Yesterday I received a new product from Vibro Labs, the Veritas and I am really quite jacked up about it. In fact this has been the product I have been most impatient about receiving over the last few weeks and it is by far the cheapest. While I do plan on doing a much more detailed report about the device its self when I have used it more, I want to skim over some stuff regarding it and also talk about my plans for it.
What is this Weird Looking Thing?
In simple terms it is a small and very affordable IEM measurer. It is a little black tube with a microphone inside that when paired with the right software and hardware, will give you the frequency response and other measurements for a pair of earphones. Now as a reviewer I have always been and will continue to be on the more subjective side but I have also paid extremely close attention to the graphs that appear on Changstar, Innerfidelity, Rin Choi’s Blog (which now seems dead) and GoldenEars among a few others. I find measurements interesting, I am certainly not the best at interpreting all the different types of graphs and results although I have a bit of a clue, especially of frequency response and phase graphs and most importantly, I know the limitations and abilities they have at describing sound. That being said I have always wanted to measure myself, but when I looked at getting all the necessary gear a couple of years back, my shopping basket went over $5000 and that was way out of budget, I even knew people that did DIY models that required more time, effort and skills and still cost over a £1000, so until very recently I pushed any thoughts of every giving you guys measurements far away. That was until I awoke in the early hours of the morning for swimming training and saw Vibro Lab’s Veritas being advertised on Facebook. They said it measured IEMs, they said it was only $99, you what?! I didn’t believe it. These were a company I only knew for making Grado cups and also those on my beloved ZMF Blackwood.
If you go on Vibro’s website you will see they have done quite a lot to show off its accuracy and all of that good stuff and in a future article I will likely go into that further. The actual inspiration for this device was so DIY IEM builders could measure different balanced armature configurations, so you can see what works before committing and building something. For me it is secondarily a reviewing tool but primarily, a bucket load of fun for a long time IEM and CIEM collector and honestly, if you have gathered up a vast array of different IEMs but don’t review or build, this will be a joy to use and also help educate in what the differences between your models are and what measurements can show. I have only touched the surface of what this can do in my day of use and I am sure I will keep figuring stuff out.
You Want to See Some Graphs?
Anyhow for now what I want to do is get across my plans for this device and here is a break down:
- Measurement Monday – It is as simple as it sounds, every Monday I bring you a frequency response graph of a universal or custom IEM. I will accompany with a image of the measurement happening and maybe a few brief words on what I think but nothing to technical. I will also show off what any tuning options result in as well. For the first while it will be models I have already reviewed and we have quite a few of them to do. There are a few IEMs that I just haven’t found to deserve a review, its a rare occassion (and you will see why when you see the measurements) but these will be a little larger in content as this is the first time I am talking about them.
- Including measurements in upcoming reviews… perhaps. I am not sure if I should do this or not. Feel free to let me know what you would rather but I am debating for future IEM reviews whether I should include measurements in my subjective review or do the reviews as I have always done and have the measurements separate on a Measurement Monday. I think I am swaying to doing measurements in reviews though so you can probably expect that.
- Epic CIEM Flagship Round Up – This is something huge that me and Josh are planning, it isn’t near starting yet, we still have about 6 CIEMs en route that need to be individually reviewed before we even start it but in this expect subjective and objective comparisons between upward of 20 CIEMs. I might even see what a graph with every single CIEM in our collection looks like.
So that is the plan for now, of course things could change on how I use this but that is what I have in mind.
Set Up is Easy as 123
As for doing the actual measurement I thought best to describe my current process and Vibro have done some nice tutorial videos to help get you started. First of all what you will need.
- A measurement software on your PC – I use an iMac and have FuzzMeasures free trial. The trial allows two measurements in one document at a time and generally limits what you can do. It is $99 to fully unlock and I will be doing this. If you are Windows then ARTA is to be used. I can’t speak for ARTA but FuzzMeasure is super simple.
- Some type of sound sound card that has both a headphone output and microphone input – I use a StarTech.com External Sound Card that Vibro recommended and costs £25 off Amazon. It is small, simple and does the job. If your computer has the right inputs and outputs, you have no reason to get going straight away, my iMac just doesn’t have a microphone in.
- The Veritas
Now it is quite simple after that, you plug the Veritas into the sound card via its attached cable terminated in a 3.5mm jack. You plug your earphones into the sound card. You then either select a larger tip for a universal IEM or put some blue putty (included, like blu tack) round the end of a CIEM and insert into the top of Veritas like you would your ear, once a seal is achieve I typically send a 1000ms frequency sweep through the earphones which in turn Veritas listens and FuzzMeasure spits out a graph. Simples.
Now I have had some initial positive impressions as well as some slight worries in my set up. Firstly consistency is amazing, take the earphone out, reinsert and the measurement doesn’t change. On top of that the graphs are smooth, look realistic to my subjective impressions and also other graphs I have seen from some other sources. My two biggest concerns right now are both the StarTech.com sound card and using the blue putty. The StarTech is an unknown entity, I don’t know what DAC it uses, what the amp section is like, how powerful is it? What is the output impedance? The latter being the most important as when measuring an IEM you need under 1 ohms or results could be tampered. I may experiment and put the StarTech into an external amp and see if that changed results in anyway, I have no way to check the OI though and it is not a listed spec so a small concern there but I am sure its fine. As for the blue putty I just do not know how it seals comes into play compared to what we have in our ear. On top of that it is a bit fiddly to set up, I have the technique down and you know when the result is right but it still is a much more manufactured seal that using a tip, maybe I am just worrying.
Preparing the Ambient Acoustics AM-6 for measurement!
A Pinch of Salt?
Now while Veritas is based on the international IEC 60318-4 (60711) standard, it isn’t certified or qualified in any way. No one has ticked off its accuracy and while Vibro can give evidence of it, they can not guarantee it. While my results and their results are hugely positive and I have a lot of faith in it’s accuracy, I am not going to say they are as accurate (of course they could well be) than say Tyll at Innerfidelity who knows how to not only do this better than me but is using the industry standard gear. Also as for now and unless specified, my graphs will be raw, no compensation applied (I will have to work out how to do this) like most sites do. Also while I am trying to present my graph in a similar manner to everyone else, of course it is a little different and I think your best bet is to take a pinch of sale if comparing to other measurements but mainly to compare measurements I make to each other and soon there will be a enough of them.
The Vibro Miracle
This is an easy to use device that can have you measuring earphones for under £100. That is game changing in the industry and has made something once only for those who need to measure to something accessible for all, be it a reviewer, a frequent forum poster, an extreme hobbyist or a DIY IEM builder. This is something for everyone that is informative and fun and clearly Great Value, this is not the normal thing we give this award to and I have never done so after one day but after my long evenings use last night, I am mighty impressed.