I’m looking at the KBEAR Ink in this review. The Ink has a single Carbon Nanotube (CNT)) dynamic driver and metal shells. The price is $69.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by HiFiGo for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
- Frequency response: 20Hz-40kHz
- Sensitivity: 102dB
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Cable material: Silver-plated oxygen-free copper
- Price: $69
Package and Accessories
The KBEAR Ink comes with a generous bundle including various eartips and a nice carrying case. Here’s what you get in the box:
- KBEAR Ink IEMs
- Detachable 2-pin cable
- 5x pairs of narrow-bore silicone eartips
- 3x pairs of wide-bore silicone eartips
- Cleaning brush
- Cleaning cloth
- Faux leather carrying case
The Ink’s shells are crafted from a one-piece moulding alloy cavity. Its faceplates have a honeycomb design and gold KBEAR branding covered with a 2.5D clear epoxy resin. The result is a relatively low-key but attractive earphone that feels solid in the hands but not heavy.
There’s a single vent on the front side of the earphones, just below the 2-pin sockets. Here we also find an L and R marking for the Left and Right sides. The nozzles are made of brass and have a protective mesh cover. Eartips sit firmly in place thanks to a pronounced lip on the nozzles.
Ink is a comfortable IEM with a simple shape and rounded edges. The shape is similar to the KBEAR Diamond shells and the Ink requires the right eartips to help secure a good fit. I don’t feel any “cabin pressure” but the passive noise isolation is pretty solid making the IEMs good for noisy environments and commuting.
The Ink comes with a detachable 2-pin 8-core silver-plated OFC cable. It has a glossy black sheath and handles well with no noticeable microphonics. The straight 3.5mm plug, Y-split, chin slider and 2-pin housings are all matching black aluminium.
Gear used for testing includes the Shanling UP5, Hidizs AP80 Pro X and Yulong Aurora.
The KBEAR Ink has a V-shaped sound signature. It’s easy to drive and therefore doesn’t need any extra amplification. You can run this IEM straight from a smartphone or dongle DAC.
The bass is boosted above neutral but doesn’t reach into basshead territory. It’s authoritative and has good sub-bass extension. The sub-bass delivers some nice tidy rumble when called upon and should satisfy anyone looking for meaty bass drops.
The mid-bass is punchy and has medium-paced attack and decay giving it natural weight. Leading edges are slightly blunted but the overall definition is still good. It’s a textured bass too and sounds nice with gritty bass guitars and kick drums.
Ink’s core midrange is mostly neutral and although it inherits some warmth from the bass, the lifted upper mids give it a brighter overall tone. It’s a clean midrange with ample clarity but could use a bit more body and saturation.
This is a midrange suited well to classical music and acoustic instruments but could use more warmth for cellos and vocals. As the volume increases, so does the pinna gain and the mids sometimes get shouty.
The treble tuning is lively and delivers ample detail but with some sharpness. It’s not the most precise treble but the tone is fairly natural. There’s some airiness in the highs and the top-end extension is adequate.
It’s a somewhat uneven treble and might be fatiguing for some people. In “Shadows & Light” by Saudade, Chelsea Wolfe and Chino Moreno, the chorus causes me some discomfort due to a glaring lower treble. The combination of the electric guitars, vocals and crash cymbals results in a shrill cacophony.
Soundstage and Technicalities
The soundstage has average dimensions and is evenly proportioned in width and depth. Instrument separation is fine and as a result, the imaging is pretty decent as well. The clarity is good but the overall resolution is only average because of the upper midrange tuning that masks more subtle details.
Tin Hifi T3 Plus
The Tin Hifi T3 Plus (review here) is another single dynamic driver IEM. It has resin shells in place of the alloy shells of the Ink. The T3 Plus sounds slightly more balanced and has a forward midrange compared to the Ink’s V-shaped sound signature.
The Ink has an edge in clarity but it comes with some stridency and sharpness. T3 Plus’ midrange has more body and thicker notes. It sounds more natural than the Ink’s thinner, drier midrange.
The T3 Plus’ treble is noticeably smoother but its detail retrieval is just as good. Its overall resolution is a little better as is the instrument separation. Its more even treble response doesn’t smooth over any areas and gives it added precision and better imaging.
The Whizzer HE01 (review here) has a single dynamic driver. It sounds warmer and more musical than the Ink. The HE01 has more overall bass quantity plus it has more weight and impact in the low frequencies.
Being more forward in the lower midrange gives the HE01 a more saturated and warmer sound. The core midrange of the Whizzer is lifted too, making vocals more upfront and intimate than they are on the Ink.
HE01 has less lower treble energy but its elevated upper treble provides more detail and air to balance the meatier bass.
The KBEAR Ink performs well for a sub $100 IEM but doesn’t do anything to differentiate itself from the crowd. It has solid build quality, a nice assortment of eartips and a good included cable. With its fun energetic sound, it would suit people looking for a brighter tonality coupled with a meaty bass.