Shortly after I received my RE0s, I happened to be browsing eBay for a new pair of Bass-Freq earbuds because as much as I liked my RE0s, I wanted to replace my outgoing Bass-Freq earbuds because I liked their bass response when listening to certain music. During that time, I came across an auction for a pair of V-Moda Vibe IEMs for $30 (open-box) and I jokingly asked my father if he’d like to split the price with me. To my surprise, he said yes and I went ahead and ordered them. Having prior experience with V-Moda’s products, I was curious to see how the big brothers to the inexpensive Bass-Freq earbuds sounded in comparison.
Driver: 9mm dynamic driver
Frequency Response: 12 Hz – 22 kHz
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Sensitivity: 92 dB (at 1kHz 1mW)
Cable Length: N/A
As I stated before, these arrived in open box form without an actual box to contain them so I can’t judge the overall quality of the packaging for myself but I’ve heard it is fairly good and from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty attractive.
All of the accessories included with the boxed versions of the V-Moda Vibes were included in the auction as well. The list of included accessories is pretty standard, which includes six pairs of single flange silicone fittings in both clear and black, the Modawrap cable wrapper accessory I mentioned in my Bass-Freq review and a small black leather pouch to carry the IEMs around in. In short, the accessory pack is good, but not spectacular.
Design and Build Quality
If there’s one thing the Vibes get right, it’s their highly attractive and classy design. V-Moda is a very style-conscious brand and the original Vibes are perhaps the best looking IEMs they’ve produced and have this sort of hipster/fashonista vibe (pun unintended) about them. The housings are polished aluminum and very attractive. They are described as “semi-open” and in my experience, aren’t very good at attenuating exterior noise.
The cable is a fabric cloth knit style used on plenty of other IEMs and is marketed as “tangle-free” but that isn’t entirely true. Cable noise is decently controlled when worn straight down and extremely low when worn over the ear. The cable is decently relieved at the 3.5mm plug but at the point of entry into the housings, strain reliefs are non-existent, leading to some concerns about long-term durability.
Overall, the lightweight aluminum housings and the fabric covered cable feel durable enough to take a fair amount of abuse but the lack of proper strain reliefs on the cable entry points on the housings is a cause for some concern.
Comfort/Fit: Using the clear small fittings, I was able to create a solid and comfortable seal. The housings are lightweight and while wearing them, I hardly notice they’re in my ears at all, whether I’m wearing them over the ear or straight down.
Burn-in: These IEMs were given 50+ hours of burn-in prior to review and settled into their final sound signature after about 10 hours.
Low End: The most prominent frequency range. Bass is boomy and warm but lacking in detail and control. Bass begins to rumble at about 20Hz, denoting good sub-bass extension but the somewhat muddy midbass is sometimes too overpowering for the sub-bass range to be distinguished and enjoyed.
Midrange: Smooth and recessed. Vocals come through loud and clear but clarity is lacking and the bass can creep up on the lower mids, making them sound somewhat muffled.
Highs/Treble: Good clarity and sparkle but rolls off pretty quickly in the upper treble region. Highs are much tamer sounding than most IEMs in my experience and far less prone to sibilance which is a good thing for people who are sensitive to that sort of thing.
Soundstage: Very wide, deep and airy for an IEM. The semi-open design of the Vibes certainly helps in that regard and is very pleasing overall.
Overall Sound Signature: The Vibes are very laid back and muffled IEMs to my ears, despite their prominent bass. Sound is full but it lacks richness. These sound very warm and somewhat dark due to their low end emphasis and tame treble. Clarity is decent and the airiness and width of their soundstage adds to their appeal.
Surprisingly, despite their low impedance rating of 16 ohms, these benefit quite a bit from amping. Particularly, the bass, which is usually muddy and uncontrolled, tightens considerably. The midrange comes forward ever so slightly and clarity increases. I’d highly recommend using them with a decent amp.
These certainly aren’t the best IEMs I’ve ever heard but they are indeed an improvement over their cheaper siblings. For the price I paid, I’m satisfied with them but it’s worth noting that the price I was able to get them for is far below the price these typically retail for. For the recommended retail price of $60, these are more difficult to recommend, especially when you consider that these need to be paired with an amp to shine. $60 is a very tricky price point for the Vibes, as one can easily pick up the Backbeat Pros (which I can attest to personally), Maximo iM-590 or Thinksound Rains which are all sonically superior. Overall, I can only recommend these to people who enjoy deep bass and say that those who desire more neutral sound should steer clear of these. They’re decent, but even for those who are looking for bass cannons, there are better choices.