Pros: Neutral, detailled, dirt cheap and very capable.
Cons: Little bass light. A tad bright.
Some time ago, bhazard reviewed the Vivo XE800 and they’ve since been on my radar. Word on the street is that the XE800 uses the same driver as the Vsonic Gr07, which costs north of $100. When I heard the XE800 became available for under $30 I ordered them immediately. After falling into the fake Xiaomi Piston 2 trap, I didn’t get my hopes up too much since the price could be too good to be true. To this day, I cannot guarantee these are real since I’ve never owned the XE800 before, but these sound fantastic so I thought they deserved some impressions. Fake or not. (Pictures taken with a potato, proper pictures available in the Aliexpress link provided below).
Got them here for US $26.91:
Edit: You can get them here for $18:
Burn in: 24 hours on the cooker before listening.
I'm not affiliated with Vivo or any other manufacturer/seller. All opinions are my own.
My acknowledged bias derives from my music preference (Indie/alternative/rock), my preferred sound signature (neutral with a touch of subbass) and previous audio gear (see profile).
Frequency Range: 5HZ- 30000Hz
Biggest Power: 50mW
microphone frequency range: 20HZ-16000HZ
Plastic seal-able bag containing 3 different size tips. Usually the M size tips give me the best seal, this time however I had to use the L size.
Build, design and fit:
They feel sturdy and durable. The cable feels and looks exactly like the Apple earpod cable. The microphone + one button remote work fine, although they feel a bit cheap. The movable nozzle is more of a nuisance than a blessing. I wish they just pointed fore-/upwards. Once moved in the right position, they fit nicely without hurting your ear canal.
The sound signature is balanced with a tilt towards upper mids/treble. The soundstage is average, while positioning and separation is very good.
I’ve tried these with the Audioquest Dragonfly 1.0 DAC, iBasso D2 + hi Boa DAC/Amp and right out of my ZTE Axon mini. Using CD ripped (44.1Khz) Flac files and Spotify Extreme. The XE800 are very well driven from a smartphone without sacrificing too much sound quality. Very suitable for people who do not own a DAC/Amp (yet).
Very natural and accurate. The opening cymbals in 'Franz Ferdinand – This Fire' sound very accurate. For songs like ‘The Police – Roxanne’ and ‘Radiohead – The Reckoner’, the treble is fantastic. Hitting the sweet spot and sounding oh so natural. Brining clarity and details without sounding piercing or annoying. When the music gets more complex (Like in ‘Artic Monkeys - 505’), the sound gets just a tad too bright. I found the treble is hugely influenced by the used tips; when using my tips which usually add bass, the treble might get a little sibilant and less natural at times. I found that the stock tips give the best result.
Nothing short of great. Drums, guitars and voices sound clear and very detailed. During the intro of ‘Nothing but thieves – Itch’, the XE800 clearly displays the background voices distinctively. Guitars sound powerful without turning into a muddy mess. Especially male voices combined with acoustic guitars sound stunning (Ed Sheeran – The A-Team). In ‘The strokes – Machu Picchu’ the picking and strumming of the guitar is displayed with a certain intimateness which makes you think they are playing In the chair next to you. Drums/claps and other rhythmic objects are an absolute joy to listen to with the XE800. If I had to pick a shortcoming here it would be the lower mids which could use a little bump.
Here comes the tricky part, while being tight and articulate, there is just not enough of it. I am usually not the kind of guy who likes it when the bass speaks without being spoken to, but in this case I would require a little more initiative from the bass department. Especially when using the Dragonfly v1.0, the bass under performs to my taste and does not deliver the oomph guitars and pianos require. Bruno Mars’ piano in ‘When I was your Man’ sounds tiny. The reverb of the big bass drum in the intro of ‘Elbow – The Fix’ is absent. The main focus of the XE800’s bass is on the subbass, however it doesn’t dig as deep as I hoped for and the midbass is somewhat absent. Luckily they do respond very well to a slight bassboost or a warm source. The Ibasso D2 is known to adds some bass to the party, which seems to be very adequate for this IEM. In ‘Band of Skulls – I know what I am’ the bass delivers the right amount of punch when combined with the Ibasso D2. A bass boost of 10-20% in Poweramp also seems to do the trick.
Compared to the Zero Audio Tenore (around $30):
Different species of Jedi. While the XE800 tilts towards brightness, the Tenore tilts towards darkness. Both share the same excellent midrange. The Tenore shows a huge improvement when combined to the Dragonfly, the XE800 is less picky. The soundstage of the Tenore is smaller, but the bass is near perfect. When driven directly from a smartphone, the XE800 is easily the right choice.
Compared to the Philips Fidelio S1 (around $70):
The XE800 is far more detailed compared to the Fidelio S1. The S1 is one of my all-time favourites due to the sound signature, which is flat with a bump in the subbass. The soundstage of the S1 is more open and ‘headphone like’. The Philips has one of the most natural sounding treble I have ever heard, the XE800 has better treble extension. The openback design of the Philips does not allow for use in public transport, the XE800 requires a EQ or warm source. It comes down to preference here.
While the XE800 is not perfect, it is phenomenal for the price. The detail retrieval and clarity is unheard at this price point. I would recommend this directly to singer/songwriter fans. Bass heads should steer away.
TL;DR: Balanced, clear, neutral, very detailed, little bit bright, could do with some more bass, go buy.
This is just my opinion, even though it seems like I have stated is as a fact at times. It just reads easier.
Now that I have them coupled to the Dragonfly Black v1.5 (DFB) from my laptop and gave them a proper burn in, the XE800 does show its true potential. The DFB is a little warmer than the 1.0 version, providing the missing ingredient for the XE800. Combined with the DFB, the bass and the lower mids are more present while maintaining balance and tightness. The highs have lost their sibilance with nice layering and clearness, probably due to burn-in. The combination with the DFB offers a neutral and engaging sound that keeps amazing me, its like they have found their missing sibling.