KBEAR Robin 1DD + 4BA Hybrid IEM’s.

The third and final review in this recent Keep Hifi drop. Let’s see if the Robin has what it takes to play the lead role this time around? ( Yes, I went there! )

Disclaimer:
I have not been paid by KBEAR or Keep Hifi to write this review.
The views in this publication are unbiased and my own.
Vivian & Keep Hifi kindly sent this IEM my way to review.
The Robin IEM retails for £58.99 at the time of this review and they currently have a discount voucher in place on Amazon.

You can find them here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Monitors-Cancellation-Headphones-Detachable-Earphones-BLACK/dp/B099WD45H8/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1HAT6SI8Y0XLN&dchild=1&keywords=kbear+robin&qid=1632517099&sprefix=KBEAR+R%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-3

Review gear:
KBEAR Robin IEM’s.
Astell & Kern AK70 MKI.
Stock KBEAR 3.5mm copper cable.
Balanced KBEAR 2.5mm copper cable.

Music:
Various hi res files.

What’s in the box:
1x pair KBEAR Robin IEM’s.
1x 4N oxygen-free copper cable with right angle 3.5mm jack. ( single ended )
4x pairs soft silicone ear tips.
1x hard case.
Documentation.

Spec:

  1. Brand: KBEAR.
  2. Model: Robin.
  3. Color: Black. ( Also available in blue )
  4. Interface/Connector: 2PIN 0.78mm.
  5. Plug type: 3.5mm.
  6. Impedance: 18±2Ω.
  7. Sensitivity: 110±2dB.
  8. Frequency response: 20hz-20kHz.
  9. Driver unit: 10mm Dual Magnetic Circuit DD+KBEAR Four Customized BA.
  10. Wearing type: In-Ear.
  11. Cable available with or without in-line mic.
  12. Cable length: 1.2m
  13. Cable material: 4N Oxygen-free Copper. Gold plated 3.5mm plug.
  14. Cable is detachable.
  15. Zinc alloy electroplated front plate.
  16. Translucent Polycarbonate rear housing.
  17. Anodized Aluminium guide mouth.
  18. Soft silicone ear tips.
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Build & finish:
It’s one of those products, where in the beginning you’re not sure whether you like or not, just going on stock internet images. Well, for me anyway.
Until they arrived… Kudos to KBEAR for designing and creating a smart, stately appearance.
With clean lines and facias, we’re off to a promising start.
The housings have a robust factory finish with zero flaws or faults in fitment.
KBEAR supply the Robin with a 4N oxygen free copper single ended cable which is basic but it does it’s job almost admirably. The 3.5mm gold plated plug is right angled and has some flexibility without showing any sign of weakness or possibility of ease of damage later on down the road.
I said almost didn’t I? 3.5mm plug, y-split, two pin connectors, all frosted translucent. Different. And although some may like this design choice, I found it a little jarring against the black/grey metallic & “Crystal” clear aesthetic of the IEM housings. The two just don’t match in my eyes, Read comics? Imagine “Nightwing” in near see thru crocs and you may get my point! But then I’m pretty anal about these things and it obviously boils down to individual taste, so, you may like it!
I digress. Third IEM in this run of reviews, and finally an IEM with a hardcase! Thank you KBEAR.
It could have been a pouch and I’d have been more than happy. More kudos!
Finally, we come to the ear tips. These are some of the softest, smoothest ear tips I’ve come across to date. But I’ll get into that a little more in the next section.

Comfort:
The “Soft silicone ear tips” speak for themselves here and are possibly some of the smoothest, comfiest ear tips that I’ve had inside my ears!
With the stock cable comes a pair of ear hooks which work really well. They’re not too stiff, yet stay where you need them to.
Wearing glasses is as comfortable as you would want it to be.
The IEM’s sit inside the ear canal comfortably. Not too deep. Nor do they stick out.
I was able to wear the Robin IEM’s for a good three hours without any discomfort or fatigue.

Sound:
A focused soundstage with lots of depth and width that culminates in good imaging.
instrument separation is respectable.
Where these IEM’s stand out is in the low frequencies.
Tight articulate bass that sweeps impressively low while retaining all of its texture and accuracy.
The mids are neutral and smooth with a nice airyness to them, especially through vocal pieces.
Mid high to high frequencies are fast paced and crisp.

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Final thoughts & thanks:
I didn’t know what to expect out of these out of the box.
What I found was a very well made, high performance IEM.
The Robin has a classy look, sporting a high standard finish.
This IEM does not skimp in the sound department.
They are a lively, full bodied IEM accompanied by a decent soundstage & image.
Perfect for EDM, great with Rock & Metal and phenominal with Jazz & Classical.
At £58.99 I really can’t recommend them enough.
The closest IEM I own that I could try and compare them with is the iBasso IT01 which originally retailed at £90.
I found the Robin to be on par with the IT01. With the IT01 having the slightest of edges with just a little more high frequency sparkle.

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Grado Headphones.

The first in a series of articles about my love for my personal gear, specific brands and my reasons why.
Starting off with the family run business that is Grado and wondering what’s next?

Pictured here, the SR125 with the Periodic Audio Nickle and iPod Touch.

My first experience with Grado was a pair of iGrado, which I still have somewhere in storage.
I enjoyed the sound and liked the build quality enough that I quickly upgraded to a pair of SR60’s.
This was back when high end headphones were a new thing to me. I’d only recently joined Head-Fi and the bug set in fast.
Aside from other headphones & IEM’s I soon took a step up the ladder and purchased a pair of SR80’s which became my go to open back headphones for a number of years with a pair of Sennheiser HD25.1.II’s doing all of the closed back work. Budget wouldn’t allow any further upgrades, and besides, I loved the build quality and sound that they created.

Skip forward to a few years ago and I was now well into writing reviews and trying out a larger number of headphones anywhere from £50 all the way up to an £8000 electrostatic system.
I began searching for a new pair of Grado’s as my need for something slightly higher end had kicked in, and it wasn’t long before I bought a pair of SR125’s.
They have been a beloved addition to my collection and next time I upgrade, these will be staying with me!
They have a beautifully rich sound with warmth and sparkle in equal measure.
I find they’re a very forgiving headphone that will happily play any genre I throw at them, on any system, whether it be portable, desktop or my main system. Again, Tube or Solid State, they’re happy paired with either.
They’re very easy to drive, like the SR80’s, SR60’s, iGrado’s & GW100’s that I’ve either owned or still have.

Earlier this year I got to review both the GW100’s and the GT220’s.
I enjoyed both so much that I asked Rich if Grado could hook me up with a pair of each and it wasn’t long before I owned both.

The GW100 was Grados first dip into wireless waters and instead of a dip they made a splash!
I compared them a lot with my 125’s and I like to think of them as the SR125’s wireless counterpart, although the GW100 can be used as a wired pair, which they excell at!

The GT220 on the other hand was Grados first attempt at a True Wireless IEM.
I haven’t yet had the opportunity to have a listen to a set of wired IEMs from Grado, however at the time I wrote the review for the GT220, I had already listened to my fair share of True Wireless IEMs, from both pairs of Apples Airpods, Sonys WF-1000XML3, Both of HIFIMANs attempts too samples from Bang & Olufson, RHA, Soundcore and others.
To date, the GT220 have trounced all. They’re that *@&^$*(@(&£ Good!
No ANC? Not an issue when the sound quality is exquisite. Just take one side out and you’re good to go.
These are all about producing the best sound possible in a small IEM housing that also crams in bluetooth technology.
If Grado ever bring out a pair with ANC, I can only imagine how good they’ll be.

What’s next in my journey with Grado? I’m not sure yet.
I still need to try out some of their cartridges with my turntable system so that’s something I want to work on soon.
As for headphones, I really don’t know. I love what I already have, but I’m feeling that itch again.
I may need to give Rich a shout and see what he thinks.

I’d big Grado up further here, talking about their world class customer service or their friendly and helpful attitude.
But I do that all the time in my reviews of their products, so I’ll just say that you can always rely on them to help you pick the right product for you, and to look after you in the event that something goes wrong.

As a reviewer they’ve been very supportive and helpful from the start, which I appreciate from the bottom of my heart.

Thanks for reading.
I hope you’re all being safe and well out there.
Until next time….

Paul.

CCZ Emerald DD+BA Hybrid IEM’s.

In my second review of the Keep Hifi drop that just landed on my doorstep, we have the Emerald Hybrid IEM’s.

Disclaimer:

I have not been paid by CCZ or Keep Hifi for this review.
The views in this publication are unbiased and my own.
Vivian & Keep Hifi kindly sent this IEM my way to review.
The Coffee Bean IEM retails for £28.99 at the time of this review and they have a discount voucher in place currently.

You can pick one up here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emerald-Headsets-magnetic-Headphones-Earphones-blue/dp/B09BC7BJYY/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=X7AUJE5BORZ0&dchild=1&keywords=ccz%2Bearphone&qid=1631216916&sprefix=CCZ%2Bin%2Bears%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-1-spons&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyWURFV0xOVFBHNVVKJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTkzOTgzMThIRVREVU5IVFBWTSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNzU1Njc1TlZFWjBFNFdKTjBVJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ&th=1

Review equipment:
CCZ Emerald IEM’s.
Astell & Kern AK70 MKI.

Music:
Various hi res files.

What’s in the box:
1 pair CCZ Emerald Hybrid IEM’s.
1 pair spare silicone ear tips.
Documentation.

Spec:

1. Brand: CCZ
2. Model: Emerald
3. Color: Green; Blue
4. Interface/Connector:2PIN 0.78MM
5. Plug type: 3.5MM
6. Impedance: 16±2Ω
7. Sensitivity: 110±3dB
8. Frequency response:20hz-20KHZ
9. Driver unit: 10mm dual magnetic circuit DD unit+CCZ customized BA
10. Wearing type: In-Ear
11. Whether with cable: Yes
12. Whether with mic: No mic;With mic
13. Cable length: 1.2m
14. Cable material: 4N OFC
15. Whether can replacement cable: Yes
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Build and finish:
CCZ have made a fantastic looking and very well built IEM here.
Like the Coffee Bean, we find the “fins” that help the IEM’s sit in the ear easier and more comfortably.
The housings are flawless and feel robust.
The ear tips again are silicone and feel very smooth and well made.
The cable is identical to the one that came with the Coffee Beans and is made to a high standard.
The pastel blue is a beautiful colour to use and I love the simplicity of the design choice for these IEM’s.
Subtle yet classy.
Unfortunately though, as with the Coffee Bean, no pouch or case is to be seen.
It’s a shame such a lovely pair of IEM’s come with nothing to keep them protected when not in use!

Comfort:
These are very comfortable in the ear and around the top of the ear.
They can be worn with glasses with no issues or discomfort.
The fin at the top of the housing fits comfortably inside the ear and is unnoticeable once it’s in.
I wore these for three hours of listening time with no discomfort or fatigue.

Sound:
Soundstage is focused with some width and depth. Instrument separation is very good and imaging is on point.
Lows are textured and deep. The bass performance is less boomy than the Coffee Bean, yet carries the same heavy hitting punch. Adding to an all around tighter, more articulate sound.
The mids are full bodied, airy and smooth yet without overwhelming the rest of the listening experience.
Highs are beautifully crisp and detailed, lending to just the right amount of sparkle and clarity.
Listening to various genres is a pleasure and the Emerald’s perform admirably!
These are very much a more forgiving, laid back IEM in comparison to the Coffee Bean.

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Final thoughts & thanks:
For a few more quid, and at the moment with a discount voucher in place, I would choose these over the Coffee Bean. And I would highly recommend them at their price point.
They’re a fantastic entry level IEM for listeners with not a lot of coin, yet they’re also going to be a worthwhile listen to those with larger collections of IEM’s.
Either way you can’t go wrong with this set.
A very comfortable and enjoyable listen!

Thanks again to my valued readers. Please remember to like, share and subscribe.

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Many thanks to all who support the blog! You can now see our sponsors and partners in the sidebar of the blog.

CCZ Coffee Bean IEM’s.

Fresh off the back of the Moondrop QUARKs, Keep Hifi sent a haul of IEM’s, the first of which to be reviewed being these CCZ Coffee Beans from Yinyoo Audio. Read on to find out more…

Disclaimer:
I have not been paid by CCZ or Keep Hifi for this review.
The views in this publication are unbiased and my own.
Vivian & Keep Hifi kindly sent this IEM my way to review.
The Coffee Bean IEM retails for £21.99 at the time of this review.

You can pick one up here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/CCZ-Coffee-Bean-Yinyoo-Headphones-Lightweight-Black/dp/B099F3WP33/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=2IEJUB5NVIDWK&dchild=1&keywords=ccz+coffee+bean+iem&qid=1630940863&sprefix=ccz+coffee+bean+%2Caps%2C168&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFIMTZQWTRSSlkySjUmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTEwMjE5MTUyNDNMVEtBWUxBMDJRJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAwMjg1MDNUS1ZZTFg1VU5NWEcmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

Review equipment & apps:
CCZ Coffee Beans.
Astell & Kern AK70 MKI.
Samsung Galaxy Note Ten+.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black V1.5.
Qobuz Studio Premier.

Music:
Various FLAC and other Hi-Res files. ( Various genres )
My Qobuz demo playlist:
https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/3785941

What’s in the box:
1 pair CCZ Coffee Bean IEM’s.
1 pair spare silicone ear tips.
Documentation.

Spec:

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Build and finish:
In my first of an IEM drop from Keep Hifi, are the CCZ Coffee Beans.
The Coffee Beans are a plastic housing with a silicone “Fin” that hooks nicely inside your ear.
The build is really good here and I could find no flaws in their finish.
The cable is well made and the pins fit nice and snugly.
The silicone ear tips are also well made and I found no flaws in these either.
CCZ’s Coffee Beans are a nice looking pair of IEM’s and are evidently made with ergonomics in mind.
Sadly though, there is no pouch or carry case to be seen.

Comfort:
7/10 for comfort.
They’re almost perfect.
However I find they sit a little too deep and wide inside my ear.
Bare in mind that this will differ from user to user.
I found the fins helped to hold the IEM’s in place, but at the same time I didn’t even notice they were there.
The silicone tips are nice and smooth and fit my ears well.
I wore the Coffee Beans for a good two hours of listening with no noticeable discomfort or fatigue.
The cable fits over the ears comfortably and the IEM’s can be worn easily with glasses.

Sound:
Focused, studio like soundstage, accompanied with good instrument separation.
Hard hitting bass with plenty of clout.
Mids are forward. Lot’s of detail and clean vocals.
Highs are aggressively rolled off, though hint at a sharp and fast delivery.

Final thoughts & thanks:
The CCZ Coffee Beans are very bass and midrange orientated, they bring a lot of bounce and livelyness to your listening experience and pair especially well with EDM.
However, they are aggressively rolled off in the high frequencies, so if you like your IEM’s to have that crisp, articulate high end, you may want to consider this.
At £21.99 you could do far worse and they are a solid, robust contender.

Thank you to all of my readers for looking in, and please don’t forget to like, share and subscribe.

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Many thanks to all who support the blog! You can now see our sponsors and partners in the sidebar of the blog.

Goldring E3.

An article by Anthony Ingrassia.

In the first of many articles to come from my good friend and collegue Anthony Ingrassia, he shares his thoughts in this article on the E3. Read on to find out more…


What’s better, going into something with high expectations and them not having those expectation quite met completely or going into something with no particular expectations and being hugely impressed? I would say the latter and it is definitely the case with the Goldring E3……. absolutely floored. 

I hate the word “budget” in our hobby because it implies something of lesser quality, which the E3 is not, it’s best in its price range in my opinion and honestly outperformed some higher priced cartridges I’ve used. As usual, we gave the cart due time to get warmed up, we went 60ish hours on the E3, but honestly, from the first needle drop the sound got my attention, there was no mental note to not be too critical because it’s fresh out the box and needs some time, nope, it became “critical” listening from the get-go and only got better over time. 

The E3 has a nice full, robust sound full of energy and range. Beautiful separation and dynamics, clear clean highs and punchy lows, just a beautifully balanced tone. The E3 has an aluminum cantilever with a “superior bonded” super-elliptical stylus featuring a dual magnet design utilizing two low mass magnets interacting only with their paired pickup coil angled to match the cutting head arrangement enabling the cartridge to accurately trace the record groove resulting in better stereo separation and a more musical soundstage. Yes, a bit of technical jargon from the Goldring press release, but it delivers, it all comes through in the listening experience. 

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When listening to a range of genres from singer-songwriter fare with defined vocals to heavier classic rock and some punk, the E3 was solid across the board. Bringing vocals to a perfect pitch and tone while keeping any background vocals or harmonies smoothly delivered. Percussion and bass had impact, stood out really well against a black background giving a lot of the subtle details in a track a distinct place and position. Albums like St. Vincent’s stripped down MassEducation delivered smooth powerful vocals, from the near whispers to the high notes, the E3 did an amazing job of holding it together. Thomas Bartlett’s beautiful piano work shinned with every hammer hit and pluck being defined and resonating, each in their respective positions in the track. Going to a more classic rock album like Cheap Tricks Heaven Tonight, with hard guitar riffs and rapid-fire drum lines, the E3 again did an amazing job of bringing out the detail of each instruments, pluck, hit and range, Robin’s sometimes high, sometimes guttural voice had texture and presence, and nothing ever got muddied in the middle, with the same being said for The Clash’s Combat Rock, raw, present, everything in its place and sounding full of energy and life. The E3 does an exceptional job at grabbing and placing highs, mids and lows in their place and showcasing each one’s tone and position, truly a pleasing balancing act. The E3 leans ever so slightly to the warm side, showing remarkable clarity and character in its sound signature, and has become one of my favorite cartridges, its musical, accurate, fun and plows its way through most pressings with its chest out and chin up. 

Fitting the cart is quite simple, the threaded body is always a plus and its angled design helped with alignment and stylus placement greatly. The E3 has a user replaceable stylus in a “plug and play” set up, pop the used cart off and pop on the new. Going back to my opening statement, Even with all that I’ve mentioned about the E3, I still feel I’m not expressing how impressed I am with this “budget” cartridge, it is an amazing value for its price point and easily one of the best among other cartridges not only in its price pool, but even some higher ones. 

Highly, highly recommended bang for your buck. Big sound with a small price.   

Full disclosure, Goldring did send me the cart to listen to, but my opinions are my own based on what I heard over the 60+ hours of spinning with the E3. The Goldring line is distributed in the US by American Audio & Video, the line and E3 are available at LP Gear and other retailers for $170, with replacement styli running $125. For more information on Goldring visit their Official site at http://www.goldring.co.uk.