Details: Dynamic microdriver earphone from VSonic
MSRP: est. $49
Current Price: $49 from ebay.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 100 dB | Freq: 10-25k Hz | Cable: 4.3′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (3/5) - Single-flange (3 sizes), hybrid-style (7 sizes), and bi-flange silicone tips; shirt clip, drawstring carrying pouch
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The VC02’s form factor is of the slim, straight-barrel variety. The construction is very similar to that of the pricier GR01, albeit with detachable cables and fixed nozzles. The cable is smooth but on the thin side and lacks a sliding cinch. It utilizes a conventional 2-pin socket, though it detaches more easily than I’d have liked. A bump on the inside of the right strain relief differentiates the left and right connectors.
Isolation (3.5/5) – Similar to the pricier GR06 and GR07 models
Microphonics (4/5) - Cable noise is bothersome when worn cable-down but becomes low with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (4.5/5) - The housings are very slim and easy to insert deeply for a good seal. The sheer variety of included eartips should allow the fit to work for anyone, though earphones with slimmer nozzles provide more fitment options still. The cable exits at an angle so those with smaller ears may have trouble wearing the VC02 cable-up
Sound (8.1/10) – The VC02 is undoubtedly the most balanced sub-$100 model I’ve heard from VSonic thus far. It pursues an accurate, uncolored sound that continuously impresses with its crispness and clarity. The low end of the VC02 is tight and punchy, though fans of enhanced bass will be disappointed by its linear nature. The impact is slightly greater compared to the HiFiMan RE0 but not at the level of VSonic’s GR06 model. Bass depth is good and bass detail and texture are excellent due to the lack of mid-bass bloat – easily among the best I’ve heard in the sub-$100 range.
The mids are clean and crisp. Midrange presence is excellent, with no recession but also less warmth and thickness compared to sets that would normally be considered “balanced” in the budget realm, such as the Brainwavz M1 and Monoprice 8320. The VC02 is clearer than these, and clearer also than the armature-based Rock-It Sounds R-30, falling just behind the far more expensive HiFiMan RE-ZERO and MEElec A161P. It is slightly thin-sounding and the tonality is on the cool side, which will still make the GR06 a better choice for some listeners.
The top end of the VC02 is extended and just as crisp as the rest of the signature, but still has some of the slightly hot character that all higher-end VSonic dynamics seem to share. It is a little less sibilant than my GR07 mkI but still doesn’t quite have the refinement of HiFiMan’s dynamic-driver earphones. The presentation is spacious but not particularly enveloping – the GR07 and GR06 both seem to present a more well-rounded sonic image. Soundstage width is good, however, and the balanced, clear sound leaves no room for any sort of congestion. In fact, the VC02 makes the armature-based Rock-It R-30 sound a little congested and vague when it comes to imaging. All in all, it has nothing to be ashamed of for the price. It may be worth noting the lower-than-average sensitivity of the VC02, which will leave those who gauge sound quality by volume level wanting.
Value (10/10) – I wrote and scrapped this section several times trying to convey the scope of the VC02’s brilliance. While VSonic’s GR-series earphones have simply been at the top of their game, the VC02 seems to transcend competing altogether. There are a few nitpicks but there’s so much more to like. I like the detachable cables with the common 2-pin connector – something I haven’t seen on a budget earphone since Altec Lansing stopped selling UE models at huge discounts. I like the tiny 3mm dynamic driver, the slim form factor, and the resulting comfort and noise isolation. I like the fact that VSonic includes a ton of tips despite the small sizing gaps between them. And I especially like fact that the VC02 boasts what has to be the clearest, tightest, and most detailed sound this side of the HiFiMan RE0 – a model that was originally considered well-priced at $239 and remained a Head-Fi favorite for years. The VC02 does all that at an astonishingly low price point. Enough said.
Pros: Small, lightweight, and comfortable; very balanced and articulate sound
Cons: Lacks cable cinch; detachable cables can come off too easily