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Venture Electronics (VE) Zen

Rating:
4.43333/5,
  1. fleasbaby
    ....if you're going to buy an earbud....
    Written by fleasbaby
    Published May 1, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great sound quality, extremely enjoyable sound signature
    Cons - Amp needed
    The VE Zen and the VE Asura
     
    If you're going to buy an earbud, you should chat to the fellows at VE...
     
    Earbuds are an odd little throwback. An anachronism now, when once they were the defacto form factor for headphones bundled with phones and mp3 players (back when they were called mp3 players, and not “DAPs”…time was a brother would ask for some DAP and you’d give him a fist bump…alas, no more…).
     
    Like Elvis though, earbuds never died, they just moved to another planet. They are still out there, actually being produced by loving, enthusiasts' hands, in boutique organizations you never really get to know much about if you live outside of China. And you know...they don’t suck as badly as some would have you believe. In fact, they sound pretty damn good. I revert to buds whenever I get tired of my full-size or on-ear headphones. Of late there has been a wave of great earbuds showing up on AliExpress, eBay and other spots. Personally, I took notice when Dasetn got attention for ridiculously good earbuds being made and sold at ridiculously low prices. Dasetn has since faded into the background a little due to a large number of complaints regarding build quality and order fulfillment, but there are others…
     
    Recently ClieOS reviewed something I hadn’t heard of yet from a new company: VE. A 320 ohm impedance earbud. This sort of thing captures my tired and slightly jaded imagination. An earbud that needs that much of a kick in the pants? What do they have in there, lumps of coal, diaphragms made of steel? I had to find out…I sent Lee, the owner a quick PM and asked if he would send a pair of his earbuds out to do a tour of the United States. He very graciously agreed to, and on top of that, sent out his second highest model, the VE Asura as well. I spent a week with the tour units, and they are now winging their way across the US for other enthusiasts to enjoy. Another set, also kindly provided by Lee, are crossing the northern borders into the frozen wastes of Canada to tour a little there too.
    I ran both sets of earbuds through the equipment listed above, and listened to a wide range of music through them. I am a jazz nut, but am prone to drifting into electronic and avant-garde sounds as well. I always have a little time for the blues too, both traditional and electric.
     
    What can be said about the VE Zen and Asura? They are richer and more fun than my Blox M2C. They have better definition than my Yuin PK3, and exceed my memory of the Blox TM7 and the Yuin PK1. The Zen portray bass and soundstage almost like a full-size headphone, perhaps better than some I have owned (I used to be a Grado-head if that explains much). They have sound signature that is neither sterile, nor is it debilitatingly warm and thumpy (one head-fier called the HD600 of the earbud world). They challenge my full-size headphones in many respects, which is handy when you don’t want to lug a pair of T50rp about with you. For the Asura, simply take away maybe a fifth of the goodness in the Zen. It’s a scaled down, cheaper version.
     
    The downsides? The design is very generic. Sennheiser's MX500 shell has gotten incredible mileage. Its amazing how many earbuds now occupy that very familiar shape. Its functional though....and that's what counts, right? They require an amp to shine, and the stronger the better. Lee recommends a Class A portable that a DIYer in China makes. The E12 was good enough for me, but I could tell that perhaps I needed something more. The cable on the VE Zen is a touch annoying. It’s clumsy and a little noisy, but this is remedied with a shirt clip. The VE Asura was like a scaled down version of the Zen. At 120 ohms it’s easier to drive, but it doesn’t have that magical bass quality, and it seemed to get a little muddled in more complex passages.
     
    These earbuds come highly recommended in my humble opinion. Like Elvis, they will always have a place in the lineup of your attentions, and you will never regret indulging in them….perhaps even struggle to stop doing so.


    *EDIT* Fast forward to today. I recently bought a Pono player, and have founf the synergy between it and the Zen to be ridiculously good. The Pono does balanced operation as well. Lee most kindly offerred to re-terminate my pair of Zen (yes, I have my own pair now) to take advantage of this. The improvement is noticeable. The Pono's discreet, extremely low feedback architecture gives the Zens all the juice they need. Switch to balanced and you get an incredibly refined, organic, detailed, smooth listening experience with even the most difficult recordings...if you buy a pair of Zen, seriously consider the Pono, and make sure you go balanced...
    1. View previous replies...
    2. rymd
      someone said they these were an earbud version of the HD600? lol, these have way better bass than the HD600!
       
      nice review though. Agreed with all points, except the cable noise which is might be the worst I've experienced in an earphone. A shirt clip won't help much for me. I wish it had the cable of the Asura at least, which is nicer and a lot less noisy.
      rymd, May 1, 2015
    3. waynes world
      Excellent review fleasbaby! The Zens and the Cayin C5 amp are a rather magical pairing if you ever get the chance :)
      waynes world, May 2, 2015
    4. jincuteguy
      So where can you buy the Zen right now? 
      jincuteguy, May 18, 2015
  2. boneofimba
    Earbuds that shine with enough power
    Written by boneofimba
    Published Jul 5, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - SQ for price
    Cons - need a proper amp to shine, shells look cheap
    I do not own this unit – I had this unit from @fnkcow
     
    With Impedance of 320ohm this earbuds need a good amp to show its worth. I use my phone during my first listen to the zen and it sounds cold, sterile. Using the zen with my oppo HA2 or cayin N6 (which has monstrous power) reveals their real sound: good bass, forward sounding mids, smooth highs. With proper amplification the zen gives a wide soundstage and imaging, good instruments separation and layering. The shells looks to be a generic earbuds design, which doesn’t seem to be a good choice for a flagship product. The earbuds are wired with a decent OFC cable that feels nice to touch and have slight microphonics when touched.
      fnkcow likes this.
  3. golov17
    Great sound for not a lot money
    Written by golov17
    Published Jun 23, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - The sound quality and workmanship
    Cons - 320 Ohm
    I will be brief. Being a lover of earbuds, I trusted review respected ClieOS, and has not lost. Balanced sound with delicate timbres and exciting presentation. VE Zen give me the opportunity and the desire to receive pleasure from listening to Music, not only technical excellence. Anyone who loves their ears and willing to pay for it, not expensive, in fact, I strongly recommend to buy and enjoy. Thank you Lee for great work done. We look forward to continuing.
      RedJohn456 likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. golov17
      Yes, and rightly occupied the first place, IMHO
      golov17, Jun 24, 2015
    3. golov17
      Yes, and rightly occupied the first place, IMHO
      golov17, Jun 24, 2015
    4. golov17
      Yes, and rightly occupied the first place, IMHO
      golov17, Jun 24, 2015
  4. kjk1281
    For Those About to Rock, VE Salutes You
    Written by kjk1281
    Published Apr 28, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Balanced, energetic sound
    Cons - Merely adequate build; Zen needs an amp for best performance
    INTRODUCTION

    As tough as it is for me to admit, earbuds are a dying breed. It seems every year, fewer and fewer manufacturers even bother making open-air earphones (Denon), and when they do, they either focus only on low end models (Panasonic, Philips, Sony, etc.), or they don't release them here in the United States (Audio-Technica, Pioneer, and Sennheiser, just to name a few). Indeed, the focus for headphone manufacturers today is the now ubiquitous canalphone, or in-ear monitor.

    Despite this trend, many smaller companies, primarily out of Asia and especially out of China, have started making earbuds targeted at the audiophile market. One such company is Venture Electronics (VE), and I've had the opportunity to spend a little time with two of their high-impedance earbud models, the 320 ohm Zen and the 150 ohm Asura.

    I'd like to give a special thanks to fellow Head-Fier Bruce (a.k.a. fleasbaby) for setting up the review tour. Without his initiative, I probably would not have had the chance to try these earbuds out. Thank you!




    A side view of the package stating VE's motto in Chinese



    ACCESSORIES AND BUILD

    The earbuds arrived in a cubic paper box which contained the buds (ensconced in their cases) as well as an information sheet in Chinese. Each bud comes with three pairs of earbud foams: one each of black full foams and two pairs of "donut" foams in black and red. They also came with simple but very useful and appropriately sized clamshell hard cases.

    As for build, I feel both earbuds are adequate but not exceptional. Both the Zen and Asura use the same Sennheiser MX / Foster 040596 housing and cap that so many other Chinese earbud designs incorporate. Strangely enough, the pre-production Asura, the cheaper of the two models, comes across as being more well thought-out, with a nice braided cable and metal Y-split, which terminates at a nicely-relieved metal-covered straight jack. Comparatively, the more expensive Zen uses what appears to be a silver cable insulated in a very bouncy, rubbery sheath that can be a bit annoying to handle both while merely walking around the house or when putting the earbud away in its case. Unlike its inexpensive sibling, the Zen's cable split and straight jack are covered in plastic. Neither have a cable cinch to manage the split.




    Contents of the box included the earbuds, foam pads, carrying cases, and info booklet


    AMPING

    The Zen and the Asura have high impedance ratings of 320 ohm and 150 ohm, respectively. Despite both earbuds having high impedance, I actually found the Asura to sound quite good straight out of my Sansa Clip+, as well as smartphones like the Lumia 520 and Moto G (2013). The Zen, on the other hand, demanded more power. Currently, my main portable amp is the FiiO E11 Kilimanjaro. I did find that using the amp increased the warmth and authority to the Zen's sound while increasing resolution and separation. Thus, I highly recommend using an amp with the Zen, and go as far to say that if you don't have a portable amp, it may be best to pick up the Asura instead.




    The VE Asura


    SOUND

    The sound signature of both VE buds can be characterized as having an open and dynamic sound with excellent transient response. In particular, I've found that both the Zen and Asura excelled in bass impact and attack, and often did I find myself tapping my toes and/or banging my head. Simply put, these buds rock.

    Continuing with the bass, I found the extension of the lower frequencies to be very good for an earbud, with perhaps a bit of emphasis in the sub-bass. At times I felt this emphasis may be slightly much in the Asura, but this was mostly when using the buds indoors. The higher-impedance Zen didn't have this issue. On a positive note, the bass doesn't bleed into the midrange, so never do the buds feel muddy or stuffy.

    The mids are solid and probably best described by what they don't do. No, the mids aren't as forward or thick like the Blox M2C, but neither are they as airy or dry as some recent Sennheisers can be. They don't add that "special sauce" to vocal presentations, but they don't take anything away from them either. It's the midrange that also seems to separate the two VE buds. Side by side, it was clear to my ears that the Zen had much more detail and resolution, along with air and separation when compared to the Asura.

    I would describe both the Zen and Asura as having treble that is well-extended to provide good airiness and an open feel, but devoid of excessive sparkle and uneveness. Trebleheads may be begging for more, but this balance lends itself well to longer listening sessions. Where the Zen sets itself apart from the Asura is once again by being more articulate and open.




    The VE Zen


    CONCLUSION

    Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect coming into this loaner tour. I've had a good amount of experience in the past with so-called DIY and small batch Chinese earbud manufacturing startups with mixed results. Some produce excellent sounding products, while others, not so much, and the level of support from these companies ranges from non-existent to bare minimum. Time will tell where VE will stand when addressing customer feedback, but I do applaud them for assisting fleasbaby in creating the US tour as well as others, and I think this is a sign that the company is willing to look outside of China and reach out to its (potential) customers.

    Thankfully, there's no questioning the Zen and Asura when it comes to sound, where I feel the two buds are definitely worth their respective prices. Both offer an dynamic and enjoyable sound that should please many an earbud enthusiast. The Asura may be the better choice for those without a portable amp, but for those who do, the Zen offers more resolution, and increased linearity to the already rocking VE sound signature.

    It's clear to me that VE is an earbud maker that deserves attention and a listen.
      rymd likes this.
    1. rymd
      pretty spot on review. When I first saw the two, I thought the black one was the Zen and the white one was the Asura. and in real life, the Asura really does feel nicer. kinda sucks as there are $15-20 earbuds with better build than the zen. my DIY mx760 has the exact same jack and ysplit even. also agreed with the sound, but just "a bit of emphasis" in the subbass for the Asura feels like an understatement! it's massively overemphasized to me, like a treble peak but for sub bass. same problem as the Edifier H180. but fortunately the production Asura is suppose to have a closer sound to the Zen.
      rymd, Apr 28, 2015
    2. Onix
      Nice review. One thing to consider when dealing with buds is the use of foams. I would guess that you used them without the foams because you don't mention them. Am I right? I really wish I could use buds, but they don't stay on my ears anymore.
      Onix, May 8, 2015
    3. kjk1281
      rymd: Honestly, I was afraid I was going to the get the Zen and Asura mixed up in the review! Indeed, the cable on the Zen is a bit of a disappointment.
      Onix: My apologies for not mentioning it, but unless I point it out in the review, I ALWAYS use the supplied (full, not 'donut') foams or something of similar thickness and porosity.

      On a side note, I just noticed that this review made the front page. In my five years here, that's a first (and probably my last )! Thanks to the moderator or administrator who thought my ranting was worthy of the home page!
      kjk1281, May 8, 2015
  5. doctorjazz
    Great sounding Buds at a not extravagant price
    Written by doctorjazz
    Published Oct 15, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - open, great pace/rhythm, fun to listen to. Bass, mids, soundstage and detail great in this class.
    Cons - They are buds...non removable cable, treble slightly rolled off.
    I would like to thank Venture Electronics (VE) and Lee (@zhibli06) for providing me with a review sample of VE ZEN (and MONK) too many months ago



    Manufacturer website: http://eng.52ve.cn/




    The site I have for purchase is: http://m.aliexpress.com/item/32302987270.html?productId=32302987270&productSubject=Venture-Electronic-VE-Zen-high-impedance-320-ohms-earbud&tracelog=wwwdetail2mobilesitedetail.




    I received an invitation to review these headphones, and I said yes, seemed like it might be fun to be a REVIEWER on Head Fi. I didn't even catch that the headphones I was going to review were ear buds at first...I realized that after I had agreed, and, though I have never liked ear buds, figured I'd give them a shot. That's a bit of understatement-I never could stand ear buds, to be more precise, going back to the old iPod days; couldn't get them to stay in my ears, couldn't walk around with them in, didn't like the sound from them once I did get them in. But, this was supposed to "not be your father's" ear bud, so I figured I'd give it a try. Later I read a rave review by ClieOS and I actually started looking forward to getting the Zens.
    The Zens arrived in a plain white box, with another pair of buds included, the Asura, a more entry level model (which I've spent very little time with...my listening time is precious, want to spend as much time with the main event as possible). Accessories included foam bud covers, in 2 varieties, solid and donut shaped, which were supposed to make wearing the buds easier for those not used to them. The donut ones were said to affect the sound less than the solid ones (since they didn't block the sound openings from the buds). I did try them with both versions of the bright red covers, never found it made wearing the buds any easier, did think even the donut one muffled the sound some, so I just went using the Zens Au Naturale. (I had read about another accessory that another reviewer found helped, the earhoox, so I tried them, but I still did better with just the buds, ma'am...the ubiquitous "ymmv" goes here, of course). The Zen is physically not imposing in any way, looks like your archetypical ear bud, it's a nice, solid white color, seems well constructed, and has a nice non removable cable, clear plastic with silver wire inside. The cable is not very microphonic, and seems very tangle resistant, much better than some uber cables I have (looking at you, Linum...). Certainly no sign that we are dealing with anything special just from looking at it, but the proof is in the listening, as we shall see.
    So, tunes I used to evaluate these babies (I make no claim to the specificity of these tracks to evaluating any audio parameters; when I review gear, I usually wind up listening to the same track over and over, I find this more tolerable if I'm listening to tunes I like).

    Aimee Mann-Humpty Dumpty (cd rip, FLAC)
    Bridge Over Troubled Waters-Aretha Franklin (24/192 HDTracks download)
    Somewhere In Neverland-All Time Low (CD rip, FLAC)

    Upstream gear:
    Pono (black, if you must know, not that overexposed yellow), either direct through single ended output or line out to amp.
    Regen/Geek Out Special Edition, either through 47k ohm out put or line out into amp
    AMP: MicroZOTL2

    The Sound: the Zen has really great toe tapping, finger snapping PRAT, as they say in these here parts. The other words that jump to mind are "open" and "clear"...they have great clarity, give the feeling of seeing far into the stage. Staging is wide, detailing is really good, depth OK, not as strong as the width (at least, as compared to the higher priced spread). Bass doesn't go as low as some, treble is a bit rolled off compared to some, but it all happens in a very involving, musical type of way. Bass is interesting-it seems to roll off so that some of the really deep bass is MIA, but the leading edge and tone of the bass is so strong and rhythmic, it doesn't give any feeling of bass deficiency at all. In fact, that strong, bouncy bass it what pulls you in and makes you want to boogie.

    I don't have any other good buds to use for comparison, so I pulled some of the Head Fi Greatest Hits iems out of the draw, just for comparison.

    Zero Audio Duoza-gets a bit more body to the mids, more mid centric, and goes lower. The lows are not as sharply defined, though, open space not as "open", slight haze, more highs, but also, on some recordings (not all), some sibilance.

    Havi B3-more sensitive, closer perspective, stage not as wide or deep, bass flabbier, silence/space between instruments not as clear (this is a really strong suit of the Zen), mids less present, overall not up to the Zen

    Fidue A83-again, bass goes somewhat lower, powerful, but a bit looser, stage is wide and deep depending on recording, highs the best of the group (but again, at the cost of a bit of sibilance on some recordings), vocals more up front than Zen on some recordings, similar on others.

    Adding the line out/MicroZOTL2 was instructive; these babies scale up. That is, give them better gear higher up in the chain, they sound better. Specifically, with the MicroZOTL2 in the chain, things are even more open sounding, clear, bass tighter, stage wider and deeper, makes a great combination. I put on another great track, Dave Douglas Quintet's "Bridge to Nowhere" from a FLAC CD rip from the album Time Travel, which confirmed my impressions from earlier listening. Treble opens up, cymbals, while still not up with the best I've heard, are more present, that ride cymbal that drives much jazz more immediate and keeping things sailing along, while that fabulous bass just drives the tune even more. Some more depth, tonal richness, layering become apparent when using the MicroZOTL2 as the amp. I know most of you are likely to use something like the Cayen C5 rather than the MicroZOTL2, but I wanted to see how much up-scalability (the word police are going to get me for that one...:D ) the Zens have, a sure sign of quality, and they pass the test quite nicely.

    Similarly to iems, I think even more so, exactly how you insert them makes a HUGE difference in sound, so experimentation is key.

    So, have to eat my words as far as buds go, was convinced they'd never be for me, fit and sound issues to much for me. Now, I have to say they make a great addition to my headphone collection. No, they don't replace the TOTL over ear (HE-1000) or my ciem (acs Encore), but they complement them, deliver good sound, good enough not to have me rip them out of my ears and reach for the big boys (which DOES happen with many of my other phones now), and give me a break from the over and in ear comfort issues that can come with both these TOTL cans (I'm in the minority who don't find the HEK particularly comfy; don't have time to go into the Encore story, maybe over a beer one of these days...)

    Highly recommended.
    "This Bud's for you!"
      nick n and peter123 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. doctorjazz
      $750 is a pretty good price for the Encore...
      I haven't written them off, think they are really hard to get a good fit with, at least for me. When I have them perfect, they really do have a naturalness and depth that is quite pleasing. The top end seems to fall off a cliff, but I think it is at least partly because of fit/seal issues-they sound great when I press down on them just over the opening to the ear canal, which is supposed to mean I'm not getting that seal. Have already sent them back numerous times, trying to hold off but one of these days back they go if I don't get the fit/seal thing down. The Zen is just great sound, and SO much easier (and cheaper).
      doctorjazz, Oct 16, 2015
    3. drbluenewmexico
      GREAT review doctorjazz!  how did you get to stay in your ears? i couldn't get my touring set
      of Zens to stay in my ears at all when i moved my head in response to their excellent PRAT!
      using the MicroZotl to drive earbuds is CRAAAAZY man, but then again this is head-fi!!!
      (i did the same actually when i had them on tour and they do sound Wonderbar through the Zotl2!
      using them for Ponography is more realistic.  i wonder what V2 of the Zen will bring? hope you
      get to review the new ones coming out soon.......thanks for posting your impressions doctorjazz!
      drbluenewmexico, Oct 16, 2015
    4. doctorjazz
      Crazy Glue is always an option...
      doctorjazz, Oct 16, 2015
  6. BlackUser
    Headphone-like earbud
    Written by BlackUser
    Published May 8, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - One of the best bass and transient response in earbud, headphone-like sound
    Cons - uninspiring design, needs amp
    Hi...
    Maybe I'm a newbie in head-fi forum (mostly as a silent reader) and my written English is bad, but let me give impression about 52VE Zen and Asura beta.
    High impedance earbuds always make me interested, they need good amp, but will they sound good too? Or just average sound, but need extra power for driving them?
    So, my friend ordered those earbuds and gave one to me (because I don't have credit card for purchase online stuff [​IMG]), hoped they would sound good, especially Zen.
     
    Packing and Accessories
    11169952_10153199651326900_8287853884277790495_n.jpg
    Zen and Asura beta comes in white paperbox. When I opened the paperbox, I found zipper hardcase and three pairs of earbud sponge (donut style). Quite simpe package and accessories for "high-end" earbud, especially for Zen. Zipper hardcase quality is quite good, but looks too plain. I think will be better if 52VE add their logo to it.
     
    Design and Build Quality
    I opened the box, and I found those uninspiring design earbud in black and white.
    asurazen1.jpg
    asurazen2.jpg
    Yeah, I expect more from Zen as "high end" earbud, it will be better if has beautiful design like Sennheiser MX985.
    Zen's white cable is thick and bit noisy, but never leave tangle mark like bad quality cable on low end earbud. Asura has black braided cable from jack to Y-splitter and twist cable from Y-splitter to left and right earbud. Metal accent added to Asura beta's jack and Y-splitter, combined with black braided cable, looks very beautiful. Overall, Asura beta looks much better and more "expensive" than Zen in my eyes, when I opened the box I thought Zen was the black and the white was Asura beta.
     ​
    For those who have small ears, this earbud will feels quite big on your ears. Fortunately I have big ears, so both Zen and Asura beta can sit comfortably on my ears.
    use.jpg
     
    Sound Quality
    Both of them has burned-in about 200 hours
    Here my setup :
    setup 1 : lenovo notebook -> Centrance dacport
    setup 2 : lenovo notebook -> Centrance dacport -> fiio L16 -> DIY tubehybrid amp
    setup 3 : direct to iPod video 5.5th Gen
     
    I will talk about Zen first.
    For me, Zen's bass reproduction is one of the best in earbud. Bass is plenty, has nice balance within midbass and lowbass. Bass has very good punch, speed, and well controled, it will never bloat to lower midrange. Listen to electro dance music at slighty high volume in quiet room, then Zen will satisfy you with it's big bass, dynamic, punch, and speed. So much fun!
    The cons is, bass a bit muddy for track which contain fast double pedal like metal genre ( using setup 1), but I think it's not big problem, because I still can enjoy the song.
    Overall, I never hear bass reproduction like this before on earbud, big punch bass with good transient response.
     
    Nothing special in midrange and vocal for me, not as forward and sweet as Yuin's, not as airy and articulate as blox's, but Zen has thicker vocal and never sounds sibilance, hars, or thin. Using tubehybrid amp (setup 2) will help vocal to be more sweet, forward and intiminate, but bass feels slower and "loose" than before (setup 1)
     
    Zen has right amount of high, never sounds overbright or oversharp. High presentation is smooth, just decent sparkle and crisp. High extension and detail is good, but needs more airy.
     
    Many earbuds give me wide soundstage and airy, but short at depth or height. Zen is different, the soundstage is "big", if we talk about width maybe Zen just above average. But Zen has excellent proportion within width, height, and depth, that makes feels spacious and and very good imaging. Like I listen to music with a headphone, not an earbud!
    Instrument separation and details are good, not superb but I have no complain at all on this aspect. Just right and good.
     
    How about Asura beta?
    Asura beta has 150 ohm impedance, and it sounds good when I pluging in to iPod video 5.5th gen without amp. So, Asura beta is better option for people which doesn't have or won't use amp. 
    This is lite version of Zen, soundsignature is very similar. Comparing Zen and Asura beta is like comparing MP3 320 kbps and 192 kbps. Asura beta has similar soundsignature, but less dynamic and detailed than Zen. Asura beta's vocal is not as smooth as Zen too. And the last, Asura beta's soundstage not as "big" as Zen, which Asura beta feels a bit short at depth compared to Zen.
     
    Compared to blox M2c, Asura beta has more body and punch bass. Asura beta's vocal feels more thick but less articulate than M2C. M2C has more sparkling, crisp, and airy high. M2c soundstage is wider and more airy, but Asura beta has much better depth and overall imaging
     
    Conclusion
    They are very good earbuds, and I think can compete well with existing earbud on the market.
    Zen has good potential to be one of the best earbud, but you need good source component (especially amp) to drive Zen well. If you don't or won't use amp, Asura beta is right choice.
    Both of them are fun sounding earbud, if you a vocal lovers or detailed lovers, maybe Zen and Asura beta will not satisfy your want. But with good and right amp, I think Zen still has potency to satisfy everyone [​IMG] 
      rymd and golov17 like this.
    1. mochill
      Nice review my friend :blush:
      mochill, May 9, 2015
    2. BlackUser
      Thanks mate :)
      BlackUser, May 9, 2015
  7. mochill
    VE Zen , A Natural Audio Masterpeice created by the gods up above.
    Written by mochill
    Published May 7, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Dynamic rage, transient speed, texture of note, sound-stage reproduction , bass note and quality, and price.
    Cons - Might be big for small ears and most likely improve with an high powered amp.
    Hi , i'm new to writing reviews and was lucky enough to be chosen to review this wonderful ear-bud which i have in my possession.this is my first review and i will most likely make alot of grammatical mistake and i'm sorry(please be kind :) ). 
     
    the company is called Venture electronics and the founder name is lee also known as zhibli06  on headfi .this is where you can order a pair http://m.aliexpress.com/item/32302987270.html?productId=32302987270&productSubject=Venture-Electronic-VE-Zen-high-impedance-320-ohms-earbud&tracelog=wwwdetail2mobilesitedetail.
     
    the specs are as follow:
    15.4mm drive
    320ohms
    105db at 1khz 
    1.2m  silver coated OFC wire
     
    price will be roughly $128USD and i think it's definitely worth it as having many ear-buds and none actually sound this good , even the alpha1 from dunu doesn't. i don't have any pictures but will try to post some later.
     
    SOUND IMPRESSIONS:
     
    BASS:
    One awesome and plus of this ear-bud is its bass reproduction in both quality and quantity . the bass has a lot of low sub-bass information and with the right amount of mid-bass that it will not interfere with low mid-range . the speed is above average so it'll not sound muddy with complex bass note .comparing the bass to my alpha1 the bass is real while the alpha1 doesn't even reproduce the low sub-bass and mid-bass not in natural way just like how the zen does .
     
    MIDRANGE
     
    What can i say besides that the mid-range on the zen is perfectly balance with the bass and the movement between the bass to the mids are flawless having no bloats or warming of the vocals or instruments .the vocals has a 3D imaging which i love . it isn't inside the head out produced outside like how a open-backed headphone might reproduce mids comparing to the aplha1 the zen is realistic while the aplha1 is thin and doesn't have much depth as well as width , its more intimate and thinner with alot of grain to the mids.
     
    TREBLE AND SOUND-STAGE
     
    Treble is balanced as well with sparkle and no grain in the sound. it's extended and open sounding producing a black airy sound-staging and the imaging of this ear buds is insane . some song produced a cymbal crash that was like from the other side of the house and i got scared alot and the height and depth are equally as marvelous . alpha1 is so sibilant and intimate sounding , no comparison to the zen.
     
    CONCLUSION
    Thank to lee for this great opportunity to review such a wonderful product and all this comparison was through my phone and both the ear-buds had the minimum requirement of 200hrs of burn-in , even after that burn in the alpha1 which i thought was going to surpass the zen didn't achieve that goal for me. the zen triumphs the alpha1 without even a sweat even thought it's under-powered . \
     
    Thank you for reading and sorry for the mistakes :)
      zhibli06, DJScope and golov17 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. golov17
      Soon Zen 2.0 :wink:
      golov17, Oct 26, 2015
    3. RedTwilight
      @Voxel-1 The markup serves as a placeholder for the upcoming Zen V2.0 and maintains the page while preventing people from ordering it for now. 
      RedTwilight, Oct 26, 2015
    4. RedTwilight
      Price will be adjusted back to normal once Zen V2 is in production.
      RedTwilight, Oct 26, 2015
  8. ClieOS
    A 320ohm earbuds that demand good voltage swing but also reward with excellent SQ.
    Written by ClieOS
    Published Mar 16, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - SQ.
    Cons - The high impedance requires a good source (of power) to sound good.
    Prelude: A few weeks ago I was contacted by a mutual 3rd party on whether I will like to give some Chinese made high-Z earbuds a review. Immediately I recalled a review article I read awhile back in erji.net that comes with fairly high praise (and subsequently get knocked around a few times, see reason below). We don’t see a lot of high-Z earbuds around so I was fairly certain they should be the same things. I don’t keep high hope for earbuds these days but I am still an earbuds lover in heart, so I agreed to give them a look, and indeed they turn out to be the same model I saw earlier. They are made by a small Chinese company called VE (52VE.cn, with a Chinese name translated to ‘micro wing’). No sooner after I agreed, the news spread out on some Chinese forums, which in turn came back to HF, and I received some ‘friendly suggestion’ that, perhaps it might not be the best of idea to do a review on VE. It would seem that there are a lot of heated discussion (or controversy?) on whether VE is a genuine company or just a quick DIY job for money. Even more so is whether VE actually makes TOTL earbuds as they and their Chinese supporters have claimed. Different from the international market where IEM rules, earbuds still hold a high esteem among Chinese audiophiles and they really don’t mind paying for premium earbuds – mixed that with the fact that there are a lot of shady companies employing shill marketing tactic, it is understandable on why people are always skeptical and will act defensively when confronted with such a bold claim. If there is anything I learned from reading Chinese audiophiles forums over the years, it will be the bad ‘SNR’ that often ruins the days. You can never quite sure whether you are reading genuine impression, shill marketing, over-enthused writing or maybe some other types of hidden agenda. So I decided not to take things written on a those forums too seriously but instead let the products speak for themselves, which I kind of glad that I did.  Nevertheless, I think a prelude is needed to shine some light on the unusual circumstances surrounding VE. Regardless of what have been said, it will be a mistake to dismiss VE – that much I am sure.
     
    [​IMG]
    It said: "torture one-self, reject mediocrity, all for our sound."
     
    Spec
    Asura
    Transducer: Open Dynamic
    Sensitivity: 108dB
    Frequency Response: 10Hz~25kHz
    Impedance: 150ohm
    Cable Length: 1.2m
    MSRP: US$48
     
    Zen
    Transducer: Open Dynmanic
    Sensitivity: -/-
    Frequency Response: 20Hz~20kHz
    Impedance: 320ohm
    Cable Length: 1.2m
    MSRP: US$112
     
    [​IMG]
    Zen (left) and Asura (right)
     
    Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality
    The Zen and Asura comes in one single white box with no model name on the outside. I assume it is one of the ‘early bird’ pack for those who pre-ordered the Zen, which also get a free Asura. The 320ohm Zen is pretty much the flagship earbuds for VE, and Asura is the previous flagship. According to what I have read, Asura is more of a bang-for-buck model meant to be Hi-Fi yet not breaking the bank where Zen is meant to compete with other top-of-the-line earbuds in the market.
     
    Accessories wise, there really are not a lot to talk about. Beside the decent hard case, all you’ll get are some foam pad. Then again, that’s pretty much the standard for most other earbuds, so nothing to complain about.
     
    Build quality is decent. They are not Sennheiser MX895 so there isn’t any flashy metal or unique design to speak of. The earpiece housing is just the generic type, though the cable do look better than decent - with weaved cable on Asura and the straight silver cable on Zen. Can’t really say what is the material used though, as VE doesn’t list out detail spec on both models. Needless to say, I don’t think you should use them on rough situation (i.e. sport and such). Otherwise I don’t see a problem.
     
    [​IMG]
    Asura
     
    [​IMG]
    Zen
     
    Sound Quality
    It isn’t easy to describe the sound signature of Zen. If MX985 is about immersion and warm where TM7 is about lush and liveliness, then Zen will be about PRaT. If you don’t know about what PRaT means, well, it is basically the ‘toe-tapping’ factor in music. The kind of factor that makes a certain headphone more ‘danceable’ than other on the same music. One of the reason is perhaps Zen has one of the best bass impact and attack I have heard on any earbud. It is not purely a quantitative matter as Zen isn’t exactly what I’ll refer as bass heavy, but the transient is certainly excellent. The vocal range is actually slightly further away when compared to TM7 (and even more when compared to the very sweet MX985), though it holds on to its own and doesn’t sound thin at all. If anything, I’ll say Zen’s vocal range is still pretty good. It gives a sense of depth while still keep a good amount of texture. In contrast, I’ll say Yuin PK1 sounds much thinner in the mid-range. Treble is quite good as well. Not as sparkly as TM7 but I don’t sense any darkness or dullness either. Soundstage is somewhere between TM7 and MX985 - not the widest, but still above average.
     
    Asura pretty much share the same sound signature as Zen, with a similar emphasis on PRaT, but feels a bit more compressed on overall dynamic and a bit grainier on the upper vocal. Still, it is good enough that I think it will give PK1 a good run for its money. One thing to note is that, because of the 320ohm vs. 150ohm impedance between the two earbuds, Asura can sound better than Zen when they are on weak source. For example, even though they are both loud enough on my Sony A15 (10mW @ 16ohm), I can definitely tell the Zen has lost its edge and feel rather lifeless. Asura on the other hand still rocks on. But once I have A15 feeding into iDSD micro (as DAC) and O2 (as amp), the situation reversed where Zen comes up on top. So a word of caution is to consider what kind of source you will be using with these two earbuds as it can kind of turn things around.
     
    All and all, I’ll place Zen as one of the best three earbuds I current have, among TM7 and MX985. Asura on the other hand is just a few steps down, at the middle of my top ten list, perhaps right around where PK1 will be.
     
    [​IMG]
    From left: MX985, TM7, Asura, and Zen.
     
    Sum-up
    I don’t usually get goosebump when listen to earbuds , but I do when I heard something that of exceptional quality. The last time I got one is from Blox TM7 some 2.5 years ago. Since then, I have picked up Hifiman EX100, Obique ES903, a few Dasetn, Sidy (also known as BGVP) DX1, some Tingo, Audio-Technica CM707, a very cool Chinese made Dual-Driver-Matrix based earbud and last but not least, the hybrid DUNU Alpha 1 – none is bad per se and a few are actually quite good, though they never approach the top-tier level – but then comes the Zen, and in fact Asura as well. I got two goosebump in a day and it is golden.
     
    Now we just need someone to bring these out of China.
      fnkcow, DJScope and golov17 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. golov17
      Pure true, thanks for review :innocent:
      golov17, Jul 25, 2015
    3. effsandoval
      What is the difference between the Zen Black And Zen 2.0?
      effsandoval, Nov 19, 2015
    4. ClieOS
      @effsandoval, Zen black should be Zen 2.0 with Cardas cable, if I am not mistaken. Don't ask me about the SQ of either as I haven't listened to them yet. Might have a chance later
      ClieOS, Nov 19, 2015
  9. waynes world
    VE Zens.. Amazing sound!
    Written by waynes world
    Published Oct 13, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound, durable
    Cons - Not the flashiest looking earbuds in town
    Back in March, I received the Zens from Lee of Venture Electronics in exchange for my honest impressions. I was a bit hesitant because I have never enjoyed earbuds, and that bias had me a bit concerned that I would end up having to write potentially less than positive impressions. But thank goodness I bit, because the Zens are amazing.
     
    There are plenty of excellent and informative Zen reviews out there, so I'm going to keep my impressions brief. The main genres I listen to are progressive rock (Porcupine Tree, Rush, Radiohead etc), rock (Dave Mathews, Dire Straits etc), electronica (progressive house trance), and some pop.
     
    When I got the Zens out of the box, my first impressions were: super durable looking; very utilitarian looking; and "hey, there are some black Asura (beta) buds in here as well - cool!"
     
    I knew that the Zens have a  crazy impedance of 320 ohms, and had been for warned that to get the most out of them, that I should use an amp. Bearing that in mind, I have been listening to the Zens off of the following gear for the last 6 months:
     
    1) Laptop -> HifimeDIY Sabre U2 Dac -> Cayin C5 amp
    2) Colorfly C3 -> C&C BH amp
    3) Xuelin 770 dap
     
    The setups with the amps do bring out more of what the Zens are capable of - more solid bass, fuller sound with more body, tighter sound, and generally better "prat". Having said that, the Zens still sound rather stellar off of the 770 dap and I am quite content listening to the Zens off of it. I listen to them off of any/all of my sources and am quite happy.
     
    The sound of the Zens basically blew my mind when I first listened to them. Incredibly full, balanced, refined and detailed sound with a beautiful airy soundstage and great imaging - much more of a "headphone" sound than an IEM sound. The bass is beautifully layered, the mids are perfectly presented, and the highs are detailed, airy and present yet completely non-fatiguing. They sound great with any of the genres I like, so they are very versatile for me. And as other accomplished reviewers have noted, the Zens have great "prat", and judging by how much the Zens get my toes tapping, I'm inclined to agree! Basically, the Zens provide a very full and balanced "Hi Fi" sound that is completely non-fatiguing. I can and want to listen to these puppies for extended periods, and I haven't tired of them in six months (which for me is practically a miracle).
     
    As far as the beta Asura's are concerned, they were a wonderful bonus. They have more of a V-shape signature than the Zens and are not as refined, but they still sound very good. And they are also quite durable... I like to fall asleep listening to music and the Asura's have withstood six months of that torture test and I don't see them falling apart anytime soon.
     
    As a side note, I found that I actually enjoy the earbud form factor quite a bit - in fact more than IEMs. Not having something jammed into my ear canals is a relief for me. The Zens sit comfortably in my ears, they stay nicely in place even without earhoox (which was a surprise), and my ear canals don't get sore after a period of listening. Also, I am sure that having more air circulating in the ears is a good thing (for example, when falling asleep using the Asura's).
     
    So simply and in summary, the Zens sound amazing. 
    1. golov17
      Therefore since brevity is the soul of wit :sunglasses::clap::thumbsup:
      golov17, Oct 13, 2015
    2. mochill
      Need mo love for zen:laughing:
      mochill, Oct 13, 2015
  10. fnkcow
    VE Zen a 320ohm earbud of great SQ when given enough juice
    Written by fnkcow
    Published Jun 13, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality
    Cons - Needs powerful source to perform well, stiff and microphonic cable, lacking accessories
    IMG_20150601_235825aR.jpg
    Introduction 
     
    I always have an avid interest in earbuds even though I am primarily focused on In-Ear Monitors (IEMs). The thing is, earbuds tend to find themselves becoming the middle child in the family, with the big brother in headphones taking up serious ear time when people want to sit down and have critical listening in the comfort of their own homes, whereas the youngest brother in IEMs being preferred when people want to go out and about due to their strengths in isolation and portability, hence drawing manufacturers to focus on developing headphones and IEMs for their mass appeal, leaving earbuds stuck between a rock and a hard place, the awkward and forgotten child. With lack of much interest in earbuds, development and advancement in earbuds are scarce and few and far between at best, and there is only a handful of earbuds available on the market right now as compared to headphones and IEMs, thus I don't have much expectations of earbuds. When I caught wind about the emergence of a new company named Venture Electronics from China having its focus on making earbuds, I clicked through to find its the earbuds in particular its flagship Zen gaining great feedback, my curiosity got the better of me and I enquired about the earbuds, and would like to thank Lee for giving me this opportunity and have a review sample sent out for me to hear them through my own ears.

     

    Technical Specifications of VE Zen

    Transducer: Dynamic Driver
    Transducer Size: 15.4mm
    Sensitivity: 106dB (1mW)
    Impedance: 320ohm (1 KHz)
    Frequency Response: 15Hz~23.5kHz (-10dB)
    Cable Length: 1.2m (+/- 2 cm)
    Cable Material: OFC with TPE outer skin
     
    Packaging

     
    Unboxing VE's white cardboard box revealed the following:
     
    IMG_20150525_114316aR.jpg
     
    1. VE Zen
    2. VE Monk beta version*
    3. A zipper hard case
    4. 3 pairs of earbud foam cushions
    5. VE welcome message
     
    Quite basic packaging and accessories. The zipper hard case is of good guality and prevents crushing very well. Would like to see a shirt clip included. More on this later.
     
    *Take note that Monk is currently shipped free with purchase of Zen, but that may change in future when stock eventually runs out/discretion of Venture Electronics. Do check with them first before buying if you are interested in the extra earbud. 
     
    Design, Build Quality and Cable
     
    IMG_20150601_235926aR.jpg
     
    The earpieces use generic MX500 shells as its housing. This uninspiring design has been used countless of times in many earbuds, and since Zen is their flagship, it should be different from its budget youngest brother Monk for instance in the housings. Since they are still a startup company though, it is understandable why they would go for the tried-and-tested path instead of developing their own design. In future developments, I would like to see they put in their own design into their next flagships.
     
    I found the OFC cable with TPE outer skin to be stiff with cable noise. The microphonics were quite audible especially when out and about, and certainly would have benefited by including a shirt clip and a cable cinch. Qualms aside, the OFC cable is of good quality as it feels like solid silver cables and won't tangle easily compared to its many peers available on the current market.
     
    Fit and Comfort
     
    IMG_20150525_114521aR.jpg
     
    I tried the foam cushions and preferred to use the earbuds without them on as the foam cushions tended to hinder part of the sound spectrum IMO. I could have the Zen on for hours on end comfortably and not noticed any ear fatigue or pain. YMMV as the earpieces are a bit on the large side and may not fit well with small ears. 
     
    Sound Impressions
     
    IMG_20150601_235905aR.jpg
     
    Drive-ability: With Impedance of 320ohm (1 KHz) and Sensitivity of 106dB (1mW), it is easily one of the highest impedance within earbuds and IEMs, but that does not mean that it cannot be driven at all by the likes of normal mobile phones and typical DAPs. It can be driven by them, but the end result would just be average/subpar, and would sound rather dull and lifeless. It requires powerful source such as extra amping capacity and desktop setups to perform the way the engineers intended and the better the source the better it scales. In my testing I paired the Zen with my Cayin N6 and Meier Audio Corda PCStep. 
     
    Soundstage and Imaging: Wide soundstage and airiness have always been advantages of earbuds against IEMs, but at the sacrifice of sounding too flat and 2D. In the case of Zen however, it renders a 3D soundstage with proportionate width, height and depth, giving a feeling of spaciousness with quality imaging. Layering and separation of instruments are fairly good, not excellent as it will tend to sound a bit congested when there are lots of elements going on within a song but they are sufficient and will not get totally overwhelmed and collapse. 
     
    Lows: Big bass compared to many earbuds, with nice balance between sub-bass and mid-bass and does not bleed into the lower mids. It is not what I would refer to as bass heavy, but well-controlled with good impact, attack and speed. On the minus side, bass decay stops a bit too quick for my liking. Only when dealing with songs laden with copious amounts of bass that it becomes a bit too overpowering and loose. Nonetheless, very few earbuds have this kind of lows that kept me engaged and toe-tapping when the right songs came up.
     
    Midrange: Forward sounding and intimate meaty mids, a bit thick with slight veil masking small details. Vocals are rendered with full body, realism and a bit of warmth with no peakiness or sibilance. Female vocals perform better than male vocals.
     
    Highs: Smooth highs but not lacking in details. Treble extension is good with decent sparkle but a touch rolled off, slightly soft resulting in loss of headroom space and airiness.
     
    Conclusion
     
    IMG_20150601_235608aR.jpg
     
    VE Zen has a sound signature of fairly neutral tuning, leaning a bit towards musicality with a tinge of warmth. I often caught myself few hours later doing nothing other than listening to the Zen transfixed by its relative ease in portraying music effortlessly. Its qualities may not jump out at you at first listen but it fits like a pair of well-worn gloves. I think that it is a surprising entry from a relatively unknown company before its release then suddenly become one of the major contenders in the world of earbuds. For it to perform true to its capability however you will need good power source. For those who does not have a powerful source or who does not want to carry an additional amp with them, Venture Electronics do have a more portable-friendly solution in the form of Zen's younger brothers the Asura and Monk. At present I have heard that they are about to release newer retuned versions of the Asura and Monk. I look forward to future releases by Venture Electronics. 
      RedJohn456, DJScope, agyer and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. fnkcow
      @golov17 In Head-Fi, the yellow Stars is actually the total rating for the overall package. 4 Stars is what I have rated overall, which IMO is fair given the Pros and Cons that I have listed. Head-Fi has a sub-section where there is a separate rating for SQ. Check the green bars under "Audio Quality", which I have given a very high rating.
      fnkcow, Jul 28, 2015
    3. golov17
      So I was wrong and I apologize :cry:
      golov17, Jul 28, 2015
    4. fnkcow
      @golov17 I could now see that it's just a misunderstanding. No hard feelings mate. All good :wink: 
      fnkcow, Jul 28, 2015