Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Vsonic VC02 Review

Vsonic VC02 Review

First Impressions:  Vsonic are certainly putting more effort into presentation.  The box looks rather impressive for not a lot of money and you seem to get a ton of tips.  The tips I must confess I absolutely love.  The “Sony Hybrid” style of tips have been around for a while.  They have a black otter sheath and the core is a colour corresponding to size and length.  Vsonic have swapped that over so you got the bright colour on the outside.  Not only does it make it quicker to tell what’s what but the look fab.  Okay I can see it boing an issue if you love colour X but colour Y are the ones that fit you.

Onto listening, I’ve been waiting to hear these with anticipation as they have had much positive praise and it’s a Vsonic.  Every Vsonic I’ve heard has just smashed it for sound to £ so I’m expecting these to superb for the money.  First thoughts are not that great.  Maybe they want a burn in maybe I’ve just set my expectations too high?  Everyone else seem to just adore them so maybe it’s me?

N.B.  This is actually the second review I’ve written for the VC02.  The only bit that’s the same is what’s above.  I had fit and sinus issues with these.

Source 1G iPod Shuffle with and without a 75 ohm adapter added, FiiO E7/E9 combo and the Fireye DA.

Lows:  For something with such a tiny driver you might think that they may have some trouble low down.  Maybe they won’t sound full or go reach down deep.  You’d be perfectly reasonable in your assumptions but you’d also be wrong.  You see because these fit like a BA’ I mean they are sealed and they need to go in brain implant deep (I’m not joking) there is almost no air for them to move.  The tiny little air pocket in your year means these stay superbly taught for something so very, very cheap.  The bass also has great articulation and nuance.  It lacks the rock solid rigidity of a good BA but you’d never think to complain when you’ve paid this little.  Granted you may be unhappy with the quantity of bass, its sitting at more or less monitor quantities (a bit more) which while accurate isn’t what everyone wants.  The quality though is what I’ve come to expect from Vsonic, the depth is particular here is first rate.  Being soooooo sealed it can reach all the way down.  Combined with its agility, texture and balance between speed and fullness it’s a stellar combo.  Vsonic are really becoming the IEM maker to hope to match when it comes to sound quality per £.

Mids:  Male or female, it really doesn’t matter the VC02 shines.  I might say they actually are fractionally better with richer, so more frequently, male vocals.  These haven’t quite got the outright clarity to do very breathiest, airiest vocals out there but I’m really thinking about things like the RE-0.  These just don’t have the same detail, nor the openness.  Vocally the only slight complaint I might make is the lack of air and space to them.  These are very sealed and that has an acoustic payback.  Not really to say it’s a flaw, it’s an acoustic choice and the price you pay for high isolation.  The detail levels are not quite at good introductory BA IEM’s but still pretty flawless.  You have to keep in mind that these are so cheap because everything I’m comparing them to in my head cost more and even then those that are great in the mids can’t perform as adeptly in the lows.  In BA things as you bump the low end quantity the mid clarity nosedives but here its god spades of both.  It’s a bargain stunner.

Highs:  You know me, I’m a bit treble sensitive and here they slip up a little.  Vsonics often have a little flair in the lower highs to emphasise the edge of a note.  These do that too but they don’t quite have the same flair as its more costly siblings and I find these can be a touch abrasive.  Not ear ravaging monsters but on treble heavy songs these don’t give me a tableau of delicate shimmering light dancing across a moonlight pond.  Think more that pond, but it’s at a fish farm and someone’s just thrown in a scoop of fish food.  When the treble gets splashy and abundant that edge become just too evident for my ears.  The extension I think suffers a bit too.  For the money its fine and the detail that’s here is tremendous.  The problem again is that in my head I’m comparing it to the likes of the RE-0.  Just stay away from the most busy and treble abundant music and this is really impressive in a way I’ve come to expect from Vsonic.

Soundstage:  Not very big.  Being soooooo deep seated these don’t have expansive space, they are rather larger and fuller sounding than you’d think for being so in the brain but open and shallow fitting things pretty much always do this rather better.  Instrument placement is fine, very good for the price.

Fit:  This might be a bit longer than usual.  Remember I said this was the second review I’d written?  This it seems is the reason why.  I have had the VC02 for weeks and taken forever to write it up as I just did not get on with it.  Frankly I just was not hearing what everyone else was.  I tried every tip in the box, several others too and they all gave me the air pressure not equalising problem.  They just wouldn’t equalise.  It left them muffled and the highs particularly abrasive no matter what I did.  I only solved this by discovering that getting some foam tips (I had already done so) and sticking these in deep, very, very deep.  Deep enough that these aren’t super comfortable.  These you see while being very narrow  bodied have a wide tip.  It’s also deep enough that it concerns me that while removing them I could lose a tip in my ear.  Sure as hell not something I’d want to have to pull out my ears in a hurry.

Comfort:  Not painful per say but unpleasantly deep and for that depth the nozzle is too wide.  Given a couple hours and I want them out.  I’m sure you would get used to this as a friend used to use a pair of ER-4’s with the triple flanges daily without issue.  I called them the Ear Rape 4’s with those tips.  Still I’m pretty used to things in my ears and these bothered me.

Cable:  A bit on the thin side, nicely flexible and most unusually at this price detachable.  So should you break it you can get a replacement.  Yey for replaceable cables!

Microphonics:  Wear them down and there is just tons.  You can wear them up even though clearly the design isn’t meant to be.  I couldn’t stand it wearing them down but wearing up mostly fixes the problem.

Accessories:  Tips, tips, tips galore!  You get 7 pairs of the fancy coloured hybrids, 3 pairs of more typical silicon tips and a silicon biflange pair.  You get a shirt clip (you’ll need if you wear them down) and a little baggie.  I’d rather have seen a real case but hey, what’s ebay for?  Also for all the tips they come with I still needed to use comply’s.  Sealed and rubber tips don’t work for me.

Isolation:  For a dynamic its utterly first rate.  It’s up there with BA stuff.  They are sealed and can go in deep.  The sort of thing you’ll be fine with for just about anything.  Even okay for a daily Tube commute or long flight.  Just remember you’ll easily get run over as you will not hear any traffic coming up behind you with these in.

Amped/Unamped:  They made some changes but as next to nothing so I’d hardly bother.  Adding impedance made a nice little difference to the top end however.

Value:  Other than the fact I just found a pair of GR04’s for £24 I’d say these were pretty unbeatable.  At £32 these are every bit as good as I’ve come to expect from Vsonic.

Conclusion:  This review is very different to the one I wrote first.  So while this one is pretty glowing of the sound quality of the VC02 it’s prefaced with a gigantic caveat, you have to shove them in so deep to get them sounding right, at least I did.  I normally don’t have any issue shoving things in deep, I’m pretty used to it in fact.  Still with these it took seeing someone else comment on the need to stick them brain implant deep.  Frankly, the nozzle width is not conducive to that depth, not for my ears anyway.  From what I’ve read it seems to be a rare thing that anyone’s had problems with these but I certainly did.  I often have sinus trouble and so for me sealed dynamics often don’t mesh well with my ears.  So for me I was about to reject these as just not working for me at all.  Turned out they just needed for me to be placed unpleasantly deep.  So deep I don’t think I’ll ever use these again once this review is done.  I’m not happy with it, physically and the fear that the tips will get stuck in my ear. 

Fit aside, these are really impressive.  Acoustically these are just what I’ve come to expect from Vsonic in that they are soooooo cheap and sound jaw dropping good.  Even with the change of acoustic signature here, the move to a more monitor like balance with a tiny tint to the low end yet still outstanding.  Every review I have seen about these has been outstanding and I can see why. Vsonic are like acoustic crack yet dishing it out at a price that beats everyone else.  Granted you don’t get the Dunu like bundles, the little baggy you get is just rubbish but I don’t care at all.  The audio quality here is first rate, beyond first rate for what they cost and I can see the VC02 doing what the GR06 did.  Being so hard to get a hold of the price went up quite a bit.  That’s not how prices are supposed to go. 

Still, that caveat I mentioned.  Now it seems that it’s been rather few people that have any trouble with these but these are dynamics and they are sealed.  If that’s a combo that’s given you issue before then be warned. 

Acoustically these are stunners.  Like most of what Vsonic have done, they sound superb and are priced at a level that batters the competition.  These may not be tuned to be as bassy as some would like but there is the GR line for that.  Sound wise these punch so far about their price that it’s just not funny, not funny at all if you’re trying to compete with them that is.

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