Vsonic GR99 Review
Thanks to Frogbeats for the sample
First Impressions: I like the packaging, it looks swish and right off you can see the assortment of different pretend Sony “hybrid” tips. I count 7 different sizes. 8 if add in the ones that come on them. The beds look a little on the large side but instantly they put their best foot forward, on the back one has a little blue ring and the other red! If you don’t know Red always means left, rather than put a little L that you can’t see on them. It’s a little thing but shows same thought as for me makes and very positive first impression. The cable seems nice too, not really up to what I’m used to from Vsonic but then this is a cheaper product.
Having a quick listen and Vsonic are staying true to form. I’ve pretty much loved everything ive heard from them, especially so at their given prices and I suspect this will be no different. I am impressed but its burn in time.
Source 1G iPod Shuffle with and without a 75 ohm adapter added
Lows: For something so cheap they are rather full and hearty. They may not possess astonishing depth but I really couldn’t fault them at the price range they sit. It can do a rich, deep and very full sounding low end. It may be a touch soft, impact wise, but this you would expect, actually at this price you would expect it to be a lot softer and flabbier. It stays pretty well composed and in line as it ought to. It doesn’t really bleed up towards the mids in anyway even when provoked. Quantity wise it isn’t the big and heavy bass that some might want, it may be full sounding but the lows don’t really dominate or push out much beyond the mids. That isn’t to say when called upon in very bass heavy songs it doesn’t rise to the occasion, for rise it shall and smack you one. In terms of sound signature it rather reminds me of its siblings, its like a thicker sounding GR06. Those who like a thicker, fuller and softer sounding low end may actually prefer the 99. Being thicker and heavier it doesn’t have the same fleet footed agility as the 6 but it’s still lively enough that it can bounce and have a good time. Its additional air moving power is kinda fun. That power makes for some pretty impressive dynamic range too in the lows, it can happily rumble then roar if you want. I like it.
Mids: Rather good for something so cheap. It is reasonably adept at most things being neither too rich and warm tinted so as to spoil more airy vocals. Truth be told though it does prefer to give you a rich sound over a dry one. It’s a warm sounding IEM so asking it to do dry and airy vocals and it means much of that will be lost. Still I don’t expect those who buy this to be listening to that Krall woman, not that you can’t just I don’t see that type of music listener going for something this cheap. This much prefers cheap bouncy pop so it can just roar and power things out at you. It’s much more about fun and power than it is about delicate finesse. Feed it some cheesy bouncy pop and the mids do an admirable job too. The bass may over shadow things a bit in some pop stuff which is bass heavy anyway but the vocals still come through as well as you could really expect.
Highs: These simply don’t have the resolution to do highs properly and nothing near this price does. So they do the right thing and trail off rather well. It’s not entirely unlike the IE7 sound, what they do do they do pretty well. They aren’t trying to emphasis the top end at all. They do have a bit of a sony esq spike in there though and every now and again they can be a little hard edged on songs that just hit that same range. Mostly its rather well behaved and as well as you could expect for this money. Still you may have picked up on the fact I’m not exactly doing cartwheels about it. It’s not really that it isn’t doing very well for something so cheap its rather good but the simple fact is its super cheap and I’m used to much better.
Soundstage: Rather capable. As I mentioned these do a very good sense of scale and power, a great big hearty low end to them. These sound big, impressively big for an el cheapo. Instrument separation is a bit more blurred but what do you want, the moon on a stick?
Fit: Perfect for me. Pushed in ears and that was me.
Comfort: As with the fit these were just dandy. Can’t promise you’ll be the same but I can’t see any reason why not.
Cable: It’s not bad. I do like its black and red look but it’s a little thin and while it’s not bad I think its siblings cables have spoilt me. Should last pretty well though I’d think.
Microphonics: Well, worn up I got none. If you insist on wearing down you do a little. There is no chin slider to help either.
Accessories: Well you do get a nice range of tips, I couldn’t fault that but on the case front…. Well you just get a little flimsy baggy thing. I get these are cheap and the target market isn’t likely to use a case anyway but it’s a bit naff. Of course at this price I guess a bettor case would make a cost difference so why include when if you really want one you can always hit up fleabay for something.
Isolation: Just having a look at them will tell you these are not sealed. They are pretty open and while I approve of open over venting issues it does mean they are not the greatest isolators in the world. Still probably good for the gym or places where you don’t want to be utterly cut off from the world. Would probably do fine for on a bus but not really plane worthy.
Value: Both good and bad. On their own, actually just ignoring one product, these are great value. They are great sounding for something so cheap. They can quite handily beat the Dunu Tridents particularly in scale and cost not far off them. The problem is the GR06. It’s not really that much more and is just stunning. If you can’t spend 1 penny more then these are great value but there is no way I think I’d ever not suggest spending a fraction more and going with the GR06.
Conclusion: Vsonic seem to be tuning things to make me like them I think. So for everything I’ve heard from them I have basically loved. This is no different. Well maybe a little in that this I lave least but it’s still super good for so cheap. The problem though is the crazy, insanely good GR06 as a relatively close price. It means that while this does a superb job, particularly in the low end, I can’t help but compare the two in my head and the 99 falls short. I really just am failing to take the 6 out of the equation.
The 99 is a fun, bouncy, bassy IEM with a fantastic general ability for its price that I’m not sure anyone other than treble heads would be unhappy with. It’s a good looking product, I like the red stripe on the cable and the blue and red indicators and the buds. It strikes me as a well thought out product (clearly not its name though) that aims at the el cheapo and of budget. It succeeds at that wonderfully. But, there is always a but, I hate to sound like a stuck record but it’s the GR06. Unless you really desperately want a rather thick and rich sound the GR06 is so much better there no way I could tell anyone to buy the 99 unless they really can’t add the little extra. The only really chance I see it having is that if history holds true then the price of products fall over time. If the 99 comes down a little as I suspect it will then some distance will begin to open up with the 6 and then it will comfortably begin to wipe the floor with other el cheapos in a more stand out fashion. As it stands so long as these come in al below the GR06 price I can’t think of anything that that can best them, for something that I believe will be coming in dirt cheap these are outstandingly good. Much like everything else Vsonic have done so far, this year they are the ones that are setting the bar in the headphone market at every price point they have entered.
At present it’s a good value, good sounding, bassy, rich sounding IEM that’s quite a lot of fun to hear. It’s not a precision IEM, it’s about having a good time with a full, warm sound that is a very popular sound. I can’t see anyone buying it regretting doing so, so on the whole it’s a big thumbs up.