Originally Posted by shotgunshane
The VE package arrived today and I did some brief listening to all three, plus some very quick A/B with my JH13. The instant impression nitty gritty:
V2 = V shaped. Big bass; similar quantity to the V4 but more mid bass focused. A bit boomy with recessed vocals but still enjoyable and fun.
V3 = Very slightly U shaped but most neutral of the three. Least bass of the three but not bass shy at all. Vocals further back on V3 than on JH13 and treble starts to drop sooner on the V3 the JH13.
V4 = Bigger U shape than V3. Deep bass focused. Vocals further back than V3. Largest presentation. Bass hits pretty hard.
I greatly prefer the V3 over the other two. The V3 doesn't take a step back in anything compared to the V4, and due to better FR balance, is a better all round with better instrument realism IMO.
I've found the HiFiman biflanges from the old RE series to work really well on these types of demos in the past, and they worked really well with the VE's this time too. Just a tip for future tour members, if they happen to have any.
Those are the instant impression. I'll spend some more time getting to know them before passing them on.
Your speed puts me to shame!
Here are my brief impressions:
SETTING THE BASELINE
Vision Ears Demo Stage 3 Vs. Rhines Custom Monitors Customized Stage 3: Trying various ear tips, I found triple-flange ear tips to exaggerated the bass while bi-flange, like the ones included with the demo units, cut the treble. I settled on large single flange ear tips, which sounded quite similar to the customized unit with a deep insertion.
As expected, the sound between the two was quite close, but the customized 3 is slightly brighter with better, more impactful and reverberant deep bass. Spatially, the demo unit was a bit more forward than the customized Stage 3, but the customized Stage 3 projected much further than the demo. The custom Stage 3 did the little things better, such as instrument separation and imaging with a sharper focus better note definition. Treble is more detailed, yet smoother on the customized version as the demo could be a bit harsh. These differences led to the custom unit sounding much more natural, adding realism and increasing engagement with the music.
After the initial comparison, I used foam ear tips on the demo unit for another comparison, which brought the two closer, but the customized version still outperformed the demo. The demo treble was tamed and about as smooth as the custom version, and the overall sound was a bit more realistic, but detail levels, imaging, and projection still lagged.
STAGE 2 (769€ including VAT ~ $1060)
The Stage 2 is warm, rich, smooth, and forward with decent space and a presentation that has excellent depth and imaging within. Both ends of the frequency spectrum have good extension, and the huge single bass driver provides plenty of punch and note sustainment. Treble is smooth yet detailed with decent extension and a fairly smooth and forgiving sound. But listening to the Stage 2 doesn’t make you think about the performance, but instead the music, as the sound signature is musical, engaging, and enveloping leading to a connection to the music. The Stage 2 is the most expensive dual driver I have some across and also the best sounding I have heard to date.
STAGE 3 (999€ including VAT ~ $1375)
The Stage 3 is the clearest of the group, with a brighter tonal balance yet retaining most of the smoothness of the Stage 2 and 4. The sound is closest to that of the traditional reference sound reminiscent of the Logitech Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitor, but different.
STAGE 4 (1239€ including VAT ~ $1700)
The warm and smooth Stage 4 has a musical and fun sound with a very good recreation of soundstage space, even with the relatively forward sound. With powerful and deep bass, smooth and layered mids, a bump in the upper midrange and lower treble, and good upper extension, the and treble that is present, with a doesn’t enhance any part of the spectrum much resulting in a relatively flat overall sound that doesn’t lack power.
Comparisons with other CIEMs can be found here.