THE PLUS: Big soundstage, Basshead might enjoy them, lightweight and comfortable, easy to drive
THE SO-SO: Poor resolution and imaging, thin hollow mids, sloppy attack, grainy treble, lack of accuracy, can get messy with busy or fast tracks (slow attack again), lack of sparkle=splashy treble instead, etc
KBEAR is an audio company from China that tend to diversify their earphones offering, making their hands on different tuning configuration, for the better or the worst.
Unlike company like TRN or KZ that mostly create hybrid or multi-BA IEM, Kbear take more risk and have lauch single Dynamic IEM as well as Hybrid, Single BA and even planar-magnetic Hybrid.
Lately, this company have evolve in temrof tuning expertise, the Kbear Diamond and KB04 being good exemple of well balanced and refined tuning.
But perhaps all of this was due to luck? Or the peculiar tuners they use?
Now an ultra affordable newcomer appear from no where, and no, it isn’t a follow up of the acclaimed ”house sound” incarnate by Diamond and KB04 crisp tonality. It’s call KS2 and score a 10mm ”biological” dynamic driver plus a ”custom” balanced armature.
Let’s see in this rather critical review if this new hybrid earphones stand out of the overcrowded sub-50$ Chi-Fi IEM.
You can buy the KS2 directly from official KBear store HERE.
Drivers type: 1 DD of 10mm (biological diaphragm + PU) + 1 BA custom.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz.
- Sensitivity: 106±3dB.
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Connector Jack: 3.5mm.
- Capsule Connection Type: 0.78mm 2Pin.
Little box with nothing other than a basic cable and 3 pair of ear tips. Cable is just decent and similar to the one included with TRN iem.
2 pieces of cheap thick plastic stick togheter with a metal nozzle. 2Pin connector is made of cheap looking plastic too. They are very light and quite comfortable. Construction seem very similar to KZ ZST.
The KS2 is a typical V shape signature, with warm bass and mids and bright treble. Tonality is decently balanced while the technicalities are on par or inferior to other sub-20$ IEM. Overall sound is thickly cohesive.
SOUNDSTAGE is wide with good tallness but very poor deepnest. You are near the scene with the KS2, which deliver an in-your-face spatiality.
IMAGING is bad, messy and not precise. It feel veiled in mid range and muddy in definition. It’s veryr hard to pin point exact instrument position because some of them become siamese by sticking too much togheter.
BASS is very boosted, to bass head level but the slam is warm and lack proper articulation, so sub-bass line are sloppy and lack proper space. As well, sub bass swallow the kick punch with notable bleed on lower mid range, this make very hard to heard the kick singularity in music that have autorithative bass line. Timbre isn’t very textured. Attack is rather slow and lack thighness. In bassy track, the low end take the front seat as if the sub woofer was 1 meter distance in front of 2 bookshelf speakers.
MIDS are recessed as expected with immature V shape IEM. Vocal are dry and grainy, but female vocal are clear enough to be hearable, male vocal tends to overly be veil by bass. Timbe is thin, presentation is shouty and have sibilance. Vocal tonality is not well balanced due to upper mids push and lack of lower mids to round their body. With busy tracks, the mid range became fastly congested and messy. Definition is vague and lack proper attack edge.
TREBLE is quite splashy and easily go berzerk with fast music. When you shake too much a can of coke the exploding sound it make remind me of KS2 treble. It’s not well define, lack control, and have sparkling upper highs to try to distract you from lower and mid treble mess. This is sure the brightest part of KS2 as well
When I receive those, I wasn’t excited due mostly to it’s cheap look, I mean, compared to the KB04 thick metal construction these look so KZ’ish, so ‘’Made in China’’ in the worst sens of the word. Another aspect that make me less excited is the fact these wasn’t tuned by same competent team used fo Kbear Diamond and KB04 models. So, I put these in my ears and go on my bike….and this whole 15min ride I have a sweaty ‘’yuck face’’that just won’t go until I put these out of my ears and plan to never touch it again. But, I’m a faithful guy and feel bad to not review them, strangely my proof of respect to Kbear isn’t necesseraly a positive thing here, because it’s quite evident I hate the KS2. The only way I can endure them is by making my ears dumb and getting lost into warm dense wide boomy musicality. This can work until I try to pick up an instrument, listen to it’s tone and I’m like damn the violin sound like a cello and cello like a bassoon! What do I listen at exactly? Even electronic sound saturated and hollow in definition, you do not have any air between instrument and this go worst with bassy music. Basshead IEM then? Well, a bad one to be honnest because the bass is super elevated but slow and sloppy, it’s like a big mac falling on another big mac. Their no flexibility and both extension are lacking control for proper articulation. The thing is that these aren’t an agression in the over bright or too sharp sens of the words, its not the treble that kill me here, it’s just the whole obese floppy tonality. That’s fast food for audio enthusiast that aren’t aware of technicalities or tonal rightness, and if you put to off your basic critical listening skill, I guess we can say the KS2 is decent boomy fun.
VS Kbear KB04 (around 25$)
In my opinion, the KB04 is among best sub-50$ IEM money can buy right now and it’s a shamet hey aren’t more actively praised. These are near opposite sounding than KS2.
SOUNDSTAGE is slightly less wide but notably deeper, IMAGING is sharper, more accurate and precise. BASS is less boosted, clearer with moremid bass punch and better separation and texture, it’s notably faster and thigher too. KS2 bass is warmer, muddier with poorer resolution and sloppier slam. MIDS are cleaner and more fowards with better transparency and fuller timbre, the attack is way faster and snappier too and the KB04 can dealwith complex track, when Iplay same jazz rocktrack with lot of instrument including synth and electrric guitar, the KS2 sound like a complete mess where the mids is crumppled between invasive muddy sub bass and splashy treble, the KB04 play this very same track in a more neutral way, with good articulation and accuracy and I can actually discernr every instrument including the kick drum which was erased by sub bass of KS2. TREBLE again is more refined, leaner and more extended with the KB04, it’s less grainy and bright as well as better controled and way less splashy. KS2 sound overly unbalanced and doesn’t deliver high clarity and air of KB04, as well, KB04 extract alot more micro-details in a realist way.
All in all, if the KS2 can hardly compete with sub-20$, the KB04 can easily compete with sub-100$ IEM due to it’s better technicalities, more refined and balanced tonality. It sincerly is from another league, I would not be shamefull to suggest it to a serious audiophile unlike the immature boomy KS2.
VS Kbear KB06 (30$)
This model form Kbear doesn’t get the attention it deserve, as they are quite competent for a super budget hybrid.
SOUNDSTAGE is more intimate, less wide and tall but way deeper, IMAGING is from another league, precise and clean with more amount of sound layers. BASS is way leaner and less boosted, more textured and controlled with more mid bass than sub bass emphasis. MIDS are more fowards but smoother, with more realist timbre and better attack grip, it’s way cleaner too and can deal with busy track with faster technicalities. TREBLE extend more, is more sparkly and snappy, more balanced, not splashy like the messy KS2, it’s more airy too.
The KB06 is a well balanced W shape tuning with bright tonality from low to highs while the KS2 is a V shape boombox that is way less versatile due to it’s poor technicalities.
While I admit this review is intensely critical about overal sound and technicalities of a 20$ cheapies earphones, this is due to my pumped up expectation from a company I learn to respect over the time because of a more mature and refined target tuning they find by experimenting more precise tonal balance.
The KS2 is a stepback in the ol’chi’fi days where everything were too V shape or too bright, in other words, too amateurish to offer a versatile tonal balance that can be respected by both serious (open minded) audiophile and distinguishing music lover that need high enough resolution. It’s warm, boomy, grainy and shouty with a laid back feel due to hollow resolution and I highly suggest you to skip these and buy either the KBear KB04 or older KB06 if you need a well articulated sound. There plenty of better IEM at this price, this is the crual fact.
Another fact is: KBear is capable of creating way better IEM and I still have high hope about them. Just take your time with tuning dear, it really worth it.