Impressions of the Simphonio VR1 IEM


Simphonio is a brand I've heard of through the years as a high-end and rather (relatively) expensive manufacturer of classic ear buds. They have several sets that are multi-hundred dollar units that have been well-liked in the community, but I have yet to try them because diminishing returns on ear buds are real.

A couple years ago, I saw this brand start diving into the in-ear monitor market, with a couple sets. One of these is the VR1 flagship unit which I'm going to talk about briefly here. It's $2299 USD and quite a entry into the market from "an earbud company."

This unit was loaned out to me by Infoseeker or "Tata" to try out. Thanks buddy!

This borrowed set did not come in its original packaging, but just came in its blue leather pouch, and its included blue/green fabric-wrapped braided cable and the in-ears themselves. The IEM uses a 2-pin connector and the cable itself is nicely wrapped and looks attractive. No qualms here.

The shell and design exudes a lot of luxury. The metal shells are finished with a reflective rose gold with a pearly green front plate that refracts different colors depending on the angle. It is a pretty in-ear design that looks better in-person than in pictures.

The fit is also very comfortable with a heart-like shape and medium length nozzles. I never had any problems wearing this set for hours at a time, and despite being a metal shell, it felt very light weight in my ears.

Sound Impression


The VR1 sports a 14.2mm "nano-ceramic" dynamic driver which makes this a single driver IEM. I'm not sure what "nano-ceramic" means in this case, but I imagine it is some sort of coating or plating that is applied to driver, but either way, let's talk about how it sounds.

The VR1 is a warm-balanced tuned IEM that is slight dark with a recessed treble, but does not come-off as muted. There are some peaks in the treble, despite being tuned darker, that actually give it some unexpected energy and the general sound is quite high-fidelity sounding, and almost unnaturally ethereal at times, something I would not expect from a dynamic driver.


http://iems.audiodiscourse.com/?share=Antdroid_v3_Target,VR1


The low end isn't quite linear, but is raised up a small amount, but has a linear down-sloping bass to mid transition that makes this area extremely free from muddiness and bloat. The bass impact isn't the strongest out there, and it's subbass performance is going to slam hard, but there is enough here that makes me happy. The bass attacks quite fast for a dynamic driver, and reminds me a bit of how the Dunu Luna or Final A8000 sounded, though not quite that speed. There's a little more decay here, and I'd say it's closer to the Dunu Zen than anything. 

The mids are very even-keeled, with great coherency and smoothness. I really enjoyed listening to vocals with this IEM as it presented everything very well-balanced and has a forward presentation that makes the mid-range stand-out, and I like my mids!

The treble is on the darker end, like I said before. This gives the whole presentation a warm feel to it with a bit extra body overall than I would expect from an IEM that is a little lean in its mid-bass and lower-midrange. The treble area is presented very clear, very clean, and despite the occasional elevated peaks, there's not a lot of listening fatigue to complain about. It is perhaps airier than I'd expect from the FR graph as well.



I want to touch back on my original sound statement above. There is a sense of unrealism here. The VR1 is hyper-focused on the sound, which to me, makes it sound quite "Hi-Res" but also a little unnatural at times. Maybe it's the combination of a forward presentation, the faster transient attack of the driver, and some other factors, but I didn't feel this IEM presented things in an analog and organic and musical way. But, it still presents music very well. 

I enjoyed listening to this set actually a lot, despite my initial reaction being more on the average feels. Putting this on for a long period of time, playing my set of country-folk music, was actually a blast. I enjoyed the intricacies of guitar play from these artists, and the gritty and sad-stricken vocals that come with it. They were made clearer with the VR1 and added with nice pin-point accuracy in its imaging and placement. 

This is a pricey set, and I have a little hesitation recommending this at its full price point now, nearly 2 years after it came out. But it's still a good set overall, and one of the better dynamic driver sets out there, with a nice shell design and comfortable fit. 

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