VSonic VSD3P: Irrelevant, Yet I Love It
Today we’re checking out the VSonic VSD 3P.
VSonic used to be a household name in the forums thanks to legendary models like the GR07. They were one of the earliest major players in the Chinese earphone industry offering killer sound at an affordable price. Along with Fidue, Astrotec, Dunu, Havi and a small handful of other “giant slayers” that have languished over the years, VSonic made a name for the Chinese brands we know and love today. Well, I’m doing a disservice to Dunu and Astrotec. They’ve made great strides to stay relevant and are still regularly releasing quality products.
The VSD 3P came at a time while VSonic’s popularity was waning. Attention for the VSD3, VSD5, and S versions came and went, with the P feeling like a last ditch effort to raise brand awareness. A quick search around the web for the VSD 3P will show that it failed spectacularly because there is next to no coverage or feedback, at least from a primarily English-speaking demographic. And that’s really too bad, because while it is far from perfect, the VSD 3P is brimming with style and it still sounds pretty good. I’m glad I found mine and had the chance to revisit this forgotten release, and to share my thoughts on it with you.
So, let’s take a look at the VSD 3P and find out why it’s worth picking up today, if not only as a collectors piece for die hard VSonic fans, because I highly doubt they’ll be around much longer (this model, not the brand itself).
What I Hear VSonic did a solid job with the VSD 3P. Part of that is down to how easy it is to tune with nothing but foams. Full foams make it warm, thick, and reasonably bassy. Donuts balance things out a bit. It still sounds thicker than when running it naked, but not as dense as with full foams. Treble is still energetic and mids remain forward. With no foams at all, it has a very typical earbud sound with a mid and treble focused tune. Bass quantity is mild with early roll off. Since I enjoyed the VSD 3P most with the included donuts installed, the following sound impressions were taken with it in that configuration.
Starting with treble, the VSD 3P has decent extension. It feels like there are small peaks in both presence and brilliance regions giving it some sparkle and good detail, though lower treble feels like it gets more focus. Notes are well controlled and free of splash, though not quite as airy and spacious as I’ve heard from the competition. Attack and decay are pretty much in line with other ear buds, meaning it’s neither super quick or overly slow. It sounds fairly accurate and in line with reality.
The meaty midrange is a standout on this earbud. Vocals have a nice weighty presence to them. Female vocalists are especially nice given they have an intimate presence, warmth, and general sweetness about them. Male vocals are also quite satisfying with a coolness to them that I find most natural. While the midrange is generally fantastic, it can sound a bit too thick at times. Clarity and raw detail are on the weaker side as a result. Timbre is quite good though with instruments sounding as they should for the most part.
The low end is another standout with the VSD 3P providing some of the most visceral bass I’ve heard from an earbud. It is deep and impactful and does a great job of moving air. You really feel each thud reverberating, especially on sustained notes. It feels even better when a long note switches from channel to channel as you feel it whip across your head. Texture is good but not class leading. Really grungy notes feel a bit smoother than they should, but it’s still plenty good enough. I will warn that without foams, notes at a certain frequency (can’t measure so I don’t know where) can sound hollow.
Sound stage is where the VSSD3P isn’t quite as impressive. It is fairly average for an earbud, if not slightly below. Vocals start from a very intimate position with effects and instruments blossoming out behind them. Imaging is quite good though, with channel-to-channel transitions handled accurately. Laying and separation are acceptable, but the VSD 3P’s general note density and somewhat confined staging limit what can be done.
Overall I find the VSD 3P to be a good sounding earbud. It’s not the best I’ve heard and far from the worst. It’s treble isn’t anything memorable, but the lush, meaty mids satisfy. The bass is also quite thumpy and punchy with a quantity you don’t often get in headphones of this form factor. The overall fullness of the presentation hurts detail, clarity, and low end texture somewhat, but it’s still well within acceptable tolerances. Sound stage is better than you’ll get in 95% of iems, but behind your average earbud. Still works though thanks to excellent imaging qualities. It all comes together to provide a very satisfying listen.
Compared To A Peer (volumes matched as best as possible using a Dayton iMM-6 / donut foams on all)
HE 150Pro (29.90 USD): The 150Pro is my favorite earbud for bass. The VSD 3P puts up a good fight but just can’t quite match it’s impressive competitor. I found the 150Pro to have a better mid/subbass balance putting more emphasis on the lower regions. Extension feels about the same with both buds able to provide a visceral rumble you feel more than hear, just the HE 150Pro just it a hint better. It also does it with more texture, slightly better control, and more kick. I put that down to the use of metal vs. plastic on the VSonic. Mids are where the VSD 3P punches back. Vocals are thicker and more dense with a more intimate, forward presentation. Female vocals in particular sound sweeter and more natural, though I prefer male vocals out of the 150Pro. The 150Pro provides more information regardless of who is singing thanks to the extra detail it puts forward. Timbre out of each is good with the VSonic sounding a hint plasticy and the 150Pro a bit dry. Treble is an interesting one. The VSonic has more prominent peaks in both presence and brilliance regions so it provides a bit more sparkle and brings certain instruments more forward in the mix, but the thickness of the presentation hurts clarity and detail compared to the HE 150Pro. It’s upper ranges don’t sound as clear and open and a/bing the two make it sound a little stuffy versus the bud from HE. That carries over into the sound stage which is wider and deeper on the 150Pro. Instrument separation and layering is a step back on the VSD 3P too, though I find it imaging is a bit more nuanced. While I really enjoy both, I can’t help but like the HE 150Pro more. It really does sound like a headphone crammed into two tiny shells with it’s super impressive dynamics and thoughtful tuning balance. The VSonic sounds like a good earbud, just one that’s priced a little high for the performance. It also doesn’t help that the build quality is a step behind more products at this price point, including the cheaper HE 150Pro.
OURART Ti7 (59.00 USD): I was quite surprised at how similar these two sounded in general tonality, with each excelling in a couple areas over the other. Bass out of the VSonic is deeper and more visceral. The additional texture and punch it provides really makes the Ti7’s low end somewhat forgettable, and it’s not something you can force into the Ti7 with more dense foam. Mids on the Ti7 on the other hand are nearly as dense and meaty, but with a boost in clarity and detail the VSonic can’t match. The same can be said for treble which is similarly balanced with a bit more life in the upper treble. It has additional detail and clarity over the VSonic coming at the expense of note weight, something I will gladly trade. Sound stage is another area the Ti7 excels in. While the default listening position is similarly intimate, effects have more room to play around in with sounds cascading off into the distance. Dense instrumentals sound more layered and better separated out of the Ti7, and imaging is slightly more accurate and nuanced. Overall I think these two perform at a similar level with the Ti7 getting the nod due to the extra technical competence. However, if you want something with a more robust low end it is best to stick with the VSD 3P. Where the Ti7 really earns the extra cost is in it’s build which is miles ahead of the VSD 3P.
In The Ear The VSD 3P is an all-plastic affair with an angular design reminiscent of gemstones. The top face plate is molded from a glossy plastic with VSonic neatly printed in fine cursive writing. The rest of each ear piece is matte plastic with L and R markings printed on the underside. Two large bass vents are present behind each driver, protected from dust and dirt by a fine mesh. The shells are extremely lightweight, yet they still feel quite dense and durable, if not a little cheap.
The cable uses a very standard black rubber sheath. While not a prime example of the breed thanks to some pretty invasive noise that works it way up and into your ears, and a complete lack of strain relief, it’s not all bad. Tangling isn’t really an issue, there’s little stickiness so it slides smoothly over your clothes, and a handy dandy chin cinch is present to quell the aforementioned noise. You also get to style on other earbuds thanks to the y-split and 90 degree jack which mimic the design of the earpieces, right down to the cursive VSonic branding molded into the rubber.
I remember back when I first got the VSD 3P that I found it pretty uncomfortable due to the sharp ridges that lined the inner edge of each earpiece. While I certainly notice those edges, especially if I lie on my side while listening to music, it really hasn’t been that bad. It’s light, sits well in the outer ear, and with foams is very secure. I still think the design of the inner section of the shell should have been rounded off, but at this time it’s nothing terrible and worse fitting buds are definitely out there. That said, the potential for discomfort is there so if you typically find earbuds uncomfortable, the VSD 3P will likely be no different.
Overall a stylish earbud with a decent cable and mixed comfort. It could easily be tweaked and improved upon by rounding off the inner portion of the shell to improve comfort, and adding some strain relief for longevity. Time to break out the sandpaper and twist ties!
In The Box Like other VSonic products of the time, the VSD 3P arrives in a stylish but squat package. The “lid” is a clear piece of acrylic showing off the earbuds inset within protective foam on the right, and a cardboard insert on the left. This insert notes the brand and model info, and features a design that mirrors the gem-like motif of the earphones.
If you’re not familiar with VSonic but the packaging looks familiar, it’s probably because Knowledge Zenith copied it for a few models around the time of the ZS3 and ZST’s release. You can still find remnants of VSonic influence in the plug and y-split designs on a few of their cables (ex. ZSN https://thecontraptionist.blog/2018/10/26/kz-zsn-20-has-never-gone-so-far/).
On the back of the package is an engineer working on a massive mixer along with various scan codes. Lifting off the acrylic lid via a black VSonic branded ribbon takes with it the foam insert revealing a hidden floor under which you will a find a warranty/specs card and the accessories. In all you get:
- VSD 3P earbuds
- Canvas carrying pouch
- 5x full foams
- 2x donut foams
Overall an easy, stylish unboxing experience. It takes little to no time to get to the earphones, and you get a ton of useful foams. The canvas carrying bag has quite a premium look and feel to it too.
Final Thoughts When I originally bought the VSD 3P, it wasn’t because I knew it was an awesome earbud that was going to kick @$$ and chew bubblegum. It was kinda the opposite actually. It was new and there was next to nothing about it to be found anywhere. And that holds true three years later… which probably says a lot unfortunately.
Still, I’m not going to say the VSD 3P is an underrated, overlooked gem of an earbud that everyone needs to run out and buy right now. It absolutely sounds good and the design is pure VSonic, but comfort is hit and miss, the cable lacks relief, and I question long term survival under regular use. However, I will say that if you think it looks cool, the price isn’t a hurdle (or you can find it under 25 USD), you want a bud that can be easily tuned with nothing but foams, or maybe you just want to satisfy a years old curiosity, give it a shot. I’m very glad I picked it up three years ago and gave it another chance in 2020. The last couple weeks of using it on the regular has been a joy and I’m going to be rolling it into my “daily” driver lineup because I’ve been enjoying it that much.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer With the intent to review it, I ordered the VSD 3P from Penon Audio on January 13th, 2017 shortly after it was released for the full retail price of 39.00 USD. I dropped some quick impressions on Head-fi and promptly forgot I owned it. While perusing my collection a couple weeks ago to find something “new” to listen to, I found the VSD 3P tucked away at the bottom of a box. It was still neatly packaged, likely for the photo session that never came.
The thoughts within this review are my own based on time spent listening to these forgotten earbuds. They do not represent VSonic, Penon Audio, or any other entity. At the time of writing the VSD 3P is still retailing for 39.00 USD on Penon Audio where I bought it, but you can find it for a lot less if you snoop around: penonaudio.com/vsonic-vsd3p.html
- Driver: 16mm beryllium-coated diaphragm
- Rated Impedance :32ohm+/-15% (@ 1000Hz)
- Sensitivity: 120dB/mW
- Frequency response: 15Hz-22000Hz
- Distortion: <=2% (@ 500Hz-1000Hz）
- Channel difference: <=2dB（@ 500Hz-1000Hz）
- Rated Power: 10mw
- Max. Power: 30mW
Devices Used For Testing LG Q70, XDuoo Link, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501, Shanling M0, Earmen TR-Amp
Some Test Tunes
Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams