Pros: Very nice bass response and quality, detail-oriented, clarity, value.
Cons: Overly aggressive treble, quirks in its tonality.
Driver Setup: 1 Dynamic Driver + 1 Balanced Armature
Disclaimer: This review set was graciously lent to me by a friend and the review is written of my own accord. Should you find yourself interested in a pair, you can find it online here.
Previously, KBEAR managed to deliver a superb value proposition with the KS2 that puts a smile upon the budget audiophiles. Although the KS2 wasn’t phenomenal for the price, it certainly served as a good reference when it comes to value. With this new release of the LARK, we are excited to see what KBEAR has in store for us.
Accessories and Build Quality (Score: 6.0/10)
The LARK comes in a KBEAR themed box which is common to see in their product line ups. Inside the box, you will see the earpiece themselves as the centrepiece and 2 boxes that are specifically designed to fill the spaces. Moving to accessories, the package comes with 2 sets of ear tips (black and white), a nice carrying case as well as a silver-coloured 2-pin cable. It is not really super quality stuff you see in those higher-end offerings, KBEAR covered all grounds here while keeping it affordable, kudos to them.
Moving on to the build of LARK, it seems polished and feels sturdy to my hands. In my opinion, the back-metal plating design was a fashionable choice and appeals to my inner bias of these designs. In general, the LARK’s robust exterior will be able to handle your daily knocks and scruffles well and not fail.
The included cable was not as impressive though, it tangles relatively easily and isn’t that well made. No serious qualms or gripes here given the relatively low MSRP that they are asking for. The cable works but it is one of those common stock cables you get from most budget offerings.
Fit (Score: 9.0/10)
I have to say that the LARK fit my ear really well and I didn’t face any major discomfort when putting them on. On top of that, I was able to use a significant amount of time when I was focusing on other tasks. Perhaps my only gripe was that the tips provided aren’t the best as compared to the likes of final tips, but they do provide enough seal in stock so well done KBEAR!
Sound (Overall Score: 7/10)
In general, I find the LARK to be warm and V-shaped. It also has a good sense of detail and soundstage.
Frequency Response Graph of the KBEAR LARK
- Ibasso DX120
- iPhone XR
- Atom DAC and AMP
Music and Albums listened with
- Alan Walker
- Billie Eilish – When we all fall asleep, where do we go?
- Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture
- Cigarettes After Sex
- One Republic – Dreaming Out Loud
- Keane – Fears and Hopes
- Nino Rota – The Godfather OST
- Fedde Le Grand – Cinematic
- Halo 2 OST
- Halo 1 OST
- Scary Pockets
- Hans Zimmer
- Aladdin OST
Bass (Score: 8.5/10)
The LARK’s bass has a strong and authoritative response but not so overpowering as the typical V-shaped offerings we expect to hear. It actually provides a rather satisfying experience when listening to modern pop songs and their sub-bass focused mix that allows the listening to fully immerse themselves in. The dexterity of its bass is pretty good as well, it sounds clean and its separation abilities are quite good. In general, there isn’t much to a critic here but just some slight bass bleed but checks most boxes for a budget IEM contender. Good job KBEAR!
Mids (Score: 6.5/10)
Mid-range sounds less emphasised but not to the extent of it sounding wonky and unpleasant. It is the staging here that I have gripes with where the vocals aren’t really in the “middle” but somewhat pushed back. The upper midrange sounds decent here actually without that overcompensating “detail boost” that many offerings turn to (not saying that it doesn’t have, but not too much). I definitely have mixed feelings with regards to the mid-range response of the LARK but I guess it is still within the realms of acceptance and that it still maintains that “detail-oriented” idea revolving around the tuning here.
Treble (Score: 6.0/10)
Now, the weakest link of the LARK. The treble here is definitely overemphasised and that it becomes rather aggressive. I detected quite a bit of sibilance across the tracks I listened to which isn’t pleasant and felt that it was quite a wasted opportunity for the LARK to be a contender on all fronts. Despite its focus on detail retrieval, separation and clarity, such tuning isn’t going to do well when reviewing them. All in all, it is definitely capable in terms of technicalities, but the overly aggressive stance is not going gather support for it.
Something I liked about the LARK is that it does have a good mix of soundstage, layering, separation, and detail retrieval which is a pretty good spec sheet to look at, but it does suffer from some quirks in tonality. Sometimes, I do notice that the upper midrange sounds off especially when it comes to trumpets and trombones in orchestras where it sounds thin and unpleasant.
Comparisons KBEAR KS2
Although the LARK does have some weak points, I can confidently say that it is a general improvement over the KS2 and felt that KBEAR took the right step in the right direction in delivering that nice price-to-performance product to the budget audiophile group. The LARK here has more detail, a nicer bass response, a somewhat similar mid-range, and a much more exposed treble.
In conclusion for 26.49 USD, there isn’t much to fault them for and the LARK’s stat sheet seems really beefy and tough to beat for the price. If you are looking for a detail-oriented budget offering, the LARK is actually a decent contender if you are not so treble sensitive like me. It does have a really good value proposition and maintained its reputation for it which I guess gives every budget audiophile more options to consider and be happy about them.
Overall Grade: C+
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