Today we shall be looking at the Don Scorpio Bass Colour, which looks to be a re-branded Velodyne vPulse. I have never tried the vPulse and am unsure if these are a true re-brand or just a new driver in a similar housing.
I must note that I am in no way in cahoots with Don Scorpio (although it would be nice so I could give the Dolphin a whirl). These were purchased with real Canadian dollars from Penon Audio and shipped round the world to my very doorstep. Since the opinions posted here are my own, I do not expect everyone to share the same experience. I do hope this gives you a decent impression of what to expect if you opt to purchase a pair of Bass Colour.
First off, they come with a nice batch of accessories; an attractive but basic hard case, 5 sets of black tips (ex, 2xs,m, l), 4 sets of off-white tips (xs, s, m, l), rounding out the package with a shirt clip; always nice to have with a flat cable. The tips all felt like they were made of the same material, just coloured differently.
While the plethora of accessories are nice to have, they are all fundamentally flawed. One of the pre-installed pair of small black small tips were torn, and all the tips were subject to molding artifacts around the edges. While they were fine for a short while, they did eventually cause pain after about 30 or so minutes which is pretty disappointing. In addition to comfort issues, getting a good seal was difficult. I ended up swapping to stock JVC tips from my HA-FXT90, medium sized. Small bore tips do not do the Bass Colour any favours.
*After owning these for a significant amount of time since this review was first posted on Head-fi.org, the tips have softened up nicely. I no longer use them on the Bass Colour, but they do a great job of providing a sure seal on other earphones.*
The shirt clip was a nice addition, but did not feature any serration for grip. Therefore, it would slip off nigh immediately the moment you moved. Not very handy. I ended up using the shirt clip that came with the NarMoo R1M.
Since I usually swap out the included tips right away, their flaws were not much of a bother, just a minor inconvenience. The carrying case is another story. As you may have noticed the case features some blemishes. Upon delivery, I hastily opened the package, scooped out the headphones and sped off to work so as not to be late. The Bass Colours were safely stored in their case, which was placed in an empty pocket. Upon arriving at work minutes later and settling down at my workstation, I pulled the case from my pocket to an unsightly image. Within a mere 10-15 minutes, a large amount of the felt-like coating had worn off. While the damage is just cosmetic and the case still works fine, it looks terrible.
*The case has only gotten worse over time, with nearly all the coating rubbing off the front. Oddly enough, the back of the case doesn’t suffer from this issue. I chalk this up to poor quality control and probably not something everyone is going to run into.*
The Bass Color are well constructed. They claim to have an aluminium housing, but I think that only applies to a section of the housing as the chrome nozzle feels and looks like plastic. Regardless, they are very solid and everything fits together without any gaps or sloppy construction; surprising given they look to be composed of four individual pieces (five if you include the aluminium logo plate). So far they have held up well without any signs of wear.
The cable, while plasticky, feels durable enough and doesn’t tangle easily. Given I am in Canada and it gets a wee bit cold at certain times of the year, though not to much lately, the cable does get exceptionally stiff. So far it hasn’t cracked and there is no damage. Not a good cable for cold weather though.
The lack of strain reliefs is not of major concern given how stiff the cable is; it almost acts like a built in relief. The y-split is extremely solid despite being pure plastic, and the chin slider is a nice oval of aluminum. The phone control module feels less impressive, but still more than acceptable. Overall they feel like a well-built and solidly designed IEM that will probably stand up fine to some long-term abuse.
Comfort and Usability:
I do not find these to be overly comfortable despite having a fairly generic shape. Maybe it’s the shallow fit, but I find that due to the cable they tug at my ears at all times despite being quite light. The stiff cable makes wearing them around ear annoying, but it is possible; just keep in mind that the in-line mic will be up by your ear. Luckily, this does not seem to negatively effect anything when using them for phone calls (which works as well as expected). Overall comfort is just average. They never disappear, so you know when you are wearing them. For comparison, the VSD3 is completely unintrusive and I can wear them for hours and hours without any discomfort at all whatsoever. Cable noise is present on the Bass Colour but the chin slider and cable clip help (when it stays clipped). Over-ear wear negates the microphonics almost entirely.
So far there has been a mix of positives and negatives, but don’t worry, they sound pretty good. The vPulse are known as a bass head IEM; Velodyne’s specialization in subwoofers probably had a hand in this. I read every impression I could of the vPulse while waiting for the Bass Colour to be delivered as I was expecting the same basic product with some minor cosmetic tweaks.
Now that I’ve had the chance to spend some time with the Bass Colour, I suspect that Don Scorpio has either used their own drivers, or are using a retuned version of the vPulse driver. Again, I don’t know for sure as I have never used the vPulse, but my impressions of the Bass Colour in no way match what I was expecting when I popped them in for the first time.
Since this review is covering their use on a more-or-less daily basis, I haven’t been testing them with any specific songs/albums for uber critical listening. To give you an idea of what I listen to; The Crystal Method, King Crimson, lots of random EDM (DnB primarly, and multi-genre mixes from the SubSIL3NT Podcast and Going Quantum Podcast, Aesop Rock, El-P, Infected Mushroom, Gorillaz, Muse, Pink Floyd, Skindred, and much more. I also use them for low quality internet radio stations (Jazz and DnB mostly) found through Windows Media Player and have to say that the Bass Colour do not play nicely with low quality recordings; not recommended.
Treble is fairly crisp and detailed with a bit of sparkle, although it does not sound natural and feels a little unrefined. Cymbals and other sounds in the upper registers can get a bit splashy, especially at higher volumes, but in general they are acceptable and fall within what I was expecting for the price point they play in. There is certainly more of a treble emphasis than I was expecting.
These are mildly v-shaped phones to my ears, but the mids do not take a back seat to anything. Both male and female vocals sound great, however, I will give the edge to male vocals due to the additional presence and aggressiveness they display in certain genres like hip hop and rap. While I feel these have a very JVC-like signature, they do not share the harshness or ‘tssst’ sound experienced on words starting with t’s and s’s that I get with the FX1X and FXT90.
This is where I was first taken aback on open-box listening; where is the bass? Well, now that I’ve had more time with them and swapped to some better tips, I am happy to report that it’s there, but only when called upon. The bass extends deep, yet is still speedy and punchy. See “Skrillex & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – Make It Bun Dem (Laudz Trap Remix)” for an example of what these puppies can do when pushed. Despite good bass presentation, I certainly wouldn’t call these bass-head IEMs. The Sony XB50 does a better job at that for the same price, but sacrifices treble extension and suffers from recessed mids in order to achieve some ridiculous levels of bass.
The Bass Colour are are not a warm sounding iem (as I feel the VSD3 is), nor are they cold and clinical (like the Sony XBA-2). They sit nicely in-between, leaning slightly towards the warm side of things. They are not super smooth, but have a fairly aggressive and exciting signature that makes listening to energetic music fun. They have a slightly above average soundstage and as a result do not sound congested. Every instrument has it’s place, and stereo effects are well defined within the sound space.
With the Bass Colour you get a plethora of accessories, a decent looking and well built product, with strong mids and quality bass. They are a solid pick in the crowded under $50 market, and while you could certainly do better, such as spending $10 more for the outstanding VSD3, you can definitely buy into something much worse. These won’t be my go-to iem, but they will be a part of my regular rotation.
Thanks for reading!