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KBEAR S1 Review

S1 | Overall: 3.5/5 đź‘Ť


Pros: Price to performance (value), Great battery life, Versatile and convenient.


Cons: Design choice, Microphonics, Hisses when paired with sensitive IEMs.


Price: 29 SGD


Intro


Disclaimer: I received the KBEAR S1 from Keephifi free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts here are all my own and are in no way being influenced by them. The S1 is available for purchase from their website.


This is a review of the KBEAR S1, a budget Bluetooth IEM cable developed by KBEAR that minimises the need for full wired connection especially with the on-going trend with mobile devices going wireless. So, without further ado, let’s move on to the specs of the KBEAR S1.


Specifications


Bluetooth 5.0 wireless cable

Weight: 14g+3g

Cable length: 95cm+3cm

Bluetooth: V5.0

Plug type: MMCX/2PIN/TFZ

Battery capacity: 120mAh

Running time: 10+ hours

Charging time: about 1 hour

Qualcomm QCC3034 chip

Bluetooth 5.0+ APTX-HD technology

IPX5 waterproof certification


Build, Accessories and Design


Let’s get the packaging out of the way first since it seems to be really basic. The unit comes in a white box and in it, the cable itself as well as a micro USB charging cable. Nothing much to harp on as they covered the 2 most important areas which I care about so all is good.


Moving on to the design and build, the S1 is worn over-ear and it is designed to have a wire running behind and over your neck with the Bluetooth module sitting on your neck. However, for taller people like me, it was hanging right below the ear which was annoying sometimes as it feels as if there is something dangling as I moved (MICROPHONICS!!!!!). Personally, when it comes to the design, I would still prefer minimal wire runs which may or may not over complicate the product but I couldn’t find much fault with the overall comfort with the S1 other than the stiff ear guides that run around my ear but I think it will loosen up as I wear it more often so no major issues here.


In general, I do appreciate the overall package and design of the product despite its quirks. But, I have yet to test its longevity/durability when it comes to prolonged usage, wear/tear and other use cases so I am unable to testify these points in this review.



Functionality and Performance


The S1 I owned was terminated 2 pin-recessed which goes hand in hand with the KS2 by KBEAR. I managed to test its advertised play time and I managed to get around 9 hours ++ before the battery flats out. Pretty close to its advertised specs and of course do expect some variation given some IEMs require more power etc. I like to point out that although simple, it was well thought out and brought a lot of conveniences when it comes to pairing and button controls which I am glad as they nailed that perfectly. Connection range was good as well, I was able to move around my house without any obvious disruption in connection strength.


Moving to sound, I do notice some hiss on my relatively sensitive IEMs such as the TSMR-3 when no music is playing but not on the KS2. Hence you might want to be wary of hiss if you intend to pair it with a relatively sensitive IEM. On the bright side, I am happy to report that it didn’t have much colouration of sound in my subjective AB testing with the KS2 which has the potential to pair it with most IEMs without changing what you like about them besides the sensitivity issue as I mentioned above.



Conclusion


Now, the verdict. The S1 exceeded my expectations with its connectivity capabilities, and straight forward implementation. What I appreciated most was it not colouring the sound of the IEM. It has a very low asking price for a Bluetooth device and I honestly wasn’t expecting much from it. Although its physical design leaves more to be desired, you get a pretty good trade-off with the S1 for the element of convenience and functionality. Yes, it lacks LDAC and you only get aptX HD but in its defence, the quality of the source files plays a bigger role when it comes to the listening experience.


This product definitely isn’t for those who are seeking the best audio experience but rather a convenient solution to make their favourite IEM/sound more portable and convenient. Overall, I am happy to give this product a thumbs up as it is something that provides value to its intended audience.


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