I didn’t know even ‘Variphone’ brand name until I met official staff members in person by chance. After visiting their main office in Belgium and see all of happening in there, just realized that they already have top-class manufacturability level in in-ear monitor field. So why aren’t they known to the public even with their high-leveled manufacturability? First of all, their main project focuses on preventing hearing-loss field and has produced customized-fit earplugs for 30 years to the government (military, police, firefighting) in their local country and manufacturers in international.
Also, they have a relationship that distributes and manufactures ‘Westone Labs’ earphone products in Europe. I guess that is why they didn’t have many chances to come into the world with their earphones. I was lucky enough to experience all of the earphone lineups at ‘Variphone’. Considering the parts of their existing products in the factory, they were totally different than heavy and dark sound-signature I had expected. Today, I’d like to talk about one of their lineups, ‘Go2Rock’.
I chose a pair of ‘Go2Rock’ with transparent shells and basic logo plate design. As you know, transparent shell design shows inside of in-ear monitor clearly and easily see how to reach to high manufacturing quality. The reason is that I wanted to see the results of Variphone’s special way of making it. They do 3D-Scanning user’s ear impressions, 3D-printing with Acryl, and trimming details based on the 3D-Scanned data. This process is difficult to perfect, no matter how good the equipment is, without fine detail and skill. Therefore, I wanted to know how much technology they’ve been building for 30 years.
As expected, Variphone didn’t let me down. Go2Rock’s acrylic transparency was quite high, and its shell was thick enough to fit Balanced-Amature drivers in proximity and reduced to a minimal area, making it smaller than any other customized in-ear monitors. Even with acrylic, it seems very durable to use in daily life.
Its nozzle length is much shorter than other customized products. Its design is expected to push the internal drivers back as far as possible and ensure the bore’s length. Thankfully, this doesn’t cause reduce sound attenuation level even with short nozzles. Its nozzles are shaped in size little bit larger than user’s acoustic meatuses in ears and its shells are welly curved to closely stick to antitragus, triangular fossa, and inter-tragic notch, so that presents high attenuation and comfortable fit. The entrances of bores are horn-shaped so that ear-waxes can be easily removed by a cleaning tool included in the package.
The conductor quality of its stock cable included is not good enough to affect the sound quality, but it is very comfortable to use in every situation. The most distinctive feature is the ear-guides’ splendid length, which is shorter than the standards, which allows the back of the pinna to tightly wrapped and flexibly moved even in rough activities. If you bend them once when wear, don’t have to adjust again unless its form changes.
If received ‘Variphone’ iem products, you will see one single interesting item in the container box. The interesting item is cable-tie made of silicone, which is flexible enough not to damage the conductors of Variphone stock iem cable, and it also acts as a desiccant because storages a small and flat silica gel cylinder into the middle hole. Unfortunately, 3rd-party product thicker than the stock cable are built in a small space that cannot be contained properly.
Sensitivity: 109 db SPL @ 1mW
Frequency response: 18 Hz - 20 kHz
Impedance: 75 Ohms @ 1 kHz
Driver setup: 1 x low BA driver, 1 x high BA driver, Crossover 2-way
Features: Replaceable cable
Average attenuation: 28 dB
Made in Belgium
Go2Rock is designed as a stage monitoring in-ear monitor so that the overall sound tuning is focused on the functionality to check stereo-image and output stability. In order to focus on monitoring the background music sessions, some portion of frequency belonging to vocals is deliberately tuned to be laid-back in the soundstage. Fortunately, the reverberation in the frequency is lightly textured so that the sound-signature delivers clear stereo images and does not cause the masking phenomenon to other sessions strongly.
However, if you raise the sound volume to a higher level to listen to a vocal’s stereo image, it can easily reach the peak level around 7kHz area and expose to the microphonic, making difficult to monitor the high-frequency details. So, if looking for the more natural stereo image and soft sound-signature with Go2Rock, you should listen in a little lower sound volume level than usual so that the frequency around 7kHz is within the proper dynamic range.
The impressive part is that Go2Rock allows enough harmonic sound expression in the bass even with two balanced-amature drivers. The 100Hz band is inflated to the point where can draw a stereo image even if the deep-bass is not perfectly represented and the tone of the bass is a bit darky and heavily textured. These are not inflated enough to cause masking instrumental sessions each other. But, if sound volume is not in approximate level and reaches high, the bass will be inflated strongly and twist sound details.
Another thing is that although some of the frequency is offset by outside noise with a lot of low-bass in the stage, the sound-signature is strongly inflated around 100Hz area, which helps enough details to monitor the bass and drums without any problems. With this inflated gives a feeling of adding weight to the overall sound-signature, which can be dry and dull as a whole, so that listeners can enjoy listening to music as well.
Actually, for enjoying listening to music, Go2Rock is a tricky iem that fits only a few genres of music. Setting the peak level of vocal can give a bland impression as if the overall sound-signature is flat and the treble seems suppressed, so it is not suitable for flashy concertos or provocative musical instruments that require dramatic expression. Go2Rock goes really well with calmly recorded music genres. Especially, I think it suits New Age, R&B, and Jazz.
If you have Go2Rock, the first thing you should try is changing the stock cable to 3rdparty product. The stock cable has not high conductor quality so that if you use with any upgrade cable in the current market, you will see much improvement on treble and mid-range details. And, with 2.5 Bal and 4.4 Bal terminal, it turns more generous with the dynamic range of treble and bass so that you can turn sound volume level more upper which makes vocal come out a little bit closer and its sound-signature seems more welly blended.
Go2Rock is easily exposed to white noise (output noise) to high output-power devices even with high impedance. There is no same issue in normal wires receiver for stage or DAPs. But if expose high output level like headphone amplifier, it happens. Its stereo image is affected by the quality of the output source and the more stable SNR, the more overall sound-signature sounds clear and accurate dramatically. I’d like to recommend matching devices with light portable power rather than high-powered environments such as headphone amplifiers.
Go2Rock is an entry-level custom product of Variphone’s iems. lt is designed the convenience for users with diverse situations in great detail. Even with only 2 BA drivers, it gives high-quality stereo image so that Go2Rock can be recommended for professionals in videography and sound-engineering. Also, it has a chesty bass atmosphere in the sound-signature so that can enjoy listening to music as well. Go2Rock gave me the potential expectancy of the higher-level models in Variphone lineups such as 6 BA drivers model ‘6 Without Limits’. If you are looking for an entry-level custom in-ear monitor with the perfect fit and clear stereo image, Go2Rock is the one in your shopping list.
This Go2Rock is purchased by Bigheadfiler Studio.
Photos by Bigheadfiler Studio