Summary – BGVP did more than just tune out the 8kHz peak. Now, I don’t remember the previous VG4’s sound signature perfectly but from whatever memory I have of it, this one sounds much better, enough to impress me right off the bat!
It is a neutral-ish, well balanced and clean sounding IEM with accurate tonality and timbre of instruments. All frequency bands are nicely balanced without anything jumping out at you. It is one of those IEMs that sounds good from the get go and at most volume levels. It doesn’t sound intrusive even if you boost the volume to louder levels for some fun enthusiastic listening. What makes it cooler are its 3 tuning switches, out of which 2 add substantial colour and 1 adds a subtle but magical effect. The switches also help by providing you quick access to sound modification as per the effects of Fletcher-Munson curve theory. For example, if you like listening to your IEMs at lower volumes and generally feel that they lack the upper register definition and bass, flipping on Switch 1 & 3 will give you that definition without you having to increase the volume to supplement that, hence keeping your volume levels comfortable as per your liking. If you feel that sound signature is snappier than you like at louder levels, switch 2 will make the overall signature slightly warmer by adding some warmth and fullness to the mids.
Switches – Here is what the switches do but before that let me tell you that the soundstage in switch mode 000 sounds like you’re watching the band from a few feet away with 2 guitarists hard panned left & right. Some switches change the soundstage character slightly.
- Switch 1 – A subtle boost in upper mids and 5-6kHz region which also helps the soundstage boundaries with more definition.
- Switch 2 – Substantial addition of instrument body, making the sound signature slightly fuller and also making the soundstage feel more like you’re a part of the band with hard panned guitar players slightly closer to you than in mode 000/100.
- Switch 3 – Around 3-4dB boost to lower bass without it becoming too bassy or boomy.
My favourite switch mode is 100 and I’ll be using the same for the sound analysis and add the effect of other switches wherever required.
Bass – VG4’s bass is very well tuned. It is tight with good attack, decay and definition. Taking Dua Lipa’s new song Cool’s chorus as reference, the bass is more towards neutral with good snap, attack and punch in stock setting 000. It sounds tight AF, in control with presence very well balanced in the song. Switch 3 gives it a nice boost, increasing presence, punch and slam to fun levels.
Mids – Lower-midrange sounds very linear and clean, helping instruments in the spectrum cut out nicely. Lower mids are more neutral with Switch 2 in OFF position and fuller with Switch 2 ON. If you like slightly fuller note definition in your signature and feel that the stock signature sounds slightly lighter, flipping switch 2 up will make the mids meatier along with making VG4 slightly warmer overall. Upper-midrange has good definition with nice natural instrument tonality and timbre, much nicer than most multi-BA IEMs I have tested and reviewed in its range. Switch 1 gives upper mids a bit more definition. You can use this switch as per your liking of upper mids presence/definition, though the effect is more subtle than you’d expect yet effective enough in the overall picture in some songs. VG4’s upper mids are well tuned with good amount of gain which helps keep everything comfortable even if you want to have some spirited fun listening at slightly louder volumes but it’s certainly not from Harman school of tuning where upper mids are generally more forward and present. In general, VG4 has them less peaky compared to something like TSMR-3Pro or even DM7. Even though DM7’s upper mids don’t feel peaky or intense to me, VG4 surely feels easier, more balanced and natural.
Treble – VG4’s treble allows it to have good clarity, details and definition without it ever becoming intrusive. It is nice and smooth yet resolving and detailed. Acoustic instruments have very good presence and natural attack owing to VG4’s lower treble tuning while never sounding jangly or piercy. The finger picked acoustic in John Mayer’s ‘Why Georgia’ has really good body and nice natural treble character without ever sounding too sparkly even when it is strummed. In fact, I like its lower-treble tuning most amongst its competing IEMs. Drum shells have good stick attack and cymbals have good presence without them sounding washy or splashy. The treble is certainly not the kind which adds extra sparkle or sheen to instruments or the overall signature. It’s the kind which makes most instruments sound natural in their true character and in turn makes for an easy and comfortable listen even at louder volumes without sacrificing on clarity or details. It retains that character even at lower volume levels. Of course, you cannot expect 64 Audio’s tia driver quality of upper treble here but VG4 certainly does well for its asking price. If I really have to nitpick, the treble head in me would’ve liked a bit more air but I really do not mind the stock tuning at all and I’m guessing most people will find the stock treble tuning good.
Soundstage, Imaging and Separation.
VG4 has a surprisingly clean and roomy soundstage for its asking price, much roomier than most of its competition (maybe even a level above) but certainly not in the realm of TOTL soundstage. It has good width and depth with a nice black background. The reverb trail on the snare side stick in Coldplay’s ‘Up in Flames’ is very clear and sounds lovely to hear. Imaging and separation are again very good for its price range with most instruments placed and imaged very well in the soundstage.
I have to add here that resolution is very good for the price even though VG4 is just a 4 driver IEM that costs around $200. It goes to show that choosing the right driver combo and good tuning goes a long way and you don’t need to stuff 10s of drivers to achieve good resolution or boost regions of treble as a trick to bring out those details which in turn makes the sound signature sound intense, causing ear fatigue. So, VG4 as a result is neutral-ish to warm sound signature yet resolving. Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia album which has tons of layers with multiple instruments sounds very good on the VG4. Again, don’t expect it to be groundbreaking TOTL levels but VG4 performs really well here for its asking price.
BGVP DM7 ($300) – They both being siblings have a bit of common BGVP DNA but have different individual identities and sound characteristics. VG4 with its switches gives more flexibility in sound signature options than DM7 which doesn’t have any switches. Overall VG4 feels more open, airy and spacious sounding whereas DM7 hits harder with a more forward and present upper midrange tuning as well as slightly fuller lower mids. VG4’s bass in stock tuning is more tonally accurate and cleanly placed in the centre with good tight control whereas DM7 has more bass presence with slightly more rumble. VG4 with Switch 3 in ON position has more bass authority than DM7. DM7’s lower mids are slightly warmer and fuller than VG4 and so VG4 feels a bit cleaner and open. DM7’s upper midrange is a bit more prominent and forward whereas VG4’s upper mids are easier and more comfortable without comprising on good instrument definition (even better with switch 1 and/or 2 on). VG4’s treble is slightly more open and airier. Overall culmination of all these traits makes VG4’s soundstage feel a little wider, cleaner and more spacious though DM7 is no slouch but brings the hard panned instruments a bit closer owing to its forward upper-midrange presentation.
Tansio Mirai TSMR-3 Pro ($219) – 3Pro has 3BAs whereas VG4 has 4BAs. Right off the bat, 3Pro’s upper-midrange is more forward and present whereas VG4’s is easier and sounds more natural and comfortable to me. Lower-mids in both are towards neutral but VG4 sounds cleaner and is more resolving. VG4’s bass can go from tight and controlled to fun levels with the Switch 3 whereas 3Pro’s bass generally stays more towards neutral and tight yet fun (even 3Pro’s bass mode 100). VG4’s soundstage feels wider and more open than 3Pro’s. VG4 has more instrument resolution and better separation whereas instruments in 3Pro are more forward owing to the forward upper mids. They both have different flavours and choice between the two will primarily depend on one’s preference and liking of upper mids character.
Moondrop KXXS ($179) – KXXS is one of my favourites and I use it everyday in my daily rotation of IEMs. KXXS is a single Dynamic Driver (DD) tuned to Moondrop’s version of the Harman target curve called VDSF (Virtual Diffuse Sound Field) and so differs a bit from VG4 in presentation. KXXS being a nice DD has more organic, punchy and impactful sounding bass presentation which is also more present. VG4’s is no slouch but is tighter, faster and precise in comparison and can have good impact and punch if the song demands, especially with Switch 3 on. KXXS lower mids are slightly recessed compared to VG4 which has them more towards neutral, though both sound very clean down low. KXXS upper mids are more present and forward than VG4 owing to its Harman tuning. VG4’s treble is slightly more resolving while KXXS’ treble is slightly on the thinner side. Both have open and clean soundstages but VG4’s is slightly more resolving.
Shanling ME500 Platinum Edition ($280) – Well again ME500 has a forward upper midrange which can get intense at louder levels while the bass is not as prominent. VG4 on the other hand has a better balance between lower and upper spectrum. The bass has more punch and impact, even more with switch 3 on. VG4’s treble is open and natural while always staying comfortable whereas ME500 can sometimes become a bit intense. VG4 has nice width whereas ME500 has more prominent boundaries owing to the forward midrange which makes hard panned guitars very prominent.
With the tuning update, BGVP surely has a winner in the new VG4. It has a nice, well balanced, neutral to warm sound signature with good resolution, details and an open soundstage. It is also well built, has a comfortable snug fit plus has 3 switches which add substantial colour enabling you to have a couple of different tuning options. It comes with nice accessories too, especially the cable and case. If your budget is around $200, VG4 is a no brainer as I feel it punches very well (dare I say) above its asking price. I can happily recommend it to people looking for a nice IEM in this price range. Definitely give it a shot if you get the chance!
REMEMBER! – If you decide on getting the VG4, make sure you check and ask the seller for the new updated VG4 and not the older one before purchasing. I wish they had named it version 2 or something similar.
Gear used for testing and review.
- DAPs – iBasso DX160 and Hiby R6 Pro
- Laptop – Apple Macbook Pro 15″
- Phone – OnePlus 7 Pro
Reference Songs list.
- Normandie – White Flag album
- Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia album
- Dave Matthews – Shake Me Like a Monkey
- Foo Fighters – The Pretender, Best of you & Everlong
- Coldplay – Paradise, Up in flames & Everglow + Everyday Life Album
- Ed Sheeran – Thinking out loud, Bloodstream & Galway Girl
- Chainsmokers – Somebody, Sickboy, This Feeling & Closer
- John Mayer – Slow dancing in a burning room, Stop this Train & Say
- Gavin James – Always & Hearts on fire
- Switchfoot – Meant to live & Dare you to move
- Porcupine Tree – Sound of Muzak, Blackest Eyes & .3
- Our Lady Peace – Do You Like It & Innocent
- Linkin Park – Papercut, Somewhere I belong & Talking to myself
- Maroon 5 – She will be loved, Payphone & Lost stars
- Lifehouse – All in all & Come back down
- Breaking Benjamin – Diary of Jane
- Karnivool – Simple boy & Goliath
- Dead Letter Circus – Real you
- I Am Giant – Purple heart, City limits & Transmission
- Muse – Panic station
- James Bay – Hold back the river