KBEAR AURORA Review: Tactile density

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PROS:
Well Balanced tonality,
Bass weight and thump,
Dense natural enough timbre,
Rich layering,
Fast attack (can deal decently with busy track),
thick treble,
No sibilance,
Sturdy construction

CONS:
Sub-bass roll off (tamed presence-extension),
mid-bass resonance&bloom,
average resolution&imaging for the price,
lack of air & openess,
lack of treble sparkle & post-10Khz extension,

TONALITY: 8.4/10
TECHNICALITIES: 8.2/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8.5/10
SOUND VALUE: 8/10

INTRO
KBEAR company doesn’t need an introduction for those familiar with Chifi, they’ve been around for about 5 years and this eaprhones company is always evolving. In 2020 they had released multiple IEM, like the ROBIN ((budget 1DD+4BA), the NEON (1 knowles BA) and now, the flagship AURORA, which is a single dynamic driver with dome Titanium diaphragm. Priced 140$, it should be seen as a follow-up to their latest mid-tier attempt, the Kbear BELIEVE. The use of strong magnet as well as new gen titanium diaphragm promise high technical performance, let’s see in this review if Kbear deliver another high sound value IEM.


PACKAGING

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Elegant box with beautifull design. Generous amount of accessories including 7 pairs of silicone ear tips, a leather case, a brush and a cleaning clothes.


CONSTRUCTION

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All thick metal with mirror finish. A bit big and heavy. Mirror finish equal finger print magnet but have seen easier to scratch IEM than these. The nozzle is rather big and long so it could be an issue for some as well as weight and overall size. In they ears they don’t look as sexy as in they hands due to long nozzle that doesnt need deep insertion. They feel very sturdy and well built, the 2pin connecter is solidly embeded and promise good durability even if connection isn’t super tight. The cable is good too, thick 8 cores SPC with heavy jack. Isolation is average, sound leakage minimal.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS

(gear used: Xduoo XD-05plus, Xduoo X20, Audirect BEAM2 and SMSL SU-9+SH9)

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TONALITY :
Smooth W shape to brighten harman target, slight mid bass-mids-treble boost. The lower mids and mid treble have more presence and energy than all the rest but not in a shouty over excited way.

TIMBRE :
Realist but slightly fuzzy in texturing, average density (which is good), decent transparency. Just a hint cold. Between clinical and lush.

RESOLUTION :
Very good though not the cleanest nor the crispest or most precise. With the Aurora, you have alot of sound info at the same time, but not alot of space. This is due to high resolution that tend to show lot of nuance in texture and tone.

SOUNDSTAGE :
Average in wideness and tallness, not very deep nor clean. Compressed holographic spatiality and a bit in-your-head. Do improve with more amping, especially in tallness, not really in deepness.

IMAGING :
Not very good due to compressed sound layers, instrument lacking clear space between them, you can dig sound layers but will have an hard time precisely spot instrument placement. With acoustic-instrumental music that doesn’t have bass, imaging is crisper.

BASS :
You got a fast thumpy mid-bass, thick slam with short rumble extension. There some euphonic resonance to lower end that give sub-bass air but the body isn’t fully there. Kick drum have good weight but isn’t perfectly separated from mids nor very clean or well resolve, a bit warrmed by mid-bass boost but not muddy. Sub-bass stay in the back while hitting low range sound have more presence. With the track ‘’Moonlight’’ from IAMDDB, digital kick have lot of impact, it’s very meaty and intense, it’s not swallowed by the big sub-bass line which isn’t the most transparent I heard, but very thick and authoritative, near basshead intense, which surprise me due to short extension for acoustic bass. Acoustic bass can sound woolly and overly boosted in mid-bass and lacking natural extension, which isn’t the case for synth bass or electric bass that benefit from extra presence and grippy weight. We can’t have everything, but I consider the bass at same level than Dunu Zen in term of impact and speed and overall quality. While the bass add bit of warmth to mids, it benefit male voice as well as instrument like piano, saxophone or even organ, cello have more grunt too. If it wasn’t from the resonance that add bloom to the sound, the Aurora bass would be excellent.

MIDS :
Though not the crispest or most refined, the mid range have a very appealing fullness with hint of bass warmth and extra lower mid presence that thicken whole tonality. Rich in sound layers, yet slightly opaque in it’s macro-resolution homegeneity, the mid range have a natural tone, dense body with softed edge and good sens of weight, should it be for piano note hit, male&female vocal body or violin and cello, it have a palpable thickness to it that tend to highlight sound ‘’topography’’ over perfect razor sharp definition. Far from being clinical, thin or recessed, the mids are energic in dynamic weight but smoothen in attack edge and bite, free of sibilance. Female vocal aren’t as fowards as i’m use too but they have an appealing hint of warmth and breathyness. Resolution is a bit cloudy,especially if we search to extract an instrument individuality. In this case, male vocal is a bit fuller and better extracted.

TREBLE :
Full are the highs with shorten decay, rich in body nuance and micro-details, fast and snappy in attack, they are very well done but not very extended, which explain one crual flaw of the Aurora : the lack of air. This affect instrument separation, highs brilliance and sparkle as well as micro-details and texture refinement. I mean, the Aurora is very generous in details, but some of them are just ‘’idea of details’’ and lack proper definition. I really like the tone of all high pitched instrument, even harpsichord notes sound thick and weighty, acoustic guitar sound very nice, but they all lack proper natural decay. Electric guitar is harder to appreciate, and tonally less accurate, it feel a bit foggy in texture and lack bite for rich feedback distortion, still it’s very dense and well layered. In the other hands, the attack feel fast enough to avoid cymbals splashyness or busy track going messy, this is suprising due to thick macro-resolution but the Aurora is often imprevisible in it’s audio rendering.

SIDE NOTES :
The Aurora benefit from extra amping power, it will notably widen and open the soundstage, slightly improve imaging-layering too. Don’t be fool by the rather low impedance (18ohm) and normal sensitivity (105db), these titanium driver need a bit of juice.
Changing cables inflict mostly on timbre, but resolution too, for example a silver plated cable seem to clean the sound & tame the bass while a full copper one will thicken timbre and add midbass warmth.
Ear tips inflict alot on soundstage rendering too, as well as bass balance.


COMPARISONS

VS TFORCE YUAN LI (1DD-120$)

TONALITY : Aurora is a bit brighter and more treble axed, less boosted in sub bass and less lean in dynamic (more energic in attack and edge). Yuan Li have a warmer V shape to harman neutral approach, it’s smoother darker.
TIMBRE : more textured and grainy with the Aurora, less natural and organic than Yuan Li.
RESOLUTION: Crisper and richer in micro-details for the Aurora.
SOUNDSTAGE : Wider and taller with the Yuan Li, but deeper (tunnel like) with the Aurora.
IMAGING : Both aren’t that good in that department, but Yuan Li have better transparency and layering.
BASS : Warmer and sloppier, but more extended with the Yuan Li. More textured and controled with the Aurora.
MIDS : Leaner, fuller and more natural with the Yuan li, less agressive than more fowards upper mids or Aurora. Female vocal jump at you more with the Aurora while male vocal has more lower harmonic emphasis that can lead to tone unbalance.
TREBLE : Fuller, more textured and more present with Aurora, more sparkly and less thin. Greater amount of micro-details too. Lower treble is way darker with the Yuan Li.
ATTACK SPEED : Well, it seem the Aurora can deal better with ultra fast busy music track (Elephant9-Skink), and thats quite incredible really…even if i wish it sound more open and the end of the song barely kill my ears!

All in all, if your more of an Harman target fan, the Yuan Li is for you, if your more into energic near analytical soundsignature, the Aurora is there too. Tonaly, i will give it to Yuan Li, while technicaly the Aurora seem superiorr with it’s higher resolution and faster attack speed.

VS NFAUDIO NM2+ (1DD-170$)

Let’s say that what hit at first here is how much agressive and shouty sound the NF2+, unlike the Aurora, the NM2+ is the type of IEM you need to suddenly lower the volume at certain passages of your music in upper mids range.
TONALITY : NM2+ is brighter and more upper mid centric, let say W shape with both low and highs extension being tamed. Aurora is way more balanced, fuller in extension-dynamic and tonaly pleasant-smoother.
TIMBRE : Thinner, dryer-brighter and less transparent (saturated with noise) is the NM2+.
RESOLUTION : Notably poorer, grainy homogeneity that lack definition edge.
SOUNDSTAGE : About same wide, deeper but strangely less tall than NM2+ which act like a wall of sound compared to more circular holographic spatiality of Aurora.
IMAGING : The Aurora is superior in both layering and placement accuracy, it’s cleaner and not saturated noise mix like the NM2+.
BASS : NM2+ is flatter, thinner in body, less weighty in slam and extended in rumble, more rolled off and dry. Aurora pack more punch with better attack flexibility-control and less mid bleed.
MIDS : This is where the NM2+ is notably more shouty and agressive, as well as inferior in macrro-resolution and attack control. Everything can easily go messy with busy track, which is not the case with the Aurora.
TREBLE : Thinner-splashier with the NM2+, Aurora dig more micro-details and have more natural decay and sparkle. It’s just from another league here, way more realist and controled.
ATTACK SPEED : Aurora can project layers of sounds way faster, so it avoid going messy with busy track, offer cleaner layering and better attack snap.

All in all, the NM2+ is put to shame by the Aurora in all aspect. Supreme K.O imo.

VS MOONDROP ARIA (1DD-80$)

TONALITY : Aria is more L shape to neutral, crisper-cleaner , colder and more analytical with more extended and emphasised sub-bass. Aurora is warmer-thicker-with more weighty slam.
TIMBRE : More transparent, cleaner and dryer-colder.
RESOLUTION : Notably higher, less hollow and more revealing.
SOUNDSTAGE : Notably more open, wider-taller and way deeper.
IMAGING : Crisper and more accurate, both layering and instrument separation have more space.
BASS : Less thumpy, less thick and boosted in mid bass slam. Better separated and leaner in extension while Aurora have more resonance, is warmer but have more kick drum body.
MIDS : While vocal are thinner and less bodied (especially male), mid range is cleaner and more detailed. Female vocal are smoother and better separated, it sound more open too.
TREBLE : This is where Aria take the lead, the treble is more extended and open, more airy and sparkly, it dig more micro-details while keeping a delicate balance.
ATTACK SPEED : This is always hard to judge proper driver speed, but it seem Aria is slightly faster. Again, using the same test track, the Aria manage it with more precision and the treble never affect definition of other instrument, Aurora cymbals crash is less controlled in decay and the timing is less balanced. Still, both these IEM have incredible transient speed!

All in all, the Aria have a lighter dynamic and leaner tonality with higher resolution, while the Aurora pack more punch, have thicker warmer tonality and slightly inferior technicalities.

VS IKKO GEMS OH1S (1DD+1BA-199$)

TONALITY : Brighter leaner colder neutral to analytical, and inversed L shape with emphasis on treble. Notably less musical and full sounding than Aurora.
TIMBRE : Notably thinner but more transparent too, less natural and meaty than Aurora.
SOUNDSTAGE : More intimate but cleaner and deeper.
IMAGING : Notably superior, cleaner, more accurate with more articulate instrument separation.
BASS : Near dead flat which make the Aurora feel super bassy when it isn’t…it’s over shadow by the rest of instrument and doesn’t move air nor have rumble.
MIDS : Brighter, thinner, crisper and more detailed,clean and sibilant. Aurora mids are thicker, smoother, warmer, more natural especially when it come to vocal or violin.
TREBLE : Sharper, snappier and airier, it extract more micro-detail but sound more artificial and thin, decay is less natural than Aurora, percussion can sound half-done and distached too.
ATTACK SPEED : The timing between DD and BA of the OH1S isn’t perfect, which inflict proper bass separation, as well it sound more shouty so while the highs seem faster the rest isn’t. Testing the same busy track (Elephant9-Skink), OH1S sound more messy and condensed too, the highs crumpling-splashing on everything else. Unlistenable.

All in all, OH1S is less musical and more plain technical even if not as well articulate as the Aurora. Aurora beat these in everything but imaging accuracy (except in very busy track where the OH1S can’t keep up).

CONCLUSION

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KBEAR has always evolved, and lately it’s for the better, especially in tonal and timbral balance. Even If i didn’t directly compare those with the Diamond, we can see the Aurora as a direct upgrade that solves overly bright V shape balance for a more bassy neutral with thicker timbre. We can see this as a Believe side grade too, with similar tonality but a bit cleaner presentation.
The Aurora is a very capable single DD iem that delivers a lively yet smooth signature with warm thumpy bass, full mids and crunchy treble, the macro-resolution is extremely rich in sounds layers wich give a very immersive sound experience that benefit long time listening.
While this isn’t a reference tuning and lack a bit of clarity, the sirupy tonal cohesion of the Aurora is easy to love and suit a wide range of music.
Another good release from KBear!


——-
PS: I wanna thanks KBear and Keephifi for sending me this review sample. I’m not affiliated to this company and distributor and keep my full freedom of judgement as always.
You can buy the KBear Aurora for 170$ HERE.

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