Just a quick note the overall sound impression was done with the new KS H-02 headphone and not the previous KS-H1 headphone.
Overall though the M-10 and KS-H02 presented a warm and laid back tonality that was quite smooth but with a slight taper at the very top end in terms of top end resolution or detail. The sound is more in keeping with the Baby Stax type presentation rather than the super fast transients and airy expansive sound staging I experienced with the Lambada series 3030. It is more intimate than grand but it’s easy going manner has some appeal for me the more I listen to it. I can well understand those who might miss that classic precision and imaging that higher end stats might be able to produce but the M-10 and KS H-02 combo does sound more comfortable with modern pop genres than say classic overtures. I would hesitate to call it more forgiving but the lack of sharp peaks or lower treble fizz does help for those wishing for a longer listening experience.
So why did I ditch my old Stax 3030 system when I do indeed love a well executed stats sound? Well in general the perceived lack of bass or bass roll-off in context to dynamic or planers invariably got to me. Yup it was a wonderful “delicate” genre system, so graceful, effortless with bundles of headroom but when I wanted to kick it up a notch I felt I needed steak rather than nut cutlets and in the end I went for a Hifiman HE6 and never looked back. Is the Kingsound system a nut cutlet on the cheap? Actually no, stats entry level it maybe but it has one thing my Stax 3030 didn’t give me and that was a more prominent low end slam. Add onto that the fact with a flick of a switch and you can color that bass by up approx +9dB at 20Hz and +3dB at 100Hz and you suddenly get to Kingsound’s selling point of this electrostatic system might be.
Having said that the bass itself it not as focused or natural as I think it could be. It does lack a little definition and doesn’t really extend that deep (much like the 3030 system I had in terms of sub-bass roll off) residing more at mid-bass level and this is more or less amplified rather than extended when using the bass boost. As an entry level I found this reasonably acceptable given that my major complaint was little or no slam in my previous stats system. I found it more enjoyable and musical than accurate or analytical. The bass boost switch added just enough to give a more satisfying bite to beats genres such as dance and R&B.
It still “presents” bass more stylishly than some ‘shove it down your ear’ dynamic cans but probably on reflection though it feels a bit cruder and less natural, though certainly harder hitting, than the 3030. I can see arguments for both systems though, especially for those coming into stats for the first time. Those wedded to mid-range dynamics will probably veer to the KS sound initially upon their first listening experience (Sony SA5000 fans maybe the exception) – craving for that one note boom addiction that from time to time even I love to chew on like a naughty midnight snack.
Just from a musicality perspective the Kingsound system can add a bit more mid-bass fun with modern pop and beats genres than my older 3030 system even if it is not as refined. You can put the same argument out there also for dynamic cans also in some respects. A cruder can may hit harder than a more refined can and there are fan bases of both that will swear by it simply because of their personal preferences.
The KS-H1 headphone and the M-10 sounded quite veiled in comparison to the newer KS H-02 headphone. The KS-H1 also tended to sound more compressed and lacking in dynamics in comparison to the more open and richer sounding H-02 headphone. Some forums have mentioned the initial KS-H1 headphone as being something of a work in progress particularly in the driver implementation and design and yes physically they looked cheap but if I am not mistaken the KS-H1 was more of a prototype that went into the initial production run.
Given the definite improvements I can hear in the H-02 I would suspect Kingsound themselves felt they needed to push something out there a little higher end. As to whether this will result in endless improvements and new cans every year I cannot say but those thinking of getting this system I would say its better bought with the H-02 headphone.