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VSonic VC02

VSonic VC02 Review

VSonic VC02
Reviewed Feb 2013

Details: Dynamic microdriver earphone from VSonic
MSRP: est. $49
Current Price: $49 from
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 100 dB | Freq: 10-25k Hz | Cable: 4.3′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 4mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (3/5) – Single-flange (3 sizes), hybrid-style (7 sizes), and bi-flange silicone tips; shirt clip, drawstring carrying pouch
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The VC02’s form factor is of the slim, straight-barrel variety. The construction is very similar to that of the pricier GR01, albeit with detachable cables and fixed nozzles. The cable is smooth but on the thin side and lacks a sliding cinch. It utilizes a conventional 2-pin socket, though it detaches more easily than I’d have liked. A bump on the inside of the right strain relief differentiates the left and right connectors.
Isolation (3.5/5) – Similar to the pricier GR06 and GR07 models
Microphonics (4/5) – Cable noise is bothersome when worn cable-down but becomes low with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (4.5/5) – The housings are very slim and easy to insert deeply for a good seal. The sheer variety of included eartips should allow the fit to work for anyone, though earphones with slimmer nozzles provide more fitment options still. The cable exits at an angle so those with smaller ears may have trouble wearing the VC02 cable-up

Sound (8.1/10) – The VC02 is undoubtedly the most balanced sub-$100 model I’ve heard from VSonic thus far. It pursues an accurate, uncolored sound that continuously impresses with its crispness and clarity. The low end of the VC02 is tight and punchy, though fans of enhanced bass will be disappointed by its linear nature. The impact is slightly greater compared to the HiFiMan RE0 but not at the level of VSonic’s GR06 model. Bass depth is good and bass detail and texture are excellent due to the lack of mid-bass bloat – easily among the best I’ve heard in the sub-$100 range.

The mids are clean and crisp. Midrange presence is excellent, with no recession but also less warmth and thickness compared to sets that would normally be considered “balanced” in the budget realm, such as the Brainwavz M1 and Monoprice 8320. The VC02 is clearer than these, and clearer also than the armature-based Rock-It Sounds R-30, falling just behind the far more expensive HiFiMan RE-ZERO and MEElec A161P. It is slightly thin-sounding and the tonality is on the cool side, which will still make the GR06 a better choice for some listeners.

The top end of the VC02 is extended and just as crisp as the rest of the signature, but still has some of the slightly hot character that all higher-end VSonic dynamics seem to share. It is a little less sibilant than my GR07 mkI but still doesn’t quite have the refinement of HiFiMan’s dynamic-driver earphones. The presentation is spacious but not particularly enveloping – the GR07 and GR06 both seem to present a more well-rounded sonic image. Soundstage width is good, however, and the balanced, clear sound leaves no room for any sort of congestion. In fact, the VC02 makes the armature-based Rock-It R-30 sound a little congested and vague when it comes to imaging. All in all, it has nothing to be ashamed of for the price. It may be worth noting the lower-than-average sensitivity of the VC02, which will leave those who gauge sound quality by volume level wanting.

Value (10/10) – I wrote and scrapped this section several times trying to convey the scope of the VC02’s brilliance. While VSonic’s GR-series earphones have simply been at the top of their game, the VC02 seems to transcend competing altogether. There are a few nitpicks but there’s so much more to like. I like the detachable cables with the common 2-pin connector – something I haven’t seen on a budget earphone since Altec Lansing stopped selling UE models at huge discounts. I like the tiny 3mm dynamic driver, the slim form factor, and the resulting comfort and noise isolation. I like the fact that VSonic includes a ton of tips despite the small sizing gaps between them. And I especially like fact that the VC02 boasts what has to be the clearest, tightest, and most detailed sound this side of the HiFiMan RE0 – a model that was originally considered well-priced at $239 and remained a Head-Fi favorite for years. The VC02 does all that at an astonishingly low price point. Enough said.

Pros: Small, lightweight, and comfortable; very balanced and articulate sound
Cons: Lacks cable cinch; detachable cables can come off too easily



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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.


16 Responses

  1. The VC02 is brilliant but luckily your budget is high enough that you can do a little better.

    Specifically for what you want – neutral, balanced, and clear – I’d go for the best Etymotic you can get (an HF5 would be best if you can find one under $100, but MC5 if that’s over budget), or a Final Audio Heaven II.

    Probably would rank them HF5 > Heaven II > MC5 > E30.

    Although E30 is definitely not bad for under $50, if you can’t get your hands on an Etymotic or the Final Audio there’s a few other options to look at alongside Soundmagic, like the Phiaton MS100BA, HiFiMan RE-400, etc.

  2. Hi Joker, what a brilliant website! I highly appreciate what you do on here!
    What a shame that these are now discontinued! These are exactly what I was looking for: neutral, balanced, detailed, clear and true-to-source/accurate. I am just getting into music production and would love a pair of iems, to use as ‘reference’ for mixing and mastering. My budget is $100 but it seems that I may have to save up for the Inear SD-2s, which are quite pricey for me at this moment in time. From research, I assume the Soundmagic E30 are a step down to the VC02 in terms of neutrality, balance, detail etc but are there other options that fall under my requirements, and at a $100 budget or perhaps very similar to the VC02?

  3. Neutral, accurate, true-to-source – lots of terminology for this. Etymotics are well-known for this, but mostly it’s the pricier balanced armature ones that are talked about in such terms, not the MC5. The Heaven II is pretty flat, and has good energy at the high end. I think its energy falls a little lower on the frequency spectrum (upper mids/lower treble vs higher treble for the VC02) so it won’t sound like a VC02 per se, but it’s got a lot going for it assuming you’re paying market price (<$100).

  4. Thank you, I’ll check out the heaven II. The thing I loved about the vc02 was how everything always sounded correct for lack of a better term. Whilst things like my brainwavz m2 would sound more fun I suppose, the vc02 always sounded right (I don’t know how to express this)

  5. The RE-400 is balanced but kind of opposite the VC02 – the VC02 is on the bright side of balanced with very crisp sound and no midrange emphasis. RE-400 is a bit relaxed in the treble and sub-bass, and more midrange-focused. GR07 Classic is nice as a flatter alternative to the VSD3S. They sound similar, but the GR07 is more accurate and less bassy. I like it better than the VSD3S, but of course it’s also 2x the price, and the VC02 is still flatter and has summarily more treble energy than these.

  6. Thank you
    I actually have the b3 pro 1 already and quite enjoy it, though not quite as much as the vc02 and was strongly considering grabbing a vsd3 as well though not to replace my vc02.

    Given the mc5 and final heaven cost essentially the same as the gr07 and re-400 from the recommended balanced headphones (looking at prices in Australia anyway) how would they fall into this discussion?
    Thank you again

  7. This is a tough one – the VC02 was pretty unique in its price range both in terms of value for money / performance and just plain sound tuning.

    For a accurate sound under $100 I’d say these are your best bet:

    Etymotic MC5 (or a higher-end one if you can swing it)
    Final Audio Heaven II
    Havi B3 ProI
    VSonic VSD3S

    The Etymotic and Heaven II will be the most flat and accurate (i.e. closest to the VC02), with the Etymotic being smoother and the Heaven II being a little brighter and more similar to the VC02.

    The other two move slightly further from the VC02 sound sig. The B3 is a little midrange-focused, but it maintains excellent clarity and detailing, and has a great soundstage. A bit hard to drive, but not too bad. The VSD3S is the opposite, with a slightly “v-shaped” sound tuning that pushes the bass and treble a bit. This makes it less flat/neutral than a VC02, but it’s an awesome earphone nonetheless.

  8. Hi joker, the vc02 is probably my favourite iem I’ve owned up until the fact I lost a driver. With them not being available anymore is there something else with as similar sound signature as possible you’d recommend? Thank you

  9. If you’re looking for accuracy and a totally flat sound signature, the HF5 does it better. Not night and day better and not 2x better as the price may indicate, but still better. The HF5 is also more durable and has better noise isolation.

    There’s not much that fits between these two in price and performance. Most of the other balanced/analytical sets either cost more than the HF5, sound worse than the VC02, or have lower noise isolation.

  10. Hi,
    I´m looking for some new IEMs. The main purpose is to use them for live mixing. Therefore I need good noise isolation and a balanced natural sound, analytical is a description I´ve found somewhere. So right now my main alternatives are these, Vsonic VC02, and the Etymotic HF5. So the price differens is quite big. Is the HF5 worth the extra money? or is there some other headphones in that price range that I should take a look at?

  11. Awesome, thanks. I’m leaning towards the Ety-kids. They’re cheap enough that I can probably swing a different pair as well.

  12. Well, for sound Etymotics are definitely your best bet and the dynamic-driver ones (like the Etykids and MC5) don’t need that deep of a seal. With foam tips I think they can be very comfortable.

    Some alternatives with a shallow seal and perhaps slightly more colored (but still balanced and very clear) sound – Rock Jaw Alfa Genus (gold filters): ; Ostry KC06 and Havi B3 Pro I: ; and for something a little smoother – the Ultimate Ears 600: . These should all be in the $50-80 range.

  13. Hi. I love this site. So much info.

    I had a pair of these for a year, and they finally died. They were my first pair of decent-sounding earphones, replacing my years of Skullcandies, and I loved them. Is there anything a bit sturdier with a similar sound for a similar price? I loved the detail and clarity of these. They didn’t seem to bring anything superfluous to the music I listen to.

    I just got the SoundMAGIC e30, and I really want to like them, but the over-the-ear style doesn’t work well for me, and for some reason I have a beast of a time getting a decent seal in my right ear. I’d rather something I can just stuff in my ears and forget, rather than fiddle with for five minutes. I was looking at the ETY-Kids 5, but I’m wary about the comfort issue. My VC02 was decently comfortable with a pair of medium foam tips, but I’m afraid anything deeper insertion-wise would drive me crazy.

  14. They are great *if* you like a balanced/analytical sound. They have no enhanced bass, no thick/lush/warm midrange, and very crisp treble.

    If you’re not sure about the type of sound you prefer it might be safer to go with VSonic’s VSD1S, which has more bass and a warmer tonal character. That’s why I recommended the VSD1S over the VC02 in the sub-$50 buyer’s guide: . Both are great earphones but the more conventional VSD1S is the more versatile earphone in my book.

  15. Hi there i have had my eye on these iem’s for a while now and i would like to know if these headphones are good with rock/alternative? If not what other iem’s would you reccomend?

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