-FiR Audio M4-
One of the most interesting comparisons in my opinion, as the M4 is at the higher end from the same company. So what do you get in both cases? A lot of similarities in terms of build quality, with the M4 perhaps having a more premium feeling faceplate, but I doubt the quality of the VxV is any less. The VxV also come with a balanced cable, which is a nice bonus.
In terms of sound the VxV have a slightly warmer and much more forward presentation. The M4 are much more spacious with greater sense of depth. It is combined with a leaner note size on the M4, which gives the VxV a more intimate feel by comparison. The bass on the M4 is still the better quality in my opinion and the M4 can produce a lot of energy throughout the signature, but I actually think the VxV get better coherency, as the bass of the VxV is complimented by thicker mids and sweeter treble and that works incredibly nicely. Vocals on the VxV are more forward and a little warmer. The M4 can be a bit bright in my opinion and I have not experienced that as such with the VxV, so I would say those are more forgiving. In terms of pure technical performance I still rate the M4 higher, but the VxV offer a bit more fun and still offer a lot. Comparing to the M4 is of course a bit hard, as I rate those very highly at their own price point, so the VxV again perform very well for their price point. In terms of versatility I feel that both have it, but the M4 push that to the next level and (for instance) perform superbly well for classical music, where the VxV are simply good. The VxV are a little on the warm side and of course have the more intimate presentation without the incredible ability to separate that the M4 have, so less ideal for orchestral.
-Vision Ears VE5-
The Vision Ears VE5 were until recently only available as CIEMs and as such offer a very different proposition in terms of build quality to the VxV. The shells of the universal VE5 are much like the custom version made from resin that either allows for a more affordable (€1,250) standard design or a fully customizable design that is a bit more expensive (€1,450). The fit with the VE5 is superb and feels more ergonomic than the VxV, although I still get a very comfortable fit with the VxV.
The VE5 are superb mid-focused IEMs that are very accurate and offer outstanding clarity and exceptional vocal performance. Although I consider the VxV balanced, the VE5 offer a different type of balance. The VE5 are less warm, but very accurate and with a focused presentation that can convey the smallest nuances with crystal clarity. The VxV are by comparison much more bold and fun with a stronger bass presence, much thicker notes, but lacking the transparency and delicate touch of the VE5. Absolutely a case of apples versus Oranges. I dearly love the VE5 and every time I listen to them I love them more, but the VxV are just as enjoyable and more versatile in my opinion.
-MMR Gáe Bolg-
The VxV came in just as I was finishing up my review of the MMR Gáe Bolg and that was a lucky thing because both of these offer very interesting propositions. Gáe Bolg are a little more expensive at US$1,199 with the stock cable, but if you want balanced like the VxV have, you can choose the US$1,399 Complete version that comes with the Eletech Prudence cable. Both feel great as an EDC option, but the VxV feel more purposely built as such. The Gáe Bolg are a little bigger and heavier with a more intricate and ornate design, while the VxV have similar build quality that is a little bit lighter and smaller. In terms of comfort both do really well and I have used both extensively without problems. The VxV however have the advantage of the Atom pressure release module that is very effective in combating fatigue.
In terms of sound this has been a really difficult comparison because these are very close in character and yet have different presentations. The GáeBolg feel more linear and balanced with a more spacious stage and perhaps more airiness. However, while the VxV have a more forward feel to them that gives a sense of intimacy, the Atom module still generates a spacious presentation and separation of instruments is outstanding, as well as imaging. The VxV feel a little warmer and even more dynamic than the Gáe Bolg and with better vocals, but don’t have the richness that makes the Gáe Bolg so nice. The bass is really tricky because both have a nice bass. The Gáe Bolg feel like there is more weight behind it, whereas the bass of the VxV has more texture and impact.
These two are incredibly close and it is hard to pick one over the other. I personally prefer the VxV, but listening to the Gáe Bolg never makes me feel like I want to switch. The choice here is really down to personal preferences and budget, but both are excellent performers.
Firry, you dastardly villainous villain, you win and I subject myself to your megalomaniacal whims if it means I can enjoy the VxV some more. Just one more time… Please!
I have spent a lot of time with the VxV in what is actually a relatively short period that I have had them around. This is a testament to how much fun the VxV are to listen to. They offer a very complete package for IEMs that you can use as “EDC” to take everywhere and listen to everything. The build quality is top notch with a very comfortable fit and a design that is fun while not attracting too much attention. The signature is balanced with a bit more emphasis on fun, providing a superb bass, clear mids and sparkly yet inoffensive treble for a fatigue-free listen. They present the music a bit more forward and yet maintain air and great separation as well as excellent coherency. The Atom module is very effective in relieving pressure, which provides a more open feel and makes the VxV ideally suited for use during activities, including training. The VxV have made me even more a fan of FiR Audio and while I need to maintain a sense of objectivity, I can’t help but share my excitement for these. They are among the most fun IEMs I have used and make me forget all about their price point. A price point that I think is very competitive and the VxV easily outperform it. Well worth a demo if you have the opportunity!