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Hippo VB vs. Vmoda Vibes

  1. Mochan
     
    I borrowed a friend's Hippos and was excited to try these highly-regarded bass monster IEMs. However, my initial impressions have me a little confused.
     
    I'll be comparing them first to the Vmoda Vibes, which is the only IEM I have on me at the moment. This is fine because the Vibes are a very nice, smooth, laidback and bassy (and thoroughly underrated) IEM which was in a similar price range as the Hippo a few years back. They're also both made in China so at least they have something in common. :)
     
    HippoVibe.jpg
     
    First, I am not sure what the bass ports do... I tried changing them, swapping them out with 2 and 3, even tried listening without any ports attached. I didn't notice any change in the sound signature! I am not sure if I've killed my low frequency hearing already after years of listening to bassy closed cans... but actually it seems my low freq appreciation disappeared after I moved to open cans. I dunno. I'll keep it on VB1 which is supposed to have the greatest bass impact.
     
    I'm listening to these with an iPod Nano using an LOD into an E7, volume is set to 10 with no bass boost. Like this, I feel the Vibes will offer a worthy comparison against the Hippos. The Vibes are a laidback, smooth IEM with very expansive soundstage, poor isolation, incredible comfort and rich thick bass. It's a little weak in the mids and treble due to some muddiness, but is a pretty smooth IEM to listen to.
     
    My impressions right now of the Hippo after some quick listening: a very dark phone, with extremely recessed mids and highs. It has less sparkle in the upper end than the VModa Vibe, and the Vibe doesn't even have that much sparkle in the treble. The bass is nice, fat, but not particularly boomy. Very solid. Soundstage is impressively larger than I would have thought. Reminds me of the Vibe's soundstage, though not quite as expansive. Its advantage over the Vmoda though is that they have less grain in the sound. The Vibes really lack definition but the Hippos have much more detailed mids and highs (even if they are rather recessed).
     
    Am a bit disappointed with the bass though. I was expecting more quantity, but its bass doesn't have any more impact than the Vibe's.  Was really expecting a bass monster of another magnitude because HeadFi keeps saying these compete with higher end bass monster models like the IE8 and Turbines. Not sure about that. Will borrow some Turbines tomorrow and do a comparo, as the Turbine Vanilla's and MF170s still have the most bass impact I have heard in an IEM.
     
    I did some changes in listening volume and was surprised by the results.
     
    Using them through the E7, with Bass Boost Level 3, at Vol. 16 the treble becomes so harsh they are almost unbearable. Almost as bad as the J3s from JLabs. Without bass boost though they are fine. Very strange. I think these IEMs clip easily when overdriven, which is why bass boost causes it to sound horrible.
     
    With the same settings the VModa Vibe is still smooth to listen to and very pleasurable actually.
     
    Anyway after a little more listening I feel that the Hippos don't have any midbass, or at least have no emphasis on it. It doesn't have the same rounded yumminess that the Vibes have... which probably means it doesn't have a nice fat midbass bump. The bass does go down deep though... just doesn't seem to have all that much impact. Listening to some Maxine Hardcastle from Hed Kandi's 2009 Beachhouse mix, I'm just not feeling the impact like I do on the Turbines, MF170s or on even just the Vibes. There is slam, just not as good as I'm used to with my standard bassy IEMs.
     
    I'm honestly quite a bit disappointed with the Hippo's as bass phones. They have some nice strengths to them, I like the big soundstage, recessed treble, with added definition in the mids and treble, and deep bass, but it lacks oomph in the low end, can get shrill in the treble, and ultimately doesn't satisfy from a bass head's perspective.

     
    I'm going to have to listen to these further over the following week, I'll be returning these to my friend next Friday. I hope to gain more insight into this popular bassphone from China by then, and hope to compare them to the IE8, the Turbines, and if luck be willing, the Turbine Golds.
     
    I'm honestly quite a bit disappointed with the Hippo's as bass phones. They have some nice strengths to them, I like the big soundstage, recessed treble, with added definition in the mids and treble, and deep bass, but it lacks oomph in the low end, can get shrill in the treble, and ultimately doesn't satisfy from a bass head's perspective.I borrowed a friend's Hippos and was excited to try these highly-regarded bass monster IEMs. However, my initial impressions have me a little confused.
     
    I'll be comparing them first to the Vmoda Vibes, which is the only IEM I have on me at the moment. This is fine because the Vibes are a very nice, smooth, laidback and bassy (and thoroughly underrated) IEM which was in a similar price range as the Hippo a few years back. They're also both made in China so at least they have something in common. :)
     
    First, I am not sure what the bass ports do... I tried changing them, swapping them out with 2 and 3, even tried listening without any ports attached. I didn't notice any change in the sound signature! I am not sure if I've killed my low frequency hearing already after years of listening to bassy closed cans... but actually it seems my low freq appreciation disappeared after I moved to open cans. I dunno. I'll keep it on VB1 which is supposed to have the greatest bass impact.
     
    Anyway I'm listening to these with an iPod Nano using an LOD into an E7, volume is set to 10 with no bass boost. My impressions right now after some quick listening: a very dark phone, with extremely recessed mids and highs. It has less sparkle in the upper end than the VModa Vibe, and the Vibe doesn't even have that much sparkle in the treble. The bass is nice, fat, but not particularly boomy. Very solid. Soundstage is impressively larger than I would have thought. Reminds me of the Vibe's soundstage. Its advantage over the Vmoda though is that they have less grain in the sound. The Vibes really lack definition but the Hippos have much more detailed mids and highs (even if they are rather recessed).
     
    Am a bit disappointed with the bass though. I was expecting more quantity, but its bass doesn't have any more impact than the Vibe's.  Was really expecting a bass monster of another magnitude because HeadFi keeps saying these compete with higher end bass monster models like the IE8 and Turbines. Not sure about that. Will borrow some Turbines tomorrow and do a comparo, as the Turbine Vanilla's and MF170s still have the most bass impact I have heard in an IEM.
     
    I did some changes in listening volume and was surprised by the results.
     
    Using them through the E7, with Bass Boost Level 3, at Vol. 16 the treble becomes so harsh they are almost unbearable. Almost as bad as the J3s from JLabs. Without bass boost though they are fine. Very strange. I think these IEMs clip easily when overdriven, which is why bass boost causes it to sound horrible.
     
    With the same settings the VModa Vibe is still smooth to listen to.
     
    Anyway after a little more listening I feel that the Hippos don't have any midbass, or at least have no emphasis on it. It doesn't have the same rounded yumminess that the Vibes have... which probably means it doesn't have a nice fat midbass bump. The bass does go down deep though... just doesn't seem to have all that much impact. Listening to some Maxine Hardcastle from Hed Kandi's 2009 Beachhouse mix, I'm just not feeling the impact like I do on the Turbines, MF170s or on even just the Vibes. There is slam, just not as good as I'm used to with my standard bassy IEMs.
     
    I'm honestly quite a bit disappointed with the Hippo's as bass phones. They have some nice strengths to them, I like the big soundstage, recessed treble, with added definition in the mids and treble, and deep bass, but it lacks oomph in the low end, can get shrill in the treble, and ultimately doesn't satisfy from a bass head's perspective.
     
  2. JxK
    You're getting a bad seal. There is a very marked difference in sound between the various bass ports. Play around with fit and tips, the hippos have an odd body shape. Also, for reference, the best port by far is the two dot plate. The three dot is flat and analytical, and the zero dot plate is bloated. Two dots gives the most natural sound.
     
  3. Mochan
    I'll need to experiment with more tips, but I've never gotten a bad seal with T400s so this is really weird. But a bad seal might explain why I'm not feeling the bass, because frankly I didn't expect it to have just Vibe-level bass and the Vibe is just a middle of the road IEM for me in terms of bass.
     
    It would also be weird if I did get a proper seal with these results, because leaving the ports off and having the back exposed should really give me more air in there for bass. I didn't notice any diff so I must have a bad seal.
     
     
    Come to think of it I didn't get the "ear suck" feeling that usually accompanies a good seal so I'll have to keep trying.
     
  4. kingpage
    You don't look like someone who's not experienced with tips and fit, based on your signature.  But good luck.
     
    Maybe A bad batch?
     
    You could also ask your friend about how he treated the phones as well (in a nice manner).
     
  5. Mochan
    Doubt it's a bad batch, my friend had no issues with the bass. They're still pretty new, just two weeks old so I doubt they're worn out already.
     
     
    Maybe it's a seal issue. Was wondering, do the Hippo's really seal? They are open in the back, so are they really supposed to get an airtight seal like say the Metro.Fi's or the TF10s? The Vmoda Vibe, for instance, has a small bass port that lets air in and out. I never get the "ear suck" feel with the Vibes like I do with my other IEMs. The Hippo's clearly have an open back, and hey I even tried it without the ports screwed on, looks really open to me. Am I supposed to get an airtight seal on these?
     

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