Hello everyone. Been awhile since I've been around these parts. Been busy, but also haven't really had any GAS for new stuff. I've been pretty happy with my portable setup for the road for well over a year but every now and then you poke your head up and get curious to see what else is out there. When I did that a little while ago, I saw the VK-X was coming. I liked the VK-1 soincally (and still need to sell mine, to be honest) but it was fairly useless on a plane/train and did not isolate very well. If you look at my post history, it's littered with noise cancelling headphones I've either auditioned or purchased (again, need to clean house and get rid of things I'm not using). I've been pretty happy with the B&O H8i but there's always that nagging "Is there something better?" I auditioned the H9i but it didn't pair well with my Sony NW-WM1A, and while I wanted over ear, I am totally fine with on ear (as my history will also show). Anyway, because I liked the sonic signature of the VK-1 and its real weakness was isolation and I saw that the VK-X addressed a lot of my concerns (over ear and noise cancelling) plus you could do a made to order custom color combination ... well, you know what happened. It was a plus that it had bluetooth (5.0 at that!) and supports LDAC which is a nice pair if I want to use the WM1A wirelessly. The VK-X arrived this morning as part of Batch 3. I will try to upload pics at some point but right now I don't have time. The packaging was nice, and it included a nice note from Aedle that was addressed to me. It comes with a case designed for it, a USB-C to USB-A cable, a USB-C to USB-C cable, a USB-C to 1/8" cable, and an airplane adapter for the 1/8" cable. The only cable input is a USB-C going into the bottom of the left earphone. Let me talk about the cables Aedle included for a moment: they are really nice. They are thick, have metal (not sure what kind) ends, and are not cheap/chintzy. The USB-C to USB-A/C cables are SuperSpeed, and the USB-C to 1/8" is flexible (similar to what the VK-1 one was I think), but seems to have minimal microphonics in my limited testing (more on sound in a minute). The VK-X has a DAC in it, but it can be used passively (it's how I'm using it at the moment) with the power off. To use bluetooth (which cannot seemingly be turned off) or noise cancelling (which can be on or off), the power has to be on. After charging it up, i gave it a quick sonic test. First, let me talk about charging. The LED will indicate where you are which is better than other headphones I've owned which generally only indicate on/off or charging, but it's not perfect. Why? Red (< 5%), Orange (< 15%), Normal (15 - 90%), Green (> 90%) is again, better than I've seen but 15 - 90 is a wide range. I'd sooner see some intermedate steps. The battery colors flash on USB plug/unplug and if you power on the headphones. The color blinks on and off the whole time as to what battery level it is which is a plus. For the USB plug/unplug, I found that a bit wonky. It worked most of the time. To get to green took a few hours. I had to be patient. It was blue when I got it, so as you can see by what I put, it could have been at 15% or 75%. I don't know ... hence my gripe. Passively (USB-C to 1/8") sounds great out of the box. I've just thrown a few things at it, but it's much more detailed and open than the H8i. It's got a wide soundstage, but not too wide. The bass can go nice and low (I tested with some tracks that have prominent 5-string bass guitar), but the highs, mids, and lows seem pretty balanced. I threw a bunch of different rock and jazz tracks at it - the VK-X didn't bend or seem to be better for one genre than another. For fun, I then plugged the H8i in. Wow ... what a difference. It sounded like a wet blanket in comparison. The clarity of the VK-X can't be understated here. The soundstage is narrower and overall the sound is more "boxed in" for lack of a better term. The bass definitely sounds more goosed on the H8i and has definition, but is definitely muddier. I'm not saying the H8i sounds bad, but the VK-X is that much more of an improvement. It was what I was hoping for when I auditioned the H9i. A good A/B of how much the VK-X was better was on the song "Before the Lobotomy" from Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown - just listening to the acoustic guitar on the VK-X was crazy. Hank Jones' piano on "Have You Met Miss Jones?" from The Great Jazz Trio - July 5th is the best I've heard it sound in awhile from my portable devices. John Pattituci's acoustic bass sounds right. The ride cymbal of Omar Hakim has just enough sizzle. The thing I noticed myself doing with the VK-X that I didn't with the H8i is bob my head to the music. It's definitely a musical headphone. Turning it on and then trying to use bluetooth, it was easy to pair with my WM1A. There is no app, so you're getting the "sound" of the DAC as it was tuned at Aedle, which is pretty good. The WM1A's EQ does not work over BT, so that won't affect the sound. You're just hearing the headphones, if you will. I have the WMA1 set to LDAC, and it seems to work. One note: I accidentally had the 1/8" cable still plugged in when I turned on the VK-X and tried to use BT. Unplug the cable to get full sound. User error there. Whoops! The BT controls are pretty simple: turn the knob on the button at the bottom of the right earpiece for volume, quick double click of the right earpiece button to fast forward a track, and same on the left but go back. Even I have to admit it's not as fiddly as what you get on the B&O the one time I tried BT. In my brief listening tests, I prefer the cabled passive sound to BT. Turning on the headphones, I noticed very little difference between passive, on with noise cancelling off, and on with noise cancelling enabled. That's no mean feat. The only sonic oddity so far that I noticed is that when using BT, on the Rush song "Tom Sawyer" there seemed to be a bit of "pumping" in certain spots which didn't happen when cabled (VK-X on or off). It was heard in the parts with the OB-X sweep, the kick, the guitar, and the hi-hats when the cymbal crashes occur. I'm going to e-mail them and ask. That is a tuning/software/BT thing to me, not hardware. When using a cable (which would be my default with these), I sometimes enable the EQ on my WM1A to tweak the sound (vs. Direct) if necessary, so the lack of any kind of EQ controls via an app or anything else is fine by me. I could see if you like to tweak your sound and you can't do that in your device if it transmits raw data, until such time as Aedle implements an app, you may not want these if their sound did not agree with your tastes. The default for noise cancelling when the VK-X is powered on seems to be off. I will not be testing noise cancelling at home; I have a business trip starting Sunday so I'll put the noise cancelling through its paces on some plane rides. EDIT: So far comfort seems spot on, but I reserve judgement since they just arrived today. A six hour plane ride separates the adults from the children That's about it for now. More as time goes on. Feel free to ask questions!