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Published on March 24th, 2012 | by Greg


Velodyne: Slick Headphones And A Powerful Sub

To­day, it’s all about the bass. We’re not be­hind the times here- cer­tain­ly, bass-heavy au­dio gear has been trend­ing for years- but we’re speak­ing more specif­i­cal­ly about to­day’s roundup. While any­one can ap­pre­ci­ate tre­ble and mids- crack­ing highs, sharp vo­cals, clear and pierc­ing in­stru­men­tals- bass love has got­ten in­deli­bly tied to hip-hop and rap, and per­haps elec­tron­ic mu­sic. This con­nec­tion isn’t un­fair, but miss­es a good part of the pic­ture. Bas­soons in your or­ches­tral ar­range­ments, the rum­ble of a di­nosaur roar in Juras­sic Park, the rat­tling and shak­ing of gun­fire in Mass Ef­fect 3- sol­id bass is es­sen­tial for all of these.

Which is how we try to test gear: not just lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, but test­ing per­for­mance in gam­ing, across some film and tele­vi­sion, to give bet­ter re­al-world tests. Af­ter all, the ear­buds you use to lis­ten to mu­sic from your iPhone are the same pair you’ll use to play An­gry Birds, and like­ly the same set con­nect­ed to your iPad for watch­ing movies dur­ing your long plane flights. So, we’ve been try­ing out to­day’s pair, and us­ing them against some pre­vi­ous­ly-test­ed gear like the BIC sub­woofers we saw late last year, and the bey­er­dy­nam­ic head­phones that earned our loy­al­ty ear­li­er this week.

The Velo­dyne EQ-Max 10 is, as you might sus­pect, a 10-inch sub­woofer. Sim­ply put, the big­ger the sub, the big­ger the boom, and their EQ Max line­up in­cludes mod­els rang­ing from eight to fif­teen inch­es. But we’ve long found that 10 inch­es hits a sweet spot for apart­ments, of­fer­ing great val­ue while be­ing fair­ly easy to hide or con­ceal- you should choose based on price and the size of space you’re work­ing with. Pow­er def­i­nite­ly isn’t an is­sue- we were blown away by the sheer oomph that can pump through this box. In fact, it was pret­ty sim­i­lar to thelast sub we test­ed from them, the DEQ-10R: both of­fer 195 watts of RMS pow­er which gen­er­al­ly dou­bles to 390 watts dy­nam­ic. But while the DEQ-10R of­fered su­pe­ri­or aes­thet­ics- our re­view­ers ap­pre­ci­at­ed the curves, small dis­play, and over­all form- the EQ Max sound­ed rich­er, more ac­cu­rate, and def­i­nite­ly was felt more. This is prob­a­bly due to the change from be­ing a front-fir­ing mod­el to a down-fir­ing one, which is gen­er­al­ly bet­ter for bass per­for­mance. Al­so, the EQ-Max of­fers a slight­ly wider fre­quen­cy range, down to 28 (in­stead of 32) and up to 135 (in­stead of 120).

The mod­els are sim­i­lar in oth­er ways as well. Both in­clude Ve­ol­dyne’s slick au­to­mat­ic EQ tun­ing sys­tem, a mic and a mic stand- you place the mi­cro­phone in your lis­ten­ing po­si­tion, and run a short pro­gram of tones that help cor­rect for your room. It’s easy and rea­son­ably ef­fec­tive, and makes you look like an au­dio­phile in front of your friends. And as we men­tioned pre­vi­ous­ly, it works best for movies (and gam­ing) where lo­ca­tion and sep­a­ra­tion can be key, but seemed to have less ef­fect on mu­sic. Again, the sub comes with a sep­a­rate re­mote con­trol, which you can use to mod­i­fy bass phase and vol­ume sep­a­rate­ly from your oth­er com­po­nents. We large­ly test through our of­fice sys­tem, with an Onkyo re­ceiv­er and our Orb Au­dio five-speak­er set­up, and it takes very lit­tle to get a sub­woofer up and run­ning. If you are still run­ning a 2.0 sys­tem for your home the­ater or TV, we sug­gest up­grad­ing to 5.1 and get­ting a sub as soon as pos­si­ble. It’s hard to over­state the dif­fer­ence it makes in lis­ten­ing, for most sources. The EQ-Max 10 is avail­able now and with a fair­ly steep price- com­pet­i­tive for EQ sys­tems though- run­ning $500 or so.

We’re ex­cit­ed that Ve­ol­dyne has en­tered a new mar­ket: per­son­al au­dio. And their first en­try- the vPulse in-ear head­phones- are sol­id. They aren’t ex­cep­tion­al, but re­fined, with a a clear and straight for­ward de­sign. Flat, no-tan­gle ca­bling, five sizes of ear tips to suit just about any­one, in-line re­mote that is iPhone and smart­phone com­pat­i­ble- they go a bit be­yond for most ev­ery fea­ture. We see a lot of ear­buds come through- from ones with spe­cial buds so they won’t fall out dur­ing park­our, to Blue­tooth wire­less mod­els, even ones that use bone con­duc­tion- but we’ve grown to love the triple-flanged style tips, iso­la­tion, and lighter mod­els like the Et­y­mot­ic HF3s.

The vPulse take their place at the mid-high end of the spec­trum, of­fer­ing de­cent style and val­ue, while com­pet­ing pri­mar­i­ly with bass-heavy mod­els like those from Beats/Mon­ster or Skull­can­dy. Build qual­i­ty is pret­ty good, and we liked the col­or choice (blue or black). But in-ear head­phones are pri­mar­i­ly about au­dio per­for­mance, and while we were im­pressed with the pret­ty crisp low end, not ar­ti­fi­cial or fa­tigu­ing like some com­peti­tors, most re­view­ers here thought that the rest of the spec­trum suf­fered a bit by com­par­i­son. Stereo sep­a­ra­tion wasn’t quite as good as we hoped, so in­stead of feel­ing like the mu­sic or sound ef­fects were around you, ev­ery­thing felt a bit dis­tant. They hand­i­ly beat most folks in their price range though. We would’ve liked a mi­cro­phone for a true smart­phone so­lu­tion, but it’s hard to com­plain with a $90 pric­etag. Com­fort­able over longer lis­ten­ing ses­sions, you do need to be care­ful of the cords, and the con­trol place­ment takes some get­ting used to. Over­all, a great open­ing sal­vo, and we hope to see fol­low-ups that ex­pand the line.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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