Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hisoundaudio Wooduo 2 Review

Hisoundaudio Wooduo 2 Review

Thanks to Hisoundaudio for the sample.

First Impressions:  There has been a little bit of buzz about these so I’m quite interested to see where they have gone with them.  The last series of IEM’s from Hisound I felt were rather mixed, in styles, in looks and pretty much everything.  The look of these is just like that of the Popo’s.  Casting my mind back it was an IEM I didn’t bare much love for, massive powerful bass so I’m somewhat thinking are these in the same playing field?  Hmm, I’m not sure I love this flat style cable granted it doesn’t seem to tangle but I’m not a fan.

Shoving them in my ears and the Rocoo BA slaps on Regina Spektors Hotel song, if you know it you’ll know how it kicks off and bugger me, these things have no trouble in moving air!   It’s got a family resemblance to the Popo I think, but it’s seriously up quite a few levels.  This is quite the bass beast but its dealing with it really well.  Of course the quantity may wear on me so burn in time.

Source 5G iPod Video line out through a Practical Devices XM5 with LM6171 opp amps and a Hisoundaudio Rocoo BA.

Lows:  if there was to be one single reason why you would buy this IEM’ this is probably it.  It quantity its right up there but not silly levels like the Popo was and its good, seriously good bass.  If you know my musings you’ll know I’m not a great big lover of mountains of bass and I could see the Wooduo 2 really being too much for me.  It is a lot.  Side by side with the GR07 the 2 is just so much more but its real saving grace is that it is good.  Warm yet tight and about the perfect blend of impact power and bloom.  Even side by side with its rather bassy siblings, the Crystal’s there is just no contest.  The Wooduo 2 just blows them away.  If I was being really, really honest I’d tell you that I rather prefer the sound of the Crystals, its much more to my tastes.  Flipping back the Wooduo’s and dear lord that’s some big ass bitchin’ bass there.  Its remarkably fun though.  Depth is immense, it does get increasingly flabby as you go down but its capable of crazy good bass given the equally crazy quantity.  Fast, abundant, clean, vast, deep, and yet somehow it feels controlled.  As though someone has taken a rather good sub and just cranked up the volume on it.  Comparing to their siblings the Crystals which were about the best Hisound had done te this point and the differences are clear.  While the Wooduo edges close to sibilance they sit a level abouve and the bass is just so much more.  So very much more, abundantly greater and wicth everybit the skill of the Crystals.

If these were a woman they would be J Lo.

Mids:  Good, actually really good.  Going side to side with other things the mids here feel rather comparatively distant.  They aren’t really ever taking centre stage even when Adel’s is singing.  She should be up front and dominating and she is not.  The bass isn’t really what I’d say dominating either but it should be behind her and her declarations of how unpleasant ever man she goes near treats her.  So if you’re a great big mid fan then there aren’t maybe for you but it’s not that they do bad job, far from it, they just are distant.  Clarity in the mids is rather good.  They may not have the grandest subtly that can be had at this price, veering towards the warm and heavy.  Delicate and airy vocals not so much.  They all come through the music very clearly it’s just not what they do best.  These much prefer the bounce and energy of more popy music.  Actually I’ll tell you when they do well, Mika.  Granted they don’t give him the air he should but his music often places is voice as what you ought to be focusing on and here despite lots going on elsewhere the vocals have no trouble shining through.  You really would think given how much bass there is it would over shadow everything but it just doesn’t.  Actually I seem to be quite quickly adjusting to the bass mid balance very rapidly.  Then of course swap to something else, anything else, and it seems so bass light in comparison.  It’s weird, normally this would all bother me and I’d be clamouring for more mids but it all somehow works.  Still the mids here while very capable aren’t the best your pennies can find you.

Highs:  I seem to be having a little trouble making my mind up.  These don’t quite have the delicate finesse that something like the RE-0 has but once you let your ears adjust they are pretty close.  The first when you put these in your ears don’t really hear the nuances beyond that big slamming bass.  Sure you get the noticeable spike and the edge of every high hat clearly audible.  The thing is when you aren’t swapping back and forth and give your ears a little time to naturally adjust then you begin to notice there is rather a lot of subtlety going on.  There is a wealth of detail in there.  You may have to listen a little to notice so it’s not exactly thrust at you but there really is a very surprising amount in there.  Listening to Mr Johnstons Good People the cymbal strikes and decay superbly well.  Such a thing is the forte of the better dynamics (BA things never get decay quite right I think.)  Overall here we are talking more about quality than quantity.  While it’s all clear and detailed it’s not the most readily apparent, probably because all that bass is what’s most noticeable.  I really can’t fault the quality in anyway but be aware the relative quantities mean its high end is relatively warm.  Delicate shimmer and decay more than it the rambunctious and sharp edges.

It may not be what it does truly best but it can hold its own comfortably.

Soundstage:  Rather large.  Even for a dynamic it’s on the big side, if I’m honest I’m having a little trouble disseminating how much its large sound stage and how much is down to its prodigious power.  Na, really it’s a combo of the two.  The mids if nothing else shows it can do quite the bit of distance.  Its good.  Instrument separation is very good, it seems to have a touch of a W shaped sound so the lows, mids and highs all sound very distinctly clear and separate. It’s again rather good especially given this amount of bass.

Fit:  I had no trouble,   they didn’t come with the worlds vastest range of tips but it was more than adequate.  Really just a case of finding your tip size and shoving them in.  they are vented but I had a touch of driver flex and air pressure issues.  Mostly because I was swapping them over repeatedly.

Comfort:  Good.  These gave me no trouble at all even if on occasion I thought that cable might.  These clearly weren’t intended to be worn over ear but I did anyway.

Cable:  Well…. It does look really nice but it’s one of those flat cables.  I have never really liked them.  I’ll admit it does look good but personally, I’d rather have the round one from the Popo’s.  It does feel quite study and the jack looks and feels very nice.

Microphonics:  Well if you wear them down you will get and quite a bit.  There is no chin slider too.  As always if you don’t like that then wear them up.

Accessories:  I don’t quite have a production pack so a handful of tips.  I have seen a photo of the case / box that will be coming I believe and it’s very different.  Perhaps not something for your pocket but I think its looks great.

Isolation:  Pretty decent for a dynamic.  As ever it’s a trade-off between isolation and venting.  I found these to be quite suitable for normal activities, on a bus walking about etc etc.  Enough to get you run over too if you haven’t learned to look when you’re crossing but not really the sort of thing for visiting auntie whatever in New Zealand. 

Amped/Unamped:  There was quite a reasonable difference.  With the use of better amps things just got cleaner, the bass better controlled and the highs had better finesse.  What really did make a difference to was the adding my old and faithful ety impedance adapter.  Does just the same things but with the addition of removing any hiss if your player has any. (The 1G shuffle does quite a bit.)  So if you have pair of these, buy one, best tenner you’ll spend.  Otherwise, amp is more take or leave.  Sure they improve but these sang perfectly well out of the shuffle without the impedance adapter so no not strictly required.

Value:  Well…. The product isn’t actually out so it’s a little hard to say exactly but I’d be willing to wager it’s going to be good.  The RRP is US$129 which is roughly £82, now in that price area I think GR07 is the one to beat and I’m not sure it does beat it per say.  They are so different you can’t really say either is better any more than you can say a sports car is better than a 4x4 (SUV for Americans) they just aren’t the same thing.  The Wooduo 2 is no middle of the read all-rounder.  It’s got a flavour and that’s either a flavour that works for you or it doesn’t.  Of course I mean that bass, its massive and superbly skilful in how it deals with all that low end, a seemingly endless depth and power.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard this much bass done this well.

Conclusion:  Somewhere in my head I want to use the term bass cannon.  The trouble is that’s usually a very negative term, you see bass cannons are all bit aimed at the lower ond of things.  You know for the “normal” people, the people then think Beat’s are good because more bass means better, right?  Well these do huge bass.  Swapping over to the IE7’s and they may shine in the mids but in the lows they in comparison sound so diminished and roll off so early.  You know because Sennheiser’s are known for lacking in the low end aren’t they.  Yes that how much bass the Wooduo 2’s have, it’s a lot.  Now I’m not sure I could really live with that amount forever but normally any time I’ve heard an IEM with this sort of quantity I run screaming for the hills.  The sheer quantity of air that can be moved  gets really tiring on my delicate little ears and usually the rule is the more bass there is the crapper it is. The quantity / quality seesaw.  Now personally I’m fine with that, I don’t personally want a ton of bass but there are a lot of people out there that do.  The number of Beats things that have been sold is testament to that. 

Now I would like to say that I have not heard the entire range of Beats products and most of what I have has not been for long.  In part because I thought the bass was going to collapse my skull.  What I think about the Wooduo 2 is (cable aside, I don’t like flat) is the Beats stuff done right.  They have bass in prodigious quantities and of exemplary quality.  The bass is really what these are about not to say the rest is not good, it is very good.  These will very happily serenade you with a little Susan Wong or Whitney Houston.  If you somehow could EQ out all that bass these would be still thought very highly of.  Back to the bass, that crazy bass.  You know I really ought to hate it but if I stop changing IEM’s and let my ears have an hour to adjust they are just fantastic.  I cannot fault the quality at all and I could almost even like the abundance.  Now this may be because most of my music isn’t vast bass heavy.  Hitting skip the first bass heavy thing I find is Making Ladies, Scissor Sisters and while I do find it bouncy fun song right now I’m not.  The bass is seriously powerful, too powerful, too much everything and for me this would be swiftly head ache inducing.

So we have established the bass on these is pretty stellar, its vast and if that floats your boat then these I think have got to be the best quality I’ve heard at this quantity level.   It’s so vast yet seriously good.  I think Sennheiser may have found some competition in the better quality but very bassy end of the market.  I can recall nothing quite like these.

Hisoundaudio Wooduo 2 Quick Review

Hisoundaudio Wooduo 2 Quick Review

Thanks to Hisoundaudio for the sample.

Brief:  Gargantuan bass meets quality.

Price:  RRP of US$129 or about £82

Specification:  Type: Dynamic, Driver Size: 7mm, Impedance: 16 ohm, Sensitivity: 108db Frequency Response: 19Hz – 22kHz (?)

Accessories:  I got a few pairs of tips but I don’t have a production set.

Build Quality:  Very nice.  I’m not a fan of the flat style cable but it does feel of a good quality and the jack feels super solid.  The buds look nice too.

Isolation:  Good but nothing stellar.  They are pretty good for dynamics which is fast becoming the norm.  It’s enough for normal use out and about or on a bus.  Not really what I’d go for visiting New Zealand but surely enough to make you road kill if you don’t look where you’re going.

Comfort/Fit:  Very good.  Fit I had a touch of bother with air pressure and venting but then I was pulling them out my ears every ten minutes.  With Comply’s on it was great.  Comfort too was great despite my wearing them up which they weren’t really intended for.

Aesthetics:  Depending on how you look at it good or so so.  These look very much like the Popo’s which are much cheaper.  Also they are wood and the cable is bright red and flat so very visually noticeable.  You either like that flashiness or you don’t.

Sound:  It’s all about the bass, the bass is why you’d by these or not.  No question.  The bass is nothing even approaching balanced, it’s vast.  You either like and want that or you don’t.  If we assume for a moment you do want that then these are superb.  I’m close to calling them bass cannons but that usually has negative connotations which is undeserved.  The quality here is such that I cannot fault it really, sure it can get a touch soft and flabby as you go really low but it goes lower than pretty much everything while giving you vast amounts.  The quantity is just massive and given that the quality holds op really marvellously well.  Mids are a touch distant but remain very open and clearly audible and in no way are subsumed into that big old bass.  The highs are very good too, a little behind that bass of course but once your ear gets used to it there is a very good amount of detail and clarity, it’s just not so obviously noticeable at first.  Still it won’t suit treble junkies.  It really is all about that bass.

Value:  With an RRP of US$129 or about £82 then there isn’t anything around there I can think of with the same attributes, i.e. that bass.  It may not be what id personally pick but if you love huge bass then the quality here is pretty much without compare at this abundance.  I’m not sure you’ll find a better sounding bass monster.

Pro’s:   Bass abundance, Bass quality, Bass depth.

Con’s:  Not in any way balanced.

Monday, 13 August 2012

NuForce NE-770X Review

NuForce NE-770X Review

Thanks to Nuforce for the sample


First Impressions:  Believe it or not this will actually be the first Nuforce IEM will have heard.  I know the original 700 made a big fuss when it came out but since I don’t live south of Canada they were not so freely available.  They did appear eventually as I’m sure these will to but as of yet I cannot find these anywhere in the UK.  Ebay naturally has them but it seems this could be a, if you’re not American you will have to hunt to find them.   They do look nice in their box even if it’s one of those horrid heat sealed packs you can’t open.  Check that, it’s not thank god.  Is it me or are these a little bit feminine looking?  Picking them up you can tell these aren’t metal, my god they weigh nothing! 

First listen and I’m not sure, hearty full bass there for sure.  Quite a heavy sound in fact.  Burn in time I think.

Source 1G iPod Shuffle with and without a 75 ohm adapter added


Lows:  There is no mistaking the low end here for something light and manoeuvrable.  It’s big, heavy and weighty.  It’s not an unpleasant sort of bass but I do find that if you go crazy with bass heavy music my ears get tired.  These babies like to shift a bit fat ton of air.  It’s warm too and soft.  It’s not one that’s aiming for a nimble punchy agility, it’s more akin to a big 4x4 trying to rattle round a racetrack.  It will get there and you are likely to have a lot of fun doing so.  If you like that sort of thing that is, this is no sleek sports car nimbly navigating the curves and corners, it’s a big old beast that hurls itself into everything and then slowly pulls itself back.  Is it what I love, no not so much.  But let’s face it I’m hardly Mr Average consumer when it comes to this sort of thing.  I think this product has been tuned with that type of person in mind and I bet they would love it.  It’s big, powerful, near gargantuan bass.  Massive scale and power are clearly apparent.  Sure it’s a bit soft and it’s not very quick but it’s a pretty cheap product.  It’s come down to just US$35, that’s pretty damn cheap, that’s at present £22 (of course if you want it in the UK expect significant postage costs as it will have to come from the US.)  That’s pushing GR99 prices.  The low end here is far deeper and more significant, a far more consumer friendly sound.  The depth here is really very good actually; it can reach down low if a little unevenly.  Maybe it’s growing on me.


Mids:  Given all that bass I’d have expected there to be some bass bleed but there really isn’t.  It has somewhat of a W shaped sound and the mids stay really rather separate from that big low end and manage to be remarkably clear.  Sure they are still all warm and thickish but for the money I can’t really fault it too much.  It has gone for a warm and weighty sound. Given the bit of space the mids have been given they still manage to a rather nice rendition of more dry vocals.  I’m trawling my brain for things of this cost that do better.  Actually the Tridents for one do but there is more drama here, maybe not in the mids per say but overall.  These are much more concerned with showing you a good time.


Highs:  Not the most abundant ever but still with a bit of a sparkle.  It all reminds me of the old traditional Sony style of sound, it was hugely popular for years and as sound signatures go it still is.  Stuff of this price range never excel when it comes to treble so I think its always best to not make it the centre of attention.  So here it’s a little a pushed back but with enough abundance and crispness to let you know what’s going on.  In a perfect world well it probably ought to be a little more abundant but better to have a reduced quantity than to have treble in spades and have it show up deficiencies.  Still it works, its competent, it’s not offensive.

Soundstage:  These sound positively massive.  Dynamics do soundstage well as a rule and these are excelling.  Just huge scale and volume for something so cheap.  Instrument separation is unusually good too.  These really make an impressive quick listen.


Fit:  No bother here.  I did feel I had a touch of air pressure issues so I slapped Comply’s on.  Its hayfever time so it’s more of a bother than it would normally be and my ears were in no mood for it.  Reviewing means pulling them out every 10 min to hear something else and it gets bothersome.  For normal use it would be just fine even in hayfever season.

Comfort:  Very good.  As I mentioned before these things weigh absolutely nothing.  Super light on the ear and I’d be surprised if anyone had any bother here.

Cable:  Erm its white, it’s ordinary.  It’s a good sturdy cable, it is pretty light and flexible.  The jack seems particularly sturdy.

Microphonics:  As usual I wore these up so I got none.  If you want to wear down you have a chin slider so you shouldn’t really get any.


Accessories:  Well not a lot.  3 sizes of tips and a little baggy.  You probably wouldn’t need any more tips than that anyway.  The little baggy, which I on principle don’t like, is unusual.  Every baggy I’ve ever seen has been black or dark brown but no not here, it’s white!  I can’t say how long it would stay white but I must confess its very eye catching and matches the white translucent buds perfectly.

Isolation:  So so, it’s a dynamic and for a dynamic it’s rather good.  I’m sure it would be enough for most people in most use case scenarios.  You know, on a bus, out and about stuff, in the gym maybe.  It’s likely enough to make you road kill if you’re not careful too but if I was flying to New Zealand it would not be my first choice.


Value:  Well if you in the US then it’s really quite fab value if you want a fun sound.  That you can’t buy it anywhere else in the world without having to post it half way round means that postage cost are a significant bump.  If I wanted to buy a pair of these right now, on ebay I see them for £22 but then I’d have to add £9.50 shipping which is almost a 50% bump.  If I lived between Mexico and Canada, Amazon would send me a pair for US$35 and free postage.  It’s quite a difference proportionally.  For $35 it’s a very fun bassy sound.  I’d expect these to fly off the shelves in an Apple store.

Conclusion:  Do love these?  No I don’t.  These just have too much bass for me to really get on well with them.  Its big bombastic powerful bass and I’m sure it would be loved by a great many people.  It has got a ton of power behind it, shedloads of power.  Its depth is impressively low.  It may soften as it goes but it likes to rumble like a sub and thunder out, powerful and weighty lows.  If that sounds like something that interest you then give it a bash.  It’s probably exactly how I would tune something if I wanted an IEM to have a popular consumer orientated sound.  This is just the sort of thing I’d expect to live in an Apple store.  It looks great, its white and it waylays any complaints anyone will have about earphones not having bass. 


The rest of the sound spectrum is pretty decent too.  It’s nice how the mids don’t get suffocated behind that big bass, I’d have expected them to somewhat.  Highs likewise come though without any trouble.  Everything on it surprisingly clear, the instrument separation was really very good.  It’s not exactly the most transparent IEM in the universe (nothing at this price is) so I’d have expected that as things get busy it would smear somewhat but everything stayed quite distinct.  The large soundstage too makes for an impressive sound.  Impressive may be in itself a good description for how these sound.  Again it’s not like I have loved them but they do certain things well.  Their bass is impressively powerful and deep.  Their sense of scale is dramatically impressive which their instrument separation again lends itself to.  The mids stay impressively clear too given the authority a bass line can command with these.  Visually these are impressive too, like them or not they are very different looking and eye catching.  Maybe a teeny weeny bit girly looking but given 52% of the world is girlies that’s not a problem.

Overall the NE-770X is a nice product.  It’s a nicely impressive product too.  Sure it is not a product for me but then it isn’t trying to be.  This is aimed squarely at the general public and its sound signature and impressively dramatic sound I’m sure will appeal.  The bass and its scale make a distinctly striking impression.  The average teen I’m sure would adore a set of these as the compliment well the sort of stuff filling the charts.  It’s just a shame you really have to be an American to be likely to find these.  Yes you can get them if you look but if you don’t know they exist you can’t look for them can you?  Still I don’t doubt Nuforce will shift plenty in the US.

NuForce NE-770X Quick Review

NuForce NE-770X Quick Review

Thanks to Nuforce for the sample

Brief:  Nuforce makes pretty plastic.

Price:  US$35

Specification:  Driver Size: 8mm, Impedance: 16 Ohms, Frequency Response: 20 to 20kHz,  Rated Power: 3mW, Max. Input Power: 5mW, Sensitivity: 102dB +/- 3db, Plug: 3.5mm,    Weight (without packing): 12 grams, Length: 54 inches

Accessories:  3 pairs of single flange ear-tips (2 small, 2 medium, 2 large),(note: I got two pairs of each so double what it says you should) Carrying case (the baggy)

Build Quality:  Nice, super light polycarbonate. If anything they feel disturbingly light even if it looks flawless.  It all feels nicely put together and you get a 1 year warranty too.

Isolation:  Decent.  It’s rather good for a dynamic but it’s nothing stellar.  Easily enough for normal day to day stuff, just not maybe for flying to New Zealand.

Comfort/Fit:  I did have a tiny bit of venting issue but nothing much really.  Other than that these were great.  Comfort was especially good as they weigh nothing.

Aesthetics:  I’ve seen it written that these seem cheap and plastic, I don’t agree.  Clearly they are not metal but the polycarbonate I rather like.  It clearly isn’t some cheap whatever plastic, it’s stupid light and it looks rather eye catching.  Its semi translucent nature just looks so different and I for one like it. 

Sound:  Big.  This has a grand old scale happening and it is thunderously powerful in the low end.  It likes to put on the drama and roar.  Its low end is a bit too much for me, it’s too big too soft and too abundant.  It’s just too much.  The bass however I could see really being very appealing to many, its big party bass pounding out a fierce low end.  The mids are not bad, they stay very unencumbered by that big bass which is nice.  They are still a bit on the warm and thicker side of things.  Dry can be done but it’s not where these are at their best.  Highs are not bad, not exactly amazing either.  Capable, clearly audible and above all, inoffensive.  The soundstage and instrument separation are both very impressive and done well.  It creates a dramatic abundance of sound that is all about having a good time.

Value:  Great if you’re in the US and you can get it for US$35.  Elsewhere postage costs add proportionally quite a bit.  Still it’s got that big party bass and soundstage if that’s your thing.

Pro’s:   Party bass, party soundstage, drama, pretty.

Con’s:  More about fun that accuracy, hard to get if you’re not American.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Vsonic GR01 Review

Vsonic GR01 Review

Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample

First Impressions:  This, unusually is being written many weeks after the first time I heard them as I had a mishap.  Thu very first day I tried them I was meeting a friend.  When we met I pulled them out but left them dangling over my ears.  As we walked along I felt something fall but thought nothing of it, it was only when we sat down I realised that the end had come undone and fallen off.  I now have another end sent out by Vsonic (Frogbeats couldn’t as they didn’t have GR01’s in stock yet, I got their one and only.)  So now all I can say from those weeks ago is that I was impressed.  As impressed as I’ve come to expect from Vsonic who are just slaying the competition this year.  I’m beginning to wonder if Vsonic have created a clone of me somewhere and are tuning things just for me?

This review almost became a rant about the difficulty in getting the end bits off Vsonic but it’s not an issue paying customers are likely to have as they would deal with their retailers and the sound.  The sound pretty much makes all forgiven.


Source 5G iPod Video line out through a Practical Devices XM5 with LM6171 opp amps

Lows:  Practically perfect.   There are a bunch of caveats to that naturally, this is a BA so it lacks the thunderously capable lows of the GR07 but they feel so much more rounded than those of its cousins.  By cousins I mean other dual BA things like the DBA-02 and q-JAYS.  It feels really quite full bodied and effortless, no punching hard to give all the impact it can in some act of desperation, no desperate yearning for me to hit the bass boost button.  The balance is just superb.  Sure it’s a little BA and it can go low but it isn’t a big air mover and it doesn’t go all the way down.  It seems to roll off gently as it goes down to better cope with the range were it can perform well.  Its the right thing to do and aside from the Custom 3 is the only dual BA that doesn’t make me want to hit that bass boost button.  Of course you could if you want to but unlike the DBA-02 and my long loved q-JAYS they both kinda need it.  This gives such a more natural feel to the low end.  Its quick as you would expect from a BA but it’s not so lighting fast like the CK10 that blink and it’s been and gone, they have slowed it a touch to be a little more dynamic like and it works.  It works so well!  This a flawless all rounder, its fast but not too fast, full but not soft etc etc.  You know the drill by now with Vsonic stuff, its walks a fine line of nothing too much in any direction and just enough of everything to do everything pretty much perfectly.

This is for me the best and most low end friendly dual BA you can buy at present.  The KC3 was maybe a smidge better but Klipsch don’t make it anymore.  It’s so well rounded it’s not funny.


Mids:  Like everything from Vsonic.  Not too much this, not too much that, yada yada yada.  It’s not silky smooth and flowing like the SE530 or RE-262 and it’s not hyper open and dry like the CK10 or RE-272 so if you like something at one of those extremes then this way not be for you. But……. If you want something tuned so perfectly to sit in the middle it can nail both then this could be the one.  Again it’s not as good things that suit either end of the style spectrum but since most normal folk don’t have a different IEM for every style then I’m really hard pressed to think of anything better than these.  These easily beat the GR07, pass the q-JAYS and they even beat the KC3 which has long sat in my opinion had some of the best mids out there.  Yes ladies and gentlemen the GR01 really is that good.  Voices sing at all ranges, from the low male stuff to the high girlies and all are handled admirably.  I must confess they aren’t the most nuanced and detailed though, the cold crispness of the CK10 are much more detail orientated and here things are a touch soft focused.  Not that I find that to be a problem these are more about enjoying than analysing.  Of course at the other end they lack the sultry allure of things like the SE530 too.  Nothing can do everything as good as the best at all musical types.  This may be as close as I have seen though.


Highs:  Dual BA things are generally known for being bass light and treble happy.  It’s not a rule as the KC3 bucked that trend but otherwise has largely held to be the case.  I’m pretty treble sensitive so things like the DBA-02, while others loved it, I found it hard and tiring on my ears.  There is little of that here.  The treble is as in line with the mids and bass as you could hope for.  It’s a touch diminished at the very top particularly in comparison to its cousins.  This means no hard, abrasiveness shattering in ears.  Yet all the detail is still there, sure it’s less obviously noticeable as it isn’t being hurled at you the way others can.  This is about the most refined treble I’ve heard on a dual BA.  For me it was one area the KC3 lacked as it rolled of a bit much and the lovely q-JAYS got a bit brittle.  The DBA-02 I never liked much, brittle and bright and blasted at you like a treble cannon.  Here you get the best of both words, spades of detail but none of the brutal aggressiveness.  It’s another truly fantastic tuning job that Vsonic have pulled off. 

Of course if you like that crazy bright and detail being hurled at you then you may find this a touch timid. Likewise if you really want that warm, rolled off high end then maybe it’s not for you either but I’d be willing to bet its balanced enough to make both camps happy.  It is that good.


Soundstage:  The slightly softer, less abrasive detail cannon type sound makes these sound rather larger and fuller than most dual BA’s.  They do a good sense of scale and can do side to side well but it’s more like a cylinder running through my head.  They don’t give you the vast scale that the top end dynamics can.  BA rarely do give you vast impression of space.  Neither is better, just a preference.

Fit:  These do want to sit rather deep so be prepared for that, they also have slightly large nozzles for a deep seated IEM.  I didn’t have trouble with either but I did rather quickly swap to Comply’s.  When reviewing you pull things out rather often and swap to have a listen something else and been so deep and with silicon tips got tiring very fast.  You probably wouldn’t have that issue.  They also were happy to be worn up despite the angle of the cable being directed so that they would rather sit down.


Comfort:  Constantly pulling these out did make my ears sore from the pressure but Comply’s sorted that and unless your pulling them out all the time it’s not likely to bother you.  Other than that they were fine but they want to sit deep.  Practically Ety deep so if you don’t like that be warned.

Cable:  Hmm it’s a bit thin but it seems to work well.  I’d have preferred the sturdy one from the GR07 but then since these should be worn down it may be then too heavy.  The Y splitter and jack look functional but neither scream sturdy.


Microphonics:  Wearing these up as I do you don’t really get any but wearing down, you get a lot and no chin slider.  I don’t know why you would wear them down though.

Amped/Unamped:  These are good enough that they deserve to be amped and they do get rather noticeable better for it too.  They are fine of course from a normal source too but they won’t truly come to life until you throw some power at them.  Give them good bit rates, good sources and a good amp and you’ll be getting close to the best.  Adding impedance however did not help, many things with crossovers react is unexpected ways and here they sound peculiar.  Your welcome to try it but I certainly would not suggest you buy an impedance adapter for these, it does nothing positive.


Isolation:  The traditional trade off with things sitting brain implant deep is that the isolate like mofo’s.  These are no exception.  Screaming child or roaring jet engine nearby?  Slap these in and POOF! It’s gone.  The kind of thing you do want if you visiting New Zealand and as ever my precautionary, so very easily enough to make you a road stain if you don’t look where you are going.  You will not hear that bus or truck until you hear it impact your skull.


Accessories:  Here I am a touch disappointed.  While you get a crazy number of tips (13 pairs) the case you get is just a little baggy.  As baggy’s go it’s quite nice but this is a relatively high end IEM and deserves better.  I know you can just go on fleabay and get one but given the likes of the amazing cases DUNU give you it’s a shame.  It wouldn’t stop me buying a pair though.

Value:  So these are rather new and as such you can’t really find them freely available, I know Frogbeats haven’t been able to get their hands on stock and I know of nowhere in the UK that has.  At current exchange rates these appear to be coming in at around £130 with is rather more than their closest competition (Brainwavz B2) which sit around £100.  Are these 30% technically better?  Well no, probably not but I found them to be at least 30% more enjoyable.  These take where the B2 was going and just do it better but I can’t deny the B2 is great too.  It’s splitting hairs though, both are tremendous value and I would have no trouble suggesting if you have £130 to spend you should really look at these.  They are worth every penny and many, many more.


Conclusion:  These are true to form for Vsonic.  They manage to walk a line that is in the middle and yet gives you the very best elements of every sound signature and style without giving you much in the way of down sides.  Its remarkable how they keep doing it but they have done it again.  This IEM is probably the best dual BA out there.  I like this even more than I do my two former favourites, the KC3 and the q-JAYS.  They both had faults, some glaring faults (yes Klipsch I’m looking at you and your coat hanger wire!!!  The worst cable on anything, ever.  Honestly I’ve seen better coat hangers.)  I have said it before but when you get to the higher end things it’s not about what they do well but what they don’t make mistakes on.  In the q-JAYS it was the brittle highs which is a common complaint with dual BA IEM’s.  The Brainwavz B2 went some way to curing that but Vsonic and their magic blend of crack and fairy dust have got it just spot on.  So often manufactures take a balanced armature and try to make it sound like a dynamic and manage to kill the good things about armatures, speed and accucacy, yet still not give you the qualities of a dynamic that a dynamic won’t do for better.  A worst of both scenario.  Vsonic are doing something as these, like the GR07 before them, are just spot on.  Just exactly where you want things to be to hit all bases.  I don’t know how they are doing it but they are doing something very right.

They have managed in the GR01 to take the very common TWFK series of drivers and make something truly different.  It’s no secret that I never really loved the DBA-02 or the CK10 (although I’m willing to admit the CK10 is truly superb, just very not to my tastes) but the GR01 gives you practically all the same detail as treble cannons like the DBA-02 with none of the ear ravaging ferocity and aggressiveness.  What’s even better is it takes all that over exuberance from up top and somehow (with the aid of dark forces I’m sure) transforms it to a more rich and full low end that’s truly listenable.  Even more shockingly, listenable without the bass boost button in use!  Only the KC3 has managed that before and it just didn’t have the skill in the highs that this has.  This is for all intents practically perfect, I can’t find anything that I’d consider a fault.  There is just nothing it has trouble at, nothing! 


Of course the trouble being with being an all rounder is that you can’t ever truly excel at anything in particular,  for instance the CK10 is far better for analysing, the SE530 so much more enjoyable for Nora Jones and the IE8 so much more entertaining for Lady Gaga.  They however while excelling truly at something’s just plain don’t suit others.  Does anyone out there use a pair of IE8’s for Nora?  Sure you can but that’s not where their talents lay.  I’ve yet to find anything the GR01 can’t handle and handle well.  The last thing I heard that was so masterful at this was the GR07.  It was the greatest all rounder I’d heard, now I have to hand that crown over to its newer sibling.  So long as you’re willing to trade a little power in the low end, the dynamic in the 7 can simply move a lot more air but for the additional detail I’m happy to. 

It’s all so good I’ve almost forgotten to mention the filter issue.  These still aren’t out in the wild much but I did on first use have the silver filter housing fall off and getting another was a time consuming pain.  It’s the one real fly in the ointment but one that’s easily fixed and given how they sound its one (whether I like it or not) I find I’ve forgiven.  These are probably the best dual BA IEM money can buy.  I like these so very, very much.