KBEAR KS1 First (and most likely last) Impressions
Hi all! Welcome back to the Neighborhood! So, I don’t normally do this, but today we’re going to do an unboxing and initial impressions video. I simply just can’t wait to tell you guys about the new KBEAR KS1! I’m not sure if I just have a unicorn unit, or what, but these are super good, and super cheap. And, as of right now, the KS1 is on sale on Amazon for $19.99 with an additional 20% coupon available. So, let’s briefly go ahead and get InToit!
So, because I’m so excited about this thing, we’ll just briefly cover the build because, to be honest its not really that impressive, because these are less than $20 bucks, but hey, the package it comes with is much better than something like a Blon. What you get with the KS1, is a set of small, medium, and large, black, silicone tips, with let’s say a medium sized bore. The tips here ran on the small size for my ears, so I ended up using a large tip, when I normally use a medium. The cable these come with is a box style 2-pin with a l-shaped 3.5mm jack. The ear hooks are a tad aggressive and the cord of the cable is a bit course, stiff, and plasticky, but, like I’ve said, its better than the cable that comes with one of the Blons. The shell is a gloss, black guitar-pick-shaped plastic housing, that is pretty thin in its depth and rather small and ergonomic in fit. It’s light weight, but not overly so. So, for an IEM that is less than $20 dollars, the build seems appropriate, and its fit is comfortable in the ear and can be worn all day without issue.
But, let’s get onto the sound, because I’m sure that’s really why you’re here. So these sound fabulous, for $20 dollars, or even much, much more. Right now I also have the TRI Starsea in for review, and that’s $136 dollar IEM that resolves like an IEM beyond its price, the KS1 almost keeps up with it. I find this remarkable, given that that set utilizes two balanced armatures, including a custom tweet, while the KS1 only makes use of a dual-magnet 10mm dynamic driver. So, it would be an understatement to say that the clarity and resolution you get with the KS1 is truly outstanding for the price. Vocals are also notably well done. They are distinctly centered, nice articulated, and pleasantly forward. Peripheral details are also nicely detailed, clearly presented, and take place well separated from other sonics. This isn’t the widest sound-stage, but peripheral details are presented wider than the rest of the mix, and the depth of the sound field has an expansive character to it.
So far, layering, decay, and imaging capabilities are standout attributes of this set, and they keep pace with sets easily 4 times this price or more. As a compliment, in a lot of ways these remind me of the Tin Hifi T4 which will set you back between $75 and $100 dollars at current; however, in the case of the KS1, I would also say that the KBEAR has additional energy, liveliness, and forwardness to its character across the entirety of the frequency response spectrum; but without going overboard into shouty land or anything like that for me. So, these are intensive, but not fatiguing. If you liked the T4 for its technical capabilities, but felt that it was not punchy enough or a bit too laid back, then KS1 might be just what the doctor ordered. Furthermore, I would describe the KS1’s microdynamics and transient response as natural and snappy, and macrodynamics punchy and weighty.
Bass was a bit intense out of the box, but they have calmed down somewhat with some use. But again, these are definitely more intensive, punchy, and somewhat weightier in their delivery compared to a T4 and some others. I want people that pick these up to know ahead of time that the bass here is most assuredly elevated, but I think that it is executed superbly well. These remind me of the bass quality and detailing of the Monndrop SSR, but in this case, the bass presence has been adjusted to a level which will make both audiophiles and bassheads alike content. The subbass less forward than the midbass punch, but it adds a mild under glow of warmth, and I would say that the bass extension here is decently well-extended. The midrange appears forward in its character and presentation, and I have not noted any prominent peaks or valleys as of yet. Neither have I recognized any form of shrill character from brass instrumentation, or any signs of sibilance from voices. The treble also seems well extended, well-represented, and brilliantly articulated. Overall, I would describe the treble as lively and with mild splash on occasion, but without harshness. Timbre seems rather neutral and natural sounding, with some mild reverb amongst the driver’s peripheral detailing at times in particular. In terms of additional comparisons in the price-range, these do remind me somewhat of the Jade Audio EA1 in their tonality and overall presentation, but with additional dynamics, better sub-bass extension, and slightly fuller sonics.
I haven’t tested every tip option yet, but so far, stock tips seem to result in the best overall presentation for the KS1, as other tips seem to throw clarity, resolve, or other characteristics out of whack. Conversely, I have found that the balanced TRI cable that I picked up with my KBEAR Lark (check out that review for more information, and I’ll also share the link for that cable here as well [as it]) does tighten things up a smidge and enhances things wee bit. But, the stock cable is mostly fine too, aside from the rather aggressive ear hooks.
So, I’ll follow up with a full review in the future if need be; but I wanted to go ahead and get something out to the Neighborhood, so that people don’t feel they need to wait on this one, as these are pretty special. After the Blons were so hyped by various other reviewers, I had expected a sound like this from those IEMs. And, while the Blons could not live up to their hype for my ears, the KBEAR KS1 most assuredly has the goods. And, at its cheap price, the KS1 is sure to generate hype of its own, as it makes its way into the hands of other audiophiles in the near future.
I would definitely consider these to be in my Top 3 under $50 dollars at the moment, unless it turns out that I ended up with a unicorn unit that is, and I’ll make sure to let you know if I have. In the meantime, make sure to like and subscribe, leave some comments, and follow the channel at all of the Neighborhood access locations in the description below. It really helps the channel and the community grow if you do. And with that, I’m out for now!
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