Well-made headphones sure to enhance your iPhone expereince. (February 1st, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: V-Moda
Price: $101 US
- Exceptional Quality. Amazing Sound. Attractive.
- Expensive compared to Apple’s earphones.
The iPhone comes with a set of Apple ear buds that include a built-in microphone, I personally find them extremely uncomfortable and hard to seat in my ears. The solution to my problem is the V-Moda Vibe Duo tailored specifically for the iPhone, but compatible with other MP3 players.
Much like the stock headset, they feature a small microphone that hangs a few inches below your chin and a plug slim enough to fit the iPhone's 3.5mm headphone jack. Despite their lightweight, the Vibe Duos have a solid, chunky feeling and you can toss them in your bag without a case and not have to worry about tearing off a cord. They also look stunning, with a dark composite body and textured metal accents.
Extremely comfortableWhen I first put in the Vibe-Duo ear buds, I could tell immediately that the sound would be terrific and they would be comfortable. One cautionary note: It is important to select the right size Silicone Bass BLISS Fittings for maximum comfort, sound isolation, and base response. The Vibe-Duo ships with the small size BLISS Fittings installed, but I find that medium gives me the best fit and it's a simple procedure to swap them out. Included in the package are two complete sets of silicone ear fittings in small, medium, and large in black and clear silicone. I also like how they fit snugly my ear canal with little chance of falling out, as the Apple ear buds are prone to do. You can order replacement fittings directly from V-Moda for $8.00. Ultra-soft foam tips are also offered, but I did not evaluate them, because they are not included in the package.
Exceptional soundI've always considered myself a bit of an audiophile and personally can't stand digital music encoded in anything other than lossless format. I prefer to have fewer high-quality songs on my iPod or iPhone than to have thousands of low-quality songs I do not enjoy hearing. I also play my digital music collection on my home stereo system where the difference between compressed and uncompressed music files becomes obvious. The sound stage produced by the Vibe Duo is exceptional and I quickly loaded several wonderful jazz albums on my iPhone for a proper evaluation. They appear to deliver every bit of the claimed frequency response of 12Hz-22kHz without adding any color or unnatural highs or lows. I tried the various equalizer settings on the iPhone, but ultimately find the flat, no equalization setting is the most satisfying.
Editor's Note: If you would like to test your hearing, there is a handy dandy test at the University of New South Wales site. You can measure the frequency responses of your own ears.
Cedric notes that when walking or performing any kind of movement, the cord moves around and hits your body, sending subtle but noticeable thudding noises to your ears. This phenomenon, known as microphonics, is reduced if you practice a little bit of Zen cord management, such as running the cord inside of your shirt. Still, it's something to keep in mind if you're planning to use these on the go or while exercising. Cedric also thought that the Vibe Duo provides a powerful experience when listening to rock artists like Metallica or Green Day, but the bass overpowers the more subtle treble tracks produced by an acoustic guitar.
Hands-free convenienceThe Vibe-Duo is essentially a V-Moda Vibe with the addition of a microphone for hands-free use with any mobile phone that accepts a 3.5-mm (1/8") dual standard stereo mini plug. It is, of course, optimally designed for the iPhone. Sound quality on telephone calls is very good with recipients of calls; the microphone seems to have a better clarity for the other party of the phone call than the built-in microphone of the iPhone. It reduces that hollow sound created by the iPhone speaker with no headset. Interestingly, I find that the sound isolation of the ear buds is so effective that when talking on the phone, I prefer to remove one ear bud so that I can hear my own voice and avoid that feeling that I'm yelling. There is a small button on the microphone for answering and hanging up calls, and to temporarily mute the music in order to hear someone talking to you.
Great build qualityHigh-quality construction is what you would expect from a set of ear buds costing over a hundred dollars. The 3.5-mm plug is 24k gold-plated and the overall fit and finish is excellent. The cloth covering over the wires makes them feel better to the touch and probably will hold up better under heavy use; not to mention it's a sign of good taste. The only discrepancy I found between the product and the V-Moda Web site was that included black leather pouch, while very nice, is clearly made out of a manmade artificial leather-like material - not real leather.
OverallThe V-Moda Vibe Duo is an exceptionally well built and beautifully sounding pair of ear-buds plus microphone optimally designed for use with the iPhone. While it's hard to imagine not being satisfied with this wonderful product, V-Moda does offer a 30-day 100% satisfaction guarantee in addition to the one-year limited warranty. I highly recommend it.
Related Product Reviews:
V-MODA Remix M-class Earbuds by Ilene Hoffman
V-MODA Bass Fréq Earbuds by Lee Meredith
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor