Vision Ears are a Cologne-based audio brand with a special interest in both custom and universal in-ear monitors. Their ethos has always centered around high-quality creations coupled with outstanding customer services. Potential buyers are welcome to visit their showroom/lab in Cologne to get a feel of their latest line-up as well as talking to central employees. The current line-up extends from VE2 to VE8 with each monitor catering towards different user tastes and profiles.
The Vision Ears VE7 is their latest universal in-ear model and will be the subject of this review. With a ‘neutral’ sound, the IEMs packs in 7 balanced-armature drivers in a 2 x bass, 2 x low-mids, 1 x mids, 1 x mid-high & 1 x superhigh configuration. As with their custom models, users are able to heavily customize their in-ear monitors from a choice of different shell colors, faceplates, engravings and case types. Priced at 1650 Euros / 1860 USD, the VE7 represents a sizeable investment but in return you will get a product of high quality product with a fantastic fit.
Vision Ears always offer a premium experience from the get go and the Vision Ears VE7 is no exception to this rule. In fact, the VE7 arrives in one of the most well-crafted and put together packaging I have ever seen from a universal in-ear monitor. The larger magnetic-latch box unveils to reveal an engraving of the Cologne skyline with a clamshell carrying case next to a smaller compartment. This compartment hosts several accessory pieces including a soft cleaning cloth, SpinFit eartips (XS, S, M, L), a cleaning tool, 6.35 mm adapter, dehumidifier container, instruction manual and a unique in-ear spray bottle cleaner.
As a thank you for purchase, Vision Ears have inserted a deep purple high-quality card welcoming buyers to the ‘VE Family’. The hard clamshell carrying case contains its own molded foam insert housing the in-ear monitors with the cable residing underneath.
Overall, Vision Ears takes great pride in the overall user experience and it clearly shows with their attention to detail from the brilliantly crafted packaging to the included accessories.
Build & Design
The Vision Ears VE7 is its own unique creation with a dark blue translucent shell with a multicolored overlay for the faceplate. This layered faceplate is quite reminiscent of Empire Ear’s Odin which uses an exacting process to produce a special coating. The shells are quite compact despite packing in seven balanced armature drivers. Like the InEar ProMission X, the VE7’s body emulates a custom in-ear design with an ergonomically crafted nozzle and rounded contours to fit the average user.
The overall design is quite striking and may not suit everyone’s taste with the choice of bold colors and unique faceplate overlay. However, users are able to customize their own creations to suit their needs. The improved customized configurator on the website is intuitive and enables you to visualize your in-ear monitor before purchase.
Fit & Isolation
Owing to its experience as a custom in-ear monitor brand, Vision Ears have spent a lot of effort in achieving an ergonomic fit with the universal VE7. In the ear, the fit is relatively snug and can be worn for hours on end without any discomfort or irritation around the tragus. The deeper angled nozzle aids in achieving a secure fit.
As a result of the stable and deep fit, the Vision Ears VE7 offers superior isolation levels reducing ambient noise levels.
The cable supplied is a 4-braided twist of OFC wires with a straight 3.5 mm plug termination and a slim aluminum y-split. There are two portions of heat shrink guided wire in the earhooks which subsequently terminate in 2 pin plugs. The cable is quite standard and perhaps the only area Vision Ears could have improved to remain consistent in its otherwise premium offering. Nevertheless, the cable is lightweight, flexible with reduced microphonics to support listening on the move.
The Vision Ears VE7 fills the rest of the Vision Ears line-up with its balanced, articulate and neutral sound profile. The overall sound is detailed, light-footed while remaining pure and refined.
The Vision Ears VE7 is a technically proficient in-ear monitor which is not afraid to extend down low into the sub-bass regions. There is plenty of heft with good texture and tonality with notes which decay with a measured and controlled speed. However, the VE7 may not appease if you are search of authoritative bass with stronger dynamism and extension. In ‘NICE’ by The Carters, the Vision Ears VE7 capably conveys an elevated sub-bass presence which carefully dips in the lower midrange territories. It is a rather balanced sound and the VE7 crafts good heft with technical prowess. Owing to the rather speedy predisposition of the BA drivers, the mid-bass never gets in the way of the lower midrange. As a result, the VE7 demonstrates good low-end foundations while respecting higher frequency ranges.
The Vision Ears VE7 outputs a largely neutral character with a focus on resolution and transparency. As with the rest of the VE line-up, the VE7 is highly coherent with good harmonic balance between the tri-band frequencies. Notes are not thick and do stray towards the leaner side of the spectrum – sounding both clean and detailed. It is a very layered sound and the tone shines with purity and an agreeable timbre. As a result, there is some ethereal quality to the notes with its light-footed presence and definition. In some ways, the VE7 does remind me of fellow German brand’s InEar ProMission X with its delicate and clean notes. However, the ProMission X does impart more coloration with more ‘sweetness’ and elasticity. While there is plenty of shimmer in the upper midrange, the VE7 skillfully avoids glare and harshness in the 3-4K territories prone to sibilance.
The treble of the VE7 superbly extends with a pure tone rich in control and depth. While excelling in micro-details with excellent layering and separation, the VE7’s higher frequencies are not fatiguing or strident. Like the midrange, the treble possesses a light quality with outstanding detailing and decay. Unlike some other BA configurations, the VE7 does not sound artificial or too affected and has a good sense of upper frequency extension with great resolve. Percussion notes sound lively and cymbal crashes offer nice shimmer and incision.
Soundstage & Imaging
The Vision Ears VE7 is an open sounding monitor with good projections of sonic cues across the three dimensions: width, height and depth. This is helped by the instrument separation and layering across the notes within tracks. Vision Ears have always excelled in crafting a cohesive soundscape and the VE7 is no exception with its mature and encompassing staging.
InEar ProMission X ($2099)
Both the ProMission X and the Vision Ears VE7 are handcrafted in Germany with the former hailing from Hesse and the latter, Cologne. Both IEMs adopt a fully balanced armature design with the ProMission X incorporating ten drivers and the VE7, seven. Both IEMs offer a slightly leaner note size while being rich in micro-details, transparency and resolution. The VE7, however, is the more neutral of the two with a more elevated sub bass profile whereas the ProMission X uses its mid-bass hump to work in more warmth into the lower midrange. Tonally, the ProMission X has a more ‘sweet’ and elastic sound whereas the VE7 benefits from its smooth low-end and extensive yet refined treble section.
Beyerdynamic Xelento ($1099)
In comparison to yet another German brand, the Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless is a model which can either be used in wired or wireless configuration. For the purposes of this review, the Xelento Wired version will be used in comparison to the Vision Ears VE7. The driver configuration of the Xelento is quite different to the VE7 – it uses a single dynamic driver with Tesla magnets whereas the VE7 uses seven balanced-armature drivers in a five-way crossover. Starting from the bass, the Xelento delivers more sub-bass heft with more palpable impact compared to the relatively more balanced VE7. Tonally, the Xelento works in more warmth owing to its bass profile and as a result does sound richer. The VE7, on the other hand, revels in micro-detailing, airiness and a quick-footed pace to achieve its analytical prowess.
The Vision Ears VE7 is an example of how to do an analytical and reference in-ear monitor right. It’s elevated sub-bass profile drives it away from a ‘bass-anaemic sound’ while the treble is extensive without resorting to stridency or excess heat. As a result, the $1860 VE7 offers a well put together sound which is balanced, airy and detailed. Vision Ears have also thought about the user experience and to this end, the packaging impresses with its premium quality and abundance of accessory pieces. Comfort wise, the VE7 is exceptional and the ability to customize from a host of features adds a nice touch to the overall buying experience. With the VE7, Vision Ears have managed to fill in the void from their line-up for a neutral, balanced and analytical sound while incorporating elements of the cohesive house sound.
Vision Ears VE7 Specifications:
Configuration: Five-Way-System with seven drivers
Drivers: 2 x Bass – 2 x Low-Mids – 1 x Mids – 1 x Mid-High – 1 x Superhigh
Sensitivity: 116dB SPL at 1 mW
Impedance: 12 Ohm ( at 1 kHz )