Important preliminary note: Lark is a product in a sense “born twice”. Its initial release has been stopped after the first users reported a treble section output not in line with what originally wanted by the designers. KBEAR stopped distribution, fixed whatever needed to, and restarted it. This sample I’m reporting about on this article belongs to such second wave.
Very simply put, with Lark KBEAR has marketed an improved version to their KB04, while keeping the same extremely modest price point.
Sharing the same macro-architecture (1DD+1BA), Lark “fixes” KB04’s main issue being the inconsistency between the low and high part of its presentation. The result is a very nice IEM selling for less than $30 that is bound to gift great pleasure to all lovers of bright-neutral tuning.
While still partaking to the general category of bright-neutral drivers, Lark’s overall tuning is definitely homogeneous, its mids and bass sections being musically coherent – without prejudice to personal preferences – with its treble end.
Talking about personal preferences, I do prefer more balanced tunings, and Lark didn’t make me change my mind: to me, Lark sounds better when I apply a very simple EQ scheme taking a couple of dBs off 8K and add 1 dB back onto 16K. But again, that’s personal finetuning.
A very important note is about eartips. Lark is very sensible to those. Inside the package I found the pre-mounted dark grey ones, which I didn’t like a small bit as I feel they make bass go right out of control, and a set of white ones which softer umbrella fixes the bass issue but pushes trebles too much into “metallic” territory. Outside of the main product package a pair of Sony tips have been delivered to me too. Those are nigh-perfect in terms of tuning for my taste, too bad they are juuuust a little too small for my canals so they get me a too unfirm seal. I rotated quite a few other models and I found Symbio Peel and JVC SpiralDots being good, and final E being perfect for my case. YMMV as always.
The stock cable while surprisingly good for the price could also use some more love in terms of pairing: the Silver Plated one is too “trebly” which is not something Lark really needs. Together with Lark I also got a very interesting (KBEAR) Tri 4 core 5N Silver Plated Single Crystal Copper. Undoubtedly of further higher quality vs the stock one, that one also tends to support trebles more than taming them so it’s not the ideal pair for Lark for my taste at least. A pure copper one would be preferable here.
I got this pair of KBEAR Lark as a review unit from my friends at KEEPHIFI (www.keephifi.com) entrusting me to an unbiased analysis and openhearted subjective evaluation, which is what I’m reporting here below. You can purchase Lark at Friendly Audio Store (Keephifi’s official store).
|Well calibrated bright-neutral tuning.||Somewhat excessive treble emphasis.|
|Very nice bass.||Choice of stock tips should be reconsidered.|
|Outstanding technicalities for this price.|
|Above average stock cable.|
Full Device Card
Questyle QP1R / Sony NW-A55 mrWalkman / Apogee Groove + iBasso T3 – final E tips – Stock cable – lossless 16-24/44.1-192 FLAC tracks.
|Tonality||Clearly bright-neutral. Timbre is bright and lean-ish although not thin. Alongside the preponderant trebles personality, virtuous attention has been paid to grant some body to the mids and a nice voice to the bass.|
|Sub-Bass||Extended all the way, and almost at the same very lightly elevated level as the mid bass. It’s there, and responds well to some extra volume when desired.|
|Mid Bass||Together with technicalities this is the part I like best. Midbass is not much elevated, indeed well dosed for my tastes. Transients speed is intermediate, which is a good compromise to avoid any form of boomyness or invasivity on one hand while offering a bass frequency support foundation to all those trebles.|
|Mids||Quite nice. Neither recessed nor forward, they are beyond decently bodied and quite detailed. The general bright-sided tonality makes higher mids a bit more pleasant than lower ones.|
|Male Vocals||Above average to good, within the category of non-vocal-specialised drivers. Considering the general brightness males could be much leaner and instead they are present and pleasant at all times.|
|Female Vocals||Similar to what said for male voices Lark is a not a female vocals specialists but that said this part comes accross not bad at all, and even a bit better than males at that.|
|Highs||Emphasized, authoritative, crispy, almost always unsibilant. While extremely well done for a product at this price, my persnal taste calls for some less elevation on the 6-8K region, and a tad further extention on the last octave.|
A word is deserved by pairings too. Please note that my subjective evaluations are – as always – referred to pairing the IEM with my preferred sources, mentioned above and namely Questyle QP1R, Sony NW-A55 and Apogee Groove + amp (in these days an iBasso T3) combo. Out of the three, A55 blesses Lark most by its musical warmth, although trebles come out just a wiff less refined from there, as it after all seems justified by the device class difference compared to the other two options. Going further down with source quality the situation furtherly depletes though: trebles start sounding edgier and somwhat grainy when paired with a Fiio X3-iii, or a Meizu Hifi DAC Pro directly connected to my PC. Lark’s output quality goes back up when the Meizu is prefiltered via my nano iUSB3. Long story short: Lark will be easily driven by just about any source; on the other hand higher quality source will induce better sound output even more on Lark’s case than on other drivers.
|Soundstage||Very nice extension for a driver of this price, especially horizontally wise. Depth and height might be better but even as such I would call them very good in this category.|
|Imaging||Very accurate, certainly one of the fortes of this product.|
|Details||Quite nice detail retrieval, which deserves a very high remark when factoring the price category in. Difficult to find better under 25 bucks frankly.|
|Instrument separation||In general very good, with the sole exception of some fuzzyness generated by trebles (6-8K) exagerating their role when volume is pushed up.|
|Driveability||Very easy, even phones will have no problems driving the Larks.|
|Build||Hard to assess wether the PC cavity will be durable over time – it seems so, though. I almost never care about aesthetics but in the case of the Lark a mention to the beautiful honeycomb-styled chiseling on shell plates is really deserved.|
|Fit||Shapewise the housings are very well designed and sit well in my concha. Nozzles are quite long so getting good insertion is not a problem. Finding the right eartips has been more difficult than usual.|
|Comfort||Very comfortable to me once I found the right tips|
|Isolation||Good passive isolation once housings are properly fitted|
|Cable||Unlike what is usually found on so inexpensive IEMs the cable is not bad at all. A bit tangly from the physical point of view, but quite competent from the electrical one, and apparently well built. Given the tuning’s bright preponderance I would prefer opting for a full-copper one but that’s a pure matter of taste.|
|Housing||“Aviation-level” zinc-alloy shell over “environmental friendly” PC cavity|
|Driver(s)||1 x 5 micron silicon crystal biological diaphragm 10mm new frame dynamic driver, 1 x customized Bellsing tech. Balanced Armature driver|
|Cable||4 core 32 strands braided 4N silver plated cable, 3.5mm single ended termination|
|Package & Accessories||1 set of S/M/L white soft silicon tips, 1 set of S/M/M/L grey medium stiffness silicon tips, 1 pair of M Sony silicon tips, hard shell carry case|
|MSRP at this post time||$42,19 ($29,99 street price)|