Vision Ears VE6XC – Cirque de Soul’eil

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Presentation

The VE6XC possesses a refined, balanced and spacious signature. Unlike the engaging, immersive and involving persona of the flagship VE8, the VE6XC offers almost a bird’s-eye view of the track you’re listening to – almost as if you’re in the control room looking into the recording booth, rather than inside the performance venue itself. The soundscape wraps around your head with tons of headroom in between. Notes are compact and a touch distant at times, but physically convincing nonetheless due to the density of the midrange. As a result, the beauty of the VE6XC doesn’t come from the bigness of images. Rather, it’s in the uncolouredness of its tone and the effortlessness with which it renders finer details.

This is the VE6XC’s forte. Great refinement runs through its entire response, producing heaps of nuance with neither awkwardness nor artificiality. It’s a smooth, natural yet articulate delivery of detail ideal for professional work. You’re neither too invested in the music to pay attention to technicality, nor unengaged to the point where the listening experience becomes unlikeable. Much of that is attributed to its tonal balance: A smooth, lightly organic rendition of neutral. Neither warmth nor brightness dominate the VE6XC’s palate, which contributes to background blackness and image stability. But, sufficient body is present as well; granting instruments the physical presence they require. Truly, it’s a tone I’d consider reference with gobs of finesse – zero hiccups, peaks or valleys; simply smooth and refined all-around.

Bass

The VE6XC’s low-end encapsulates what some may call balanced-armature bass. Immediately, you’ll notice a preference for speed and control, rather than impact or authority. The low-end renders an impressive amount of information as a result, but comes off sounding a tad nonchalant when it comes to sheer rumble and physicality; despite high extension. This stems from an upper-bass bias, while the sub-bass takes a bit of a back seat. Mid-bass is ample, with bags of punch for most. But, if you’re yearning for a skull-rattling experience, neither of the VE6XC’s two signatures will be for you. The X1 setting preserves a similar balance; simply accentuated. But, if you’re looking for a clean, controlled low-end with sufficient body and warmth to cohere beautifully with the rest of the ensemble, the VE6XC will certainly please.

If you prefer the VE6XC’s speedy timbre, you’ll find much to love in technical respects as well. Again, there’s ample clarity and definition down low. What you’re giving away in rumble and verve, you’re gaining in transparency and control – especially when you’re processing raw stems in EQ, for example. This refinement also grants the VE6XC a clean image without resorting to egregious treble peaks. Although the sub-bass is placed further back in the mix, the in-ear’s vast, stable stage allows the region to maintain equal resolution as the lead elements. Instead of an undefined, cloudy rumble, you get clear, distant waves that bolster the in-ear’s holography and three-dimensionality. Although it’s not the most actively engaging, when paired with a cable like Effect Audio’s Leonidas II, it is a dynamic experience to behold.

Midrange

Clean, nuanced and organic – these qualities succinctly hallmark the VE6XC’s vocal range. Again, rather than punchy, saturated images, instruments possess a compact, breezy profile. Balladeers project effortlessly; gracefully. Horns are airier than they are honky. Piano strokes brush the ear with a delicate touch. As mentioned on Presentation, the VE6XC prioritises finesse and ease over sheer impact. This is the result of a laid-back upper-midrange that never forces upon the listener. Obviously, some may prefer this over others. Without proper acclimation, this presentation may sound lackadaisical; detached; un-engaging. I’d expect most to pump up the volume at first listen for this reason alone. But once properly introduced, the VE6XC reveals a fine balance between openness and heft, as well as a loot of subtle detail.

What this nonchalance ultimately provides is headroom. Space permeates the monitor’s soundscape for the midrange’s throatier registers to occupy. Again coming back to Presentation, instruments possess a physicality stemming from the centre-mids. In turn, the sternness of the bass contributes cleanliness; letting the image breathe from top and bottom. A sense of ease allows the listener to take in more data simultaneously. Recordings sound less frenetic on the VE6XC, highlighting the intrinsic layers hidden within the track, rather than the wall of sound they produce together. Again, neither vocalists, nor brass sections nor rock guitars will sound as punchy as that primal listener in you may lust for. But, the VE6XC’s merits must be acknowledged, not simply by virtue of cold, technical prowess – rather, its ability to imbue split, peeled and scrutinised layers of music with wetness, organicity and resonance to truly sound romantically refined.

Treble

The VE6XC possesses a rather unique treble – forwardly-positioned, yet silky, buttery and devilishly smooth. Perhaps the most linear-sounding treble I’ve ever experienced, Vision Ears have managed to preserve the tone of the treble without all the textural kinks. There isn’t a hint of graininess, or stridence, or… anything at all, really. And yet, its sonic hue comes through as clear as day; balancing the low-end and arriving at a neutral tone. Ultimately, it’s a vibrant, airy and free-sounding treble with the sheen of a Profoto Softbox, and the touch of a newborn pixie. This balance is what defines its performance. Whether delivering detail or contributing energy, the VE6XC’s top-end sings effortlessly. With light-yet-efficient touches, it again echoes Presentation: Zero hiccups, peaks or valleys; simply smooth and refined all-around.

Like the rest of the ensemble, this top-end’s greatest strength is coherence. The paragraph above is evidence of this on a micro scale, but this rings true on a macro scale as well – especially on a time domain. Perhaps the product of phase, the VE6XC possesses excellent pace. The treble, midrange and bass arrive with each other; rare in an era where hard-edged transients commonly take the lead. Again, this means the treble isn’t perhaps as crisp as audiophiles are accustomed to, but the benefits to headroom, tonal accuracy and long-term-listening are irrefutable. This refinement does not translate to detail deficiency either. The VE6XC’s highs extend smoothly; linearly. This constructs its vast stage and dynamic range. Instruments breathe freely and are imaged superbly too. Smoother uppermost registers may inhibit clinical imaging. But, the VE6XC’s impossible balance between clarity, definition and smoothness makes this compromise all but worth it.

X1 and X2

Although the XControl switch may simply be called a bass boost, its effects aren’t entirely isolated to the low-end. The X1 does have a fuller, punchier bass. But in addition, vocals are pushed further forward as well. There’s a boldness to them that suggests an emphasis on the bass and the 1-2kHz region. X2 possesses a lighter, airier presentation that highlights the pockets of space surrounding each instrument. Conversely, X1 maximises that real estate – saturating it with bigger-sounding notes and bass presence. Despite these shifts, the VE6XC maintains excellent composure and coherence throughout. In either mode, tone is uniformly neutral, the stage remains stable throughout and the six armatures flow seamlessly between one another. To my ears, it’s a bit more than a simple bass boost, but it’s quality all the same.

General Recommendations

The VE6XC’s clean, transparent yet musical signature bills it towards a select audience. But, great technical performance expands its horizons as well. It’ll be the monitor for you if the three attributes below match your personal preferences.

A balanced, refined, neutral signature: The VE6XC’s rendition of neutral aptly avoids labels like sterile, lifeless or unlikeable. A genuine sense of charm accompanies its transparency, resulting in a signature as fun to work with as it is to listen to.

Stellar bass definition and control: While it won’t compete with modern diaphragms any time soon, the VE6XC’s quick, snappy low-end has its merits. Clarity and definition both impress – highly suitable for professional editing and mixing. And, when teased out via X1 or a bass-emphasised cable or source, stellar extension gifts it some decent kick as well.

An engineer’s soundstage: The VE6XC’s vast, voluminous soundstage offers an outside-in perspective of the track. Although it isn’t the most engaging, it allows you to peer into your favourite recordings with a truthfulness you may not have heard before. Again, this is a trait that’ll appeal most to professionals, but will find favour in certain enthusiasts too.

On the other hand, if you’re the kind of audiophile who loves rhythm and verve, the VE6XC may not be the right fit. It certainly sits refinement over raw energy. So, if the three qualities below appeal to your tastes, the VE6XC won’t.

Heaps of rumble down low: The VE6XC’s balanced-armature bass won’t satisfy bassheads yearning for skull-rattling verve. Although it oozes quality, the timbre it assumes in either setting discourages raw oomph for refinement and balance.

An immersive, involving soundscape: The VE6XC is a monitor that sits you in the control room, rather than in the recording booth. Its instruments certainly are palpable and dynamic, but they aren’t as up-front as some may prefer. If a more immersive, vibrant and engaging signature is what you need, Vision Ears’ flagship VE8 will deliver in spades.

An ultra-crisp, airy top-end: The VE6XC cleverly avoids any egregious peaks past 10kHz. As a result, it preserves an organicity to its tone, an elegance to its articulation and stellar stability to its image. This is at the cost of some crispness, sparkle and air, however. If that conflicts with your personal preferences, I’d point you towards Vision Ears’ VE5 instead.

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

27 Comments

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  7. Hi, it seems you may have accidentally reversed your meaning(s) at the bottom of page 2, where you state three characteristics (in red font).

    It seems that you actually meant to say that the 3 characteristics are NOT strong characteristics of the VE6XC, but you seem to have TYPED that they ARE strong characteristics of the VE6XC.

    What I mean is that you have typed:

    If the three qualities below aren’t your cup-of-tea, the VE6XC won’t be either.

    So, did you really mean:

    “If the three qualities below ARE your cup-of-tea, the VE6XC WON’T be your cup of tea.” ?

    Either way, thanks for the review.

    All the best.

    • Hello,

      Ah, you are indeed correct. If the qualities in red ARE the qualities you’re looking for, then the VE6XC won’t be for you. Thanks so much for pointing out that error. I’ll correct it ASAP.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

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