Today we’re taking a quick look at the Odyssey HD from Venture Electronics.
Like much of VE’s gear, the Odyssey HD arrived in a simple branded plastic resealable bag. Inside is of course the dongle itself, but also a Type-C to Type-A USB adapter. And that’s it. Given the mere 10 USD price tag, this is perfectly fine. Honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed VE for dropping the adapter. That’s a very useful extra that they didn’t need to add, and 99% of brands wouldn’t. They’d have you buy it separate. Props to VE for continuing to feed into the high bang-for-your-buck value proposition they’re known for.
Once you’ve got the Odyssey HD out of the bag and into your hands, you’ll realize it’s a surprisingly well-built piece of tech. You get metal hardware at both ends with laser-etched logos and writing, meaning it’s not going to be rubbing off. The ports are surrounded by plastic to help with shock from being dropped or tugged. Also helping with durability is proper strain relief leading into each end, something I rarely see with this type of device. Again, just another oft overlooked detail that VE doesn’t skimp on, all the more impressive still given the meagre price tag. The cable itself I love. It follows the old school bi-strand design of VE’s earbud cables but replaces the standard black sheath with a semi-stiff clear one. While some will balk at the use of a semi-stiff cable, I think it’s perfect. On other dongles the cable is too floppy. It kinks, it bends sharply, and it just feels cheap and dainty. Cozoy Takt C, I’m looking at you. Others are too stiff and when they bend, put more pressure than I’m comfortable with on the Type-C port. That’s you XDuoo Link. The cable used here finds the perfect middle ground. Flexible enough to not put pressure failure points, but stiff enough to avoid feeling delicate. It’s perfect for me and my use case where I can have it arcing up and out of my pocket, letting the plug dangle comfortably in a place where I don’t have to worry about anything being damaged.
While the Odyssey itself it lacks media controls, it works with them which was a pleasant surprise. An old Bose SoundTrue On-Ear found at a thrift shop has been my go-to headphone lately (I know, I know…) because it’s just so damn comfortable and sounds perfectly fine. With the Odyssey plugged into my Huawei P40 or Asus laptop, the in-line controls still work perfectly. This isn’t a dongle rarity or anything, but it’s nice to have, again, because this thing only costs 10 bucks. It would have been easy to skimp on such support without anyone batting an eye.
When it comes to sound the Odyssey HD has a clean, uncoloured presentation with nice dynamics. This isn’t a cold and clinical dongle best suited to more critical listening, a role the Cozoy Takt C fills out pretty well. Nor does it have a warm and thick presentation that brings to mind the XDuoo Link. It’s basically a much more affordable DDHiFi TC35, but considerably larger and with a cleaner sound. It has pretty decent power output too, a result of being intended to drive VE’s earbuds which are less efficient than your average earphone. As noted on the product page, the Odyssey HD is not intended for high sensitivity headphones and earphones. From popular single dynamics like the Moondrop Aria, to more demanding products like the planar-equipped Tinhifi P1, the experience is wonderful. It provides a clean, black background. Head to the extremes though and things are less pleasant. The hybrid Campfire Audio Polaris II pulls out enough hiss to intrude on the listening experience, especially during quieter moments in a track. Toss on something extremely demanding like the Astrotec Phoenix and the Odyssey struggles. The sound is flat and achieving even moderate volume levels maxes out what the Odyssey is capable of.
Overall I couldn’t be much happier with the Odyssey HD. It sounds great and the build quality is outstanding. Outside of products that are either extremely sensitive or unreasonably demanding, it has an output that is versatile enough to pair with most common earphones and headphones. Best of all, affordability is off the charts. Unless you just don’t want or need a dongle DAC, I don’t really see much reason to avoid it.
Thanks for reading.
Disclaimer The Odyssey HD was sent to me free of charge by Lee from VE free of charge for the purposes of review. The thoughts within this writeup are my own and do not represent VE or any other entity. Until it is discontinued and available only on the used market, you can scoop up yours here: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32913164008.html / https://www.veclan.com/engappliance_sel_one?eng_ApplianceVo.eac_id=32
Connectors：1×Type-C male jack for Digital Input / 1×3.5mm female jack for Single-end Headphone Output & Mic Input
Sample Rate: 24Bit/96kHz, 32bit/384khz
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz (±0.1dB)
Headphone Output THD: 32ohm Load：0.01%
Crosstalk: -78dB, 20Hz-20KHz
D/A SNR: 98dB A-weighted
A/D SNR: 92dB A-weighted
Maximum Voltage Output: 1V RMS
Maximum Current Output: 45mA