Thursday, 5 May 2011

Vsonic GR07 Review

Vsonic GR07 Review


First impressions: It’s a pretty box, I like the inner box too, it’s not as well done as some others but is pretty nice nevertheless. The manual is all in Chinese bar the odd word and it seems to list a bunch of stuff it will work with, weird. Any way, they look really nice when you see them, all very black and matte, I somehow thought they would be more glossy but actually they look the classier for it. The cable feels lovely, reminds me a bit of Sennheiser’s IE range. What is a little surprise are the tips, they appear to not be random generic tips that we have all seen a million times before. Not that there is anything wrong with generic tips, the “fake” hybrids are some of the nicest tips around but it’s very interesting to see something new.


First listening I’ve got to say, this is going to be a pretty positive review. For a dynamic that’s fresh out of the box it has just fantastic openness and clarity. I can really see why this has been getting such glowing reviews from others and I’m gonna go out on a limb and bet it’ll be getting the same from me. Still it’s only fair that it gets a little burn in time so away with you.

Okay 15 min later I still haven’t taken them out and I’m telling you now, this is going to be an overwhelmingly positive review. These are majorly good.

Source HM-601 and Studio –V and 1G iPod Shuffle with a 75 ohm adapter added and an HM-601


Lows: BOOM! Okay so they aren’t what you would call boomy in the low end but they have so much more power than I first thought. The GR07 is so beguiling, it slowly draws you in with its smooth sultry gentle low end then you play a big slamming bass track. The bass begins to power it out at you without skipping a beat, so dismissively, so effortless just who the hell knew it had it in there? Fantastic depth too, it just keeps on going all the way down. Granted to be all that it can be it does really want some power behind it and while the 601 and Studio both could make it roar like a lion the little Shuffle wasn’t so convincing. This is what happens though when you start playing with higher end stuff boys and girls, there comes a time when the little DAP that could just can’t cut it anymore. Still I’m not entirely convinced they sit at a price which commands the big amp either. Anyway, the bass on these when driven well is fantastic, it’s so timid and well behaved until you tell it not to then it comes alive and has tremendous depth. Such abundant depth and vociferousness you know it’s got to be a dynamic but it’s so tight and precise. Simply stunning bass. I know it won’t have the quantity or dominance some coming from the bottom end of the scale may wish but let me assure you this is very, very capable of doing whatever the sound engineer intended.

For something that isn’t bass dominant it’s both prodigious and supremely capable when driven well. Top marks!


Mids: Excellent. I’m not going to say they are the best out there because they aren’t, but you won’t get better and certainly not for the money without making sacrifices. They are slightly on the rich and warm side of things but not overly so. They can do dry and airy voices more than adequately, all together not dissimilar to a dryer Klipisch Custom 3. However I have had the occasional touch of tending toward sibilance. It never goes over the edge and ear stabs me but you can tell its thinking about it. It’s the only real downside to the mids here as otherwise they really are fantastic and offer superb balance and value. Still I find myself that tiny little bit disappointed but that’s only because they are overall so stunningly good. Quantity wise they are pretty balanced and in line with everything else. On vocal heavy stuff the mids stand out, on bass dominant it’s the lows and treble happy stuff it’s the highs. Really all just what a well balanced IEM should do.


Highs: Once more, excellent. Again I can’t say they are the best you can get as the crazy RE-0 is pretty much unbeatable for highs but the GR07 is getting pretty damn close. A little Owl City and the GR07 have not the slightest trouble belting them out, all that shimmering treble everywhere with the odd vocal and deep low thrown in there. They feel so nonchalant. Yeah whatever, here it all is. It’s so effortless and casually done it’s like the GR07 are daring you to find ever more demanding music to throw at it. The extension on them though is perhaps the teeny tiniest bit lacking compared to the best out there and there is the slightest peak in the lower treble that makes its self just a little too noticeable. Really though I’m splitting hairs, for the money you cannot possibly even think of complaining. These have shimmer, control, abundance, delicacy, power, sparkle, seriously pick a word and these have it.

The RE-0 and IE7 both very different but do it better however, the IE7 rolling off and staying smoother while the RE-0 extends on all the way up with such effortless control and delicacy. The GR07 compared to them is a little sparkly and gritty.


Soundstage: Not really their forte but comfortably largeish sounding. It does however have great positioning, while things may not sound as though they are a million miles away they do all sound from where they should be and you can tell what’s close and intimate and what’s further out at the edge of the room. Directionality is very good as is the instrument separation.

Fit: Their weird square shape gave me pause but it really wasn’t a problem and they have adjustable nozzles. Not that I really felt the requirement to make use of that but I ask this, why are all IEM nozzles not adjustable? They really were a case of shove in and done.


Comfort: Once more their shape worried me but it wasn’t an issue, maybe partly down to those adjustable nozzles? Either way I was happy wearing them all day.

Cable: One of the better cables I’ve seen in my time. It really does remind me of the one on the IE8 but maybe a big part of that is the colour of them. The cable is a little more ridged than would be ideal but I’m nit picking. The cable is nicely textured, not rubbery or clingy and pretty flexible.


Microphonics: None. Well you will get a little if you sit and tap the cable but really there is nothing to complain about here.

Amped/Unamped: While there were no night and day differences to be found I’m telling you right now these are good enough that they deserve what an amp can do for them. They clean up all round. The little Shuffle, while it is a beast of a little DAP it just didn’t have the power to let the GR07 shine. Sure they sounded really good but moving up to the more powerful players like the Studio-V and the HM-601 it was quite evident that as you upped the scale the GR07 would scale up too. These are good either way but clearly and noticeably improve when driven well.


Isolation: A little above par for a dynamic. It’s not going to set any records and isn’t what I’d buy if isolation was all important to me. Still it would be enough to get you hit with a bus because you didn’t hear it coming but like I often say, not really what you’d pick for that nonstop flight to New Zealand.

Value: At present the only place I can find these to be available is lendmeyourears on ebay at $158 (I’m taking those to be US$) so that’s at present circa £95. Hmm it’s a pretty competitive area and while there is a bunch of stuff that beat the GR07 in any given area I really can’t think of one that beats it all over. The only thing I can think of that’s as much an all rounder as this is the Brainwavz M3. The M3 may be the closest but side by side to each other you can hear where the extra $50 has gone. There just is no all rounder as accomplished as this without going into far higher money and even then I’m still not completely sure. The IE7 too is competition and comes close to the GR07 everywhere if not beating it but its a much more relaxed sound. Personally I love the IE7 but some find it a little dull or boring and that really can’t be said of the GR07. In short, its great value.


Conclusion: I can say without any doubt the GR07 is one of the best IEM’s out there. Don’t mistake that statement for claiming the GR07 is a “Top Tier or Top Table” IEM, it is not. It has flaws, most notably the slightly sibilant edge in the upper mids and the sometimes shouty lower highs. The upper highs too don’t really go all the way on up either. Still I am audiophile nit picking and comparing the GR07 to the absolute best that is out there. It takes audiophile levels of quality, throws in a dash of soul and passion, stirs in a little drama and liveliness and then ever so carefully layers on a helping of monitor like balance and technical ability. It a stunning all round package.

The cable is very good. The fit is very good. The comfort is very good. The bass is very good, borderline brilliant. The mids are very good. The highs are mostly very good. The balance is very good. The dynamic vibrancy is very good. Its monitor like even-handedness is pretty good. I think you get the idea. There is just nothing the GR07 really falls down on but likewise there is nothing it truly excels at either. However unless you have very clear requirements or want to have a half dozen or so IEM’s there just isn’t anything that is likely to please everyone. Sennheisers excellent IE7 is the closest I can think of but it has more of a richness to it that is often described as “the Sennheiser veil” some love that but many don’t. The GR07 takes all qualities and nails them right in the middle.

It is said you can’t be all things to all men but Vsonic and the GR07 has got to be pretty damn close.

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