Brief Review: VSonic VSD3S, Ostry KC06 & Havi B3 Pro I

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There’s no set formula for determining what gets reviewed here on The Headphone List, but requests and recommendations from our readers are always considered. I get a lot of suggestions for IEM reviews – so many that I have to keep a running list – but it is always my hope to incorporate those I feel have the most potential into the queue.

In 2014, nothing has been requested as often and as vehemently as the VSonic VSD3S, Ostry KC06, and Havi B3 Pro I (maybe the Xiaomi Piston 2, but that’s already covered). The VSD3S is an obvious one, being VSonic’s first all-new release since the VSD1 and VSD1S models that I liked enough to include in the Earphone Buyer’s Guide. Ostry and Havi are two new(er) Chinese manufacturers that have been making quite a splash on Head-Fi. Since all three have similarly impressive performance and are priced around $60, it made sense to pit them against each other. All three turned out to be deserving of full reviews, which will be written up later on.

Ostry KC06

Basics: I’ve had the KC06 the longest of the three. The earphone first impressed me with its packaging, which is a rather cleverly assembled without appearing wasteful. Accessories include 6 sets of single-flange eartips (three with a wide inner bore, and three with a narrow one) as well as a shirt clip, set of cable guides, and an (inconveniently small) velvet pouch.

Ostry KC06

Ostry KC06

The earphone itself is metal and feels very solid. It utilizes a straight-barrel design with a short, wide driver chamber. To allow for a deeper fit, the strain relief exits the main housing at a tangent. I like the design and build of the earpieces, though I’m less enthusiastic about the cable, which has a shiny, slightly sticky sheath. The cable on the VSonic VSD3S, for example, while similar-looking, is actually thicker, smoother, more flexible, and has less tendency to tangle. The KC06 also lacks a sliding cinch above its small metal y-split and uses an I-shaped pug

Cable noise is minimal, and though designed for cable-down wear, the KC06 can be worn cable-up with the right eartips. The cable is somewhat resistant to over-the-ear routing but a set of earhooks is included make this more convenient.

Performance: The sound of the KC06 is on the whole balanced, but a little off-neutral. Bass is slightly enhanced overall, with mild sub-bass roll-off. Mids are quite forward, reminding me of the Fidue A63, though the KC06 is brighter and not as smooth. Thanks to strong upper midrange and treble presence, vocals are very intelligible. There is also plenty of sparkle, good top-end extension, and a soundstage that’s wide and airy.

The strength of the KC06 is definitely its mids, which are prominent and very clear. The sparkly treble that nonetheless does not exaggerate harshness or sibilance is very good, too, and the presentation is nice and open for an in-ear earphone. The bass has good impact but not the best depth, which gives it a less solid thump than, for instance, the VSonic VSD3S with its plentiful sub-bass. Compared to many higher-end IEMs, the KC06 also sounds a little lean and lacks soundstage depth and imaging ability. For the price, though, it’s very hard to fault.

One peculiarity of the KC06 is that it is an extremely sensitive earphone. This was likely done on purpose – after all, the ability to reach ear-splitting volumes with ease is definitely a plus when competing in the consumer market. However, this also means that static will be audible with sources that have a high noise floor, so those who are hiss-sensitive may be better off with a less efficient earphone. In addition, low volumes can be hard to dial in with some sources.

To start off, I compared the KC06 not only to the B3 Pro I and VSD3S, but also a few of my long-term benchmarks to see where it stands.

Havi B3 Pro I ($60)

The most striking thing about comparing the KC06 to the B3 Pro I is the difference in efficiency – the KC06 is significantly more sensitive than the average in-ear whereas the B3 – significantly less so. Combined, this creates an enormous difference in the general listening experience, with the KC06 reaching high volumes effortlessly and exposing hiss and background noise in the process and the B3 requiring a lot more juice to reach listening volume.

Other than that, the B3 Pro I has quite a few similarities to the KC06 – punchy bass, clean and prominent mids, and present – but not excessively sharp or edgy – treble. The KC06 sounds more colored – its midbass hump is more audible, and yet overall it is brighter. The B3 has tighter, less pronounced bass and generally sounds more lean and dry. It is also darker, with less sparkly and extended treble, though the two earphones are equally smooth overall. The extra upper treble helps the KC06 seem a little more airy and out-of-the-head, but the B3 has the more well-rounded presentation.

VSonic VSD3S ($45)

The VSD3S fits right in between the VSD1S and the pricier GR07 Classic in VSonic’s lineup, and the KC06 likewise sounds better than the VSD1S but doesn’t quite stack up to the GR07. The most obvious difference between the slightly v-shaped VSD3S and the KC06 is the midrange presentation – there, the KC06 sounds stronger and clearer thanks to its more forward midrange and brighter overall sound. The KC06 has more of a mid-bass hump and some deep bass roll-off, whereas the VSD3S has a better bass depth and feels more solid and natural at the low end. Tonally, the VSD3S is a little warmer. Interestingly, while the KC06 is brighter and a little more sparkly, it is still less sibilance-prone than the VSD3S.

HiFiMan RE-400 ($99)

The HiFiMan RE-400 is a very balanced earphone with a mild midrange focus. Next to the KC06, it sounds a little dull, but also more accurate and neutral. Whereas the RE-400 is slightly flatter, tighter, and more extended at the low end, the KC06 has an audible mibass hump, though far from severe enough to really compromise bass quality. Both earphones have similarly forward mids, but the KC06 is brighter, which makes it sound even clearer and gives its vocals better intelligibility. The top end of the KC06 has more sparkle, but also tends to be less forgiving than the ultra-smooth RE-400. Overall, I found the KC06 to be a little colored-sounding next to the RE-400 but otherwise not far behind, especially considering the price gap.

Ultimate Ears 600 ($60)

The Ultimate Ears 600 is a balanced armature earphone with a smooth, mid-centric sound signature not too different from that of the RE-400. In short, the UE600 is flatter and more neutral overall compared to the KC06, with less impactful – albeit more extended – bass. The Ostry is more colored-sounding, with brighter treble and more mid-bass boost. The UE600 sounds more full-bodied and natural in the midrange and has smoother treble.

SQ score range: 8.3-8.6 (final score still TBD)

Current prices:
KC06 Silver: $58 from Amazon.com; $58 from ebay.com | $63 from lendmeurears.com; $69 from mp4nation.net
KC06 Gold: $65 from Amazon.com; $69 from mp4nation.net

VSonic VSD3S

Basics: It’s quite rare for an IEM manufacturer to score so many hits in a row, but VSonic has had at least one solid release every year since the 2010 launch of the GR07. The first of VSonic’s new VSD series of in-ears, the VSD1S, has also spent a year and counting as one of the top picks in my IEM Buyer’s Guide. VSonic earphones have always had functional if somewhat plain packaging, and the VSD3S is no exception. Accessories are remarkably similar to those of the Ostry KC06, down to the sub-par carrying pouch. The VSD3S comes with 4 pairs of silicone eartips (including one double-flange pair), 1 set of foam tips, a pair of cable guides, and the drawstring pouch.

VSonic VSD3S

VSonic VSD3S

The construction of the VSD3S is plastic, with rather handsome semi-translucent angular housings. The design is ergonomic, intended for over-the-ear wear, and similar in footprint to current-gen Westone earphones. The VSD3S foregoes the rotating nozzles of preceding GR04, GR06, GR07, and VSD1S in favor of a conventional fixed-nozzle design. Despite this, I found the earphones very comfortable and flush fitting. The new nozzles also keep tips in place better.

A major selling point of the VSD3S is the detachable cable, a feature rarely found on sub-$100 earphones. VSonic has tried this once before with the VC02 model, but the connectors on it weren’t particularly secure. Combined with a lack of availability of replacement cables, this made the feature more trouble than it was worth. Unfortunately VSonic chose a proprietary coaxial connector for the VSD3S rather than a standard 2-pin or MMCX plug, but at least the new connectors are secure. There have been some reports of malfunctioning connectors but this is supposed to be fixed at this point and replacement cables – the key to the success of any detachable-cable earphone – seem to be available.

As with the other over-the-ear VSonic models, cable noise is virtually nonexistent and noise isolation is pretty good – about on-par with the GR07.

Performance: The sound of the VSD3S is typical VSonic all the way through, falling smack in the middle between the VSD1S, which is bassier and more v-shaped, and the new GR07 Classic, which is flatter and more refined. The bass is slightly enhanced, but still tight and accurate enough to compete with almost anything in the price range. The VSD3S has a very good balance of midbass and subbass – its deep bass, for instance, is more robust and extended compared to the Ostry KC06 and Havi B3 Pro I. Midbass is less prominent than that of the VSD1S and KC06, though still a little more emphasized and less tight compared to the GR07.

Tonally, the VSD3S is similar to other VSonics – a bit warm thanks to the mild bass enhancement, but still quite close to neutral. It also maintains the mildly v-shaped sound of the GR07 and others, with less forward mids compared to the KC06 and Havi B3 Pro I. Treble is strong, providing good energy and crispness. As usual, it sounds very natural with the exception of a bit of sibilance, especially at high volumes. The presentation is quite good for in-ear in this price range, but lacks some depth compared to higher-end sets and misses out on some of the sheer expanse of the clearer, flatter GR07.

Havi B3 Pro I ($60)

The VSD3S has an advantage in efficiency over the B3, though not nearly to the same extent as the KC06. Its sound is more v-shaped overall, making the B3 Pro seem mid-centric in comparison. The VSD3S has more bass, especially deep bass, whereas the B3 misses out on the rumble and more solid “thump” of the VSonic unit. In the midrange, the B3 has more presence but also sounds a little thinner. The more forward mids make vocals sound more intelligible compared to the slightly more mid-recessed VSonic. The VSD3S has stronger treble presence but also sounds more sibilant next to the fairly smooth Havi. Overall, the single-driver VSonic set appears to have better bandwidth, and while the B3 has a nicely open and spacious sound with good imaging, it can’t quite match the dynamics of the VSD3S.

VSonic VSD1S ($45)

The “lower-end” VSD1S is pretty much the same price at the VSD3S at the time of this writing, but aside from a little more bass doesn’t have much going for it in this comparison. The VSD3S is clearer overall and tighter at the low end, with less of a midbass hump and more focus on deep bass. The midrange of the VSD1S is a little more recessed, making it slightly muddier and more muffled than the VSD3S. The VSD3S sounds a little fuller, more neutral, and more natural as a result. Outside of the bass and midrange, these two don’t differ much, but the tighter bass and superior mids of the VSD3S are quite convincing.

VSonic GR07 Classic ($99)

The GR07 Classic is to the VSD3S what the VSD3S is to the VSD1S. Both provide that quintessential VSonic signature but the GR07 boasts a clearer, more neutral sound with tighter bass. Bass quantity lags behind the VSD3S, but the GR07 Classic has less midbass and simply more refined lows overall. The midrange of the VSD3S is a little muddier and more muffled, whereas the GR07 sounds more natural.

Ultimate Ears 600 ($60)

Ultimate Ears’ BA-based UE600 sounds a little mid-focused overall, making it an interesting contrast to the VSD3S. The VSonic unit is more v-shaped and has significantly more bass (and better deep bass) than the UE600. The midrange of the VSD3S is a lot less forward, and less clear as well. The UE600 sounds very mid-centric in comparison and has much smoother treble. The VSD3S is more sibilant but also has a more natural and dynamic presentation. The forward mids of the UE600 make it sound a little flat in comparison, keeping the soundstage quite forward and not very deep.

SQ score range: 8.4-8.7 (final score still TBD)

Current prices
$45 – 60 from Amazon.com; $40 – 50 from lendmeurears.com;

Havi B3 Pro I

Basics: The B3 Pro I from Havi has the appearance of a more pro-oriented product compared to the Ostry and VSonic units, from the rugged-looking cable down to the way it is packaged. There are two stages to the earphone’s accessory kit – accessories found inside the acrylic box with the earphones, and those that Havi includes on the side. I’m not surprised that Havi had to add more accessories because all you get in the box are 3 pairs of single-flange silicone tips – slim pickings for a $60+ IEM. The additional accessories that shipped on the side include 3 sizes of double-flange tips, 3 more pairs of single-flange eartips in a different style, and a pair of foam tips, as well as a cleaning cloth, soft pouch, and clamshell carrying case.

Havi B3 Pro I

Havi B3 Pro I

The B3 uses an over-the-ear design with a plastic build. The faceplates of the earphones are flat and oddly-shaped but the part that goes in the ear is quite ergonomic, making the B3 Pro I just as comfortable as the VSD3S. The nozzles are properly angled and while there are no cable guides included, there is a cable cinch to help fix the cord in place.

The cord itself seems pretty standard – a little stiff and probably somewhat microphonic if not for the cable-up wear style. Below the y-split, the cable is flat, made up of the four leads placed side by side. The blocky 3.5mm L-plug seems quite durable, yet still works with most smartphone cases. Isolation is about on-par with the VSD3S – certainly decent enough for a dynamic-driver set.

Performance: While the Ostry KC06 and VSonic VSD3S are both single-driver designs, the B3 Pro I utilizes a pair of 6mm dynamic drivers in each earpiece. You would expect plenty of bandwidth and a warmer, more bass-heavy sound, but the B3 is surprisingly lean and no less focused on its midrange than the Ostry KC06. It’s also quite inefficient – most so than any earphone I compared it to – and can be underpowered. The difference is not quite night and day, but a proper amp or source (I used a full-size OPPO HA-1 amp/DAC in my comparisons to make sure the B3 Pro was getting enough power) will bring out a fuller, less treble-tilted sound with more effortless imaging. With a poor source, the B3 Pro I tends to sound brighter and more compressed, both in soundstage and dynamics.

HiFiMan RE-400 ($99)

The HiFiMan RE-400 provides a flatter and more balanced sound than even a well-amped Havi B3 but suffers from a slightly more forward, less out-of-the-head soundstage. It boasts slightly better bass depth and a thicker, fuller sound but still has a cleaner, sharper note presentation. Overall, I think the RE-400 is a hair clearer, but the Havi is thinner, more forward in the midrange, and slightly brighter thanks to greater upper midrange and lower treble presence. This often makes vocals seem more intelligible, which is impressive considering the RE-400’s reputation for clarity and vocal performance. The RE-400 is smoother through the treble but the Havi, surprisingly, does not seem prone to harshness or sibilance. The B3 is more spacious overall.

SteelSeries Flux ($50)

One of the big drawbacks of the Flux as a consumer-grade earphone is its low sensitivity, but the Havi definitely has it beat there, requiring even more power to reach listening volumes. The overall signature of the Flux is balanced, with a bit of added bass and very mild midrange recession. Its bass is noticeably deeper than that of the B3 Pro I. The mids of the Flux are less forward, making vocals sound a little more muffled compared to the Havi unit. The Flux is a little more full-bodied and smoother through the treble, making it a bit more forgiving of treble artifacts. However, I still found myself preferring the brighter and clearer B3 most of the time.

SQ score range: 8.3-8.6 (final score still TBD)

Current prices: $58 from lendmeurears.com$64 from Amazon.com

 

Conclusion

Seeing such capable and well-designed earphones coming from relatively little-known brands (plus VSonic, of course) is a testament to the market moving in a more competitive (and more value-driven) direction still, as it has been for the past couple of years. Testing three earphones head to head is never a simple task, and the excellent performance of these three didn’t make it any easier.

Despite its lowest as-tested price, I personally preferred the sound of the VSD3S. Two things sealed the deal – the awesome bass and it being pretty much straight step forward from the VSD1S, which has been one of my sub-$50 benchmarks all year. The Ostry and Havi are extremely close to the VSD3S and each other in capability and value but the more extended and lively treble is where the KC06 (barely) won me over, though I liked the tighter bass and better imaging of the B3 Pro I.

All three also had downsides, albeit ones totally forgivable for the price – the VSonic unit suffers from occasional sibilance and less forward mids; the B3 Pro I requires power and has a slightly thin note presentation; and the KC06 could use better depth and imaging.

Look for full reviews of all three units in the months ahead!

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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

188 Comments

  1. Priyank Ahuja on

    Hey Joker,
    Please recommend me my next earphones.

    I listen to all kinds of music esp pop, metal, rock, etc with streaming apps.
    Punchy bass (should not be muddy and should not destroy mids)
    Cancellation and isolation
    Treble should not be pinching at high volumes.
    Fitting is most important as most of the pairs I own tend to fall out easily.
    Gym and running purpose.
    Sturdy build with L connector and tangle free cables.
    Microphone is not a requirement.

    I have shortlisted :
    Shure SE215
    Ostry KC06A
    Hifiman RE 00
    ATH CKX9IS Sonic Boom
    RHA S500i
    Jays a-jay five

    I already own
    Brainwavz S1, Sennheiser CX 3.0, Jaybird X2, Sennheiser cx 275s, MI Piston 1,2, 3

    Thanks in advance!

    • ljokerl on

      Shure SE215 – would be my #1 choice by far – punchy bass, good isolation, durable, designed for secure fit
      Ostry KC06A – not a good option – isolation is average at best and durability is not ideal for gym use
      Hifiman RE 00 – Same, HiFiMan IEMs are not something I would recomend for the gym as they are not known for durability
      ATH CKX9IS Sonic Boom – Not familiar with this model but the CKX5iS I do have is not as good as the SE215 and has the typical Audio-Technica sound with more bright/harsh treble
      RHA S500i – brighter-sounding earphone with a somewhat more generic/less secure design than SE215. Not as good a fit as the SE215 for what you’re asking.
      Jays a-jay five – not familiar with these

      • Priyank Ahuja on

        Thank you so much Joker for taking out time from your busy schedule to reply me.
        Which one would you recommend – Shure se215 or shure se215 limited edition?
        Thanks!

        • ljokerl on

          I’m not sure, never tried the LE.

  2. Mike on

    I previously had the Steelseries Flux and loved the sound and comfort. However those died and I am looking at VSD3 and the new Hifiman RE-00 from Massdrop. (Great promo on the Vsonic and Massdrop has a great intro price).

    Which of those would be a better match for me? Or do you have another suggestion for me?

    Thanks and I have definitely made purchases based on your awesome reviews. Thanks for running such a great site.

    • Mike on

      I could also do the VSD3/S ate their sale price. Thanks.

      • ljokerl on

        Hmm.. interesting question. The Flux is sort of a middle ground between the RE-00 (assuming it sounds similar to the old RE0/RE-ZERO) and the VSonics.

        I would personally go in the HiFiMan direction – you’ll miss the extra bass punch, which is more similar between the Steelseries and the VSonics, but you’ll also have smoother treble and better overall accuracy with the HiFiMan set. Coming from the fairly smooth Flux, the VSonics will be a little on the bright and harsh side of things, which could be a problem.

  3. Johnn on

    Hello Sir,
    I have all the three earphones and I have almost the same things to say as you have said. However, I would rate vsd3s the lowest based on my sound preference. I think vsd3s is technically inferior (less transparent) to Ostry and Havi. It’s also a lot more sibilant than Ostry. Yet Ostry is the brightest and most musical among the bunch.
    Waiting for full review, I’d surprised to see higher rating for vsd3s than Ostry n Havi..

    • ljokerl on

      Will do! I’ve been needing to catch up with some of these half-completed reviews.

  4. canali on

    joker:
    love your reviews…we’re certainly in a great age of portable quality music
    question: have you done any reviews showcasing your top 3 iems, in the price
    points of under $250, then $500, and $1000?

    i have seen reviews showing under $300, but not in such larger scales.

    the shure 846, for instance,
    looks most compelling, but forking out 1k makes me hesitant…and i wish
    to stay around the 1k mark, given or take a few hundred….seeking a well balanced
    iem for rock, blues, jazz, and some classical….you know has all the check boxes:
    detailed, balanced, musical, transparent etc….

    • canali on

      btw, my current iem is the sony xba h1
      just want to try something different and a major step up.
      got mine for a song: $70…good reviews, but they’re my
      first exposure to iems.

      • ljokerl on

        I don’t usually recommend IEMs priced that high because it’s difficult to demonstrate a strong value proposition over less expensive models (in most cases, not always). I can usually find a lower-priced alternative to recommend that will do the job for the vast majority of listeners, which is what goes in the buyer’s guides. They are not all-encompassing, of course, and I still recommend higher-priced IEMs on a 1-time basis when the occasion calls for it.

        There should be a new buyer’s guide going up today or tomorrow that has some higher-priced stuff in there, but depending on what type of sound you want spending more may not always be the answer.

        I have not heard any good feedback on the XBA-H1 – the few times THL readers have commented about them has all been negative – see the latest comment here from yesterday, for example: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/rha-ma750-ma750i/ . Can’t say anything with certainty since I haven’t tried them myself, but it may be easier/less expensive to upgrade than you think.

        • canali on

          thanks, joker…i appreciate your imput: it’s a bit dizzying out there, the number of good iems hitting the market, with more and more each quarter.

          so for under $500 what would be your go to iems (even a few listed) that is great for rock, jazz, blues….are balanced, punchy, detail, ‘transparent’? i only mentioned the shure 846 as so many people seem to drool over them: like it’s only when you spend near to $1k that you truly get killer sound (reference) quality.

          btw: i got the xba h1 based on this review:
          http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-200-in-ear-headphones/

          • ljokerl on

            That’s the same review mentioned in the other post I linked about the XBA-H1.

            Under $500 I’d get this: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/flc-technology-flc8/ . It’s such a versatile earphone that even if it doesn’t have the perfect tuning for Jazz/Blues (I’d normally prefer something a little smoother) on balance it’s still better than the alternatives. Plus you get a compact and very lightweight form factor (I personally couldn’t get comfortable with the SE846 – too large).

              • canali on

                sorry should have added to my last post: on smartphones becoming more audiophile, the LG V10 should be interesting..

                • ljokerl on

                  I haven’t read the article in full but that makes sense. I actually don’t much care how “audiophile” my phone is because I can just use an external DAC. The result is something that’s no bulkier than the average hi-res DAP, modular (meaning the DAC/amp can always be removed) and much more functional, with a better interface to boot. I haven’t really been interested in audiophile DAPs ever since my Nexus got the Lollipop update that enabled audio out via USB in all apps.

                  My main portable setup is a smartphone and an OPPO HA-2.

                  • canali on

                    wow, your comment on using your smartphone and a dac is great to hear….i’m of that nature, too…but prob i have is my lg nexus phone 5 phones doesn’t have a usb out…unless this new (lollipop) update allows the charger imput to become a usb out.

                    to be frank, and i don’t wish to diverge, but i do wish that apple had kept in the game with a more ‘audio pro’ dap to take on the AK and Fiios of the worl: you just look at their ipod touch gen 6….fab userfriendly features…light…small footprint…you dont feel like you’re carrying aroung something heavy. i even see some people on headfi using that gizmo, hooked up to a iFi micros dsd and running some onkyo hf data converter software on it.

                    thanks for all your help…looking forward to your soon to be released/updated list of recommended iems.

                    • canali on

                      oh and the other reason i admire the ipod touch 6gen: it has wifi (and many of other daps dont’)…so is great for streaming (which i’m trialing via spotify and tidal)…will be interesting to see what trends move forward into the future: will streaming continue to grow and offer better high res audio steams (yet i read the margins aren’t there for the big guns) alongside people who rip their music: will apple offer better res itunes to compete….who knows….then you hear about mqa and dsd…yet most of this isn’t mainstream by any measure yet.

                    • ljokerl on

                      Yes, that’s the beauty of it – Nexus 5 with Lollipop allows audio out via USB and has all the features you could want (except maybe SD card slot). No need for an iPod, even though I still have a 5G Touch sitting around somewhere.

  5. Bryn on

    Greetings,

    I’ve recently stumbled upon this website when deciding to buy a pair of new IEM’s. I am currently considering the following:

    Hifiman RE-400
    Havi B3 Pro-1
    Zero Audio Carbo Ternore

    What I mainly listen to is Jazz, Piano pieces (Jazz, Chill, New Age), Ochestral, Vocal.
    (From Buddah Bar to Antonio Carlos Jobim to Lisa Ono to Ryuuichi Sakamoto to Chie Ayado)
    I DO NOT listen to any EDM, or Techno, basically, I am not a bass head.
    My budget would be $100 (max) but preferably I would like to keep it as low as possible($60) and I will be willing to consider any other IEM besides the 3 mentioned.

    I mainly prefer airy sound/wider sound stage where I can “feel” where each instrument is or I “feel” that the person is performing in front of me.
    I know this may be a tall order given my budget, but which would you recommend for me?

    Thank-you for taking the time to read and reply to my comment.
    Cheers~!

    • ljokerl on

      Not sure about the Carbo Tenore but the RE-400 and B3 Pro I will both work quite well for what you want. I would lean towards the B3 Pro I not only for being less expensive, but also more spacious – the RE-400 is great at many things but soundstage size is not one of its strong suits – I’d say all three of the IEMs in this review do a better job of that. The B3 is the most balanced, however, so I think that’s the one you want.

      • Bryn on

        Thanks for the fast reply LjokerL!

        I shall get the B3 Pro 1 then. They will also be god for vocals too right?

        Thank-you

        • Bryn on

          Oh I have also stumbled upon the VSonic Vsd5 in lendmeurears ebay shop.
          The price of the Vsd5 and Havi is just $4 difference.

          Any ideas how both of these compare to one another for my preference?

          Also, the god* above is a typo. It should have been good.

          • ljokerl on

            In this case I still think the Havi is the better option. Vsonics tend to have a more energetic and exciting sound, but for vocals and better imaging the Havi will work best.

          • Bryn on

            Thank you once again for the informative reply Joker!

  6. Kabir on

    Hi Joker

    I’m a bit of a detail nut. I own a pair of vsd3s (fixed cable) for a couple of months now and am impressed with the detail. Thank you for helping me make the right decision, I love them. I listen to all kinds of music but mostly classical and blues.

    We all are aware that vsonics are somewhat sibilant and sometimes too bright. I am trying to EQ my pair and having a hard time doing so. I referred to your work from http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/VSonicVSD3S.pdf and used SineGen, but failed miserably. I understand if I EQ down the treble, I would be losing on the clarity, how do I find the sweet spot between sibilance and clarity? Also, I was told to EQ down and not up, having troubles dealing with that. This is how my current EQ looks like (I am using Equalizer APO):
    [Frequencies]
    Frequency5=100
    Frequency6=700
    Frequency9=4000
    Frequency10=5750
    Frequency11=10000
    Frequency12=14000
    Frequency13=20000
    [Qualities]
    All Qualities=1.41
    [Gains]
    Gain5=-0.5
    Gain6=1
    Gain9=1
    Gain10=-1.5
    Gain11=-4
    Gain12=-3
    Gain13=-3

    My idea is to have a flatter and more natural sound (somewhat real thing), what are your thoughts/suggestions.
    How would you EQ your pair to sound more natural? Thank you in advance.

    Thank you, for the effort you have put into this site.

    P.S. Sorry for grammatical mistakes, if any – English is not my first language

    • ljokerl on

      Glad you’re enjoying the VSD3S so far! It’s a great earphone for the price.

      Unfortunately I’m really not the person to ask about EQing – since I don’t really EQ my headphones, there are many far more knowledgeable than I on the subject, like for instance Joe Bloggs on Head-Fi: http://www.head-fi.org/t/615417/how-to-equalize-your-headphones-advanced-tutorial-in-progress

      Regarding your experience with EQing so far – it is in line with what I would expect and part of the reason I consider sound to be a very holistic thing – all aspects of a headphone’s sound are based on a complex combination of its few basic technical characteristics and all are interconnected. Yes, you can drop the treble to make things smoother but you’ll also lose clarity. Yes you can lower the mids and highs to increase relative bass quantity, but the clarity will again be reduced.

      This is even true when switching from one IEM to another. There’s no such thing as “an Etymotic ER4S with more bass but everything else the same” (even though lots of people ask) – there’s simply bound to be other differences.

  7. Mike on

    Hi Joker, could you please compare the bass of the Havi Pro vs the Etymotic HF5? I’m reading a lot on head-fi and from your review how the bass of the Havi’s are on the leaner side. I have and like the HF5 but the bass on those is about as lean as I’d go.

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah it’s about the same level of thickness as the HF5 so you should be OK in that regard. You can actually get more impact out of the B3 than the HF5 given enough power/headroom – they are quite a bit harder to drive than the Etys.

  8. chaim on

    I would like to know about the general build quality of the vsonic. The earphone I buy will be the only one I have. The schure 215 seem to be very durable but the vsonic seems to be much better sound. I saw somewhere that the with the shur you can lie on your side on a pillow. Are there any other ones in this price range that can do that?

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t had any issues with my VSonics except the VC02 – the detachable cables on those are a little loose now. For the VSD3/VSD3S, I recommend getting the newer fixed-cable version rather than the older detachable ones. For the SE215, the detachable cables are actually an asset and an extra layer of protection against malfunctions, so I would consider the Shures more durable overall.

      The SE215 and VSD3S can both be in the ear while laying down. Not sure they’ll be super comfortable as they’re not exactly small, but they should work for short periods of time, For something ideal for laying on your side you would need a smaller balanced armature earphone like the Soundmagic PL50, Westone W10, or SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro.

      P.S. VSonics only sound better if you consider more neutral/accurate sound the ideal, as I do. The SE215 is better if you prefer a warmer, smoother sound with more bass.

  9. Stefano an Italian on

    hello Joker and thank you first of all. I read many of you reviews.
    I own a dt990 250 ohm which i modified with two thin clothes over the drivers to tame a bit its treble. I do like it and I love how deep it can go. I’m not using it much for isolation problems. I also own a Monoprice 8320 which is not bad but not as clear as the dt990 in all areas. I’m looking for layers intelligibility, tunefulness, and deep bass (if the recording has it).
    So which one of theese or what else should I consider : GR07 class or BE (sibilance?), Re-400 (many users reported faulty cables in few months), Fidelio S1(dry?). I can buy each of them at araound 100 euros. ACS T15(not great depth but good isolation) at 170 euros?

    • Stefano an Italian on

      …. Fidelio S1 has a vented back like the monoprice so not much isolation I guess.

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t heard the DT990/250 but I know what the DT770 and DT880 sound like in various iterations, and they tend to be a little smoother than the GR07. The ACS T15 might be a little too neutral and the RE-400 is not as energetic or bassy as a DT770/880. I’d try to find a Fidelio S2 if you can – here in the US the price difference between them is negligible now, and the S2 is built better than the S1. The fit can be a bit tricky but as an 8320 owner you’ll be fine.

      Isolation is better than you might expect (and better than the DT990 I’m sure), but it’s not stellar. The included Comply tips help a bit.

      • Stefano an Italian on

        hello Joker, thank you for your suggestion,
        I bought a pair of Fidelio S2 at a nice price and I’m happy I did. They sound wide open from top to bottom. No harshness on treble, deep bass and I can really tell all instruments. I realy like them.
        No problem with the seal.
        Something playing like the S2 with much more isolation?
        Thank you again.

        • ljokerl on

          Glad you like the S2!

          An S2 with lots of isolation will be pretty tough – first off, the shallow seal does help with that open presentation. And second, for that much isolation you also want to go BA, which means the deep, slightly enhanced bass of the S2 will be a reach. For a balance of all those characteristics and without a huge pricetag, I would say Ortofon e-Q5 (it’ll still have less bass than the S2, but compared to strictly flat BA earphones it does pretty well).

          A promising newer model is the Aurisonics Rockets, but I still need to spend more time with that. My full review of it should come out next month on InnerFidelity.

          And if you really want to take your isolation up into top-tier territory, you’ll probably have to go custom – an Alclair Reference, for example, will give you that bit of extra bass punch and depth and of course good isolation.

  10. Chia on

    I’m looking for iem below $100 for running and maybe gym use. I would prefer wired instead of bluetooth since when I was experimenting with bluetooth, I forgot to charge my earphones most of the time. Do you have a few recommendations for durable, stay-in-your-ear, and comfortable headphone that doesn’t have a lot of microphonics? Sound quality doesn’t have to be superb since my budget isn’t too high either, just hope that it’ll last unlike most of my other iems ( which all sound great but can’t withstand my abuse of tossing my backpack and doesn’t stay in my ear, let alone comfort ).

    • ljokerl on

      Shure SE215. Secure fit, decent sound, over-the-ear to reduce cable noise, and the cable is replaceable. The only thing it lacks that you might want is sweat resistance, but I don’t have a lot of IEMs explicitly labeled as sweat-resistant (I typically just recommend the MEElec M6 for that).

      • Chia on

        I was told that SE215’s earguide flop around your ear when running because of the heavy Y-split so my friend didn’t recommend me using for running tho. I suppose durability and lightweight are hard to get at the same time. If comfort and secure fit are the most important (i.e. hopefully some light cable that doesn’t pull down or go around too much to drag the earguide ), do you have any recommendation?

        Thanks a lot for the help!

        • ljokerl on

          You can always just use a shirt clip to fix the cable in place – easy solution.

          MEElec M6 might be the best option for a light cable, especially if you want to be less worried about breaking them. Sound is not amazing by today’s standards but easily passable. You can always get a 2nd, better-sounding IEM for more fidelity-critical applications and leave the M6 on workout duty.

  11. Mike on

    Hi Joker:
    I have a pretty solid collection of VSonic IEM’s with the GR07 Classics, AN16’s, VSD2S and the VSD1S.
    I really like all of them and rotate depending on the music I am listening to.
    Is there enough difference with the VSD3S to justify another $45 or should I look elsewhere?

    Thanks

    Mike

    • ljokerl on

      The VSD3S fits right between the GR07 Classic and the VSD1S. Seems to me like it would be somewhat redundant in your collection.

  12. blazer39 on

    hi joker,

    great reviews, i don’t think there is more detailed reviews for these IEMs 🙂

    However im quite new to the IEM world and didn’t try a lot of them..im looking for something mid-forward with airy sound, OSTRY seems to

    • blazer39 on

      looks like i posted to soon 😛

      (continued)..im a fan of Grado sound signature and listen mostly to metal and rock, Which IEM will suit me best?

      Im thinking of havi b3, ostry or hifiman re-400, which one you recommend?

      Also gr07 CE and Dunu titan are options Im considering..bass is not my priority, i just want punchy and fast response bass

      • ljokerl on

        I would go Ostry… mid-forward with an airy sound describes it best. Plus, it has a shallow fit that generally makes for a good beginner’s IEM.

        • surpriserose on

          Hi joker! I just recently purchased a pre-owned Havi B3 Pro 1 knowing that I need an amp for it. What are the amps that you can suggest? Something below $100 like the Fiio E12?

          • ljokerl on

            I don’t have any of the latest-generation Fiio amps, so I can’t be sure how the perform. I do have an older E07k, though, and I’m very happy with it for the price. Any of them should be fine for the B3, really. It’s not that demanding – just needs a little juice.

  13. vlen on

    Hey Joker, I had the Ostry KC06 and they developed a short and when I tried returning them I couldn’t figure it out even though they said they had a 1 year warranty :/. The KC06 was the best IEM I have ever owned soundwise. Could you recommend a similar headset in price range and sound quality? I read through your post but couldn’t find any that seemed just as good as the KC06.

    • ljokerl on

      With small overseas-brand IEMs like that it’s best to get the warranty handled by the retailed/distributor if that’s an option. Hopefully you got them from mp4nation or lendmeurears or something.

      I don’t know of anything particularly similar to the KC06 in terms of sound – it’s a rather unique earphone, and good enough for the price that most things will be a downgrade. I’m drawing a blank trying to think of something that has slightly enhanced bass, good clarity, and fairly bright treble without sounding harsh or sibilant, like the KC06, as well as decent build quality. Maybe the LG Quadbeat F420. The mids are less prominent than they are on the KC06 but it does a lot of things very well and has a similar type of presentation.

  14. isssma on

    Hello Joker! I have been very fond of your reviews. Reading them is one of my favorite pasttimes. But now, it’s time to buy haha.

    I am looking for your insights on what type of IEM to buy. I have a maximum of $250 budget. However, I would like to go cheaper if buying a higher end wont be necessary. Now this is my question, which IEM would you recommend on a $250 (or lower) budget. My preferred genres are rock, alternative rock, and others. Now, the bands I am mostly listening to are linkin park, yellowcard, and other similar bands. I have bought the Pistons 2 (because of your review. Thanks!) but they broke. Now I want a really nice upgrade as before, I am a student when I bought it but now, have a job and the budget to go HiFi. I loved the sound of pistons 2 and would like a similar set but if something is better for my listening habits, I would gladly take the jump.

    Currently, I am eyeing the
    1. Hifiman Re-400
    2. Hifiman Re-600
    3. Dunu DN-1000
    4. Dunu titan 1
    5. Vsonic GR07 MKII
    6. Carbo tenores
    7. TTpod t2e
    8. Aurisonics Rockets
    9. Vsonic VSD5
    10. Sony XBA-H1
    11. Pistons 2/3

    (damn too much choices for the prospective buyers this time around haha)

    Also, I am willing to buy something that isn’t in the list :).
    Hoping for your reply. Thanks Joker!.

    • ljokerl on

      All the earphones on your list are pretty good as far as I know (though I can’t personally commend on the TTPOD, Tenore, or XBA-H1). However, you’ve left out two of the most important factors for narrowing down a recommendation. The first is your sound signature preference (even on the most basic level, whether it’s balanced, bassy, warm, smooth, v-shaped, bright, etc.). Sound signature preferences can correlate to the genres you listen to, but that’s not always the case so I try not to base my recommendations off of genres.

      The second thing is what you like and what you dislike (or would like to see improved) about the Piston 2.

      With the info provided I’d recommend the GR07 Classic (cheaper than the GR07 mkII at $99) as a “safe” choice that sounds good (to me) with the type of music you listen to. The GR07 does many things very well and is generally a good starter top-tier IEM. But again, if you happen to prefer a bass-heavy sound and/or found the bass quantity of the Pistons to be “just right”, that would supercede my opinion of what sounds good with that type of music and you would be better off with a bassier set.

      • isssma on

        Thanks for your insight! I guess I prefer warm- sounding earphones, with a big soundstage. Will the GR07 classic qualify? I am also planning to buy a CIEM from a local provider, namely, flipears, which is based in the Philippines. However, this CIEM maker lacks feedback as they have recently started business. Their Flagship, Flipears XXX, which uses three BA drivers with crossover, for about $350. Would you think it be wise to buy the CIEM instead?

        • ljokerl on

          The GR07 is pretty neutral in the grand scheme of things, but I guess if you compare it to something dead-neutral it will be a little warm, because the bass has a bit of extra punch. The Fidelio S2 or GR07 Bass Edition would be a touch safer here, but neither is as warm as a Piston 2. For that you probably want to go RHA MA750 or something.

          I can’t comment on an earphone I haven’t heard. It all comes down to tuning and implementation. The number of drivers is not irrelevant, but it’s definitely possible to design a triple-driver earphone poorly, and also to tune a great single-driver system. I will say that warm-sounding customs are fairly uncommon, but again I can’t say anything concrete about the one you’re considering.

  15. Chia on

    Great review! have been following your posts on head-fi and here for a while. It’s good to see so many good options here while I was first only considering RE-400. What would you recommend for a more forgiving sound signature for sub $100 range? Mostly use in library for
    music (j-pop vocal, acoustic, classical, orchestra) and
    video-watching ( youtube video ), so would like something more forgivable while maintaining a clean sound signature with good clarity and soundstage if given a relatively good source than (video) streaming online ( mostly use itunes with 320kbps in mp3 format )

    • Chia on

      If it helps, I’m currently using Sennheisser momentum as my go-to headphones but would like to change to something more portable, so I’m looking to try IEM (tho a bit worried about the fit). Really like momentum’s sound signature and bass response ( I also have ma900, hd598, and sony mdr-1r ) and I use hd598 for home-use ( which I love esp. the soundstage ). Thanks a lot for your help in advance!

      • ljokerl on

        The RE-400 is already very forgiving if you like a fairly neutral sound. The momentum is a little warmer but not by miles. Something closer to that would be the Sony MH1C (or the Bluetooth version, SBH80). If you don’t want the enhanced bass of the Sonys, then perhaps the SteelSeries Flux in-ear Pro. Also, if you go up a little in price, there’s the Brainwavz R3, which is the closest thing to a slightly smoother RE-400. However, it’s a little big so if you’re worried about fit the more ergonomic SteelSeries or Sony sets may be safer bets.

        MH1C: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/sony-mh1c/
        SBH80: http://theheadphonelist.com/sony-sbh80-review-mh1c-goes-wireless/
        SteelSeries Flux in-ear Pro: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/steelseries-flux-in-ear-pro/
        Brainwavz R3: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/brainwavz-r3-ver-2/

        • Chia on

          Wow! thanks a lot for the prompt reply! Sorry for the confusion but I meant Momentum over-ear headphone instead of the in-ear version ( currently I have no iem and all headphones ). I really enjoy the forgiving sound quality of it.

          Would you say Brainwavz R3 has better clarity and soundstage than re400 and sony/steelseries ? I’m willing to go up a little is there’s more than a hair difference. Comfort/fit and sound signature (forgiving yet detailed, not too congested) are the most important to me.

          I’ve also read your reviews about philips S1/S2 which seem really forgiving and detailed as well, how would they compare to re400/R3 in terms of fit and sound?

          Thanks a lot for your help once again!

          • Chia on

            I’ve auditioned my friend’s IE80 and the soundstage is amazing but the bass are too boomy for me on certain tracks. also the highs do not seem enough for vocals ( esp. female vocals ). from your review, gr07 seems to be very comfortable but the sound is a big harsh on treble, would you compare them in terms of forgivingness ? thanks a lot!

          • ljokerl on

            Yes, my reply was based on the momentum over-ear. I don’t think the in-ear is very common/popular.

            The R3 has marginally poorer clarity than the RE-400 due to having a slightly more warm and forgiving sound (that’s always a tradeoff) but the soundstage is better. There’s an in-depth comparison between them in the R3 review I linked above.

            The Sonys have more bass and sacrifice some more clarity for it. Based on your experience with the IE80’s treble I think the Sonys and Steelseries might be too smooth. Even the R3 is probably borderline in terms of vocals – the RE-400 is a touch more exciting in that regard.

            The Philips Fidelio S1/S2 are not very forgiving, actually – certainly not to the level of an RE-400 or R3, and closer to VSonics. There’s an upper midrange/lower treble lift that makes them quite harsh on certain recordings. Likewise, the VSonics can be a little sibilant. They’re great earphones, but not something I ever recommend when “forgiving” is a requirement.

  16. Wen on

    Great review Joker.
    I’m using RE400 and looking for an upgrade with more out-of-head sound stage, and I was looking at B3Pro1 because all the positive reviews about it’s “holographic sound stage”. Are there any alternative IEMs with similar/better sound stage below $300? Thank you!

    • ljokerl on

      The soundstage of the B3 is very good (and hard to beat) in that price range (sub-$100) but if you’re going into the $300 range you have a lot of options that can keep up – with a relatively balanced sound just a few would be – VSonic VC1000 (or Brainwavz B2 or Logitech UE700 – they’re all similar), Westone W20, Fidue A83, Phonak 112, Sony MDR-7550 and MDR-EX600, Orotofon e-Q5, and so on.

      • Wen on

        Thank you very mush Joker, I’ll look into each one of them.

  17. Julian on

    Hello,

    I was wondering if you could suggest any IEM,s around $100 that would be good for classical and universal use? I will power it using an iPad 4 with no amp.

    Thanks,
    Julian

    • ljokerl on

      There’s tons of good options. Out of the three here, I’d probably recommend the KC06 for that kind of use, but the VSD3S would be good too. There’s dozens of options outside of these three, too – if you want an accurate, balanced, true-to-source sound, for instance, there’s the excellent HiFiMan RE-400. That would probably be my pick. You can also get the VSonic GR07 Classic for $99 if you want a slightly more punchy and exciting sound. It’s an upgrade to the VSD3S, though not necessarily a stronger value at 2x the price.

  18. Abhishek Gupta on

    Hi Joker.

    As always, great comparison. You bring so much joy to people. 🙂

    I have a few questions related to VSd3s.
    How would VSd3s sound in comparison to Vsonic VC02 and ThinkSound MS01?
    Is there a difference between VSd3s and VSd3? if yes, what?
    Is the soundstage of VSd3s/VSd3 better than the IEMs mentioned above?
    Could it be considered a small upgrade to the above two?

    • ljokerl on

      I guess the VSD3S actually falls pretty neatly between the VC02 and MS01 – the VC02 tends to be flatter and more analytical than the VSD3S while the MS01 is a little warmer and more impactful. For me “true” (meaning natural) sound does lie somewhere between the VC02 and MS01 and the VSD3 does certain things, like imaging, better than both so I consider it an upgrade. In terms of soundstage width it’s not that different from the VC02, but overall presentation is subtly better. Still not sure how the VSD3 compares to the 3S.

      • Abhishek Gupta on

        What if you were to rate it in terms of Sound and Value? What would be your numbers?

        • ljokerl on

          There’s a sound score range in the review above. Value is 10/10, like the VSD1S.

          • Abhishek Gupta on

            So, I finally got the VSD3s. 🙂

            Didn’t surprise me out of the box as I was expecting considering the reviews these have all over the net. I checked for the authenticity of these on the official site using the scratch code.
            These sounded better when I listened to them again.
            Then late at night I put them on a notch higher than medium volume on the Jlabs (the one with the white noise – pink noise – radio noise – freq. sweep – etc. etc.) burn in track.
            In the morning I was shocked – the sound is changes. Sub-bass has recessed dramatically. I don’t feel the same punch and impact that was present at night. Imaging is also distorted, somewhat.

            Is it possible that I have permanently damaged the drivers?
            Or do they need time to recover to the original sound?
            Is burn in necessary? if yes, how should one proceed for it?

            I can have these replaced, the process is gonna be a pain in the ass and I have exams coming. If this issue gets better with time, I won’t take the pains.

          • ljokerl on

            No clue – I’ve had stuff that sounded worse over time, but it’s usually a gradual change (like burn-in, but the opposite I guess). I’ve never had an earphone become damaged from burn-in, but it sounds like something went catastrophically wrong in this case. Maybe give it a few more days (regular use, not heavy-duty burn-in) and see where you’re at then.

  19. Somesh on

    Thanks for the comparison joker. I have the sony mh1c and i like it.. what would be a better upgrade kc06 or vsd3s? Is the extra money for kc06 worth it?

    • ljokerl on

      They’re both quite different sound signatures from your MH1C. Neither is really a straight upgrade, if that makes sense. Just two very capable earphones with different tuning.

      • Somesh on

        what do u think will be an upgrade to mh1c within 100 usd?

        • ljokerl on

          That’s the thing with the MH1C – it sounds good enough that it’s really, really difficult to upgrade from in sound quality without moving to a different sound sig. For example I consider the VSonic VSD3S an upgrade, but it has a brighter, less warm sound with less bass overall and more treble, so really it sounds nothing like an MH1C at all.

          It doesn’t help that the MH1C signature is not that common. Whatever you go with, you’ll be moving a bit away from that sound profile.

          Staying on the theme of warmer sound with strong bass, I would consider the RHA MA750 or Yamaha EPH-100 upgrades if you can find them in your price range. The EPH-100 would be an especially good option i(if you can find a non-counterfeit one). It’s warm and has deep bass. The sound is a little thicker and more full-bodied compared to the MH1C, but not in a bad way. Just don’t expect much if a clarity upgrade from the MH1C, which already does very well in that regard for an enhanced-bass

          I am sure there are others that fit the bill if you accept that you won’t get the exact MH1C sound – in that case I would pick based on the sound sig you want to try and what you want to see improved over the MH1C (and also what you’re willing to give up because a no-compromises upgrade is probably not going to happen).

          • Kashi122 on

            Hi There
            Just entering the world of better quality IEMs…. Have the VSD1S and so far loved them. Bought HiSound Crystal HC-1 and ‘wow’, how wonderfully clear and crisp – but missing bass/fun factor somewhat. Now considering to spend bigger – RHA MA750 … will these combine the best of both worlds? Or just update the VSD1 to 3S ?
            Thanks!

          • ljokerl on

            MA750 is not really a compromise between those two – it’s more bass-heavy than both the VSD1S and Crystal, warmer in tone, smoother, and less “sparkly” in treble character. I highly recommend it as something worth trying for a “fun” sound, but it’s more different from the Crystal and VSD1S than you may think.

          • Kashi122 on

            Thanks Joker – hm, yes I wondered about that….
            vsd1s is probably as bassy/warm as I’d want to go… but ideally combine that bass level&timbre with highly sparkly qualities at the top end…. That’s when I thought maybe vds3s (or even the 5?) has similar bass levels but is clearer and more refined in trebles (?).
            I’m listening to 75% Jazz/female voices/acustic/classical, 25% everything else from R&B to hip-hop (rarely to rock and other ‘heavy’ music tough). Source is Colourfly C3 , amp , flac files.
            Would you like to recommend a couple of IEMs with superior sparkly treble while still providing the bass similar to what I’m used to? (US$80 max).
            Cheers

          • ljokerl on

            The VSD3S is a good way to go from the VSD1S – a little more towards the more balanced GR07 sound and yes, more refined – see the A:B comparison in the review above.

            Not a lot of other IEMs under $80 can keep up with the VSD1S all around. The VSD3S, the Ostry in the review above, and maybe something like a Philips TX2 would be the extent of your options from what I’ve tried, and I tend to prefer the VSD3S to the rest.

          • Kashi122 on

            Cool – thanks again for your suggestions and all the reviews and comments in general!

          • Markus Pache on

            Hi Again
            I’ve considered your suggestions… and now thinking maybe I should spend US$100 for GR07 (if I can find them for that price). Otherwise it’s the VSD3S …. one last question if you don’t mind… would clarity improve (compared to VSD3S) with a dual driver IEM, the Astrotec ax30 or ax35 (price-wise still close to VSD3S)?
            Thanks again in advance 🙂

          • ljokerl on

            There’s no rule that says dual-driver IEMs have to sound a certain way. In the case of the AX-35 (the Astrotec dual-driver I’ve reviewed), the sound is more v-shaped and not nearly as balanced as a GR07 Classic or even VSD3 – the midrange is more scooped-out and the treble is brighter. For things like vocals and acoustic music, it really doesn’t sound as natural.

          • Kashi122 on

            Thx ljokerl – ok, finally decided – I’ve just ordered the GR07 fom LMYE / Singapore – very much looking forward to it!! Thanks for your input!

  20. ido on

    vsd3 upgrade-

    I really like the sound signature of the vsd3… But i am looking for bigger stage and better separations…
    Any directions?

    • ljokerl on

      The GR07 would probably be the closest while maintaining that sort of sound signature.

      • ido on

        Thnx 🙂

        Is there any big difference between the classic(99$) and the bass(129$)?
        Are they both sensitive as the vsd3?

        • ljokerl on

          Mostly in the bass region as the names imply. The Classic is a touch less bassy than the VSD3S and GR07 BE.

  21. Howdywho on

    Hey joker great site, awesome info to be found. I have Pistons and love them when out and about but when Im at home they have gobs and gobs of bass. So want something that sounds good for when I’m at home and don’t like over ears.. I do most of my listening straight from an iPad air. I do like some extra bass, so something relatively neutral with a touch of added punch and warmth would be superb. I think I like what the semi open design does to the sound with the Pistons so was really looking into the Philips Fidelio S1 or S2. Your review and accompanying measurements looks superb. Was wondering if that would be a better option than the vsd3s.

    • ljokerl on

      Well, the Fidelio S1 and S2 are on a higher performance level than the VSD3S, though they’re also a fair bit pricier and not direct competitors. Great earphones for a flatter sound – not exactly warm, but the bass punch is good.

      • Howdywho on

        I can get the S1 for the same price as the vsonic vsd3. Can extend budget to Fidelio S2 or GR07 if you think they are worth it. Smoother treble wider stage and warmer mids being most important.

        • ljokerl on

          Good deal on the S1. S2 has a marginally warmer sound and better build quality/accessories so if it’s only a few bucks more it might be worth it but otherwise it’s basically the same. They’re a little smoother than the VSonic models but in the grand scheme of things still not that warm or smooth (not like a Piston or Sony MH1C or something).

  22. Vu Hieu on

    Hello Joker,

    I currently have a SE215. I’d like to know if it were you, you would choose VSD3(S) or SE215, regarding every aspects, for eg sound quality, isolation, cable, etc… My earphone is connected to my laptop most of the time, meaning I use it to listen to game sounds (dota 2, csgo), music (classical, anime vocals and OSTs) and other sources like YouTube, Facebook, TwitchTV streams, etc… Thanks a lot

    • Vu Hieu on

      Price is another important aspect for comparison as well. Sorry idk how to edit…

      • ljokerl on

        I like the sound of the VSD3S better with one caveat – the treble is more harsh. For me this is outweighed by the superior overall balance but that won’t be true for everyone. Likewise, the heavier bass and warmer tone of the SE215 will have more weight for some in this decision.

        I also prefer the comfort of the VSonics – the detachable cable connectors on the SE215 put pressure on my ears after a while.

        For isolation and build quality I’d give the nod to the Shures. Value, VSD3S wins, obviously.

        • Vu Hieu on

          thanks. Since I have Se215 already, I wont be buying VSD3 anymore. I’m looking forward to upgrade my gear. I’m thinking of choosing a very good sound quality IEM then reshelling it to custom-fit my ears. Do you have any recommendation?

          • ljokerl on

            It really depends on what you’re looking for in terms of sound. Usually manufacturers suggest BA earphones if you’re to get them re-shelled, which quite limits your options (especially if you’re looking for enhanced bass a-la SE215). You can also go straight custom, of course, if you’re willing to spend $400+.

  23. opmatrix on

    Hi joker
    I’m a casual listener. I usually listens to dubstep ,rap ,hip hop &pop music . I am planning to buy a pair of iem shortly. After some research through head-fi and your threads I shortlisted some items like vsd3, gr06,gr07 ,ath im50 ,ety rc5 & havi b3 pro. I appreciates nice tight punches but I’m not a basshead. Also I do care about build quality since I’m planning a long term use and I have a 100$ to shell out. So can you recommend a nice pairs?
    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • ljokerl on

      All the ones you’re considering are very good earphones and none of them have too much bass so you might as well just throw a dart at a dartboard..

      • opmatrix on

        Thanks for the reply
        Let alone bass then which one will you choose ?

        • ljokerl on

          I personally prefer the GR07 but I’ve only tried the IM50 briefly and the RC5 not at all.

          • opmatrix on

            Sorry my bad. It’s not rc5 its etymotic mc5

          • ljokerl on

            Then yes, definitely prefer GR07. The MC5 is quite good but if your budget reaches $100 it’s not the best option.

  24. Alex on

    When are the full reviews coming? I suspect that at least one of those three will enter the Buyer’s List :p But anyway, i’ve heard that the Ostry KC06 may be close to the sound of the RE 400, is that so? Im looking for a cheaper and more durable alternative to the RE 400, and so far that is the one that keeps being mentioned on forums and such, thanks lJokerl!

    • ljokerl on

      I’ve fallen behind a bit on that… these days I spend more time answering comments, emails, and PMs than writing new reviews.

      The KC06 and VSD3 will end up on the buyer’s guide. The KC06 is a good RE-400 alternative – it’s not quite as flat and neutral, but if you’re okay with that it’s really quite close in performance for how inexpensive it is.

  25. mdiogofs on

    Forgot to mention that I own the 3 IEMs in this brief impressions. Thanks!

  26. mdiogofs on

    Hey ljokerl. A quick recomendation please. I like very much the Ostry KC06. Between these what you think will suit me better: A83, DN-2000 or SM64. Or even VC1000. Well, or other that you think around the price range or near those i said first. Great project of yours in this site. Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      You can eliminate the SM64 as it’s the most different from the KC06 – warmer, darker, and with a dip in the upper midrange where the KC06 has emphasis instead. The A83 has a similar dip but is brighter overall so it’s more suitable as a KC06 upgrade, but still is not exactly a signature match. The VC1000 has no dip but it’s significantly flatter overall, so you’ll miss out on what coloration and bass boost the KC06 has. The DN-2000 would probably be my pick but it still has a v-shaped signature, with more bass and treble relative to the midrange, which is not really true of the Ostry. However it is not dark or warm, and it has some bass boost and no dip in the upper midrange, which makes it the best match by my estimation.

  27. Smith Smith on

    Hi Joker
    I’m a bit of a detail nut and am wondering what the detail (resolution? fidelity?) of the vsd3s is liike. I was impressed with the detail on the vsonic vc02 and am looking for an upgrade. In comments section of the JVC FXT90 that vsd3s has greater detail (despite it having a greater score). What is the iem with the greatest detail under $80, including the Sony XBA-2 (which I can get at a reduced price). How about the detail of the Superlux HD668B headphone ? I dont have an amp, but may get one in the future.

    Thank you, the effort you have put into this site has helped me before

    • ljokerl on

      The VSD3 has quite a bit more bass and a more v-shaped sound sig so I’d still give the VC02 the nod in overall detail level. Under $80 the Etymotic MC5 is worth looking at as well. Not sure about the XBA-2 but the XBA-1 I didn’t think was better than other good sub-$100 sets such as the UE600 and Dunu I 3C-S. The MEElec A161P was better but is discontinued as far as I know.

      The HD668B is very good for a full-size headphone. I personally think fine detail is easier to extract from IEMs but if you prefer headphones it’s as good as it gets for the price.

  28. Markus on

    Hi Joker, I mostly listen to my music while in the gym or backpacking and I would say I am a bit of a basshead. I still use my senn 300s mostly for the gym. I often eq out the treble in headphones because I hate sibilance. I tried a few budget recommendations including the JVC option you mentioned (I found it too muddy). My home headphones are D2000s. They have lots of bass but I sometimes wish they were a little more tight. (Still haven’t done the mods many people did).

    I wanted to get something a little bit nicer than the Senn 300s. I was reading about the Vsonic VSD1S / 3S and velodyne and Hisoundaudio WOODUO 2. The last one sounded great until I heard there are some issues with sibilance/harshness. The VSD3S sounded good as well except it is meant to be worn behind ear (not a fan). I use a Clip Zip as my portable source and do not use an amp. Anything you recommend up to $140 or so given what I mentioned above?

    • ljokerl on

      If you are sensitive to sibilance VSonics are not a good way to go. The Wooduo2 is much less prone to sibilance but I still wouldn’t call it smooth. It’s got great bass, but the Velodyne is more smooth. I’d say the Yamaha EPH-100 is a better choice in that price range – it’s got a little less deep bass than the Wooduo and vPulse, but it’s smoother than the former and significantly better-sounding overall than the latter. Can be worn cable-down, too.

      The rest of the options I could recommend over the vPulse are either over-the-ear style (RHA MA750), have some treble harshness (Brainwavz S1, Rock Jaw Alfa Genus), or don’t have the clarity you’re probably used to with your D2000 (UBSound Fighter, Beats Tour 2.0) so I guess the vPulse would be my 2nd choice after the Yamaha.

      • Markus on

        I think I will go for the EPH100s. For some reason they are cheaper here (Australia) than the US (anything being cheaper in Aus is rare!). With the exchange rates they are actually less expensive than the Wooduo and Vpulse. Sounds like double win. Thanks for the suggestion.

        • ljokerl on

          Yeah, sounds like a good deal. Just FYI, there have been some counterfeit EPH-100s found on Aliexpress and other Chinese marketplaces so be careful buying them from 3rd parties.

  29. mdiogofs on

    Hey joker!

    How do KC06 stack up against the VC1000? Tks

    Good 2015 tunes!

    • ljokerl on

      The VC1000 is more flat/balanced and analytical. The KC06 has a mid-bass hump and some emphasis in the upper midrange as well, which gives it a more colored/less neutral sound. The bass is not as tight and the overall detail level is not quite as high as with the VC1000. The KC06 does have a nice and airy presentation that is on-par with the VC1000 and the treble energy is good, but the VC1000 is just a more accurate earphone.

  30. touji666 on

    Hi joker.
    I own a shure se215 and i was wondering on how the size and comfort of the vsd3 compares to it.

    Thanks in advance

    • ljokerl on

      Size and shape are pretty similar but I actually find the VSD3 more comfortable. The SE215 has a more bulky cable connector that rubs against my ear where the cable meets the housing whereas the VSD3 doesn’t.

  31. David on

    Dear Joker
    I need your advice , my gr02 bass is dead and i want to buy new model , but i’m confuses
    i begun with maximo i 590 and enjoy every moment , good details deep real bass using alternative ear cups, good seperation and natural
    i hate the cable but they least two years
    after that i bought the cc51 and they horrible boomy not realist bass , harsh and dead after six month
    at least i had the gr02 bass and they where ok but not enjoyable like maximo i 590, not good separation , without detaills, more heavy soundstage less natural

    i want to buy a new pair , what will be an upgrade to the maximo i 590 ? (50-100 $)
    Thanks
    David

    • ljokerl on

      Sounds like a more balanced and smooth earphone than the v-shaped CC51/GR02 BE would be a good match for you. The VSD3S is good but a little more harsh than the Maximo, so maybe the Ostry KC06 is a better choice in this case. Bass is a little boomy but it’s nice and clear, and the soundstage is wide. Tonally it’s closer to the Maximo than the Havi B3 even though the Havi has tighter bass. The B3 is also harder to drive/less sensitive.

      • David on

        Thank You very much . i think i will go with your suggestion

      • David on

        Dear Joker
        You mentioned KC06 (55$) as an upgrade to Maximo 590 (more balance with realistic bass)
        Can you please suggest more alternative upgrades even near 100$

        Thank You very much
        David

        • ljokerl on

          Not that I think it’s an upgrade to the KC06, but maybe the Rock Jaw Alfa Genus: http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/rock-jaw-alfa-genus/ . It’s balanced and resolving with decent bass punch, plus the different filters add a bit more versatility.

          Also my usual $100 recommendations: the HiFiMan RE-400 (super smooth-sounding and refined, but doesn’t have the extra bass bump of the iM-590 or the soundstage width of the KC06) and GR07 Classic (awesome in every way except the top end is a bit sibilant a-la VSD3).

          • David on

            Thank you
            I decide to stick with your first suggestion on the kc06 but now i cant decide kc06 or kc06a
            you mention kc06 little boomy , is it boomy like cc51 because i dont like it i love bass near maximo 590

            what are the differences this is the final 🙂

          • ljokerl on

            No experience with the KC06A but the KC06 has less bass than the CC51. It’s not terrible quality, just not as tight as a GR07 or VSD3 or something.

  32. manny bluejay on

    Hi joker, I currently trying to decide between the VSD3S, the RE-400, and the JVC HA-FXD80. I understand that the VSD3S does better than the RE-400 in bass but has problems with sibilance, but what about other things like microphonics, isolation, build quality, etc. Also, how do they compare with the JVC HA-FXD80s? Overall, which one’s sound do you personally prefer?

    • ljokerl on

      No problems with isolation or microphonics on the VSD3S. As for build quality, I would go for the fixed-cable version. Just less things to go wrong. I personally prefer the VSD3S and RE-400 to the FXD80 – the thin lower mids and colder tone of the JVCs doesn’t really do it for me personally. Between the VSD3S and RE-400 it’s a tough call as they both have their strengths. RE-400 is probably more accurate, strictly speaking, but the VSD3S is more fun. I guess if I had to pick just one to use forever I’d go with accuracy, but luckily I don’t have to make that choice 🙂

  33. Keshav on

    Hi Joker,

    My question is regarding DAP. I have under 150$ iem in my collection. I am using i9000 (galaxy s1) as source. If I buy Fiio x1 , would there be any major difference in sound quality ?

    Or is it like that only expensive iem would make sound different ?

    • ljokerl on

      I’ve never owned a Galaxy S1 but my experience with other Android phones of that era leads me to believe it’s probably not optimized for audio. The X1 should be a step up, but I can’t tell you whether it will be a larger difference than upgrading whatever IEM you have now.

      • getclikinagas on

        ljokerl, hope you don’t mind if I step in with some info that may be of use. (you probably know this already).

        The Galaxy S1 was one of the more popular smartphones for audio playback during it’s time. It had a very good Wolfson Micro WM8994 audio hub(which didn’t return on the successors).
        supercurio(dev) developed some alternate drivers that unlocked the amp’s potential along with some fine tuning options. (can found on the playstore: Voodoo Sound).
        If you aren’t looking to upgrade your player, this may breathe some extra life into your phone.
        I do not know which IEMs/headphones you are using. Anyway, the more significant differences will be felt driving high impedance/power hungry phones.

        But as ljokerl said, upgrading your IEM may yield a larger difference.

        PS:
        1. From ClieOS’s (experienced reviewer) review on the X1: “you are looking at a DAP that is roughly on par to iPod nano 7G and Sandisk Clip+ / Fuze”
        2. From my experience: When using easy to drive IEMs the clip+ is more or less equivalent to a voodoo-Galaxy S. When using hard to drive phones, the Galaxy sounds better.
        3. Also ClieOS says : “The major difference(b/w X1 and nano 7g/clip+) are of course the high resolution support as well as a more powerful amp section, but neither of them instantly translate to class smashing performance.”

        So, if my deduction is correct, it may not be worth upgrading your Galaxy S-voodoo to an X1 (for sound quality alone) IF you are using easy/average to drive IEMs. I cannot comment on the amp performance between the two.

        Hope this helped.

        References (if you want to read more):
        https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.projectvoodoo.controlappdonate&hl=en
        http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=806195
        http://www.head-fi.org/t/535770/samsung-galaxy-s-sound-quality
        http://soundexpert.org/news/-/blogs/audio-quality-of-galaxy-s
        http://www.head-fi.org/products/fiio-x1-ultraportable-hi-res-dap/reviews/12014

        • Keshav on

          Thank you. Yes I am using voodoo sound and EPH 100 is my primary iem.

        • ljokerl on

          Great info, much more in-depth that I could provide!

  34. Rick on

    Hi Joker,

    Awesome reviews. I was wondering if any of these IEMs would complement the V-Moda M-80s in a good way. IEM’s work much better at my work, so I don’t usually take my M-80s with me. I’ve been listening to Philips SHE3580’s and they’ve been a favorite for a while but I feel they lack a bit in the mids/male vocals area. I recently purchased Monoprice 8320’s and I really enjoy them but they lack in the bass department for me. Do you think the Ostry KC06s would work well to complement the M-80s?

    Thank you!

    • ljokerl on

      Out of the three sets here the KC06 is probably closest to what you want – it has more bass than the 8320 (though still far from being a bassy earphone) and the least recessed midrange. It’s still not as warm, full, and thick as the M-80, though, and has more emphasis on the upper midrange than the lower mids you’d want for more full-bodied vocals. For that I would probably consider something with a warmer signature, like a Sony MH1C or even Shure SE215 or, if you can afford it, Yamaha EPH-100.

      • Rick on

        Thanks Joker!

  35. touji666 on

    Hi there joke.

    Please give me a comparison between the KC06 vs the KC06A.

    Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please!

    And i see many reviews saying the KC06 (non “A” version) is comparable to the RE400, Is that true?

    • ljokerl on

      I would if I had one >< I did compare the RE-400 to the KC06 in the review above. They're not the same sound signature so it's totally possible someone would prefer the more colored KC06 to the more neutral RE-400.

      • getclikinagas on

        32 times! only to be shot down so cruelly. tsk 🙂

      • touji666 on

        Thanks joker.

        To be honest, i rarely use the re400 nowadays since i find it lacking when it comes to mid bass definition.

        One of the things that i really wanna decipher is does the kc06 give better mid bass definition than the re400? Are the fine tones of bass more defined on them (kc06)?

        • touji666 on

          any comments on this joker?

          • ljokerl on

            Hmm… I know I wrote out a reply but somehow it didn’t post.

            Honestly, the KC06 doesn’t have the best bass definition. Pure and simple, it has a mid-bass hump, which is never very conducive to bass quality.

  36. Guy Avraham on

    Hi Joker,

    I’m planning to get an IEM very soon, and I am debating, whether I should take the Vsonic VSD3S, or the Vsonic GR06.
    I mostly listen to rap music, electronic music (mostly trap music), and sometimes even classic rock.
    Another think I’d like to mention is the fact that comfort is very important to me. I don’t want to keep playing with the earphones in my ear until they get comfortable every few seconds.

    Great review by the way, really helped me arrange my thoughts actually.

    • ljokerl on

      I would take the VSD3S. It can be argued that the GR06 is more comfortable with its slightly smaller in-ear footprint and adjustable nozzle but I really do like the sound of the VSD3S better and it’s still got a very nice Westone-like form factor to it. So with that said, unless you’ve had trouble fitting these types of earphones comfortably in the past, I’d go for the VSD3S.

  37. John on

    Hi Joker, I’m currently seeking an upgrade to the classic SoundMagic earphones (PL-30 and PL-50), both of which I absolutely love and keep coming back to due to the sound signature. Based on reviews, I’m eyeing the Ostry and the Havi (also Fidue A63 but my ears have had bad experience with similarly-sized earphones). How do you compare those two with the SoundMagics?

    Another important factor is durability, as this will be my everyday set, and the most common form of accident in my experience is snagging on the upper cable (closer to the earpiece). From the pictures, KC06 seems to have the better strain relief and will probably hold up better to snagging, would you agree with that assessment?

    • ljokerl on

      Hard to say which will hold up better. Just from looking at them, I think both have average to above-average build quality – hard to split them on strain relief.

      The Havi and KC06 will both be a little more punchy than your soundmagics, which tend to be pretty flat. The KC06 will have a brighter, more energetic sound and will also have more forward mids. Its bass is a tiny bit bloated and the presentation is more wide than deep, both of which may be especially apparent coming from the PL50. The Havi will be a little darker-sounding but still with good presence in the midrange and good clarity. Its presentation is a little more 3-dimensional as well. I would probably go with the Havi for sound coming from the PL30/PL50.

  38. Lord Sinister on

    Hi ljokerl,

    How are you? I had the Steelseries In-Ear Flux (dynamic) and loved it but the cable broke twice. Sadly though Steelseries won’t stock these anymore so they sent the Flux Pro (armature) instead by RMA. The box is still sealed and I’m considering selling it but was wondering how these compare to the HAVI, VSD3S and especially the RE400 since you rated the Flux Pro 8.5. If time permits, can you compare the low, mid and high of each to the Flux Pro. The RE400 is very tempting at the curent sale of $79 considering the Flux Pro selling at $120 (but cheaper on eBay and Amazon).

    Thanks in advance and really appreciate your time!

    • ljokerl on

      The Flux Pro is an interesting earphone – out of the sets you mention it’s probably closest to the RE-400 – it’s just a less detailed and refined but slightly more bass-emphasized take on that sound. I think the tuning of the Flux Pro tends to emphasize the slight dullness/lack of treble energy that the RE-400 suffers from, so it just doesn’t sound as neutral and accurate overall. The Havi will give you a little more punch and more upper mid emphasis. The VSD3S is more v-shaped and has too much treble energy to really be a signature competitor to the Flux Pro.

      • Lord Sinister on

        Thank you sir! Much appreciated.

  39. Quentin on

    Hey joker,

    i noticed you didn’t compare the VSD3S and the RE-400. I am deciding between the two. Your thoughts on sound, detail and isolation mostly? Thank you 🙂

    • ljokerl on

      Signature is a little too different to compare them directly. VSonics are boosted in the bass and a bit in the treble; RE-400 is boosted in the midrange if anything. The VSD3S has a little less bass control due to greater bass quantity and also a little less refinement up top compared to the extremely smooth RE-400. Can’t say either has better clarity, though. Isolation is good on both, probably a bit better with the HiFiMan but not significantly.

      • Quentun on

        Ok got it. I,m undecided between VSD3S and RE-400 because about RE-400 I read that there is sub-bass roll-off and sub extension is not too good, and also that treble can be laid-back and less than neutral.

        Whereas for VSD3S I read that treble can be harsh or spiky and sibilant, which I will find a problem. Also maybe that VSD3S mid-bass is less full than RE-400.

        Can you do short comparison please? In terms of treble extension and neutrality, and mid-bass and sub-bass fullness and extension mainly? I think I am looking for a mostly neutral sound but with some additional fullness in the bass, but I am not a basshead definitely.

        thank you joker. 🙂

        • ljokerl on

          Your impressions are correct – the VSD3S has more of a sub-bass focus and more bass overall while the RE-400 has flatter bass and appears more rolled-off in comparison. The RE-400 places more focus on the midrange while the VSD3S is more v-shaped. As I said above, the RE-400 is also a lot smoother and more refined up top. The VSD3S fits your requirements for being neutral-ish with pretty strong bass but if you want to avoid any potential for sibilance, don’t get a VSonic product.

          • Quentin on

            I just saw in the comments that you are not feeling the same ‘9.0’ rating for RE-400. In that case what will yoiur current rating for RE-400 be? and do you have a more sure rating for the VSD3S? I am just curious.

          • ljokerl on

            I rarely adjust ratings by more than a 1/10th after posting. The RE-400 is still in that 8.9-9.0 range for me.

            To be honest I haven’t listened to the VSD3S since this was posted, but I will be soon as I plan to include it in some upcoming guides and round-ups.

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  41. newmann on

    I have this Iem and the ma750 as well. To be honest I dont think that the rha sounds better. The vsd3s has better higs and mids, doesnt go as low as the rha, but maybe even punchier, sharper and has more details. You rated the sound 8.4-8.7 and the rha above this. Why do you think that that the rha is better, in which area?
    I am quite surprised that this iem is that good, but it is. I used both with sony hybrids.

    Thanks!;)

    • ljokerl on

      The MA750 and VSD3S don’t really share the same sound signature so it’s kind of hard to try and say one is better than the other in all cases. It’s unlikely that someone will be choosing directly between the bassy MA750 and the slightly v-shaped, almost flat VSD3S. The MA750 does have better bass reach and doesn’t have that biting sibilance of the VSonics, which is important. It does lose some of the crispness but again you would expect the extra crispness from the flatter, brighter earphone. For the sound signature it has and the amount of bass it has to deal with, I think the MA750 performs extremely well next to its competition. For accuracy, the VSD3S is probably better.

      • newmann on

        I am not sure about the expressions, but I miss the treble-energy from the Ma750 and after listening a couple of days the vsd3s it sounds too dark, no sparkle and not much highs. It just kinda dull.
        Its interesting, because I did not like the gr07, it was too sibilant for me in the highs. The vsd3s has some sibilance, but not annoying for me.

  42. Yuuki Yuto on

    Hi Joker, great review. I was thinking about grabbing myself a pair of Re 400 to use with my iphone 4s. But then i saw that combination of the re 400b and hm 700. Are they any different, most importantly in SQ. Thanks bro

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried that combo but as far as I know there is only one tuning of the RE-400 so all you’re getting is the ability to use it balanced with the HM-700. I’m not a big fan of balanced IEMs when they cost more than their single-ended counterparts, but otherwise I don’t see any harm in it. One thing I would be concerned about is the audiophile DAP not being as user-friendly/convenient in day-to-day use as your iPhone.

  43. emmanuel on

    wheres the havi sound-stage! u didn’t talk about that u.u.

    • emmanuel on

      Now i need to buy a vsd3s dam u joker! poor wallet

      • ljokerl on

        Sorry!

        And the presentation of the Havi is alluded to here and there – better than RE-400 overall, better imaging (but less width) than KC06, and so on. It’s quite good!

        • Michel on

          Well, with the proper (Senn) tips, I feel the Havi outperforms my Re-400s. i understand you don’t rate for cable quality as such but the flimsy, “death-by-a-thousand-cut-outs” cables Hifiman sees fit to use makes them downright impossible for me to recommend.

  44. ido on

    great review! how does the vsd3\vsd3s compare to the gr06? they cost the same

    • ljokerl on

      The VSD3S is better IMO, but the signatures a little different. The VSD3S is more v-shaped, with less midrange and more deep bass. The GR06 has better mids, perhaps, but it also sounds more congested and less spacious as a result. I have a feeling the GR06 might go the way of the GR04 soon.

      • ido on

        thnx!
        I will go for the vsd3…

        can you tell something about the vsd1le? which one in more a like to the gr07be- the vsd1le or the vsd3?

        • ljokerl on

          I haven’t tried the VSD1LE. In terms of bass quantity, my VSD1 and VSD1S have a touch more than the GR07 BE while the VSD3S has a touch less. They’re all quite close and easily recognizable as being part of the same product family, though.

  45. Charles on

    Hi joker,

    Great review! Can you also compare KC06A to those three IEM’s you reviewed? I think KC06A is on of the BFTB iem’s that I’ve owned even better sounding than my UM3X.

    Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry, haven’t tried the KC06A.

  46. getclikinagas on

    Got a little carried away with the ‘brief’ review, did you 😛
    This must have been painstakingly difficult. 3-way A:Bing is no joke.

    So, it looks like nobody is getting replaced(except maybe for the VSD3S replacing the VSD1S). They all seem to bring certain strengths with a few inevitable trade-offs.

    1) For someone who has both the RE400 and the VSD1S, would any of the above be a logical buy <100$ (not necessarily as a complete upgrade). Would it make more sense to look at the next tier?
    [Only qualms: Mids recessed on the VSD1S, Sub-bass low on the RE400]

    2) Any idea about the vsonic silver upgrade cable? It's a 15$ add-on. Maybe that could be an addition for the full review.

    3) I know your sound ratings are meant to be broadly indicative. The adjusted ratings for the RE400 and GR07 are 8.6 and 8.7. It's quite impressive to see 150$ bracket for a new flagship. Preparations for the VSD5 and VSD7 perhaps.

    Havi have the B6 coming out in Nov-Dec. Hopefully priced ~100$ maybe it can do for the 100$ segment what the RE400 did. (http://www.head-fi.org/t/736896/havi-b6)

    Thank you for this supreme effort ljokerl.

    PS: I had a good laugh. You killed all the potential “….but you should use *this* amp with the B3”, with the HA1 overkill 😀

    • ljokerl on

      Yeah… a bit carried away. It was supposed to be an impressions post at first but I ended up trying to anticipate some of the questions.

      1) Well, the VSD3S does have less recessed mids than the VSD1S and good subbass as well :). But if you intend to keep the VSD1S and RE-400 and just want to try something a little different, the KC06 with its bright sound, punchy mid-bass, and forward mids would be my pick for a third addition.

      2) Don’t have any info on the cable – maybe I’ll get to try it in the future but I’m generally not a big fan of upgrade cables, especially on budget IEMs. $15 is not a lot of money though.

      Always so many new earphones on the horizon – I’ll have my hands very full in the foreseeable future.

      P.S. I don’t use full-size headphones much but the HA-1 served its purpose here. It’s a beast!

      • getclikinagas on

        The right answer is “No, you are set with the RE400 and VSD1S. Save your money.” 😀

        Whoa…number 3) got ninja edited by WordPress. Here’s the original(or what I can remember of it)

        3) I know your sound ratings are meant to be broadly indicative. The adjusted ratings for the RE400 and GR07 are 8.6 and 8.7. It’s quite impressive to see sub-60$ phones knocking on the 100$ door. For a budget of 150$ bracket for a new flagship. Preparations for the VSD5 and VSD7 perhaps.

        Havi have the B6 coming out in Nov-Dec. Hopefully priced ~100$ maybe it can do for the 100$ segment what the RE400 did. (http://www.head-fi.org/t/736896/havi-b6)

        Ostry have the KC06A out, though I am unfamiliar with the changes(they look sweet though). I’ve heard ‘smoother treble’ and ‘weightier bass’being thrown around. http://www.ostry.com.cn/item/detailPage?itemid=29

        New* PS: Any chance you will get to audition the RE400B (+ HM700). Apparently the Balanced RE400 is on another level.

        • ljokerl on

          No, you are set with the RE400 and VSD1S. Save your money.

          Am I doing that right?

          3) On this point, I think you are looking at the numerical average and not the sound ratings. The sound ratings haven’t been adjusted in a while – not since I added the JHAudio JH13 at the top of the scale (although lately I haven’t been feeling the 9.0 for the RE-400 so much). Nonetheless, your point stands – in 2009 the HiFiMan RE0 was easily a top-tier earphone with a $239 price tag. Now we don’t even flinch when a $45 VSonic or $60 Ostry is hot on the heels of the “improved” RE-400 (which itself is fractionally lagging the RE-600).

          Bang/buck winners have always been out there but there’s a continuous slow evolution. Maybe we’ve also gotten better at finding and recognizing them.

          I am just curious to see where it stops, and what that will do to the high end market.

          Oh and I think I should try the just-announced RE-300 before exploring alternate versions of the 400, considering I’ve never been a big believer in balanced IEMs 😛

          • getclikinagas on

            edited again….groan…. I don’t know why that’s happening. Anyway, I did say something along the lines of “I am just curious to see where it stops, and what that will do to the high end market” 🙂
            ——
            Oops, my bad. I lost track of the column headers once I scrolled down.

            I was pleasantly surprised to see the RE300. HiFiMAN’s priority has been sound quality, value, ergonomics…*gap*..and then build quality. A mobile headset is the most roughed electronic accessory on the planet and HiFIMAN is not the first (or second last) name to pop in my mind. Maybe they’ve sorted that out, and we’re about to experience the best sounding headset that will shake up the ..um..recently-shaken 50$ bracket.
            ——–
            Thanks once again for the responses and for the not-so-brief review. The new THL year is off to a great start! 😀

          • ljokerl on

            Right you are. We’ll see what the RE-300 can do – if the idea is to break into the mainstream, solid build is a must. For selling a few hundred or thousands of units to Head-Fi members, it can indeed be third to sound quality and value.

            More reviews and impressions to come this month!

  47. Reinaldo on

    Great to see these impressions, specially with the pre-ratings…
    Amazing trio of earphones for the price

  48. nehcrow on

    Did you amp the Havi B3? Many people believe amping it = better SQ

    • nehcrow on

      Oh nvm, read that you used the Oppo amp/dac with it LOL

      • ljokerl on

        I used some of my portable ones as well but used the OPPO as a bit of “overkill” to make sure I wasnt missing anything.

  49. Tyler Armstrong on

    Great review. After trying the Havi B3 Pro1, Vsonic VSD3S, and JVC HA-FXT90, I can conclude (just as you have with your scoring) that the JVC HA-FXT90 takes the top spot of the three I have tried out in sound quality, and furthermore is the set I will hold on to. I will probably get me a pair of Vsonic GR07 Bass Editions later on, when I am ready to venture into the $100 + realm of IEM’s.

    • ljokerl on

      I personally still haven’t gotten used to the FXT90 being a sub-$100 IEM…

      • Tyler Armstrong on

        …Joker, did you find the build quality of the VSD3S slightly behind their other offerings? Mine had very sharp mold lines and the cable connectors felt loose.

        Seems like VSonic would benefit from using simple cables for their IEM’s, allocating more financial resources toward the earpieces themselves.

        • ljokerl on

          My VSD3S is still pretty new but seems on par with the VSD1S and GR07 Classic in build. No sharp seams on this unit. The connectors rotate freely but unplugging/re-plugging them takes a good bit of effort.

          I like that VSonic tries to differentiate their products beyond SQ and do think there’s long-term value in detachable cables particulalry once all the kinks are worked out, especially if they are adopted across an entire product line.

          But, if we’re talking only about the present and take the VSD3S as a standalone $45 product, I’d have to agree with you.

  50. Chad Cook on

    Great stuff. Joker did you get a chance to try the VSD3? How does it compare in this group?

    • ljokerl on

      Answered on Facebook, but just for completeness: No, I only have the VSD3S. If previous experience is any indication, the VSD3 will be marginally different at most.

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