Details: In-ear headset from subwoofer manufacturer Velodyne
MSRP: $119 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $80 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 99 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 3.7′ L-plug with mic & 3-button remote
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges; short bi-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (10 pairs in 4 sizes), shirt clip, and carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The design of the vPulse is highly derivative but the earphones are well-built and user-friendly. The flat cable is smooth and tangle-free, with a sturdy feel and nice matte finish. It lacks heavy-duty strain reliefs but includes a cable cinch and shirt clip, both rare among flat-cable models. Some of the plastic parts show molding artifacts, which detracts from the otherwise premium feel of the product. A 3-button apple remote and in-line mic are present on the left side
Isolation (3.5/5) – Very good for a vented, angled-nozzle design
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Low when worn cable-down; nonexistent otherwise
Comfort (4/5) – The vPulse uses an angled-nozzle design for ergonomic fitment. The housings are light and the stock tips are quite decent. Wearing the earphones cord-up is a bit tricky due to the flat cable but the cable cinch and shirt clip help. The vPulse does appreciate a deeper seal for best sound so longer aftermarket tips may be required for some
Sound (7.4/10) – The tagline developed by Velodyne for the vPulse is simply “bring the bass”, a promise the earphones keep in a big way. The bass is deep, reaching down below 30Hz effortlessly and offering pretty good texture all the way down. There is significant sub-bass emphasis but not much of a mid-bass hump, which allows the vPulse to avoid the boomy, bloated sound of mid-bassy sets such as the TFTA 1V and Beyerdynamic DTX 101 iE. The bass does tend to linger a bit and there are definitely times when the vPulse is overwhelmingly bassy but for the amount of bass contained, the control is very impressive.
The midrange of the vPulse takes a step back in emphasis compared to the subbass but sounds clear and detailed, giving up just a bit of resolution and crispness to the MEElec CC51, VSonic GR06, and higher-end sets. The laid-back nature is especially apparent next to the Dunu Trident and Beyerdynamic DTX 101 iE, both of which try to keep their mids free of bass bleed by pushing them forward. With the vPulse it is instead the lack of mid-bass bloat that keeps the midrange clean, allowing the response to remain more level all the way up. The mids are smooth but a bit on the dry side, reminding me of the HiSound Crystal, and lack some delicacy and refinement, as well a bit of transparency.
At the top the vPulse is again laid-back and not at all bright – the balance is clearly skewed towards the lows. Next to the more v-shaped sound of sets such as the id America Spark and Klipsch S4, the Velodynes come across a bit dull but avoid all harshness and sibilance, delivering a smooth, non-fatiguing sound. They are also more forgiving of lower-bitrate tracks – likely a positive considering the iPhone-wielding target audience of the vPulse.
The presentation of the Velodynes is rather wide but the soundstage doesn’t have great depth or layering, resulting in sound that feels a bit ‘flat’. This is due in part to the somewhat constrained dynamics – the MEElec CC51 and id America Spark, for example, both sound more dynamic and provide more well-rounded – albeit smaller – presentations. The vPulse lacks good on-center feel and separation, and while its sound is more spacious and less closed-in next to cheaper IEMs such as the Dunu Trident, the mediocre dynamics also cause it to sound a bit dull and uninvolving at lower listening volumes.
Value (8.5/10) – The first in-ear earphone from the bass experts at Velodyne, the vPulse does a good job of combining user-friendliness and functionality in a single package. While the design is derivative in many ways, the vPulse has a lot going for it – tangle-resistant cables, low microphonics, comfortable angled-nozzle earpieces, and a 3-button remote are all standard features. The sound combines solid bass rumble and depth with slightly subdued – but still clean and detailed – mids and highs. The bass can be a touch overpowering on some tracks but normally remains well-behaved for such a bassy earphone, making the vPulse highly suitable for anyone in search of a reasonably-priced headset with plentiful rumble and power.
Pros: Comfortable and well-designed; deep, powerful bass; good clarity and all-around performance
Cons: Bass can occasionally be overwhelming