Review: Queen of Audio Vesper IEMs – Another Underrated Gem

Considering their physical appearance, I can hardly believe their low price.
Considering their physical appearance, I can hardly believe their low price.

Powered by a hybrid configuration of a BA driver and a dynamic driver, the QoA Vesper successfully delivers the listener’s sweet and (more importantly) right sound.

Thank you, Jayden from ConnectIT, for sending me the QoA Vesper IEMs in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

After launching the flagship model, Mojito, Queen of Audio (QoA) decided to take a step back to refresh their entry-level models. The Pink Lady were their only entry-level model until the new Vesper launched. The Vesper have a hybrid configuration of a single Knowles BA driver coupled with a 10mm custom dynamic driver.

Similar to other models, the Vesper are named after a cocktail. According to QoA, the Vesper are designed to be gorgeous, like Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, and sound mild, providing a fatigue-free listening experience.

According to QoA, Vesper is designed to be a gorgeous pair of IEMs, like Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, and provide a mild, fatigue-free listening experience.
Bottom Line

Priced in the ultra-competitive $50-$100 price range, the Vesper exceeded my expectations for a pair of entry-level IEMs with their high-quality cable, premium storage case, and accurately tuned sonic performance. They are an excellent choice for beginner audiophiles looking for a pair of IEMs with a hybrid configuration.

What We Like
  • Good resolution across the frequency spectrum
  • Well extended highs
  • Sweet female vocals
  • Sub-bass rumble
  • High-quality stock cable
  • Semi-custom shell aces fit and isolation
What We Don't Like
  • Recessed lower midrange
  • The 0.78mm 2-pin socket is shaped between flush and recessed, making flush 2-pin cables incompatible while recessed 2-pin cables protrude when connected

Company Overview

QoA incorporates unique and creative ideas into designing its products. They utilize drivers from major manufacturers such as Sonion and Knowles to ensure the best quality is delivered to consumers from beginner to top-of-the-line models. The product’s physical appearance pursues unique designs to stand out from other brands, using stabilized woods and hand-painted artwork.

QoA may be a stranger to many audiophiles, being a relatively new brand in the audio industry. However, it is a spin-off of the well-known Kinera Audio company. Leveraging the knowledge and experience from Kinera Audio, QoA has had a significant push from the beginning. The inspiration from Kinera Audio is essential, especially nowadays where competition is intense in the industry.

Technical Specifications

  • Form: IEM
  • Drivers: Hybrid configuration with a Knowles BA driver and a 10mm custom dynamic driver
  • Impedance (Ohm): 16 Ohm
  • Sensitivity (dB): 116 dB
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Removable Cable: Yes
  • Source Jack: 3.5mm
  • Cup/Shell Jack: 0.78mm 2-pin
  • Cable: Four wires (dual copper and silver) twisted cable

Packaging

Similar to the Pink Lady, the Vesper comes in a black cardboard box. The frequency response curve and technical specifications are printed on the back of the box. The leather zipped case in the package caught my attention immediately, as it looks fresh and is definitely a bonus for a pair of IEMs that cost less than USD$100.

In the box

  • Vesper IEMs
  • Four silver-plated oxygen-free copper (OFC) twisted cable with 3.5mm plug
  • Six pairs of silicone ear tips
  • Leather case
6 pairs of ear tips, stock cable and storage case can be found in QoA Vesper's packaging.
6 pairs of ear tips, stock cable and storage case can be found in QoA Vesper’s packaging.

Cable

Besides the case, another item in the box that is a pleasant surprise is the cable. It is rare, almost impossible, to see such a premium cable for IEMs in this price range. The cable is made of four twisted silver-plated OFC wires. The cable is soft, and there is zero microphonics from it.

The cable is made of four twisted silver-plated OFC wires.
The cable is made of four twisted silver-plated OFC wires.
The premium cable of the Vesper is terminated with 3.5mm unbalanced jack.
The premium cable of the Vesper is terminated with 3.5mm unbalanced jack.
The 2-pin connector on the stock cable is specially designed for slight recessed 2-pin ports on the Vesper.
The 2-pin connector on the stock cable is specially designed for slight recessed 2-pin ports on the Vesper.

Design

The shells of Vesper are 3D printed with crystal epoxy resin. They have a semi-custom shape to ensure decent isolation and a comfortable fit. The faceplates are nicely painted in either gray or green, and both colors have luxury looks. Based on their physical appearance, I can hardly believe this pair of IEMs costs under $100.

Considering their physical appearance, I can hardly believe their low price.
Considering their physical appearance, I can hardly believe their low price.

The Vesper uses slightly recessed 0.78mm 2-pin connectors. Since the shells are 3D printed, the nozzles are one piece within the shells. The nozzles’ length and width are about average, and it is not difficult to find replacement ear tips for the Vesper.

The Vesper uses 0.78mm 2-pin connectors. The connectors are slightly recessed.
The Vesper uses 0.78mm 2-pin connectors. The connectors are slightly recessed.
The nozzles’ length and width are about average.
The nozzles’ length and width are about average.
The shells of Vesper are 3D printed with crystal epoxy resin. They have a semi-custom shape to ensure decent isolation and a comfortable fit.
The shells of Vesper are 3D printed with crystal epoxy resin. They have a semi-custom shape to ensure decent isolation and a comfortable fit.

Comfort

With their semi-custom-shaped shells, the Vesper provide excellent isolation. I used them on noisy public transport, and am glad to report that most external noises were blocked. Although there is a vent at the rear of the shell to mitigate any driver flex issues, the isolation is not compromised.

Driver flex is when the driver bends due to air pressure against it. Usually, it occurs when you’re inserting the IEM into your ear, and air in the shell creates pressure to bend the driver.

In terms of comfort, the relatively small shells do not exert force on my ears, and I can easily wear them for hours without any irritation.

Although there is a vent at the rear of the shell to mitigate any driver flex issues, the isolation is not compromised.
Although there is a vent at the rear of the shell to mitigate any driver flex issues, the isolation is not compromised.

Internals

The Vesper has a hybrid driver configuration, utilizing a BA driver from Knowles and a 10mm custom dynamic driver. This is a popular configuration as the hybrid design allows different drivers to cover each other’s weaknesses. Three out of four models from QoA have hybrid driver configurations.

QoA utilized a BA driver from Knowles and a 10mm custom dynamic driver in Vesper. [From: https://qoa-audio.com/]
QoA utilized a BA driver from Knowles and a 10mm custom dynamic driver in Vesper. [From: https://qoa-audio.com/]

QoA Vesper Sound

Rated at 16 ohms for impedance and 116 dB for sensitivity, the Vesper can be easily driven by smartphones or tablets. I did several pairings during my review period, from DAPs alone to desktop amplifiers like the iFi Zen Can, and I noticed that the IEMs perform better when more power is available.

The Vesper have a slightly U-shaped sound signature, but just barely. The mids are positioned a little recessed as compared to the lows and highs. As a result, they are very close to having a flat response, and I enjoyed myself with their sound signature because it is relaxing to listen to un-shouty vocals.

In terms of soundstage, they expand well both horizontally and vertically. They have great depth, thanks to the 10mm custom dynamic driver. It hits sufficiently energetic from deep, creating a three-dimensional headroom. I did not observe any disturbing congestion during the audition period.

The Vesper has a slightly U-shaped sound signature, just barely.
The Vesper has a slightly U-shaped sound signature, just barely.

Bass

The dynamic driver provides energetic and punching bass. The bass response is accurate and precise, and it decays on time without bleeding or coloring the mids. The sub-bass has good extension, and it rumbles nicely. Listening to genres like electronic or pop is indeed enjoyable. Besides that, they are also suitable for jazz – saxophones sound smooth and warm through the Vesper.

The mid-bass is more tame as compared to the sub-bass. I believe this could be one of the factors that contributes to their mild U-shaped sound signature. They are well-controlled and well-prepared for the transition towards mids. The Vesper is not a suitable choice for bass-head audiophiles. Bass is tuned to have slight emphasis while having the precision and accuracy to preserve better fidelity.

The bass response of the Vesper is accurate and precise; it decays on time without bleeding or coloring the mids.
The bass response of the Vesper is accurate and precise; it decays on time without bleeding or coloring the mids.

Midrange

The lower midrange of the Vesper is mildly recessed. The transition from mid-bass to the midrange is smooth. The midrange has some warmth from the bass, making the presentation smooth and natural. Thanks to the well-controlled and precise bass response, the midrange is free from muddiness.

Moving towards the upper midrange, there is a boost pushing the presentation to be more engaging and forward. Again, I find female vocals are more prominent as compared to male vocals in duet love songs. The upper midrange is smooth, just like the lower midrange, with good air and space. Despite having a slight boost, the distance between upper midrange and the audience is still reasonably good – far from being shouty.

Thanks to the well-controlled and precise bass response, the midrange of the Vesper is free from muddiness.
Thanks to the well-controlled and precise bass response, the midrange of the Vesper is free from muddiness.

Treble

The treble of Vesper is smooth and gentle to the eardrums – I did not feel any piercing from the treble. For those who have lower tolerance towards bright treble, the Vesper will be a good choice for you. Like what QoA mentioned, the Vesper are designed and tuned to sound “mild”, and they are not a wild beast, especially in the treble.

At the upper treble range, the Vesper have a slight boost. The boost is noticeable but not to the extent of causing harshness. Fortunately, Vesper chose the right path to maintain smoothness even in the treble to yield a comfortable listening experience.

I realized many Chi-Fi IEMs tend to have an overly boosted upper treble which causes irritants on prolonged listening. They raise the treble to create “pseudo high resolution” – new listeners tend to believe bright sounding IEMs have good detail retrieval capability.
For those who have lower tolerance towards bright treble, the Vesper will be a good choice for you.
For those who have lower tolerance towards bright treble, the Vesper will be a good choice for you.

Comparisons

I find the competition to be intense around this price bracket and many major manufacturers, such as Moondrop and Kinera, have a few well-received models at this price range.

Moondrop Aria 2021

The 2021 version of Moondrop Aria receive many positive reviews on major audio forums, such as Head-Fi. In terms of build, both models are sturdy and classy. The Aria are made of aluminum alloy, making them heavier and more vulnerable to scratches, while the Vesper are lightweight and have better scratch resistance.

Their sound signature is almost identical – mild U-shaped profile with a slight warmth. The Aria have recessed mid-bass and lower mids too. Their sound profiles differ more at the treble portion. I find the Aria are more conservative in the highs, as compared to the Vesper which have better treble sparkle and extension, making them more lively across various genres.

Aria (right) are more conservative in the highs, as compared to the Vesper (left).
Aria (right) are more conservative in the highs, as compared to the Vesper (left).

Kinera BD005 Pro

The Kinera BD005 Pro are the refreshed model of BD005 which were launched several years ago. The BD005 Pro are made of 3D printed shells, similar to the Vesper. The Vesper stand out from the BD005 Pro with better accessories, like the premium cable and nice-looking storage case.

In terms of sound signature, the BD005 Pro have a much boosted bass response compared to Vesper. This makes the BD005 Pro a better candidate for bass-head audiophiles. The midrange of BD005 Pro is colored, due to the bass, while theVesper have a more transparent and clean midrange. At the highs, both models are identical – smooth and well-extended.

The BD005 Pro (right) have a much boosted bass response compared to Vesper (left). The boost in the bass makes the BD005 Pro a better candidate for bass-head audiophiles.
The BD005 Pro (right) have a much boosted bass response compared to Vesper (left). The boost in the bass makes the BD005 Pro a better candidate for bass-head audiophiles.

Where to Buy

Thank you once again to Jayden from ConnectIT for providing the Vesper for review. If you’d like to purchase a pair, you can buy them from:

Conclusion

QoA have successfully refreshed their entry-level lineup by releasing the Vesper. Priced in the ultra-competitive $50-$100 price range, the Vesper exceeded my expectations for a pair of entry-level IEMs with their high-quality cable, premium storage case, and accurately tuned sonic performance. They are an excellent choice for beginner audiophiles looking for a pair of IEMs with a hybrid configuration.

Despite the price being slightly steeper than offerings from other Chi-Fi brands such as Knowledge-Zenith (KZ) or some unknown brands with various alphabet combinations, the classy semi-custom build and outstanding sonic performance make the Vesper a winner in the long run.

The Vesper exceed my expectations for a pair of entry-level IEMs with a high-quality cable, premium storage case, and accurately tuned sonic performance.
The Vesper exceeds my expectations for a pair of entry-level IEMs with a high-quality cable, premium storage case, and accurately tuned sonic performance.

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