the cost of a good dinner. That’s a lot to chew on.
Pros: Great build quality, decent stock cable for a budget IEM, hits well above its price tag in sound quality and is very pleasing to the eye.
Cons: Fingerprint magnet , recessed two pin connector, the tuning may not be for everyone.
Build and Comfort:

Die-cast zinc-alloy shells of the KB04. and the design might look familiar, its very solid build reminiscent of RevoNext and so shiny remind me of the Tin P1 only bigger. They are comfortable for long ues as I test things for many days and hours on end. I found them to have good if not great isolation with just the stock tips. The cable is one of the better stock cables I've seen in budget entries.

2 BA 2 DD Hybrid earphones
Two pin connector.
Earphone type: In Ear.Impedance: 16Ω±20%
Earphone sensitivity: 104db±3db.
Frequency response range:20Hz-40KHz.
Plug Type: 3.5mm L Bending.

Sound:

Bass:

Bass is tight , rapid and punchy without loss of control and a nice smooth transition from mid-bass to sub-bass this V possibly U shaped signature does elevated bass the right way without the muddy bloat and a decent amount of details in mid and sub bass.

Mids:

The mids are very pleasant and very clear and smoothly presented with a naturalness to them though the upper mids being slightly forward yet still very pleasant and flows well up into the highs. The mids definitely have a nice tonality making both vocals and instruments have emotion and clarity.

Treble:

The treble is well done and detailed with a good amount of sparkle depending on the track some might find some sibilance fortunately easily fixed by tip rolling and or some EQ to me its not harsh IMO and I found it refreshing. It is far less harsh and much more forgiving and enjoyable than the KZ ZSN Pro that has highs slightly more elevated.

This has been compared to the BLON BL03 and while they are similar looking by graph this is the more lively out of the two as the BLON is more subdued in its upper mid-range and treble.

Soundstage:

Soundstage is Medium in size with slightly more width than depth but very good instrument separation and the KB04's imaging is also very good for a IEM of this price range it was a nice surprise.

Conclusion:

This is another impressive budget offering from the ever growing KBEAR company, I find this product to have exceptional build quality , excellent comfort and overall its a great sounding IEM with clarity, details nice bass good sound-stage and separation, it performs far above something in this price range should. Very impressive.

Attachments

Pros: Cheap, good price to performance ratio
All rounder, good for most music genres
Good fit, comfortable, great build
Above average soundstage width
Above average technicalities (imaging, instrument separation, clarity, details)
Bass on faster side
Easily drivable
2 pin connector (better lifespan than MMCX)
Cons: Fingerprint magnet for chrome shells, not for the OCD
So so accessories (cable, tips)
Lack of subbass extension/quantity (may be a pro or con depending on your tastes)
Occasional harsh upper mids/lower treble
Slightly thinner note weight, and artificial timbre for treble frequencies
Disclaimer #1:
I would like to thank KBEAR for providing this unit for an objective review. My views are my own.

Disclaimer #2:
Burn in was done for 30 hours prior to evaluation. I'm a believer in burn in for dynamic drivers and OOTB I felt the KB04's bass was a bit too subdued. After 30 hours the bass was more textured and of greater quantity. YMMV.




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Specifications:
- Driver: 1BA +1 DD hybrid
- Impedance: 16Ω +/- 10%
- Sensitivity: 104 +/- 3dB
- Frequency response: 20 Hz - 40000 Hz
- Cable: 2 Pin 0.75 MM


Accessories:
In addition to the IEM, it comes with:
1) Detachable 3.5 mm stock SPC cable (2 pin) - on the thinner side but functional. Minimal microphonics and stiffness. It comes in a 2 pin connector, which in general is more durable than MMCX ones in my experience. There's definitely better stock cables I've seen, but as this is a budget set, I can't complain much as costs usually have to be saved in the accessories segment so as to give a cheaper overall package for us consumers.

2) Two types of stock silicone tips in various sizes - black and grey ones. The black stock ones have wider bores and are slightly shorter. These black ones give a boosted upper mids with lesser bass. The grey ones have a narrower bore and are longer. These grey ones boost the bass and tame the upper mids a tinge and were my preferred tips.

3) Shirt clip

In general, if one can afford the slight expenditure, do get better aftermarket tips/cables if you can. This IEM is pretty eartip sensitive, with wider bore ones boosting the upper mids/lower treble, whereas narrower bore ones taming those frequencies. So I guess it depends on your sound signature preference, but I found the KB04 to be a tinge harsh over the upper mids/lower treble, so the narrower bore tips generally helped in this aspect.

I know not everyone here believes in cables changing the sound signature, but aftermarket copper cables do add a bit of warmth and reduce the brightness of the KB04 a tinge.



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Build/comfort:
The KB04 is made of zinc-alloy and is very sturdy. The shell is on the heavier side due to the metal built, but it is very comfortable, ergonomic and well fitting, with no sharp edges.

I did not note any driver flex. One thing to note is that the metal mirror like finish may attract fingerprints, so the OCD among us may not appreciate this.


Isolation:
Slightly above average. The KB04 is vented, 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 ****, BLON BL-03 and Toneking Ninetails.



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Soundstage:
Above average soundstage width. Height and depth of stage is about average.


Sound:
I tested the KB04 with a Desktop -> Khadas Tone Board -> Fiio A3 and Android smartphone and Ziku HK-X9. The KB04 is drivable from smart phones, though it scales slightly with a DAC/AMP (in terms of dynamics, soundstage, and details).

The KB04 has a mild V shaped tuning, and is rather consumer friendly and as such, should be quite an all rounder for most music genres.

I found the clarity, instrument separation, imaging and details to be above average for its price range ($30 USD). In fact, it is not too far away from some budget sub $50 multi BA/hybrid CHIFI in the area of resolution, eg KZ ZS10 Pro and Jade Audio EA3, and it has better resolution than most single DD CHIFI around that pricing like the BLON BL-03.

The timbre of the KB04 is slightly artificial in the treble frequencies. The lower frequency timbre handled by the DD sounds quite legit. Note weight for the higher frequencies are also on the thinner side, and voices occasionally sounded nasal and dry in timbre. But voices were clear and very intelligable.


Bass:
The KB04's subbass extends to around 30 Hz but is of lower quantity than the midbass. There's not much rumble in the subbass for a DD bass and decay is about moderate for a DD bass. There's a slight midbass hump that is north of neutral, with good punch, but this is not a basshead set. With the same tips and sources used, I would say the midbass is of slightly less quantity than bassier sets like the BLON BL-03 and KBEAR Diamond.

The KB04's midbass is of not too bad quality, it is quite textured and speedy. There's a very mild midbass bleed.

Mids:
Mids are detailed and clean. There's some depression in the lower mids with an upper mids boost, hence female vocals are generally more forward than male vocals. In fact the upper mids area (around 3ish kHz or so) can be occasionally harsh with the black wide bore stock tips, but the good news is that the grey narrower bore tips provided (and other narrower aftermarket tips) can tame this area.

Treble:
The KB04's lower treble is elevated and has good details and clarity. Thankfully, majority of the time the treble is not on the fatiguing/painful side. I'm treble sensitive and felt that the KB04's treble was still managable compared to brighter similar configured sets like the Jade Audio EA3. As per the mids, narrower bore tips (like the stock grey tips) can help tame the treble in comparison to the black wide bore stock tips. Or pairing the KB04 with a warmer source might also help.

There's some good air in the KB04 and I think trebleheads will enjoy this set for the great clarity and details at the treble region. Sibilance is mild and quite track dependent, but occasionally snares and cymbals may be splashy.


Comparisons:
1) Jade Audio EA3:
The EA3 is a sub $50 set that has a similar configuration (1 BA + 1 DD) and the BA used in the EA3 is supposedly a Knowles BA, which is uncommon at that pricing. The EA3 is more extended at both ends, with more subbass and treble. Timbre and technicalities are about on par between the two sets. The EA3 has better soundstage width and isolation.
However, the EA3 is a much brighter set with more sibilance and treble harshness. Tuning wise I think most headfiers found the EA3 to be very bright, but thankfully the KB04 doesn't hit such brightness and hence it would probably be more appreciated by treble sensitive folks.

2) BLON BL-03
The BLON BL-03 is a single DD set that is also sub $30. They couldn't be more different beasts. The BL-03 excels at timbre and tonality but is on the weaker side for technicalities. In contrast, the KB04 trumps the BL-03 in technical aspects like details, clarity, instrument separation, though at the expense of timbre.

The midbass of the BL-03 is of slightly more quantity than the KB04 but the BL-03's bass is less textured and speedy than the KB04.
There's a treble roll off in the BL-03, with less clarity and details than the KB04, though this may contribute to less fatigue for longer listening sessions.

Isolation and fit is poor on the BL-03. The KB04 is good to go OOTB and has good fit.

3) Westone 3
The Westone 3 is no longer in production, it is a 3 BA set, but believe it or not, the KB04 can hit almost the same technical quality as it at 1/10 the price of the Westone 3 when I bought it a few years back. The Westone 3 is slightly more V shaped, with harsher upper mids/lower treble and a more prominent midbass hump. Timbre and soundstage is about on par, but the Westone 3 has better isolation. This speaks volumes about how far CHIFI tuning and technology has come!


Conclusion:
The KB04 is a very good entry level CHIFI. It would be a good beginner set to recommend to newbies to the hobby.
For the $30 pricetag, it boasts good price to performance ratio, is quite an all rounder, and has above average technicalities and comes in a good build. For those that are still discovering their sound signature preference and want to find something that is mildly V shaped, this will be one set that is a good option. In fact I think CHIFI beginners would cover most of the bases in their budding audiophile journey with a BLON BL-03 and KBEAR KB04. The former for timbre/tonality that is good for predominantly acoustic instrument genres and the latter for something more technical than the BL-03 with a consumer friendly tuning; they would compliment each other nicely.

This is really nitpicking, considering the cheap price of the KB04, regarding the occasional upper mids/lower treble harshness of this set, these frequencies can be tamed with wider bore tips or a warmer source or various other mods.

More experienced audiophiles or those that have been around the CHIFI circuit will probably own something more impressive sound wise, but probably that something is also more expensive and is at diminishing returns. But as they say in this hobby, once you have heard the good stuff, unfortunately you can't unhear them hahaha.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the music!
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