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VSonic VSD3S

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

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

ljokerl

ljokerl

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.

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203 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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).

  6. 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 ).

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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!.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

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

  22. 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!

  23. 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 )

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

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

  27. 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.

  28. 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 🙂

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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?

  35. 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.

  36. 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

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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).

  40. 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.

  41. 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?

  42. Thnx 🙂

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

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