The Germans prove once again that they are the best engineers in the world
Imagine you’ve booked a performance all to yourself, and positioned yourself at the best seat. Just you. Each note is perfectly rehearsed- as if the performer has sung the same song a hundred times, and nary a half beat, or a quarter note, can possibly be out of place. These notes are also airy as airy can be. With every trumpet verse blown, every cello string pulled, the music spins perfectly off the instrument. Like a top that will never topple, the VE5’s midrange kicks up a puffy cloud, lifting itself and drifting gently away.
But perfection comes at a price. The VE5 is technically astounding, but never quite manages to sound alive. It never brings unpredictability. It does not improvise. It doesn’t ever let its hair down, and its shirt is never tucked out. This is an IEM that comes with a footnote: listen to classical- not jazz- thank you very much!
There are other signs that this is very much deliberate. The bass in the VE5 is well-present. It packs a punch. But when it comes time to close the deal, it reveals itself again to be more of an analytical geeky type. It’s detailed, resolving and extended- in short, technically supreme- but it’s not fun nor dynamic, and doesn’t threaten to overwhelm the club. In fact, where the bass monsters of the world seek to pierce a sword right through your heart, the VE5 pauses, puts on its gloves, and gives you a perfectly nice, but ultimately rounded, punch.
This appeal to the brain not the heart shows up very clearly in quick and dynamic music. In fast and fiery guitar pieces, for example, the VE5 ends up sounding almost like a symphony. In a surreal experience, it feels like you’ve sitting in a refined, high-end ball, listening to Stairway to Heaven as you sip your champagne. Everyone’s in tuxedos and bow-ties. James Bond, not Jason Bourne.
With the VE5 in my ears, I found myself transported to these types of venues time and again. They were exclusively indoor, and usually venues where one might expect a play to be performed without mics. They were contained and quiet. Nobody would ever be found on their feet cheering along! The width in these venues were extremely good, but the depth and height never quite reached the extents of the best concert halls of the world. Nonetheless, cozy though it may be, the soundstage was always beautifully- meticulously- rendered. Music strums from this IEM in a stunning display of soundstaging consistency and harmonics, and seems to linger nostalgically in the air, like the ghosts of Christmas past.
One other area where the VE5 did reach lofty heights, was its separation ohh separation. Not only will you hear every nuance and raw fibrous detail in the vocals of your music, these vocals will seem so distinct, so clear, that they’ll almost seem to exist on a different canvas from the rest of the music. Such prowess is especially welcome on technically demanding and complex music, for which the VE5 is a rare treat.
The VE5 is an impressive IEM. It’s defined. It’s articulate. It’s detailed. It’s also airy, technical, and highly-consistent. Life may be a box of chocolates, but you’ll always know exactly what you’re going to get with the VE5. It serves up a studiously crafted meal of molecular gastronomy, the type of sustenance that can only be prepared by those who are technically beyond reproach. But this IEM is not for everyone. It won’t suit those who want to rock out. It won’t suit those who want a blunt axe, as opposed to a light, airy and detailed knife. But for those who like what the VE5 does, you probably won’t find anything better.