Astrotec Vesna: not for bassheads...
Hi all, and welcome back to The Neighborhood. Today we’re taking a look at an attached cable IEM with an LCP (Liquid Crystal Diaphragm). Even since the release of the original Tanchjim Hana, this driver technology has been somewhat of the rage; with every company trying to put their own stamp on it. Astrotec has released the Vesna here- both in a detachable and non-detachable cable variant. The latter of which comes in at only $20 dollars, is surprisingly well constructed, and was provided to the channel by KeepHiFi. Let’s… get InToit!
So unlike offerings like the Quarks and Chu, this is an attached cable IEM with a nice wire that remains free of kinks and memory. I’ve carried these around with me “off and on” again for a couple of weeks now, and the wire still ravels and unravels easily and remains straight when in use. In terms of its cable more specifically, the only complaint that I have here is that the microphone gets in the way of the slider and the slider itself is constructed out of plastic. But, for $20 dollars this IEM costs, this plastic slider is better than most. I mean I’ve seen worse plastic sliders on sets that cost hundreds of dollars. I received no complaints of the microphone on voice-calls, and the single button that is responsible for playback, stop, and skip forward functionality was easy to use on the daily. I just wish there was potentially a triple tap or additional button for skip back functionality, as you can’t just start the song over if you stop or pause it playback. Nevertheless, the general hardware here (including the 3.5mm termination) is of a good size, as its not too small nor too large, and I think these will live up to the test of time for many.
The bullet-style shell attached to the cable can be worn down-ear or wrapped around the ear, and I preferred the later for stability; however, the microphone does rise up to my jaw-line when the IEM is worn in this fashion. The construction of the shell appears to be a lightweight, metal one, as it can become cool to the touch, and it is finished off with a nice iridescent blue cap on its end to add both visual contrast and a stylish flare. There’s nice rubberized strain relief at the bass of the IEM where the wire attaches, and it appears that Astrotec has really put a lot of effort into designing an IEM well, on the cheap. This attention to detail carried over into the package of the Vesna, which was a nice unboxing experience, and came with its own USB-C dongle, and a nicely designed carry pouch, which flexes open and closed to secure the IEM when in transport. The dongle itself didn’t work with any of my devices, but its still a nice inclusion for the money for those that can make use of it.
Just about the only real gripe that I have with the package here are the silicone ear tips. Visually; they look fine, and, fit-wise; they are comfortable to wear, but from a sound-design perspective; they just don’t sound any good. With the stock tips, the Vesna emphasizes too much of the midbass, causes sibilance in voice reproduction, and its LCP driver is really held back with regard to its capability. I preferred Ludos Memory Foam Eartips, as these produced the most even sound and virtually eliminated all sibilance. With that said, the Vesna is both rather tip dependent and amplifier reliant, so it is kind of hard to tell you what you’ll get from the Vesna in terms of its auditory performance- as it will sound notably different based on such factors.
For example, it pretty much only produces mids and treble when driven off of the audio jack of my cell phone, which was a disappointment, as from a portable carry perspective, this appears to be the functional use case scenario that this IEM was designed for. And while it sounded “O.K.” when driven via the FiiO BTR 3K, it really did not come alive until I powered it off either the Centrance DACport HD or desktop amplification.
Off the right source, the LCP driver in this thing is surprisingly capable. Astrotec claims this is because it is a Japanese LCP and different from other drivers in that it uses a cast solution rather than a melt extrusion method in its construction. It is never a bass-centric set, but it is capable of some rumble, and can dig deep at times depending on the track to producing “just enough low-end” to be satisfying to its listener. With that said, bassheads and rap enthusiasts should still clear of this one, as this is more of a mid-driven set with flashes of treble brilliance. Still, while the Vesna does have somewhat of a dry, airy timbre, it does not have much representation from the later, air regions of the treble, as sonics begin to falloff at 9K, and falloff the mid-line around 10K. So, expect flashes of brilliance here rather than a robust brilliance extension.
Nevertheless, the mid-range shines on the Vesna, and this will be an excellent IEM for those that are after a somewhat lean-sounding, mid-forward, neutral timbred set, whose bass reproduction never gets in the way of the track. For $20 dollars, the soundstage of these is well-done, and larger in its scope and width than many other sets. It certainly has, at least double, if not triple the stage of its most likely competitor, the Moondrop Chu, and, furthermore, sounds more natural within it. Check out my YouTube video on the Chu for additional comparisons with that IEM. I’ll also place a link to the website review of the Moondrop Chu here on www.intoitreviews.com.
So, the Astrotec Vesna won’t be for everybody, nor will it be easy to know exactly what kind of sound you will be getting. Even so, I do like the Vesna, and hope that the community can use my sound descriptions here to determine if the Vesna will be worth the risk for them, as off the right source, and with the right tips, I truly do enjoy it’s presentation. Oh, and with regard to the detachable cable variant. I have not heard that particular set yet myself, but my understanding is that the wired variant is really the one to get. It measures slightly better, and most people who have heard both appear to prefer the wired one as well. With that said, this information is hearsay, so take it with a grain of salt, as like I’ve said already, I can’t attest to it with my own ears.
*Thanks to KeepHiFi for sending the Astrotec Vesna in for Review!
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