Does the affordable BGVP follow it’s older siblings?
Pros: Typical BGVP build
Typical BGVP sound
“Western” sound, which many will like
Cons: Tough niche
This market range is brutal
Not the more expensive BGVP’s, which set the company tone
BGVP DH5 ($84.99): Does the affordable BGVP follow it’s older siblings?
Intro: The unit was provided as part of a US tour. As such, the unit will be forwarded once my time is up. As the first recipient, I burned the unit in for over 100hrs. After an initial listen, the unit was left alone for a long weekend. What follows is my honest assessment (yes, really) of the unit. I will state that I have read some initial impressions from the Asian sector. Some are satisfied, others are disappointed. Since I have reviewed several BGVP units, I can gauge the progress of this against those. I will also state that I am a fan of the brand and considered it at the forefront of the Chinese injection into the mainstream market, but with a western tune so to speak.
*You will note the other two reviews below are from the Far East contingent of the tour. As such, one may rightly (or wrongly) posit that the musical tastes may differ between groups. As such, what other may dislike, some will like and vice versa. There has been a bit of diametrically opposing views on several items of late, and this difference of tastes MAY play into the reviews. I posit that the warranted tastes of the differing markets could in fact make this difference in review marks. As reviewers we owe it to the readers (you) to note our preferred signature tastes along with whom the item may or may not be good for. As such, I have adjusted my “style” (or lack thereof) to note for whom the item may be good for and who may not like it. I do feel we should all do this as opposed to simply stating “good,” “bad,” etc. Please take these considerations into play as you read the varying views.
Impedance: 19 ohm.
Standard 2-pin 0.78mm connectors.
Frequency response range: 10Hz-40kHz.
Rated power: 8mW.
Cable: 6N OCC silver-plated
In The Box:
Zippered soft case, square
Vocal ear tips (s, m, l)
Bass ear tips, (s, m, l x2)
Memory foam tips
BQEYZ Summer ($129)
Thinksound in20 ($89)
Thieaudio Legacy 2 ($99)
VE BIE Pro ($69)
HiBy R3 Pro Sabre
IKKO Zerda (ITM01)/MBP
Buena Vista Social Club
Stevie Ray Vaughan
The DH5 comes in a nice smaller black boxed package, complete with a colorful, ornate sleeve. De rigor for the day is an anime character on some, but the BGVP is laden with organic shapes, which mimic the stabilized wood and swirls below the main lettering. Kind of illusionary, but I like the subtlety of the box.
Opening the box, you are met with the typical choice of tips in silicon and a nice addition; a set of foam tips on the top. Between the tips and the square case, the IEM’s are mounted in individual inserts, protected well. The case holds the cable inside nicely. This is a typical unboxing, and nothing comes across as spectacular, but understated.
I have yet to run into a BGVP product that is below par in the build factor as well as fit. The telling sign here is the incorporated “wood flecks,” which differ from the now de rigor stabilized wood. Don’t get me wrong, stabilized wood is fabulously beautiful, but a departure from that is appreciated sometimes. The faceplate has a certain 1970’s wallpaper look to it, from a hip San Francisco Haight-Ashbury hill home. Subtle, but cool.
The 3D-printed German resin of the shell is top quality and one does not promote where your resin comes from unless it is meant to show quality. And it does. With an almost custom look to it, the black shell comes across as sublime, not garish. Fit is good, but again the knob does hit my concha as well as having a longer nozzle. Foam tips work well, but silicon’s might give a better fit, for less irritation.
The 2-pin connection works without fuss, and the over ear guide lays nicely with my glasses as well as not pinching like some. The cable is of two-wire wind, but with ½ colors of copper and silver, giving a candy cane look to it. Not overly tight or loose, it lays well with zero microphonics. Silver colored Y-splitter, cable cinch, and jack seem almost out of place, giving the DH5 a cheaper look to me. I would have opted for a rose gold color to it. Even if that is the choice of iPhones of late. No worry though, the overall fit and look are what you should expect at this price and above. Done well it is.
Coming with five drivers (1-DD, 4-BA’s), the DH5 is considered a hybrid. The new 10mm single dynamic driver promotes a dual sound cavity, which is said to reduce distortion while enhance a cleaner, faster decay with the Beryllium coating. Fast decay leads towards a tight bass response, sometimes with a more analytical sound, while slower decay lends towards a rich, warm signature. The bass is definitely fast.
The four balanced armatures come in two packages of dual BA’s, for different sound frequencies. The upper mids are handled by an RAF 32873 Knowles unit, which promotes a crisper, solid sound. The upper frequencies come through the second-generation BGVP 30042 Phoenix in-house drivers, promoting a natural extension with good density, but also transparency. To me this means there is good weight to the notes, but not at the expense of a realistic tone. Keeping with an almost now traditional sound tube for each set of drivers, the DH5 does come across as somewhat bright, but without too much bother. It would be nice to see BGVP incorporate what many other manufacturers are doing with a “sound chamber” where all comes together nicely, much like your listening room at home. Nonetheless, the triple tube technology plays well in my ears.
Coupled with a triple crossover to manage all of that, and you might expect a fairly antiseptic sound to come through. Thankfully, BGVP has kept to their historical richer side of the signature.
Still a fairly new feature to me, this is a way of garnering my take on the individual unit so if you read this and skip to comparisons it will not hurt my feelings. That said, more detail is wrought from the longer version.
The DH5 promotes itself as a smooth signatured-sound and I would agree. But there is an upper-mid push to me, which keeps it from being a boringly smooth signature. That upper mid push does lend a bit of artificiality to percussive instruments in that range such as maracas or others of that genre. Not bad mind you, but I can hear it. This does not distract from my liking, though. Bass is taught and quick as evidenced on Acoustic Alchemy’s Lazeez, which is a fast-energetic song. Not the lightning quick of much Spanish guitar work, but sufficiently speedy to where you can note if a driver cannot keep up. The DD does keep time well, without bleed into the mids. Piano staccato comes across nicely realistic as a result when you transition. I find the signature pleasantly taut with enough energy to keep your interest. here is also a slight lift at about 10kHz, which to me comes across as a certain brightness to counter the smoothness everywhere else. Not really a bother, and to many this is the sweet spot for any lifting of sound in the treble region.
Sometimes when you have a hybrid, the dual drivers tend to try and outcompete each other. DD’s are typically used for the bass while the BA’s are used for mids and high tones. In doing so, there are many out there that espouse the virtues of “new drivers” or “better drivers” or “ultra-coated drivers” at the expense of a more synergistic approach. This usually comes at the expense of too much bass or not enough and the DD to me suffers that wrath more often than the other way. There is a fine line between over competing within the shell and that synergy of working in concert together. The DH5 does a very nice job of the synergistic side, without diminishing either.
The more I listen to the DH5, the easier it is to understand the three-way drivers working together to make for a thoroughly enjoyable package. To me, nothing oversteps boundaries, while also providing the necessities of a quite tolerable sound. Bass comes across as fairly taut and strong, with little bleed into the mids, making for not only distinct tones but clearly defined limitations as well. This is not a bass-thumping unit nor was it meant to be.
Those mids are controlled by the RAF Knowles dual unit with aplomb (one of my favorite words ever since it was used to describe my 1996 Jetta GLX…man what a car), with plenty of space between the notes helping set forth a decently wide soundstage as well. Succinct of tone, there is an almost staccato-like precision to the sounds emanating from those Knowles drivers. Male vocals come across without clouds, and detail is well within a reasonable effort for this price. Running through my iPhone 13 Pro Max and the IKKO Zerda ITM01, Deep Reiver Blues from Tommy Emmanuel & Jason Isbell just makes me want to tap my toes. Blending into the in-house Phoenix (fitting…) BA’s up top, the higher note of acoustic guitar and vocals sing sweetly from within. Treble neither reaches too high (to me), nor is it sibilant in nature or grating. Shake from Jesse Cook, another current favorite I play over and over highlights this “just enough” reach up top. The tambourine comes across cleanly, if a slight bit overexuberant, but his solo acoustic work is superb. Through in that intoxicating Violin solo in the middle of the song and I am easily lost in song through the trio mentioned above.
If this is what BGVP has become, then they have succeeded yet again. And yes, I am already a fan having reviewed several others, but that necessitates a finer-toothed comb look into the guts of the DH5. Clean, clear and crisp the DH5 provides me with what I want, when I want: to listen and not worry about whether this song or that song is accurate of reproduction. Sometimes to feel the music is all you need.
Plus, as mentioned, the soundstage is fairly deep with excellent height. Width accommodates as well making for a larger soundstage without feeling too cavernous. The result is very good separation of note, lending to good clarity and detail. Placing of instruments is accurate as a result, but not distinct to the point of being analytical. I would not call the signature warm, but there is a certain richness to the tonality that pervades some songs.
BGVP DH5 ($89) v BQEYZ Summer ($129):
Following on the footsteps of one of my current favorites, the Spring; the Summer comes across as a bit more melodic and laid back than the Spring. Against the DH5 it can seem almost boring, but it certainly isn’t. There is a bit cleaner treble response in the Summer, but the signature is more of a V-shape than the DH5, and that extra push of the treble does not come across as well to me.
Mind you the Summer is still good, and on the aforementioned Shake gives a different vibrancy to the sound than the DH5, with a deeper reach of bass; but that comes at the expense of synergy to me. The bass bleeds into the mids, which are slightly covered as a result. The Summer would be good for that late evening listen where the DH5 is the pick-me-up needed before a busy meeting-filled day. Or classroom lessons-galore experience in my case.
BGVP DH5 ($89) v Thinksound in20 ($89):
I am a huge unadulterated fan of Thinksound and wish everyone had a chance to hear the ON2. An absolute gem in on-ear closed-back headphones. I am lucky to have a pair. Lamenting the loss of the company, when this came across as a pre-purchase, I jumped. It will not be everyone’s cup of stereo, but I am a fan. Providing a much darker and warmer signature, the bass is as intoxicating to me as it gets this side of my Hero and Legend X (and yes, I desperately want a Legend EVO), surpassing the DH5. But this comes at the expense of a more even overall signature. This is definitely not for those who want a more linear approach. But I still love the in20, nonetheless.
BGVP DH5 ($89) v Thieaudio Legacy 2 ($99):
Following on the excellent Legacy 4, the Legacy 2 continues the Thieaudio tradition of providing the listener with a thoroughly engaging sound. I am impressed with the synergy of bass, mids and treble. There is enough bass to satisfy your needs and the treble comes across a detailed with enough crispness as well. The mids are a bit too smooth for this unit to me, though. On the tribute song Wish You Were Here, Satriani’s guitar work is splendid, but the vocals seem a bit flat in comparison to both the DH5 and Legacy 4. This is certainly not a knock against the L2, but rather that some do this aspect better. I do still like the L2 very much, though.
BGVP DH5 ($89) v VE BIE Pro ($69):
The BIE Pro was a purchase to defend the integrity of the VE brand. I have been a fan since the original Monk and own probably 10 iterations of the Monk. In talking with Lee (a very good conversationist) we talked about many things, but privy to our conversation. Of note though was my liking of the Bonus IE and BIE Pro. Meant to promote his vision of an affordable bullet-shaped IEM, which promotes superb bass, the BIE Pro does indeed to that. But, it also provides very good tone across the board. Much harder to drive than the others, the BIE Pro needs some juice to shine. Put plenty of power through the Pro and it shines. When we talk about ear-to-ear grins there are not many that come close. If you can tolerate mids, which fall behind but are still quite tolerable; purchase it for the bass. For a more even tone across the board, the DH5 does win out here, though.
When offered the chance to review a BGVP model among others (more items on the way), I jumped in knowing I already liked the marque. That can be good and bad. Some will say that since there is already a positive vibe for the manufacturer, the end result may not reflect a true natural production of word. Well, yes that can be; but I posit that because of that history, there is a certain level of trust for the marque and that the dissecting is of a much more strenuous nature as a result. Having had such good luck, the anticipatory set is high. Anything below previous experience would of course be judged of its own merit; but also, could be disappointing. I am here to state that the DH5 does indeed fill in nicely a missing niche in the BGVP line up and for that it should be applauded on its sound merits. Having to fill the shoes of a DM7 or other model comes with that double-edge of success/failure.
Plus, making a more affordable model than previous marks can have some thinking that the company may have run out of ideas. This is neither the case nor merited for using an in-house new BA as well as the trusted maker Knowles shows BGVP is serious in their desire to compete at the forefront of the sub-$100 market. And largely the DH5 does. I wish it had a bit more bass, and a bit stronger treble dissection of sound (funny that I say that with my deficiencies up top…). But those are minor quibbles in an overall pleasing unit. The DH5 can and does fit well into the insanely packet sub-$100 market. And by insane, I mean literally cutthroat insanity. This seems to be the jumping on point of many coming into this hobby of ours and the product had better be good to excellent in order to not get trampled.
The DH5 is a very fine unit, that can hold the moniker of the BGVP brand on its own merits and at that sink or swim price point. And it does so with enough going for it, to make many happy. To me while not perfect, it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to many of those of which it competes against. And as such is a recommended listen to me.
I thank BGVP for sending the unit out on loan and it will be off to the next lucky person tomorrow in the post. BGVP continues to impress me. Well done.