By: Jonathan Kwan
September 19, 2014
Is there always a link between technical perfection, emotional desirability, and the choices we make in real life? As I have first proposed the concept of practical consideration versus emotional desirability in the SilverStone Strider Essential Gold ST70F-ESG 700W report in May of this year, and further explored in my often quoted Western Digital Red WD40EFRX 4TB review that came a month later, I would just like to propose a thematically similar, but slightly different perspective on this philosophical problem. The way I see it, just because something reaches technical perfection, and is emotionally desirable in almost every way, does not necessarily mean it will always beat out something else that is deemed vastly inferior in the same categories. From an engineering perspective, this simply does not make sense. But with real life often differing greatly from a set of equations we see in the textbook, there are some examples we can draw from to see why this is indeed the situation. To expand upon this thought, there are many reasons why people will go for an inferior product. For some, it is for the perceived ease of attainment; for others, it may be brand loyalty. Whatever the reason may be, here is something to think about: If something is chosen even if it is not technically perfect nor emotionally desirable, how about something that is, indeed, technically perfect and emotionally desirable, and at the same time, affordable within reason? We took in the V-MODA XS on-ear headset to see if it really lives up to all the hype that has been rocking the audiophile world for the past few months.
Our review unit of the V-MODA XS came in a fairly beat up bubble wrap envelope folded in half from the company's American headquarters in Los Angeles, California, USA. It arrived to us in the middle of July, which, by now, as I look out the window here at APH Networks in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, has apparently snowed for the first time already. It really does not help that I was just out in T-shirt and shorts just the previous weekend, and by the time this review is going to be published on this website, it is probably going to be back to twenty degrees Celsius outside again. Ahh, Calgary weather. Anyway, coming via UPS Standard, it is not the cleanest package I have seen, but thankfully, everything arrived in excellent condition. When the V-MODA XS landed on our doorstep, I got a little too excited, and literally slipped and fell on the floor. Warning to all: Good headphones may be exciting, but watch your step.
V-MODA has always been a company that is heavy on both fashion and passion, and with their latest creation, this is evident right from the retail packaging. At first glance, the V-MODA XS' box is conventional in a sense it does not try to be different for the sake of being different. At the same time, it is unconventional in a sense that it is well designed in its unique details. The thick cardboard walls are constructed into a hexagonal shaped box; with colors well coordinated in a mix of white, orange, silver, and black shades. In front, you will see a photo of the V-MODA XS in expanded configuration, as you can see in our photo above. An small drawing adjacent to the photo contrasts its closed and expanded form, while the XS model name and on-ear designation is placed appropriately near the top left corner. At the bottom, the company's logo is integrated into the silver edge separating the white and orange sections, along with the actual branding at the bottom. A rubber belt at the top is held down by two metal nubs, and holds the packaging shut my a button that snaps into place at the back -- classy. Finally, feature highlights can be found on the remaining sides, along with some press accolades at the back.
Before we move on, let us take a look at the specifications of the V-MODA XS, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Type - On-Ear Supra-aural
Drivers - 40mm Dual-Diaphragm High Fidelity (patent pending)
Frequency Response - 5 - 30,000 Hz
Sensitivity - 105dB @ 1kHz 1mW
Microphone Sensitivity - -42dB @ 1kHz
Impedance - 28.5Ω
Weight - 195g (headphone only)
Plug - 45 degree, 24k gold-plated 3.5mm (1/8") stereo
Upon opening the box, you will be greeted by its all black foam padded interior. From a practical standpoint, it protects its contents well. From a aesthetics standpoint, it looks very classy, just the way the company meant for it to be. Out of the box, you will receive the V-MODA XS headphones in its zipper case, detachable cable with integrated microphone and remote, extra nub for filling in the 3.5mm connector (More on this later), user manual, and a V-MODA product guide. It does not come with a whole lot of accessories, but it does come with all the necessities. Having stuff like an OEM hard case -- which the company calls the Exoskeleton Case -- is absolutely invaluable for those who plan to take the XS out the front door of their house. Not only does it keep your $200 headphones safe, but I also found the case is just as fashionable as the headphones itself with its all black, custom molded exterior and soft orange interior. In case you are asking, yes, it even comes with a belt clip, and it fits in the palm of your hands.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis