disclaimer: I was sent the KBear Diamond direcxtly from KBear for purposes of this review. I have no financial interest in KBear and was not compensated other than the product itself. I have reviewed several KBear products previously with mixed impressions overall. The Diamond is a step above any of the other KBear products I have reviewed in asking price so expectation is that it lives up to the jump. If you have an interest in purchasing KBear products, you can visit their website or their Aliexpress store.
Unboxing / Packaging:
The Diamond’s packaging represents the step up in price well as the flat black lift top box with the gold name and logo on front and the specs on reverse. Inside the box is split into several compartments with the earpieces and foam tips on the left and the case and other accessories to the right. The case is leather (or perhaps pleather) and hides cable and 6 sets of silicone tips of two styles. The only things the kit lacks are a shirt clip, and multiple sizes of foams as those provided are all medium.
The shells are a three part design with a grey metal inner shell, a brass nozzle, and a carbon fiber faceplate. Fit between the face plate and inner shell is quite good, while the fit between the bi-pin connector and the inner shell and nozzles shows a bit less precision. This is particularly evident in the 4th picture below where a distinct gap between the low edge of the connector and the shell is visible. Nozzles exit the lower front of the shell with a slight forward rake and medium insertion depth. Comfort is good as the shell sit mostly in the ear and the earhooks help shift some of the weight. I found the best isolation with the foam tips but preffered the red-core silicones for sound quality. Isolation with the silicones is average at best as the nozzles and shells are both vented and limit how much noise reduction can be accomplished. Again, both vents can be seen in the 4th photo with one at the base of the nozzle and a 2nd on the upper surface of the shell.
The Diamond is a single 10mm dynamic driver with a carbon coated PET diaphragm and a nominal impedance of 16Ω and a listed sensitivity of 102 dB/mW. Specs suggest this should be fairly easy to drive and I did find it worked equally well with low powered sources when compared to higher potency models. There is some scaling qualitatively as the driver is capable of delivering more micro-detail than some low end sources can provide it, but quantitatively, the sound does not open up markedly with increased power. The single dynamic driver is a tried and true solution that eliminates many of the issues seen with phase, transition, and coherency with multi-driver models.
The provided cable with the Diamond is typical of the higher priced Chi-fi models of recent vintage as it is a gold-plated straight 3.5mm jack in a flat black housing with a short strain relief, followed by an 8 strand silver plated copper braid up to the splitter. The splitter has a matching black housing with a chin slider nestled directly above it. Four strand braids exit above the splitter and continue to the pre-formed earhooks and .78mm bi-pin connectors (also in matching housings). The connectors are not hooded, but rather of the standard style and are well marked with a red plate for the right. In 2018, this would have been an upgrade cable, in 2020 it is now the standard.
Sub-bass is elevated but has good quality and is more articulate than some due to good speed both on attack and decay. Decay is very slightly slower which gives the Diamond a very natural tonality and a bit of warmth and weight. The Sub-bass emphasis tapers off as you move through the mid-bass but at times the mid-bass can still dominate the signature. There is some mild bleed into the lower-mids that adds some warmth, but does cloud the lower-mids at times. The over-present mid-bass is is the one issue that prevents the diamond from overtaking the Moondrop Starfield, or TinHifi T4 in my experience and even that can be solved with a little EQ as it reacts fairly well to adjustment.
Once above the mid-bass bleed, the mids have good clarity and detail and good weight. That is a tough combination to get both clarity and weight and speaks to the effort put into tuning the diamond. Male vocals are mildly recessed in the mix, but due to above average instrument separation, they don’t get lost in the background. Mids climb as you move up through the range and female vocals are a full step in front of the lower voices. Instrument tonality is good with both guitars and strings having good timbre and tonality. Overall, once past the early bleed, the mids are clean and well rendered if slightly behind the top and bottom end.
The emphasis of the upper-mids continues into the lower treble before dropping back to a level similar to the mids after a small plateau. This puts emphasis on the presence region without carrying it into a range that gets harsh. The lower treble contributes a bright note in an otherwise warm signature, but retains the relaxed nature of the overall by dropping back before regions where it could introduce stridency or fatigue. There is a bit of energy added back between 8kHz and 12kHz that gives the diamond a bit of air and sparkle before roll-off becomes evident above 12kHz. Again the trade here is the last bit of extension and detail is lost in favor of a more pleasant listening experience. The upside is that the diamond doesn’t sound artificially inflated at the top end. Snare rattle is acceptable and cymbals are not-metallic as is far too common with V tunings. Those looking for lots of treble energy will not appreciate the diamond, but those looking for a pleasant long listen without fatigue or strain will find the tuning much more to their liking.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Stage is opposite the typical proportions with more depth than width and some sense of height. Overall the stage size is about average for the class or slightly above but would benefit by a little more width. As previously mentioned instrument separation is above average and as a result seating the orchestra is straight forward even if the stage is somewhat narrow. The other attribute of the diamond that is immediately noticable is that stereo separation is well better than most in its class and gives the diamond an almost speaker like listen at times. The Who’s Quadrophenia album is particularly a fun listen as a result. Imaging is good and spatial cues are easily tracked in the space. Layering is good as well with the exception of very complex bass heavy tracks where the issue with mid-bass dominance can cause some thickening.
There have a been quite a number of 10mm dynamics released of late as makers seem to have rediscovered the advantages of a single driver vs the space race that was 2018-2019 with multi-ba models dominating the offerings. While most of these have some positive attributes, they do vary considerably and it is worth noting the differences.
Any comparo has to begin with last year’s most hyped model. To me, the Diamond is in many ways what I had hoped the Blon would be. Both are similar tunings, but the Diamond has a faster driver resulting in better transients, better detail, and cleaner sound. This is very evident in the low end where both have a boosted mid-bass, but the diamond doesn’t sound thick or sloppy while the Blon can get that way. Advantages for the Blon are a wider stage, although some depth is lost, and a bit more treble energy. The Diamond by comparison has better end to end extension, more detail, and less distortion in the low end at higher volumes. Admittedly the diamond is considerably more expensive, but I think the differences justify the rise in cost.
Tin Hifi T4
Tin Hifi has long since made its mark building single dynamic driver models in the price range of the Diamond, so they are bound to draw comparisons. The T4 has less bass presence and more mid presence than the diamond so in some regards the two are tuned nearly opposite each other. Both have some treble push with the diamond stopping short of the level of the T4. The treble shy will prefer the diamond while those looking for that last bit of treble detail will like the T4 a bit better. Stage is a bit more naturally shaped on the T4 vs the deeper than wide diamond, but is also a bit more intimate on the T4 as the depth is less than that of the diamond. To me the T4 is a bit less fluid and those who prefer a sharper edge will gravitate to it, while those looking for a smoother listen will prefer the diamond.
This is the biggest fight for the Diamond. Both exist at the same price, were released at roughly the same time, and share a lot of similar design details. As a result, they are in direct competition for buyer’s dollars often. Starting at the bottom end, the Starfield’s bass is more to my liking as the emphasis is shifted slightly downward with a more polite mid-bass and both have good detail, speed, and texture so it becomes a matter of preference. Those looking for mid-bass forward will prefer the diamond, while those who prefer a more sub-bass emphasized listen will prefer the Starfield. Both have good mids, but the clarity is slightly better on the Starfield to my ear as again the diamond’s tuning tends to smooth out a few of the details in its quest for a non-fatiguing listen. The Treble roll-off comes a bit sooner on the T4 but won’t be noticed most of the time as both do a good job of dancing the line between extension and fatigue. Overall these two are both worthy competitors and it will come down to personal preference. For me, that preference is for the Starfield with its slightly more aggressive signature for others that like a more relaxed listen, the diamond will be the choice.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
Kbear has stepped up a price bracket with the Diamond which of course begs the question “can they compete at the next level?” The answer is yes they can. The Diamond doesn’t try and go for an exotic tuning, instead going for the V we all know. The diamond delivers good bass thump if at times a bit over aggressive mid-bass, warm mids, and a well balanced treble that has enough energy to be realistic without crossing the line into strident. The best description for the sound is found in terms like laid-back or relaxed as it does trade a few details for a more fluid listen. The Diamond isn’t tuned to be an analytical wonder and won’t satisfy those looking for a critical listening in-ear, instead its focus is on providing a pleasant listen for those listening to popular genres without getting fatiguing. The mid-bass boost keeps it out of my personal top spot, but many others may well place it there as what kept it out of that spot for me is more a matter of personal preference than a matter of technical merit.
- Bass - 7/107/10
- Mids - 7/107/10
- Treble - 7.5/107.5/10
- Soundstage - 7/107/10
- Imaging - 8/108/10
Pros – Relaxed, non-fatiguing signature, good technicals (timbre/texture), tank-like build
Cons – narrow stage, mid-bass can dominate the signature, relaxed