The Vision Ears VE4.2 is the company’s fresh take on its original VE4 from their VE Custom Line. The VE4.2 features a powerful bass response, balanced mids/highs from 4 BA drivers in a 3-way system. It is priced from €1290.
Disclaimer: The Vision Ears VE4.2 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Vision Ears for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Vision Ears products we have reviewed on Headfonics click here.
“I need someone who enjoys bass, want to try it?”, (Vision Ears, Amin Karimpour). Sure, who does not love bass? And yet, the refreshed VE4.2 recently launched by Vision Ears is a little bit more than that. Much like the VE8, to introduce you to the VE4.2 as a basshead custom monitor would simply be far too crude of a tag. There is much more to the presentation than that.
Prices for this elegant rethink start at €1290 and it is a custom only monitor much like the everything Vision Ears make outside of the Erlkonig universal Premium Line monitor, their only universal to date. If you were lucky enough to see them at one of their soft launches in the Spring of 2019 then you will have got a taste of not only the VE4.2 but also the fantastic hybrid dual electrostatic Premium Line Elysium and the slightly smaller VE3.2 sibling.
Sadly, I have yet to hear the VE4 original that the VE4.2 supersedes but I am told it is not a total rethink and much of the heritage of the VE4 tuning is still present. So, that means a powerful and fun-sounding signature.
There is not a huge amount of information on the VE4.2 internals. However, what we do know right now is that the VE4.2 is a quad-BA armature design using a 3-way crossover. The configuration is dual sub-woofer level back-vented BA’s for the lows, a single midrange BA for the mids and a BA tweeter level driver for the highs to get that 3-way grouping.
The VE4.2 is rated at 16Ω and 120dB so it is a little more sensitive than the dynamic driver infused Elysium we showcased a few weeks ago but roughly on the same sensitivity level as their other BA models such as the VE8, (120dB SPL) and the VE6, (122dB SPL).
There should be zero driving issues with the VE4.2 from most moderate to high-end DAPs. In Fact, your only concern might be how sensitive the VE4.2 to is to high noise floors or low-z skew due to high output resistance.
Purple. It all starts from there really with Vision Ears. They don’t pretend to hide their love for the color and chances are no matter what design you choose they will slip in a dash of purple in an accessory or packaging. Such as is the case with the tissue wrapper that they will gift wrap your VE4.2 case in. And how touching we have a handwritten message also. Cheers Amin, I most certainly will enjoy them!
One unwrapped you get a very familiar friend, the grandiose aluminum hard case with everything tidily tucked inside. This fella is a tough son-of-a-gun with more roomy space inside than most cases. Every one of these cases can be customized in terms of color and name so you do not have to have it look exactly like this. Me? I prefer understated so I got black and the brand name of the site but nothing fancier.
Inside you get plenty of cubby holes and layers to stack everything which is just as well because Vision Ears tend to stuff these cases with plenty of accessories. It is pretty much on par with the more expensive Elysium in terms of what you get except for the dashing blue soft lid round case. Well, you have to have something a bit more special for the Elysium package, right?
So, what’s is inside exactly? Well, you get VE’s branded little In-Ear cleaning spray bottle used to clean the monitors to keep them shining, (do not spray in your ears!). You also get two reusable silica tablets to prevent damage from humidity and kill moisture, as well as a soft grey velvet branded pouch should you wish to downsize for day to day carrying purposes. Yes, it is pocketable but it will not offer huge amounts of protection.
Nestled in the little nylon mesh net on the upper layer you get a few ‘nice to have’ and some more essential items. Items such as a gold-plated 6.35mm TRS converter jack and their standard brush/cleaning pick tool as well as some fun extras including “Love Is In The Ear” placards and a small VE sticker. The whole package is rounded off with a soft black microfiber cleaning cloth and a user manual.
As ever, the finishing on VE designs is flawless. I have yet to get one with a bunch of bubbles and imperfections and that includes those tricky 2-pin terminations all VE custom monitors come with. The design choice is 100% from their VE designer and nothing “off the menu”.
For those interested in the design, the shell is transparent amber with a wood Amboina 2 faceplate. The branding logos are VE copper if I remember rightly but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy then there are plenty of alternative designs on Vision Ears’ excellent online design tool.
The nozzle is still done on a horn principle so you have a single enlarged exist and the multi-bore tubing sitting a little further back from the exit point.
Cables & Connectors
Ah. The quintessential stock type 4-wire black cable makes a return. I have not seen one of these for a while and to be fair to VE, the higher up you go in the range the better the cable gets with the likes of Effect Audio’s Ares II 4-wire an optional purchase before you check out. I am not sure if this is OFC or SPC but we will fill in the detail during the main review.
This is a tightly braided black jacket cable. It is pretty light, low on microphonics and you should have no concerns on any unwanted memory retention, i.e. zero tangles. The 1.2m cable is terminated with a fairly small think barrel 3.5mm gold-plated TRS jack and like all VE monitors, it uses a set of 0.78mm 2-pin connectors.
In The Ear
The fit is perfect, and I really mean perfect. Of course, the quality of your ear impressions will define how perfect that is but I have yet to ever get a loose or overly tight custom from VE. The balance between pressure and comfort is excellent.
There are no bass vents in VE designs either so the isolation from the VE4.2 is well above average. The VE4.2 also does a great job of blocking out ambient background noise and the more you can block the better the sound quality. These are also not huge monitors like the Layla’s from JH Harvey or Lear’s BD4.2 so they do sit relatively flush in the ear rather than sticking out a bit.
Initial Sound Impressions
This is a powerful sounding yet fairly balanced sounding presentation. I would resist saying overtly v-shaped because the vocal presence is much better than I was expecting.
Certainly, the reach is deep, but there does seem to be a small midrange bump allowing vocals to sound clear with very good instrumental separation. Especially so for female vocals that seem to be getting a slightly better lift than male vocals as well as avoiding any annoying harshness or unexpected sibilance.
The timbre is a little more on the warmer side because of that excellent sub-bass presence but it is tastefully done with a mid-bass tuning that doesn’t seem to be overly elevated. That means decent low-end control and nothing overly bloomed and congested sounding to my ear.
The treble tuning is excellent on the VE4.2. Quite apart from providing some exciting bass/treble contrast in its harmonic balance, so essential for this type of tuning, it also seems to avoid sounding harsh and peaky. There is just enough bite and sparkle to provide the VE.42 with some welcome headroom and air. As a result, the staging is more deep than tall and airier than wide on initial impressions.
Right away this is the kind of signature that bassheads with ‘taste’ will enjoy. Whilst not a dynamic driver level of power the sub-woofer tuning of the VE4.2 is immensely impressive without being stodgy or lacking in extension.
At the moment, I am using the VE4.2 with fairly neutral DAPs such as the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch but I dare say that thicker timbre’s such as the Cayin N6ii will add something quite different to the equation. There should be more tune-up potential in terms of aftermarket cables that may deliver even more dynamic range and punch to the sound signature than the stock cable.
Where is the competition? I would hazard a guess and say the Lime Ears Project X and Custom Arts’ FIBAE 4 come to mind and they should prove to be very interesting comparisons in the main review so stay tuned!
- Technicalities: Three-way-System with four drivers
- 2 x Bass – 1 x Mid – 1 x High
- Sensitivity: 120dB SPL at 1 mW
- Impedance: 16 Ohm (at 1 kHz )