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Aedle VK-1 Stereo Headphone review


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Youtube review: Aedle VK-1 Stereo Headphone review by Dale - YouTube

 

Sources: iPhone5 with Portaphile Micro/PA2V2/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using Microstreamer/Beyer A200p/v-moda Verza DAC/amps.

 

Review note: My first impressions of the sound of the VK-1 are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the v-moda M80 and M100, the Beyerdynamic DT1350 and T51p, the FAD Pandora IV and VI, and notes I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I describe how I relate to the VK-1 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

 

Out of the box the VK-1 has an ultra-smooth sound with a classic modern audiophile signature. I don't know how many readers here would be familiar with the sound of a Sennheiser HD800, but take that sound and tilt the spectrum slightly to the right (~3 db up on the low end and the same amount less on the high end) and you'll have the VK-1 sound. Since this is an on-ear and small-earcup design, potential customers will know in advance not to expect a large, open and lush soundstage. What they might not expect is a perfect (or nearly so) warmth and coloration-free sound that they'll be able to enjoy for hours on end without fatigue.

 

I normally don't go into micro-details about the sound of headphones I review, since those small details are highly variable depending on the user's source media and player, and whether and what type of amps are used externally to the player. But I can be confident that the sound I described will hold up under any conditions I can imagine, meaning that the better the music source and/or amplification the better the experience. Note that this is not one of those headphones whose treble is so "revealing" (i.e. enhanced or boosted) that the lesser-quality music tracks will be grating and irritating. The VK-1 from my listening, and based on other reviews I've read, simply lacks the peaks and edginess in its upper range that can make sibilants and various minor distortions hard to live with.

 

Physically the VK-1 is a bit on the luxurious side, with leather earpads and headband cover, machined aluminum earcups and headband parts, and a rather slim profile for ideal wear outdoors or on public transport. Two cables are supplied, 4.5 and 9 feet respectively, with standard 3.5 mm miniplugs on either end. The cables are an ultra-high quality weave with a rubberized coating, looking extremely durable. I suppose any generic cable with 3.5 mm plugs could be substituted for these as long as the sleeve ahead of the earcup plug is narrow enough to fit into the opening.

 

Interestingly, although the earcups are mounted on gimbals that rotate slightly and look like they should rotate enough to fold flat, they don't. The VK-1 does come with a nice heavy-quilted bag with a magnetic fastener, which given the build quality of the headphone should be perfect for storage in personal luggage while traveling. Lastly, while the initial feel might seem a bit stiff for a few users, it will loosen some after use, and the genuine leather earpads will break in as all high-quality leather items do. Instructions for loosening the headband are also included for persons who require a larger fit.

 

This hand-crafted headphone is beautiful to see (especially in natural brown) and hold in hand, has an ideal slim profile for portable use, and sound that competes with the best of its class. Highly recommended!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a chance to hear the VK-1 in the Tweak Studio room at T.H.E. Show Newport, with an iPad Air and Resonessence Herus. I bought it on the spot, and my DT 1350 is for sale. I found them to be the best on-ear closed headphone I've heard to date, and it's not close. When I evaluate gear, the first track I listen to is generally the first movement of the Baltimore Symphony/Alsop recording of the Dvorak "New World" Symphony. I was sold on the Aedle even before the main theme. Instrumental timbres are dead on, there's plenty of well-controlled bass, and these little guys are dynamic as hell.

 

My only regret: as gorgeous as the brushed-aluminum-and-tan-leather model is, I think I might have preferred the stealth black. Oh, well ...

 

They're among the most expensive offerings in the category, but even at $500 the value proposition is, IMO, compelling. These are must-try.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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