More for Less with VSonic VSD1 and VSD1S
VSonic VSD1 and VSD1S (~$50)
The audio pressus here at InnerFidelity being no exceptiongenerally doesn't cover many entry-level products. The main reason is that most are designed with little regard for audio quality, and ultimately our readers don't care which is less mediocrethe BassJunkie XL5 or the FartCannon 3000.
Once in a while, however, a solid entry-level product makes me think of how precariously balanced the whole Hi-Fi segment is. No one really wants to talk about diminishing returns and the marginal performance gains in the upper price tiers, but in truth the sound quality gap between the best products in the moderately priced and high end segments is steadily decreasing, and entry-level products are sure to follow.
For a number of manufacturing and design reasons, in-ear earphones especially can have very high price/performance ratios. Sure, top-tier sets still carry high R&D expenditures and utilize relatively expensive and complex components, but it's amazing what a little know-how can help achieve with a cheap housing and conventional dynamic driver. Take the Sony MH1C and LG Quadbeat headsets, for examplethese two earphones are packaged with certain smartphones but rival dozens of far more expensive aftermarket models when it comes to sound quality.
So when VSonic, an IEM manufacturer whose name is as familiar to Chinese audiophiles as Shure or Ultimate Ears are to us here in the US, states that their new VSD1 model delivers most of the performance of their flagship GR07 earphone at a fraction of the cost, it gets my attention.
The VSonic VSD1 and its alternate tuning, the VSD1S, are priced just below $50 and are identical in design and construction except for the model numbers printed on the housings (in Comic Sans, no less).
As with the other VSonic products, there is no design for design's sake here. The earphones use oval-shaped plastic housings with swiveling metal nozzles, a feature adapted from VSonic's previous releases. The cables are smooth and average in thicknessa little thinner than those of the pricier GR07, but still sufficiently sturdy. The low-profile L-shaped plug works well with smartphone cases.
Though seemingly designed for cable-down wear, the VSD1 can be worn cable-up as well, thanks to the pivoting nozzles. The earphone is lightweight, same as the previous-gen VSonic sets, and ships with eight pairs of eartips, including foam ones.
The accessory pack also includes a pair of over-the-ear cable guides and a soft carrying pouch. Passive noise isolation is average and cable noise (microphonics) is comparatively low, improved further by wearing the earphone over-the-ear.
On the whole, the VSD1 does a good job of adapting the design and feature set of higher-end VSonic products to work for the average consumer. On the next page we'll see if they managed to do the same with the sound.