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Velodyne vPulse
Million-Dollar Bass for $89
© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Velodyne vPulse Headphones

Velodyne vPulse Headphones (about $89). This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.

 

February 2012   Audio Reviews   All Reviews

Audeze   Audio-Technica   Beyer   Focal   RHA 

Sennheiser   Sony   Stax   Ultrasone   Velodyne   Woo

 

Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Ritz Camera

I use Adorama, Amazon, eBay, Ritz, B&H, Calumet, J&R and ScanCafe. I can't vouch for ads below.

Velodyne is one of the world's very few dedicated subwoofer specialists. They've been making real subwoofers since 1983. New for them are these in-ear headphones.

Velodyne pitches these as "take the bass with you," and they aren't kidding. I was expecting bad, boomy bass like your neighbor's car stereo, but in fact, they have the best deep bass of any headphones I've ever heard! They also have good isolation from the outside world, and have an on-cord remote control and microphone.

In fact, their deep bass is better than anything I've ever heard reproduced, even better than my own stereo pair of 18" JBL B460/2245H subwoofers because they each go as deep, while these vPulse headphones are far tighter and better controlled — and with these headphones, there are no problems trying to crossover smoothly to the main speakers or controlling room resonances.

If you love deep, solid bass, you'll love these. The vPulse have million-dollar bass for $89. Yes, of course they boost the bass, but only below 60 Hz, so it's not boomy, and from 16-40Hz, they have strongest deep bass I've ever head from a headphone — and this is simply driven from my iPod touch.

They also have broad boost from 3~4.5 kHz and a smaller peak at 7.9kHz, so the presence range is quite prominent, but oddly after listening for a while each time, they sound better.

Not only is the deep bass fantastic, they have plenty of sensitivity driven from an iPod, so you don't want to add any amplifiers. It's easy to go deaf just from an iPod; I rarely need to turn my levels past 3/4, even with classical music.

These are definitely not for mastering, but they're a hoot for enjoying music because you'll always hear the pedal fundamental often lost on every other audio system. Back in 1979 I designed my own headphone amplifier, and I included a similar boost at around 32 Hz to put back in what was missing.

The vPulse sound glorious for classic rock, since back in the days of LPs and analog tape, we couldn't put the deep, loud bass into recordings that we can today with digital. With classic rock, the deep bass boost helps put back in what was never there. With modern digital recordings loaded with unrestricted bass, even better, because in America, too much is never enough.

The vPulse's bass performance and sensitivity is simply astounding for a passive (unamplified) headphone. The deepest bass is strong and unrelenting, and it's never boomy because only the deepest bass is fortified.

As a bass player, I know that the deepest bass is critical as the foundation of all the music built upon it. With the vPulse, I always can hear what to me is the most important part of the music lacking in almost all other systems: music's first octave from 16 ~ 32 Hz (C0 ~ C1). Yes, with the vPulse, I can hear well below 20 Hz if it's in the recording. This is the first product I've ever tested that claims "response to 20 Hz," and is actually much better.

 

Specifications         top

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Frequency response: 20 Hz ~ 20 kHz.

Sensitivity: 98.8 dB at 1 mW. My math tells me that 126mV makes 1mW into 16 Ω.

Noise reduction: 15 dB at 1 kHz.

Impedance: 16 Ω nominal.

Velodyne vPulse Driver

Driver unit: 10 mm, aluminum housing, rare earth magnet structure. Multiple ear tips of various sizes included.

Plug: Gold-plated 1/8” (3.5mm).

Cable: 43.5” (1.1 m) flat.

Velodyne vPulse case

Inline remote control.

Remote Control: On-cord controls and microphone for mobile phone calls, music playback and volume levels.

Cable: Flat, thicker, stronger vPulse cable

Velodyne vPulse case

Included: case and extra sizes of tips.

 

Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Sound

Much to my surprise, the vPulse have a very spacious sound that often isn't just stuck inside my head. They have a surprisingly open presentation.

I've covered much of the sound at the introduction. These sound like $10 (not 99¢) headphones with million-dollar bass. If you're a bass lover, you've got to get these, but for normal people for choral, symphonic and massed strings, their midrange is peaky. The peakines dies down after listening for while, so especially if you're a bass player, these sound great.

The bass has a broad peak at 32 Hz, so there is little boominess or boost above 60 Hz, and the bass is solid to 20 Hz and below.

By 12 Hz reproducing sine waves, they are still clean, but the audible effect sounds more like your own heart beating and muscles moving.

Yes, these sound scratchy and raspy compared to the $3,000 Stax Omega II, but these vPulse are still smoother than Apple's $80 in-ear headphones. Everyone's taste and ear canals are different, and to me, the Apple IEMs (in-ear monitors) have a much nastier 3 kHz peak, and smooth, natural bass — not the open-the-gates-to-the-glory-of-Heaven ultra-deep bass of the vPulse.

The vPulse give us bass the way it was meant to be heard, even better and deeper than the Ultrasone Edition 8.

With the vPulse, when the bass player suddenly drops a stinger an octave, you're going to hear it distinctly

Bass is very dynamic and never just one note at one level.

To hear what I've almost never heard reproduced on almost any other audio system, listen for the 32-foot pedal D (18.35 Hz) held in the fifth measure and later in Peter Hurford's performance of Mendelssohn's Organ Sonata #6 in D (about 5 seconds into track 8 on the CD, you won't hear it on Amazon's preview). I used to use this piece as a quick, polite and practical introduction to what real subwoofers do. 5 seconds into it he steps on the low D and it's obvious, but rarely audible at all on even the best playback systems.

You'll hear the bass glissandos dropping insane octaves in Seal's "Fly Like an Eagle," and all the deep, nearly subsonic Moog bass pedals on Stevie Wonder's "A Time 2 Love" more clearly on these headphones than probably anything else.

You'll hear the subsonics of the half-speed percussion samples in Sting's "Straight to My Heart," track 8 on his Nothing Like the Sun album, which are very rarely audible on any playback system. Buy the CD; I have no idea if it's audible in Amazon's previews.

You'll also hear rumbling trucks and air conditioning in many classical recordings. Watch it if someone knocks a mic stand, because it's going to hurt!

 

Measured Impedance

Velodyne vPulse  Impedance

Velodyne vPulse measured Impedance magnitude (Ω), and phase angle versus frequency. (R&S UPL; +90º is capacitive, -90º is inductive.)

Impedance is a flat 16 Ω, with no more than a + 0.5º phase angle at 4.75 kHz and a -7º phase angle at 20 kHz. If you can drive 16 Ω, this is a much easier and less reactive load than a loudspeaker.

 

Ergonomics

The vPulse go in and out easy.

The flat cord looks silly, but seems tougher than most round cords.

No one has a case as clean and perfect as the snap-closed plastic case of the Apple's $80 in-ear headphones. By comparison, the zipper case provided with the vPulse and most IEMs are gross and nasty — do I really want to put something I'm sticking inside my ears in this dark case?

The plug handle feels like metal. It's a right-angle 90º "L" plug.

Unlike my Apple in-ear headphones, the vPulse don't seem to clog my ears or make them humid. I perceive much less rumble from my own internal body motion as I move around than with the Apple IEMs.

The vPulse have the perfect cord length, even for ape arms.

The remote control works great on my iPod Touch. It has a nice tit in the center for stop-start, and if you read the directions, can do all sorts of navigation with multiple clicks.

 

Usage         top

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The as-shipped pads were perfect for me. Velodyne says use the smallest ones that give a good seal for great bass.

If these have too much bass for you for bass-heavy recordings, just turn down your volume. The natural bass-loss of our ears at lower levels will lower the apparent bass levels.

If the channels aren't quite balanced, push-in the softer side a little further into your head.

If they are too raspy for you, push them in further, or listen longer.

The instructions say don't get these wet! These aren't swimming headphones like some others. You'll be swimming in deep bass, just don't do it in the pool.

 

Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations   More

These look pretty ugly after five minutes in Velodyne's signature blue; get them in black.

These sound like $10 (not 99¢) headphones with million-dollar bass, so your choice is clear: If you're a bass player, organist, or bass pedal fanatic, get these yesterday. If you just want to listen to pretty music and don't care about the bass, I suspect that there are other in-ear headphones with smoother sound and less midrange emphasis, but I haven't reviewed enough other IEMs to find one yet. For normal headphones, the Beyer DT 880 is my favorite as I write this.

If you want to see how deep you can hear with your iPhone, iPad or iPod, use the swept sine wave generator in the Audio Tools app.

Everyone's ears differ. I'm not a fan of IEMs so haven't wanted to try many of them, but these are the very best I've heard. I enjoy listening to these for hours and hours on end. Don't use them for mastering, but use them for enjoying music, especially if you demand to hear the deepest fundamentals, and I'm sure you'll enjoy them as I do.

With their first crack at headphones being this good, I can't wait to review some of their better subwoofers, since they've been a market leader in those for decades.

If you've found my effort in creating and sharing this review helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.

 

More         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations   More

Velodyne's vPulse manual.

Velodyne's vPulse fluff sheet.

Velodyne's web page about the vPulse.

Velodyne's website.

 

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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