Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [REVIEW] Hippo VB: Bassy, Bassier, Bassiest!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

[REVIEW] Hippo VB: Bassy, Bassier, Bassiest!

post #1 of 117
Thread Starter 

Hippo VB Review

 

Intro

Not the newest earphones but intriguing none the less. Hippo is a company, which is the “House Brand” of popular earphone store Jaben so that is were you could purchase these. As Hippos flagship earphone they do not have a bad price that is 50 pounds plus postage so a fairly budget priced earphone.

 

So is these just another 50 pound earphone? Not at all. These have a pretty unique feature as it goes and that is one similar to what I have seen before with the filters in the Phonak PFE. They have tunable or an interchangeable bass port which gives them there name VB or Variable Bass.

 

So for 50 pounds this so far seems like a basshead dreams surely and it also sounds like my new bass reference, which for me is an exciting prospect.

 

IMG_1418.jpg

 

Set-up

The set-up I have used is a bit different to normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.

 

I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier.

 

I used the Ultimate Ears medium single flange for the main testing.

 

IMG_1475.JPG

 

IMG_1474.jpg

 

Build Quality/Design

The design of these is pretty low profile. Everything is black and they are not made to stand out or be a fashion statement which is nice as it will not bother anyone were as if someone really liked the sound of the Beats by Dre (do not think they exist) they may be put of by the lairy red cable for example.

 

The build, starting from the cable is quite good. The cable reminds me and shares in common most parts to the Jaben ES8 cable for the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 (which I reviewed on an earlier date), which had a good build except from the braided cable, which had fallen apart a bit. This is a like identical cable just without the braid so as you can guess it is very nice.

 

IMG_1471.JPG

 

Starting at the jack it is right angle and terminated with a gold plated plug. The housing is very standard and rock solid and it also has a great and flexible strain relief. The cable is average in thickness and but as a silky smooth matte finish like the Phonak PFE which is my favorite cable. They both share the properties of being sturdy yet malleable, which is very good. The y-split was one of the reason I really liked the ES8 cable and it features a total of 3 super flexible strain reliefs as well as the center of the strain reliefs a super solid shell. The top half of the cable does get fairly thin, in fact a bit thinner than what it goes on the average. There is a cable cinch on the top half, which is very nice. It is round but also has little bumps on for grip.

 

IMG_1470.PNG

 

Moving on to the housings, the cables entry is in to a solid strain relief that does not flex. It is connected to the housing but not very plush and you can see a gap. The housing are metal and as you can guess are extremely well built and there is nothing but metal on the housing including the fairly thick nozzle.

 

Accessories

With the earphones you also get a carrying pouch and some tips included as well as the three different bass ports. They also have a shirt clip already attached.

 

The case is a fairly hard clamshell, which is on the larger size of case while remaining portable. Inside there is some mesh were accessories can be held and on the outside there is a strap you can hold it from or maybe or clip it something. I have found the case to be very nice as it is hard and also bigger enough to carry the earphones and some spare tips and of course the bass ports.

 

IMG_1465.jpg

 

IMG_1466.jpg

 

On to the tips and you get three pairs of silicone single flanges, which are rather different to any I have very had before as they are both long and wide and are in a peculiar gray colour. You get them in small, medium and large. You also get a small, medium and large pair of dual flange tips. These are not conical dual flanges were each flange is smaller as they go up like a Christmas tree but they are both of the same size on top of each other. They are black.

 

IMG_1463.JPG

 

Finally you have the bass ports. They are distinguished which is which by white dots on the back of them. They come with the ports with no dots on which have not mesh inside and are therefore they are the bassiest. The two dots have a bit of mesh and then finally there is a pair with three dots with the most mesh. I will explain more on the sound difference later. Screwing them of the back of the earphones and then screwing the desired port on the back easily change them.

 

IMG_1462.PNG

 

Comfort/Fit

Finding a seal on these was easy enough with the stock tips and although I tried a few others tips not many others fitting on the earphones rather large nozzles. In the end I found the best seals with the JVC and Ultimate Ears single flanges and the stock single flanges.

 

Comfort wise they are actually all right. Because of their large nozzle they do not get a large insertion depth, which does not feel intrusive at all. Although they are on the heavier side because of there metal body they do not get to a fatiguing point due to there weight.

 

Isolation

The isolation was actually slightly better than I expected from these as they have a slightly below average insert depth but they are also ported/vented so I though they would leak in the outside world quite bad. I was pleasantly surprised to find although a tiny bit of ambient noise does come in if there is say a person shouting or a quick loud noise but other than that these have done well enough. It is also accessible to better isolation by using the dual flange or some foam tips.

 

Microphonics (Cable Noise)

Microphonics are present on them but not to an unbearable point. This is mainly due to them being worn cable down. If you put the cable cinch up to your chin though, it removes most of it, which is good and why I love cable cinchs.

 

Burn-In

By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so dint make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.

 

Soundstage and instrument separation

The size of the soundstage is really quite large and this is likely due to the fact that these are vented earphones. It is all really airy and also nicely wide. It is very similar to the soundstage of the Final Audio Design Adagio III. It does not have the depth though and that stops it being truly three-dimensional and stops it being one of the best earphones in terms of soundstage is regarded. Another property it possesses is the fact that it is really distant and you feel like you are a distant away from what you are hearing. It is a very similar property to what the Sennheiser IE8 has with its soundstage.

 

Because of the bass peak on these it does make the other instruments from other frequencies feel a bit more muffled but the bass instruments are easily distinguishable. This problem is mainly noticeable in bassy music and in bass light songs it is a lot better.

 

Bass

 

3 DOTS

The mid-bass is slightly peaked when you using this port. Not as much as with the others though. There is a good amount a control with it and is not loose or boomy but still not describable as being tight. It is also not fast or slow. The quantity is fairly big and the body it hits with is rather huge.

 

It is when we move to the sub-bass section we really get some shine as this thunders your head with a huge pound of warm bassy air. It is like not bass I have felt before. It is all feel and the sub-bass is very dominant with these earphones. On these setting they are a lot more about the sub-bass than the mid-bass.

 

2 DOTS

The mid-bass does take a bit of a slight boost and are still sitting in the middle of being tight and loose which is nice and the body is now warmer and bigger by a tad.

 

The real improvement comes in the sub-bass, which has gone from mind blowing to well… what comes next. It is oh so powerful and by far as strong as I have ever felt in an IEM. What is surprising is that it still gets better.

 

NO DOTS

Now we have the top bass setting that these have. What we have here is a load more mid-bass than what we got before and also a bigger peak. These now sit a hell of a lot more in front of the other spectrums. The quantity is quite literally huge. While they were still large in the mid-bass before I had heard more but these take such a leap and are probably the biggest that I have heard in this frequency. However they are more loose and boomy and un-controlled than they are with the other ports and the bass can get a bit carried away.

 

The sub-bass does not take quite as much as a leap but I am pretty sure it is at a point that it is now as head pounding-ly deep that a IEM can physically get.

 

Midrange

 

3 DOTS

I am someone who really appreciates their mids and is the reason I tend to stay clear of bass heavy earphones as their mids are always so far behind and veiled. Now on this setting they are not to far behind. They are behind the bass and treble in a slight V but they are not pushed to deep by a long shot. The lower mids are very warm and thick. The low mids are also the furthest recessed.

 

The high mids are a lot better. They are thinner but therefore more detailing. They also do take a bit of brightness from the treble but are equaled out by the warmth of the bass to dry sounding. They are less recessed and almost flat and they also very airy and breezy which is very nice.

 

2 DOTS

Seeing as there is an increase in bass the mids to take a tiny hit. Like with the one dot there is not any bleed still, which is fairly good. The low mids really do go back a bit more now but are still not quite fully described as recessed and as they move up the frequencies they do come out a bit more. They share the same detail as before which is not bad at all but obviously you get more refinement with BA drivers at the same price. Like before the mids are fairly airy and dry.

 

NO DOTS

Now when the bass takes over you can find yourselves loosing the mids but when the bass in the song is less and controlled they are as clear as they always have been. To be honest I think it is unbelievable that the bass I get with these and the fact the mids are still not getting bled into or really recessed or veiled. Most of the time they are clear and visible and it is rare that they get properly overwhelmed.

 

Treble

 

3 DOTS

The highs on these are as forward as the mid-bass but do get slightly overshadowed by the sub-bass. They do roll off a tad too early losing them a bit of sparkle but they are still lively and have great energy to them but they can be a tad to aggressive.

 

Apparently these suffer from sibilance but in all honesty I yet to experience any.

 

2 DOTS

The bass increase does not affect the highs and they are the same as they were before with the 3 dot port.

 

NO DOTS

Again the treble is still mainly the same just not quite as aggressive but it still manages to shine through and have effect.

 

Overall

These are basshead earphones with a slight V shaped signature. These actually have a very similar sound than the more expensive Final Audio Design Adagio III and to think they come with more customizable sound and more accessories that are rather impressive. If you want an earphone that can deliver bass that is huge, deep and pounds you head then these are my recommendation. I am also still gob smacked by how clear the mids maintain to be.

 

I have found a new bass reference, which I am happy about and think that these are an absolute steal to be had so if you want bass, do not go spend hundreds of pounds in the hope you get the bass you crave but invest a measly 50 pounds on these from Jaben with a guarantee that the bass will meet your needs!

 

I would also like to add if you do get a pair of these to think about picking up some Ultimate Ears single flange tips as they do really help out with the sound.

 

Can be purchased here:

 

http://jaben.net/shopping2/Hippo_VB.html


Edited by Swimsonny - 7/30/12 at 2:13pm
post #2 of 117

Awesome write up! Finally something bass heavy from you! So will you be changing a few numbers around on your chart for the bass and such?

 

Edit: Just checked the other thread, you updated already :)


Edited by tegR - 6/21/12 at 1:26pm
post #3 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tegR View Post

Awesome write up! Finally something bass heavy from you! So will you be changing a few numbers around on your chart for the bass and such?

Thank you. Well I was thinking about removing 1 off of every bass score but just gave the sub an 11. I think I will take 0.5 off of every sub though now you've said it. I took 0.5 off of my current 10 which was the thinksound so a few changes but not a lot.

Wow ^ was a rumble ahah.

The chart is updated with the scores so you can check that.

Also check my FAD review, you will like the sub bass part wink.gif
post #4 of 117

Nice and clean review you have there bro.
Got one pair of hippo vb last time from Jaben, pretty amazing on the bass adjustable feature, now using for sport exercise ^^

post #5 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpringBiscuit View Post

Nice and clean review you have there bro.

Got one pair of hippo vb last time from Jaben, pretty amazing on the bass adjustable feature, now using for sport exercise ^^
Yeh their bass is very incredible indeed. I found them fairly similar to the Adagio. How do they stack up against the IIs.

I don't think they are that ideal for sport though in case of falling out your ear from the shallow insertion.
post #6 of 117

Good review!

I was 100% happy with my pair, I also really enjoyed the treble these offered, they have a very raw sound which suits dubstep well. When amped they sound similar to a car sub woofer, you hear that reverberation of the sub like the "whoomp whoomp", really gets pulsing!  Similar to when you hear a car sub coming down the street. VB are all about sub-bass without losing everything else. There were times I thought my head was going to explode. They handle extreme amounts of volume without distortion, the bass volume  keeps gaining to the point they literally start shaking, trying to work their way out of your ear pushing air.

Please be careful when using them, I bruised my right eardrum testing their limits. 

post #7 of 117
Thread Starter 
Thanks man.

Yeh, the aggression and position of the treble makes these have a V signature and. It a bass signature which is handy as I find bass signatures way to dark. I used these mainly (while reviewing) amped by the Hippo CriCri which is a great lil amp (review on its way). The sub-bass is like you described and the air these push is unreal. I can't see anything topping it. You've heard the atrio, what are truly the sub-bass kings? your right in saying these are sub bass focused as with the 3 and 2 dots they are actually quite tame on mid bass still a lot but it is the sub that is mind blowing. I still can't understand how much air these push!
post #8 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

Thanks man.
Yeh, the aggression and position of the treble makes these have a V signature and. It a bass signature which is handy as I find bass signatures way to dark. I used these mainly (while reviewing) amped by the Hippo CriCri which is a great lil amp (review on its way). The sub-bass is like you described and the air these push is unreal. I can't see anything topping it. You've heard the atrio, what are truly the sub-bass kings? your right in saying these are sub bass focused as with the 3 and 2 dots they are actually quite tame on mid bass still a lot but it is the sub that is mind blowing. I still can't understand how much air these push!


You're right, VB are one of the only IEM's I've heard that do not associate a dark signature or muffle  mid / high's with this amount of bass. Treble is quite spectacular for a IEM of this price. I preferred the 2 dot plates keeping them on full time, they gave a touch of everything.

I don't think Atrio extend as deep as VB, their quantity similar in volume, Atrio may have an edge on bass detail 'slightly' though VB out do them in sub-bass reaching lower, you really get that feeling of power in your hands when these are amped. Having tried both from build quality and price to performance ratio I hear by call VB true sub-bass kings 'in my books'. I found myself enjoying Hippo's much more with their aggressive attitude (bass you can feel), especially for EDM and rock. The Atrio's never pushed air or felt truly exciting. Some may know I was not happy with Atrio mids and highs. they sounded really flat to my ears and rather boring. When you put that into comparison of their price, it's a no brainier imo.

Remembering for people who read this, myself and Swimsonny were amping our Hippo VB, myself with a Fiio E11 and Swimsonny using Hippo Cri Cri. You will need an amp for VB to achieve their full potential getting the results we're speaking of. However still sound very full and can be enjoyed without one    


Edited by H20Fidelity - 6/22/12 at 3:02am
post #9 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post


You're right, VB are one of the only IEM's I've heard that do not associate a dark signature or muffle  mid / high's with this amount of bass. Treble is quite spectacular for a IEM of this price. I preferred the 2 dot plates keeping them on full time, they gave a touch of everything.

I don't think Atrio extend as deep as VB, their quantity similar in volume, Atrio may have an edge on bass detail 'slightly' though VB out do them in sub-bass reaching lower, you really get that feeling of power in your hands when these are amped. Having tried both from build quality and price to performance ratio I hear by call VB true sub-bass kings 'in my books'. I found myself enjoying Hippo's much more with their aggressive attitude (bass you can feel), especially for EDM and rock. The Atrio's never pushed air or felt truly exciting. Some may know I was not happy with Atrio mids and highs. they sounded really flat to my ears and rather boring. When you put that into comparison of their price, it's a no brainier imo.

Remembering for people who read this, myself and Swimsonny were amping our Hippo VB, myself with a Fiio E11 and Swimsonny using Hippo Cri Cri. You will need an amp for VB to achieve their full potential getting the results we're speaking of. However still sound very full and can be enjoyed without one    

I agree with all aspects of what you said in the first paragraph. I personally prefer the three dot plate as it still delivers great sub and very were else is awesome. The 2 dot is also nice but i find the 3 dot to become a bit overpowering!

 

The thing is the Atrio were always hyped for their sub bass more than their mid-bass which is not be a touch on many other IEMs for quantity. So the fact they have more mid bass is besides the point in crowing a sub bass king.  Your so right about the immense power that the VBs give which i really think you have to understand as it is easy to think we are exaggerating. 

 

Nice comparison by the way! I think with rap and hip hop these are superb but they are not really my genres. I am more of a rock and metal man i do not think the fact you feel bass compliments rock that well.

 

You are right about the amp but i know both the amps we are using have bass boosts. I do not know if you are using you boost but i am not on my CriCri. Although yes the CriCri does have a positive impact i still think they are really good with out and everything in my review goes mainly to them without the amp. It is oct of like a mix of how they sound with all my sources i have tried.  A compromise if you like.

 

Anyway, if you pick up a VB at the moment from Jaben it does come with a GoVibe Mini USB DAC so that will likely boost the performance instantly. As for value at the moment, $89 with the DAC it is phenomenal.

post #10 of 117

Oooh ok, I got the impression you were using Cri Cri for the majority of your review sorry.. I was using bass boost on E11, couldn't help myself. I was a bass glutton fiend, which probably explains how I bruised my ear drum, (which really did happen!!)  To be honest the best experience I had with them unamped was with a Sony Walkman using Clear Bass EQ. I can understand people think we may be exaggerating but once they embrace the power!!.......... People will understand. smile.gif
 


Edited by H20Fidelity - 6/22/12 at 3:45am
post #11 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post

Oooh ok, I got the impression you were using Cri Cri for the majority of your review sorry.. I was using bass boost on E11, couldn't help myself. I was a bass gluten fiend, which probably explains how I bruised my eat drum, (which really did happen!!)  To be honest the best experience I had with them unamped was with a Sony Walkman using Clear Bass EQ. I can understand people think we may be exaggerating but once they embrace the power!!.......... People will understand. smile.gif
 

No i would not do that as it would be giving a false impression of how the earphones sound and someone may be disappointed if their unmapped performance does not live up to the review. Oh god that must be truly insane. I am tempted to give them a go with the bass boost on. In fact instead of using the cricris bass boost which is rather subtle (much more usable) and use my cMoys BB's bass boost which is actually insane (if you like a lot of powerful muddy bass. I have not been using it as the cricri is a superior amp.

 

My Cowon has a cross bass EQ setting which actually turns anything into a crazy bass monster. So amped with the cMoy bass boost and the crossbass on the Cowon and i think i will me outdoing your bruised ear drum with two ruptured ear drums ahah.

 

In all honesty what was using when you bruised your ear, thats crazy, was it the amount of bass on the loudness?

 

And yeh in fact i recommend these if you were like me and had never really heard a huge bassy earphone to pick these up. Until these people used to speak about bassy earphones and i could never really grasp what 'huge bass' was but now i have more than an idea!

post #12 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post


I don't think Atrio extend as deep as VB, their quantity similar in volume, Atrio may have an edge on bass detail 'slightly' though VB out do them in sub-bass reaching lower, you really get that feeling of power in your hands when these are amped. Having tried both from build quality and price to performance ratio I hear by call VB true sub-bass kings 'in my books'. I found myself enjoying Hippo's much more with their aggressive attitude (bass you can feel), especially for EDM and rock. The Atrio's never pushed air or felt truly exciting. Some may know I was not happy with Atrio mids and highs. they sounded really flat to my ears and rather boring. When you put that into comparison of their price, it's a no brainier imo.

 

And now all of a sudden, i am interested in these, a lot biggrin.gif

post #13 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

No i would not do that as it would be giving a false impression of how the earphones sound and someone may be disappointed if their unmapped performance does not live up to the review. Oh god that must be truly insane. I am tempted to give them a go with the bass boost on. In fact instead of using the cricris bass boost which is rather subtle (much more usable) and use my cMoys BB's bass boost which is actually insane (if you like a lot of powerful muddy bass. I have not been using it as the cricri is a superior amp.

 

My Cowon has a cross bass EQ setting which actually turns anything into a crazy bass monster. So amped with the cMoy bass boost and the crossbass on the Cowon and i think i will me outdoing your bruised ear drum with two ruptured ear drums ahah.

 

In all honesty what was using when you bruised your ear, thats crazy, was it the amount of bass on the loudness?

 

And yeh in fact i recommend these if you were like me and had never really heard a huge bassy earphone to pick these up. Until these people used to speak about bassy earphones and i could never really grasp what 'huge bass' was but now i have more than an idea!


I'm pretty sure it was a mixture of volume and air that bruised my ear drum, Using high power / high gain / EQ2 which is more or less running Fiio E11 at it's maximum along with a rockboxed ipod mini bumping bass up with EQ.  it was sore for many days after, a real eye opener to what can happen if you're not careful. Did you try the Sony Hybrid tips?

I'm also pretty certain it was this song that did the damage. at 0.27, the first bass drop that continues through out the song.  


Edited by H20Fidelity - 6/22/12 at 3:59am
post #14 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tegR View Post

 

And now all of a sudden, i am interested in these, a lot biggrin.gif

Do you want them to be in the parcel when i send your JVCs back ;) I do owe you a loan!

Quote:
Originally Posted by H20Fidelity View Post


I'm pretty sure it was a mixture of volume and air that bruised my ear drum, Using high power / high gain / EQ2 which is more or less running Fiio E11 at it's maximum along with a rockboxed ipod mini bumping bass up with EQ.  it was sore for many days after, a real eye opener to what can happen if you're not careful. Did you try the Sony Hybrid tips?

I'm pretty sure it was this song that did the damage. at 0.27, the first bass drop that continues through out the song.  

Not a good combination i see then. In that case maybe i shall not carry out my lil experiment. Luckily i only listen at lower volumes.

 

I could not get my hybrids on the earphones. I struggled for about 10 minutes ahaha. The UEs boost the performance a fair bit though over the stock tips.

 

Gonna check that song out now ;) wish me luck and safety ahah

post #15 of 117

Awesome man!!

Not much ppl know about no dots Hippo VB has the heaviest bass!

Good one.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › [REVIEW] Hippo VB: Bassy, Bassier, Bassiest!