The Alpha & Delta KS3 is a 3D printed custom-tuned 6mm micro dynamic driver universal IEM. Initially available on Indiegogo and now with a current retail price of $169 from Lend Me Ur Ears in Singapore.
Disclaimer: The Alpha & Delta KS3 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank Alpha & Delta and Lend Me Ur Ears for this opportunity.
To read more on previous dynamic driver IEM reviews on Headfonics you can click here.
Note, this 2-page review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
A few weeks ago, a little birdie delivered a small package for me in the mail. Who am I to judge a $99 Indiegogo exclusive deal ($169 MSRP afterward) for an IEM? I’m just a passionate reviewer who enjoys sharing my experience in audio with the world. I have a lot to say about the Alpha and Delta KS3, so let me get started with a story.
A Fun Story
I received a much, much more expensive IEM on the exact same day as when I had received this Alpha and Delta KS3. By much more, I mean roughly 10x the price. So, unbeknownst to me, I had confused which one was which and actually forgot I had an expensive “other company model” just sitting there.
Why was this confusing? Because both look very similar and both had blue housing. My bad. But, this is a good thing for the KS3, because I’d assumed they were much more expensive than the launch price of $99.
For a short time, my impressions were based on this model having a $500’ish sound quality and being in that price tier. I was in absolute hilarity when I noticed later that “oh goodness, this KS3 is the cheaper model and it is performing on this level? Wowsa.”
Afterward, I separated and reviewed them with the knowledge that one of these was only $150 and the other was much more expensive. I thought it was funny. Great news for KS3 owners, at least in my opinion.
The Box and Case
Due to being an initial Indiegogo project, my package only came with the hard carrying case and nothing more than a single set of tips. I was later given a 2.5mm balanced cable option as well. The full MSRP package includes a normal and nicer box and more tips. However, the balanced and other optional cables cost a bit extra at $55.
What I am enjoying a lot is how kawaii (Japanese for cute) the hard case is. It is so tiny. I love it! I also got an adorable carrying case for the balanced cable option. The first thing one of my friends said was how absurdly cute the carrying case was and where she could get one.
This is actually a thing with me: hatred for large carrying cases. We don’t need them. A rolled up IEM doesn’t take up that much space and I absolutely adore how small this Alpha and Delta hard case actually is. Great stuff here, I’ve never seen one this small before and I hope a lot of other companies jump on the bandwagon and opt for a case like this too.
The KS3 uses a 3D printed exterior shell with some color options, the one I received was standard blue, but they also come with some other color options like a gold flaked appeal as well. Beyond that, the drivers are 6mm custom tuned, and seemingly, intended to be slightly V-shaped, which I certainly agree with in the presentation department. But, more on that in a bit.
The stock cable is lovely and just what I enjoy most, an 8-core silver plated copper. It has a custom vibe to it and I’ve gotten some questions about what “custom cable” I had on there. My answer is none, it is the stock cable.
At a rating of 10Hz – 40Khz, this IEM is bass abundant and will respond well to EQ and boosting on the low end. So, if you enjoy bass, this is a great option.
Comfort & Fit
Literally, the best IEM comfort factor I’ve ever experienced. Why? It is supremely tiny and still looks like a custom IEM. I can almost lay down on my side with them in my ear and be comfy. These fit like a dream and I love them dearly.
I assume very small people or kids may feel “meh” about it. But, we shorter men and women (I’m 5’5ft) with a small to moderate size noggin and ear size are probably going to love them.
Side by side with my real customs, I actually prefer the Alpha and Delta fit because they are much, much smaller physically all around. Despite the customs being, well, custom fitted to my ear, they aren’t as comfortable as the KS3 that is a universal fitting.
Dropping down to 10Hz is lovely in the budget IEM tier, we don’t see it too often. Typically, we get a 20Hz rating as standard. So, when I first saw that it reached down to 10Hz, I fully expected an excellent bass response and I was not let down.
With boosting active, the KS3 can boom nicely and never sound terrible. However, on a flat or disabled boost on the low end, the KS3 is lacking bass quantity to do a bass head justice. It really requires a lot of boosting, more so than I am comfortable with, to get a slightly more than a moderate amount of what I would consider good bass quantity. It isn’t a bassy IEM unless you really push it.
Thankfully, the IEM can handle copious amounts of it without sounding like trash. So, I’d rate the responsiveness to EQ as just okay and able to retain good quality with a lot of boost. The low end is moderately impacting, which means the slam factor is mildly engaging and not overdone, nor boring to listen to.
With boosting active, the bass quantity feels good and plentiful. Without it, the flat experience remains relatively neutral in less than moderate quantity. As for fidelity, as mentioned, I thought this IEM was a lot more expensive than it actually was when I got it. The purity factor is very nice. In fact, it might be one of the nicest I’ve heard in the tier with only some of the other Flare Audio IEM’s as competition.
The IEM was purposely tuned with a V-shape response, so that means the mids are likely going to feel a little relaxed. Thankfully, the KS3 doesn’t invoke serious cavernous feel to it and I find the midrange more than engaging enough to fully enjoy vocals with.
I feel like the treble is the culprit in making the mids sound as they do, and that the bass experience and midrange are both plentiful enough to feel relatively balanced without bass boost active. With it is disabled, the bass and mids play together nicely but the top end feels like the odd man out in terms of weighted appeal and styling.
This isn’t an IEM I would recommend for Jazz vocalist enthusiasts or Fusion guitar, which is my favorite genre. Instead, laid back Jazz tracks and beats sound lovely here. If you want to relax and kick back, this is a great choice. If you want something very engaging and forward, you can’t achieve that with any EQ modifications. The midrange won’t respond to that even when you drop off the treble and bass by a large factor to help boost the way the mids feel. They always feel slightly recessive.
With regard to the fidelity factor, again, I thought this was a much more expensive IEM. For the price, I think this punches way above its listed MSRP. This is a great option, in the sub $150 tier and a few of my friends didn’t think it was anywhere near that cheap.
As mentioned, the treble experience is what I would consider less than stellar for the price. Now, is it bad? Absolutely not. It just doesn’t measure up to the excellent mids and bass experience the KS3 has in regard to literal quality.
The quantity factor is a little odd to me, being a bit underwhelming, to say the very least, when comparing the quality factor to the tonality of the treble experience, I walk away feeling shoulder shrug-worthy at best. I feel like the top end has an unappealing sheen to it, a pronounced brightness factor, but, one that is also not as clean as I would want it to be. It sticks out like a sore thumb in comparison to everything else below it that is excellent.
I do want to stress though, at $169 I am not expecting absurdly amazing treble, but I did get that in some other IEM’s lately over the last few years. So, I am judging as I hear it. The treble needs some work and needs a bit of a quality bump to match the bass and midrange.
Is this a big issue? No, not really. Unless you listen to a lot of treble tracks or are sensitive to treble and demand excellent glistening upper end, this isn’t too much of a problem. I find the experience less than stellar with classical recordings and having issues with very old rock and metal tracks with hyper screaming guitars. Beyond that, I hardly notice.
The sound staging experience is just fine. I don’t hear anything extraordinary, nor underwhelming. The height and width factor is very well set up and feeling nicely presented, meaning they don’t stretch too far in either direction (up or to stage left or right) to make the other feel overshadowed. It is well-formed and feels moderately open and spacious.
Well formed and shapely imaging is desirable to me, as anything that stretches too far or not enough will be picked up by my ear and I will just focus on that, no matter how good the quality of the experience is.
The sound stage is very important to me and I find the KS3 more setup in the “moderately intimate” sound field. Meaning, that the experience is what I would consider above average in spaciousness until it comes to stage-forward, which sounds very good.
The depth of field factor is much better than the sense of width and height. While at the same time, the tonal density (how thick everything feels) is also just good, but not great. Again, for the price, almost nothing on the market has a very weighted appeal so I don’t expect this to also house that.
For what it is worth, if you like old style recordings that actually house a good sonic depth of field, this KS3 is an excellent choice for you. You will enjoy the relaxed presentation and very good depth of field for the price.
Alpha and Delta is a company that I’ve only just experienced for the first time and I am very impressed by what they are offering. I hope they have great success in their Indiegogo campaign. They are offering a very comfy and small universal IEM that looks like a custom IEM, one that offers a custom-ish looking cable and that has very nice low end and midrange quality for the price.
It certainly offers much more value than $169 at the moment. It needs a little tweak on the treble and nothing else. So, I highly recommend this IEM, and will, to most of my friends who want something cheaper and comfortable, but also, something very musical and enjoyable in tonality that isn’t boring and neutral.