Review: Hippo VB

Hippo VB Review

Firstly I would like to kindly thank Hippo Audio for supplying me with this sample to review, I will try and write as honest a review as possible.

This is a subjective review, all opinions are my own, and others may not agree.

Gear used:
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) – Hippo VB

Driver: 10mm Mylar Speaker
Sensitivity: 105 +/- 4dB/mW
Impedance: 32Ω
Frequency response: 18Hz – 22KHz
Rated power : 2mW
Max input power: 10mW
Plug: 3.5mm

Packaging, Build quality and Accessories:
Packaging is a simple black box, with a picture of the VB and Hippo VB written in orange. On the side it tells you about the different bass ports, and on the back listed are the accessories and specs.

Build quality is very good actually, the L plug feels very strong and probably the best I have come across, the cable could be a bit thicker, and has some memory effect. The housing is metal, as are the interchangeable bass ports, y-split has great strain relief like the L-plug and housing.

Accessories are very good too, you get a hard carry case, cable clip, 3 bass ports (lots, even more and loads), 3 pairs of single flange tips (S, M and L) and also some bi flanges (S, M and L).

Comfort, Isolation, Microphonics and Driver Flex:
Comfort is not the best, I couldn’t get a good fit with any of the stock tips, and I had to use some M Sony hybrids, even then I find them a little uncomfortable, I think the nozzle is too big, and then there’s a lot of pressure when they are inserted.
Isolation is below average as they are vented IEM’s, so not great for public transport, but fine for everyday use.

Microphonics are quite bad if you don’t use the cable clip, or wear them over the ear.

Driver flex is also very bad, and creates a lot of pressure when you insert them, it takes a while to get used to and also you sometimes have to take them out and reinsert them to get them to sound right.

I will sort this section by different bass ports, but the box is misleading, it says the plain port has the least bass, and the port with 3 dots has the most, this is switched round, the plain port is the most open and has the most bass.

Open bass port (most bass):

Lots and lots of it, in fairly good quality though, with amazing sub bass capabilities, but it does warm up the mids a lot. It punches hard, but not very tight, and rumbles with ease, bass lovers will love these.

Behind the bass, but not hugely recessed, and vocals still cut through with guitars also sounding quite crisp. The mids do suffer from bass bleed, and sound overly warm, but with some acoustic music these do sound very good.

Surprisingly present but not overdone or harsh, with some sparkle and shimmer, the extension is not the best though. They also have a slight metallic shine to them, and could be more refined, details are not easily picked out.

Overall they sound good with most music, but with a definite bass boost, very warm but quite natural sounding.

Medium bass port (middle ground):

Not a lot of difference in mid bass, still having good punch. Mainly it just tones down the sub bass which still rumbles when needed. The bass is better defined and less boomy with this bass port. Kick drums sound more realistic.

They actually seem more forward with this port, and slightly less veiled. I much prefer the mids like this, and they also have a tad more detail.

Also more present with better definition and detail, still not ahead of the mids and bass, so these are fine for treble sensitive people.

I really like this setting, not too much bass, and not shadowing the mids or highs, this is the most natural sounding of the 3 settings.

Closed bass port (least bass):

A lot tighter than the first, and slightly less quantity than the second. It becomes tight, and precise, and does not affect the mids like the other 2 settings. They can still produce some rumble, but now lacks the full body of the other settings.

Forward mids with this setting, with vocals sounding much better and clearer, and guitars really cutting through.

Still not the best defined, but most should find them ok and also they are never harsh. The highs come out a bit as you change bass ports, but the definition and tone doesn’t change much.

I don’t find myself liking this setting as much as the middle one, the bass here lacks body, and it all sounds a little bit too thin.

Soundstage, imaging and instrument separation:
Soundstage is very average on all settings.
Imaging is also average, nothing great.
Instrument separations is good, not much air between instruments, but easily distinguished from each other.

I think these are fun, and the changeable bass ports are a good idea. Comfort can be improved but overall I think they are a good buy, and it is fun to see how much bass these can produce.

I hope you enjoyed this review, I made if brief so you get a rough idea of how each bass port sounds. These are geared more towards people looking for bass and a fun sounding IEM. Also these do not improve with amping and are not the most revealing IEM’s so it doesn’t matter too much if you have low bit rate songs.

Tracks Used:
Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)
The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)