KBear Dumpling ($18)
The KBear Dumpling (Silver version no mic) came to me from the good people of KBear as a review sample and I am very grateful for that. Without question this fact does not affect my integrity at all. Of course, I will always perform a fair review and speak on exactly what I hear. The Black version with the mic I purchased just for review purposes off of Amazon US.
The Dumpling is a tiny little set of iems which came at the same time as the Rosefinch which I am reviewing aswell. Kbear is doing some things right in my opinion. They aren’t trying to please everyone lately. Which I consider a good thing. I don’t know if this is by design or not. KBear is creating iems with specific targets which perform pretty nice for what they are. Again, today I am reviewing the Dumpling. An extremely small set of bullet style (#smalleargang) fixed cable iems with a completely catchy look to them. The Dumpling pack a good punch within this tiny shell and look pretty nice too. Let’s take a look.
-Tiny in stature with big enough sound
-Great for students
-Perfect for throwing into a bag or a pocket and off you go
-Needs special Ear-tips
-Not the most technical
-A bit veiled
-This set is $15, there really isn’t any justified cons
Nothing too crazy to report here. The packaging consists of a small box which houses the fixed cable earphones (Dumpling) and a few pairs of the specialty tips. That’s about it. I’m happy about it.
The actual build quality is above average. KBear made the Dumpling with an all-metal design for a very well-constructed Shell and nozzle. The only thing which gives me pause is there is no relief for the cable entering the earphones which could be a place of failure down the road. I see no other design issues as far as build quality goes. This set should be as durable as we treat them. This is more of a “toss in a bag and go” type of set and so I don’t anticipate them lasting forever.
I love the design of the Dumpling. These have a very striking and cool appearance to me. Just all together unique. I love that they created something so tiny yet so clean looking. You can wear the Dumpling over the ear or hanging down but obviously this set was made to be cable down. The metal shell is so very small yet looks so sleek and slick looking.
The Kbear Dumpling comes in both Silver and Black colorways. I purchased the black version (w/mic) for review purposes along with the silver review unit given to me by KBear. The nozzles aren’t typical as in 99.9% of all earphones. This is simply the shell and nozzle all in one plane. They were able to do this due to the very narrow size of the set and the tiny 6mm driver housed within. This makes the nozzle a bit large. Of course, the tips also have to have a very wide stem to accommodate the nozzle. Here’s to hoping the included tips work for you. They fit me just fine thankfully.
The Kbear Dumpling employs a 6mm “Peptide Dome” Composite Diaphragm Single Dynamic Driver. This shell is very miniscule and so a 6mm really is the largest KBear could do before they completely have to change up the design.
The one knock on the KBear Dumpling (really isn’t a horrible con) is the fact that this set has a non-detachable fixed cable. I have no real issue with it though as I know who this set is for, and what it is. I find the cable is perfectly fine. The cable itself is a pure copper wire covered in a thick black coating which in my opinion makes for a fantastic feeling cable. I hate…EHEMM…I detest… a cable that won’t wrap up nicely. Hate it! What I enjoy is this excellent feeling smooth cable and the ease with which it wraps up for safe keeping. A well-made cable for the most part. Feels smooth and soft and it is pliable and honestly feels better than it should.
Another slight knock is what I already highlighted, that is, there is no relief where the cable goes into the earphones themselves. I would probably go gentle on this area if possible.
The fit is fantastic for me. In fact, I find it difficult that anyone would not get a decent seal and good fit. Unless of course the nozzle is too much for a smaller ear. However, you’d have to have extremely small ear holes for this to be an issue. All subjective but I think I speak for the collective on this one fellas…. the fit is nice.
Another great thing about the fit is, the Kbear Dumpling is nice for sleeping. At least for my ears they are nice for laying on my side and dozing off without any issue.
The Dumpling is easy to drive from most any source. If you are part of the 1% of people who actually have a 3.5 input on your mobile phone, then I believe you will be happy here. This set is rated at 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 118 db.’s so driving this set shouldn’t be a problem. Whether I listened on my IPad 2018, Shanling UA2, Fiio Btr7 or Ibasso Dx240 I had zero issue. I also don’t think a more powerful source really upgrades the sound quality. The Dumpling really is a nice set of cheap in ears for a student or a throw in the bag set to not have to worry about. Drivability is no issue.
Quick Sound Impressions
The Dumpling has a warmer than neutral tonality with a very smooth and non-fatiguing delivery. No real rough edges at all. The midrange is recessed in a typical V-shaped style. The treble has nice extension and even a decent emphasis out in the highest of highs. Details aren’t going to amaze yet the Dumpling isn’t completely devoid of them. For a quick impression I’d say the Dumpling has a nice V-shaped sound for the money KBear is asking.
I enjoy the fact that KBear chose to give the Dumpling some thump, some beef in the low end. I really think this is a good decision based on who this set would likely attract in the market. College kids, school agers who need a cheap set of in-ears. The bass is full and rotund, and I think it is the focal point of the Dumpling.
The bass is very well extended and rumbly in the lowest of lows. The sub-bass reaches deep but the Dumpling doesn’t have the most haptic feeling or physicality in the bass region. The mid-bass has plenty of boom infused slam and even has some punch to it. Hip-hop will play well on the Dumpling among other genres which cater to a boosted low end. There is good energy in the lows, but it isn’t the most detail oriented or layered bass regions either. There is a soft note edge for the most part. I’d also have to say that the mid-bass does bleed-over a bit into the Mids. For the price the low end is fun and has a bunch of oomph yet falls short of bass-head levels for me. This is a bass for the masses… in classes.
The midrange is bolstered and thickened by some carry over from the bass as males have a hefty warmth to them, while clarity slightly suffers a bit. The low-mids have a nice enough presence to them in the midst of a recession in this region. Yes, there is an emphasis from the bass to a degree but there is also a slight lack of clarity to my ear. Note weight is nice as there is definitely a fullness to the sound.
Females in the upper-mids
Females have good energy but without much shine and eloquence. Almost as though the low end is affecting the upper-mids as well by casting a bit of a veiled sound and not allowing females to shimmer with clarity. Instruments seem to take on the same expression as the rest of the midrange. For the asking price the mids aren’t even close to bad but there are iems in the price point which seem to specialize in this area.
There are some fantastic positives, however. First, you won’t hear any sibilance at all. Second, the greater majority of the Dumpling’s playback is non-fatiguing and mostly easy listening. You won’t get glared out too often with the Dumpling. Third, this is only an $18 iem! At this price it sounds just fine. Four, for that $18 price tag females still sound full and rich and even have an emotional tilt to them.
The treble is extended well enough into the air region with information coming in pretty clear in the upper treble. There is an emphasis in the mid-treble, as well as the highest areas of the frequency to add a bit of life up top. Yet, for the most part there is a rather restrained upper 3rd of the mix. I’d say the treble really isn’t too bad and makes for another easy listening and fatigue free sound, which caters to long sessions among other things. Again, no sibilance caused from the treble and for the most part the sound is smooth and polite. Not bad at all.
The only real issue with the treble is what sounds like a lack in the presence region and looking at a graph recently it appears that is the case. This does dull the sound a bit but truthfully, this set is probably exactly what KBear tuned it to be; easy going, fatigue free and born and bred for some thumpy and long listening sessions.
Technically speaking the Dumpling won’t deliver the most detailed playback on planet earth, but is anyone expecting that. For the price and bracket the Dumpling resides in they are average. Details come through best in the treble area I’d say. Soundstage is more closed in, width and height seem average and there is a small amount of depth as well. Imaging actually isn’t too bad which rides the coattails of the decent separation of elements on the imaginary stage. Average all the way around. By the way, average is good for $18.
To conclude this review, I want to cast all doubt aside that this set isn’t a decent to good option for what it is for. It is a very slick looking and very comfortable little iem. The Dumpling is perfect for sleeping, long listening sessions, schoolwork, movies & videos and simply just tossing it in a bag and moving throughout your day. We have to understand as reviewers what the intent was for the product under review. If we don’t then we can easily miss-characterize and cast shade through the lenses of what it is that WE intend for the product to be. I just think this is a mistake and all too often we see it.
Who is the Dumpling for?
Make zero mistakes. The Dumpling is not some audiophile born masterpiece created for us to pick apart through a hyper-zoomed lens. This set is for the kids who just need an iem which won’t kill their wallet. This set is for those who cannot afford higher tier stuff and who enjoy a tuning meant for mass appeal and big bass. There are many people who this is for. Who it isn’t for is… Mr. Audiophile. Ain’t for you dude. Honestly, the Dumpling is a very well-done iem for a low budget, fixed cable, worn down, extremely comfortable and very uniquely styled fun little set. I’d say that KBear nailed this one!
Of course, KBear could spend more time and resources dialing in the tuning to draw it a bit closer to a higher sonic standard. However, I can promise that my 17-year-old son is not going to dig some audiophile tuning… not gonna happen folks. He wants beefed up bass and something easy to keep in his pocket… that’s it. Also, the tuning and the package is right where it should be priced at. The Dumpling isn’t “punching above their price” in sonics, but as a whole package they are certainly worth the asking price.
Don’t just take my word for it…
I hope you won’t take my word for it alone. Please take in other thoughts and reviews before making a purchasing decision. This is the most subjective and personal of hobbies and I implore you to get to know reviewers and their tastes, their libraries and their gear. We are all different, thank God for that. With that said, I want to thank anyone who chose to read any word that I write. I put a lot of time into my reviews and really enjoy sharing my thoughts with all you awesome people. Please take good care and stay safe everyone.