Review: V-Moda Vibe Stereo Headphones | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: V-Moda Vibe Stereo Headphones 18

by Robert Werlinger Sun, 21 Mar 2010 1:34 pm EDT

The V-Moda Vibe in-ear headphones combine excellent build quality with great bundled accessories. Can the great fit and finish make up for the subpar audio quality in justifying that rather steep asking price?

What’s in the box

V-Moda doesn’t skimp on the accessories here. You’ll find a high-quality leather pouch for storage, 5 pairs of tips ranging from large to small, and a cable spacer.

Fit and Finish

The Vibes are a beautiful pair of headphones, and they exude quality. The 3.5mm connector is solid and connected to the cable in such a way that wear in what’s usually a problem spot for headphones looks unlikely. The cable is wrapped in a black, tangle-resistant fabric that adds to the high-end feel, and the speaker housings are a single piece of metal that come in a variety of colors.

The cable isn’t terribly long – about 1.5 meters – but the length should be sufficient in most situations. I was able to have my phone in my pocket and in a backpack and have enough slack in the cable for it to be comfortable.

These are marketed as “fashion forward” (take a look at the company’s website), and the fact that there’s a duplicate set of earbud tips in white speaks to that fact. The inclusion of small, medium, and large tips should ensure that everyone’s taken care of in the fit department.

Sound

I’m going to go ahead and get this out of the way now: to anything approaching a discerning ear, these things sound terrible. Tonal balance is completely askew: highs are piercing and fatiguing, the midrange (vocals, guitar, keys) is distant and easily overpowered by the excessively boosted bass frequencies. Think loudness compensation taken to an almost absurd degree. The overall sound is shrill and unpleasant, making even the bundled Palm headphones seem like an appealing alternative.

The difference between these and my current reference earbuds, a pair of Denon AH-C551K’s at the same price point, was complete night and day. The Denons have far superior tonal balance with airy highs, good representation of the midrange, and deep but concise bass - It wasn’t even close.

Compared to the included Palm headphones, I actually tested them against the Vibes preferred their tonality, especially in the midrange and treble regions.

Summary

These headphones are beautifully constructed, but the poor sound quality makes them impossible to recommend, which is a shame. The Vibes couldn’t hold a candle to my current reference ‘phones, and it appears that the premium is spent on looks, not sound.

If you are in the market for a premium pair of buds, there are some great choices in the $99 price range from companies like Denon (the pair I use are great), Sony, Shure, and Etymonic Research.

Specifications

  • Compatibility: all iPod, Zune, MP3, DVD, computer, and CD players
  • Included Accessories: gold leather pouch, modawrap, six pairs of silicone ear fittings (S,M,L) in clear and black, V-MODA VIP Card
  • Frequency Response: 12 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Speaker Driver: V-MASQUE dynamic technology, 9mm neodymium rare-earth magnet
  • Cable length: 32” plug to y-connector, 13.5” even-length earphone cables
  • Cable diameter: 2.2mm optimal for sport
  • Plug: 24k gold-plated, straight 3.5mm (1/8”) stereo plug
  • Weight: 12 grams (0.42 ounces)
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 92 dB (at 1kHz 1mW)
  • Rated Input Power: 2mW