Today we’re checking out both forms of Astrotec’s newest budget model, the Vesna.
Astrotec is probably best known for their premium earbuds, as they’re one of the few brands still producing products in that niche segment. While they’ve certainly dabbled in more affordable, sub-100 USD products, the Vesna is their most affordable that I’m aware of. At 19.90 USD for the standard Vesna, and 34.90 USD for the EVO, they’re tackling a busy, popular segment that is often full of hype, strong marketing promises, and plenty of solid offerings. The Vesna seeks to bring Harman-style tuning to the masses, affordably. The standard Vesna does this with a fixed cable, and the EVO with a removable cable.
Does it succeed? Let’s find out.
What I Hear
Since the standard Vesna and Vesna EVO are tuned basically the same, minus the EVO coming across nearly imperceptibly louder, the impressions here will apply to both. The stock medium tips were also used since they fit me perfectly, and I liked how they sounded. You can bump bass further with something that has a smaller bore and/or softer silicone, like Sony Hybrids, or increase treble presence with a wide bore, such as with the Spinfit CP145.
Vocals are warm and thick, sounding especially good with heavily textured voices. The Vesna works quite well with commentary, audio books, etc. It is also well-suited to both male and female vocals without necessarily excelling with either. Timbre is rich and full with a realistic representation that should please fairly picky users that typically avoid budget gear for this reason. Detail is presented well but lacks fine nuance. It comes across somewhat smoothed over compared to some other single dynamics, but especially hybrids like the KZ ZST X.
Bass on the Vesna is well rounded overall with good extension and sub-bass rumble. Deep notes satisfy with a visceral rumble that should please most users. This is backed by a welcome warmth and punch provided by a full mid-bass region. It has slightly above average speed and texturing which enables it to handle rapid notes without smearing, unless the rest of the track is providing a lot of competing information. In those instances it loses some of it’s composure, though still well within acceptable standards for such an affordable product.
Heading into the upper ranges we find the Vesna’s focus is on the upper presence/lower brilliance region with just a bit of sparkle added in via a light 10k+ peak. Notes are tight and well-defined with very little splash or slop. Detail and clarity are rock solid, neither lacking nor overblown and veering into a clinical presentation. While lacking character, the Vesna’s treble isn’t offensive or boring. Attack and decay qualities are handled realistically and are neither too harsh or unnaturally quick. Completely satisfying.
The Vesna’s sound stage is quite average with a default vocal position around the edge of the inner ear. From there sounds spread out with a convincing depth, but lack the convincing shoulder width distance achieved by some other products. Given the reasonably meaty note presentation, spacing between notes isn’t vast, though it is enough to prevent congestion on all but the most busy of tracks. Imaging is also fairly average with smooth channel-to-channel transitions that feel reasonably precise, but not enough to use for anything but casual gaming. Instrument separation is also average letting you train your focus on individual instruments, but not with the ease I associate with more precise, analytic products. Layering is handled a mite better with tracks showing decent depth.
Overall a pretty darn solid performer in nearly every metric, backed by a well-rounded tune designed to please the masses. I personally prefer more energy in the treble, more forward vocals, and stronger sub-bass presence, yet despite this I found the Vesna to be a near-perfect every day carry companion.
Compared To A Peer
Moondrop Quarks (12.99 USD): Whereas the Vesna tackles a Harman curve tune, the Quarks qualities are more in line with the diffuse field target, which is more in line with my preferences. That said, both take liberties with their target curves resulting in experiences that sway away from expectations. The Quarks does a better job of hanging onto it’s sub- presence when compared to the Vesna, yet has a similar level of mid-bass emphasis. This keeps them similarly warm and dense with the Quarks providing a bit more visceral feedback on the deepest of notes. The Vesna’s level of punch in the mid-bass is a step up, however. Leading into the mids the Quarks have a more aggressive 3k punch in line with the diffuse field style of tuning that it follows. Some will find this makes them shouty, while I enjoy how it bring vocals further forward when compared to the Vesna. Keep in mind I listen at lower and safer volumes than the average user (typically between 60-70dB) where strong frequency peaks are less problematic. Detail and clarity between the two is quite similar with the Quarks having a minor edge to my ears. The Vesna takes the timbre crown with a warmer, more accurate presentation. Heading into the upper frequencies, both have a pretty mellow presentation. The Vesna produces a bit more energy thanks to more emphasis in the 6 and 10k regions. I really appreciate the additional sparkle and staging space this provides over the Quarks. Speaking of staging, the Vesna provides a mite more width and depth with a default vocal positioning just at the edge of the inner ear. While the Vesna provides a larger stage, the Quarks’ leaner sound enables more space between notes. This helps it have the edge when it comes to imaging and instrument separation, while the Vesna offer improved layering. The differences in all of these areas are not drastic though.
TinHiFi T2+ (49.99 USD): T2+ offers better extension and more sub-bass rumble. T2+ has less mid-bass presence leaving it sounding slightly cooler and leaner. Vesna’s bass in general is smoother and less textured but with more punch. Mids on the T2+ are cooler and leaner with more detail but poorer sibilance mitigation. In general I find the T2+’s midrange to be a step up from the Vesna with vocals sounding cleaner and more articulate. Timbre is more accurate on the Vesna, however, with the T2+ sounding a touch metallic in comparison. Treble is slightly more aggressive on the Vesna thanks to a stronger upper region peak. I personally don’t find either bright or uncomfortable to listen to. Again, the T2+ has the edge in terms of clarity and detail. It’s driver also comes across faster and more articulate with snappier attack and decay qualities. I prefer the presentation of the Vesna though, as notes are better defined, lacking any form of splash as heard on the T2+. When it comes to sound stage I find the T2+ to come across wider and deeper, more easily tossing sounds off into the distance. This almost feels exaggerated when listening to the two back-to-back as the T2+s default vocal positioning is closer to the head. Sounds are clearly given more room to move about.
In The Ear The Vesna takes on a standard bullet shape that has been used with earphones at all price ranges, for nearly as long as earphones have existed. Amusingly, when it was initially announced the community called out Astrotec for ripping off the design of the Venture Electronics BIE. Sorry to burst your bubble of toxicity ladies and lads, but the Vesna is much smaller, more attractive, and better built to boot. The only similarities between them are the fact that they’re both bullet-shaped, albeit one considerably sleeker than the other.
Common to both Vesna models is the aluminum shell and rear face plate decorated with a plus sign. On the standard Vesna the rear plate is a subtle metallic blue, while the EVO goes for a more eye-catching gold. Stainless steel mesh neatly inserted at the end of each nozzle protects the drivers from dirt and debris, while a prominent lip holds tips tightly in place. Where the two part ways is in the cable.
Fixed on the standard Vesna, the mono-strand cable is well-relieved leading into the earpiece and at the compact straight jack. The minute y-split sees a fairly substandard relief entering the bottom, and nothing up top. Not unsurprising given the inclusion of a chin cinch. The sheath used provides a mostly positive experience given it is flexible and both memory and tangle resistant, but it does transmit more noise from bumping and rubbing than I’d like. I find this a common problem with bullet-shaped earphones. You can mitigate noise by either wrapping the cable up and around the back of your ear, by tightening up the chin cinch, or by using both techniques at the same time for the greatest effectiveness.
The Vesna EVO has a removable cable, and boy is it a good one. A twisted bi-strand design is present, dividing at the y-split as the cable leads up to each 2-pin plug. The jack used it still straight and decently relieved, but is a touch beefier with a light coke-bottle curve to it that makes gripping it easier. The y-split is shorter but thicker with a matte finish and drops all relief. Luckily, a chin cinch remains. I was surprised to see the 2-pin plugs equipped with small strain reliefs. They are also colour coded to denote channel with addition coloured dots in place to ensure you don’t plug them in out of phase. A thoughtful and important touch that most brands fair to address. As on the standard Vesna, the sheath is flexible and both tangle and memory resistant, just a hint less in each aspect. On the plus side, noise transmitted from bumps and rubbing is slightly less intrusive, and just as effectively mitigated by wearing the cable up, using the chin cinch, or using both methods at the same time. Personally, I think this cable is worth the price of admission by itself, and certainly of high quality than anything included with flavour of the month brands like KZ, CCA, Blon, NiceHCK, etc. Getting a good sounding earphone along with it is a bonus.
Comfort on both Vesna models is outstanding. They are small, light, and with just the right length of nozzle to ensure a secure fit without it being too deep, or too shallow (for me at least). This is one of those earphones I can wear literally all day since they cause no discomfort or hot spots given their weight distribution is near perfect, and they lack any form of sharp edges. Of course it’s always best to take breaks every hour or so to protect and preserve your hearing.
In The Box The Vesna and EVO share mostly identical, compact packaging. On the front of the exterior sheath, each provides a wire-frame style image of the earpieces profile, as well as the rear plate. It is also noted they’re using an LCP diaphragm, similar to the S70 true wireless model released late 2021. On the rear of each sheath you find identical product specifications, save for the 2-pin cable on the EVO, as well as frequency response measurements. Removing the sheath reveals the ear pieces tucked into foam inserts with the cables wrapped underneath, and a smaller cardboard insert in which the accessories lay. In all you get:
- fabric carrying pouch
- ear tips (s/m/l)
- USB-c to 3.5mm adapter
- 0.78mm 2-pin cable
- ear tips (s/m/l)
A fairly sparse unboxing experience for each model, but given the price that’s to be expected. On the plus side, the tips are of excellent quality and I’ve felt no need to move away from the stock mediums. The included carrying bag is durable and spacious too. Other brands that dabble in this price range should take note. Lastly, the omission of the type-C adapter with the EVO is a bummer, but only a small one given the quality of the included 2-pin cable. I suspect this will be an issue mostly for North American customers, but just as I experienced with the adapter that came with the Kinera Freya, and the Hifiman RE400C itself, they only work with limited devices. In my case, the Huawei P40 is the only device I have access to that the adapter is compatible with. Your mileage may vary.
Final Thoughts The under 50 USD earphone market has exploded in recent years and is over-saturated with products, most of which are at the very least perfectly acceptable, if not quite good. The Vesna stands out thanks to fair pricing, some amazing build quality, and a well-rounded tune that successfully targets pleasing the greatest number of people possible. Unlike other products that aim for this, the Vesna doesn’t sound boring, nor do you have to replace the cable and tips out of the box while being expected to put up with mediocre ergonomics or other compromises. It is a well-thought out, well-engineered product that is more deserving of your money than nearly anything else at this price point I can think of, unless you’re looking for a more niche tune of course. Very well done Astrotec!
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer Thank you to Astrotec for reaching out to see if I would be interested in reviewing the Vesna duo, and for arranging samples for the purposes of review. The thoughts withih this review are my personal, subjective opinions and do not represent Astrotec or any other entity. At the time of writing the Vesna was retailing for 19.90 USD, and the Vesna EVO for 34.90 USD. You can check it out here; https://astrotecglobal.com/products/vesna
Driver: 6mm Dynamic Driver, LCP diaphragm
Input: 1 mW
Impedance: 30 OHM
Cable: High Purity OFC Cable 1.2±0.3m (Vesna) / 2-pin High Purity OFC Cable 1.2±0.3m (Vesna EVO)
Max Input: 3mW
Sensitivity: 102dB/1mw (S.P.L at 1KHz)
Connector: 3.5mm stereo plug
Frequency Response: 5Hz – 22KHz
Some Test Tunes
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)