KBEAR is a Chinese earphone manufacturer that has had a string of successful products in recent times. Some of their previous models include the KBEAR Diamond, Knight and KB04. In this review, I’m checking out their latest budget offering, the KBEAR KS2. The KS2 is a hybrid dual-driver IEM with 1 dynamic driver and 1 balanced armature driver. Can KBEAR continue their winning streak with the KS2? Let’s find out.
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.
Great fit and comfort
Detachable cable can be easily upgraded
Engaging bass performance
Value for money
Cable is prone to tangling
Package and Accessories
The KS2 comes in a standard budget IEM style box. It has a clear image of the shell on the front and a list of specifications on the back. Inside the box is the usual foam insert with the earphones on display and another smaller box containing the accessories. Apart from the earphones, you get a detachable 2-pin cable and 3 pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, L).
Design, Comfort and Noise Isolation
The KBEAR KS2 adopts a simple acrylic pseudo-custom style shell. It is available in black and green colours. I have the black version which has a smooth glossy finish. The shells are unmarked except for a KBEAR logo on the faceplate and the model number with left and right markers on the top side.
On the inner side of the shell there is a single small vent. The nozzle is aluminium and has a good ridge which holds eartips securely in place. As is usually the case, there’s also a protective metal mesh covering the nozzle opening.
These are a fairly narrow IEM and have a low profile in your ears. I personally find the KS2 to be an extremely comfortable IEM. Furthermore, the earphones fit very securely in my ears and stay in place without me having to continually reposition them over time.
Noise isolation is fairly good and blocks out external sounds efficiently. Once the music starts, you hear much of anything else around you.
If you’re familiar with the dreaded brown KZ cable, you will feel right at home with the one included with the KS2. This is a tightly-braided copper cable with QDC type 2-pin connectors and pre-formed ear guides. Above the Y-split the cable is quite thin and that plus the omission of a chin slider means that it’s very prone to tangling.
The cable terminates in a right-angled 3.5mm rubberized plug. Aside from the tangling, the cable handles well enough and you couldn’t really expect much more for an IEM at this price point.
The KS2 is super efficient and can be powered by any source included smartphones. It has a light V-shaped signature with punchy bass, clean midrange and sparkly but even treble. It has good clarity and a large soundstage. In my opinion, it is currently one of the best performers around its price point.
The KBEAR KS2’s 10mm dynamic driver is a star performer. It’s not every day you find bass quality like this in a budget IEM. It’s a bass that conveys authority along with control and tightness. What I hear is a fast and well-defined attack with a medium decay speed that gives the sound a natural weight.
The mid-bass and sub-bass are fairly linear which ultimately puts the emphasis on the sub-bass. You can get a nice rumble out of these on certain songs, like in Rhythm & Sound’s “No Partial”, where the KS2 delivers some thunderous bass.
While there is some warmth inherited from the bass, the KS2’s mids still come through clearly and vocals are nicely articulated, even if they sometimes come across as a bit thin. The mids are slightly recessed, as you would expect with a V-shaped sound but they don’t sound hollow or distant.
There’s a good amount of sparkle and energy in the KS2 treble that add to its fun presentation. Although it adds a touch of brightness to the sound, it’s not harsh or sibilant. This isn’t the most accurate of trebles but at this price, I’m not going to nitpick. There’s a good amount of air rendered without stridency and it really helps open up the soundstage.
The KS2 has a great soundstage which has larger than average dimensions. It’s both wide and deep, a result of the bass control, sparkle up top and slightly pushed back midrange that adds depth to the sound. Vocal density is still respectable, despite being positioned further in front. The KS2 handles positional cues and has good stereo imaging.
KZ ZST X ($16)
The KZ ZST X has the same dual-driver configuration as the KS2 and the shells are very similar physically as well. Both have similar bass quantity but the bass on the KS2 is delineated more clearly. ZST X vocals are a little more forward in the mix but KS2 has better cohesiveness and less grain. ZST X has a bit more upper treble energy and a tendency to get splashy at higher volume.
KBEAR KB04 ($29)
The KBEAR KB04 (review here) has the same dual-driver configuration as the KS2 (1DD+1BA). It’s a more mature-sounding IEM with less bass and a more even tonal balance. The KB04 has better instrument separation and is more resolving overall. Both have a similar treble response but because the KB04 has less bass quantity to counterbalance, it comes off as the brighter sound. Surprisingly the KS2 treble actually has better density while the KB04’s treble can at times sound brittle.
CVJ CSA ($20)
The CVJ CSA (review here) is another 1DD+1BA earphone with similar shell shape and fit as the KS2. It has a warmer tonality and more body in the lower midrange. The CSA’s bass is thicker and slower in comparison, making the low end sound meatier. To my ears, the CSA has a more natural tonality but at the same time, it’s less resolving and has a smaller soundstage. The CSA has a warmer, sweeter treble and laid back presentation compared to the KS2, which is more lively and aggressive. The KS2 is more detailed and airy but at the same time brighter.
With the release of the KBEAR KS2, it looks as though KBEAR are continuing their hot streak. For just over $20 you get comfortable acrylic shells, detachable cable and a lively, detailed sound with an excellent soundstage. If you’re looking at picking up a set of budget earphones, this one is a no-brainer. In fact, I like it enough to give it a place on our best IEMs list. Kudos!