Pros: Comfortable, Fairly Balanced Sound, Solid Isolation
Cons: A Bit Sibilant, Housing Cable Relief Requires Care
GR07, Vsonic's statement in the IEM world. Featuring a Sony-licensed 11mm bio-cellulose driver, it was unlike anything out in the market. IEM's have come and gone, upon release many get hyped and overrated, but loose their sparkle over time. GR07 has proven to be able to withstand time, because it is simply a great product. At this time, despite the VC1000, GR07 is still considered the flagship product and has been mentioned to be the most proud achievement by Vsonic's CEO [interview linked on the bottom]. Time has passed and after the first GR07, a Mark II was released but then discontinued for the now GR07 Classic and GR07 Bass Editions. Both of which have the lower prices at 100$ and 130$ respectively, whereas the other models were about 180$. Here I'll be looking into both of the latest iterations of the GR07 and how they stand in today's competitive market. To note, the GR07 Bass Edition is about 30$ more than the Classic Edition as mentioned, I'll get into whether the price difference is worth the added cost.
Packaging & Accessories
Packaging is done quite well and it is presented quite nicely. Though to note, the previous packaging of the first iteration of the GR07 was quite nicer, but no big issue here. For tips, you get the Vsonic exclusive "Sony Hybrid" style tips of different colors, though these have wider bore than the Sonys. A set of single flanges, a double flange pair and a pair of foam tips. Then you get ear-guides and a soft pouch. Unluckily, there's another downgrade here as the first GR07 was packaged with a hard clam-shelled case, much nicer than the current pouch. I personally didn't have any luck with these ear-guides as I found them to be uncomfortable and slid off the cable too easily. Overall, I think you get a good array of extras here and packaging is done well.
For the Classic Edition you get three color choices as shown below with a gray cable, while the Bass Edition only comes in black with a gray/red cable . The housings are plastic but feel quite sturdy and you get a metal nozzle that is adjustable. This is currently exclusive to Vsonic [Though Vivo XE800 borrowed this from Vsonic] and makes fit a bit easier for the user, an innovation from Vsonic that makes this IEM more "special". It is definitely something very clever, that simply works. I find the cable great on these, it's sturdy and quite ergonomic. Strain reliefs on the plug are done well as is the y-split. Problem lies in the strain relief on the housing, according to a user here, the Vsonics aren't protected by a tangle inside of the shell [as is done on a lot of IEMs]. So if the housing is held in place and the cable is pulled too hard, it may just disconnect inside the housing more easily than expected. I recommend treating this area with care and taking them off your ears from the housing. Overall, build quality is solid but there are some competitors providing removable cables at a similar price. Of course, they also won't give you the great sound these Vsonics possess. I would handle these with some care, though it is tough in some respects. To note, the cable does tend to get green with time due to oxidation.
Comfort & Isolation
These can only practically be worn over-the-ear, so that's something to note. Because their 6k peak in the treble does decrease with a deeper fit [more on this later], I wear them in that deep manner and while it is comfortable for the most part, there is some ear fatigue, though the fact that they're small and lightweight helps a lot. I use Phonak single flanges, but the stock hybrid style tips, Sony Hybrids and MH1 tips in small all worked for me as long as I got a deep fit. For a foam option, I recommend Comply T200.
Isolation is solid on these but don't expect it to isolate like a fully sealed IEM. While the ER4 isolates -43db, the GR07 isolates about 24-28db in my experience.
These are meant to be a studio monitor and by their signature it shows. I find it to be generally flat, with a mild bass boost accompanied by a midhigh spike and higher treble that is well extended but a bit laid back. InnerFidelity's graph, shows a well matched IEM between channels, with low distortion, portraying a quality driver in these. Efficiency on these is solid, expect it to get loud enough on quiet recordings from your portable player for the most part. On a very quiet old classic song I have, I do wish these would get a bit louder from my iPhone, but generally, volume should be no issue. I found these to sound best with tips that have a bore size that's about the same as nozzle's opening. If the opening of the tip is too large, expect the treble spikes to get bigger due to a horn effect.
[setup: Deep Fit>Phonak Single Flange tips or Sony Hybrid tips in small>iPhone6
bass: This is where the difference between the Classic Edition and Bass Edition lies. When I first heard Vsonic were releasing a "Bass Edition" of the GR07, I wasn't all that interested. I found the bass balance to be adequate and was expecting them to boost the bass to levels to where the midrange will affected as it's usually the case. What actually occurred, was a very subtle boost in the subbass, midbass stays about the same. The boost is gradual from about 80hz all the way down [graph shown below]. I always found the GR07 to lack a bit of subbass, this Bass Edition remedies that and tastefully so. Upon comparing the two, I now understand the 30$ difference between the two. The Bass Edition is simply the definitive edition of the GR07. That's not to say, there's a huge difference, get to the other regions and the two editions are identical and as mentioned, the subbass boost is small. Those who want to experience the sound of the GR07 for the lowest price possible, opt for the Classic Edition, those wanting the best the GR07 can offer, should spend a little more for the Bass Edition.
midrange: Midrange is nice and detailed here with a small hint of warmth. It is well represented and a little laid back. I'll say for the most part, these regions are done tastefully so. Midrange is neither too far back in the mix or too forward.
treble: Here lies my main criticism of the GR07. Get to 6k and there's an apparent spike, insert the IEM too shallow another spike is at 8.5k. I was able to tame the 8.5k spike with a deep fit, but the 6k spike remains apparent despite of this, though also tamed a bit. The treble is bit grainy as it kind of dips between it's spikes. Treble extension is good, but could use a wee bit more air. Despite the spikes, the treble isn't that offensive with a deep fit, it's apparent, but never becomes really abrasive whereas an IEM like the Sony MDR-EX1000 can be. The treble does carry good presence and maintains the relatively flat response quite well for the most part.
The GR07CE/BE aren't necessarily spacious, they have a more laid back, subtle sound, with only some soundstage width. The driver is fast and does image instruments fairly well, but I found it to fall short compared to certain BA IEMs. GR07BE has great extension at both ends, though I would have liked a slightly more extended treble, for a more airy sound. Overall, it's timbre is nice, though I found it to lack a bit of definition with higher pitched instruments.
Below comparisons are done with GR07BE.
Ostry KC06 Comparison: The bass edition of the GR07 portrays quite realistic sub-bass, a bit less in quantity compared to a modded KC06, with more realistic sub-bass compared to a stock KC06. The midbass levels are similar, with the GR07BE having a bit more bass control, with the KC06 having a little more warmth, midbass to lower midrange. The 1-2k region sounds a bit more refined on the GR07, overall the higher midrange sound similar between the two, with the GR07BE being a wee bit more refined. Get to the overall treble and the GR07BE has two apparent peaks, one at 6k and another at 8.5k. KC06 has peaks at 8.5 and 10k. I found the GR07BE to be peakier overall, with a deep fit and Sony-Hybrid tips I was able to tame the 8.5k peak but the 6k peak remains quite present. With the Comply S200, KC06's 8.5k peak is tamed and the 10k peak became minor. The KC06 has better treble extension, sounding more airy and open in these high frequencies, though a bit splashier than the GR07's treble despite being less sibilant. Overall, the KC06 simply sounds a bit more refined in the high regions with a smoother, more extended treble. Soundstage depth sounds a bit better on the GR07BE, but the KC06 is wider and more airy. To note, the KC06 also sounds more dynamic, overall it's a more engaging sound while being about just as balanced. On the contrast, there is some finesse on the GR07, the KC06 lacks, it's more subtle but a bit more refined. Hard to pick a winner here, the GR07BE's bass and lower midrange sounds more mature, while the KC06 sounds better in the higher midrange and treble.
Dunu DN1000 Comparison:Here the Dunu carries more weight as it's bass it's more filled in the sub-bass. A friend of mine here mentioned that he found the DN1000's bass as slower, I agree to some extent but it's subtle, but can see where he's coming from. The bass of the DN1000 hits harder overall, so it appear to linger more, there's more reverb here. The bass of the GR07BE is a bit more neutral, but I found the DN1000's more subbass oriented bass more euphoric. The midrange of the DN1000 has a bit more warmth and it's also a bit more forward, compared to the more laid back GR07BE. In the treble the DN1000 does have a big peak that extends from 7-10k, so it can be as sibilant as the GR07BE. But these peaks can be tamed a lot more, than the GR07's. This means it's more finicky with tips, but the potential is there. After finding the best tip/insertion depth combination for both, the DN1000 simply sounded more defined in the higher frequencies. Mild sibilance due to it's 10k peak on DN1000, but the GR07BE was more offensive and yet a bit more subdued in certain regions in the high frequencies. Treble extension is better on the Dunu, so it sounds more airy and spacious While some may find the GR07BE's bass balance to be preferred, I found the DN1000 to be more rounded in the midrange and highs, with a more spacious soundstage with better instrument placement. While the GR07BE bested the previous hybrid, I would have to give it to Dunu here, though it is about 55-70$ more expensive. Outside of sound, the GR07 is much more comfortable, with smaller, lighter housings, compared to the bulky and heavy Dunu DN1000.
Here I show how the GR07 Bass and Classic Editions will graph using the latest Olive-Welti in-room compensation. I superimposed InnerFidelity's data for this result and did some averaging in addition to sine sweeps. It is not meant to be 100% accurate. Things change with insertion depth, though all in all I feel this portrays the overall tonality quite well. I found this data useful for EQing as well, though the 10 peak is lowered to 8.5k with a more shallow fit based on tone sweeps I did for these.
For under 150$, no other IEM plays the intended role of a studio montior of the GR07 [BE&CE] as well as these. They give that monitor sound, with a great comfort and isolation. I have my criticism in it's build quality and sound to some extent. With some cable failures being reported once in a while and the treble peaks, but regardless of this, I have great respect for this product. I just recommend to treat them with some care and insert them as deeply as you can with comfort. Time has passed, IEMs have come and go, being hyped and then disappearing, but these are still being recommended, and for good reason....
I would like to thank user UnityisPower for loaning me the GR07 BE!!