capsule review

V-moda Remix Remote

At a Glance
  • V-moda Remix Remote

    Macworld Rating

When I reviewed V-moda’s Vibe II ( ) a few months ago, I found a lot of pluses: quality construction, good overall sound, impressive bass response, and unique styling (even though the last two items weren’t to my personal tastes). The company’s new $100 Remix Remote is a roughly similar model that replaces the Vibe II’s single-button remote with a three-button version and tweaks its predecessor’s sound and styling—generally for the better, though occasionally for the worse—while cutting the price by $20.

(A $90 version of the Remix Remote, the Remix Vocal, sports a microphone and one-button remote, effectively replacing the Vibe II, although the Vibe II continues to be available through some retailers. An $80 version, the Remix, comes with just a basic headphone cable—no microphone or remote.)

Like the Vibe II, the Remix Remote is a canalbud-style headset. Canalbuds essentially split the difference—in design and, frequently, price—between traditional earbuds and in-ear-canal (“canalphone”) models. (See our in-ear-canal headphone primer for more details.) Since they fit partially in the ear canal, they block some external noise and form an acoustic seal that improves bass performance, and many people find them to be more comfortable than canalphones. However, they don’t block as much sound as true in-ear-canal models, and, as with canalphones, getting a proper fit can be tricky, the cord can produce unwanted microphonic noise in a listener’s ear, and using the headset function can sound odd due to the occlusion effect of having your ears plugged while talking. Still, they're among the most popular headphone models these days.

The Remix Remote continues V-moda’s emphasis on style and design. The body of each earpiece is an attractive, glossy black with chrome accents on each end, reminding me of the Klipsch Image S4i ( ) but with a higher-quality look and feel. Each part of the earpiece features subtle but interesting detailing. I found the overall effect to be cleaner, classier, and more to my taste than the jewelry-like “bling” of the Vibe II. (Chrome and rouge models are also available and, judging from the photos on the V-moda Website, may be more attention-grabbing.)

Thankfully held over from the Vibe II is a convenient angled headphone plug that relieves strain on your portable device’s headphone jack. Missing is the Vibe II’s luxurious cloth-covered cord, which has been replaced with a rubbery plastic cord that’s reinforced with Kevlar to make it more durable. These parts, along with the three-button remote/mic module, feel solid and inspire confidence in their durability. The Remix Remote also comes with a number of accessories: four sizes of eartip pairs in black and smoke colors, earhooks for active use, and a microfiber carrying bag.

The Remix Remote’s earpieces feel slightly smaller than those of the Vibe II, and in my testing were comfortable and easy to fit, providing above-average isolation. The remote’s three buttons (volume up, volume down, and play/pause/answer/end call) are thankfully easier to identify and press than the single button on the Vibe II remote/mic module. However I did find that it was difficult to hit the center button instead of the volume buttons—a common problem with three-button remotes I’ve tested.

I evaluated the Remix Remote’s microphone by recording my voice using an iPhone 4 and comparing it to recordings made with other headsets. The sound was clear and intelligible, though also a little distant and thin—less so than that of the the Skullcandy 50/50 ( ) I recently reviewed, but still apparent compared to the above-average microphone performance of the Vibe II. A phone call to a friend confirmed this assessment of the microphone.

Listening to music using the the Remote Remix, it’s clear that V-moda has tweaked the sound of the Remix Remote compared to that of the Vibe II. Low frequencies are still clear and impressive, producing great kick-drum hits and electric-bass tones. However, instead of sounding like a subwoofer turned up to 11, it’s if the dial is juiced only to 7 or 8. To be clear, bass is still emphasized with the Remix Remote compared to many headphones, but it’s not as overwhelming as with the Vibe II—the impressive bass only occasionally overwhelms the treble and midrange frequencies. I found this change to be a net positive, but other listeners may prefer the Vibe II’s bass performance to the Remix Remote’s more balanced presentation.

As with the Vibe II, the quality of midrange and treble frequencies is generally good, providing a clear and detailed presentation, but the overall treble detail falls slightly short compared to the best models I’ve reviewed, such as the $80 Maximo iP-HS5 ( ). However, compared directly to the $49 NuForce NE-7M ( ) and the $50 Skullcandy 50/50 ( ), the Remix Remote is clearly superior.

Overall, the Remix Remote is a solid headset that I would generally recommend, while noting that other models—notably the Maximo iP-HS5—approach its style and slightly surpass its sound quality for less money. Fans of other V-moda products might want to take a close look (and listen) to see if they like the changes in style and audio performance that V-moda has made here. However, my personal opinion is that the Remix Remote offers subtle improvements in almost every area over the Vibe II—at a lower price.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Earpiece comfortable and easy to fit
    • Above-average isolation
    • Midrange and treble frequencies provide clear and detailed presentation

    Cons

    • Overall treble detail falls slightly short
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