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VJJB N1 Review: This One’s For Rock N’ Roll!

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I came across the VJJB N1 on the #HEEP2.0 FB Group via a post by Urban Audiophile. Specifically, it was two words that caught my attention: dual drivers.  A quick search on Google revealed that the N1 indeed had dual dynamic drivers per ear!
VJJB N1 Review: This One’s For Rock N’ Roll!
VJJB N1 review

Visually, the N1 looked great on the screen, and I also zeroed-in on the cables - they looked classy, modern, and durable. The PHP 1,700 price tag was also a deal-maker. Still, "2X Dynamic Drivers" got me really spun up because 90 percent of the time I listen to metal and classic rock.

As much as I appreciate the details and soundstage provided by Balanced Armatures, they simply cannot deliver the "slam" that dynamic drivers can provide for the kind of loud, aggressive music that I am very passionate about.  As such, my preferred IEMs are dynamic drivers or hybrids.

So, I sent Urban Audiophile’s JonJon Manlapaz a DM asking if he accepted PayPal.  Long story short, I sent my payment at around 10 am, and 2 hours later the Grab Delivery dude was handing over a white square box to me.

VJJB N1 Specs

Driver Unit: Dual dynamic
Impedance: 8 Ohms
Sensitivity: 102 dB
Frequency response: 10 - 220000 Hz
Rated Power: 10 mW
Connector: 3.5 mm
Cable: TPU cable
Price: PHP 1,700

Disclaimer:  Despite the generous accolades heaped on JonJon Manlapaz and his Urban Audiophile store, the VJJB N1 IEM I am reviewing is a personal unit that I purchased from Urban Audiophile using my own funds.

Unboxing / Accessories

The packaging

The N1 is packaged in an elegant white square box almost an inch and a half thick.  Very substantial packaging for an IEM!  Usually, IEMs in this price range come in blister packs that are meant to hang on a display rack. Taking off the top cover will reveal a comprehensive owner’s manual that has both Chinese and English sections, and is the same size as the square box. Under the manual you will find the IEMs and a generous selection of eartips:

  • 3 pairs silicone in S/M/L for a full-range sound signature
  • 3 pair silicone in S/M/L s  for an enhanced treble sound signature
  • 1 pair black memory foam

The medium sized full-range ear-tip is pre-installed on the N1. Under the tray nestling the N1s are 2 cables (with the second pair containing a mic and play controls). Both cables are packed neatly, and you also get reusable velcro cable ties. Since the cable ties are quite wide, I cut it lengthwise into 2, and now I have an extra cable-tie! Last but not the least, you get a velour drawstring pouch.
For its price range, the accessories are generous. The packaging is well thought of. I like the layout, and appreciate that the accessories are not cramped into every available space.

There’s even leftover space to fit a Benjie T6 DAP!  Hell, the N1 deserves to be paired with a T6 anyway! The effort and detail given is a nice gesture on the part of the N1’s manufacturer, Longtaxin Electronics, and it shows the pride and confidence they have on the N1. Those migrating from entry-level gear will totally appreciate the unboxing experience.

Build Quality / Design

VJJB N1's shell

The only gripe I have with the N1 are the proprietary connectors. It would have been fun to experiment with other cable variants. Still, the N1 looks great. With the available colors, I almost went for the transparent red variant because it looked wicked. However, the silver / matte black cables looked better with transparent black shells. So transparent black it was.
The cables are approximately are 1.2 meters long, and I immediately noticed the sturdy strain reliefs at all the required points. The Y-split in particular looked and felt strong yet not stiff. The Y-split, connectors and the plug are all wrapped in matte black thermoplastic rubber. The silver cables are braided and wrapped in silicon tubing. As a whole, all these translate into a robust cable that will stand up to daily use and are easy to clean and maintain. I’d recommend wiping them with a soft damp cloth and some mild detergent in case it gets grimy from daily use.
The cables and plug are nice too
The cables and plug are nice too

Moving on to the N1 shells. The Dual dynamic drivers are housed in what at first glance may seem like flimsy plastic shells. Since they are made up of plastic, they are lightweight. So far, my N1s have been holding up real well. The build quality is clean, the shells mate and blend perfectly with the cables and you have a reassuring tight, solid connection between cable and shell.

Comfort / Isolation

The N1 is worn cable down, and its light weight makes it an extremely comfortable IEM for long term use.  The elongated shell allows the N1 to nest comfortably in your ear. I usually prefer memory foam eartips but in the case of the N1 the medium sized silicone full-range pair gave me the best results in sound and comfort. This makes the N1 perfect for a full length film or binge watching your favorite series.

This is exactly what I did with the N1 for Channel Zero and Sense8. Series marathons for me are easily a 3 to 4 hour stretch while horizontal on my bed with my Macbook Air propped on my chest, and taking an occasional ciggie break.

The N1’s lightweight and comfort is perfect for times like these and there was no itching in my ear canal-which I sometimes get with my silicon tipped JBLs. It was easy to forget that I had the N1s on since they melded perfectly with my ears. Like all well implemented dynamic drivers, the N1 easily established itself as an agile multi-tasker as it displayed no difficulty in delivering Sense8’s highly unpredictable sonic landscape. The dual-dynamic drivers also showed convincing clarity and placement with off-camera sound effects that played simultaneously with the on-camera dialogue such as the sound of closing doors or approaching footsteps.

To achieve the full benefits of the N1’s rich natural sound you need to invest some time in tip-rolling and ear placement. This is of course true for all in ear monitors but from my experience it seems more so in the case of the N1. The N1’s designers must have recognized the value of this process because they included a nifty design element into the shells. There is a rubber “ear” along the side of the shell that not only assists the shells to stay in place but allows you to make micro adjustments to achieve the perfect fit. More importantly, that “ear” provides another solid anchor point since the N1 is worn cable down. Get your tips and ear placement right, and the N1 will disappear into your ears.

Performance

Dual dynamic driver goodness on a budget
Dual dynamic driver goodness on a budget

Like a South American pit viper with a bad attitude, the N1 will blast you with volume as soon as you hit "Play" on your DAP. My first audition track was "Crazy Nights" by the Japanese heavy metal band Loudness. The 320 Kbps track was ripped from the 2015 remaster of the album Thunder In The East.

Out of the box, the N1 is ready to rock! 

I am usually cynical of remasters but this one is spot-on and rockin’ hard! The overall tone of the recording is fatter, instrument placement is more precise, and the dynamic range of the band’s sound was increased yet the organic warmth of the original 1985 recording was retained.  As such, the guitars on the intro riff, and when the drums kick in at the 4 second mark, is a total skullcrusher. It gets even better, the gang vocals right after the chorus are wide, clear and engaging.  Then comes the lead break, the N1 presented Akira Takasaki’s wild yet technical guitar solo in all its ripping power.

I could not resist moving on to a power ballad from the same album, "Never Change You Mind". Since the album was the Japanese band’s attempt to break into the lucrative North American market, Loudness had to include the mandatory power ballad in the album to secure radio airplay. They came up with a classic. Like most power ballads from back in the day, the highlight of the song is its guitar solo. In “Never”, the band ditches the usual power ballad histrionics and instead goes for a lead-break that builds-up and is highlighted by a succession of muted notes that references the same melody of the chorus. Relative to the traditional approach, it’s a conservative lead-break that draws its power from its honesty and simplicity. The N1’s dual-dynamic drivers easily conveyed this expressive guitar solo with solid authority.

In the mood for some NYC punk, I cued The Ramones 1976 debut album.  The album is 28 minutes+ of fast, vicious, anti-social punk rock overflowing driven by angst and attitude. Here the N1 morphed into a nasty riot - the way a classic punk record should sound.

Budget users will be pleased to know that the N1 plays loud and proud. So, you don’t need to pair it up with an external amplifier.

Before you conclude that the N1 is a one-dimensional beast. It played real nice with Depeche Mode’s “Violator” album. The N1 showed lusciously detailed and textured mids without sacrificing the album’s dark and brooding tone. I’m pretty much addicted to the sound signature of the N1. It is now my daily driver for when I’m at work and when travelling. Lately, I’ve been pairing the N1 with the symphonic death metal onslaught of the band Fleshgod Apocalypse, and I am very much captivated by the N1’s ability to articulately present the band’s symphonic elements and metal riffage.

Verdict

The industry will describe the N1 as a fun yet natural sounding IEM. This is exactly what it is but personally I would describe it as loud, passionate, full of attitude and confidence. As the Finnish band Hanoi Rocks sang: THIS ONE’S FOR ROCK’N’ROLL! FOR EVERYONE WHO’S MADE IT ROLL ALONG. THIS ONE’S FOR ROCK’N’ROLL! FROM CHUCK BERRY TO THE ROLLING STONES, FROM LITTLE RICHARD TO THE RAMONES THIS ONE’S FOR ROCK’N’ROLL!  \m/

Build / Design - 4.5
Features & Accessories - 4.5
Sound - 4.5
Average - 4.5
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