Abhimanyu GhoshalManaging Editor
Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].
Even though we’ve had Bluetooth wireless technology for years now, I’m still a sucker for wired earphones simply because there’s no battery to worry about charging up. What’s more, most of my wired sets sound far and away better than my wireless earphones.
That’s why I was happy to try out VAVA’s new ‘gaming’ earphones. The Fremont-based company, which also makes speakers and other products, is targeting gamers who want surround sound but without the trouble of carrying around a large set of over-the-ear headphones that need charging.
Let’s be honest: that’s not easy, if at all possible, to achieve with $25 unpowered in-earphones. In order to recreate a surround sound effect that you get from placing multiple speakers in a room and using a spatial audio source signal, you need more sophisticated equipment than this – heck, at least something that’s powered and uses dedicated digital signal processing technology.
Instead, VAVA’s drivers present a unique sound profile that feels remarkably full and loud. It’s fine for gaming, but I’d hardly call it ‘surround sound’. What I will call it, though, is a bass lover’s delight.
Vava’s gaming buds don’t look particularly distinctive. However, the chunky earphones are finished in a lovely matte black with red piping that makes them feel premium to the touch and are easy to spot in a jumble of cables.
They come with a garden-variety cable and a single-button mic-remote combo. The entire package may not look like much, but it’s surprsingly durable – I’ve been roughhousing with these for the past three weeks and haven’t managed to get a scratch on them, even after repeatedly jamming them in my pockets along with a bunch of keys and coins.
As far as in-ear sets go, it seems like even cheap buds can reliably deliver clean, crisp audio – case in point, my $14 Panasonic RP-TCM125 ErgoFit. While I like those well enough, I enjoy the Vava set a fair bit more.
These dish out plenty more bass, without sacrificing too much detail at the high end of the spectrum. The result is a powerful, punchy sound that you can really get lost in.
Fire up Knower’s high-energy dance pop hit ‘Overtime’ or Vola’s melodic djent stylings on ‘Stray the Skies’, and you’ll be treated to sinewy synth lines and deep bass grooves that you can bounce to.
You do lose out a bit of detail, and the sound stage isn’t terribly wide – but that’s mostly par for the course with in-ears at this price point. It’s worth appreciating, however, that the Vava’s sound profile isn’t overwhelmed by heavy choruses filled with multiple instruments at once, so it manages to avoid distortion and instead delivers a nicely rounded sound that’s great for rock, metal, hip-hop and electronic genres.
Should you buy VAVA’s ‘gaming’ earphones?
If you’re looking to listen to acoustic and folk artists, or don’t particularly enjoy heavy bass, the VAVAs aren’t for you. That’s okay, though, because there are plenty of other options to choose from under $50.
If you do like your low frequencies prominently represented, you’ve come to the right place. VAVA’s buds offer an instantly recognizable sound that I thoroughly enjoyed over similar models from other brands. When I’m commuting or working, and want my music to kick my teeth in, these are the earphones I reach for.
At $26, VAVA’s durable buds offer good value for money, and are certainly worth considering if you enjoy a little more bass than the next guy. Find them on Amazon.
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