Audio awesomeness: Aedle’s VK-1 headphones reviewed

SBA

Even pop is tested with a new entry to our headphones test, with Sia’s “Chandelier,” and this has clear drums with just the right amount of pop, and several instances of Sia’s vocals over the mids and highs. At no point is anything muddled from the sound, with detail evident across each layer.

A touch of electronica from Mooro with “M66R6” proves that bass can be a strength of the VK-1, with a heavier bass response than you’ll expect from the cans, all the while the mids and highs are speaking out, with synth-pop voices singing out. In this track, the bass was a touch overpowering, but it was still very easy to listen to.

Likewise, The Glitch Mob’s “Animus Vox” had excellent lows, and balanced mids, with the highs just screaming out behind them. This was easily one of the warmest listens we’ve had for this sound, immersing us into the dark with this moody synth track.

Indeed, these are impressive headphones, and if it weren’t for the tightness, we’d never want to take them off. That and the fact that we have to shower and talk to people.

Seriously, this is how all headphones should be, as Aedle’s VK-1 challenges our previous favourites for best in show status, the KEF M500 headphones.


But while the sound from the Aedle VK-1 headphones are very, very impressive, the initial comfort level appears to have taken a backseat to the sound quality (we did say we’d come back to this).

We get that they’re hand-made — and they’re a very pretty pair of cans, with leather pads — but the steel construction of the band really takes time to wear in. We’re talking a good two weeks of persistent wearing in, using the headphones for two or three hours a day, while the metal band gets used to the shape of your head.

Once the band has loosened up, the Aedle VK-1 headphones are very comfortable to wear, but before it, and you’ll feel them pressing hard against your skull after 20 minutes of use.

We’d say to keep using them, mind you, because once the band has moulded, these headphones are among the best you’ll ever hear, with more detail coming from their build than we’ve heard out of any can before it, but their comfort level just takes time to get used to.

Or you could read the manual.

Yes, these headphones come with a manual, and it seems Aedle has even preempted its overly tight metal band, with the suggestion that you flex the band to help ease the tension.


We’re not sure we get why the VK-1 are this tight out of the box, especially when Aedle seems to identify that this is a problem with the solution in the manual, but if you end up complaining about the pressure against your ears from that headband, just remember to look in the manual, because the answer is there.

The answer is also there as to why there’s no microphone in the cable, and that is simply because that’s “optional.”

Maybe we’re a touch too critical, but a pair of $600 headphones should come with a microphone-equipped cable, especially when less expensive brands and models tend to come with them.

To Aedle’s credit, there’s a standard 3.5mm jack here, so you could always buy one from JayCar, Dick Smith, or even grab any other cable you might already own, but we’d liked to have seen an extra cable included in the box, and it can’t have cost that much more to bundle in.

Conclusion

Great headphones don’t always have to come from known brands.

Take the Aedle VK-1s, as an example: we’ve never heard of this company, and yet this French brand has put in the hard yards and produced one of the best examples of headphones we’ve ever heard.


It’s especially startling when you realise that Aedle only makes two things, and they’re both this model of headphones, with the VK-1 Classic Edition — the ones we reviewed — and the VK-1 Carbon Limited Edition, a practically identical model made with a matte black look.

And that’s it. That is all Aedle makes. Two identical pairs of headphones.

But credit has to be given where it’s due, and that’s in this pair of headphones which is just excellent, with a sound that is so lovely, it’s hard to go back to anything else.

It’s probably cliche to say that music was more detailed through these, but that was simply the case, and regardless of what music we were listening to, we enjoyed our music much more than normal. Highly recommended.

 

Overall
Value for money
Performance
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
Fantastically balanced sound; Decent bass response; Very loud; Slick look; Comes with a soft carrying case; Premium materials used in the construction; Hand-made;
Can be uncomfortable for the first few uses; No microphone or remote on the cable; Only one cable included; Expensive;
4.7