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Old 07-20-2010, 10:18 AM
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rickysio rickysio is offline
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Default Hippo VB Semi-Review

Not really a review per se, but a comparison, but a review too, if you squint?

Overview

All three are quite well known, I would say, yes? I've typed this up as I felt that the review on ABI doesn't really go in depth between the Atrio and the VB enough, and some call EB capable enough to go head to head with the VB, so...

I used to own a SoundMAGIC PL30, but I no longer own it, so… Besides, it got owned badly even versus an out of box Atrio, so…

Note : Atrio below uses a pair of medium complies, VB and EB their stock single flange medium tips.

I used to own a Cowon D2, but I’ve shifted to a Clip+ due to the D2 being the King of Chubby and my bag lacking space.

Impressions : Physical

Monitor
Hippo VB feels the best, due to the metal construct. Atrio's rubber stress relief feels crappy after you've owned it for long, as it gets... fatter? It also becomes more light in colour, making it look off. Shrooms EB feels in between - better than the Atrio, but not as luxurious as the VB.

IOW (In Other Words) : VB > EB > Atrio

Cables

Atrio's cables really minimize micro-phonics. EB and VB seem to use the same cable, which has tremendous memory because the VB's cable looks like a drunk monkey drew a line, whereas the Atrio's came with cables that was straight. The Atrio's cables inspire more confidence, too. They feel tougher, and less cheap.

IOW : Atrio > VB = EB

Comfort
Atrio : Comfort was debatable - I'm not too used to deep insertion, and the biflanges hurt my ears after 1 hour. The stock foam less so, but was very itchy due to the porous nature. It became awesome with the Shure Olives and Complies, though I feel that the complies feel better.

VB / EB : Stock silicon flange feels as comfortable to my ears as the Complies did with the Atrio. I did feel that the VB tugged downwards on my ears more, though to me it's negligible.

IOW : VB = EB > Atrio


Convenience/Seal
Atrio : Easily the loser here. Even after owning it for about a year it takes ages for me to get a proper seal, and even then there are occasions where I can obtain an excellent seal that really shows off the power of these IEM’s, but all in all a very painful IEM to use on the go for me, since fitting it in and ensuring a good seal is a tremendous pain.

Very good seal when you get it to seal properly, though.

VB/EB : Shove in and forget about it.

IOW : VB/EB >> Atrio

Isolation
Atrio : Very isolating.

VB/EB : Not so much.

IOW : Atrio > VB = EB

Long Term Upkeep
Foam tips cost. Monthly. Or Bi-Monthly with Olives. The foams might look clean, but the Olives lose their comfort and Complies break into pieces.

IOW : VB = EB > Atrio

Package
Atrio : A large-ish carrying case with a occasionally lousy zipper, 3 pairs of biflanges in S, M, L sizes and 2 pairs of foam tips of S, M and L size. Loop cleaning tool looks amusing, like the thing my mother’s beautician uses to squeeze blackheads.

VB : Nicely sized Case (Though I’d preferred it more cubic, though) + 3 pairs of silicon single flange tips + tuning plates.

EB : Small Pouch + tips. (Would it have killed them to give a larger pouch? I have hard time getting the EB’s in.)

IOW : Atrio > VB > EB

Impressions : Audiological

(Note : VB’s not fully burnt in, will update again when they are.)

Overall, I prefer the Futuresonics sound. They don’t emphasise highs that much, leading to a very smooooooth sound output. They feel more comfortable to my ears than the VB, which is a quite a close second. Hopefully burn in will reduce the gap, as the only gripe I have with it is the quite harsh highs. Atrio makes music music, and less fatiguing, but then again I’ve never felt as though I wanted to quit even after a four hour session with the VB. Unlike with the EB…

EB is unfortunately last. They’d wear me out after an hour or so, due to the more emphasized highs. EB’s does have more clarity – more details, but VB and Atrio present a more comfortable, more engaging sound to my ears.

VB also has consistently better bass than the Atrio – no thanks to the fickleness of the seal in the Atrios. Quantity wise VB’s also offer more, but then again on good days when the stars align I have the memory of the Atrio’s sounding as good, or even better than the VB, even at lower volume levels. Then again, the stars don’t align every time I want them to.

I’m not particularly focused on clarity, but VB has more clarity than the Atrio due to the more emphasized highs. I could hear more details in the highs that I never noticed with the Atrio, though.

The soundstage on both VB and Atrio probably draw, though, since I can’t really decide which is more ‘open’. EB has a narrower soundstage.

(Note : I can’t hear any hiss from all 3, in case anyone was wondering.)

IOW : Atrio > VB >> EB

Conclusion : I’m a cheapo

A VB can be obtained at roughly two sevenths the price of an Atrio in Singapore if you know where to look, though it’d be second hand goods. Otherwise EB’s/VB’s are S$99, and Atrio costs S$200+ (not sure on this), and given that VB is nearly 90% my Atrio after 10 hours of burn in I sold my Atrio. What else? I’m a poor student.

Value : VB wins all.

Image section

Cowon D2 + Atrio
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...6_13-09-09.jpg

Atrio
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...o/21548523.jpg

Cowon D2 + PL30 (You can only see the jack in this picture, though...)
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...0082009013.jpg

Clip+ (Yes, the miniUSB cable has a humongous ferrite bead attached to it)
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...o/08a929aa.jpg
[I'd be making a slip case for the Clip+ with the piece of faux leather you see the Clip+ sitting on.]

Hippo VB
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...o/feb0118c.jpg

Hippo VB's (drunken monkey) wire.
http://i184.photobucket.com/albums/x...o/e1ffee87.jpg

Last edited by rickysio; 07-21-2010 at 05:52 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-20-2010, 12:00 PM
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lestatar lestatar is offline
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Hey rickysio; Welcome to ABi...nice work there - am sure folks will find your impressions of use.

I don't have the Atrios or the Hippo EB, but do have [and love the VBs] - I agree with nearly all your comments, disagreeing only with the Isolation portion.

For me, I find the VBs to isolate very well as compared to other IEMs I have owned [see my sig], with both the stock eartips [large] and with the Sony Hybrid tips.

In any event, nice work!

Really only suggest some pics to back reinforce your comments in the future. Or you can add em in here after the fact.

:-)

cheers,
-lestatar
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:09 PM
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dfkt dfkt is offline
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Very nice post, Rickysio - I pretty much agree with everything you said. Just that I found the Atrio too dark to be thoroughly enjoyable for me in the long run and prefer the somewhat less refined, yet more prominent treble of the VB. But that's just personal preference, like so many things in audio.

The VB should get better, in my experience - 10 hours aren't that much.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:15 AM
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rickysio rickysio is offline
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I don't know, my ears don't like emphasized treble. Atrio was fine on that aspect, and I guess I need to burn in my ears with the VB.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lestatar View Post
Hey rickysio; Welcome to ABi...nice work there - am sure folks will find your impressions of use.

I don't have the Atrios or the Hippo EB, but do have [and love the VBs] - I agree with nearly all your comments, disagreeing only with the Isolation portion.

For me, I find the VBs to isolate very well as compared to other IEMs I have owned [see my sig], with both the stock eartips [large] and with the Sony Hybrid tips.

In any event, nice work!

Really only suggest some pics to back reinforce your comments in the future. Or you can add em in here after the fact.

:-)

cheers,
-lestatar
Thanks! I'd probably get a Sony Hybrid soon, as soon as I know where in the blue blazes it's sold in Singapore. I'm planning a call to Stereo Electronics when I can, but so far it's still in the clouds. The Atrio does isolate more - with the Atrio I can't even hear anything other than the music. With the VB, I can hear a bit of the background noise, but then the Atrio uses a biflange, so that probably isn't fair.
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Old 07-21-2010, 05:34 AM
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rickysio rickysio is offline
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Uploading some photos - some equipment (like the D2, and Atrio, and PL30) is long gone, so I can't get better shots.
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