Review : KB EAR KS2
Today we review one of the latest offerings from KB EAR, the wallet-friendly KB EAR KS2 earphone! Let's dive right into it!
Disclaimer : This unit was sent to me by KB EAR. However, this does not affect my review of the product in any way whatsoever.
KB EAR does have a very unique name but make no mistake, they have been making earphones for quite a while now and even have a popular models such as the KB EAR Diamond i1 and the TRI i3. This would be my first time trying something from them so this is something interesting for me. Let's look deeper into this earphone!
Sound : Bass boosted, laidback upper mids and highs
This graph depicts how the earphone sounds to me
Driver : 10mm Composite diaphragm dynamic driver + 1 Balanced armature driver
Socket : TFZ 0.78mm Pin (Look like regular 2 pins but are not)
Price : 24 USD (+1 USD for microphone cable)
Where to buy it : KB EAR Official Aliexpress Store (Not affiliate link)
Decent quality bass
Midbass has nice impact
Highs and lows does not have enough extension
Bass tends to outshine highs
Suitable Genres : Songs where bass and vocals are the focus such as Rap, Hip Hop, RnB
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
1 Set of different sized eartips (S, M, L)
1 x Medium sized eartips (on the earphone itself)
1 x KB EAR KS2
1 x 4 Core OFC high-purity pure copper cable (3.5mm; L-shaped jack)
The KS2 comes in a simple packaging, just providing the earphones, cables and eartips. I found it nice that they actually included another pair of medium eartips on the earphone itself because most users tend to lose at least one pair of eartips.
I think if you have read my reviews enough times, you would know that I like it when the packaging comes with carrying cases. So I was slightly disappointed that they did not include one in the packaging. However, for a 24 USD earphone, I can't really fault them for not having one though I have seen other similarly priced earphones that comes with one too.
The stock cable provided feels supple and is lightweight which really helps with the comfort aspect. I also like the fact that these cables have an L-shaped jack. I personally feel that this reduces the likelihood of bending the joints of the cable as it doesn't protrude much, potentially increasing the lifespan of the cables.
Overall, though the packaging is simple and does not come with much accessories, it would have been nice if a carrying case is included with the earphones. I also like that the cables have an L-shaped termination which helps with improving the lifespan of the cables.
The earphone is made of a plastic shell throughout and feels very light. The faceplate of the earphone is a black in color with their logo embedded within the plastic itself and the whole earphone is slightly translucent, allowing you to peek at the driver within the earphone. The earphone also has a gloss finishing, which I am not a big fan of as it attracts fingerprints.
The sockets on the earphones are not recessed and juts out, but the cable has an extra rubber housing that covers it, preventing any liquid from seeping in.
The nozzle of the earphone is also made of some kind of metal with a metal grill to prevent earwax from getting into the drivers.
Overall, I am not a big fan of the housing of the earphones, I think it could have been swapped out for a matte finishing plastic that does not attract fingerprints. However to give them some credit, the shell does feel rather sturdy despite its lightweight so that's great.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
Despite me not being a big fan of the build quality of the earphones, I find them really comfortable to wear even for long hours. Due to how lightweight it is, the earphones feel like they are never in your ears and that is really good. On top of that, the lightweight cable never feels like it is tugging on the earphones, adding on to the comfort of the earphones.
The KS2 also does a decent job in isolating sound. While listening to music through my digital audio player, I hardly hear any external noises. Even if so, it was only very faint. I could sometimes still hear the notifications from my messaging apps on my computer but this could also be due to the fact that I do not play my music on very loud volumes too. For the most part, I do not hear much external noises.
Overall, the earphones feel really comfortable due to its lightweight and isolation is decent but depending on the volume you playback your music.
Before I give a general overview of the sound, the setup I use to test are as follows :
DAP - Cayin N6ii (T01)
Cable - Stock (3.5mm)
Eartips - Stock
The KS2 has a bass boosted sound with clear vocals, laidback upper mids and highs. Bass is fast and midbass hits hard so you always feel that slam of the kick drums or that rumble of the bass guitar. Treble and uppermids tend to be quite tucked behind so it doesn't stand out as much but it's still audible.
Highs tend to be thick and crisp but does not have much extension and presence. Hence this would be great for people who are sensitive to treble. The highs have the least presence compared to the mids and lows.
Testing this song out with SPiCYSOL's "Mellow Yellow", you still get the crisp highs of the high hats at every beat but it tends to be overshadowed by the vocals and the bass. As a result of being overshadowed and being laidback, highs sound slightly artificial and the crashes of cymbals lack excitement. It gets further drowned out in heavier genres such as Metal and Rock thus, its not suitable for such genres.
However I noticed that since the high hats is always audible and provides that groove, I decided to try this with other genres such as Rap and RnB. The KS2 performed better for such genres and provided just enough highs for you to keep to the beat of the song. Eminem's "Mockingbird" clearly shows this, where the highs has just enough presence to maintain that beat.
Personally, I would prefer if the highs had a better extension and a bit more presence, maybe making the sound more V-shaped. Though that would make it sound more exciting, it might also make the earphones too fatiguing to listen to as the bass already has a lot of presence.
To be fair, these earphones perform pretty well in the highs as compared to other earphones at its price range. Usually earphones within this price range has too much highs and sound sibilant, but this is never the case for KS2.
Overall, the highs are crisp enough, and does not have much extension. Though laidback on most songs, the KS2 still provides enough highs for you to groove to the beat of the music.
Upper mids tend to sound similar to the highs where its more laidback than the other frequencies but lower mids and vocals tend to shine more here. Vocals surprisingly sound natural though slightly restrained when the singer belts out higher notes.
First, the upper mids. Upper mids tends to sound laidback and when listening to my usual rock songs, the snare drums tend to sound rather muted when there are more instruments in the mix. This can be heard in Frederic's "Sukiraism" where the constant snare beats are barely audible. I had to pay more attention listening out for them. The guitar solo at 2:20 to 2:30 had a similar vibe too.
However, the KS2 tends to do pretty well in the lower mids. To generalise, whenever I listen to rock songs on these, the rhythm guitar, that usually sounds laidback on other earphones that I have, have more presence here and I can hear it clearly. It usually has a nice bite to it and I tend to enjoy listening to rhythm guitars on these. Throwing any song of Frederic songs on these proved this, where rhythm is much more audible than lead guitars at most times.
Moving on to vocals, they sound quite natural and is quite forward, lacking slightly only to bass. Whichever song I threw at it, if it had vocals, it is always forward sounding and natural, which is really enjoyable.
When I was listening to Eminem's "Mockingbird", I could hear each word very clearly and never muffled. It clearly takes the center stage in almost all songs with vocals and hence I would recommend using these earphones for rap too! Diana Krall was also enjoyable on these so do give her a listen too!
However, when the singer starts singing higher notes, the KS2 don't translate that energy as well, it sounds restrained.
Overall, vocals and lower mids is more audible than upper mids. Vocals sound natural and lower mids always have that bite too, which is good for listening out for rhythm guitars too.
Now we have come to the main highlight of the KS2, its bass. The bass is the main focus of the earphone and it has a very rumbly bass due to its strong midbass impact. Bass is particularly enjoyable on these unit though it doesn't have a very deep extension.
Listening to Earth Wind Fire's "September" on these is fun; the bass really shines through in this song and sounds particularly groovy due to that fast bass and forward bass presence. Every note from the bass guitar is clear and fast which adds to the groove.
I wanted to test how the midbass was and decided to use Joe's "I Wanna Know". That intro caught me off guard because that beat just had so much impact that I wasn't expecting it to have that much slam! This song also shows how well the vocals and the bass come together on this earphone and make it shine.
I threw almost every song from Boyz II Men's Platinum Collection on it and it reproduced it really well. Vocals were clear, coupled with the bass of the song, it provides quite a depth to the song which is surprising for an earphone of this price range. I really enjoyed listening to RnB on these pair of earphones!
Another good example is Yonezu Kenshi's "Flamingo", bass is fast and snappy with a good amount of impact or slam when needed, and coupled with natural vocals, it reproduces this song well.
In conclusion, bass is the main focus of this song. With a fast and impactful bass, it reproduces RnB and Rap genres really well.
I shall move on to the other aspects of the earphone such as imaging, soundstage and separation
I did not get any 3D imaging from these earphones, mostly just sounds from either the left or right earphones.
Soundstage is slightly out of head for the highs and mids but bass is definitely within your head and always in the middle.
On first impressions, the KS2 didn't have much of a detailed separation, most of the sound comes out as one cohesive sound with the bass sounding slightly separated due to it being boosted. However, when listening closer, you can actually hear that the separation level here is between the highs, mids level. Highs usually get drowned out on the genres that I listen to, but works better with Rap and RnB. In heavier genres or songs, the sound tend to sound rather mashed up and hence I don't recommend this for heavy genre songs such as Metal.
I'm glad to have found an earphone that plays RnB well for under 50 USD because I have not heard an earphone that does it well in that price range. The only one close was the BLON BL-03 but the BL-03 was more suited for only hearing out for bass because its bass is detailed and deep but the other aspects did not go well enough for RnB. The KS2 does vocals and bass decently and blends well for me to recommend this for those genres.
With its forward, fast and impactful bass coupled with natural sounding vocals, the KB EAR KS2 got me listening to Rap and RnB more while I was reviewing it than I did this entire year thus far. I really enjoyed these genres on the KS2. If you're looking for an earphone that plays well with RnB and Rap, or just want something for bass and vocals, try the KB EAR KS2, you won't be disappointed!