V-Moda Vibrato Remote Earphones: The Rockstar [Review, $100 IEM Week]

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I always feel like I should be wearing diamond-studded sunglasses, walking around in a silk bathrobe or drinking Cristal from actual Bohemian crystal whenever I sink a pair of V-Moda’s babies into my ears. This doesn’t have anything neccessarily to do with how they sound, but rather because V-Moda has a knack for creating earphones with exotic looks and a luxurious feel to them that also appeal to the other senses. And so it goes with the V-Moda Vibrato Remote earphones ($130).

“Whoa there Eli, isn’t this $100 IEM week?” Why absolutely, Dear Reader. But we’re throwing these guys in, because V-Modas are pretty popular and the company doesn’t have anything at $100 (we reviewed the V-Moda Remix Remotes, their next set down at $80, a few weeks back).

 

The Good:

The Vibrato’s styling may not sit well with everyone, but they’re absolutely not boring. All those and fins and flashy chrome remind me of a ’50s Caddy, and they’ll at least get you noticed. The earpieces are all metal, which feels pretty good, even if it doesn’t actually have any real benefit.

Thanks in part to the ridges, the earpieces are reasonably easy to insert and remove. The eight — eight! Four black, four clear —eartips are a pretty standard affair, except for one thing: V-Moda has reinforced the sleeve that slides over the earpiece nozzle and the immediately surrounding area, making it noticeably stiffer over their older sets or that of the Remix  — the result is that it’s easier to get a good seal with these over most other IEMs with the same common silicone tips.

Just like the Remix, the Vibratos feel solid and sturdy — the cord, jack, earpieces and inline remote are, piece-for-piece, the most robust feeling components of any in this week’s lineup. Whether of not they’ll stand up to abuse in the long run is unknown — but they sure feel like they could tow a truck. Plus, the Vibrato’s cable is blessedly tangle-free.

Performance was good, but not great. The Vibratos take a more mature, less drastic approach to sound reproduction than the very bass-heavy Remix. There wasn’t as much boomy low-end, and the highs and mids came through more clearly — it’s not a huge improvement, and most music still didn’t sound as well spaced out as it should; but the better balance was enough to make the Vibratos pleasant to listen to louder music like hip-hop, rock and pop.

 

The Bad:

Those flashy metal earpieces (and the splitter where the cords split for the earpieces) are made from, you guessed it, metal, and metal is heavy. Add to that eartips that, despite locking in a good seal, ended up being a little uncomfy at times and the result was a bumpy ride, especially when wearing them during more frenetic activities.

Tangle-free is great, but why did they have to coat the cable in fabric? An annoying zipper-like sound inserted itself into my music whenever the cable rubbed against my clothes. Sure, I could have used the provided clip — if it hadn’t broken on the third day of testing.free

These aren’t the best ‘phones for music that’s a little less thrashy; there’s just not quite enough definition or separation.

 

Verdict: 

Think of the Vibratos as an Italian sports car for your ears: They’re a little pricy, sometimes difficult to live with and performance may not quite match aesthetics. But they’re still a thrilling, sexy ride — and hey, maybe they’ll get you laid.

[xrr rating=70%]

Case, color-coded eartips and earhooks for bronco-riding.