Pros: Excellent Bass Quality and Quantity, Well Balanced Sound Signature, Great Selection of Accessories
Cons: Occasionally Prone to Mild Sibilance, Bass Rumble Might Be Fatiguing for Some
VSONIC is a well-known name in audiophile circles, with rave reviews coming from their GR07 monitors, which have recently seen an upgraded Mark II version and, the version I’ll be covering today, the Bass Edition. As a natural basshead, I was intrigued when I saw the GR07 Bass Edition earphones on sale a couple months ago and my curiosity got the better of me and I purchased a pair. Prior to these, I’ve never heard a VSONIC product but I’d heard virtually nothing but good things about them pretty much everywhere I went. So…yeah, I didn’t make the jump blindly.
So, what do I think of the VSONIC GR07 Bass Edition in ear monitors? Read on to find out.
The GR07 Bass Edition comes with a number of accessories, including a wealth of tips in various sizes and types. There are seven pairs of standard Sony hybrid style tips, three pairs of foam stuffed Sony hybrid style tips, three pairs of silicone tips, a pair of biflange tips and one pair of Shure olive-esque gray foam tips. I can scarcely imagine someone being unable to find a comfortable and proper fit with this massive selection of tips. And to top it all off, VSONIC includes a carrying bag and a pair of rubber earhooks.
I wish VSONIC had included a standard zippered clamshell case but really, I’m just nitpicking. The accessory pack included with these is rivaled only by my Monster Miles Davis Tributes.
Design and Build Quality
These employ a non-standard brand of dynamic driver, namely bio-cellulose drivers that have been seen in other headphones and earphones such as the Creative Aurvana Live! and, perhaps most famously, the Sony R10, a classic and coveted audiophile headphone.
So what does this mean in terms of design? Well, very little, at least to the end user as many won’t know and likely fewer will care. The sound quality is what makes or breaks an IEM (at least in my book) and though I certainly praise unique ideas, I care more about how those innovations pay off in how an IEM sounds. But, of course, we’ll get to that.
Moving on, the GR07 Bass Edition is composed of nondescript black plastic housings and a red and silver candy cane style cable, jumping back and forth between standing out and not. The housings themselves feel sturdy and durable and are unique due to the fact that the nozzle itself is adjustable. I’ve never seen that before on an earphone and this makes them adaptable to a range of different ear shapes. While one might worry about the fragility of such a design, I’ve not encountered any problems and on the whole, the Bass Edition seems well built and durable.
Comfort and Isolation
The fit is a bit tricky, at least for me, but manageable. Once they’re seated, they’re fairly comfortable and isolate a bit more than a standard vented dynamic driver IEM. Microphonics are mostly non-existent with the over the ear fit and soft cables.
Burn in: These have been burned in for over 300 hours prior to review. Now I’m a bit skeptical of burn in on the whole as I’ve only heard a couple of headphones and in ear monitors in which burn in resulted in an actual change. The GR07 BE is one of them. In the early going, it was rather unpleasantly sibilant and needed a few dB worth of equalizing to bring them to non-fatiguing levels. Now, I don’t need any equalization at the same volume levels and with the same tracks. So, allow these to burn in for a while before you judge them.
This was a difficult review to write, as describing the way these sound is much more difficult than I expected it to be when I sat down to type this review. On one hand, these are among my favorite IEMs with a pleasing, amazingly detailed but mostly smooth, thin but a touch warm sound signature with just enough low end emphasis to tilt things towards the euphonic, rather than pure linearity. The result is an earphone that’s more tuned for sonic enjoyment than monitoring and an IEM I imagine will please just about anyone who listens to them.
Though these are the “Bass Edition”, they don’t offer up huge amounts of bass, instead opting to go the “emphasized but controlled” route. Rumble and texture is top notch, giving these a low end that surprises in its ability to present sub bass on the same level as midbass. There’s no distracting midbass hump here and the low end is quite linear in its emphasis, with an almost balanced armature like tightness but pleasantly dynamic reverb and speed without ever getting muddy or congested.
In terms of bass quantity, it has just the right amount to appeal to the casual listener and the audiophile alike. Those expecting bass on the level of the Future Sonics Atrios or Monster Miles Davis Tributes should look elsewhere but if more analytical ‘phones like the RE0 or Phonak PFE didn’t have enough bass for you, these should fit the bill.
The GR07 BE mids are, typical of monitors, a bit thin but detailed and refined. They’re just a bit warm but linear and impressively clear. Their emphasis on clarity gives them a slightly dry character, shying away from the liquid smoothness of the RE-262 or PFE but still remain quite entertaining on the whole. Due to their clarity and excellent detail retrieval, these are also quite transparent and revealing of flaws. With high quality tunes, this is a non-issue, but if your tunes are subpar, these will bring their deficiencies to light, though not as much as the Rock-it Sounds R-50.
Though the GR07 BE is prone to occasional sibilance, I wouldn’t call them sibilant. No, they’re just accurate to a fault. They place a bit of emphasis right at the sibilance point (between 6.5 and 10 KHz) which brings out sibilance in tracks that are either poorly mastered or just feature excessive sibilance. This is a holdover from its monitor origins but doesn’t mean they’re a bad choice for causal listening in the slightest.
Aside from the slightly bothersome lower treble peak, the treble presentation is extended, linear and airy. The treble carries a good deal of sparkle without becoming too hot or fatiguing. The presentation is quite nice and spacious, with a good-sized soundstage and a great sense of space that helps establish an accurate sonic image within the listener’s head. It’s not the most expansive IEM I’ve heard (that honor belongs to the Triple.Fi 10 or the RE-262) but it is one of the more coherent I’ve heard.
The sound signature on offer by the GR07 BE is one that forgoes pure accuracy for the sake of enjoyment. It still retains some of the monitor-like qualities that made the original GR07 such a hit within the audiophile community but the added bass presence makes these quite the enjoyable set of earphones with a highly accurate and engaging sound signature that can run with the best I’ve heard in terms of both pure detail retrieval and enjoyment and work exceptionally well with every genre I listened to during my testing.
The VSONIC GR07 Bass Edition is available from a number of online retailers, including Amazon, eBay and Lend Me Ur Ears (the site I purchased mine from) for about $180. For that price, I think they’re a great pair of in ear monitors that offer fantastic sound quality that’s among the best I’ve heard. It’s easily on the level of the Rock-It Sounds R-50 in terms of technical ability but these offer a much different sound, one that’s a touch warm and bassy without sacrificing detail and resolution. They come with a wealth of accessories as well, which is a nice touch. Clearly, VSONIC knows what it’s doing in designing a very high quality IEM that balances consumer appeal with audiophile level detail and refinement.
This review was re-posted from my site Musical Musings