The VSonic GR07 and GR07 Bass Edition

VSonic GR07 and GR07 Bass Edition (both priced at $179)
It would be very surprising if China, the world's largest exporter of headphones and earphones, did not cultivate several audio brands of its own. Indeed, there are quite a few, some specializing in assembling ready-made components into generic $5 earbuds and others offering remarkably faithful Beats by Dre knockoffs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, are companies producing some of the best-value audio products on the market.

VSonic is one such outfit—though still far from mainstream, the company has been on the Chinese Hi-Fi scene for nearly a decade and, in recent years, has been making waves across audiophile communities worldwide. Much of VSonic's momentum is due to the success of the GR07—the company's dynamic-driver flagship that first gained prominence in 2011. Last year, the GR07 underwent an update, becoming the GR07 mkII, and an enhanced-bass model, dubbed the GR07 Bass Edition, was released to supplement it.

Having kept a close eye on the IEM scene in the past few years, it is apparent that the GR07 has stood the test of time better than most other earphones in its price bracket. To try and see what makes it special, I decided to take a look at the original 2011 GR07 and the newer GR07 Bass Edition.

Design
Both of the GR07 models are priced at $179—far from cheap, but still well below what a top-tier product from Shure, Westone, or Ultimate Ears would cost. Admittedly, all of those utilize several pricy balanced armature drivers per earpiece while the GR07s use more conventional dynamic transducers. The VSonics are far from low-tech, however—the performance of the 11mm bio-cellulose drivers used by the GR07s makes it tough to justify the extra spend on many pricier earphones.

Cosmetically the, GR07 and GR07 Bass Edition differ only in cable color—whereas the regular GR07 has a gray cord, the Bass Edition boasts a more striking red-and-tan twist. Still, there is little panache—the GR07 uses neither fancy materials nor eye-catching curves to broaden its appeal to the average consumer. The earphones do boast a rather distinctive form factor with plastic housings in the shape of beveled rectangles, and are designed for over-the-ear wear. They are lightweight and quite ergonomic, and the unique swivel-nozzle feature makes them suited for a variety of ears. VSonic also includes a generous selection of eartips—13 pairs of silicone ones in various shapes and sizes, plus a pair of foam tips.

Aside from the eartips, the accessory pack includes a pair of over-the-ear cable guides, intended to keep the cable securely behind the wearer's ears, and a soft carrying pouch. Passive noise isolation is average to slightly above average, depending on the eartips used, and cable noise (microphonics) is very low. The cable cinch and ear guides can be used to fix the cord in place for active use.

Overall, the GR07s are solid earphones, though perhaps a bit more demanding of the user than the average in-ear. They do not offer headset functionality and definitely don't make a fashion statement, but that's fine with me. Indeed, the fact that nothing is done for the sake of appearances is one of the things I like best about VSonic.

Thus far, the two GR07 models are not very different from each other at all, but all of that changes with a careful listen...

COMPANY INFO
VSonic
Shennan Garden A-27F
Shenzhen High and new technology Industry Park
service@vsonic.com.cn
86-0755-2650 0686
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COMMENTS
Argyris's picture

Nice to see this writeup here. I noticed that the charts for these were added to the measurements library a while ago and figured it was only a matter of time until they got a proper article.

I'm intrigued by how most of the measurements fail to highlight an obvious culprit for that sibilance issue. The 300 Hz square wave's top is relatively clean, and there's only a mild peak between 5-6 kHz in the response curve. The ringy impulse measurement indicates peakiness, but the other results aren't consistent with this. Weird.

ljokerl's picture

I am not sure why the measurements don't indicate it more clearly but the issue does seem to be in the 6k range - the slight peak there is even audible in sweeps. Perhaps a time-decay plot would be more useful in visualizing what's happening.  

It's really the only major thing holding the VSonics from ranking up with my favorite universals rather than just being an excellent sub-$200 buy, and of course how bothersome it is will depend on the listener. 

doublea71's picture

I've had these for about a year and a half and I think they're wall of fame material except they seem to have cable issues with a lot of owners. Mine started dropping out on the left side if the cable was nudged near the plug and it only got worse. However, I like these so much, I sent them off to Brian at BTG Audio and he re-cabled them quite nicely. If anybody can't bear to part with theirs, he's the guy to talk to.

thegunner's picture

I think they're close to wall of fame material, but not quite up there yet. As noted, the uneven treble can be harsh and sibiliant depending on the track. I also had problems with the cable and had them recabled by btg-audio. Still though, they're an amazing pair of IEMs for their price, SQ and ergonomics.

ljokerl's picture

While I am a long-time fan of the GR07s, I think they are a little too close in signature and performance to the Philips Fidelios that are on the Wall of Fame already. Usability-wise the GR07 wins, hands-down, and I slightly prefer its sound as well, but I have plans to put a different VSonic product on the WoF in the future. 

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Nice!

Long time listener's picture

I'm surprised that everyone seems to think sibilance isn't indicated by the measurements. The reviewer commented on the slightly "hot" treble and a trace of sibilance. The slight peaks around 5-6Kz--at the top of the "presence" region, where the ear is most sensitive (roughly 2-5 Kz), and in the lower treble--will obviously result in a slightly "hot" sounding treble, which will accentuate whatever tendency toward sibilance there may be. Whether this will be objectionable depends on the size of the peak and other factors, including distortion levels in that region, but for myself, when I see this in a measurement it makes me hesitate.

AstralStorm's picture

Ringy impulse response can also be caused by actual ringing. One that might not be visible in frequency response, but is there in CSDs.

GR07 has plenty ringing around 6-7k and small ring near 12-13k from what I hear. It's likely caused by the shell design. It's not just hotness - other IEMs with peaks there, e.g. Brainwavz B2, don't have anywhere near to as much of an issue.

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