For a few years now the Vision Ears custom monitor VE Line read something like this: VE1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8. The obvious missing link was the number 7 and finally, in 2021, the team has seen fit to fill in that gap with the aptly titled, VE7.
Priced at just marginally higher than the VE6 and substantially lower than the VE8, this new 7-driver custom monitor is being pitched as their most balanced tuning to date with a more neutral or reference-like quality.
As far as I am aware this is being marketed primarily as a custom but I believe there may be a universal alternative. The EVE20 is still the only formal universal only monitor on offer from Vision Ears. Also, to celebrate the launch the team has introduced a number of new custom designs.
The VE7 you will have seen being promoted by VE online is part of their new Blaze series of faceplates called Fire, (the others being Purple and Titan). However, the one we have here for review today has an entirely different design. I like purple, what can I say?
True to Vision Ears BA heritage, the VE7 is an all-balanced armature implementation with 7 drivers in a 5-way grouping. That means 2 woofers for the lows, 2 for the lower mids, 1 full range for the mids, 1 for the mid-highs, and a tweeter for the super highs. All knitted together using a 5-way passive acoustic/electric crossover.
The drivers are primarily Sonion for the lows and mids with a new Knowles driver used for the super tweeter. Both the mids and the lows used dual drivers so that’s 3 physical units plus the tweeter.
These are new vented designs from Sonion with a very low roll-off for the dual woofer. The horn itself has also been tweaked to improve the HF response and take advantage of the new Knowles tweeter.
As with their previous models, the VE7 does not seem terribly hard to drive either with a 12Ω impedance rating and 116dB SPL. Just how sensitive it is in our actual tests you can read in more detail on the page 2 synergy section of this review.
The official name of this VE7 design is Transparent Purple and compared to some of our previous custom choices it is a fairly clean ensemble and not too far off the Elysium approach.
By that, I mean using a clear or transparent acrylic hollow body shell as the base underneath the faceplate. It certainly helps bring a bit of nice focus onto the intricate faceplate design.
I actually think this is one of the more tasteful designs in their lineup with an almost cherry blossom-like scattering of purple flakes on the faceplate. Also, if you twist the front into a bit of strong light the reflective nature of the flakes turns them from purple into more of that classic cherry blossom pink.
One thing to since I may not have mentioned it in the last VE Line review, the VE8, is the enhanced collection of VE-Logo designs to better fit the wide variety of faceplate colors.
I had asked VE if we did the purple flake design the gold and silver logos previously used would not work. They then showed me the purple one which is just a perfect compliment. You can also select a copper and red version which should work a lot better with some of their new designs.
Of course, the beauty of a transparent shell is not so much how good it looks on the outside but how much of a peak you get on the inside. VE has never been shy about letting you see the internal workings of the custom models so you will see plenty of colorful wiring, 3 dual driver units, and that tiny tweeter in the VE7 nozzle itself.
The VE7 horn shape is a little different from the VE’s classic horn nozzle design in previous models. The VE7 horn uses a kind of exponential shape that goes from a round section to a triangular mouth whereas the previous models used a stepped horn.
All the bores exit into the base of the horn so all VE models will allow the different driver different sound waves to have a small window of opportunity to naturally mix in the horn before being delivered to your ear canal. The difference here is the new design is meant to mix the signals more efficiently and smoothly than before.
Aside from that, the VE7 is blemish and bubble-free with a high-quality UV lacquer coating to give it a very nice shimmer. There are no visible joints near the plates which I hate to see on other designs nor is there any loose soft inner acryl filling, or ill-fitting plates. The VE craftsmanship is, as ever, very high indeed.
Comfort & Isolation
Of course, much will depend on the quality of the earmold you send to VE in terms of accuracy but I have never had an issue with VE customs fitting me poorly.
For the last few years, I have also used a reliable digital STL scan rather than fresh molds. This is something I would recommend in the covid era to cut down on unnecessary travel and social contact as well as have a reliable consistent mold for companies to work with. It also saves a fortune on new molds and shipping.
This VE7 sample fitting is an almost perfect blend of comfort and ear canal pressure. There is simply no uneven pressure within my ear canal, even with my weird crooked left ear canal.
You need some pressure to get that final seal and keep them steady but too much will give you earache after a few hours. You do not want it too relaxed either if you happen to open and close your mouth a lot then gaps can form and audio quality will dip.
Because it is also an all-BA design there is no dynamic driver venting so the isolation is ridiculously good. I am literally sitting 1.5m away from a noisy 0.5hp window-type aircon and there is total silence from it.
The VE7 inserts smoothly and stays comfortable throughout. Externally, they sit as flush to your ear as you can get for a multi-driver custom with very little protrusion or getting in the way of your general day-to-day activities.
The weak link in an otherwise top-notch presentation for the VE7. We are back to those relatively basic 4-wire OFC creations in either a black or transparent tightly braided PVC or PET jacket.
I tend to see these as cables to get you started and as such relatively safe in their performance. They do carry a bit of resistance so can lack some sparkle compared to better entry-level aftermarket cables.
To be fair, it is an improved design than the ones that used to come with the likes of the VE6 X1 several years ago with its cleaner braided finish below the black aluminum splitter barrel and twisted build above it. There is also a low-profile detachable chin cinch at the top of the splitter in a matching black aluminum finish.
In terms of handling, the VE7 stock cable is very light, memory retentive free, and fairly low on microphonics which are the usual benefits from this type of design.
The memory wire is a much softer silicone shrink over the main jacket and not as stiff and memory retentive. This is the springy type that most companies now seem to prefer. It should not give you any issues in terms of pressure on the ear nor should it get in the way of glasses.
The cable is terminated with 2-pin connectors and a 3.5mm small straight 3.5mm TRS jack with a matching black aluminum barrel. At the time of writing, I do not believe VE offers a balanced version of this cable.
Packaging & Accessories
The VE7 custom packaging is a bit different from some of the pictures on the internet of the universal packaging. Whilst both have that plain black lift lid retail packaging on the outside, the inside layout of the custom design gives way to the large classic VE hardshell container.
This is one of my favorite styles of carrying cases out there though hardly pocketable. Consider this more of a carry case to put everything away when you are done for the day or on your travels and need to put everything in your bag.
Vision Ears also supply a soft grey spring-loaded carry pouch should you wish to put your cable and monitors in your pocket on the go also.
You can literally fit tons of stuff inside this durable metal carry case. There is enough room for cables, monitors, cleaning fluids, connectors, and even a HiBy R3 Pro if you are careful enough. The internal is lined with some black foam to protect everything while the inside of the latched lid is lined with a mesh net to stuff even more stuff in safely.
In terms of accessories, you get the following with the VE7:
Soft carry pouch
3.5mm TRS to 6.35mm SE gold-plated jack converter
Two silica gel pucks
Just a note on the supplied in-ear cleaner. That is not for cleaning your ears but rather the driver shells themselves so don’t squirt your ear canals with this fluid.
My 2 cents feedback on this otherwise excellent ensemble mainly focuses on the VE7 cable and converter jack. In 2021 it should really be a balanced 2.5mm TRRS with a 4.4mm or 3.5mm TRS converter stuffed into the accessories.
Not many DAPs with 6.35mm TRS options outside of the really old Colorfly C4 Pro these days though can of course use this with something like the Chord Electronics Hugo 2 which has the matching sockets.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and select comparisons.