Vision Ears VE7: The Control Room – A Custom In-Ear Monitor Review

Presentation

As per the brief, Vision Ears’ VE7 delivers an almost-textbook rendition of the neutral reference sound. Its delivery is quick and precise, and there’s superb specificity to its imaging too. Notes stand out vividly against its black background, so you know exactly where they are, and where they start-and-end. There’s honesty to its staging as well; more boxy ala studio, and less theatrically vast. But, again, the tidiness that is there is top-notch. Tonally, as you might expect, the lows aren’t a driving force. But what the VE7 does incredibly well is not lean too far in one direction or the other. By the same vein, the treble isn’t too much either. Articulation is crisp and clear, but never to the point where crashes glare or vocals get tinny. Clean describes its technique (its imaging, separation, dynamics, etc.), but it isn’t what defines or dominates its timbre. Its overall response is far more nuanced than that to my ears, and this soundscape is exactly what we’ll be getting into now.

Despite its billing as a neutral, clinical in-ear, what really sets the VE7 apart to me is how soulful and loose it can get with certain kinds of music, and it does it in a few telling ways. One is how much surface area instruments get in the image. It isn’t an in-ear that over-compacts notes to mere dots in the soundscape. Despite, again, how tidy the imaging is, the VE7 does keep a tiny bit of overlap between instruments, so it all sounds cohesive and natural. That’s then complemented by a clever use of decay. It doesn’t ever cut notes off to seem sterile. Rather, it’s almost DD-like in how instruments flow into each other to, again, create a more cozy soundscape. It’s most prevalent in genres like soul and jazz, or tracks like Ozone Squeeze’s Chase the Clouds. So, again, precision and cleanliness aside, what sells the VE7 to me is the bounce it gets away with in spite of them, as well as the uniformity in pace and texture throughout its sig, courtesy of the all-armature set-up.

Bass

As per usual, the first place you’ll pick up any hint of a BA sound is down low, and this VE7 is guilty of it as well. It doesn’t move air like a large diaphragm would. So, if that real thump-in-the-chest is what you’re after, VE’s (unfortunately, Japan-exclusive) Meister would be more fitting. But, that doesn’t mean the in-ear’s low-end is bereft of its own treats; quite the contrary. What I find most impressive is its linearity. The sub-, mid- and upper-bass move like a single unit. So, on a track like Anomalie’s Le Bleury, the kick drum and bass line are level, which obviously adds to the impact of that section. This is crucial for proper mixing too. And, that evenness in tone allows individual nuances between different kick drums to come through as well. You won’t get the same sub-bass boost or mid-bass cut across all kicks, which is what reference-targeted IEMs tend to do for clarity and cut. It’s a linear, transparent bass that – BA-ness aside – lets the track really come through.

That evenness, thankfully, extends to the bass’s overall place in the mix as well. It isn’t restrained for clarity’s sake, nor is  it the treble’s second fiddle. The VE7’s bottom-end, on the vast majority of songs I tested it with, sits in line with the mids, then it’s either a hair behind or in line with the low-treble, depending on the track. So, again, you’re not getting a tonality that screams clean!. Instead, you’re getting a cohesive, balanced, slightly soulful timbre that comes off clean in spite of it. That looseness and size I described in Presentation comes into play here as well. You won’t hear a low-end that’s too light or jab-like. It’s a bass with warmth and glow to it. And, it’s complemented with great technique as well. Its extension does wonders to make up for its BA tone, providing more than enough weight for bass drops or double-kick chops. And, while not as textured as VE’s more dynamic EVE20, it has good resolution too for a bass with power and the restraint to match.

Midrange

The midrange, to me, is where the neutral bit starts to kick in. It has a lighter, airier tone to it, which comes from restraint around 300Hz. This’s where the lows and mids meet, and it’s where instruments get their richness and body. On rhythm guitars, that’s where the chug comes from. And, that’s where the boom on the snare drum lies as well. The VE7 cuts back on them a little bit, so the image doesn’t become too crowded or full. On Mark Lettieri’s Star Catchers, for example, you’ll hear more presence from the higher-pitched lead guitars than the, again, chugging rhythm guitars at the back. The IEM’s colouration makes the former shine a hair more. Similarly, Al Jarreau on Mornin’ sounds a bit more throaty or nasally, as the colouration alleviates some of his deeper, chestier notes. So, here’s one instance where the VE7 leans more towards neutral than natural for me. But, it’s, again, a compromise for tidiness and headroom too. So, it is a matter of preference.

Despite that deviation, though, the VE7’s mids are a far cry from thin or insubstantial. That’s because of the in-ear’s richly present centre-midrange, which gives notes their structure and spread; the fibre that pillows the transients coming from the highs. So, they’ll have solidity and oomph, rather than become thin, sterile wraiths. This then correlates exactly to the size and overlap I covered in Presentation. And, to VE’s massive credit, the transition from the lows, to the low-mids, then to the centre-mids is seamlessly executed. There isn’t the dry, plasticky suck-out that can plague neutral-aimed IEMs. That said, it won’t help tracks that are inherently bright or crisp, though, which is a lot of the hip-hop on my playlist. There are exceptions like Royce da 5’9”’s On The Block or Dumb. So, one could say that that is the transparency of the in-ear coming to play too. In control and detail retrieval, the midrange impresses again. It loses out on vividness or drive a tad, because of the high-bass-to-low-mid dip. But, tidiness continues to be top-notch, with the lick of richness and oomph to boot too.

Treble

By the slimmest of margins, the top-end is arguably where the VE7’s liveliest. It attacks and articulates vividly. But, again, VE have done a stellar job making sure it doesn’t dominate the monitor’s signature. The VE7, despite its precision, hasn’t ever registered as bright to me. There isn’t that glare to cymbals that linger around the stage. And, with vocals, you won’t just be hearing lip smacks or sibilants all the time. The treble’s a focal point for sure, but not to the detriment of the rest of the ensemble. This, to me, is the sign of a properly neutral monitor. The VE7’s sharp, slightly tizz-ed attack is where the specificity in its imaging comes from. They act almost like beacons that let you know when and where an element enters its space. An example would be the hi-hat on Nathan East’s Love’s Holiday, which the VE7 sits a hair to the right, revealing it’s been panned to the audience’s perspective. That is precision you can’t get just by raising the highs. It has to be a top-end with a clean, focused transient response – free of splashiness or glare – and it’s what VE have skilfully achieved here.

Tonally, it’s a treble I find pleasing to listen to as well. It isn’t ever dry, coarse or tinny-sounding. Instead, it’s got a tiny bit of softness and wetness to it, which I find pillows its direct, pointed transients and eases them on the ear. Again, there is that slight looseness to it too. This makes jazz rides – like the ones on Jesse Ryan’s Big Ole’ Shoes – sound more organic or natural. And, it caresses the louder china hits on a mix like Animals as Leaders’ Tooth and Claw too. But, with that said, as was true on its low-mids, it can’t embellish mixes that are already hotly-mastered. Babyface’s upper register on We’ve Got Love is an example, as well as the overheads on Victoria’s Home. The intensity or sizzle that is there will remain. But, even with those sorts of tracks, this in-ear doesn’t ever get strident or sibilant, really, which is a strong feat. Technically, it nails extension. Notes won’t decay into a fuzz. Everything fades away clearly. So, again, while it isn’t the most expansive in-ear in the world, it’ll still comfortably provide all the precision and headroom you’ll need for both pro work and hi-fi listening.

General Recommendations

The VE7’s superb balance makes it an incredibly versatile in-ear. If you lean anywhere towards vibrance or clarity on the warm-to-bright scale, it’s VE’s most appealing offering yet. But, these three, to me, are what ultimately define that sound:

A breezy, clear and ever-so-slightly loose take on the studio sound: The VE7’s take on reference is one with a bit of sway, a bit of size and a bit of soul. Its precision won’t leave notes dry, truncated or dulled, and the balance between its neutral and natural sides is stellar. If you’re in the Focal school of thought as far as studio monitors go, this VE7 is a wonderful option.

Vibrant, clean, yet constantly-steadied vocals: What sets this VE7 apart from most reference-tuned IEMs to me is the power, expressiveness and glow it allows its lead instruments. Vocals and lead guitars still sit fairly neutrally (for the most part), but they’re allowed to roar and belt. As mentioned, that can impede it from being a pure reference. But, from a listening point-of-view, that extra hit of musicality is a definite, definite plus. And, it’s one I can see pros adjusting to with time too.

Clean, articulate, yet fairly-forgivingly highs: The VE7’s treble, though healthy in quantity, has a delicateness and slightness, which makes it surprisingly versatile. It isn’t gonna rough up or highlight hotly-mastered recordings, and recordings that were made warm will come off as such. Obviously, those who want their highs rapidly rolled-off still need not apply. But, those who want balance between finesse and attack, leaning slightly towards the latter, will find much to love in the VE7.

With that said, though, the VE7’s versatility can only go so far. Its tuning direction will inevitably steer it towards a certain crowd at the end of the day. So, if you demand any of the following in your next in-ear monitor, the VE7 likely won’t be it:

Any notable bias or emphasis towards the low-end: The VE7 isn’t an IEM that’s sterile or anaemic by any means. Its lows are definitely present as a foundational or supporting instrument. But, if what you’re after is a bass that’ll drive the track, or one that’ll lead the charge dynamically, the VE7 likely won’t be enough. The VE4.2 or EVE20 meet that criteria a ton more.

Compact, distantly-positioned instruments: The VE7’s imaging is decidedly more studio-like; precisely wrapping around the head, rather than ethereally holographic or dramatically vast. This’s spot-on for analysing mixes or panning instruments. But, if what you’re after is a floatier, more hi-fi sort of presentation, a well-driven ELYSIUM will likely fit your needs better.

An exceedingly rich, organic or heavy lower-midrange: Though slightly rich and slightly loose, this VE7’s instruments still lean towards the lighter, airier side. They aren’t exactly brimming with warmth or smoke. So, if you want your tracks rendered with a good amount of butteriness or weight, this VE7 isn’t the best option. The VE8 is something I’d recommend instead.

SHARE.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Deezel

Deezel

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.

RELATED POSTS

One Response

  1. Hi Deezel,
    Thanks a lot for your review. It comes really handy as the VE7 is the top candidate to be my first CIEM. Just yesterday I had a chance to test several universal IEMs from VE, 64 Audio, and a couple more from EarSonic and JH.
    If possible, I would like your quick impression of the VE7 vs. 64Audio A12t and, most importantly but albeit I guess less likely, the DUNU DK2000 which i’ve been using since years. I use them with soft silicone tips which, I think, soften a little their bass and trebles: bass is still good and plenty for my taste, but far less than e.g. 64Audio’s A6t, making the sound more open and clean.
    A.o. ultimately I am looking for a CIEM that had a somewhat comparable amount of bass as the DK2000 but more forward / rich mids – I find that vocals in the DK2000 are not emotional enough, so to speak.
    The VE7 seem to deliver on that. Perhaps it has less sub-bass, though?
    Vs the A12t I find that the VE7 has smaller stage and slightly less bass overall (with M15 module in), but way more natural (?) trebles, and more emotional mids.
    Would you agree?
    Thanks, regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent posts

Sponsors

Sponsors

Categories