Tuesday, October 21, 2008

V-Moda Vibe headphones

So I recently decided that I am getting a Macbook. To assist in this, I decided to put my expensive speaker system "project" aside and get headphones. I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but I'd been wanting a pair of IEMs. So I was in the Apple store (this was when I was using the Macbooks) and I figured since I was there, I'd look at headphones. A salesman helped me out, and like all Apple salesmen (or at least the ones I've dealt with), he was pretty helpful. I told him that I was interested in the in-ear ones, and he showed me the Vibes and some Sennheisers, saying he heard good things about both. I looked over both and decided I liked the Vibe pair more. The Vibes were purely in-ear while the Senns wrapped around the ear. There's nothing wrong with that, but for the sake of comfort and portability, I went with the Vibes.
And by "I went with the Vibes," I mean I went with the Vibes the next day since I hadn't brought my wallet with me that day. So I picked them up ($100) and I took them to my house. They come in an attractive box, which shows the headphones (as in the headphones that are in the box, not a picture)through some plastic on a backdrop of some fading colors with a translucent face on them. Opening the box, I found out that the plastic wasn't sitting there, it was one of those awful hard plastic packages that you need a chainsaw to open.
After some hurt fingers and a pair of scissors that were probably dulled from opening it, I had the headphones. They feel as great as they look in the packaging.
The build quality is just great, they definitely feel like something you'd drop $100 on. They come in five colors, which all look good. The TRS connectors are gold plated and the plug is made of aluminum. The splitter on the cord that splits into the actual ear pieces is made of aluminum. The ear pieces are made of aluminum. And the cord is wrapped in a durable yet flexible fabric. All the aluminum is the same color, which is whatever color you got them in. They look very good, and they're advertised as being "fashion headphones" so I suppose that kind of accounts for something.
But looks aren't everything, sound is the most important thing. The packaging and advertising would have you believe that they were "basshead" headphones. You know what I mean, those kinds of headphones that saturate the music with way too much bass. To me, the bass is very even. It seems to be contrasted very well with the rest of the sound, not having too little or too much of it. Bass is very clear and strong though. If you do like it to sound bassy though, you can equalize them. When I got them my iPod was still equalized (I've set all my sources of audio to EQ-off since these seem pretty accurate) and the bass was a little heavy as a result. It didn't lose quality though, it kept it's good-soundingness. All the vocals I've listened to on them so far (which is a lot, I've been using them a lot since I got them) sounded warm and good. I suppose the overall sound quality could be described as "warm," although not too warm.
Ghetto frequency tests (basically I played a sine wave and then listened) show me that the advertised frequency response isn't much to believe. I think it's advertised as 12hz-22kHz, but that's just flat out wrong. They don't hit 25hz. They also seem to fail on the highs (but this hasn't bothered me much, despite this they still sound very good). They don't hit 17kHz properly, and 16kHz distorts. The frequency tests weren't that elaborate, but for whatever reason these frequency dropoffs don't seem to affect the sound that much.
They also hold up well when given noisy music. If you're a Franz Ferdinand fan, you'll probably know that they tend to make loud, busy music. In my experience, a lot of speakers have trouble reproducing it without mashing the sounds together somewhat or downright distorting. These, however, handle it fine. Same goes for Smash Mouth's noisier songs. 
Now that I've covered sound quality, I'll talk about how they fit. At first, they hardly stayed in my ears at all. After hearing them though I wanted to see if I could keep them. This was with the smallest ear gel size. My ears seem to be adjusting to them though, they're fitting and staying in much better now (I got them on Saturday, at the time of this writing it's Tuesday). It seems that the white gels (you get three sizes of ear gels and you get them in black and white) are softer and more flexible, they fit to my ears better. For the record though, my mom tells me that she has small ear canals and can never use in-ear anything because all the gels are always too big. So I might just have small ear canals. My girlfriend says they fit her perfectly, so remember that what doesn't work for me might work great for you. It's just like this with IEMs. I emailed the company to suggest that they start making a smaller ear gel size for people like me and learned that they have plans to in the next few months, so that's good news. I'm still deciding whether or not to keep these (because of the fit, the sound quality is awesome and that's why I haven't returned them already). I'm giving them until the weekend, as I'm told by a friend that this just happens when you buy your first IEMs.
So in conclusion, I would highly recommend these. There's almost nothing bad about them, and for most, the good will outweigh the bad. Go buy some.

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