Today we’re checking out a few products from Venture Electronics (VE), the BIE, Monk Go, Monk Lite, and Odyssey HD.
Wild Lee reached out a few weeks ago to see if I’d be interested in checking out some of his recent lineup. After a great chat about a variety of topics, he confirmed a package would be sent over with some goodies. I’ve enjoyed the Monk v2 and Monk + since their respective releases, so I was indeed curious and excited to see how the brand has evolved over the years.
I’ve been using these products on and off the last couple weeks and am finally ready to drop some initial thoughts. Let’s start with the one I admittedly was least interested in because it surprised the heck out of me.
BIE (20 USD): First impressions of the build are quite positive. While they’re not going to win any style awards (imo), they’ve got chunky metal shells with a good weight to them. I like the rear vent and surrounding texture which helps give your finger some grip when inserting them into your ear. Another nice touch is BIE etched into the side in the same retro 8-bit font used for the various Monk models. The cable I really like too. It’s not a flashy braided cable as seems to be the norm nowadays, but instead a reliable, bi-strand, black rubber sheathed unit. I loved it on the Monk v2 and +, and I love it here. It doesn’t transmit a ton of noise, it doesn’t really tangle, and it’s shown itself to be quite durable.
Sound is where I was worried the BIE might fall short because everything I read pointed to it being a bass cannon. While it is indeed apologetically bassy, stupid me forgot that Venture Electronics specializes in affordable, good sounding products. When I tossed in the BIE for the first time, I was immediately won over. The bass for one is monstrous. This thing digs deep and slams hard with plenty of texture and great control. What’s most impressive is that the midrange remains unaffected and surprisingly articulate. With all that low end on tap, it would be reasonable to expect it to muddy things up but that’s not the case. It does just a good of job as a much, much more expensive bass monster I recently reviewed in keeping the mids clear amidst a tidal wave of bass. Speaking of the mids, timbre is pretty good with only a light metallic edge colouring the experience. Treble is crisp and tight with a presence region bias that gives the BIE a nice level of detail. A small 7k peak is present and injects a hint of sparkle into the signature. It’s tastefully done and works well within the overall scheme of things. Sound stage doesn’t seem much larger than average in terms of width, but depth feels good. I’ll need to spend more time picking away at the technical aspects to formulate more of an opinion here.
Overall a really nice earphone. Even though the bass can be a bit much for me after a few tracks, I definitely see why people like the BIE. I imagine that extra low end will be handy to have when out and about in the real world where bass tends to suffer.
Monk Go (Limited Release): I spent most of my time listening to the Go without foams which for me isn’t usually a great experience with earbuds. It typically leads to little to no bass backed by harsh mids and treble. The Go retains a full low end with pretty good extension, nice detailed treble, and crisp mids, though it will occasionally creep into harsh territory depending on the track. The sound stage reflects one of my favourite qualities of earbuds. It’s wide and deep with an rounded evenness to it that reminds me of headphones. Imaging is smooth and nuanced with instruments having plenty of space to play within. I haven’t spent enough time to comment on it with donuts and full foams.
The build and cable are typical Monk which is to say perfectly fine. I like the Sennheiser influenced shell which is comfortable (for a while) and made from nice plastics. The cable is the same as on the Monk +, BIE, and Monk Lite so that’s fine too.
If you can get your hands on a set, do. These are a quality earbud and well worth picking up.
Monk Lite (6 USD): Have to admit that on first listen I was pretty underwhelmed with the Monk Lite. I always initially test earbuds without foams. In that setup, the Monk Lite’s treble was harsh and mids oddly quiet for an earbud. This left vocalists to be masked by the punchy but hollow and shallow sounding bass. After a while I tossed on some donuts. While that improved the bass quality a bit and softened the treble somewhat, I still wasn’t feeling them. Full foams on the other hand did just the trick. While the midrange is still less prominent than I’d prefer, the bass has some body it and the treble is cleaner and better controlled. In this configuration, I think these are the only earbuds I’ve used that are completely listenable with Aesop Rock’s ‘Spirit World Field Guide’ which was mastered with some intensely hot mids. All that said, this is a 6 dollar pair of earbuds. There aren’t many earbuds this cheap that sound as solid as these do, and I can point fingers at a lot of more expensive buds that sound a hell of a lot worse.
Regarding the shell and build, they’re fantastic. You get the same great cable as the other models attached to one of the most comfortable, lightweight shells I’ve worn. The white and gold colour scheme of the set I was sent looks sharp too. Fit and finish is good and the driver grill is metal. Oh yeah, and they come with four sets of VE’s excellent foams which is exceptionally generous given the price.
While I’m not 100% sold on the sound I’m not going to judge them too harshly since I’ve only put a few hours into them. They’re really nice to wear, they sound decent with full foams, and they’re dirt cheap to purchase, though the Monk + which I think sounds better but is less comfortable saves you a whole dollar… choices choices.
Odyssey HD 3.5mm SE (10 USD): This one was a nice surprise to see included and the product I’ve gotten by far the most use out of. The build quality is fantastic with aluminum hardware. I like the knurling on the 3.5mm input and the laser etched writing on the type-C end. The cable is easily my favourite on any dongle I’ve used so far because of the length and stiffness. When plugged into my phone, the cable sticks up and out of my pocket and curves over the side in the perfect position to easily access the jack. The stiffness ensures it doesn’t flop around which drives me nuts. Oh yeah, and cable entry at both ends is properly relieved so long term durability should best most of the competition who commonly skimp out on strain relief.
In terms of sound, it competes well with the DDHiFi TC35B and has a clean, uncoloured presentation with nice dynamics. It doesn’t sound a ton better than my LG G6, but it is a huge improvement over my Asus FX53V laptop which lacks clarity and bass depth compared to the Odyssey HD. It’s decently powerful too. While it isn’t suitable for something over the top like the Astrotec Phoenix, it’ll handle the demanding Havi B3 Pro I and II just fine. For the most part it provides a clean, black background though really sensitive and/or picky gear like the hybrid Campfire Audio Polaris II pulls out enough hiss to intrude on the listening experience. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since on the product page VE notes that it’s not ideal with all-BA or super sensitive dynamic iems. Such transparency is refreshing to see, though it does rely on people taking a moment to actually read the product page…
Since the base 3.5mm single ended version of this thing is only 10 USD, the few negatives I’ve experienced so far are extremely minor. It could easily be sold for four times the amount and remain plenty competitive. Balanced versions are available with 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 4.4mm ports for 30 USD which is still pretty darn affordable, especially as I’d expect them to perform even better.
Outside of the Monk Lite, I’m pretty happy with how Venture Electronics has grown and evolved. Their products are still more than affordable, well built, and sound much better than the price would suggest. If anyone has any suggestions on how they run the Monk Lite to get the most out of it, I’m all ears.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer Everything here was provided by Venture Electronics free of charge for the purposes of review. The thoughts within are my own subjective opinions and do not represent VE or any other entity.
Main Store: https://www.veclan.com
AliExpress Store: veclan.aliexpress.com/store/1924356