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  1. Redcarmoose
    Strange But True.........The Kube 2
    Written by Redcarmoose
    Published Aug 9, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - A fun entertaining ride to bassland
    Cons - Hard to find
    Kube 2 (AKA EK2 or EarKube 2)


    When trying out different earbuds there seems to be a realization that foamies actually will make or break a sound signature. With that said and that in mind, once in a while an earbud comes around which reconfirms the above concept.........drastically!

    Now to go even further down the rabbit-hole, I'm not talking about using foamies or not, but delineating the HUGE differences wonderfully brought about by different brands of foamies due to the different physical thickness of construction they offer. Yes!

    At this point I'm almost thinking I need to seek out every foam cover there is on the market, as they are truly the key here to getting the most loved potential sound signature from an earbud.

    This concept is so emotionally dramatic that in concept it simply voids any review about any earbud you or I have ever read. The level of possible sonic improvements surpass any change-out in upstream equipment used for evaluation. The stark reality is manufactures don't always include foamies, or if they do, don't include the style of foamies which bring the earbud to the most desired sound quality level for the enthusiast at hand.

    Folks into IEMs can completely relate to this concept after finding a tip which allows them to get the best sound.

    And Finally:
    The above concept gets even more convoluted due to each person having a desired sound character wanted.

    1. Every person has a different ear shape, thus a different fit
    2. Folks all listen to different genres of music
    3. Every person has a certain preferred volume level
    4. Finally, many transducers can sound different (different distortions) at different volume levels




    Ok.............with the above kept in mind, we can all realize that everyone is going to get a slightly different sound signature. Even with all the variables kept to a minimum, the above will most likely result in a different sound quality perceived and described, even if the listener/reviewer is great at describing sound and has perfect ears.



    So why did I write the above as a disclaimer before a review about a strange $22 earbud? Simply because many may get the Kube 2 and never find what it's capable of.


    I heard the Kube 2 in shops but thought it sounded muddy? Somehow I actually thought I knew what it sounded like? But that is one of the best joys of this hobby; finding simple surprises like near perfect sound from a cheap earbud.


    So let's get started.......

    Construction and Size:
    Here we are met wth a chrome 3.5mm plug in a plastic cover with a fairly robust strain relief connecting into a flat TPE rubber cable. No remotes (on this model) and a clunky rubber Y split about 37 inches from the plug. After the Y split we have 14 inches of the same flat cable ending at the base of the earbuds. The earbuds themselves are 100% plastic and end up being fairly large at an inch and a half in length. As far as earbuds go they are also terribly thick at a full 1/2 inch! There are four small vent holes on the back which seem active as they change the sound slightly if covered. Closer inspection will discover an additional 6 more active holes along the edge of the earbud consequently covered by the foam in use. The two piece construction starts to appear better and better upon inspection. Though keep in mind, plastic like what we have here is never this shinny leading me to believe we have a thick coat of glossy paint across everything except the transducer front. This earbud comes in all black or all white. In the end the low weight ends up being a joy to use. The form factor allows simple one-step-fit with very little fuss. Though keep in mind, like most earbuds, small minuscule fit movements are going to result in drastic sound changes. Lucky we have a shape which stays in place offering a nice experience in comfort and fit consistency. For many the cable size and transducer housing size will make the Kube 2 the largest earbud in their collection. In contrast, the Kube 2 gets it's name by being first introduced bundled with one of the smallest MP3 players ever made with being about twice the size of a regular sugar cube.

    Small R and L markings on the inside of the wands delineate which ear the transducers get placed.

    Cable Noise:
    Normally earbuds cancel out any cable micro-phonics and here again there is no cable sound artifacts from cable movement transferred into the listening experience.

    Sound:
    This earbud has more bass than I have ever heard from an earbud.

    Not only does it have the most bass, but that bass is introduced in it's own special big soundstage environment. So upon first hearing the Kube 2, this bass experience can be a little disheartening. Most of us listening to a lot of (vapid) non-audiophile extreme budget equipment have already had our share of woolly bass response. Lucky though that after burn-in and after going through placement with a collection of foamies, this bass goes from being our enemy to our beloved friend here.

    The truth is, earbuds never have enough bass. This is an understood and accepted reality here at Head-Fi. It's almost as if the emperor has no clothes. Earbuds are reviewed and ideas are drawn, still reality has determined that there is NO total air-tight fit like you achieve with an IEM. With that said this is again another earbud and NO it does not have sub-bass responses like you get with IEMs or full size headphones. But....it produces a ton of lower midbass and with that midbass we can tune a response with fit and foamies and arrive at a style of great audiophile reproduction. It's just that all this authority is surprising, smooth and different. Even earbuds which have become bass-famous like the Edifier H180 or Edifier H185 end-up sounding weak and small in contrast to our authority afloat here. In fact, before my purchase I said "There could be something here, as this is one strange duck?" Doing side by side comparisons, I have never heard an earbud with this unique personality. This earbud sounds as different as it looks.

    And.....More Bass:
    The bass though plentiful is not as controlled or delineated as it could be. Be it musical and fun, these headphones often simply come off as a guilty pleasure. In reality this may be the end of what can be done with extreme bass and an earbud. Who thought we could even have this much bass? So even if it comes off slightly swirly, it simply is what it is. Not to sound redundant but the bass drums in EDM are not only full and meaty but find themselves as a wonderful foundation driving home the emotion in the bass driven dance sub-genre of electronic music. It's simply the ability of the Kube 2 to show layers and layers of detail in the electronic drums. The only time I truly realize the missing frequencies left out is by going back to bass heavy IEMs.

    Midrange:
    Really we are hearing an L shape sound response curve. Due to our somewhat cavernous bass and lower midrange personality, vocals can come out flat and even lackluster (depending somewhat on source). Still the whole sound is actually very forward, with the same (bass heavy) signature described as being a total sonic failure with other low cost earbuds and IEMs out there.


    Despite everything somehow the signature works in the end.

    The midrange tone being what it is does limit the genres that this earbud is going to excel at. Playing EDM, and rap we find this earbud starts to come alive, but even the bright forward midrange guitars of heavy metal are going to be sucked into our lower midrange abyss for better or worse. What it does is offer the listener a relaxed and laid-back easy listening experience. Most of the time a heavy bass response is going to start to come off as a bore once your ears and brain figure out which sound frequencies are covered up or left out. Here though our soundstage leaves enough room to not be congested, letting an entertaining experience go on and on through-out the night.

    Treble:
    Amazingly with the midrange review above, this earbud seems to parlay a ton of information about source. Get it your brighter signals and faster personalities in audio beats and it starts to come alive. In the end there is a nice treble to be enjoyed with nice imaging and placement of cymbals. Never harsh or strident, but fun, these may not be the end all in detail, but the separation going on in the treble gets us a feeling they are much more detailed than they are. In the end it's the Kube 2's musicality and natural soundstage which saves the day and allows the headphone to transcend any negatives which may be at risk of ruining our listening party. Interestingly the treble was slightly thin and one layered out of the box, only to smooth out dramatically after a short burn in of 24 hours.

    The Sound Personality:
    1. Bass Heavy
    2. Warm
    3. Warm almost to a fault, depending or source
    4. Relaxed
    5. Laid-back forever
    6. Revealing of source, despite it all
    7. One word here..............BIG
    8. Sounds like classic earbud personality (though slightly dark) in treble and midrange
    9. Giant Authority
    10. Relatively Forward (especially for an earbud)
    11. Great Dynamic Soundstage (especially for a portable device)



    Sound Conclusion:
    The Kube 2 does not sound like an earbud at all in ways. As concluded, words like BIG and authoritative come to mind right off the bat. It's probably the first earbud I've found that has the personality of an on-ear headphone? Strange as it may sound, it has a full-size headphone bass feeling combined with the continued ability to hear what's going on around you. Still in ending it must be concluded that the Kube 2 is still an earbud and relays much of the midrange and treble soundstage personality of a regular earbud.

    Still much of the audio success is only going to be found by matching this strange beast with the right DAP or DAC/AMP combo. Finding thick foamies or doubling up on foam covers will maybe be the route for some.

    Success is rewarded with big visceral bass washes, 3D imaging and emotionally impactful bass and drums. All this gets delivered in a grocery cart of gifts, though it's not the best all-rounder at the core.

    With all other earbuds the biggest challenge (for me) was getting used to the slight "far-away" sound they reproduce. The far-away personality seems to add to the great soundstage they offer but at times I always wished my favorite earbuds would do a more visceral impact. So you can only imagine my surprise to find something like the Kube 2!


    Equipment Used:
    This earbud sounds way better on my home system than my Ipod. That's not surprising in a way as my home system is slightly brighter than my IPod Touch 5th Generation. It also sounds darker on an iPhone 4 or Samsung phone. So guessing that it's not the power or impedance from the Asgard, I have to assume it's the better DAC making the Kube 2 sound so good.

    Equipment Used:
    Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus
    Schiit Audio Asgard One
    MacBook Pro
    Apple iPhone 4
    Apple iPod Touch 5th Generation



    The Mystery:
    There are no specs on this earbud. No graphs that I have found, and I don't even know where they are made. They are listed here at Head-Fi on a review of earbuds, but no other descriptions out there that I know of. They seem to be sold online in Indonesia and Malaysia and nowhere else.


    Disclaimer:
    This review highlights ideas and confirmations arrived at through a particular headphone in use. Your results may vary in part due to a different preference in sound signature response and different perception of what is personally thought of as "good audio" quality. Every person hears differently with no two listeners hearing a headphone exactly the same. The best we can do is to try and find common ground and uniform concepts of understanding. This is a bass heavy earbud, buy it at your own risk. With the wrong source or foam covers it may come off as boring or too dark.

    EQ:
    Many de-equalize their signal beforehand and try to bring a modified signal into their headphones to make up for perceived response drawbacks. I have no issue with others doing so, but don't do so myself so I don't normally report on the success in that area. I feel that EQ can at times do small corrections but also adds artifacts somewhere else in the response. I also feel that most of the time even an altered signal is not going to change 100% of the headphone response, so I don't EQ. My form of EQ happens with amplifiers and source components.

    Response To Volume:
    This earbud is amazingly responsive to volume. I would imagine most only using 40% to 50% volume with an iPhone. Never distorting ever even going to ear torching levels of volume. Normally with signal hungry headphones more amp power could result in better bass control, but it seemed to not be much of a needed issue here. Straight out of a phone is more than enough power here, as no amp is ever needed.

    Earbuds VS IEMs
    Many folks simply don't like the feeling of IEMs so they choose between full-size headphones or earbuds. Some just like the slightly different soundstage offered only by earbuds. One thing I learned is earbuds offer a great value in comparison of sound-quality per dollar spent. After many hours of listening I did come to learn of the comfort factor only earbuds offer. Earbuds also allow better situational awareness when walking in traffic. Lately I think I started to like earbuds for the slightly different soundstage character they offer. Instead of compromising for a far away and big soundstage it's nice to find earbud with an intimately close (and big) soundstage along with the expected earbud personality.

    Earbuds In General:
    As many know the most expensive earbuds cost around $175. This ends up in contrast to the most expensive IEMs and headphones costing up to 20X that price. But amazingly high price does not determine sound quality as far as earbuds go. What we have is folks finding sound signatures they can relate to and enjoy. Earbuds in general have enjoyed a new resurgence in popularity the last couple of years with new "audiophile" brands starting a fuss. Most earbuds are small with only a handful of large transducer housing models. In general the personality differences can be described the same as if we are reviewing full-size headphones, IEM or earbuds. Also with that in mind each style be it full-size, IEMs or earbuds end up having similar characteristics of sound presentation respective of there design.



    In Conclusion:
    This earbud is hard hitting like a heavy-weight fighter. And like the sonic heavy weight that it is, at times it can loose control and composure. That said, there is a special world here for the listener to explore in the genres demanding heavy bass. Rhythm, timing and musicality abound in this one for those willing to take the risk.

    Another discovery is the back seat placement the mid-range takes? Lucky some of the upper mids make it out alive helping add to the treble personality.

    I can't help but wonder if the total of ten air ports behind each driver end up adding to the soundstage? I also can't help but wonder if the plastic build material is helping get this sublime, smooth and exotic one of a kind sound going on? It's not my vary favorite headphone ever, but it's entertaining every time I put it on. Strangely I can listen to it for hours on end? It's also kind of a conversation piece, like having a rare fish in your aquarium, somehow beautiful yet ugly.

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    1. View previous replies...
    2. Redcarmoose
      Another way to get them is to find them with the small Cube MP3 player? Don’t be afraid; they can also come in a myriad of colors, laughably gaudy!
      Redcarmoose, Oct 12, 2018
      golov17 likes this.
    3. Redcarmoose
      Thinking back, they overcome a little of the thin tone of regular earbuds. Good Luck. There are tons around in Indonesia.
      Redcarmoose, Oct 12, 2018
      golov17 likes this.
    4. Redcarmoose