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Old 02-21-2010, 07:22 PM
h1a8 h1a8 is offline
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Default My initial take on the HIPPO VB

I'm a total noob at doing reviews (this is my second one I think). So bare with me. I hope to improve and get on the level of the top reviewers on this site (like DFKT).

Ok they arrived a week ago, and I've started burning them (with regular music) in immediately after I noticed some harsh high mid (or low treble) going on, siblance too. But the initial bass blew me away. They came with the no dot plate installed and by the box I thought 3 dots was for more bass. I was scared to even try the 3 dot plate after hearing first the no dot plate (didn't want my eardrums to bust, lol). But to my surprised the 3 dot plate had less bass. So the box was wrong, it has it backwards.

Dfkt was right, these do sound like the initial non burned in Ultrasone HFI-780s but with more bass. I don't have an ear for treble (don't care for it much) so I'll be commenting only on bass, midrange, isolation, and detail-clarity/separation/resolution.

This review will be unfairly based off comparing them with the shure se530, sennheiser ie8, and the JVC victor fx-500. This is because they blow most (if not all) < $100 phones away, especially for bassheads.

Bass:
The bass on these things are strong indeed and the best aspect of this iem. The strongest bass I've heard so far and I've tried the ie8 and the fx500 bass monsters. The bass goes very low and doesn't seem to distort the rest of the spectrum. Doesn't have the midbass hump as many other phones do (which can be a good thing).

Note: Some midbass hump phones aren't bad but actually good (like the ie8 or se530). It depends on the smoothness and other aspects of the signature though. I like both midbass hump (when done right) as well as no midbass hump with low bass.


With that said, I definitely agree these have the best bass so far of what I've tried.



Midrange:
I would say these have either a neutral midrange or ever so slightly recessed midrange. The high midrange or low treble is indeed forward and makes it seem as if the midrange altogether is foward (it isn't). The smoothness of the midrange is so so (not to bad and not to great either). The problem lies in the upper midrange where it is a tiny bit harsh and has sibilance. After over 50hr burn-in the harshness and sibilance went down somewhat, but a tiny bit still exists on some songs. There is a foam mod where you put a small amount of headphone foam (from cheap earphones) in the nozzle. This is suppose to tame the sibilance and harshness somewhat but I haven't tried it yet. But after burn-in I can confirm it does reduce.

After the initial 50hr burn in I compared the hippo vb with the ie8, se530, and the jvc victor fx-500. The ie8 definitely has the better midrange of the two (more forward and more smoother and liquid like than the hippo vb). It is almost tied with the se530. The victor has a similar midrange to the hippo but with a little less harshness (the victor's harshness is more in the treble I think). All in all, I would say an okay midrange in comparison to top expensive phones and great midrange in comparison to <$100 phones.

Isolation
Comfort is excellent but isolation is so so and the worst of the four phones (behind the ie8 by a touch). But it isn't bad just average (or slightly below).

Details/Separation/and Resolution (or is it imagining?)
I'm no audio engineer so from HEAR on out (a joke) I'm really faking the funk. So don't take these things seriously. I'm just trying to describe best I can while maybe using incorrect terms (like resolution instead of imaging?). I'm comparing these to >$300 phones mind you (which isn't quite fair) so in comparison to <$100 phones then bump up everything I say by 1 more notch. With that said, the details and clarity of the hippo vb was again so so. Not too great but certainly not bad. The resolution I prefer to be better (just so so), but with that bass who cares. The instrument separation is pretty good though.

The ie8 had great detail, great resolution, and great separation. The fx500 had so so detail, great resolution, and great separation. The se530 had awesome detail, good separation, and great resolution. So in this category the hippo vb can compete with almost any <$100 phone but not so much the top > $300 phones.

Final thoughts
In conclusion, I like the hippo vb a lot but will be only listening to it when I'm in the mood for a special bass treat. Obviously I find the ie8 to be much better and still the best and is still my favorite iem by far. Although the bass on the ie8 is a touch less (imo still heavy but just right) it has much better mids (smoother and a touch more forward) and better resolution. I actually like the midbass of the ie8 (it makes the music sound awesome and smooth and warm with no roughness). I like the hippo vb better than the se530 on many songs but certainly like the se530 better for songs that don't need much extra bass. I find it to be tied with the fx500 though (and that's a great compliment). The bass is a touch better, both have some sibilance, but the fx500 has somewhat better resolution and seems just a touch smoother or more refined. So as far as value I rank in order of best to worst

1. Hippo VB
2. IE8
3. FX500
4. Se530

The Hippo VB is arguably the best < $150 iem for bassheads in existence. I'll probably do a follow up when I hit the 200hr mark.
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  #2  
Old 02-21-2010, 07:26 PM
Dreamnine Dreamnine is offline
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Nice review and an interesting read!
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h1a8 View Post
they blow most (if not all) < $100 phones away
I would say the same about my re0s, but I'm a bass-hater.
Nice review, though I wasn't really surprised - that's about what I imagined them to be.

Also next time you should put review in the sub-forum headphone user reviews.
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  #4  
Old 02-22-2010, 03:26 PM
trauty trauty is offline
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your review is so-so accurate only i disagree ur sub 100$ comparison... RE0 :-) (detail + clarity + no sibilance/harshness = owns VB). have both iems so i know what i am saying... basically VB has best sub 100$ bass for sure. rest of sound is mediocre. not bad , but not very good either.
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  #5  
Old 02-22-2010, 09:09 PM
h1a8 h1a8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trauty View Post
your review is so-so accurate only i disagree ur sub 100$ comparison... RE0 :-) (detail + clarity + no sibilance/harshness = owns VB). have both iems so i know what i am saying... basically VB has best sub 100$ bass for sure. rest of sound is mediocre. not bad , but not very good either.

You are most likey right. I've never heard the re0's. But so many are saying that they are good. I just can't deal with inadequate bass anymore. Maybe I'm spoiled.

Do you have a sony or cowon? If so, then how is the RE0's bass with the bass up a notch or two? Where does bass roll off at on the RE0s (at 40Hz, 30Hz, etc.)?
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:01 AM
trauty trauty is offline
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i cant say precisely where is roll of on my re0 its not that easy...
my rigs are cowon d2 and S9 . re0 has definitely enough bass when u properly burn-in after 100 hours. But specifically for my S9 i must say , that when i tweak EQ 80 Hz +5 dB and add Mach3Bass to +5 , then bass is really good and can hear down to lets say to 40 Hz (but thats my subjective opinion..) Basically RE0 are ballanced yet brighter then VB . both headphones manage to play any genre basically , just that some are handled better in specific ones... (RE0 for Metal, rock and Hippo VB for dnb etc.) note that VB has darker sound ( so highs r muffled a bit and less detailed and dont reach that high) so its personal preference basically. both IEMs r great. Since i listen everythink , i like them both. But personally i have no problem to listen dnb and electronics from RE0.
i dont know what genres u like.. i have just now tested both in dubstep genre. RE0 has midbass jump and that causes dubstep bass kinda resonating (distortion ,echo caused by that midbass) which doesnt sound too much good.. VB has no midbass and handle dubstep clearer. note that i kept EQ same on both IEMs +5/+5). .hope that helped u .
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:33 AM
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dfkt dfkt is offline
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H1A8, thanks for your nice review. I pretty much agree with all your impressions of the VB. Personally, I just find them to isolate a tad more than my IE8 - that might be because I'm using Sony Hybrid tips on the VB and Super.Fi tips on the IE8, though.

I see this thread has turned into RE0 trolling once again, like so many threads before it. Those two phones don't really have much in common, I don't see the benefit in bringing the RE0 up here. I don't compare the PFE to the IE8 either, or the HD650 to the K701... that just makes no sense.
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:32 PM
trauty trauty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfkt View Post
I see this thread has turned into RE0 trolling once again, like so many threads before it. Those two phones don't really have much in common, I don't see the benefit in bringing the RE0 up here. I don't compare the PFE to the IE8 either, or the HD650 to the K701... that just makes no sense.
well thats ur opinion DFKT but personally i dont care what u think... just because i replied to him about sub 100$ IEM issue doesnt have to mean trolling...
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:44 PM
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I believe this comparison comes up because in general those two are considered the best 2 sub-100$ IEMs.
I don't have them, but according to what I've read, the one's weaknesses are the others strengths, and a lot of people who ask and debate about both of them have their own personal personal music "tastes" and that's why once in a while this kind of thread appears.

And then, there are some people like me that don't have a single idea about that they like in terms of personal preferences in the sound world..

Anyway, nice review!
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:02 PM
Monoglycer Monoglycer is offline
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Nice review!

I am wondering if any of you have observed 'burn out' like seen with the IE8s or is the sound constant after about 100 hours of burn in?
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  #11  
Old 02-23-2010, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfkt View Post
I see this thread has turned into RE0 trolling once again, like so many threads before it. Those two phones don't really have much in common, I don't see the benefit in bringing the RE0 up here. I don't compare the PFE to the IE8 either, or the HD650 to the K701... that just makes no sense.
That HAPPENS? sorry

I think it's only healthy to compare the two, it's not like were fighting. And to h1a8, I feel like I can up the bass pretty well with the eq with little roll-off, but it muddies up the vocals and string instruments a bit. The mach3bass bbe enhancement work much better for this and I get very punchy clear bass by comparison. I still would recommend the hippos to a basshead though, from what i've heard.
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:51 AM
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I didn't mean your post, Ultrauber - sorry for the general tone of my post above. It's certainly valid mentioning the RE0 now that they're in the same price range, and they're indeed very good sounding phones for that price, even though targeted at another audience/other listening habits. -- It's just that someone else doesn't leave any possibility of blatantly advertising the RE0 go by, almost if that someone is being paid to do so. That someone never posts about anything else than the RE0, and that someone has the tendency to turn whatever thread at hand into a RE0 canticle - and that's trolling in my opinion.
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Old 03-16-2010, 05:01 AM
newzild newzild is offline
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How does the Hippo VB compare with the Future Sonics Atrio?

Both are meant to be bass-monsters, and it sounds like both are a little recessed in the mids with peaky highs.

Anybody own both?
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Old 03-16-2010, 06:22 AM
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I do, and I think I wrote a sentence or two about the Atrio in the VB review. The Atrio actually don't have a lot of treble energy, they're rather 'dark' sounding. The VB surpasses them in treble quantity, bass quality, soundstage, and much easier fit. Not to mention the price.
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:54 PM
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Can anyone imagine a sound taste that could not be satisfied under $100 with either the RE0 or the VB? I can't believe that everybody is satisfied with one or the other, imo, the RE0s even have a bit more bass then some other phones, like my (fairly bright) pl20s. Maybe there are people who don't want any bass...It just seems odd that when people wander to ABI asking for iems, we just say re0, vb, re0, vb.
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trauty View Post
your review is so-so accurate only i disagree ur sub 100$ comparison... RE0 :-) (detail + clarity + no sibilance/harshness = owns VB). have both iems so i know what i am saying... basically VB has best sub 100$ bass for sure. rest of sound is mediocre. not bad , but not very good either.
RE0s are weak in the bass department and have slight sibilance in the highs when i tried them, so no you are wrong. I got to try the S4 and the RE0 before i made a purchase and the S4 were the better iem. I hear the VB are slightly better in the bass department than the S4 so there is zero chance the RE0 are the best sub $100.

See what i did there? trauty needs to learn that different people prefer different sound signatures.
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Old 03-17-2010, 05:01 AM
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JxK JxK is offline
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I guess this shows how not only our ears are different, but how personal preferences affect sound perception. When I tried the S4s I couldn't stand the things. I like and enjoy a good natural, visceral bass and would agree that it adds a great deal to the music (try Mahler w/o bass- no emotion). But upon donning the S4s I felt as if I was drowning in a sea of warmth, and instead of the usual "veil" the music seemed to be coming through insulation. Indeed, after spending an hour suffocating through the S4 my bass light (read lacking) pl50 and ksc75s were like drinking a cold beer on a scorching day. Since others love the sound, I suppose we can conclude that I just can't stand warmth - as well as the recessed mids on the S4.

Edit: by warmth I am referring to exaggerated midbass.

Last edited by JxK; 03-17-2010 at 05:41 AM.
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