ViSang VS-K1 Review

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ViSang VS-K1
Added Jan 2013

Details: Compact metal-shelled earphone from ViSang
MSRP: est. $49.99
Current Price: $50 from ebay.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 115 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 4.3′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges, generic single-flanged
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange hybrid-style silicone tips (3 sizes), foam tips, shirt clip, and clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The VS-K1 features aluminum shells with metal nozzle filters. The cabling is identical to my older ViSang and Brainwavz models – internally braided and a little stiff. No cable cinch is present
Isolation (2.5/5) – Isolation is about average for a shallow-fit dynamic-driver earphone
Microphonics (4/5) – Present when worn cable-down; very low otherwise
Comfort (4/5) – The housings are compact and taper at the rear to provide a compliant, non-intrusive fit. The K1 is happy with a relatively shallow seal and can be worn over-the-ear easily

Sound (7.6/10) – The sound of ViSang’s latest and greatest harkens back to the R01, R02, and R03 models of old but provides a more mature and refined experience. The sound signature is reasonably balanced, with a slight mid-bass lift and mild treble roll-off. The bass has decent depth and good overall presence but the earphones are far from bass-heavy. They don’t have the bass boost of the old R03 model (perhaps better known by its Brainwavz M2 rebrand) but there is more body and fullness compared to the Brainwavz M1 and similarly-priced armature earphones such as the Astrotec AM-90. It’s not the tightest low end out there, but the control is respectable and the overall presentation will appeal to those who enjoy a softer, smoother sound.

The ViSang products of old–even the bass-heavy ones–have always had clean, articulate mids, and the VS-K1 is no exception. The midrange is prominent and the earphones could potentially be called mid-centric if not for the decent amount of bass. As is, the sound is rather well-balanced overall. There is no bass bleed; Brainwavz’ new M5 model is significantly bassier and more subdued in the midrange compared to the VS-K1. Clarity is good for the asking price – not quite up there with the armature-based Astrotec AM-90 or the thinner-sounding Brainwavz M1, but very close.

Starting with the upper midrange, the VS-K1 follows a smooth and forgiving approach reminiscent of the Brainwavz M5. The top end is laid-back but not enough so to make the earphones sound dark and lacking in balance. Sets such as the Astrotec AM-90 have more upper midrange presence and energy while the VS-K1 sounds more smooth and relaxed. This goes for the presentation as well – the VS-K1 is not as forward as the AM-90 or Brainwavz M1. It has very decent depth, which is noticeable next to the older ViSang R03/Brainwavz M2, but doesn’t sound as big and enveloping as the pricier VSonic GR06. Overall, the relaxed presentation fits the sound signature well.

Value (9/10) – The ViSang VS-K1 is a budget earphone that offers strong performance across the board. Fans of the older ViSang models will be pleased with the more mature sound and the smooth yet reasonably balanced tuning should appeal to an even wider audience. The solid construction and comfortable, shallow-fit housings round the VS-K1 out as an easy recommendation.

Pros: Solid construction, smooth sound
Cons: No cable cinch


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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.

2 Comments

  1. Fred931 on

    Hey J, in case you’re up for a reply,

    I’m trying to recommend a pair for a friend out of town. This’ll be his first serious headphones and I’m praying that I’ll get it right for him. I currently have a pair of HFM RE-400s and I’d tell him to purchase one immediately, but he’s on a strict $50 budget. I’ve wound up with two sets in front of me: the ViSang VS-K1 and ADV.SOUND M4.

    If it were my decision, I’d grab the former quick, but, picking for someone with genuinely no prior hifi experience, I wonder if he’d really notice the difference sonically, especially with never hearing whichever one he doesn’t get. I think he’d better appreciate the M4s for the aesthetic advantages it has over the ViSangs in the long run. It mostly comes down to which one will last longer for a college student. He listens to rock and electronic genres with a lot of vocals, but also a lot of unique instrumentation, which brings me back to wanting to suggest the ViSangs instead.

    I think the short of what I’m asking is: Do the small detriments of the M4 against the VS-K1 make enough of a difference for a first-time buyer to prefer the latter over the former?

    P.S. You are literally Ear Jesus, THANK YOU for all of your years of work!

    • ljokerl on

      This an interesting one because the VS-K1 and ADV.SOUND M4 are on the opposite sides of true neutral (flat) sound. The M4 emphasizes the bass and treble a bit for a slightly v-shaped signature. The VS-K1 on the other hand emphasized the midrange and has less bass boost and very smooth, relaxed treble, so it’s more of a warm, mid-focused sound (this is more similar to the RE-400, but of course less neutral, clear, and accurate).

      The VS-K1 is a better fit for vocals, being smoother and less prone to bass bleed. The M4, on the other hand, works better for electronic music and has more of a “wow” factor for a new listener with the punchier bass and brighter treble. I think that’s exactly what it would come down to – the VS-K1 sound, like that of the RE-400, is harder to appreciate, especially if it’s your first mid-tier IEM. The answer to “why are these earphones good?” is more subtle.

      If you feel like your friend is the type of person who could get past that, then the VS-K1 is solid. Otherwise, the M4 is the one I’d tag as the safe choice – it has a versatile tuning and is not as far off from what a mainstream consumer expects a pricier earphone to sound, but still more accurate than what you’d be able to pick up at a retail store in this price range.

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