Published on March 24th, 2012 | by Greg0
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.