Filling out the bottom end of ViSang’s in-ear line, the R01 was designed to be a cheaper alternative to the R02 by sacrificing the twisted alloy cable and some of the accessories for a lower price tag.
Packaging & Accessories
-3 sets (S/M/L) single-flange silicone tips
-1 set double-flange silicone tips
-1 set foam tips
Like its two older brothers, the R01 comes in a handsome black cardboard box with a foam insert. Unlike the R02 and R03, however, there is no carrying case to be found inside. The excellent knockoff Sony Hybrid tips packaged with the pricier models are also missing. Instead, all you get is the earphones, a shirt clip, three sets of generic silicone tips, a pair of biflanges, and a pair of foamhybrids. So far so good – since I find the biflanges preferable on the ViSang models anyway, sacrificing the Hybrid tips, while disappointing, is not a deal breaker. The exclusion of the clamshell case is a bigger issue but one can usually be picked up for a couple of bucks on eBay or replaced with an Altoids tin.
Appearance and Build Quality
The housings of the R01 are identical to those used by the R02 and familiar to the earphone crowd from past greats such as the VSonic R02ProII and Cyclone PR1 Pro. The biggest difference between the R01 and the other ViSang/Brainwavz models is the disappearance of the fancy Cu-Ag alloy cable and its replacement with a conventional rubber-sheathed oxygen-free copper cord. While the earphones certainly feel less solid as a result of the change, the build of the R01 is still more than good enough for the asking price. It should be noted that a cord cinch is still missing from the cord, which makes less sense with the more tangle-prone rubber cord than the thicker and less flexible alloy cables on the other models.
Fit & Comfort
As with the R02, the R01 housings are light and unobtrusive. They can be worn cord-up or cord-down quite easily – something made even simpler by the R01 due to the thinner, lighter, and more flexible cable.
Isolation & Microphonics
The ViSang R01 is a ported dynamic-driver IEM and isolates accordingly. I find the isolation perfectly sufficient with bi-flange tips and above average as far as budget dynamic-driver earphones go. The cable of the R01, however, carries quite a bit more noise than the slippery and inflexible cord of the R02. Wearing them over-the-ear is highly recommended.
-Type: Dynamic Driver
-Driver Diameter: 10.7mm
-Impedance: 20 Ohms
-Sensitivity: 112dB @ 1mW
-Frequency Range: 20~20,000Hz
-Plug: 3.5mm, straight, gold-plated
-Cord length: 1.3 meters, y-type
The ViSang R01 shares hardware with the higher-end R02 model. The only external difference between the two is in cable material, with a Cu-Ag alloy used for the R02 cord and a regular OFC cord on the R01, but the two earphones sound different enough that internal differences would not surprise me in the least.
The general sound signature of the R01 is similar to the two higher-end ViSang models. The bass is smooth and full-bodied, with a mid/upper-bass hump and a tendency to warm up the rest of the sound signature. Bass depth, texture, and detail are certainly not on level with heavyweights such as the FA Eterna but beat most budget in-ears quite easily. The midrange is smooth and clear, slightly forward in positioning but still very well-separated and yet extremely coherent. The treble transition happens with no harshness or sibilance and the treble is laid-back and extremely smooth. The very top is rolled off and treble ‘sparkle’ is nowhere to be found but the highs of the R01 are certainly extremely competent, if not particularly aggressive or exciting, for an earphone of its caliber. Soundstage width is quite good and depth is adequate, though once again the R01 performs far better than the asking price would indicate. Compared to most budget in-ears, even great ones like the Meelectronics M9 and Fischer Audio TS-9002, the R01 is effortlessly spacious and presents music in a believable way.
But the sound of the ViSang R01 is not identical to that of the R02. The sonic properties of the R01 place it firmly among the best earphones in its price bracket, no doubt about that, but unlike the R02 it doesn’t hold a candle to the heavyweights in the $100 range. In terms of signature the two earphones are extremely similar but the R02 is just that little bit better all-around, putting it head and shoulders above the competition. The R01 sounds like a softened and more relaxed version of the R02, but it is hard to imagine anyone finding the R02 too aggressive. The overall sound of the R02 is slightly crisper and clearer, with marginally better bass control and a bit more treble presence. As a result of the superior clarity, the R02 also seems to have more air and a more separated sound. The soundstage of the R02 is not huge but manages to be very believable while the R01 is slightly constrained. The R02 also carries a bit more detail and I found myself pushing the volume of the R01 up a few notches to get the same level of detail out of it. Again, the differences are not great by any means but they are enough to make the R02 one of the best earphones in the <$100 range and the R01 just above-average in that category (though do keep in mind that the R01 costs a measly $30). Having both, I found myself reaching for the R02 every time without hesitation, but I would be far from unhappy if 'stuck' with just the R01.
The ViSang R01 promises the sound of the higher-end ViSang R02 in an even more reasonably-priced package. The ~$10 difference between the two accounts for the hard clamshell carrying case and Sony Hybrid knockoff tips, both of which are absent from the packaging of the R01, as well as the replacement of the Cu-Ag alloy cord with a more standard one. There are also minor sonic differences between the two which leave the pricier R02 a step above the R01 in overall sound quality. If you absolutely must only spend $30 on an earphone, the R01 is still the best way to do so. However, if tossing in the extra $10 to make the jump to the R02 won’t put you in the red for next month’s rent, it’s probably worth it to upgrade to the pricier model. With the nicer cable and carrying case the earphones will last longer and the sonic differences, though probably not noticeable except in a direct comparison, are present nevertheless. At the end of the day either earphone is a highly recommended buy for those in search of the maximum possible value for money from a set of budget in-ears.
Edited by ljokerl - 7/28/10 at 11:44pm