Review post September, 2006 by Jacob Spindel, Chief iPod Correspondent
True high-end in-ear earphones: they can produce incredible levels of sound clarity, bass, and overall audio quality. Unfortunately, they can also be very expensive and potentially hazardous to your hearing, and in some cases the foam tips can even detach and become lodged in your ear canals - I wish that were just a "creative intro," but this actually happened to me recently. So is there any compromise between these high-end expensive models and those low-end earphones that only produce run-of-the-mill sound? Two new earphone models from v-moda aim to accomplish exactly that.
Choose Your Moda
The first model, called the v-moda Remix, has the traditional shape for standard (not in-ear) earphones, consisting of two buds with virtually flat circular surfaces. The buds thankfully have "L" and "R" labels, and they are available in three colors. All three of the available color schemes are vibrant and shiny, making the Remix models more visually appealing than most earbuds.
Meanwhile, the diacritically bizarre Bass Fréq is closer to an in-ear design, although it doesn't reach nearly as deeply into your ear canals as most high-end in-ear models, which may be more comfortable for some people while limiting audio quality for others. As their name implies, the Bass Fréq earphones seek to output an optimal level of bass output intended to surpass the competition. Eight color schemes are available, including mostly lighter pastel colors that are not quite as shiny or reflective as the Remix models.
Head To Head
I compared the two v-moda earphone models directly on each of the following music categories, using the same test song for each genre of music while also considering my experiences with other brands of earphones in the past.
Remix: With podcasts, the Remix earphones demonstrated impressive clarity as well as balance between spoken word sections and musical cues.
Bass Fréq: The Bass Fréq also did better than average in terms of clarity and balance, but definitely not as well as the Remix model performed in this category.
Remix: The Remix earphones reproduced pop music with a strong bass and good clarity and separation, keeping the individual aspects of the song noticeable.
Bass Fréq: As expected, the Bass Fréq displayed even stronger bass levels than the Remix, although its clarity level was somewhat lower.
Remix: The Remix's clarity was helpful here as well, providing emphasis to each of the individual performers and how they contributed to the overall sound.
Bass Fréq: The Bass Fréq did, of course, provide stronger emphasis to the bass singers than the Remix did, but other performers didn't have the same level of clarity that I heard with the Remix.
Remix: Since hip-hop/rap is the category where bass is most important, the Remix clearly lost in this category, albeit by a much smaller margin (to my perception) than I would have guessed.
Bass Fréq: This is the most favorable category for the Bass Fréq, and its enhanced bass capabilities gave the music a sense of power that was stronger than it had with the Remix.
Remix: The Remix earphones fared well with country music, bringing out the subtleties of the singer's voice without washing out the backup music.
Bass Fréq: The Bass Fréq's stronger bass did give a boost to country music, but the clarity of the singer's voice suffered by comparison, which probably outweighed the bass benefits in this category.
Remix: With many different instruments and small nuances to notice, classical music is the genre where clarity is the most important. The Remix performed exceptionally here, with virtually all of the individual aspects remaining noticeable and balanced.
Bass Fréq: The Bass Fréq definitely lost in this category, due to the Remix's superior clarity level.
Fréq Out, or Pick the Remix? Or Neither?
Overall, I found that both the Bass Fréq and the Remix achieved the goal of creating a compromise between high-end earphones and super-cheap models. Neither model had quite the level of sound quality heard on models like XtremeMac's FS1, but both were superior to Apple's iPod earphones and other common inexpensive models. The Bass Fréq won out over the Remix in terms of bass, but the Remix had stronger clarity and was more comfortable to wear, in my opinion. Ultimately, I found the Remix to be the better of the two.
Remix Editor's rating (1-5):
Pros: Strong clarity level; comfortable to wear; visually attractive; good bass output. Cons: Although the bass is better than average, it is weaker than the Bass Fréq's bass.
Bas Fréq Editor's rating (1-5):
Pros: Stronger bass levels than the Remix; overall sound quality higher than average.
Cons: Clarity significantly lower than that of the Remix models; some may find them less comfortable as well.
Price: Both the Remix and Bas Fréq sell for $49.99