Alpha & Delta KS3 In-Ear Monitor Review
Alpha & Delta KS3 Review
The 3D Printed Beauty!
Alpha & Delta (in short AD) is a Singapore based brand that was founded of audiophiles with experience in the earphones retail industry. The AD KS3 is the new flagship of the company and features a 6mm micro dynamic driver.
I would like to thank Alpha & Delta for providing me the Alpha & Delta KS3 as a free of charge review sample. I am not affiliated with Alpha & Delta beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered, opinions about the product.
Price and Promotions:
Alpha & Delta has an early bird promotion for the AD KS3. The price will be USD 99 and is limited to the first 100 units per color. The retail price will be USD 150.
Here is the launch campaign landing page: https://bit.ly/2FJVguz
Alpha & Delta Official Purchase Link: https://www.alphandelta.com/shop
Package and Accessories:
The Alpha & Delta KS3 came in a black box which has a small transparent plastic window from where you can see the KS3 monitors.
This box including the following contents;
- 1 x pair of AD KS3 In-Ear Monitor
- 1 x pieces of 8 Core SPC (Silver Plated Copper) cable with 2-pin connectors
- 6 x pairs of silicon ear tips (3 pairs in grey with big vent & 3 pairs in white with small vent)
- 4 x pairs of foam ear tips
- 9 x pairs of silicon ear tips
- 1 x piece of plastic case
The AD KS3 is coming with lots of ear tips, which are 6 pairs of silicone tips and 4 pairs of foam tips. 3 pairs of the silicone tips are in grey and have a wide vent for a higher amount of bass, while the 3 pairs of silicone air tips are in white that have a smaller vent for a more balanced presentation.
There plastic case is in black that sports a label on the top with AD branding in gold color and looks pretty nice.
There is also the 8 Core Silver Plated Cooper (SPC) Cable with 2 Pin (0.78mm) connectors.
- Driver Unit : 6 mm Micro Dynamic Driver
- Impedance : 16 ohm
- Rated power : 1mW
- Frequency Response : 10 Hz- 40 Khz
- Sensitivity : 105 +/- db/ mW
- Cable : 1.2m SPC Cable
Design, Build Quality and Fit:
The Alpha & Delta KS3 is featuring a 3D printed resin housing in and comes in two colors , which are Gold Nugget and Dark Blue.
On the top of the shell “The Faceplate” is the AD pitted in white color.
On the side of the monitor shell is a small vent.
The AD KS3 monitor is featuring a 2-Pin 0.78mm female connector, which is allowing you to change/upgrade the cable. The connector itself has a good craftsmanship and the male connector fits tight and safe.
The nozzle of the monitor is made of metal and has a filter on the top of it to avoid any insertion of dust or earwax which could dame maybe damage the drive inside the monitor shell.
The overall build quality of the KS3 monitor is pretty good for this price range.
The AD KS3 is very lightweight thanks to its small form factor and the use of an acrylic shell. The KS3 is a comfortable to wear with an moderate isolation, which is enough to use it in fairly noise environments such as but, metro or train.
The AD KS3 is coming with a high quality 8 Core Silver Plated Copper (SPC) cable with a 0.78mm (diameter) 2-Pin Male connector. It is made of the same cable which has been used with the D6 which has it fixed to the monitor shell.
The cable wire has a semi-transparent soft TPU coating that has shows low microphonic effect.
The 2-Pin male connectors have a silver metal housing with left and right markings (blue for left and red for the right side).
The Y-splitter of the cable sports the Alpha&Delta brand logo and is made of metal in gunmetal color. The housing of the y-splitter sports also black rubber strain reliefs on both sides.
The 3.5mm L-Angled headphone jack is protected by a spring and sports a housing that is made of two materials; those are the black rubber material and the metal part that has a gunmetal color.
The overall build quality of the Alpha&Delta 8 Core SPC cable is solid!
PS: The 8 core SPC cable can also be purchased separately and with MMCX or with 2-Pin connectors under the links bellow;
- Material : Silver Plated Cooper (SPC)
- Cores : 8 core wires (each core contains 22X 0.05 silver plated copper wires)
- Cord Length : 1.2m
- Plug : 3.5mm, gold plated
Equipment’s used for this review:
- IEM : Alpha & Delta KS3, Shozy Neo CP, TFZ King Ltd
- DAP/DAC : Astell&Kern SR15 (A&norma), Cayin N5II, Quloos (QLS) QA361
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Elton John – Your Song (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- David Bowie – Black Star (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Unplugged Album (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- London Grammar – Interlude (Live) (Flac 24bit/88kHz)
- Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Opeth – Damnation (Wav 16bit/44kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Wav 24bit/88kHz)
- Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Tom Player – Resonace Theory (16bit/44.1kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kHz)
The AD KS3 is an in-ear monitor with a slightly warmer than neutral tonality and a slight V-shaped sound signature, in which the female vocals are more in the foreground than the male vocals.
The bass goes pretty deep and shows a warm and thick character, while the midrange is soft and musical and the upper midrange and treble is lightly bright with good extension.
The subbass of the KS3 shows a pretty good depth, extension and quantity for an In-Ear Monitor with a relative small 6mm dynamic driver. It has not the same powerful level of vibration that is produced by hybrid driver IEMs but the existing extension is quite good level.
The subbass tonality is fairly warm and soft and is showing a good level of. The quantity is sufficient for genres such like Pop, Edm, Hip-Hop etc.
For exapmle; The Alpha & Delta KS3 was successful in some tracks with deep and/or complex bass passages such like Gogo Penguin’s “Raven, Massive Attack’s “Angel”, Lorde’s “Royals” or Photek’s “The Hidden Camera”.
The subbass extension and vibration sounds pretty clear and convincing in Lorde’s song “Royals” between the 30-36 seconds.
The midbass of the KS3 are showing an average intensity, while it has a pretty strong and musical character. The midbass presentation is on the softer side and shows average slam with a warm tonality. Instruments from cross drums to trumpets have a fairly warm and soft tonality with moderate emphasis, without to show any negative situations such like a midbass hump or muddiness
The midbass area of the KS3 has in general a musical and entertaining character which is pretty suitable for genres such like Pop, Edm, Hip-Hop etc. Instruments like the bass guitar or contrabass have good amount of warmth, depth and thickness
The bass quantity and intensity of the Alpha & Delta KS3 is a bit higher than neutral and is showing a mildly warm, pretty soft and entertaining presentation. The bass is tight and shows moderate speed, while instruments such like drums sounded a bit lose in faster genres such as trash metal.
All in all, I found the naturalness and softness of the bass that is produced by the dynamic driver pretty successful. That it doesn’t sound too dry or rough is also a remarkable plus point for the KS3.
The midrange of the Alpha & Delta KS3 has a close to warm tonality and is showing a good amount of body, together with a pretty soft and musical presentation. The transparency and airiness of the midrange is on an average level and the overall presentation is relaxing and fatigue free, without to show any negative conditions such as harshness or sibilance.
The AD KS3 has a good lower midrange depth, warmth and thickness, which is an advantage for the presentation of male vocals. Male vocals are having good depth, thickness and detail retrieval.
Male voices such as Elton John, Eric Clapton, David Bowie or Dave Gahan have musical and pleasant tonality. There is only a small amount of veiling but without to sound muddy.
The upper midrange of the Alpha & Delta KS3 is pronounced, which makes female vocals more detailed than male voices. The general presentation of female vocals is bit warm, transparent and vivid. It is possible to hear feelings and details such as sadness, enthusiasm, sharpness or the softness in the voice the vocals.
Female vocals have an above average performance, thanks to the detail and extension which comes from the upper midrange. This makes the listening to female vocals very enjoyable.
The Alpha & Delta KS3 has a vivid and clean instrument tonality which is slightly warmer than neutral. The instruments are not too thick or thin, with a presentation in the middle of the two.
Instruments like pianos are a bit bright, pronounced and pretty lively, while notes in the that come from the lower midrange are soft and in the upper midrange brighter and more pronounced.
The acoustic guitar in Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged Album” is slightly warm, transparent and musical which was very pleasant. Violins are sometimes a bit bright and sharp, while violas are warm and emotional.
Upper Midrange & Treble:
The upper midrange of the Alpha & Delta KS3 is smooth, slightly warm and bright and is well pronounced. The transitions in this area are in general fairly soft, without to show in most cases negative situations such like sibilance or harshness. The upper midrange transitions in genres such like metal music is fairly soft and controlled which is a big plus point if you are sensitive to this area.
The treble range of the KS3 is slightly laid back, pretty soft and a bit bright. It sounds transparent, while the lower treble (presence) is more pronounced than the upper treble (brilliance) range. From the lower treble to the upper treble, the emphasis is reduced in a controlled manner, which makes the treble presentation of the KS3 quite musical, fatigue free and successful with most music genres.
For example, the hi-hats in metal music are coming a bit more out of the background than in normal, which makes the extension and emphasis of this instrument in general shorter.
The treble extension, intensity and quantity of the Alpha & Delta KS3 are average, while the detail level is enough for most genres for an In-Ear Monitor in this price range.
The stage of the Alpha & Delta KS3 is very well suited for the precise separation and positioning of instruments. The soundstage performance is pretty good in terms of depth, while the width is at an average level. There is enough neutral air and space between the instruments, which is a very positive feature of the KS3 and that makes it to a very successful IEM for this price range.
Alpha & Delta KS3 versus TFZ King Ltd:
The sound signature of the TFZ Ling LTD can be described as W shaped, in contrast to the most widely used V shape tuning. The subbass and upper midrange are emphasized, while male vocals are slightly in the background compared to female vocals due to the W-shaped sound signature. The general presentation of the King LTD is slightly warmer than neutral and shows a strong subbass presence, with pronounced upper mids and a pretty forgiving treble range.
The Alpha & Delta KS3 on the other side is a IEM with a mildly V shaped sound signature and warmer tonality than those of the TFZ King LTD. The subbass depth & quantity and the bass speed and tightness is pretty similar on both IEM’s, while the KS3 has more midbass quantity and intensity than the King LTD.
Male vocals of the KS3 are more upfront and showing more depth and detail than those of the King LTD, while female vocals of the TFZ King LTD are more pronounced and transparent. The upper midrange of the KS3 has a similar intensity with the King LTD while the KS3 is slightly brighter and sharp in this area.
The treble range of the KS3 is more upfront and pronounced and has more quantity and extension than those of the King LTD.
The soundstage performance of both IEM’s is on a moderate level. The main difference is that the KS3 shows a bit more depth.
Alpha & Delta KS3 versus Shozy Neo CP:
The Shzoy Neo CP is an In-Ear Monitor which has a slightly warmer than neutral tonality, with an upfront and musical midrange, fast and tight bass and lightly & forgiving upper midrange/treble presentation.
The Alpha & Delta KS3 on the other hand has also a warmer than neutral tonality with a softer and slightly more musical midrange, deep, bold and warm bass and slightly bright treble range with good extension.
The Alpha &Delta KS3 has the upper hand in terms of subbass depth and quantity. It is also more successful in terms of midbass intensity. The Shozy Neo CP on the other hand is faster and tighter in the bass department.
The midrange of the Shozy Neo CP is more upfront compared to those of the Alpha & Delta KS3. It’s more successful with male vocals, while the Neo CP sounds more suitable In-Ear Monitor if you listen to female vocals.
The upper midrange and treble range is more pronounced with the Alpha & Delta KS3 which makes it superior to the Shozy Neo Cp in terms of detail retrieval.
The soundstage of the Shozy Neo CP is wider then those of the Alpha & Delta KS3, while the KS3 has slightly more depth.
The Alpha & Delta KS3 is a small and comfortable to wear In-Ear Monitor which comes with a very good stock cable. The strong bass that is produced by a pretty small 6mm single dynamic driver is quite impressive. A musical and smooth presentation and a fairly good detail retrieval are making the KS3 to a good IEM option in this price range.
Pros & Cons:
- + Strong Bass
- + Smooth and Musical Presentation
- + Great Stock Cable
- + Comfort to Wear
- – Average Isolation
- – Not the widest soundstage
- – Need a bit juice to shows its real potential (typical for IEM’s with small dynamic drivers)