BUDGET
IN-EAR

LARK

KBEAR

Rating

Price

7.7

25 €

Review published:

12/2020

Driver

2

per Side

1

Dynamic

1

Balanced

Impedance

16 Ohm

Piezo

0

Sound

8

Bass

8

Mids

7

Trebles

Sensitivity

105 dB

7.7

Handling

8.5

Haptic

B

Value

-

Daily Life

Frequency

20 - 20000 Hz

Intro

A lot of attention was paid in advance to LARK, the new budget model from KBEAR.
This is not so much due to the marketing, but rather to a kind of hype within the community, as the tuner(s) have also expressed themselves more often.
So everything waited anxiously for the release date until it became known that LARK deviated from the actual intention and the final beta model due to a production error (wrong filter). Unfortunately, many buyers had already pulled the trigger and the "wrong" LARK was shipped before the problem was recognized. The wrong filter lets around 2-3 kHz and 4 kHz "too much" volume through, resulting in two peaks, which can be interpreted as positive or negative, depending on your listening habits. First of all: Whether with or without emphasis on the lower trebles, the problem is much higher (8-12 kHz).

In the further course of the whole thing, one can now clearly see how impressively fast KBEAR (representing China) was able to react to this, as they immediately took the 4K LARK out of circulation and replaced it with the revised version, which must be a great logistical effort, as KBEAR has several distributors, even though they are probably sitting door to door in China. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that some still sell the "old" LARK unknowingly or knowingly in order to get rid of their stock, because a note on the packaging is missing and without a measuring rig it will be difficult to tell the difference if you don't have both at hand.

Here, however, it becomes clear how such a problem is handled in China (especially in the budget area, where mass is more important for the margin).
Fortunately, I have both models at hand and after I got the 4K LARK and contacted KBEAR to see how they would handle the different versions, I was also asked what I thought of the 4K model.
I meant that I didn't really mind the 2-4 kHz range at all, as it didn't seem too much for my taste, though a bit too bright, but more about the strong sibilants and the unnatural high frequency extension. The advice was thankfully accepted, but the "final" LARK now has a reduced lower high frequency, but the nasty peaks remain in the upper high frequency range and so the LARK clearly gives away its potential.

In my imagination, I would have left the 4K LARK's stock on the market without continuing to produce, taken more time for the revision of LARK V2 and waited to see what the general resonance is like instead of quickly extinguishing a fire that actually has its source somewhere else. Then one could have marketed the LARK as a new version, which I think is most important anyway. Not everyone has the insight into the CHI-FI world and will probably never know which LARK he has or that there are two versions at all.
I know, LARK "merely" is one budget model of many, but here KBEAR could have distinguished itself with professionalism and sustainable work, but failed to do so. Apart from that, the LARK has potential, which has been wasted for my taste, unless you listen to music with less vocals.
Sorry for the long INTRO!

Handling

The LARK has a catchy faceplate design. The honeycombs on the "brushed" metal make it look quite noble. Under the faceplate, however, is the standard plastic housing that we know from many KZ models, with a golden sound opening.
I haven't really had any comfort problems with this IEM design so far, and so the LARK is a pleasant companion to wear.

The packaging of the LARK looks quite high quality at first glance, but you can't really talk about sustainability here. My highlight is the robust and chic transport case. If you want to think ecologically, you leave out all the individual packaging, pack the silicone tips in a small bag for hygienic reasons and pack everything together with the cable in the hard case, as already practiced by other companies. The package size (which could then also be omitted completely) would shrink to at least a third. A package inside a package inside a package doesn't make that much sense, but I think you get my point.
I'm a big fan of useful inserts, but please save some resources and also production costs. However, such a presentation is still nice to look at.

The 2-PIN cable is budget standard and nothing special. The isolation is also average.

Sound

The review is based on the revised and current LARK.
I inevitably remember the review of the TIN HIFI P2, where I wished I could stop after the mids.

The bass is successful in itself. It finds a good measure of quantity so that it can still sufficiently serve bass-hungry tracks, is never overpowering, generally stays discreetly in the background and lets the mids shine. It's too tame for bassheads, but I also find it lacking a bit of organicity and thus a natural keynote. The bass seems a bit stiff, but can score with details and also copes well with fast passages.

The mids lack a bit of body, which sometimes makes them sound a bit thin, but in and of themselves they are quite linear in a mild V-Signaur, with an open and slightly bright sound (which, however, comes more from the treble). Here is actually the biggest difference with the "4K" version (which is a bit misleading, as the range around 2-3 kHz is likewise already boosted by 2-3 dB), as this still seems a bit brighter. However, I don't find this particularly disturbing or unnatural. It gives the signature, which then slides more into the V, a bit more effervescence and freshness, which then continues in the lower treble. The final LARK might sound too flat and emotionless to some. However, I don't think the more neutral orientation is a bad thing either, and so there could have happily been two versions, with appropriate labeling. Voices are not the liveliest, but very clear, with realistic timbre.

It now becomes somewhat problematic in the treble. Here I find the final LARK almost even an aggravation, because due to the level loss in the upper mids & lower treble the upper treble range asserts itself even more clearly (compared to the 4K LARK unchanged). This means that an unnatural emphasis is created here, which makes the LARK thinner than it should be, since the bass and mids actually harmonize very well and could have used an equally relaxed, slightly darker treble. Admittedly, the sibilant emphasis and also the sometimes nasty peak at 8 kHz is song-dependent and not constantly destructive, but still to a degree where I find it annoying and consciously avoid songs. Warm sources are preferable here, silicone tips with wider openings (not included) or foam tips. A good example is "White Walls" by Macklemore. Here, the sibilants on his parts are tolerable, but the bell (peak) and chorus (woman) is above the pain threshold for me. With less vocal-heavy music, a bright shimmer always resonates, but here the emphasized area around the 8- 12 kHz is not so noticeable. The treble, however, has a nice transparency and also knows how to please with information diversity.

It also contributes to a lush stage as well as good separation, where locating details and instruments is child's play. This is clearly the LARK's strength.

Outro

With the high frequency dropping earlier, the LARK could be quite a neutral and natural sounding no-brainer in the budget range and thus a welcome and largely unique alternative. As it is now, one should bring a certain tolerance for high frequencies and in the best case already have suitable tips at hand to control them somewhat. An equalizer helps too, of course, but out-of-the-box the LARK could cause problems, at least it did to me. Maybe there will be another 3rd version soon, but this time please with labeling!

Legend

Haptic:

Here the processing plays a role and the usability of the scope of supply. Additionally the appearance, wearing comfort and robustness.


Value:
Here I evaluate for me subjectively the price/performance ratio - does not flow into the evaluation!

Z: No Brainer

A: money well spent

B: all right, you can do

C: gives better for less money

D: overpriced

E: collector's price

Daily life:
Here, I focus on the long-term audibility and whether I can hear it well out of the box. This is of course very subjective and therefore only a minimal deduction or bonus. 

(-0.1, 0, +0.1)

BL-03.jpg

Rating in Letters

S: 9.5 - 10

A: 9.0 - 9.4​

B: 8.0 - 8.9​

C: 7.0 - 7.9

D: 6.0 - 6.9​
E: 5.0 - 5.9​

F: 0.0 - 4.9​

DIAMOND

DIAMOND

KB06

KB06

F1

F1

KS2

KS2

Hi7

Hi7

LARK

LARK

KB04

KB04

OPAL

OPAL

Second Opinion

KLOGOWhite.png

CHI-FIEAR © 2020 by David Hahn

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