Vision Ears VE5
- Driver count: Five balanced-armature drivers
- Impedance: 21Ω @ 1kHz
- Sensitivity: 122dB @ 1mW
- Key feature(s) (if any): N/A
- Available form factor(s): Custom acrylic IEM
- Price: €1430
- Website: www.vision-ears.de
The VE5 is an especially vocal-oriented IEM. Intimacy and clarity are its strongest suits – defined by midrange notes that span far and wide – with a forwardness that places the listener in a clear front-row seat. Bolstered by a significant midrange hump and a generous upper-treble lift, the VE5 presents voices with technical aplomb – bright, bold and crystal clear. As the priciest product of the round-up, the VE5 appropriately displays the most capable signature of them all. It’s the airiest and most open-sounding of the bunch, with a stage that displays impressive size (in height, especially). Although its stage isn’t the most organised – with a clear focus on centre-stage – this was a compromise made to benefit its intended signature; a wall of sound where the vocalist comes first, and everything else second.
The VE5 has a linear and bodied bass. Although a brighter overall signature may suggest an anaemic low-end, the VE5 actually has an incredibly meaty bottom, made possible by the VE5’s extended and accentuated treble. The bass introduces little warmth into the stage, but the richness and impact it provides counterbalances the VE5’s sparkle; adding great contrast to an otherwise leaner signature. There’s a very slight tilt towards the upper-bass, but this overall linearity gives the low-end an admirably natural tone. Much in the theme of the VE5’s midrange composition, low-end notes are thick and they’re allowed weight, body and presence. Jazz recordings will benefit as much from a powerful soprano taking centre stage, as it will from a textured, resonant and well-resolved upright bass just behind. The VE5’s low-end is impressive. Despite a lack of dynamic energy, great tonal balance and gossamer warmth infuse it with an infectious charm and a seductively rich presentation.
The VE5’s midrange is undoubtedly the star of the show. Both in prominence and quality, vocals and instruments take centre stage. Stemming from a wholly accentuated vocal range and capped off with a healthy upper-mid peak, singers belt with admirable transparency; bright, clean and clear. And, despite the proximity, the VE5 has headroom to spare. Openness and air delivered by its upper-treble lift ensures minimal distortion and sibilance with an impressive range of recordings. However, the VE5 lacks a crucial component in its delivery to truly be considered a vocal maestro: Warmth. Emphases on articulation and crispness give the VE5 a perception of air and speed, so much so that notes – sometimes – lack a proper foundation to stand on. Overtones and harmonics are almost background instruments, while the fundamental comes through with brilliant clarity. It’s a deliberate tuning choice and it’s pulled off capably – without harshness, nor fatigue, nor artificiality – but lovers of the HD650 or the Warbler Prelude should look elsewhere; this is not your typical vocal lover presentation.
Treble performance continues the VE5’s knack for technical prowess. After the upper-mid peak, a dip begins at the lower-treble – again avoiding harshness – before a rise towards the upper-treble. Because of this, the VE5 has a decidedly neutral treble; favouring neither analytical pizzazz nor sapid musicality. Most of the VE5’s inherent cleanliness comes from its upper-treble lift, but problems do arise when the VE5 meets recordings with a similar rise. Although smoothness remains, the presentation can get fatiguingly bright when listened to long enough. Now, this specific attribute alters greatly between tips, and I expect the custom unit to perform better here, but fans of pop or rock music should be wary with the tracks they listen to with this IEM. Regardless, the VE5 performs admirably up-top; boasting excellent extension and impressive resolution. Separation and layering throughout the frequency response benefit from this. And, although the upper-mid peak discourages a consistent black background, the VE5 compensates with admirable stability and great transparency by virtue of extension; building contrast-y and well-defined environments within its saturated stage.
Who Is It For?
The VE5 is an IEM built for sheer midrange clarity. While it may be easy to generally recommend them to vocal enthusiasts as a whole, it should be noted that this isn’t a universal sentiment. In Japan – for example – where brands like FitEar reign supreme, what the general audiophile looks for in vocal performance is warmth, richness and body. The VE5’s crisper, sparklier presentation wouldn’t necessarily fill this criteria, as its sights are set elsewhere. Personally, I’d recommend the VE5 to midrange aficionados who prefer transparency over organicity; clarity over tone. The VE5 certainly errs on the brighter side of things, but its technical performance is exemplary; pushing detail out the wazoo, and doing so with exceptional smoothness. If what you’re looking for in an IEM is engaging intimacy, stellar headroom, and the ability to resolve instruments to the very last dot, the VE5 is the one for you.