The BQEYZ KB1 Bluetooth earphone is in the PAR labs for testing. This triple driver hybrid features a less common configuration of 2x dynamic drivers and 1x balanced armature driver. It has a great all-metal build quality, a balanced sound and the signature BQEYZ clarity.
BQEYZ is a relatively new Chinese OEM earphone manufacturer who has rapidly gained appreciation among budget audio enthusiasts. Recently we tested the excellent BQEYZ K2 earphone (review here) and were very pleased with the results. We’re hoping the new KB1 delivers similar results, so let’s get started.
Since the Z1 Bluetooth cable is sold separately (for $24.90) I’m judging the BQEYZ KB1 purely on the earphones and their sound. The Bluetooth cable and subsequently the sound when using it has no reflection on the final scoring. All critical listening was done using the cable from the BQEYZ K2.
Excellent build quality
Good balanced sound with natural tonality
Cable is detachable
Value for money
Limited accessories included
No ridge on the nozzles so some eartips become loose
Driver type: 1BA +2DD per side
Frequency range: 7-40kHz
Colors: Black, Grey
Cable Length: 1.2m±5cm
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
Package and Accessories
The BQEYZ KB1 comes in a small, black, rectangular box. On the front is the brand name and over on the back are some specifications and company information. Inside you’ll find the earphones secured in a cardboard and foam inlay with the spare eartips on display just above.
Underneath are the cable, a USB charging cable and user manual/warranty card. It’s another super basic package, just like other recent IEMs we’ve reviewed. There seems to be a trend at the moment where manufacturers are simplifying the delivery system in order to give buyers the best earphones possible for the price. I’m all for this, as you generally just throw the box away after opening it anyway. It makes you feel as though you’re paying for the product rather than superfluous packaging.
Build Quality and Design
The BQEYZ KB1 has all-metal CNC crafted housings that feel solid but are still lightweight. The earpieces bear similar traits to other existing products from the same manufacturer.
On the each faceplate you’ll see “Hybrid Technology” in very small print; a feature of the monitors that the company seems to like reminding us of, plus an L and R indicator for easy identification.
On the inner side of the housings there appears to be 3 small vents, 2 towards the rear end and another at the bass of the nozzle. The black nozzles are similar to the ones on the K2 model which is unfortunate because it means there is no ridge to secure the eartips. This isn’t a problem when using the supplied tips or ones with a narrower core but I’ve had some of my other tips get stuck in my ears.
There’s also a metal mesh covering the nozzle opening to keep out ear wax and detritus. Apart from having no ridge on the nozzles the KB1 is finely built.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
I find the KB1 to be very comfortable for my ears. It has a more rounded shape and slightly smaller size than the K2 housings. The preformed ear-guides assist in keeping the earphones snug in my ears.
Despite the vents on the housing I found the noise isolation to be quite good and I think the KB1 would be suitable for most everyday environments. Noise leak is fairly minimal too so it shouldn’t bother other people unless you’re in an extremely quiet place.
Z1 Cable and Connectivity
The KB1’s Bluetooth cable is black coloured and twisted with 4 strands, similar to the K2 cable but a little bit stiffer. It has the same 2-pin connectors so it is detachable and can be replaced with any 0.75mm or 0.78mm cable and used with a wired connection if desired. There are preformed ear-guides to provide a more secure fit in your ears.
Towards the right side earpiece is the 3-button remote and Bluetooth receiver module. It’s a fairly chunky unit but is fortunately very lightweight. The buttons feel responsive and have a nice, tactile click. Also present is the USB port used for charging the module. Sadly the USB port doesn’t have a gasket or any kind of cover to keep out dust or moisture so you need to take some extra care with it.
Connecting Bluetooth is easy and consistent and I had no problems with either of the sources I tested with. When it comes to signal strength the KB1 performs on par with most other Bluetooth headphones I’ve used. I was able to walk into my kitchen without any signal drops and that’s with a solid brick wall between the earphones and the source (Sony NW-ZX300).
Gear used for testing includes the Sony NW-ZX300 and Shanling M0 for Bluetooth sources and as DAPs. On the desktop I used my Windows PC running Tidal HiFi to the Topping DX7 DAC.
The BQEYZ KB1 is easy to drive and works perfectly well being driven by a smartphone or low powered portable player.
The KB1 has a more aggressive bass than the K2 but still it doesn’t come anywhere close to bloated or dominating. Mid-bass is nicely textured and punchy with a natural decay. It’s full-bodied, providing warmth but also edging ever so slightly into the midrange in the form of some minimal bass bleed.
Sub-bass has good extension and should satisfy when those bass-drops hit. It shoulders a warm foundation to counterbalance the accentuated lower treble that the KB1 brings to the party.
The midrange is slightly recessed but not enough to cause any distraction. Vocals have sufficient density and natural tonality to elicit an emotional response. Upper midrange frequencies are moderately boosted but do a delicate dance and avoid any sibilance. At times it seems as though you’re about to get served some shattering brightness but it rarely ever materializes.
Female vocals, in particular, have good presence and vitality, as shown when listening to Céline Dion in “A Mother’s Prayer” from Ólafur Arnalds Gimme Shelter (OST).
Thanks to a fairly rapid fall-off after the upper midrange peak the KB1’s treble is crisp and light but not overly bright or brittle. It provides a decent amount of detail, airiness and energy, as well as counterbalancing the warmth and body of the bass.
Being neither intimate or expansive, the KB1 presents an average or slightly above average sized soundstage. Although there’s nothing extraordinary about the size of the stage, it has an impressive stability with well-defined boundaries. Instrument positioning is fairly strong for something in this price range.
BQEYZ KB1 vs BQEYZ K2 ($48 USD)
The KB1 has more weight in the bass while the K2 is a little faster and more nimble in the low end. The midrange on both IEMs is strikingly similar, although vocals are a little more intimate on the K2 and the KB1 starts to thin out more towards the upper midrange. I find the KB1 to be just a touch sharper in the treble too, most likely to compensate for the increased bass.
For my ears the shape of the KB1 less troublesome than the K2; with the latter, I spent a lot more time trying to find the right tips to get a proper seal and a secure fit. Despite the physical similarities, the K2 feels more premium with its smooth curved contours.
BQEYZ KB1 vs RevoNext QT2 ($46 USD)
Just like the previous comparison, there are a lot of similarities between these 2 IEMs as well. The QT2 (review here) has a stronger bass which is just as controlled, if not better than the KB1. Better bass extension belongs to the QT2 as well.
Some people might prefer the extra distance that the KB1 puts between vocals and the microphone but the extra density that the QT2 has makes it feel more like the performer is standing there in front of you.
The KB1 has a more stable soundstage. The QT2 has more width and stronger imaging. The QT2’s treble notes have a more accurate timbre and the KB1 has a more energetic and evenly spread treble.
In terms of build, the QT2 feels more solid and premium but the KB1 has better ergonomics, comfort and a better cable. Both IEMs come with minimum accessories.
Well, it looks as though BQEYZ has made another solid IEM. The BQEYZ KB1 offers great value for money and a sound that very few others in its price range can match. It doesn’t stray far from what is becoming the manufacturer’s signature house sound but it doesn’t need to.
BQEYZ continue to make the same IEMs with subtle physical changes and minor tuning alterations. And there’s nothing wrong with that; they’ve found a winning formula and they’re sticking to it. If you’re shopping for a sub $50 earphone be sure to add the KB1 to your list of candidates.