When you first start listening to the VE8 you will notice its energy and high level of detail, combined with great clarity, speed and extension. The VE8’s sound stage is both wide and deep and its presentation is fast and tight, yet rich and musical. The tuning is neutral and linear but not cold or analytical, it’s more smooth and easy yet very natural and real. The weight is evenly distributed over bass, mids and treble, so there is no sign of a V-shaped sound curve this time. In balanced mode with the Leonidas cable and the AK70 the VE8 picks up some noise but it doesn’t with the AK380.
The Vision Ears VE8’s treble will blow you away, could this be the very best treble in a CIEM ever? The VE8 uses 4 BA’s to produce treble but I wouldn’t really say this is a treble focused monitor as the VE8 doesn’t push them upfront. The treble is perfectly in line with the bass and mids but it is incredibly detailed, clean, clear and precise. Treble is fast and price with great layering. It’s a please hearing such qualitative, energetic treble without it sounding harsh or sharp.
The bass, just like the treble, is detailed and fast. Bass is tight at all times and it has great richness and layering. Bass goes down low when needed but you don’t get any of the big body sub bass down low. You get quality bass with very good layering, speed and precision but it’s all in a neutral yet lively setting. Don’t expect woofer thumping bass is all I’m saying, expect quality bass with just the right amount of impact.
The mids in the VE8 are quite different from the more recessed VE5’s mids. In the VE8 they have more body making the whole presentation more linear. The mids have lovely texture with good depth and layering. They sound musical and natural and the voice are perfectly incorporated in it.
In short, the VE8 is detailed and clean, with great extension especially on the upper end. Bass goes deep when needed but it’s not for bass heads as its quality over quantity. The lovely textured mids have great body with an airy yet natural delivery. The overall presentation is neutral and detailed but smooth and musical. The combination of bass, mids and treble just works really well.
All impressions below are with the Astell&Kern AK380 as source
The Vision Ears VE5 has great bass and it shows the same clarity, speed and precision as the VE8. The VE8’s treble is further extended, detailed and more energetic. The voices in the VE5 are more upfront and the mids are more in the back, giving the VE5 a more V-shaped signature with a strong focus on vocals. I still love this monitor’s sound but it isn’t the great all-rounder the VE8 is, the VE8 sounds more natural and the VE5 more airy.
The CustomArt 8.2 (in silicone) also has more forward sounding voices than the VE8. Bass is a little smaller in quantity but it’s still very good and goes low with great impact. I have the impression the VE8’s bass goes a little lower and has better layering. The mids are bit more in the back like in the VE5 (but not as much) and the treble, while very good, isn’t as extended. The Vision Ears VE8 uses 2 “extra” drivers for treble while the 8.2 uses those for “full range”. Both are great monitors, theyare just tuned differently with a different BA setup. The 8.2 also is neutrally tuned but it is thinner (mids) than the smoother and more relaxed VE8.
Jomo Audio’s Samba is bigger in size but the sound is very much like the VE8. They share the exact same configuration with 4 BA’s for treble. Bass and mids have the same amount of body and they both have great layering, detail and depth. The voices in the Samba are a little more lively while they’re softer in the VE8. Treble in the VE8 is further extended and energetic than in the Samba. A very comparable sound with only small difference in voices and treble.
The universal Inear ProPhile 8 with both switches for bass and treble in the “on” position, has less body then the VE8 and it sounds thinner. The VE8 has a more spacious, airy and full bodied presentation. The PP8’s bass goes very low but it is less in quantity, the voices in the PP8 are more like those in the 8.2 than they are like the VE8’s. The VE8 sounds more dynamic, musical and lively than the flatter and dryer sounding PP8.
8. Driveability & Sources
The VE8 is really easy to drive and it doesn’t need an amplifier to sound best, using a high-end amplifier however will make the VE8 sounds its very best and it will let you “change” its sound signature a little.
The AK380 on its own gives the VE8 a lot of detail with great speed, clarity and a big and deep sound stage. It’s also dead silent and it’s my favorite DAP for the VE8, and for most of all my other monitors really. For some reason it does pick up a lot more noise from the AK70’s balanced output. The iPhone 6S delivers a more concentrated sound with bigger body (bass!) and less depth. I can’t really say I’m a fan of this combination, as it misses some clarity, air and precision and shows a little too much bass. My Samsung S6 delivers a clearer sound with less imposing bass and more detail. It’s also much faster and detailed sounding which makes it a good combination.
The VE8 picks up a lot of noise with ALO Audio’s tube powered CV5 and as it’s audible during music playback, it’s a no go for me. When you can hear past the noise then you get a very rich sound with superb bass, rich mids and energetic treble. Such a shame about the CV5’s noise as this would have been a superb combination. With ALO Audio’s CDM in full balanced mode, you more or less get the same story but there is less noise which allows you to listen to music without it disturbing you. The sound is very clear, fast and precise with great dynamics.
With Cypher Lab’s fully balanced Duet amplifier the VE8 is nearly dead silent. The Duet is one of the very best portable amps on the market and it makes the VE8 sound its very best with top quality bass, very rich natural sounding mids and energetic treble. This combination (with the AK380 as source) is the best of all the setups I tried. Another wonderful amplifier to pair the VE8 with is Bakoon’s HPA-01M, especially if you like more bass. The Bakoon (current output) is dead silent and makes the VE8 sound incredibly natural and dynamic. The only down side of this setup is that bass and mid body is quite bigger than “neutral”, but all the rest is just candy to your ears. The voltage output doesn’t really match up to the VE8’s sound.
With Chord Electronic’s Hugo the Vison Ears VE8 picks up a tiny bit of noise which only is audible when no music is playing. Hugo itself is very rich, spacious and layered and that’s a great match for the VE8. It’s almost as good as with the Duet but you get less body and a little less bass while voices are a little more in the front. With everyone’s favorite, the Chord Mojo, the VE8 is dead silent , fast, detailed and precise, and all of that in a musical way with excellent bass. A very good combination.
What a great sounding monitor the Vision Ears VE8 is. It ticks away all the checkboxes of everything I like and it’s almost as if Amin and Marcel tuned this VE8 just for me. I really don’t see what’s not to like of VE8: it is detailed and clean, with great extension especially on the upper end and bass goes deep but its quality over quantity. The lovely textured mids have great body with an airy yet natural delivery. The overall presentation is neutral and detailed but smooth and musical. The combination of bass, mids and treble just works really well. It is fairly close to the Jomo Audio Samba and as a result the VE8 ranks among my very best and favorite monitors.
Absolutely stunning, in all possible ways.