disclaimer: Thanks to Wendy at KBear who generously sent the KB06 for review. I have previously reviewed the KB10, F1, and Opal offerings as well as the KBear ugprade cable (in queue). I have no affiliation with KBear other than as a user/reviewer of their products.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The KB06 comes packaged in a slip-cover style box that is more than a bit reminiscent of the KB10 or CCA packages. Knowing that at least one of the KBear line is OEMed by the same company as CCA makes me think this is likely the case with the KB06 as well. Once the slip-cover is removed, the earpieces sit in a foam tray with everything else hiding underneath. Kit is pretty standard as well, with three sets of star tips in SML, the cable, and instructions and warranty card rounding out the package.
The KB06 uses a 2 piece shell with the inner shell and nozzle made of smoked transparent plastic and the outer being an aluminum alloy. The outer shells are very labeled “1 dynamic, 2 balanced armatures” with either L or R in the center. The Hoods on the cable are clearly marked as well making mating an easy task. Vents for the dynamic driver are on both the outer shell as a small slot with a screen and two pin-hole vents on the inner shell, one behind the nozzle and the other inline with the bi-pin connector. Nozzles exit the bottom of the inverted teardrop shape with a slight forward rake and a small lip for tip retention. The KB06 is a fairly small and light in-ear and when combined with tip-up wear fit is easy and comfortable. Insertion depth is slightly deep and isolation is better than expected for a vented shell.
The KB06 is a triple driver hybrid using a 30095 high frequency balanced armature driver, a 50060 mid frequency driver, and a 10mm dual magnet dynamic driver for bass. Nominal impedance is listed as 24Ω with a sensitivity of 111dB/mW. I found the KB06 to be easy enough to drive with a cellphone or tablet and to scale a little with higher potency sources, but not enough to warrant purchasing an amp specifically for use with this in-ear.
The cable provided with the KB06 starts with a gold plated 3.5mm TRS jack in a straight housing with a small strain relief. The cable itself exits the jack in a double twist pattern up to the splitter. This is another giveaway as to who makes the cable for KBear as the splitter is too low and in exactly the same position as on other KZ models. The splitter is a small metal barrel though, differing from their standard offering. Above the splitter, the wires are a looser wrapped twisted pair up to the pre-formed earhooks and clear housing for the bi-pin connectors. The connectors are the newer hooded style but differ from the standard in that they use a .75mm connector.
The KB06 has good sub-bass extension and rumble with roll-off being notable below the mid 40s. Sub-bass is elevated considerably with mid-bass stepping back from the sub-bass but still mildly emphasized in the overall mix. Speed is better on attack than decay leaving a bit of lingering warmth and a definite mid-bass bleed into the mids that while present is not overwhelmingly so. Mid-bass detail is only average with timbre being slightly unnatural at times as it seems a bit thin.
Lower mids are a touch recessed and combined with the mid-bass bleed can feel a bit crowded at times. As you move up, the upper-mids are pushed more forward in the mix and clarity improves as you move away from the lower mids. As a result female vocals are more present in the mix while male vocals fall back into the mix at times and could use a bit more presence than they are given. Guitars can suffer the same fate as male vocals in the lower registers and then jump toward the listener in the next passage when a higher passage is played. Most of the time this is not extremely noticeable, but on a few tracks with better than average dynamics of those with a pronounced interplay between bass and electric guitar the distance between the two is more evident.
Treble is a bit uneven with some areas emphasized more than others and while it does give the KB06 a few sharp spots, it also manages to deliver a bit of livelihood to the mix. I didn’t find the KB06 to be particular harsh or strident despite the uneven treble, but also didn’t find it to be particularly detailed. Cymbals come off slightly flat and a bit less lifelike than I prefer, but this is a trade off made for creating a polite treble.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is wider than deep which is not uncommon at this price point, but lacks much of any feeling of height in the mix. Seating the orchestra shows some overlaps and a bit of imprecision as the KB06 is better suited to rock/pop than large ensemble. Instrument separation is good up to a point and then seems to get a bit overwhelmed. Imaging is good with spatial cues being well represented and movement around the stage easily tracked. Layering is adequate, but again can suffer as tracks get overly busy.
I’ve tried to select a few iems in my collection that are readily available at the same price point to compare against. This should help give readers a better feel for where the KB06 fits in the grand scheme of things.
KZ Zs6 – Shell is more durable on the Zs6 but also less comfortable as the shape is awkward for some. Both have good sub-bass with the Zs6 having more mid-bass emphasis, a more recessed mid section and sharper treble. The Zs6 can be pretty harsh on the upper end depending on source material while the KB06 tends to be more polite and less strident. The Zs6 could be thought of as more lively while the KB06 is more controlled in its delivery. Neither is great for strings or orchestral pieces.
Auglamour F300 – Here again we have metal shell vs plastic, but the F300 is much more comfortable compared to the Zs6 so less likely to be a fit issue. Sound wise, the two go toe to toe with the KB06 having better bass depth and a bit more bass emphasis while the F300 has a more even treble and a bit better separation. These two are similar in most respects as neither is going to be light years ahead of the other but based on listening preference, I think people will have a definite preference for one or the other.
Yinyoo V2 – This is a tougher fight for the KB06 as the V2 brings an all metal shell that is both durable and small enough to be comfortable. The V2 comes much closer to neutral than the KB06 so those looking for a neutral listen will likely prefer the V2 while those enjoying a bit of extra sub-bass presence will like the KB06 a bit better.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
KBear has recently come into the market and has delivered a very mixed group of products thus far. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Opal, but found the F1 to be quite good, the KB10 has an unfortunate treble tuning that makes an otherwise good signature difficult for me to enjoy, and now we have the KB06 added to that mix. I can easily say that I think the KB06 is the best KBear to date for fit as it is more comfortable for me even when compared to the miniature F1. Signature wise, it has better bass and a more polite treble than the F1 and a much better treble tuning than the KB10. I have to say that I think the KB06 is movement in the right direction and if i were an exec at KBear, I’d focus on the KB06 and F1 for improvements for the next generation of products as I think both have the potential to really shine with a little more tweaking and tuning (oh and a better cable).
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 6/106/10
- Treble - 6/106/10
- Soundstage - 6/106/10
- Imaging - 6/106/10
Pros: very comfortable for long wear, best KBear to date for sound quality
Cons: cable is KZ style with splitter too low and no chin slider.