The Vpulse is an excellent earphone, offering pleasantly colored sound which does not go overboard. Build quality and accessory kit is excellent, and the only real issue here is occasional difficulty in getting a good seal with the stock silicone tips and the only moderate isolation levels offered from the shallow insertion design.
Sound Quality 5/5: Velodyne has more or less outdone the Monster Turbines here, offering a very consumer friendly sound that will also not repulse audiophiles. Compared to the Turbines, the VPulse has even better bass, lower while also remaining clearly articulated, while offering more natural sounding mids than the Monsters. (Mid freqs on the Turbine are boosted a bit.) Both phones offer similar treble, rolled off a bit on the higher range but still clear and distinct. The low bass is really exceptional on the VPulse, and organ music really comes alive on these phones. Nothing sounds bad - metal, classical, jazz, electronic - all sounded excellent, and unlike cheaper bass monster phones like the RHA 350, the bass is always clear and never overpowers other parts of the music. Sound stage is good for a canal phone, meaning we are roughly at the Grado SR60 level of soundstage, i.e not too vast. Still, there are canalphones that sound much worse, and virtually none that sound significantly better so the VPulse remains a top contender. SQ is both pleasant and reasonably accurate across the sound spectrum, and the strong non-sloppy bass is very fun for many types of music and does little harm to various genres, though of course if you want strictest accuracy, you will not be amused. Adding Comply foamies hurts the high frequencies noticeably compared to the stock silicones, though comfort and isolation are increased.
Comfort & Isolation 3/5: The VPulse uses shallow insert angled drivers made of aluminum. Stock silicone tips are not terrible, and include 8 pair, 2 of 4 sizes in 2 different colors. No multi-flanges or foam options are provided. The stock tips are reasonably comfortable, but for some reason (the angle?) I had a much harder time getting a good seal with these consistently than with other brands of phones. I finally ended up using tips that are two sizes larger than what I use with other phones and that worked OK, though at some cost to comfort. I tried Comply foams and got a good seal more easily and with greater comfort, but as is my usual experience with Comply, the music sounded a bit worse, especially with lacking treble details. Its unfortunate to have to choose between best comfort and best sound, and even more unfortunate that Velodyne doesn't include more fitting options other than silicone single flanges in the stock kit (like Etymotic or Shure do), but for most users, the stock tips will not be too bad, and the shallow insertion will make comfort less of a concern.
However, the shallow insertion does mean you are not getting much isolation out of these. Velodyne claims about 17db isolation, in other words about half as much as a good seal with Etymotics or Shures will give you. This sounds about right listening to them; a lot more is audible with the Velodynes. This mid-level isolation should not be criticized too much - its more isolating than even a good pair of sealed headphones like the ATH M50 or Senn HD 25s offer, and so is good enough for most purposes. It fails the acid test of listening to classical or acoustic jazz on the subway though. The subway readily drowns out the quieter moments in the music. Something like Iron Maiden though is just perfect as the less peaky moderate to high recording tone level sound throughout knocks out the R train even during those screechy City Hall to Cortlandt St moments. These would also be fine for workouts, jogging, cafés, etc. If you want to listen to very quiet music in very noisy places, look elsewhere, but really considering the enhanced bass capabilities of these phones, very quiet music is not a really good use of them anyway!
We have a little dongle with excellent raised control buttons so you can pause music and advance and rewind in the music and you can also use the dongle to answer calls on your IDevice. Works well, and the raised surfaces are a good idea as the dongle is close to your chin and so may be hard to focus on if you needed to read the button ID. The dongle and the flat cable design make wearing these behind the ears a challenge, so straight down wearing will be preferred for most. The cable is flat and sturdy, tangle resistant and non-microphonic.
Build Quality 4/5: Really excellent - aluminum housing used on phone housings and (apparently) the remote control dongle. Cabling is flat and terminates in a sturdy right angle plug. Definitely as good or better than competitors in the same price point. They also give you a generously sized hard clamshell case, a rarity at this price point where soft clamshells are the norm. No concerns as to build, other than that the cable slider is made of a very tight metal substance, and fits the cable too tightly so that as you slide it up and down, it scrapes along the cords. No damage seen yet, and the cord appears tough, but still this could have been done better, especially at the price point. Velodyne obviously thought metal would look snazzier than plastic for the slider, and it does, but the small tolerance and mediocre machining of the metal kind of defeats the upscale purpose. And if the user does end up shaving the wires with the slider, functional deficiency will completely overwhelm the functional aesthetics! Velodyne gives you a 1 year warranty, not too impressive when comparably priced Shures and Etys give you 2 years, and RHA, offering an earphone 1/3rd of the price of these, gives owners a 3 year warranty!
Evaluation: If Monster actually liked its customers, this is what the Turbine would be like - great distinctive sound and awesome build quality at a moderate price point. The base level (apparently discontinued?) Turbine is thoroughly outclassed by the VPulse, and you will have to pay Monster two or three times more the price of the VPulse to get something comparable. As compared to the Shure 215s or Ety HF5s, most ordinary users who do not need best possible isolation (those who like to hear violin music on the airplane for instance) will prefer the VPulse as it is less fussy to insert, more comfortable over the long term due to the shallow insertion, and has that deep throbbing bass that Joe Public loves. (Though, again, it should be stressed that audiophiles who are not utter Puritans when it comes to the Gospel of Truest Accuracy will also find these enjoyable as well! Mahler's Third by Levine on these was just awesome...) A solid four stars - not docking the final star for the isolation, but rather for the slider, the lack of material options in stock tips provided, and the comparatively brief warranty.