A mighty micro-driver!
PROS: price/value, very compact design, balanced signature with a natural tonality, premium 8-core SPC removable cable, quality eartips.
CONS: would like to see a chin slider on the cable, lower sensitivity requires to push volume higher.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Last year while reviewing Alpha & Delta D6, I probably mentioned its premium non-detachable cable at least half a dozen of times. For under $100 and even with a permanently attached wires, it was a great IEM with a decent price/performance ratio. Fast forward to 2019, and A&D is back with another sub $100 release, but this time they raised the bar with the same premium cable being removable now, new 6mm dynamic micro-driver, and an all new universal-custom compact shell design.
The new model is KS3, and at the current moment it’s only available through Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the next few weeks. Obviously, A&D doesn’t need crowdfunding to get the ball rolling. This is a mature company with a number of products, and they have been in business for almost 4 years. I’m sure even if they don’t meet IGG goal, orders will be fulfilled anyway. Usually, participating in these campaigns gives you extra exposure, especially in a “crowded” market with so many budget IEMs. The only thing I’m not sure about if IGG introduction price will still be valid after the campaign is over.
In the last few weeks I had the opportunity to play with KS3, and now would like to share with my readers about the results of this testing.
Unboxing and Accessories.
I like the extra effort companies put into packaging, showing they really do care about the presentation of their creation. The product arrived in a sturdy compact cardboard box with KS3 peaking through the window of the top cover. As expected, IEMs were secured inside of a foam cutout, along with a case stuffed with eartips and a premium cable.
Accessories included a small hard case, very compact and weather resistant/shockproof. Personally, I liked the leather case that comes with D6 which is more pocket friendly. Also, lots of eartips were included, all premium quality. A silicone set (S/M/L) with a narrow bore opening, another silicone set (S/M/L) with a wide bore opening, and 4 pairs of marshmallow foam tips with S/M/L set and another taller medium pair. I preferred the large wide bore opening silicone pair, but noted the following differences trying all 3 types:
- wide bore tips – give you the most balanced signature.
- narrow bore tips – boost the low end impact.
- foam tips – also a balanced signature, but treble looses some definition, making it smoother.
Being removable, you can consider cable as part of the accessories. This one has 8 braided SPC (silver plated copper) conductors, split into 4 braided wires on each side going down to a nice cylindrical y-splitter with Alpha & Delta logo, and then continuing in a neat 8-wire braid down to 3.5mm single ended TRS connector with a spring strain relief. Wires are soft and have a nice clear shielding, and even with 8-core cable still feel very flexible. My only wish here is for a chin-slider.
At the top by the connectors, there is no memory wire or pre-shaped earhooks. 2pin connector housing is shiny aluminum and has a red/blue ring marking to ID right/left sides. Keep in mind, with 2pin connectors you have to be aware of the pins polarity. If one of the connectors is flipped, you will hear a phasing effect. If that happens, just flip the cable connector around on one of the sides.
While this 8-core SPC single ended cable is part of stock accessories, IGG campaign offers additional cable options, as part of the perks to choose balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm termination, lightning connector (with or w/o a mic), and even type-C connector (with or w/o a mic).
KS3 design is built around a single 6mm custom tuned dynamic micro-driver. As many are aware, the number and the size of the drivers is irrelevant today, it all comes down to tuning. The shell of KS3 comes in two different finish options, a dark blue (the one I received for review) and black gold nugget with what appears like an infused golden flakes.
The shells itself are 3D printed, using imported resin material, and are very small. Even though design is universal, they have nearly a custom-like contour which makes them sit very comfortably inside my ears around concha area, almost like wearing CIEM. Faceplate area has AD letters printed on the surface, and you will also find a single vent for the dynamic driver on the top of the shell. The nozzle has a metal barrel and an earwax screen at the tip. As mentioned already, it uses 2pin surface socket.
There is nothing much to say about the design. KS3 looks very compact, has a comfortable fit, lightweight, and with a right set of eartips I was able to get a great seal with a decent isolation.