Provides: Audio reproduction and iDevice control
Minimum Requirements: Audio device with 1/8” stereo minijack
The week started with, “Here, try these and write a review,” and ended with, “hey, these are pretty good.”
The Vibrato in-ear headphones by V-MODA are a bit “boutique” with their packaging and style, but it doesn’t stop them from functioning well. The ear buds come with four sizes of adapters to let you customize the fit. The flexible adapter does a good job of blocking most external noise—it’s almost like wearing ear plugs. The sound reproduction is very good for ear buds, including a fairly full bass sound. I turned the volume up and let my iPod rip with 2112 and was pleased with how clean the sound was. The highs were crisp and clear, the mid range balanced, and the bass full with no clipping even with the volume turned up as high as possible.
[WARNING: I endured full volume only for a few seconds for the sake of evaluation. Do not turn your iPod up to 11 with these things in your ears—you can do damage to your hearing.]
I then tried my favorite rendition of the 1812 Overture and was pleased to be able to hear more of the detail than I expected.
More nifty functionality comes in the form of a small control pod on the right ear lead (yes, there is an “L” and “R” on the buds to tell which side is which). About 5″ down from the ear piece there is a 1-1/2″ x 1/4″ x 1/4″ lightweight control cluster with three buttons and a microphone. The top button turns the volume up, the bottom button turns the volume down and the middle is a toggle for the microphone buried in the control pod. When you use the middle button, the music your iPhone or iPod is playing will be paused. Once you use the toggle button to turn on the microphone, you can use the headset with your iPhone or iPod to take calls or use the Face Time app.
The sound quality is good, and the person on the other end should have no problem hearing you since the mic is well placed. The only oddity of taking/making a call with the Vibrato remote unit in your ears is that you don’t hear yourself the same. Unless you are used to talking with your ears in your fingers, your own voice will sound muted and a bit off, but there is an easy solution—take out the left speaker and it’s like using any other phone.
By the way, the middle button sits a bit lower than the volume buttons. Since the middle button sits lower, it requires rather an intentional application of your finger to switch to mic mode, so don’t worry about fumbling a call or turning off your music accidentally.
The headphones also come with a pair of over the ear hooks to help keep the leads out of the way while you engage in your activities. Additionally, there is a small clip provided so you can clip the lead to your clothes to keep it from dangling where you don’t want dangly bits. The clip has spring jaws for the side that secures the lead to your clothing and a friction fitting for the side that attaches the clip to the lead. The friction fitting allows you place the clip anywhere you like on the lower section of the lead or the right side lead; the right side lead is a bit larger than the left to accommodate the wiring for the mic and volume control. The only negative I found during my testing is that the clip can come loose from the lead if you bump it in just the right (maybe wrong?) direction. The friction fitting could be a teensy bit tighter, but it works just fine.
Another not necessarily functional element is that the lead is covered in a nice cloth wrap as opposed to the standard rubberized insulation/coating. This gives the Vibrato unit a slightly different appearance and feel. A real benefit to the cloth wrap is that the lead slides more easily over fabric and allows less contact noise to be transmitted to your ear.
One last detail I want to touch upon is the input jack. The lead wiring attaches to the 1/8″ jack at a jaunty 90° angle instead of straight in from the bottom of the jack. What this means functionally is that there is a metal post at the “bottom” of the jack that sticks out of the rubber strain relief, providing you with a firm surface to push against to seat the jack in the port. This reduces the chances of pushing on the wire and bending it sharply enough to cause a short. It will also force you to grab the rubber strain relief to remove the lead from your iDevice instead of pulling on the lead, which can also result in damage to the wire.
These are not high-end headphones with big drivers and fluffy cushions; the Vibrato are earbuds, but they offer a greatly improved performance and fit over the garden variety earbud. For the size and fit they provide good sound reproduction, a handy phone function and a low profile look. If you like using ear buds, these are a very good option.
Buy the V-MODA Vibrato in-ear headphones