The KBEAR KS1 is the latest budget offering from this Chinese earphone brand. It has a single dynamic driver and shares the same ergonomic shell design as its sibling the KS2. KBEAR has had a string of successes in recent times with their budget models and it looks as though the KS1 will continue that trend.
Disclaimer: 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.
Warm, musical tonality
Driver Unit: Dual-Magnetic Circuit Single Dynamic driver
Frequency response: 20-20kHz
Package & Accessories
The KBEAR KS1 comes in a typical budget IEM package. It’s a small white box with an illustration of an earpiece on the front and a list of specifications on the back. As is the norm for earphones in this price bracket, the KS1 comes with the minimal accessories which include a detachable cable and 3 pairs of silicone eartips.
KS1’s shells are identical to those of the KBEAR KS2. The moulded acrylic shells are lightweight but feel durable and should have good longevity. There are 2 vents, both on the inner side of the shell. KBEAR have kept the visual elements fairly simple with just a small logo placed on the faceplates.
The nozzles are aluminium with a protective mesh cover and once again, we see the Type-C slotted 2-pin plug. Just like the KS2, I find the KS1 shells to be very comfortable and have no trouble keeping them in my ears for hours at a time. Passive noise isolation is average for this type of shell which means KS1 is quite good for commuting and for use in noisy public spaces.
The 4-core 4N pure copper cable included with KS1 is a departure from the KS2 which came with the generic KZ brown cable. This one has a black TPU sheath and the Y-split is positioned further up the cable making it slightly less prone to tangling (but it is still prone to tangling).
The 2-pin connectors and Y-split are rubber while the right-angled 3.5mm termination is right-angled. It’s a fairly lightweight cable that handles reasonably well and doesn’t suffer from microphonics.
The KBEAR KS1 has a v-shaped signature that is slightly on the warmer side of neutral. Dynamic drivers generally tend to sound cohesive and that’s certainly the case here. KS1 has an organic tone with moderate clarity, a boosted bass and smooth highs.
The bass is elevated and focuses slightly on the mid-bass more than the sub-bass. It has a deep reach and powerful impression and leans toward basshead territory. KS1 is a nice choice for jazz, hip-hop, pop and electronic music thanks to its powerful yet calm bass response.
In 2Pac’s “F**k The World”, KS1 delivers the heavy kick drum with thickness and solidity. The synth bass is also prominent but the mids and vocals are still present and don’t get buried under the bass. However, KS1 may not be as suitable for complex or fast music since the bass can become a little congested at times.
The midrange is a tad recessed and has a warm tone. There is some colouration and instruments have a slightly thicker than neutral note body. But the clarity is still quite good and micro-details are still surprisingly easy to detect. Although there is an upper midrange boost, KS1 doesn’t sound shouty with upper piano registers or female vocals.
KS1’s treble is crisp with a hint of sparkle. Yet it’s non-fatiguing and maintains good energy throughout. Detail retrieval is quite impressive considering the earphone’s warm tone and budget price. The treble is lively and precise and it achieves that without any sibilance or shrillness. It’s really a pretty impressive quality treble for a budget IEM.
The soundstage is moderate in size and extends further in the front than to the sides. Instrument separation is decent but it can deteriorate during complex or bass-heavy passages. Despite being slightly narrow the stage doesn’t feel overly congested or intimate.
KBEAR KS2 ($23)
The KBEAR KS2 is a hybrid dual-driver (1DD+1BA). It has less body and fullness in the upper-bass and lower-midrange than the KS1. KS2’s sub-bass has better extension and a deeper reach compared to KS1 which has a subtle sub-bass roll-off.
In the upper-bass and lower-midrange, the KS2 is leaner and more neutral while the mid-bass and the treble levels are similar. This gives the KS2 a deeper V-shape compared to the KS1. As a result, KS2 has more clarity and better resolution but the KS1 sounds more cohesive and organic.
Both IEMs have a similar treble response but because of KS2’s leaner upper-bass and lower-midrange its treble is more forward in the mix.
KZ DQ6 ($27)
The KZ DQ6 has a triple dynamic driver configuration with a fairly similar frequency response curve as KS1. DQ6 has more controlled and tighter bass with more linearity between sub and mid-bass. The overall bass emphasis is slightly less on DQ6 but it carries more authority due to its extension and reach.
DQ6’s midrange is a little more forward plus it has an additional upper midrange peak for added presence and vocal presentation. The treble response between these 2 IEMs is remarkably similar, right down to the peaks and valleys that measure near identically from 4-12kHz. But because of its leaner bass and upper-mids lift the DQ6’s overall tonality is a tad brighter.
The KBEAR KS1 is a solid budget earphone. It follows a succession of quality budget products from a brand that continues to mature and establish their presence in the market. While it doesn’t have any particularly outstanding qualities, it’s hard to find any faults. The tonal balance is on point and it’s a fun, musical IEM with an affordable price tag. Recommended.