Today we review the KB Ear Opal, a single dynamic driver earphone. The Opal was designed with the goal of making a great value for money IEM. It has a detachable MMCX cable and comfortable housings with an attractive carbon fibre pattern. KB Ear is a subsidiary of Shenzhen Lingyin Technology Co., Ltd. and is a relatively new brand to enter the Chinese IEM market.
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.
- Comfortable earpieces
- Nice included detachable cable
- Clarity and detail
- Tonal imbalance
- Sound is harsh and unnatural
Package and Accessories
The Opal comes in a simple but nice looking dark grey box with green highlights. On the front is an image of a single earpiece and on the back is a list of specifications. Inside the box, the earphones are seated in a soft, black foam insert along with 2 pairs of silicone eartips. There’s another small box here too which holds the rest of the accessories. Here’s what you get all together in the box:
- KB Ear Opal earphones
- Detachable MMCX cable
- 3 pairs of narrow-bore silicone eartips
- 3 pairs of wide-bore silicone eartips
- User guide/warranty
Build Quality and Design
The KB Ear Opal sports a simple but elegant design with its rounded, triangular shape. A carbon fibre pattern with a gold-coloured brand logo in the middle adorns the faceplates. The shells have a glossy piano black finish with 2 tiny vents on the inner side and gold-coloured MMCX socket on the front edge.
Gold-coloured nozzles matching the colour of the logo on the faceplate create a nice contrast and add to the Opal’s design aesthetic. There’s a proper ridge present on the nozzles which prevents eartips from slipping off unintentionally. Additionally, there is a silver metal grill covering the mouth of the nozzle.
Overall it’s a pleasing design and one that makes the Opal appear more expensive than it is. Although the housings are plastic the build quality feels great for something in this price range.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
With its smooth finish and rounded edges the Opal feels very comfortable in the ears. The nozzles are just the right length to provide a stable fit without digging too deep into your ears. The earpieces sit flush within the sides of your ears making them suitable for wearing while lying down.
Noise isolation is moderate and the Opal would be suitable for just about any environment. There is virtually no noise leak either.
The supplied cable was another surprise and feels more premium than you might expect for a budget earphone. It’s a twisted 4-strand cable with handsome coppery-brown colour and minimal microphonics. At the top are aluminium MMCX connectors which have a colour coded ring indicating left and right.
Next are the pre-formed ear guides, made from a pliable transparent heat-shrink tubing. There’s a small plastic cable cinch and small cylindrical aluminium Y-split. The cable terminates in a right-angled 3.5 mm plug with good strain relief.
Gear used for testing includes the FiiO M6 and Earstudio ES100 for portable sources. The Opal is fairly easy to drive and can be paired with a smartphone or low-powered DAP.
The KB Ear Opal has a bright tonality that focuses intensely on the upper midrange. It has good clarity and a surprising amount of detail retrieval but that detail comes at the cost of harshness and tonal imbalance.
Opal’s bass is tight, clean and speedy. The sub-bass delivers some deep, fast rumble when called upon and maintains good control. The mid-bass has a solid punch and kick drums have a nice, snappy impact. Attack is fast and the decay has a medium, natural speed. The bass has good texture and definition and is impressive for a budget driver.
The midrange is quite lean and separates itself well from the bass. Male vocals are very well articulated and very clear but they sound thin and insubstantial, as though singing in a tiled bathroom. Female vocals also sound willowy and raspy and lack density.
The upper midrange has a massive boost between 2.5-4.5kHz which upsets the overall tonal balance. It has some benefits, such as the snap of kick drums, vocal presence and definition.
However, the upper midrange is harsh and often drowns out sounds in the rest of the spectrum. This section dominates the overall sound, pushing the bass and lower midrange back in the mix. On top of that, it is also extremely fatiguing and sounds unnatural.
The Opal’s treble is crisp, neat and well extended. It does not sound aggressive at all nor is there any sibilance but it sits behind and is masked by the overbearing upper midrange. It actually has a good tone and a light, airiness that adds a good sense of space and a hint of sparkle. The Opal’s brightness does not come from a forward treble but an aggressively boosted upper midrange.
The soundstage has fairly large dimensions and is deeper than it is wide. It sounds more like a hall than a room and gives the listener a good sense of space. Imaging is above average for a budget earphone and the Opal is able to provide strong positional cues.
The ZSN Pro has a much meatier bass than the Opal. ZSN Pro’s sub-bass has a deeper, more physical rumble. ZSN Pro mid-bass has more weight and impact with a slower decay. The KZ IEM has more body in the midrange and sounds more natural. While the ZSN Pro also has a boosted upper midrange, it’s much more even with the bass and treble than the Opal’s unbalanced approach.
The ZSN Pro is able to maintain better tonal accuracy and although it is bright due to more treble presence it is much smoother and less fatiguing to listen to than the Opal. The KB Ear Opal has a larger soundstage that feels more open than the ZSN Pro’s stage.
In terms of build quality the ZSN Pro feels more premium in the hand but I personally think the Opal is the nice looking IEM. One area where the Opal clearly beats the KZ is with its excellent cable.
The QT5 has a slower bass with more weight and impact. It’s not a clean or tight as the Opal’s bass. Midrange notes have more body, are smoother and sound more natural. Male and female vocals alike are smooth and emotive compared to the thin and scratchy Opal.
The QT5 has a little more treble energy with more solid treble notes and slightly better extension. Due to the QT5’s thicker bass and extra midrange fullness it doesn’t reveal micro details like the Opal but it sounds a lot more natural and less fatiguing.
The Opal comes with a better selection of eartips and both IEMs have fantastic stock cables for their respective prices. The QT5’s metal housings feel more durable but they are heavier and not quite as comfortable as the Opal.
The KB Ear Opal is an interesting earphone from this new fledgeling company. It’s very nicely built, comfortable and comes with a great cable and good selection of eartips. I’m very impressed with the direction they’ve taken with their styling and aesthetics.
Unfortunately, the sound leaves a lot to be desired but it does show promise and I heard the company is already working on a revised version. I’m looking forward to seeing what improvements they can make but until that time there are better alternatives out there.
- Impedance: 16Ω±10%
- Earphone sensitivity: 102±3dB
- Frequency response range: 20Hz-20KHz
- Plug Type: 3.5mm L Plug
- Cable Length: 1.2m±3cm
- Earphone connector: MMCX connector
- Driver unit: 1 Dynamic Driver