KBEAR KB04 Review

Alec
Alec
Aug 23 · 7 min read
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INTRODUCTION, DISCLAIMER, AND PRODUCT LINK:

The KBEAR KB04 is a hybrid in-ear monitor (IEM) using a 10mm PU diaphragm dynamic driver and a balanced armature on each side. The KB04 retails for around $25 on KBEAR’s official AliExpress store. I received the KB04 directly from KB EAR. The KB04 can be purchased at the link below:

SOURCES:
I have used the KBEAR KB04 with the following sources:

  • JDS Labs The Element
  • Qudelix 5K

I have tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to:

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:

The KBEAR KB04 comes in a rectangular white box with a black slipcover. The KB04 is pictured on the front of the slipcover, and the KB04’s technical specifications and KBEAR’s contact information is listed on the back. The package includes a detachable 2-pin cable with a 3.5mm termination, a shirt clip, three pairs of black silicone eartips (S, M, L), three pairs of grey silicone eartips (S, M, L), and a user manual.

BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
The KB04 sports all-metal teardrop-shaped housings with a mirror finish. There are two circular vents on the inner face of the housing. The housings are unmarked apart from embossed “L” and “R” indicators. The machining of these indicators onto the housing itself is emblematic of the KB04’s premium build. The nozzles are quite thick and have oversized fluted lips to secure eartips. The size of the nozzles may limit compatibility with third-party tips. I had to use the Moondrop MIS foam eartips sized for the Moondrop S8 with the KB04.

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The included cable is simple, with four black rubber sheathed strands. The strands are wrapped in a spiraling pattern below the Y-split and braided into double-helixes above it. The Y-split and jack hardware are hard black plastic. There is a chin-adjustment slider and there is strain relief above the 3.5mm jack. In addition to the embossed “L” and “R” indicators, the 2–pin connectors are marked with blue and red dots. The cable has pre-formed heat-shrink ear guides.

COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
The KBEAR KB04 is intended to be worn cable-up only. The earpieces have a moderate insertion depth and were comfortable for me. The housings are low profile and sit mostly below the outer surface of the ear. Secureness of fit is slightly below average. The angle of the housings in the ear tends to shift throughout wear and requires periodic readjustment. Isolation is slightly above average for an IEM with vented dynamic drivers. I did not experience driver flex with the KB04 using the stock grey silicone eartips or Moondrop MIS foam eartips.

MEASUREMENTS:

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With Silicone Eartips
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Silicone Eartip vs Foam Eartip

My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler and a calibrated USB sound interface. The headphones are driven using my Element, which has an output impedance of no more than 1 ohm. The measurements use a compensation file derived from relating my raw measurements to published measurements from Crinacle and Antdroid. The indicated SPL readings are not accurate. The measurements are presented with 1/24th smoothing. There is a resonant peak at 8k. Measurements above 10k are not reliable.

SOUND:
The KB04 has a V-shaped tuning.
There is significantly more bass than I would consider neutral, with a noticeable mid-bass emphasis. The sub-bass is well-extended but the rumble of the sub-bass takes a back seat to the powerful mid-bass slam. The bass response has excellent speed and articulation despite its weight. Bass resolution and texture are good as well.

The mid-bass does not bleed into or color the midrange as much as it distracts the listener from it. The lower midrange is recessed, and vocals are emphasized above instrumentation. The midrange is cool with a bias towards presence. While the midrange is not sibilant or harsh, it is thin sounding with little warmth or body to male vocals. Female vocals sound slightly fuller. Intelligibility is good for both male and female vocals.

The treble response is sparkly and detailed. The lower treble is more elevated than the mid- or upper-treble but there is adequate air. Transient delivery is realistic. Soundstage width and depth are in line with my expectations for a budget hybrid IEM. Instrument separation and imaging are both very good.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING:
The KB04 is easy to drive with a variety of source devices. I did not notice hiss with any of my sources.

COMPARISONS:

KB04 vs KBEAR KS2 (1DD+1BA)

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*Use discount code “NEWKBEARKS2” for $3 off*

The KS2 is a more recent hybrid IEM release from KBEAR. The KS2’s build quality is less premium than the KB04, with translucent green plastic housings and a copper cable reminiscent of KZ’s tangle-prone monstrosities. The KS2 has a more V-shaped tuning than the KB04 and crosses the line into harshness. Its technicalities are poorer than the KB04 in all respects, with dull and indistinct bass, an even thinner midrange, and fuzzy-sounding treble. I cannot think of a reason to pick the KS2 over the KB04 and strongly recommend spending the extra ≈$7 for the latter.

KB04 vs NICEHCK DB3 (1DD+1BA)

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The Nicehck DB3 is an older budget hybrid IEM that is tuned with more of a sub-bass shelf than a mid-bass hump. The KB04 has superior build quality but the cables are comparable. The KB04’s bass articulation and resolution are much better than that of the DB3. The DB3 has a warmer and more full sounding lower midrange than the KB04 but sounds less coherent overall. The KB04 has more a realistic timbre, better detail retrieval, and a more open soundstage. It also has superior imaging and instrument separation. The DB3 is also less usable than the KB04 due to a venting issue.

KB04 vs Yinyoo Ash (1DD+1BA)

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The Yinyoo Ash is another older budget hybrid IEM. The KB04 is uniformly superior to the Ash in terms of its technical performance, though the Ash fares better than the KS2 and the DB3 in these respects. The Ash also suffers from a harsh and uneven treble response with diffuse, splashy transients.

CLOSING WORDS:

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The KBEAR KB04 is a great starter IEM and ably justifies its price premium over other budget 1DD+1BA hybrids.

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