4. Price & Accessories
Prices for the 5 driver by Vison Ears start at €1399. That seems to be more or less the market price even if it is a bit on the higher side of average (Earwerkz Penta: $999, Rhines Stage 5: €1379, CE5P:$900, Noble 5c: $950)
The VE5 comes delivered in a nice personalized box as shown in the picture above. The picture below shows a preview of the new upcoming VE box, quite a few others companies have switched or will switch to these boxes soon.
Inside are: a cleaning tool, some stickers, a cleaning spray, a soft pouch (which I love), dry caps (always useful) and an 6.3 to 3.5 adapter. The big box allows for everything to be in there but I have to admit I am now using a Pelican 1010 and the velour pouch with the VE5. The 1010 fits a drying cap, stock cable, cleaning tool and the pouch with the monitors and the Mars cable.
In the end there are only a limited number of accessories an IEM company can give you, VE gives the usual and a bit more so there’s no complaining there.
5. Customer Service
Again, I didn’t follow the normal procedure as I we arranged everything by email. If I understood well VE still uses a form (in PDF) to order your unit. The form can be found here and it is pretty straightforward on how to proceed.
My VE5 fit well and work great so I didn’t get a chance (yet) to try their after sales service but while I was with them on a normal Friday afternoon, there actually were several people who came into the store to check out the gear. All were helped quickly and in the friendliest way and I have no doubt they will help existing customers (with problems) out in the same helpful way.
6. Driveability & Sources
The VE5 is very easy to drive and basically doesn’t need any amplification to sound really good. I have used it straight of the iBasso DX90, Fiio X5SG, AK120ii and AK240 with an external amp to fire it up. My favorite players with the VE5 are the Fiio X5 Second Generation and the AK120ii. While there still is an obvious gap in sound quality between them they both share the same characteristics: detailed yet musical, very clear and fast sounding, to sum it up.
To me the DX90 was a bit slow with the VE5 but the bass did get a bit more focus. (we’re not talking about night and day differences here). Of course the AK240 did just as good as the AK120ii but I just prefer using the AK120ii for some reason. I have way too many portable amplifiers to talk about all of them so I’ll just give a short impression of the latest few. The VE5 on the CypherLabs Picollo has a completely black background and there is no audible hiss at all. The left-right balance is superb even when listening at very low volume. The ALO Rx performs better in the mids section, which is one of the strong points of the VE5, but the left right balance at low volumes isn’t the best. It also still gets way too loud too quickly with my sources used and there unfortunately is some hiss audible when no music is playing or in silent passages. Musical wise however the Rx is gorgeous to listen to but I really get upset when I hear hiss and noise so I didn’t really like it on the Rx.
Same story for the all new and to be reviewed Cypherlabs Trio tube amp. The big difference between this amp and the previous two is that it wasn’t developed with IEMs in mind and as a result you will a lot of noise when using sensitive IEMS (which almost all customs are). If you can look/hear past this noise you will get a very musical, slightly smooth and warm sound with great speed. The Trio is an excellent portable amplifier as you will read soon in the review, it just isn’t for all IEMs. Last but not least is the budget Fiio E12A which also gives a completely black background. I quite liked the way the VE5 sounded on the E12A and that’s quite logic as the E12 delivers really smooth and musical mids, the strongest point to me in the E12A.
With the Chord Electronics HUGO, you do hear a little bit of hiss but it isn’t audible when music is playing. The Hugo does make the VE very smooth and musical sounding. The big advantage of the Hugo is that the scroll button allows a very precise volume setting, even at extremely low volumes, and all that without channel imbalance.
Basically, again, you really don’t need an amplifier but you can use one if you feel the VE5 needs a bit more body or treble focus or bass, etc. Like I said, I have mostly been using it without amplification straight out of the DAP so there’s no real or immediate need for an extra investment.
After having unpacked my freshly made monitors I took a seat at the demo area and hooked it up to the AK120ii + Hugo combo I took along with me. I immediately liked what I heard.
The description Vision Ears gives of the VE5 is: “Crystal-clear, airy highs result in a stunningly open sound. Powerful presence in the high-mids gives a great vocal-reproduction. Outstanding clarity and precision in combination with great resolution over the whole frequency-range”. And that is a pretty correct description. If you remember the BA configuration (1 x Highs, 1 x high-mids, 2 x mids, 1 x lows) you already noticed the focus is on the mids and highs, and especially the upper mids. The upper mids and the treble is where the VE5 really shines but that doesn’t mean at all the rest isn’t sounding good, it’s just not as present. That’s the best description I can give it.
Sound continues on page 5