Introduction

A few weeks back I reviewed the Klipsch Image S4 In Ear Headphones.  A few years on the market they continue to grow in popularity when the normal product lifespan for this type of product is much less.  These Klipsch headphones rekindled my interest in audio after a long period of inactivity.  For the review I compared them side by side with my Shure EC3 Earphones which are now about eight years old . The EC3’s have become a standard and while they’re no longer made, several places are still selling them for as much as double their retail price.  Out of curiosity I picked up the phone and called a couple of these places and learned they still sell a fair number. T he Shure EC3’s are as neutral as quality earphones can be and are often employed by sound engineers because they don’t color the music in any way.

 

A few weeks back I reviewed the Klipsch Image S4 In Ear Headphones. A few years on the market they continue to grow in popularity when the normal product lifespan for this type of product is much less. These Klipsch headphones rekindled my interest in audio after a long period of inactivity. For the review I compared them side by side with my Shure EC3 Earphones which are now about eight years old. The EC3’s have become a standard and while they’re no longer made, several places are still selling them for as much as double their retail price. Out of curiosity I picked up the phone and called a couple of these places and learned they still sell a fair number. The Shure EC3’s are as neutral as quality earphones can be and are often employed by sound engineers because they don’t color the music in any way.

 

Interest peaked I visited a couple local high-end audio houses armed with a SACD (Super Audio CD) and spent hours listening and comparing headphones.  I listened to everything from Dr. Dre’s “Beats” to the new models from Shure, Klipsch, and more others than I can remember.  Nothing really stood out, my Shure EC3’s remained my reference set of earphones and frankly I didn’t experience anything new which was both a higher quality listen, and neutral.  Disappointed I planned to visit some other high end shops next time I was in Chicago.  Later that day I read something on the web about a company I was well familiar with. Velodyne Acoustics.

Velodyne Acoustics has been making extremely tight and accurate subwoofers for going on 25 years.  All this company has done for 25 years is make subwoofers and supporting subwoofer amps.  But now I was reading they made a single pair of In-Ear Headphones!  Face it, listen to a set of Beats or other self-described bass orientated headphones and what you get is bass.. but to me it feels dirty and loose.  Bass should be tight and clean, in sync.  Could Velodyne have pulled off what no other headphone maker has yet done?  I immediately called them and ordered a pair.  They’ve just recently came on the market and I learned I was lucky they had an available pair to push to me.  I’m told by the time you read this they should be in stock everywhere.

 

Velodyne Acoustics has been making extremely tight and accurate subwoofers for going on 25 years. All this company has done for 25 years was make subwoofers and supporting subwoofer amps. But now I was reading they made a single pair of In-Ear Headphones! Face it, listen to a set of Beats or other self-described bass orientated headphones and what you get is bass.. but to me it feels dirty and loose. Bass should be tight and clean, in sync. Could Velodyne have pulled off what no other headphone maker has yet done? I immediately called them and ordered a pair. They’ve just recently came on the market and I learned I was lucky they had an available pair to push to me. I’m told by the time you read this they should be in stock everywhere.

 

Headphones or speakers are the final interface to your ears, so this would be the place to spend a bit extra if the reward is a much greater listening experience.

 

Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones

A few days later my new headphones arrived in a nice white box with a pull out tray holding the instruction manual, a small zippered case with the headphones inside, and a selection of extra buds to size to your ear.  Looking at their website I’d noticed they come in some type of electric blue and basic black.  I ordered mine in black.

 

A few days later my new headphones arrived in a nice white box with a pull out tray holding the instruction manual, a small zippered case with the headphones inside, and a selection of extra buds to size to your ear. Looking at their website I’d noticed they come in some type of electric blue and basic black. I ordered mine in black.

 

The case is of good quality and what you’d expect, but what really jumps out at you is the flat cabling.  My Shure EC3’s had a heavy round cable, and the Klipsch Image S4’s as I mentioned in my review a very thin cable.  These were flat and feel very strong.  They’re small and lightweight, not heavy and obtrusive like so many others.  The silicone ear buds come on/off easily and with four different sizes, five if you count the one that came mounted, you have five different sizes which should fit most any ear.

12-14 inches down from the right earphone is a small volume switch.  Toggle it up to raise the volume, toggle it down to lower the volume.  Pushing it in difference sequences will move your ipod/itouch/iphone to the next album or song.  The switch feels very solid and is easy to use.

 

12-14 inches down from the right earphone is a small volume switch. Toggle it up to raise the volume, toggle it down to lower the volume. Pushing it in difference sequences will move your ipod/itouch/iphone to the next album or song. The switch feels very solid and is easy to use.

 

 

Performance

This is where the tone of this review changes.  Actually my world changed.  I was listening to my favorite tracks and hearing ALL of the music to the same extent I could hear all the music on my very high end home speakers.  From the highest frequencies to the lowest, you hear them all.

 

This is where the tone of this review changes. Actually my world changed. I was listening to my favorite tracks and heading ALL of the music to the same extent I could hear all the music on my very high end home speakers. From the highest frequencies to the lowest, you hear them all.

 

It’s very difficult to quantify a listening experience on paper but I’ll try.  If you understand that dynamic range is the measure of the highest to lowest of whatever you’re measuring comprehension is easier.  With cameras dynamic range defines the darkest area of the frame to the brightest area of the frame.  The higher the dynamic range the more tones and variations of light and the more realistic the image.   With headphones it’s all about the music, the Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones have a significantly greater dynamic range than any other I’ve heard.

Many headphones such as my Shure EC3’s have no trouble with the higher frequencies, but virtually every other headphone I’ve listened to has struggled or plain been unable to reproduce the type of lower frequencies you’d normally ‘feel’ from a dedicated subwoofer.  Frankly I never thought any would, headphones are tiny and subwoofers are huge, and it’s all about reproducing very long sound waves when you’re discussing bass.  I was floored, all out shocked, stunned was more like it.. when now, through the Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones I was not only hearing the high and mid-range frequencies with great accuracy, but I was also ‘feeling’ the bass.  The lows were rocking my ears in a way headphones shouldn’t physically be able to do, and I’m told this stupid grin appeared on my face and I lost track of time.

 

Many headphones such as my Shure EC3’s have no trouble with the higher frequencies, but virtually every other headphone I’ve listened to has struggled or plain been unable to reproduce the type of lower frequencies you’d normally ‘feel’ from a dedicated subwoofer. Frankly I never thought any would, headphones are tiny and subwoofers are huge, and it’s all about reproducing very long sound waves when you’re discussing base. I was floored, all out shocked, stunned was more like it.. when now, through the Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones I was not only hearing the high and mid-range frequencies with great accuracy, but I was also ‘feeling’ the bass. The lows were rocking my ears in a way headphones shouldn’t physically be able to do, and I’m told this stupid grin appeared on my face and I lost track of time.

 

Performance.. like I said it’s hard to quantify.  But I’ll tell you this. If you’ve been lacking realistic, tight, and accurate base in your headphones then you really should check out the Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones.  Nothing will prepare you for the experience, certainly not more words from me, so I’ll stop here.

The sound isolation properties are very good as well.  Fit the right size buds and make sure you have a tight seal, and the outside world ceases to exist.  Some would say that’s worth their weight in gold alone.

The volume switch as I mentioned works very well, the case is of a high quality and will get stuffed in the drawer along with all the other such cases I’ll never use, and so will the extra ear buds.  The flat cables and general construction will lend themselves well to how I normally abuse my headphones by wrapping them around my ipod, stuffing them in my knapsack, and using them to pull my ipod back from where it feel between my car seats.

Construction is top notch, these are very well made and performance is out of this world.

 

Summary

I almost didn’t write this review.  I’ve meant to, and I’ve tried to find the time over the last few weeks, but something keeps getting in my way of doing any work at all.  I keep finding myself stretched out in my bed, on the couch, on top of the dog house, on a snow bank, and listening to my music like I’ve only heard it before on very high end speaker systems.  I’ve spent so much time enjoying these headphones that I’ve had to check my worries and push myself to put them down and get to work.

 

I almost didn’t write this review. I’ve meant to, and I’ve tried to find the time over the last few weeks, but something keeps getting in my way of doing any work at all. I keep finding myself stretched out in my bed, on the couch, on top of the dog house, on a snow bank, and listening to my music like I’ve only heard it before on very high end speaker systems. I’ve spent so much time enjoying this headphones that I’ve had to check my worries and push myself to put it down and get to work.

 

To listen to this music of this high quality I’ve had to wait for my family to all be out of the house, I’ll shut the doors and windows to help not bother the neighbors too much, I’ll get out my favorite SACD’s, and enjoy some music time to myself.  And while it’s nice to have the stereo equipment and speakers to do this, these alone times don’t happen nearly often enough.  Now things have changed.  Now I can be virtually anywhere, and with the help of my Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones I can have that level of quality anywhere, anytime.  What a gift that is!

The flat cords took some getting used to visually, but they really don’t tangle and they’re demonstrably strong.  The volume control is great, but I’m so used to using my 4th generation ipod I don’t remember it’s there most of the time.  I abuse the heck out of the cables and haven’t had any issues.

 

The flat cords took some getting used to visually, but they really don’t tangle and they’re demonstrably strong. The volume control is great, but I’m so used to using my 4th generation ipod I don’t remember it’s there most of the time. I abuse the heck out of the cables and haven’t had any issues.

 

The Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones can be found at this website for a retail price of $89.99 which is a steal.  For more of a steal, check out Amazon and others for an even better price.  At this price the manufacturers of $300-$1000 headphones must be worried.  I’ve listened to those too, and I’d rather have the Velodynes.

Every person who has tried the Velodynes has had the same reaction.  It looks like they were hit by a taser, they stop responding and kinda shake all over, and a few minutes later they come around with that big grin.  These are game changers.