Reviewed May 2011

Details: VSonic’s flagship dynamic-driver monitor
MSRP: $179
Current Price: $158 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 50Ω | Sens: 105 dB | Freq: 7-30k Hz | Cable: 4.3’ L-plug
Nozzle Size3.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single- and bi-flanges, Sony Hybrid
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (4/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes), Hybrid-style (10 sizes), and bi-flange silicone tips, foam tips, over-the-ear cable guides, and soft carrying pouch Single-flange (3 sizes) and bi-flange (2 sizes) silicone tips, foam tips, over-the-ear cable guides, and hard clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – Rectangular in shape and designed for over-the-ear wear, the GR07 features adjustable-angle metal nozzles and beefy gray cabling. The cord can be somewhat resistant to staying behind one’s ears without the included ear guides. The strain reliefs on the housings aren’t as flexible as I would like and the cables aren’t particularly tangle-resistant but otherwise the build is well thought-out.
Isolation (3.5/5) – Like most dynamic-driver in-ears, the GR07 is vented but the fairly long nozzles help keep isolation reasonably high
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Cable noise is very low as the GR07 can only be worn in the over-the-ear configuration. Although the conventional cable clip is missing from the accessory pack, the cable cinch and ear guides can be used to fix the cord in place
Comfort (4.5/5) – Though the GR07 uses fairly large 11mm drivers, the lightweight, form-fitted, over-the-ear style housings actually work very well for prolonged listening with their slim profile and rounded edges. The angle of the nozzle is also adjustable in every direction

Sound (9.1/10) – Despite the rapid growth of the IEM market in the past couple of years, competition in certain niches is still fairly low among higher-end earphones. One such niche is the dynamic-driver professional monitor – a market segment VSonic clearly had in mind when designing the GR07. The earphone utilizes an 11mm bio-cellulose transducer and delivers more than enough sonic bang to compete with similarly-priced offerings from Western brands.

Overall balance is definitely a strong suit of the GR07. Presence is excellent across the range and the earphones remain refined and detailed at the limits – something I’ve always particularly liked about Sennheiser’s IE-series models. The low end of the GR07 is deep and punchy. For a dynamic-driver earphone, the GR07 is rather quick, which does show through in bass control and accuracy. At the same time, the bass is well-weighted and carries realistic attack and decay, striking a fine line between the slightly thicker bass notes produced by the Sennheiser IE6 and IE7 and the leaner bass presentation of armature-based monitors such as the Fischer DBA-02 and Westone 2. The only other higher-end dynamic that could be used for monitoring – the HiFiMan RE252 – doesn’t fare nearly as well either when it comes to bass extension, body, or overall presence.

The midrange is balanced properly with the low end and maintains the same impressive levels of clarity and detail. Unlike the similarly-priced Sennheiser IE7, the GR07 is not at all forward in the midrange. It is also nowhere near as warm and thick as the Sennheisers, instead offering a leaner (and arguably more realistic) note presentation. Tonally, the mids of the GR07 are quite neutral, leaning only slightly towards warmth and having no coloration compared to the majority of higher-end dynamics. Texture levels are very good but, as is the case with almost all dynamics, the detailing is not very aggressive compared to higher-end BA-based monitors from Fischer, Etymotic, Audio-Technica, and the like. This makes the GR07 seem smoother and gives it certain finesse in getting the complete sonic picture across without inducing listening fatigue. At the same time, it makes the volume easier to turn up inadvertently when listening to the GR07 – something I caught myself doing on several occasions.

The GR07’s treble is probably the only real problem with its sound signature. The GR07 has excellent treble presence and remains noticeably brighter than Sennheiser’s IE7 but has a slight tendency towards sibilance. Sibilance can be somewhat striking out of the box but becomes nearly a non-issue at low-to-moderate listening volumes after the initial adjustment period. Like the low end, the highs of the GR07 are fairly well-extended and always remain crisp and detailed. Of course the GR07 can’t quite match the sparkle of an ATH-CK10, but then it isn’t meant to. As a neutral and accurate monitor, it performs exceedingly well.

The presentation of the GR07 is again very competent on every level. The soundstage is wide and spacious. It is slightly oblong in shape, losing out in depth and height to competitors such as the IE7, and tends to position things a bit farther away compared to more intimate-sounding dynamics such as the Radius TWF21. Instrumental separation is still excellent and the GR07 is anything but congested-sounding. It provides a very cohesive sound without becoming overly analytical despite impressive separation and layering. The sound of the VSonics is also very effortless – almost as much so as that of the HiFiMan RE262. Lastly, a note on usability – although the GR07 is fairly transparent to source, its high impedance makes it a consistent performer and its signature isn’t particularly susceptible to poor synergy, making it a great first step into higher-end in-ear territory for those with limited hands-on IEM experience.

Value (9.5/10) – Designed for use as a stage monitor, VSonic’s new flagship is a very strong performer on several levels. Utilizing bio-cellulose drivers, the VSonic GR07 does have the right sound signature to become one of the few studio-friendly dynamic-driver earphones. Its biggest selling point is the excellent balance across the spectrum, offering controlled but well-weighted bass, clear and articulate mids, and accurate treble. As is the case with some of the pricier in-ears from Ortofon, Westone, HiFiMan, and even 1964EARS, one of the GR07’s greatest strengths is its lack of real weaknesses, both in sound quality and overall usability. Putting aside the eternal debate on the virtues of balanced armature vs. dynamic transducers, it is quite easy to see that the GR07 is worth the asking price, and maybe more.

Pros: Well-built and well-designed; great balance and presence across the spectrum
Cons: Tends to be slightly sibilant, especially when coming from a smoother earphone