The sub $25 USD IEM market has always been interesting. They often offer good value and serve as the gateway for those new to the hobby. And now and then, we get IEMs that shake up the market due to one outstanding feature that make it punch above its price point.
In today’s review, we are looking at another challenger from KBear. This is the KBear KS2, a two-driver hybrid IEM that has a few tricks up its sleeve. Keep on scrolling to find out what makes this budget IEM a worthy addition to your collection.
The review unit was provided by KBear. We would like to thank them for their support and for making this review possible. However, this does not influence our review in any way. Everything written here is my honest opinion.
Packaging and Accessories
The KS2 comes in a small cardboard box with a similar design and size to other budget IEMs. The design is quite simple, with a picture of the drivers on the front and the specifications on the back.
Inside the box are the shells, the cable, and some extra ear tips. The accessories are pretty standard, but given its entry-level price point, this is plenty to help you get started. Overall, the presentation of the packaging is very clean and straightforward.
Design and Build Quality
The design and build quality isn’t the strongest aspect of the KS2. The look isn’t very inspiring and doesn’t do much to separate it from the rest of the similar-looking IEMs in this price range. That does not necessarily make the design flat out bad. But it feels like we have seen this design countless times at this point.
Aside from KBear logo on the faceplate, there isn’t anything else that differentiates it from other affordable IEMs. But on the flip side, we are getting a clean design that has already been proven to work well in terms of stability and comfort.
The shells have a pretty standard shape that is proven to work with most ears. They are lightweight thanks to the materials used. I did not encounter any fit issues or pain during extended listening sessions.
There are two color options available for the KS2. One is black, and the other is clear green. I am generally not a fan of the clear look found on most budget IEMs, but I am happy with how it looks in person.
The build quality is pretty standard. It doesn’t use the most premium materials, but it is durable enough for daily use.
The KS2 comes with a detachable 2-pin cable. However, like many cables found on budget IEMs, this one isn’t too stellar.
In terms of its aesthetics, I am not too fond of its brown color. You see this a lot on most stock cables of budget IEMs. Of course, this is subjective, but lighter colors such as the one included on the KBear Diamond look better.
The biggest issue I have with the cable is that it gets tangled pretty easily. Other cables in this price range are softer and easier to handle compared to the KS2’s stock cable. There is no option to bundle the KS2 with an upgrade cable, but you do have the option of getting the KS2 with a microphone.
Overall, I am not a big fan of the cable. However, there are no major issues that prevent it from being unusable. If you have problems managing the cable, you can always replace it with third-party cables such as the ones offered by KBear.
Just like with most budget IEMs, the real star of the show here is the sound quality. The KS2 has a hybrid configuration. It utilizes one balanced armature driver and one dynamic driver. This configuration has been used a lot and is proven to give good results.
In terms of its sound signature, the KS2 has a fun sounding V-Shaped signature that works with a wide variety of genres. The bass and highs are forward, while the mids are quite significantly recessed. This isn’t uncommon in this price range, but what makes the KS2 special is the execution of its signature.
The KS2 has a stellar bass performance and is easily one of the best in its price range. There is plenty of bass in the KS2 that makes music sound lively. It isn’t overdone and exhibits good control, especially in softer genres.
It is always kept in check and does not bleed to the mids. And unlike other bassy IEMs, the KS2’s low end is not muddy at all. Both the sub-bass and mid-bass are clear and have a good amount of clarity and definition.
As expected with V-shaped IEMs, the mids are slightly recessed. But despite its recession, the mids still sit well in the mix. They sound natural and are never buried by the energetic lows.
And to compensate with its positioning, the mids are a bit on the brighter side, which helps bring out more detail. The downside of this tuning is that the mids can sound sharp and thin at times. But sibilance is always kept in check, and they never get too hot and uncomfortable.
The highs are well done on the KBear KS2. Unlike other IEMs in this price range, the highs are not too forward and never sound sharp. Other budget IEMs tend to over-exaggerate the highs to give the illusion of added clarity and detail. That is not the case with the KBear as they have opted to give the highs a more natural sound.
KBear makes up for the lack of quantity on the highs with more quality. Elements in the mix, such as cymbals, are clear and are easily heard. They are also quite detailed, which helps with giving the KS2 a complete sound.
Imaging and Soundstage
The soundstage on the KS2 is very good for a budget IEM. There was always good spacing on each instrument and never sounded too congested. Live albums were a treat to listen to since you get the immersion of live music.
And in terms of the imaging, the KS2 did a great job keeping up with busy tracks. Clarity was always maintained with each instrument still being easy to be pinpointed. It easily beats out other inexpensive IEMs that turns into a mess when listening to more complex tracks.
Like most budget IEMs, the KS2 can be powered by almost any device. I tried it with the ddHiFi TC35B and iFi Nano iDSD Black Label, and I was able to get great results. The iFi Nano BL could produce marginally better results, but you do not need such an expensive device to enjoy the KS2’s sound.
KZ ZSN Pro X
One of the most popular IEMs in this price range is the KZ ZSN Pro. Its latest iteration, the KZ ZSN Pro X, has a number of improvements that make it a worthy competitor to the KS2.
Compared to the ZSN Pro X, the KS2 has a warmer and more laid back sound. The treble isn’t as active as the ZSN Pro X, and the mids aren’t as forward. The KS2 has a more relaxing sound thanks to its detailed but nonoffending highs.
Both IEMs have excel at their strengths, which makes this comparison dependent on the user’s personal preference. If you dislike the sharp treble found on most KZ IEM and want a more laid back but still technically competitive IEM, then the KS2 is a great fit for you.
If you enjoy the sound of the KBear KS2, then the KBear Diamond is a clear step up. Both IEMs share the same V-shaped sound signature. The difference lies in the execution.
The KS2 beats the Diamond in terms of bass quantity, but the Diamond has a far superior bass response. Notes are clearer and more detailed. They also sound punchier and have more impact.
Mids are thicker, more refined, and more detailed in the Diamond. Highs are well controlled, similar to the KS2. But just like the mids and the lows, there is more detail with the Diamond.
You also get more accessories and a significantly better build quality with the Diamond. You can learn more in our KBear Diamond Review.
Overall, for its low asking price, I am quite impressed with what the KS2 can do. It may not be a looker, but it sounds great and has everything you would ask for in a budget IEM.
If you are just starting out and have not owned any other IEMs, this is a very safe buy as it is guaranteed to make your music enjoyable. And if you are looking to get an inexpensive daily driver for relaxed or non-critical music listening during commutes, this fits the bill.
- Impedance: 16Ω
- Earphone sensitivity: 106dB ±3dB
- Frequency response range: 20Hz-20KHz
- Plug Type: 3.5mm Straight jack
- Color: Green/Black
- Earphone connector: 0.78 mm 2 pin connector
- Cable material: Tinned copper
- Drive Unit: Hybrid 10mm composite diaphragm Dynamic Driver +Balanced Armature
- Cable: High-end 4 core OFC high-purity pure copper cable
Albums Used For Testing
- Milet – Eyes
- Babymetal – Legend Metal Galaxy
- Babymetal – Metal Galaxy
- Mamamoo – Reality in Black
- Nobuo Uematsu – Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy
- Pentatonix – Pentatonix Volume 2
- Yorushika – Plagiarism
- Moe Shop – Moe Moe
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s