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V-moda Vibes... The review is finished. (56k beware, big pics...)

post #1 of 1475
Thread Starter 
Hey all,

Finally have the time to write my review of the V-moda Vibe iem earphones. I wanted to give them plenty of time and not rush the review. Listened to them now for quite a few hours during all times of the day and night, even sleeping with them for three nights to test comfort and get some good listening time.

I ordered them Nov. seventh straight from the V-moda website which was easy and fast to use. No hassles or unwanted email spamming. Went ahead and had them overnighted since I was going on a trip the tenth and wanted to listen to them on the road. Val Kolton from V-moda sent me an email the next night saying they would be delayed a day or two. No big deal and it was nice of Val to contact me and keep me up to date on the situation. They did show up Friday but I had already departed, bummer. Oh well will have to wait till Sunday night to listen to them.

Come home Sunday and the package is waiting on my rear porch. Immediately I bust open the delivery box and grab out the Vibes. Packaging is very nice. A box with the phones visible through a window. Open the box and pull out the sealed plastic packaging, you know, the kind of stuff you need a blowtorch to melt through. Pull out my handy pocket knife, pierce the plastic, and hear a hiss. Whoa, these things are vacuum sealed! Or maybe pressurized, not for sure which, but it was interesting to say the least.


Lets see, we have a carry pouch, ear tips, and a cable wrap.
Anyway here are some pics of the goodies.











But now to the real goodies the phones.













As you can see, the build quality of these iems is superb. A very nice gunmetal gray color, with a black knurled center ring. The plug and splitter are the same gunmetal gray. Cord is of course black. They are very light too, almost as if weighing nothing. They came supplied with a huge amount of tips, nine pair of tips to be exact. Two pair of large, three pair and four pair each of medium and small. Out the package they are equipped with the small tips, and for good reason.

Good reason is to do with insertion. These iems are designed to nestle into the ear, so to speak, they should not stick out like Ety's. The small tips allow deeper insertion into the ear canal, which should improve comfort and sound quality. Concerning the tips, they seem the same as other canal style phones, like Sony Fontopia series and the Creative ep630 canal phones.


Well onto the music. I used a variety of music which I am very familiar with.
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime II
Old Crow Medicine Show - Big Iron World
Natalie Merchant - Tiger Lilly
Breaking Benjamin - Phobia
Depeche Mode - numerous songs from albums
And lots of other bands too.


That's all nice and good Ply, but what about the sound man, what about the sound? We'll get to that in a minute. Before you listen to phones you gotta put'em on right? Okay, so settle down. Now, about the fit. The Vibes were somewhat awkward to put in properly at first. I just wasn't getting the seal I thought I should be, could still hear a decent amount of ambient noise, although it was much lower in volume. So I tried different tips, still the same. Hmm, lets take a closer look at these phones to see whats going on.



Y'all see that little hole, between the filter and the wire grommet? That right there is the culprit. That little hole allows some ambient noise into your ear, so I had the fit right from the word go and just didn't realize it. I expected them to be as isolating as my Um2s, but these phones are not designed to cut off ALL outside noise. I tried plugging the little hole and sure enough, isolation increased, but sound quality suffered, and when inserting and removing I could here the driver flexing. Also I found the best tips for my ears to be the ones that came with my Jays D-jays, the smaller medium tips work perfect for my ears.





Enough already!!! What about the stinkin sound??? Okay buddy you win, I'll tell yah about the "stinkin" sound.

First I had to throw in my boy Geoff Tate and Queensryche. Their latest album Operation Mindcrime II is a masterpiece. Truly must be heard to be appreciated. Plus I'll be seeing them in concert this Saturday night. They are doing the first and second Mindcrime albums opera style. Should be a fantabulous show. But anyway, Tates vocals, (I know them like the back of my hand I do), and other iems I have have never quite done him justice. The Um2s sound too midrangey, making his voice sound somewhat artificial, but eq help a great deal. The Superfi 5 pros put him far into the background and take away his upper vocal octaves. The D-jays are similar to the um2s but exaggerated even more in the midrange. Shure E2 just sounded kind of stale. But the Vibes, hmm, now here is a iem doing something good here. Tates vocals sounded alive, like he was singing to me, to me I say! The best I've heard from an iem. Similar sounding to the Ksc75s. And there was sound-stage too, the best yet from a iem. Not as much as a open can mind you, but sound-stage nonetheless. The highs were clean and crisp, beating the crap out of my other iems, I'm not kidding! The closest competitor was the Um2, but it simply did not have that sheen the Vibes have.

With OCMS I was paying attention to the harmonica and the bass in the background. Once again the Vibe came out on top with the Um2 second. Harmonica just sounded so saucy through the vibe, once again like it was right in front of me. While the Um2 sounded good but slightly thin. At first I thought the bass was kind of weak from the Vibe, but now I don't think so. Vibe just allows more ambient noise into the ear and it was hiding the bass. In a not real noisy area the bass shown through, not super tight but by no means muddy either.

With Natalie merchant I was mainly listening for the boomy bass and correct vocal reproduction. I know I'm starting to sound like a mockingbird but so what, the Vibe from V-moda take the crown again. They simply sounded better than my other iems.

Percussion sounded simply awesome. Drum hits were quick and tight. Double bass was just that, a double bass and not a bwoowoomp sound. Cymbals crash and tingle, sounding very lively and fun, without being overly harsh or causing headaches after a few minutes or hours of listening.

They do add a very slight coloration to the sound, which is not unpleasant at all. I think it has to do with the metal casing surrounding the driver and adding to its sound signature. BTW, all phones have some coloration in their sound, so this is not really a flaw, just something I thought I should mention.


When it comes to comfort the Vibes do lose to the Um2, but not by much. And after wearing them for as while I guess my ears have grown accustomed to them. I can now leave them in for hours on end without discomfort, even sleeping on my side with an ear buried in the pillow is no problem at all.


The Vibes are not perfect however. The cable is a tad too stiff and sticky. The cable on my Um2 is much better. And as I mentioned earlier, getting the fit just right did take me a while, but now that I got it down it is no problem at all. Due to them being metal they can be a bit cold to put in my ears right now. Currently the temperature in Cincinnati Ohio has been in the 30s-50s, so the metal body can be a touch cold to the ears upon first insertion.


On a scale of one to ten, I have to rate the V-moda Vibes a solid 9.5. There really isn't much wrong with these phones. What really ticks me off is I spent over $300 bones on my old favorites the Westone Um2. And now these bad boys come out at just $101 dollars and smoke them. I'm not kidding. The Vibes just sound so musical. When I get up in the morning to go to work I want to reach for my Um2s, because I spent so much on them, but the Vibes sweet sound call out to me, and I make the right choice and grab them instead.

In case you are wondering, no I haven't been paid by V-moda to give a good review of these phones. They simply are the best sounding iem I have yet to hear.

Val Kolton and the engineers at V-moda have done their job well. They didn't hit a grand slam, but they most certainly hit a home run with the Vibes. The Vibes are a true joy to listen to, and will be in my stable for some time to come.


Ply


post #2 of 1475
Excellent review. I'll most definitely be replacing my EP-630s with these.
post #3 of 1475
Wow, fantastic pics! Those are some very attractive phones. Not my cup of tea, but still, very attractive.
post #4 of 1475
Great review. Quick question. What tips do you use with your UM2?
post #5 of 1475
Nice review.

It sounds as though the production units are doing the job just like the pre-production units I tried (see http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=207454).

Out of interest, the cords on the silver version are wholly different - pale silver blue 'plaited' in a transparent sleeve.
post #6 of 1475
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmicmoose
Great review. Quick question. What tips do you use with your UM2?
I use the same tips, D-jays medium.

And thanks guys, took a while to write and take those pics. But the Vibes are really that good. They need an award or something...


Ply
post #7 of 1475
Great review. You mentioned the stickiness of the cables, I will be interested to know how they hold up after a month or two of constant use. Users of the Sony EX51's and EX71's reported the same sticky feeling on their cables and had the insulation come apart on them after a few months of use.
post #8 of 1475
Great...Another thing I gotta save my money for...

Nice review! It's great to know that they sound as good as they look!
post #9 of 1475
Sound like something I might want
post #10 of 1475
Nice review! Any comment on microphonics. Could these be excercise phones?

I'm thinking not so microphonic since they aren't super isolating but they do have a thick/sticky cable.

Thanks.
post #11 of 1475
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jant71
Nice review! Any comment on microphonics. Could these be excercise phones?

I'm thinking not so microphonic since they aren't super isolating but they do have a thick/sticky cable.

Thanks.
With the cable looped over your ear the microphonics are nill, none. They were designed to be used while exercising and such. I may have made the cable sound bad, but it is not that bad. The cable for the Superfi 5 pros is far worse than the Vibes.

The Vibes cable is only bad when compared to the Um2 which, imho, has the best cable of any iem...


Ply
post #12 of 1475
RE: the cable

I recall Val mentioned somewhere that the chrome version has a different cable... see thru and bit more flexible. I'm on the fence, I love the look of the gunmetal and have pre-ordered it, but I might switch.
post #13 of 1475
Ply, for a first timer with IEM, would you suggest the Vibes over the cx300?
post #14 of 1475
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by peter_m View Post
Ply, for a first timer with IEM, would you suggest the Vibes over the cx300?
Yup, most certainly...


Ply
post #15 of 1475
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau View Post
I recall Val mentioned somewhere that the chrome version has a different cable... see thru and bit more flexible. I'm on the fence, I love the look of the gunmetal and have pre-ordered it, but I might switch.
True, the Gunmetal Black and Flashblack Chrome do have different cables - each with pros/cons that equal out IMHO.

FlashBlack Chrome = cable is more flexible, yet casing is more traditional without a tactile touch. The emphasis on Flashblack was the optical illusion the clear outside with metal braided inside provides instead of tactile/thickness. More flexibility has slightly less microphonics.

Gunmetal Black = thicker less flexible feel, tactile "silky" touch, because of the less flexible it does have slightly more microphonics, yet it feels more "solid" and more traditional audiophile-like as the cables sensation is thicker (although they are about the same diameter in reality). We do try to minimize microphonics inside the headphone itself FYI regardless of cables. Users accustomed to thicker cables may prefer the black as it feels more "solid", so we felt it was a good compromise of light yet solid and tactile. Durability threshold of each model is about the same in testing.

Weight = same regardless (12 grams)
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