KBEAR is a relatively new IEM manufacturing brand from China. They first appeared on the scene recently with a couple of budget earphones that were fairly well-received plus a bold marketing approach. In this review, I’m checking out their newest model, the KBEAR Diamond. It has a single Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC), dynamic driver wrapped in a handsome alloy shell and comes in at an attractive price. Does this Diamond sound like cut-glass or a Cockney drawl? Let’s find out.
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.
KBEAR Diamond Review
- Durable metal housings
- High-quality stock cable
- Clarity and tonal balance
- Value for money
- Moderate soundstage width
Package and Accessories
From the first glance of the outer packaging, it’s quite clear that the Diamond aims to be a step up from the earlier Opal and F1 models. This box is significantly bigger and has a simple but classy aesthetic.
Inside the box, the earphones are seated in a black foam insert, along with some foam eartips and a faux leather carrying case. Let’s just get straight to the box contents then.
- KBEAR Diamond earphones
- Faux leather carry case
- x2 pairs of foam eartips
- x3 pairs of black silicone eartips
- x3 pairs of grey silicone eartips
- Silver-plated copper braided 2-pin cable
I was pleased to see that there is a variety of eartips provided, as the earlier KBEAR models were very limited in terms of accessories. The carry case is always a welcome addition too and really adds to the sense of value.
Build Quality and Design
Sporting a mix of sage green for the shells, gold nozzles and carbon-fibre faceplates, the KBEAR Diamond is a handsome unit. It has clean, simple lines and an unpretentious aesthetic that looks nicer in real life than it does in pictures.
The housings containing the single DLC dynamic driver are metal with a fairly narrow body but they have some heft and feel substantial in the hand. On the leading edge is an L or R denotation indicating the left and right sides respectively, along with a single pinhole vent, plus the recessed 2-pin socket.
The faceplates have a carbon-fibre pattern with a gold-coloured logo in the centre, similar to the KBEAR Opal model but definitely a step up from there. These feel robust and should prove to be durable as well.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
The metal shells have a little heft to them but are not heavy by any means. All the surfaces are smooth and there are no sharp edges coming into contact with your ears. For my ears, the Diamond offers a great fit and I can comfortably wear them all day.
Noise isolation is slightly above average, making this ideal for commuting or noisy environments. With music playing quietly, I can’t hear much of anything going on around me as a good deal of external noise is blocked out. Noise leak is negligent, so you’ll never need to worry about disturbing anyone nearby.
The included SPC cable is braided and quite thick but at the same time, very supple. Handling is excellent and this is a comfortable cable for daily use. Additionally, it has very little cable noise and it’s lightweight too.
At the top are aluminium 2-pin connector housings and some very flexible heat-shrink ear guides. The Y-split is a small aluminium cylinder with a matching metal chin slider. The cable terminates in a straight metal 3.5mm plug.
Gear used for testing includes the Shanling Q1, FiiO M5 and my Windows laptop with the Cozoy TAKT C.
This is an efficient IEM and doesn’t require any additional amplification. It works fine straight from my Android smartphone, although it does improve with better sources.
The Diamond has a V-shaped tuning with punchy bass, clean midrange and a laidback treble. Despite the V, it sounds more balanced than the graph might suggest and is in no way the recessed mids monster it appears to be. Timbre is excellent for an entry-level IEM and the detail retrieval is above average too.
The bass is here is lifted but this is not what I would call a bass-heavy IEM. Bass is well-controlled thanks to the speed of the DLC driver plus the stability of the aluminium shells which reduces any unwanted resonance.
Sub-bass extension is good allowing the Diamond to produce a low-reaching, clean rumble. The transition from sub-bass to mid-bass is fairly linear with a nice steady decline as it reaches towards the midrange.
The mid-bass is punchy and tight with good attack and decay, giving it a natural weight. Overall, the Diamond has a quality bass with good texture, speed and impact. Those who are looking for something neutral should look elsewhere but I think the majority of people will appreciate the quantity and quality of Diamond’s bass.
Mids have good clarity and articulation without sacrificing too much body or warmth. There’s a lot of detail present and the separation is impressive for a single dynamic driver. One thing that really stands out here is the timbre, which sounds natural and accurate, despite having a smaller note size.
Vocals are slightly recessed but they don’t sound distant or insubstantial. Percussion instruments are well-defined with a rigorous attack. Guitars have plenty of bite and instruments, in general, have a good sharpness with fast transients, which keeps the midrange sounding clean and uncluttered.
There is some emphasis on the lower treble in the presence range before it begins rolling off in the upper treble. The treble extension is good, providing airiness and detail without any sharpness or sibilance. It’s a treble that doesn’t cause fatigue and additionally, it doesn’t sound brittle or artificial.
The level of the upper treble is a little subdued, so those looking for more energetic high frequencies (like the Tin Hifi T3, for example) may find it a bit tame. However, I really like this kind of treble tuning and find it to complement the rest of Diamond’s spectrum perfectly.
The soundstage is average in size and elongated, having more depth than width. It has ordinary layering and good instrument separation. Imaging is quite good and while it won’t win any awards for precise positional cues, it’s no slouch either. The cleanliness of the midrange and the lightness of the treble help to make the stage feel open and tidy.
Tin Hifi T4 ($99)
The Tin Hifi T4 (review here) has a more neutral bass but its one that extends very nicely and is more linear relative to its sub-bass. Midrange and vocals are more forward than the Diamond but the T4’s forwardness in the upper midrange can be fatiguing, at least to my ears. I often find male vocals in the upper registers uncomfortable which is something I don’t get with the Diamond.
The T4 has more treble presence in the 5-8kHz region as well which enhances details but is occasionally sibilant. T4’s upper treble rolls off faster than the Diamond, making the soundstage feel more intimate.
Shozy Form 1.1 ($75)
The Shozy Form 1.1 (review here) has a warmer tonality compared to Diamond’s cooler sound. It has less-sub bass with a faster roll-off than the Diamond and a similar level of mid-bass. Form 1.1’s midrange is more forward and linear, bringing vocals more to the forefront and making the mids warmer with thicker notes.
Form 1.1’s upper midrange is quite subdued, making certain percussion instruments soft and the overall tonality darker. Acoustic guitars and piano are less vibrant than on the Diamond. The Shozy gets a boost in the 7-10kHz range that adds some clarity and some occasional sharpness for those who are sensitive to this area. Vocal lovers should appreciate Form 1.1 whereas the Diamond is a bit more versatile with its more classic V-shaped signature.
Sometimes an earphone comes along that just seems to get most things right and that is exactly what the KBEAR Diamond does. It’s built nicely with durable metal housings that also happen to be comfortable. It comes with a generous variety of eartips, a proper carry case and a great stock cable.
If that weren’t enough, it sounds good too. With just the right blend of energy and smoothness, this can compete with its direct peers and in more often than not it comes out on top. In fact, it does enough right to land a spot on our Best IEMs list.
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Earphone sensitivity: 102dB
- Frequency response range: 20Hz-20KHz
- Plug Type: 3.5mm Straight jack
- Cable Length: 1.2m
- Colour: Sage green with carbon-fibre faceplate
- Earphone connector: 2-pin connector
- Whether with mic: No mic
- Whether can replacement cable: Yes
- Driver unit: Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated PET