Venture Electronics (VE) the Duke

General Information

VE the Duke is a single dynamic driver in ear monitor.

Specifications:
Driver: 6mm Single Dynmanic Driver
Sensitivity: 101db @1KhZ
Frequency Response: 12Hz~28kHz
Impedance: 16ohm
Cable Length: 1.2m

Latest reviews

Zelda

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound Quality; Detail; Speed; Comfort
Cons: Build quality could be better for the price; Isolation; Highly eartips dependent; Very picky with sources
duke25.jpg
 
 
Full review of the Asura 2, Zen 2 & Duke here:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/809154/review-venture-electronics-ve-asura-2-0-zen-2-0-duke-a-new-path-to-high-end-sound
 
Sound:
 
The Duke is one of those 'one of a kind' IEM I've ever tried. For the price it has a very unique presentation and excellent sound quality. The overall sound signature manages to nicely balanced and a bit towards the bright side of things, a bit aggressive, yet very refined and delicate. It is also extremely eartip and fit dependent and also rather picky and source revealing. Unlike the VE earbuds, Asura and Zen, with their higher impedance rate, the Duke is more efficient but not as much as its tech. specs would suggest. Actually, it's comparable to the old RE-0 and the (relatively) newer SoundMagic E80, and interestingly enough they do share some acoustical characteristics.
 
Bass from this micro dynamic driver is tight, accurate, but lacks the rumble and texture that a more bass focused dynamic in-ear, such as the MA750 or GR07 BE should offer. It is also very fast and probably one of the fastest dynamic drivers, which reminds a lot to the CKN70. Thanks to its wider and open presentation, the Duke present lower notes more natural than the RE-400 and less colored than the RE-600. The transition from upper bass to lower midrange is quite linear and very smooth. The use of foam tips tends to help to add some extra bass quantity that is a bit north of neutral without missing the high detail. Compared to a DBA02/B2 the Duke can move more air and offer a better extension, texture and layering and thicker note but overall they're both very similar next to more consumer-friendly tuned earphones.
 
The midrange triumphs in clarity and transparency, very neutral to slightly prominent at most, natural with practically zero coloration. It's cleaner and very well balanced with the low end with outstanding level of clarity and detail. The RHA MA750 mids are less forward next to the Duke, a bit cleaner but also less colored and thinner in the lower midrange region. It could be found as a tad aggressive sounding compared to much more laid back Hifiman RE400, being with an obvious crisp presentation. On the other hand the DBA-02/B2 and R-50M are more energetic towards the upper midrange which tends to be more tiring. Texture is excellent and well compared to the RE-600 for instance, but both Hifman sets have the upper hand in vocals presentation being sweeter, forward and more engaging. The Duke may also sound thinner with male/lower vocals, unless a good source is applied; the Lotoo PAW5000, for example, showed a beautiful synergy in the whole midrange and made the vocals really shine. With its dynamic driver, the VE Duke sounds less dry and more a tad more convincing than the Rock-It R-50, but also less liquid with a darker background and more solid notes.
 
There's a noticeably emphasis towards the upper midrange which keeps going up to the lower treble and rest of the treble which makes the Duke a rather bright and very crisp sound IEM full of energy and sparkle. It's not as forgiving or as sibilant free as the RE600, and also very picky with source in this aspect. Treble extension excellent, very similar to the MA750, and yet feels more natural than the sharper MA750 and definitely not as hot as any TWFK based in-ear, even next to either the GR01 or DN-2000 which have been tuned with a slightly more relaxed treble for those brilliant drivers.

 
The overall presentation of the Duke is extremely open and airy, with a most natural instruments separation and positioning, but still not the last word in sense of space. The soundstage is well-rounded, with better depth and height, although the actual width will depend more on the source in use; quite an achievement considering the Duke is just a micro dynamic driver. Layering is very nice and the sound has a fairly realistic timbre well compared (and potentially easier to like) to the MA750. The MA750 is still more enveloping, with better 3D imaging and ambience and much larger in stage. Dynamics are much better than a BA based such as the DBA-02 and the Duke easily wins over hybrid sets like the similar priced DN-1000 in terms of coherence, something to be expected from a single dynamic driver.

bolmeteus

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Sound quality, Comfort, Isolation,Value.
Cons: Sibilant, not everyone would like the sound signature, needs deep insertion for proper results.
IEM Review: Venture Electronics Duke

 

Introductions & Notes:

I am just a simple music loving person. I don't consider myself to have golden ears or whatsoever but do like my music detailed as possible under a jobless student's budget. With the Dukes I can safely say that you do not need to spend thousands of $ to get  like thousand$ sound quality anymore.
Thank you brother Tamal for the review unit. I do not have all the accessories like extra tips because I just used the tips that fit and left soon after from his house. This review is my honest opinions on the Duke. I am in no way affiliated with Venture Electronics.


 


Specs: 


Housing: Aluminum alloy

Driver: Dynamic 6mm

Freq. range: 12Hz-28kHz

Sensitivity: 101 dB

Impedance: 16 Ohms

Price: 198$ from Aliexpress.

 

 

Built:

Aluminium casings with a nice finish and feel solid with little weight. The cable feels like soft touch rubber with low microphonics. The cables don't tangle much. They are well attached to the housings, at first glance I thought they might come loose but that is not the case. My only gripe is that there isn't any chin sliders. The 3.5mm connector is L-shaped and looks quite plain.

 

 

Comfort:

It is so small and lightweight you usually don't feel any heft of your ears. I am using the double flange tips and get a nice and deep fit.But I had to adjust it a few times to get a proper seal. Once you get that, it will stay in place for long periods without hurting your ear canals.

 

 

Isolation:

Isolation is excellent, this is coming from a Shure SE215 user. Blocks most of the noise that you get on Bangladeshi streets and traffic with the provided silicone double flange tips. Foam tips are recommended if one requires even more separation from their surroundings. The Havi foam tips are a perfect match, tames the highs without changing the other frequencies.

 

 

Sound: My initial reaction was "How do these sound so good, despite being so tiny!!!". I am mostly accustomed to the SE215's lush mids and warm lows. The emphasis on the treble of the duke was a welcoming change to my tastes. What I was surprised most , that I did not need much time get comfortable with their sound signature. I tested on various genres through the week to get a full glimpse of it;s capabilities. A list of tracks for testing is given below:

 

Altus- Sidereal Circle
Olds Sleeper - Take your time, Sunset on you
Janez Gwizdala - Crushing
Be'lakor - Abeyance, Sun's Delusion, Fraught
Motorhead- Overkill
Protodome- Blueberry Jam!
Soilwork - Vesta
Train - Eggplant
Ludovico Einauldi - Most tracks from Time lapse album
John Petrucci - Damage Control 
Elementals- Alexandra , Sunbirth


 

The VE Duke's are a natural sounding , dynamic,bright and sensitive IEM. The separation and positions of the instrument felt so precise. They sound very revealing too, destroying low res/ badly recorded audio in an instant. If you want to enjoy them the most use well recorded high res sources ( It doesn't have be humongous DSD files, properly encoded kbps Mp3s will suffice). Sound stage was pretty good considering it's an IEM. I'll be dividing the sound into three groups:

 

Highs: Very bright and detailed. Might be too bright for some,thus a no go for bass heads, but if you like treble in your music you'll love it for sure. The drums are so full of energy and sparkle giving a "live" representation to them. Such emphasis on treble brings sibilance, especially if your music has any, you'll notice it right away! Foam tips are a mandatory to tame the highs, while retaining most of the sound. I literally had an eargasm while listening to Motorhead's Overkill on them, the drums came to life, the guitars were roaring with full might and Lemmy's vocals were still clear and audible in midst of the chaos,magnificent. Even thorough all that treble essential details can still be heard without straining too much.

 

Mids: The mids are surprisingly good. Comparing to the SE215, mids do sound cold but it is on the same level of detail or even more in some specific songs. I found both male and female vocals to come out clean though some might find the female vocals better. On Olds Sleeper's Take your time the male vocals sound right in your face, accurate and colorful. I actually prefer the mids of the Dukes to the Sennheiser 280s ( Though this comparison seems inappropriate 280s being full sized cans, but it shows just how good these are).

 

Lows: Bassheads beware, you're in for a scare! Bass is tight and clean, excellent sub-bass. Mid-bass is not prominent and never gets in the way. Protodome's Blueberry Jam! presented clear and punchy bass lines, synths had an extra sparkle to them which sounded just too good.

 
 
Conclusion:
If the price seems much I can assure you it isn't. For the level of detail, neutral sound, representation you get at the price it seems like a no brainer. Include the small size, comfort and it'll seem like something twice or even thrice it's price range. Exceptional value IEMs form Venture electronics. Great work guys.
bolmeteus
bolmeteus
Real life use led me to another issue it seems, the if you're travelling at moderate/high speeds with the windows lowered and the wind blowing against you, air enters the housing through the small hole on the back. Sound gets distorted. I just turned my head to another direction to lessen the air flow.
Mosauwer
Mosauwer
great work bro.
bolmeteus
bolmeteus
thanks!
Pros: Entertaining and natural sounding, Fantastically tuned and dynamic midrange, Great fitting earphone, Good isolation
Cons: Lack of sub bass extension will be an issue for some listeners, Treble will be too emphasised and harsh for some people
At the time of the review, the Venture Electronics Duke was was on sale on their Aliexpress online store for $198.00 USD. Here is a link to their listing of the product:
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http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Venture-Electronic-VE-DUKE-In-Ear-Earphone/1924356_32417283204.html
 
Introduction
I had a chance to demo and review the Venture Electronics Zen earbud. This is the product that I feel really put VE on the map in terms of high fidelity earphones. After experiencing the sound quality of the Zen, I have kept my eyes on Venture Electronics products. Being a fan of IEMs, I was ecstatic to hear that VE was releasing the Duke, a micro dynamic driver in-ear monitor. I am happy to cover them in this review.
 
Disclaimer
I was given an opportunity to review the Duke in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with VE. I would like to take this time to personally thank Lee over at VE. Keep up the great work my friend!
 
My Background
I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
 
There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, Amplifiers and Earphones that intrigues me, especially if they can be had for low prices. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I will discover that one new gem that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones, ranging from from dirt cheap to higher end products. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and have a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.
 
I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they are ergonomic, and the sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have owned and used.
 
REVIEW
The Duke comes in a white cube box with red accents. There is nothing fancy about the package, but honestly I couldn’t care less. All the magic is inside!
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Note: The Duke comes with a complimentary VE Monk earbud. This is a phenomenal earbud that many really enjoy. Honestly, this earbud is so good it could/should be sold separately. When speaking to Lee about this, his response is that he is so confident in VE products, he hopes that this gives Duke owners an opportunity to share a VE product with friends. Let this be an example of why I feel VE is going to become a solid brand in the audiophile industry. Just for the record, the Monk sounds fantastic!
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Specifications and Accessories
Housing

Aluminum alloy

Driver Unit

Dynamic 6mm

Frequency range

12Hz-28KHz

Sensitivity

101 dB

Impedance

16 Ohms

Cable length

1.2m


 
The Duke comes with a large assortment of tips and accessories:
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1x pair memory foam tips (M/L)
2x pair triple flange tips (M,L)
1x pair double flange tips (M/L)
3x pair wide bore single flange tips (S,M,L)
4x pair narrow bore single flange tips (S,M/S,M/L,L)
1x plastic internal foam lined clamshell case
1x VE Monk earbud
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Housings
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The housings of the Duke are an all metal straight barrel cylinder design. They are skinny in circumference and average in length. The back of the housing has some micro detailed printing of the VE logo and their name Duke printed around a centered driver venting hole. The nozzle of the Duke is slightly awkward in shape with a wide and longer than normal lip on the end. The VE website is printed around this lip. A nozzle shape like this can make getting tips on and off a bit more challenging than normal. Even still, when tip rolling you should have no problems getting just about any stock and aftermarket tip you have to fit.
 
Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
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The Duke has a very nicely done cable. It is constructed of a black rubber sheathing that has very little spring and memory and is very easy to handle. The Y-split is a very simple and small black rubber cube that splits the channels. There is no chin slider. I will say that the Duke would benefit from having one, but I don’t consider it a deal breaker. Strain reliefs at the housing and jack are very well done and slim in profile. The Jack is a heavy duty ninety degree plug that looks well built and should withstand the test of time.
 
Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation
The small straight barrel and small strain relief at the housing makes the Duke a great fitting IEM. They can be worn over or under the ear. When worn under the ear, the Duke has more microphonics than the average in-ear monitor. Worn over the ear, Duke has virtually no microphonics and is my preferred method of wearing them. Isolation on the Duke is much better than average.
 
Sound Review
I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-G3 with the latest firmware for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or Sony Walkman F806/Cayin C5 amplifier for a high fidelity portable use. For desktop use I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a HIFIMEDIY Sabre ES9023 USB DAC/Bravo Audio Ocean Tube amplifier with a Mullard 12AU7 tube for higher impedance, and a Fiio E18 USB DAC & Amplifier in both high and low gain. Both were run at 24 bit, 96000 Hz. I also tested them with other DAPs and amplifiers as well. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
 
I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
“Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
“Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
“Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
“Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
“Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
“The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
“Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
“Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
“One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
“Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
“And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
“Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
 
Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to asses and break down the gear’s response.
 
Source Selection
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I had the most success listening to the my Duke through my Shanling H3 and VE Runabout amplifier on low gain. The Duke does need a little more power for an in ear monitor. A little more volume on low gain does the trick. The Duke will butcher poorly recorded and low bit rate music. Feed the Duke high resolution files through a warm source and the Duke will amaze you.
 
Sound Signature
The Duke is a love or hate signature. I personally really enjoy their presentation. It is a very natural sounding in-ear monitor that features a tight and punchy bass that compliments a slightly warm lower midrange. The upper midrange and treble of the Duke is highly energetic and slightly forward in nature.
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While demoing the Duke, I couldn’t help it rave about how good the Duke sounds with my Shanling H3. The synergy between the two is amazeballs! At the time of writing this review, this match is one of my current favorite combinations.
 
Bass
Bass on the Duke is tight and bouncy at midbass levels. They are slightly rolled off at sub bass levels. I get a decent amount of punch, but not a whole lot in terms of rumble. I can hear the low notes but don’t feel the impact like I often do from other in-ear monitors. Bass heads need not apply for the Duke. Those who want a very natural bass response that doesn’t make booming bass priority number one will really like this tuning. I think this sets up well for people who want to appreciate the entirety of the track, not just the bass line and beat. Don’t get me wrong, the bass isn’t anemic. You just won’t get the run of the muck booming stuff that often comes with in-ear monitors. This low end tuning sets up for other frequencies to be presented to their maximum sonic potential.
 
Midrange
The Duke midrange is the star of the show in my opinion. They have a very slight warm tint at lower midrange frequencies. It is enough to make the dynamics very good, and add just enough timbre to make things fun. ALL vocals sound very natural and engaging. I really like the way Duke sets vocals apart from the rest of the mix. Synthetic instruments seem to have an almost holographic sense to them, and midrange instruments are very entertaining. Details and resolution are top notch. Separation of sounds is superb.
 
Upper midrange is aggressive and much drier and energetic than the lower midrange. People who listen to their music an unhealthy levels will probably have issues with this part of the tuning. I usually listen to my earphones at a moderate volume, and enjoy how it adds energy to the track I’m listening to.
 
Treble
Treble is aggressive and extended. Some will say it is sibilant, and I wouldn’t disagree. This can be tamed with different tips. Some have had success with foam tips, other have used the Ostry tip package. I personally found a sweet spot with the Duke and Sony silicone or Spinfit tips. Just make sure to tip roll with your Duke. Tip rolling, and changing the amount of distance between the driver and your eardrum, along with variances in bore size will impact bass and treble response. With my preferred tips for the Duke, I find the treble to still be aggressive but more under control than other tips. The better seal you can get, the more controlled the treble spike will be.
 
Soundstage and Imaging
The controlled bass response, midrange detail and dynamics along with treble extension makes the Duke soundstage sound larger than average. I find this to be one of their biggest strengths. For the level of isolation I get, they have a very airy and open presence. Imaging is slightly better than average.  
 
Comparisons
 
VSONIC GR07BE ($90 to $150 USD on many sites)
The GR07BE is a hall of famer in many people’s collections. They feature a biocellulose driver and provide a very responsive and extended sub bass extension, warm midrange, and aggressive top end that some say is sibilant.
 
The GR07BE is fantastic, but doing an A-B comparison, I will say that I prefer the Duke. At the end of the day, it’s a more resolving and responsive sound. The GR07BE has great bass response and superior extension, but the leaner and more punchy and fast nature of the Duke makes it a more clinical and clean sounding earphone, and without losing the fun factor. The midrange has much better detail and separation. There is an open and airy presence in the Duke that the GR07BE doesn’t have. Treble presentation is similar, with the the Duke being just a bit more spiked but also higher resolution.
 
Both earphones come with a ton of tips, but I prefer the plastic case of the Duke over the leather pouch of the GR07BE. Build quality is a draw.

 
T-Peos Altone200 ($150 to $180 USD on many sites, discontinued*)
The T-Peos Altone200 is a very popular earphone with the Head-Fi community. They offer a tight punchy and forward bass response, crystal clear midrange, and extended treble response.
 
Doing an A-B comparison led me to conclude that these share some very similar characteristics in terms of tuning. I actually prefer the bass tuning of the Altone200. The midrange is very clear on the T-Peos, but also colder and less entertaining than the Duke. To be honest, the Altone200 midrange sounded almost artificial in comparison to the Duke from what I heard. The treble extension on both earphones are very similar, but for whatever reason the transition from midrange to treble seemed more natural and entertaining on the Duke.
 
Duke wins in the build and accessories department. They have more tips and a better case. Their cable is slightly better in my opinion, but all in all build quality is very similar.

 
Conclusion
The Duke is a “grown folks” tuning that is high energy, high resolution, and highly detailed. People are going to love it for these outstanding qualities, or decide to hate it because of the treble emphasis and lack of sub bass. I personally think it is fabulous, and it ranks very highly on my list of favorite in-ear monitors. If you are looking for an in-ear monitor that will maximize vocals, accentuate details, and give your music collection an exciting kick, I strongly recommend the Duke.
 
Thanks for reading and happy listening!
DJScope
DJScope
Labsters taking over! Great review mate!
Skullophile
Skullophile
Other than re-272 I can't think of a dynamic keeping up with detail levels of BA.
Spooky stuff!
flinkenick
flinkenick
Good review and beautiful pics!

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