Velodyne is more known for its subwoofers than it is for making headphones, but the Velodyne vTrue takes the company's expertise in deep bass in a new direction. Velodyne refers to the $399.00 (direct) vTrue as a pair of "studio headphones," although we found them to be far too leaky to be considered for serious recording applications. In every other regard, they are solid, though, so we'll review them here as simply high-end, powerful headphones. In that regard, they perform quite well?if you love gobs and gobs of boosted bass and crisp, sculpted highs. Audio purists can probably stop reading now, but if you're looking for a powerful, bass-heavy headphone pair, the vTrue is a strong option.
The vTrue headphones are strikingly designed, with an aluminum contour on the earcups and a brown padded leather headband and earpads. Everything from the precision-friendly headband slide adjuster to the deep blue padding over the 50mm drivers inside the earcups feels thoughtfully designed. The vTrue strikes out only on a comfort level?these headphones are bulky, and after a while, you're likely to feel some pressure on your scalp.
The audio cables are detachable, and split to connect to each earcup. One included cable has an inline remote and microphone designed for use with Apple iOS devices and all iPods 3rd-generation and up. Both cables are clothbound in deep blue and measure four feet in length.
Call clarity through the inline mic is strong enough that your call partner will understand you, and you'll understand them just fine, but it's not excellent?the mic sounds a bit muffled at times, and we're also dealing with cellular fidelity.
Also included with the vTrue: a ?-inch adapter for larger headphone jacks and a black drawstring carrying pouch.
On tracks with deep, sub-bass content, like the Knife's "Silent Shout," the vTrue is able to show off a bit. Audiophiles seeking flat, accurate response should look elsewhere, as the vTrue is a bass-boosted powerhouse. At maximum volume, the vTrue sounds as if it is just about to distort, but never really reaches the breaking point?and these headphones get quite loud. At safer, more reasonable listening levels, the bass response is intense and clean.
Luckily, Velodyne has the good sense to add some serious mid-high and high frequency tweaking so the sound signature isn't a muddy, undefined mess. On Bill Callahan's "Drover," the vTrue graces his vocals with a nice treble edge which helps it stand front and center in the mix. This is important, because the boosted bass response arms the constant drumbeat with some serious low-end thunder, making it also stand out quite a bit. Without the sculpted treble, his vocals would get lost and the mix would be too focused on the low-mids and lows.
Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild" benefits from the high frequency sculpting, as well?the kick drum loop has a nice punchy attack, while the sub-bass synth hits that sit beneath the loop in the mix are delivered with some serious throttle. The vocals in this dense mix stand out in the same way Callahan's do on his track?the crisp edge they get from the vTrue helps separate them from the powerful lows and mids.
Classical tracks, like John Adams' "The Chairman Dances," can sound a tad too tweaked and sculpted. The highs are boosted, which occasionally makes the higher register strings and brass sound a bit too bright, but the lower register strings absorb the added bass response nicely. The large drum hits at the end of track sound a bit too bass-boosted, however?almost as if they are amplified instead occurring naturally in a concert hall.
In other words, these headphones don't offer a flat response in any sense?there's tons of bass, and lots of liberties are taken with the high-mids and highs, as well. The result is something bass lovers will enjoy and purists will probably want to avoid. If you're looking for headphones in the price range with a bit less boosting in the lows, the?Sennheiser Momentum?is a solid option and less bulky, while the TDK ST750 is a powerful pair that focuses more on the high-mids and highs.?If you like big bass, but the vTrue's price tag is too high, the?Denon Urban Raver AH-D320?offers a similar sound signature for a significantly lower price. And if it's a true studio headphone pair you seek, you can spend quite a bit less and still have top quality?Sennheiser's HD 280 Pro?is an excellent flat response option. The Velodyne True offers clean, bold performance with booming low-end, and it comes with two top-notch, detachable cables?if it were less expensive, it would get a higher rating.