Disclaimer: The qdc Anole VX-C sent to us is a discounted unit in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at qdc for giving us this opportunity and for the support of Musicteck and Music Sanctuary.
You can read more about qdc products we reviewed on Headfonics by clicking here.
The qdc Anole V6 blew me away when we reviewed it at the start of the year. Here was a 6 driver custom tuned to deliver a beautiful timbre and just how I like to listen to my music.
To quote, “A gloriously fun sounding performance that makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck with a level of PRaT I have not heard in ages.”
Now my feeling was at the time you are not getting the final word in technical capability with the V6 but of course, driver count is not the be all and end all. A good small one will beat a crappy big one. However, a good big one can beat a good small one. If that makes sense.
Well, that hypothesis will be soon put to the test because qdc’s new flagship custom monitor, the Anole VX, just arrived a few days ago. Priced at $2647, the VX, therefore, is a considerable leap up from the $1320 of the V6 so my expectations of what it can do based on the V6 experience are considerably heightened. It should be a fun review in short.
The qdc Anole VX is aptly named given this is a 10-driver all BA build with a 3-way crossover. now qdc have not released the precise configuration on their website but given the 3-way crossover, we are assuming 3 groups of drivers for the lows, mids, and the highs.
Like the Anolve V6, the VX also comes with a switching system that allows you to tweak the tuning of the monitor. This time, however, the VX has 3 switches instead of the V6’s two switches. Instead of 4 flavors of sound, you now get a total of 8 variable sound signatures on the VX that cover the low-end, mids and treble. You can select one of either plus a combination of low, mids and treble in tandem or have all switches on at the same time. I do not think I have encountered such an expansive switching system in a custom monitor to date.
qdc do very cool packaging, to put it mildly. The V6 came in a gold-colored two-piece tall retail package and the VX uses the same but this time in a silver and black color scheme. It reeks of premium and slides out to reveal a fold-out black display box that has the same arrangement as the V6 but with some slight accessory variation on the case.
Inside you get a carry case, airline adaptor, quarter jack converter, cleaning pick and of course, the monitor and stock cable. You also get some product collateral in a nice envelope pull-out that sits directly on top of the carry case. The adapters and cleaning tool come inside a smaller black cardboard box beside the new carry case.
The new carry case has changed from a circular orange soft leather-bound design to a new sky blue square case. The size is not that different but the visual is a nice fit with the stock design aesthetic we went for in the VX build.
The front is adorned with qdc branding and your name on a metal faceplate on the front. the inside has changed a little with a tight leather holder on the underside of the lid and a pillar just off center on the inside floor of the case to allow you to wrap the cable round. The materials seem to be a soft, almost Alcantara-like material which should do a good job of cushioning the VX whilst on the go.
We went for the company’s core design for the VX. By that I mean the one you see in all their marketing collateral to date. IThis is a blend of silver and transparent tones, kind of like a frosty finish but it is quite an intricate design up close.
This seems to be a mix of silver flakes and scratched/frost pattern faceplate with both the qdc branding and VX logo in silver right on top. Honestly, it is really beautiful and unique and quite the contrast to the candy color design of the Anole V6. This is also the stock design and colors of the universal version so if you are not keen on waiting for a custom option then this is what you can expect when you buy universal.
As before, qdc use a protruding connector stem at the top for over-the-ear wear and as it is typical with all qdc monitors the 2-pin 0.78mm connectors are aligned in reverse polarity. That means standard alignment aftermarket cables have to be put on backwards unless you have an adaptor, which we do have.
I will endeavor to get you the exact design codes and phrases for the body and faceplate combinations for the main review just in case this is th eone you want. You can also check with your local qdc dealer also for more info in the meantime.
This looks like a better cable on the VX compared to the stock cable on the V6. This is around 1.2m in length and a little thicker but more pliant than the V6 cable. It is also very microphonic free. It seems to use a mix of 26AWG copper and silver 4-wire, perhaps an SPC or copper and silver in parallel wiring. I will find out for the main review just exactly what the geometry is of the cable.
The stock cable is also terminated with an unbalanced 3.5mm gold-plated TRS jack with slim gun-metal colored barrels for both the jack and y-split. Strain relief is good on both sides with a pliant rubber finish on the connectors and thick rubber tube on the jack connector. The chin cinch is a little on the cheap side being just a cut rubber tubing rather than anything sophisticated.
Comfort & Fit
The comfort levels are truly excellent. They did a great job on the V6 and my initial impression here is that the fit is possibly even better this time around. The balance between pressure, comfort and blocking out the outside world is almost perfect. qdc have not reverted to a thick nozzle either to get that seal so good on the VX. It does not seem to put too much pressure on my ear canal and the build is small enough that it sits nice and flush in my outer ear.
The level of isolation is outstanding also. Granted that should be the case with a BA build because it does not need venting ports as a hybrid or dynamic driver does. Even so, the low-level background noise attenuation from the likes of my air con is top-notch. I have a few custom BA-builds that do not come close to this level of isolation.
Initial Sound Impressions
(Tested with a Sony 1z, Lotoo PAW Gold Touch, and iBasso DX220 using FLAC 16BIT 44.1k sample tracks)
These impressions are based off the stock setting on the switches which are all turned off out of the box. I will give you a lot more detail on the switch combos in the main review.
The VX tuning is not that far off from the V6 but on a technical level sounds a lot more resolving on initial impressions. The is a very mild u-shaped natural to neutral response with a tastefully boosted low-end though not quite as strong in amplitude as the V6 with switches off.
There is a dip but it starts from the mid-bass down to the lower-mids around 500-600Hz and peaks from 1-4k so once again a lot of vocals and instrumental presence is forward sounding on the VX. Treble seems to have a touch more extension and presence than the V6 so the timbre, initially for me, seems a little cleaner and more precise.
Honestly, this is a very accurate tone with a very balanced sound in the switch-off position and nothing in the way of sharp highs or a muddy sluggish low-end.
One immediate thing that stood out on the VX is the excellent left-right imaging and general staging width. With a highly resolving DAP or one that works wonders on instrumental separation such as the PAW Gold Touch it sounds quite holographic to my ear.
Switch one, or bass boosting seems to up the low-end by around 5-6dB. It doesn’t seem to add too much slam in the mid-bass to the tuning from what I can hear. Seems more about body and sub-bass presence with lower-mids staying relatively clean and well separated.
The mids switch I quite like for its additional vocal presence. This option boosts that already elevated midrange 1-4k line by 1-2dB so its not huge but you can hear the change-up right away, especially in male vocals sub-1k where there is a small boost also.
Treble works as you would expect with a small emphasis it seems on the upper treble so it gets marginally brighter and a little airier but nothing extreme. You will get a bit more of an ethereal sound, a slightly leaner timbre and a bit more odd-harmonic emphasis on guitar plucks. It is definitely not harsh sounding but rather quite tasteful and interesting to listen to.
All switches on is a bit OTT for me with quite a big emphasis on all the key points in the FR: sub-bass, 1-4k, and upper treble. It is big and fun sounding sure but it loses a little bit of accuracy for me for anything complex which is where I think the VX is going to excel in. This could work well though for modern pop and RnB where not much is really happening other than solid bass, vocals, and some hefty sparkle.
The build quality and design of the VX is as cool but very different from the V6. If you are new to qdc monitors you are in for a treat in terms of just how well they roll-out their final builds. They are almost perfect in terms of comfort and seal and very ‘purty’ in their designs.
It is clear already from my initial impression that the VX tuning and switch system is much more complex than the V6 with plenty more combinations to listen to and figure out what they are going to offer. We are now stocked with small qdc cable adapters so we can speak more about cable rolling in the main review and how it further affects the final presentation of the VX. Stay Tuned!