We’ve mentioned a few times before the importance of the $100 earphone market, but we’ve avoided one large small segment, the $100 iPhone earphones with all the bells and whistles. Why? There’s not really a whole lot of products to fill the large demands. There’s the Klipsch S4i and then… That’s pretty much it. The fashion-obsessed sound geeks at v-moda decided that changing this would be a good idea and they let us play around with their newest creation, the Remix Remote. Our thoughts after the jump.
The perrenial champ for iPhone sound is still the (pricey) combination of the Shure MPA and SE530, but for most that’s not the right solution. The requests pile up: Voice Control and good sound at $100. And still, there’s few solutions.
v-moda has been in the earphone industry for a couple of years and while we’ve never delivered a lengthy review on TheMacFeed, that’s not to say we haven’t heard some of their earphones. At first, classifying v-moda as a form over function company was not a problem, but with the Remix line, v-moda promised a focus on clarity in their redesign. It was a breadth of fresh air as far as we were concerned as to say they were lacking in that area in their prior attempts would not be an understatement by any stretch of the imagination.
Out of the Box
There were a lot of shocking moments at first. It starts with the shipping, which was next day. Next was the competition of how much v-moda could stuff in the packaging. The list is pretty comprehensive: detachable earhooks, seven pairs of tips, a carrying pouch and the earphones. v-moda offers an interesting warranty program with their products – including a traditional two-year warranty and a the ability to replace them at 50% of the cost for the life of the earphones, which isn’t a bad deal in our books.
Without a doubt the design is unique. It’s a rubber cable with a recessed tip that includes a flush controller/mic unit that resembles a lengthy pill at the y-connection. Each bud is a combination of black plastic and semi-polished chrome. Still, the leightweight buds seem more reminiscent of a modern era car trim than of earphones. The recessed cables continue onto the buds themselves as the connectors on each of the buds angles slightly further then 90 degrees outwards. There are a few markers printed on each earphone: tiny v-moda text logos adorn the front, while the ends feature solely the v printed on the buds themselves and the insides feature the L/R identifiers
You get seven pairs of tips. If you can’t find the right size, you probably aren’t going to have much better look with any IEM. Furthermore, it’s the same tips that are used on about 90% of the industry, so finding replacements to the seven included shouldn’t be that hard. v-moda claims to have combined new material with the Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone (BLISS) to provide better isolation. While we’d be intrigued as to the isolation performance absent this technology, with it – you get high quality isolation. The style used by Shure and Westone is still top notch in our book, but the difference between those two and v-moda is minimal. While most IEMs block out the vast majority of external noise when music is playing, the v-modas block out a significant amount without sound playing from the earphones, which for users who enjoy music at significantly lower volumes will be a huge plus.
We found the sport earhooks to be of use, although it’s not as if the Remix Remotes struggled to stay in our ears anymore then any other IEM. At 17 grams it’s not that hard to forget that the v-modas are in your ears, however it’s not the floating sensation that is produced by some. We wear them for hours with no problem, but that’s just us. Like we said before: You get seven pairs of tips. If you can’t find the right size, you probably aren’t going to have much better look with any IEM.
Normally the quality of the mics replicates Apple’s stock buds. For once we really feel like our call quality was improved significantly. The mics ability to pick up our voice in isolation was an unexpected feature that led to us using the v-modas way more then we had planned. Omni-directional? Perhaps. Even if that’s an overstretch, the mic drastically improves call quality, which is good enough in our books. Furthermore, the inline controls and support for Voice Control are features, as we mentioned, not found in most earphones. In addition to iPhone support, the remix remote earphones are both Skype and iChat compatible. If you’d like to Skype Daniel, his info is on the contact page.
It’s June. June is a big month for us. Quite a few anticipated albums dropped, including one by Marshall Mathers. Hence, these were put through quite a host of genres in various places. From the get go, the emphasis on clarity became apparent. The headphones are aggressive, but not ambitious. Rather then simply reigning in the low-end, v-moda’s approach seemed more to imrpove the quality of the highs and mids while taking a different approach to the low-end. The result is an earphone that falls somewhere in between what people want to hear and what people should hear.
They are clear and perhaps even vibrant. On delicate songs like U2′s “All I Want Is You” they avoid fall ill to added warmth. For the most part the underappreciated highs deliver the clarity needed to compliment the more dynamic mids and lows. Still, when called upon to deliver an array of highs, such as when the Gorilllaz are played, they prove to be a worthy asset of the Remixes. At times on the extreme deep upper-ends where a lot of earphones just gave out, the Remixes tried and their 9mm neodymium drivers delivered a harshness.
These headphones aren’t balanced, but it’s not the mids’ fault by any stretch of the imagination. They are clear, yet vibrant. Slightly warm, but still incredibly accurate. They embody what is the concluding characterization of the earphones: a balance of accuracy and pleasure or at least a combination of the two. Transitions weren’t necessarily as graceful as we would have hoped, but they were clean. The mids are the last thing that need revision as far as we are concerned. Rather then being bold, they are consistent. Rather then overextending, they perfect what is needed. And at the end of the day, they are the last thing one would complain about it.
Dynamic? Yes. Balanced? No. We are a fan of being a tad bit bassy and while this more then tolerable, it does challenge are comfort zone. But in a lot of ways, the low-end is the most spectacular part of the earphone – there’s no denying that it’s the most exciting, one wouldn’t need to state the obvious. It’s worth marveling at. For example, the length of each strike on the low-end is absolutely incredible. The various types of bass from punch to pop highlight was a phenomonal rendition of all the low-end. Is it overpowering? Oddly no. More importantly, the bass didn’t destroy any of the songs that didn’t benefit from the additional low-end.
In the End
We have some odd thoughts regarding the sound, but at the end of the day we really enjoy it. We still haven’t heard the Klipsch earphones, but the bar has been rasied – quite high in our opinion. Let’s face it, most of you aren’t going to have your iPhone filled with lossless tracks played through your portable amp and for those of you that do – these aren’t for you. But for the rest of the world that is looking for high-quality earphones with all the bells and whistles at $100 – you’ve got a solution. The v-moda Remix Remote earphones are avaiable at a variety of retailers and directly from v-moda at $99.99.
Note: While we haven’t heard the oppurtunity to listen to the v-moda Remix Audio, our understanding is that it’s the same earphone minus the mic/volume controls.