Since the announcement of the Clear Tune VS4, I’ve been hoping a sample would eventually make it to my review desk. Lo and behold, today is the day. So what kind of sound is this $599 in-ear monitor packing?
Clear Tune VS4 Review
With six pairs of eartips, a carrying case, a cleaning tool, and a 1/4” stereo adapter plug, the VS4 comes with more than its fair share of accessories.
Construction seems about what you would expect from a premium earphone; the braided 4 ft (1.2 m) cable is light but strong, and the earpieces feel solid. A chrome faceplate and tip add some flash to the earphones, without compromising the sound.
Designed to be worn over the ear, the VS4 utilizes 4 balanced armature drivers – high, mid, low/mid, and low.
While this setup might strike you as complex, the earphones still provide comfort as well as isolation. Suffice to say, once you cue up some tunes, you will soon forget you’re even wearing these headphones.
Frequency Range: 20-16000 Hz
Impedance: 18 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 119 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): NA
The VS4 specifications reveal an earphone with a fairly narrow frequency range. The low impedance befits a high-end monitor, and will work seamlessly with low-output devices like smartphones and portable players. Sound pressure is high, but the result is less power consumption in your music source – something I’ll gladly take. Finally, distortion isn’t given by Clear Tune, but I’d hazard it’s somewhere around the <0.1% mark.
Sporting a fairly heavy low end, the VS4 delivers a deep and brooding listening experience. Decent control counters a strong bass, resulting in a clean sound that offers good detail.
In the midrange, I can almost detect a whisper of distortion, but as soon as I try to pinpoint it, it’s gone. Without any real compression to speak of, though, the mids remain relatively clean. Ample detail results in good instrumentation and vocals.
The high end on the VS4 is strong and bright with plenty of detail. Strings sound AMAZING and vocals land just as good. I wasn’t expecting such an impressive high end from a frequency range that tops off at 16 kHz. So, mad props to the audiomancers at Clear Tune for this next-level high end.
Providing some depth but lacking a true sense of placement, the soundstage on the VS4 leaves me aching for more. The depth is great, but then the instruments and vocals seem to tumble over one another as they crowd my ears. Overall, you’ll still enjoy the music, but you might be missing a truly immersive experience.
The longer I listen, the more these earphones grow on me. Lately I’ve been hunger for more midrange, but the natural, dynamic sound of the VS4 is truly impressive.
Speaking of natural, dynamic sound, these monitors sound perfect with rock and old-school hip hop. Clear Tune should get Wu Tang to endorse these babies, because that match would be made in heaven.
Now back to some bluegrass to hear that high end again. So good. Drooling on keyboard. Like drugs for my ears.
The VS4 excels in delivering a rich, detailed dynamic sound with strong lows and strong highs. While it won’t deliver a ton of detail in the mids, or a truly impressive sense of soundstage, these monitors are still a smart buy for anyone who wants a more emotive listening experience.
For those seeking the opposite of this headphone – more mids and soundstage, I’d recommend the cheaper Final F7200 (retailing at $479).
Anyone less attention in the high end and more emphasis on lows and low mids would do well to consider Sennheiser or Sure, while offerings from Westone might deliver a strong performance in the upper mids.
Generally, though, if you’re a fan of rock or hip hop, or ambient or post rock, it would behoove you to keep the VS4 in mind.
Rocking strong lows and golden highs, the Clear Tune VS4 offers a rich and detailed sound. While the adequate mids and lackluster soundstage might temper this performance somewhat, the naturally dynamic sound of these monitors will surely impress rock and hip hop fans.
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