RikudouGoku

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Well tuned DF-neutral
Good timbre for a BA iem
Neutral and uncolored
Decent bass texture for a single BA
Vocals (especially female)
Non-offensive treble
Tailor made cable
Cons: Questionable QC (channel imbalance and missing tips)
Deep fit recommended to maximize sound, not that comfortable (for me)
Imaging and separation can't handle fast/busier tracks
BA bass
Slight BA timbre across the range
Upper-treble roll-off
Might be too boring for some
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Disclaimer: I received this review unit from KBEAR, thank you very much.

Price: 50 usd

Specifications:


Sensitivity: 105dB

Impedance: 14Ω

Interface: QDC

Plug type: 3.5mm

Frequency range: 20-20kHz

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Accessories:

Carry case

(Missing tips in my unit)

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Cable: 2 core SPC cable that is basically tailor made for the Neon due to it being very lightweight and without ear hooks. L/R markings are transparent and very hard to see though and since I wasn’t able to measure it due to the QDC structure, I compared the graph for the stock cable vs cable A3 that has a very low resistance.

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And there wasn’t any FR changes, either because the BA responds like this or because the stock cable measures similarly. In any cases, it isn’t required to change the stock cable as it works and looks great (IMO), but the chin-slider is non-working though.


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Build: Resin build with aluminum nozzle and mesh. It’s a very small build and is also very lightweight. L/R are identified by the colors.

Fit: Bullet style fit and you can use it in 2 ways; either you use it like a normal bullet iem and use a normal sized tip that works for you or you can use it in a deeper fit which is achievable when you use the smallest tip size that you can still get a seal with. It sounds better to me with the deeper fit and that is what I am using and evaluating.
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(Final Audio F series guide: https://snext-final.com/en/products/detail/F7200.html )

Comfort: It’s a BA iem, so that means it has no vents and it is noticeable with its pressure build up. Although thanks to its bullet fit/size, it is better than other BA iems in this regard. So, if you are sensitive to pressure build up, you should stay away from the Neon. Personally, I can handle it but it isn’t really comfortable and I need a break after around 1 hour (and the deeper fit than normal isn’t something I like that much in terms of comfort).

Isolation: Very good isolation due to the ventless body, but not as good as the other BA iems since this is a bullet iem. Still a lot better than average though.

Setup: Schiit Asgard 3 (low-gain, volume around 8-9 o´clock), Final Audio Type E Tips S, stock cable 3.5mm

Lows:
BA like bass with the speed and tightness, that is very flat and clean, and IMO too little quantity for my taste´s. Extension and rumble are very poor so it’s not an iem for bassheads, but it does have decent texture and quite good timbre despite all that.

Mid-bass: Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), very clean due to it being very fast (especially the decay) and tight like BA´s usually are. Texture is lacking as with most BA´s but timbre is very impressive although there is still some BA timbre in it. The (02:55-03:01) section with the chopper is hearable and very clean.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), decent texture despite having very low bass quantity. Very clean due to the speed and tightness and timbre is good.

Sub-bass: Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), poor extension and rumble like a typical BA. Punch quantity is also very low with too fast decay while it is very tight.

Will Sparks – Sick like that (03:08-03:22), Too little bass quantity and texture but is clean due to the speed and tightness.

Mids: Very good vocals in both timbre and tonality (especially the female vocals). They are neither recessed nor forward as well as being very clean. Vocal lovers should enjoy this a lot and overall naturality is very good and very little BA timbre in it.

Female-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), Vocal and instrument tonality are very good. Vocals have the brightness they need while the instruments got some warmth to them. Although the vocals could be a bit more forward. Details and clarity are very good here. Timbre is actually very good here.

Yuki Hayashi – MightU (01:58-02:55), very good tonality with both vocals and instruments. Although the vocals do need to be more forward here. Timbre is also very good here.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), not sharp or shouty but is a bit fatiguing.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Crescent (02:07-02:26), sharp and the imaging and separation are struggling here.

Male-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (00:57-01:17), very good tonality and timbre with both instruments and vocals, although the bass do need some more quantity.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), both vocals and instruments need to be warmer but timbre is good.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), electric guitars are a bit sharp.

Deuce – America (03:03-03:16), while not particularly sharp, it is quite chaotic due to the imaging and separation.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello timbre, texture and detail are very good but tonality could be warmer. Violin tonality, timbre, texture and details are very good but treble extension could be better as it is rolled-off.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), tonality is good as well as the timbre. It is very clean but lacks bass quantity here.

Soundstage: Average soundstage, nothing special here.

Tonality: DF-neutral, very good tonality as it is leaning too much towards warmth or brightness despite having as little bass and the treble it got. The upper-treble roll-off helps it in not being as bright as it would have otherwise. Timbre is very good for a BA iem but there are still some hints of BA timbre, especially in the bass.

Details: Good, thanks to the tuning giving it an advantage here.

Instrument Separation: below average, struggles with faster/busier tracks.

Songs that highlight the IEM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za8aapTmp44 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jf_Z68c4LQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvn56poVykI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7rOS9rd4sY

Good genres:
acoustic/vocal music, rock/metal

Bad genres: EDM, Hip-hop, R&B, pop, Trance



Comparisons:

IEM: Audiosense T180 Pro, stock tips L, cable C1 4.4mm
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Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), similar extension but rumbles a bit more on the T180 Pro. Punch quantity is also higher as well as more textured on the T180 Pro but is faster and tighter on the Neon. Tonality is a bit more accurate on the T180 Pro but better timbre on the Neon.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), more quantity and texture on the T180 Pro. But tighter, faster and more natural timbre on the Neon but more accurate tonality on the T180 Pro.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), a lot better timbre across the range on the Neon and isn’t sharp on it either, with more distinct bass strikes as it is quite muddy on the T180 Pro despite having similar speed and tightness. More bass quantity on the T180 Pro while the Neon is more textured. Better tonality on the Neon.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), better timbre and tonality on the Neon, although the vocals are a bit more forward on the T180 Pro. Detail and clarity are similar but better separation and imaging on the Neon.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), more fatiguing and sharper on the T180 Pro.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), somewhat similar tonality but better timbre on the Neon and a lot cleaner.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), sharper, brighter and more fatiguing on the T180 Pro.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality and texture are better on the T180 Pro but better timbre and details on the Neon. Violin tonality, timbre, texture and detail are better on the Neon but similar treble-extension (rolled-off).

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), better tonality, timbre and detail on the Neon.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), similar soundstage but better imaging, instrument separation, detail and timbre on the Neon.

Overall: Besides a few bassier tracks (not suited for them anyway) the Neon is outclassing the T180 Pro.


IEM: Aiderlot M5, Elecom EHP-CAP20 tips L, stock cable 3.5mm
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Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), similar extension and rumble. But tighter, faster and more textured on the M5 but timbre is a bit better on the Neon. Tonality is more accurate on the M5 as well as more detailed.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), very similar quantity but faster, tighter and more detailed on the M5. While timbre and texture are a bit better on the Neon. Tonality is a bit more accurate on the Neon as well as the M5 is too bright.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), brighter and more fatiguing on the M5 but a lot faster, tighter and cleaner bass on it. While timbre and texture are a bit better on the Neon.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), more forward vocals along with better vocal tonality on the M5. But vocal timbre, along with instrument tonality/timbre are better on the Neon. Detail and clarity are a lot better on the M5 though.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), brighter and more fatiguing on the M5.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better tonality and timbre on the Neon. But a lot better detail and clarity on the M5.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), sharper and more fatiguing electric guitars on the M5.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality, timbre and texture are better on the Neon while it is more detailed on the M5. Violin tonality, timbre, detail and treble-extension are better on the M5.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), a bit better tonality and timbre on the Neon. But a lot more detailed on the M5.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), a lot bigger soundstage on the M5. Imaging, instrument separation and details are also outclassing the Neon on the M5. Timbre is a bit better on the Neon though.

Overall: The M5 is as you expect, have a lot better technicality. But the Neon is actually a bit better tuned and the tonality is more accurate for my library than the M5. If you want something brighter and more technical, then the M5 is a clear upgrade over the Neon but if you prioritize uncolored sound and more natural timbre, the Neon is actually better.

IEM: Blon BL-03 (mesh mod), Radius deep mount tips L, cable B3 4.4mm
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Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), a lot better extension and rumbles a lot more on the 03. Punch quantity is also a lot higher on it as well as more textured and with more natural timbre. Faster and tighter on the Neon so it is cleaner but tonality is a lot more accurate on the 03.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), a lot higher quantity, more textured as well as a lot better timbre and accurate tonality. Faster and tighter so it is cleaner on the Neon though.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), a lot more quantity, texture and better timbre/tonality on the 03. But faster, tighter and cleaner on the Neon.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), instrument tonality and timbre are a lot better on the 03. But better vocal tonality as well as bit more forward on the Neon but better timbre on the 03. Similar detail though.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), more relaxing and less fatiguing on the 03.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), instrument and vocal tonality/timbre are a lot better on the 03.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), more relaxing and less fatiguing on the 03.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality, timbre and texture are better on the 03 with similar details. Violin tonality is better on the Neon but better timbre while detail and treble-extension are similar.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), a lot better tonality and timbre on the 03.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), similar soundstage but deeper on the 03. Detail is similar but imaging, instrument separation and timbre are better on the 03.

Overall: The 03 is the better iem for my library and preference but if you prefer something less bassy and more vocal focused, the Neon is better.



IEM: KZ DQ6 (DIY Foam mod), Elecom EHP-CAP20 tips L, cable A6 4.4mm

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Bass: Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), extends a lot lower and rumbles a lot more on the DQ6. Punch quantity is also a lot higher on the DQ6 and more textured with better timbre. Faster and tighter on the Neon but more tonally accurate on the DQ6.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), a lot more bass quantity and more textured on the DQ6 with better timbre as well and more accurate tonality.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), a lot more bass quantity on the DQ6 as well as more textured with better timbre. But faster and tighter bass on the Neon.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), better vocal tonality on the Neon as well as a bit more forward. But better vocal timbre, instrument tonality/timbre on the DQ6. Similar detail though.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), more relaxing and less fatiguing on the DQ6.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better vocal and instrument tonality/timbre on the DQ6.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), a bit more fatiguing on the Neon.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality, texture and timbre are better on the DQ6 with similar detail. Violin tonality is better on the Neon but better timbre and treble-extension on the DQ6 while texture and detail are similar.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), better tonality and timbre on the DQ6 with but cleaner on the Neon.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), soundstage is a lot bigger on the DQ6. Detail is similar but better instrument separation, imaging and timbre on the DQ6.

Overall: The DQ6 is the better iem for my library and preference but if you prefer something less bassy and more vocal focused, the Neon is better.





Conclusion:
The Neon is a well-tuned single BA iem with good timbre. But struggles with faster/busier tracks when it comes to the separation and imaging. A specialist iem for vocal/acoustic music for anyone that want to try a more budget BA iem. But if you don’t care about the driver configuration, the Blon 03 and the KZ DQ6 are the better iems at least for my library. There are concerns about the QC on the Neon due to the channel imbalance (and the lack of tips in my unit) but Wendy has promised that they will improve the QC: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/rik...-list-music-list.925319/page-52#post-16402397

Thanks for reading.

Graph:

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Cable source:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...zTm4ei7HEfP8AI1zxswrMw2ho/edit#gid=1801072063

Reference/test songs:
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OspreyAndy

100+ Head-Fier
KBEAR NEON
Pros: Highly Scalable
Faithful to Knowles DF Neutral Tuning
Cons: Build quality could be better. It looked like a toy!
Nasal and chesty Mids might not appeal to all
In stock form, NEON is "okay" at best

KBEAR NEON: The Scalable Canalphones​

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FOREWORD:​

By now you would already have read tons of review on this NEON. As such I will not be focusing too much on the “out of the box” nature of this highly anticipated BA offering from KBEAR, their 2nd single BA variant apparently.
What makes this NEON special is the usage of Knowles ED 29689, the very same BA used in Etymotic ER4 series. I am an Etymotic fanatic and zealot. Etymotic is my religion and I started using the ER4S and ER4P since 2006. A long audio journey which evolved into a very emotional attachment which is further cemented with the newer version – the ER4SR. When we talk NEON, there’s no avoiding the reference to ER4 series. The reason for this is simple, it is apparent that the design ques for NEON is of a barreled infuser intended to pump sonic bliss right into your eardrums. This is an archaic design that was first pioneered by Etymotic 30 years ago and still being widely used today. Having said that NEON is something I classify as a “Canalphones” as opposed to the normal term used by many (which is IEM).

Now, being a Canalphones also mean there’s some quirks around the usage of such devices. You cannot expect to wear this NEON like any other IEMs. It takes some ritual to wear them properly. As any Etymotic or even Shure users would attest (Both Etymotic and Shure utilizes Narrow Long Muzzle), it takes some commitment and practice to get it right.

WEARING IT RIGHT:​

  • To get the best out of NEON, it is especially critical to invest substantial amount of time and effort to pair it with proper tips. And I would recommend this be started with the smallest tips provided. The reason being, to ensure great seal with ideal placement, the nozzle of NEON need to be inserted deep enough. This cannot be achieved if the tips are too large in proportion to your ear canal diameter. Or if you force it in, it is guaranteed to induce great discomfort and outright pain. In my own scenario, I was able to use the smallest silicone tips that came with the NEON; however, I could only wear it for about 1 hour max as the pressure was building up uncomfortably due to NEON muzzle being exceptionally large for a deep insert Canalphones (in fact the LARGEST nozzle ever employed in any barrel type Canalphones). To mitigate this, I was lucky to have several unused 5mm bore sized S tips from my other IEMs. And I was able to get one that is small enough to allow for comfortable deep insertion and still wearable for over 2-3 hours. For the record I normally wear my Etys even up to half a day plugged in – achievable with the use of SpinFit CP800 sized S. If you see the photo of me wearing it, the entire barrel of the NEON is inside my ear canals, only the connectors are visible.
  • On top of that, the ritual of wearing this type of Canalphones may include dabbing the tips with some lubricants to enhance seal and comfort. Then wearing the NEON itself would be best done by opening the mouth to stretch the jaw during insertion. When the mouth is closed the facial muscle will then contract and secure the grip on the NEON tips.
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  • Another thing worth to mention, again the muzzle size of NEON is big. In fact, I think it is too big for a funneled type Canalphones. So, if you observed one of the close-up photos, you could see how small the ER4SR muzzles are in comparison. To balance this out, I picked small tips that also have smaller bore as noted in the photos. Sonically this have huge influence in sound presentation as I would describe later.
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  • How to know if you are inserting it right? The first thing that would be apparent is the size of soundstage. If the staging feels wide and spacious to you, chances are you have not inserted it appropriately deep enough. My own experience with Etys and Shure, they all share this common trait of boxed in headstage. But perhaps some do enjoy the perceived wide soundstage but usually at the expense of imaging, resolution, and dynamics. Mids would sound recessed and dull.
  • Related to the subject of wearing it right, with proper seal one of the biggest advantages for this type of Canalphones is the isolation. By my estimation NEON once sealed offers no less than 30db of external sound suppression. Perhaps even as high as 40db because I am literally oblivious to the surrounding sound – similar to when I wore my Etys and Shure phones. Isolation is one of the reasons why anyone would want to have NEON, you can enjoy music at lower levels due to sound being funneled in directly and without being tarnished by external noises.

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PLAYING IT RIGHT:​

When one decides to do a review and impression on an item, the item in question must be given the best opportunity to shine and be presented properly. So, happen that I have over 20 USB DAC/Amps in my possessions that is part of my #donglemadness venture. After doing initial check-ups, I opted to use the Ovidius B1 for the critical listening stages. Ovidius B1 is my personal favorite and a unit that I adore so much for being stellar in technical and musical element. Also being the most transparent dongle among them all. The second part of this review, I also used NEON with the rest of the dongles to see how it perform with different sources. Of course, all my tests are done with Deezer Offline FLAC 44.1/16Bit. Playlist used is this: https://deezer.page.link/gReABjcxnLv4rLrq9
With just an impedance rating of 14 Ohm, NEON is super easy to drive and will be super loud even at 35/100. So be careful with the volume knob, LOL.
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The Sound: In Stock Form​

I will make this quick. I was not too impressed, not like my pants dropping on the floor kind of WOW. It was just okay….
  • The timbre, it is definitely DF Neutral with slightly nasal tonality especially in the mids. I would say that the NEON is closer to being analogue sounding compared to the familiar Etys sound. And I see this as a plus actually because it reminds me a lot to my other Etys, the ER2XR which I equally love.
  • Treble quality and textures are definitely Knowles standard. Solid with fast attack and decays. However, I sense slight recessed presentation that prevented NEON from being outright sparkly or razor sharp. This is a two-edged sword as to some who are NOT familiar with Etys or Beyerdynamic sound, it is a blessing as it will be unlikely one will get Treble sibilance from NEON. The other aspect of this, Trebleheads will immediately notice this and will lament the “laid-back” presentation.
  • Bass. It is fast and amply impactful. This is no Canalphones for basshead. The attack is fast and prompt with equally fast decays. Bass extensions are quite commendable however I must admit it does feel a bit rolled off shorter that what I am used to (for Knowles BA). Sub-Bass exhibited great textures and vibrant seismic response, the Mid-Bass tightly punchy and commanding when needed be (depending on the songs played)
  • Mids, at first, I was taken aback by how chesty the Mids sounded like. On some songs the Mids were outright nasal and thick. But then as I continue to listen my ears gets attuned to this thick mids presentation. It is thicker sounding than ER2XR Mids. Texture wise it is quite engaging especially if you are the type that enjoy solid mids with focused nuances. Male and Female vocals are naturally intimate and engaging. Yet even here I sense some sort of veil that I can’t shake off, I expect better transparency coming from a Knowles 29689.
  • Dynamics are spot on for Knowles 29689 BA. It is not as vibrant as a DD would and this is expected. But then the reason for using a single BA is not because you want to be floored by its moderate dynamics. What it does admirably being a BA is the speed at which dynamics fluctuate
  • Speed, if anything, speed is one of the primary reasons why one would choose BA over DD. My love for BA was due to this speed element, I just hate congested passages. Being able to deftly handle multiple layers that can go as high as 280 BPM will determine how proficient a listening device is. NEON passed this test with flying colors.
  • Resolution and transparency. Hmm, how do I pitch this. The veil that I mentioned earlier? That’s already a tell-tale that I was expecting crystal clear presentation and not getting it – a bit worrying for a Knowles 29689. However worth to mention that I am practically nitpicking here because I know this BA is quite capable of reference grade resolution and transparency. So, there must be something that’s not quite clicking here……
  • Soundstage and imaging are as per expected for this type of Canalphones – it is still in your head sort of headstage and boxed in presentation, not everyone can live by this design. If there’s any consolation the same can be said of single BA Etys and Shure. Separation lines are well defined with precise enough imaging and placement. Spatial projection is not quite holographic as one would expect from single BA. As I mentioned earlier, if you do get big soundstage from NEON, it is because you are wearing it not deep enough. And again, I would say to some this may be perfectly fine. However, the tradeoff will be some resolution and imaging being sacrificed.

So, there it is, NEON in STOCK form. At best I will give it 4 stars overall.
However! This is not the end of the road…..stay on and find out how a 4 stars performer transform itself into reference grade worthy equipment.

The Sound: With Simple Tweaks​

  • The veil that I have described earlier, was primarily caused by too low an impedance being used by NEON. At 14 Ohm it is way too low for a BA. Even the lowest resistance Etymotic use on their Knowles 29689 was 25 Ohm with the ER4P. You see, on this particular type of BA the impedance value imparts great influence on the sonic characteristics. For ER4P, Etymotic chosen 25 Ohm so that the ER4P will exhibit thicker body in the lower registers hence producing not too skinny bass responses. In contrast the ER4S was set at 100 Ohm! And recently the newer ER4SR came with 45 Ohm minimum.
  • So, to see if my theory was correct. I conducted a second session and replaced the stock cable with my custom OFC unit which has integration with inline resistors to add 47 Ohm on each channel. And there it is! All the veils gone!
  • With the veil gone now I can audibly hear better presentation of Macro and Micro details. This is the performance of a Knowles 29689 BA that I am familiar with. Razor sharp imaging and pristine separation lines. Coherence greatly improved that is highly transparent and resolving. Even the decays for Treble and Bass are nicely presented now with succinct nuances.
  • With just a simple addition to the impedance value, the true prowess of Knowles 29689 is realized. This is the sort of sonic presentation that one should be getting from a properly implemented single BA.
  • What remains unique to NEON is the rich and chesty Mids. Now even more engaging and pleasurable to listen to

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Scalability:​

NEON also exhibited stellar abilities to scale with the sources. I would say that anything from JCally JM20 and above would pair with it perfectly. NEON sounds the widest and most spacious with THX Onyx, the smoothest with Lotoo PAW S1 and A&K PEE51, very technically competent with HiBy FC3, Hilidac Audirect BEAM 2SE, X1 and Questyle M1. Warmest sounding with Shanling UA2, Hidizs S9, JCally JM04Pro and Tempotec Sonata BHD. So, as you see this NEON is super flexible! That’s because it is exceedingly transparent and will faithfully present the nuances of the source being fed. Of course, to me personally, NEON sounds world class with Ovidius B1 😉

Verdict:​

I love this NEON, not in its stock form, but the one which runs on 14 + 47 = 61 Ohm Impedance. NEON will appeal for those wanting to have the precision, resolution, speed, imaging, and transparency of the venerable Etymotic ER series at much affordable prices. The quirk is that I will insist on using the impedance adapter that will push it above 45 Ohm at least. A 30 to 75 Ohm will do. However, it must be understood that the higher the impedance, chances are bass thickness will be impacted – it will be less meaty sounding and potentially sterile too. So best to try keeping it below 90 Ohm.
The golden question is….how does NEON actually compares to Etymotic ER4SR?. well truth be told it is not easy to equal an ER4 BA. Etys developed this ER4 series 30 years ago and has placed great innovation and engineering into it. When I A/B Neon with my 47 Ohm ER4S tuned with Red Filters, the ER4SR audibly handles everything with matured finesse that is hard to beat. However, if I am not comparing them side by side, the NEON is spectacular in its own right (I am talking about the non-stock NEON). I daresay NEON performs respectably enough to place itself 2/3 of what ER4SR can do. And that’s mind boggling really.
Finally. Admittedly NEON is NOT for everyone. To have a NEON you must consider if you are willing to embrace and be committed to endure the quirks of using single barreled BA Canalphones. For example, one can skip all these hassle by just simply opting for HZSound Heart Mirror – but then Heart Mirror is a DD despite exhibiting uncanny nuances towards Knowles BA sound. A non-stock NEON will still be superior in the speed, imaging and timbre coherence over Heart Mirror.
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NymPHONOmaniac

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Imaging, Clarity, Fast attack, realistic overall tone, mid bass punch, female vocal, micro-details
Cons: Poor bass extension, not really musical (subjective), lack of edge and snap to attack, no treble sparkle (lack of extension again), average construction, need deep fit to get best sound (subjective?)
KBEAR NEON REVIEW (Deeeep Way)


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TONALITY: 7.5/10
TECHNICALITIES: 8.5/10
CONSTRUCTION-DESIGN: 7.5/10
SOUND VALUE: 8/10



PACKAGING
is nice. The box has a cool ''Blade Runners'' vibe to it. Accessories are generous enough. Carrying case is good-looking. 4cores SPC Cable too looks good enough.

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CONSTRUCTION while mostly pleasant to the eyes is questionable in terms of built, with imperfection there and there and a nozzle that goes unglue after a week. The cable is Ok'ish. But Everything is made of plastic. And 2pin connectors arent very secure. And the fit...

THE FIT
Their multiple ways to insert the NEON in your ear canal, but some people including me think the ''Etymotic way'' is the best.
It consists of inserting the NEON very deep in there. Once you find the second seal part in your ear canal- the deep one- the real 3D detailed presentation begins. A shallow fit can either tame or boost the bass and soundstage, either way, it sounds more distant and hollow than the Deep Way.
It worth it, but Be careful about going deeeeeeeep.

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-----------------

SOUND

I decide to do this review with the NEON deeeeeeeply inserted in ear as it should (?) if you want to achieve its full potential.

TONALITY:
Vivid neutral with a slight emphasis on mid-bass, and an important mids range and mid-treble boost.

TIMBRE: Smooth bright, very transparent, a bit saturated, and artificial in texturing.

ATTACK: Fast but can got shouty with a fast busy track. In other terms: it shoots sound extremely fast but it lacks a bit of snap and natural decay.

SOUNDSTAGE-IMAGING: Soundstage is very impressive and unique, it feel as if it blossoms in the middle of your head then go out with 3D layers of sound surrounding you from every side, the bass can be in the back of my head while the vocal is in my head and the details of the highs in stereo out of it. Really, you must hear it to understand and this is the first reason why I live the ''deeeeeeep fit revelation''!
Imaging, with well-recorded music, is crisp and airy, with a lot of clean space between instruments. Again, uniquely impressive!

BASS is rolled off in sub-bass extension, but mid-bass is round, just enough weighty and punchy, with great separation and attack speed. Sub-line can be heard, well separated from the kick drum, but dry and thin in body. What can move a bit of air is the kick, but with fast decay that avoids any bleed. The tone is realistic, texture too.

Mids are open and transparent, very well separated and centered but a bit thin and brightish-dryish. Sax, piano, vocal all lack body density. From upper mids and up it's where the sweet tonality spot begins. Female vocal has great definition and presence.

Highs ,even if non-sparkly and lacking some bite and decay, are the star of the show for me, just after female vocal. They are airy, dig a good amount of micro details and never harsh or splashy. Snare is super thigh and crisp, percussions clear and not too upfront and when needed. It's near analytical treble, with slight roll off begining in 12khz region, so some instrument might lack of brilliance to them.

PS:
Shallow eartips fit way sound is a bit smoother and more distant, still boosted in mids.
Clarity is OK but imaging is abstract, the attack is slower and lack more snap too, all in all it doesnt offer an impressive sound experience compared to the ''Etymotic way''.


COMPARISONS

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VS Audiosense T180 (single Knowles RAF-32873, 40$)
Less deep soundstage, inferior imaging. Timbre is more grainy-brightish. Bass have less weight. Both are mid and treble-centric but T180 dig less micro details and feel more shouty and harsh in upper mids. Vocal aren't as well extracted and busy tracks can easily go messy. T180 are more comfortable and better built, but in term of sound, they are less refined, clean and extended in bass & treble.

VS Akoustyx R-210 (120$, single custom Knowles BA):
Warmer, more forwards, with more natural timbre and wider, tapestry-like soundstage. Bass is thicker, warmer and less controlled and well separated. Overall sound is smoother and less clinical-analytical than NEON, but less out of your head and holographic too. NEON have dryer, thinner timbre and is more accurate in positioning-separation. Anyway, at the end i find RE-210 more musical and coherent, sounding more like a dynamic driver with weightier more weighty bass, more natural piano, violin, sax, vocal etc. Oh, and no deep insertion fit needed (not possible, like the T180). To be noted that in term of technicality alone, the 70$ cheaper NEON seem superior.


CONCLUSION

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The NEON isn't an IEM for everyone, its sound signature is axed on clarity, mids and treble and can be improved with an audacious IEM insertion technique that only Ety fans know the secret.

Still, with right fit, it's level of technical prowess is high for the 50$ price and can deliver an impressively crisp holographic sound experience that I rarely or ever heard from any other IEM...will I try to Deeeeeply insert All my IEM now, to know if I can retrieve this impressive sound spatiality experience?

I don't think so. But I think some courageous audiophiles will.
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bryaudioreviews

New Head-Fier
Love vocals and mids? You are at the right place 🎧🎶 - KB Ear Neon Review
Pros: - neutral tuning
- textured, fast, punchy bass
- open, detailed, midrange
- good BA timbre
- wide soundstage
- great IEM design and accessories
Cons: - very midrange and vocal-focused
- soundstage lack height and depth
- stock silicon tips aren't the best.
KB Ear Neon is KB Ear's latest IEM with a 1BA driver configuration. It is equipped with a Single Knowles 29689 Balanced Armature driver and it retails for $49usd. Its box comes with 3 pairs of silicon tips (S,M,L), a pair of foam tips, a 2pin 3.5mm cable, a case, and the IEMs itself.

Overall, pretty impressed with the unboxing experience. IMO the box is well designed and the accessory set is pretty decent.

With that out of the way, let's start the review.

*Disclaimer: This review is done using the included stock foam tips instead of silicon. Why? Read on further to find out…


PROS
✅
:​

  • I would describe the sound signature here as neutral. It is a mid-focused set with an emphasis on mids and vocals.
  • Bass here is BA bass, which means that it is textured, fast, dry, and punchy. No bass bleed detected. Foam tips (as per usual) loosens up the bass a bit, making it not as tight. Not a problem for me though.
  • The midrange is the star of the show here. I would describe the midrange here as detailed, open, well-articulated, and slightly warm. As expected from a BA driver, image separation is great and everything is rendered wide. If you are looking for clear mids with good image separation and detail, for $49usd, I think Neon is pretty good.
  • Vocal presence is good (if stock foam tips are used). Vocals, especially female vocals, are placed forward in the mix, which makes the Neon very good for vocals and acoustic tracks. I thoroughly enjoy using Neon for genres like indie pop, acoustic, or any songs that place heavy emphasis on vocals.
  • Timbre here is pretty natural for a BA, thanks to its slight warmth in the mids. Doesn't suffer from "glassy BA timbre".
  • Treble is smooth and slightly dark (again, thanks to foam tips). It is non-fatiguing and great for long listening sessions. No hints of sibilance can be detected too. Great!
  • Soundstage is rendered wide and open! Works well with the midrange here.
  • Left-right positional imaging is good. However, I do find front-back imaging to be lacking.
  • Love the design and colour choices of the Neon! Very fun and unique looking. Stands out from the crowd.
  • Great presentation and box design. Love the neon lights and the vibes that the box gives out.
  • Very good accessory set. Great portable slim case. I love the cable here as it looks and feels premium! Both silicon and foam tips are provided too.


CONS
❌
:​

  • Very midrange and vocal-focused. Looking for best bass and treble? This ain't it.
  • I would describe the soundstage here as being like a long, thin line. Despite Neon having a pretty wide soundstage, it lacks depth and height. Not the best for games as everything in front sounds like it is coming from behind.
  • Stock silicon tips aren't the best. I HIGHLY recommend using stock foam tips.
  • Foam tips roll off treble and loosen the bass. Thanks to this, treble lacks air and bass lacks tightness.
  • Sub-bass missing and bass could go deeper. But it is 1BA so I do not expect it to have Dynamic driver's bass capabilities.


WHY YOU SHOULD USE FOAM TIPS INSTEAD
🧊
:​

  • With stock silicon tips, vocals (especially female vocals) sound hollow, distant, and compressed. It sounds like everything is coming from behind.
  • After changing the tips to the included stock foam tips, everything becomes better. Vocals sound fuller and more forward, mids have better clarity, and everything just sounds… correct.
  • Yes, common foam characteristics like rolled-off treble and loose bass are there, but I think the trade-off for better clarity, better vocals, and better mids is well worth it.


IN CONCLUSION:​

I think that KB Ear Neon is a pretty solid set of 1BA IEM for the price. I find that its midrange and vocal presentation works really well with genres like Indie, Bedroom pop, Chinese/Japanese/Korean vocals, acoustics, instrumentals, and many more midrange/vocal-focused genres.

One caveat though, and that is you need to use included foam tips. As mentioned above, the stock silicon tips that come with Neon aren't the best.

If you are looking for a neutral-sounding IEM that is mids-focused and sounds great with vocals, KB Ear Neon should definitely be in your shopping cart.

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