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iPhone Accessory Reviews: headphones

V-Moda Vibe Duo

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Review posted January, 2008 by Cedric Bosch

As innovative a company as Apple is, it seems even they couldn't get past the bane of cell phone accessories- the bundled headset. The included headset is hardly worth using, but to make maters worse, Apple's notorious decision to recess the iPhone's headphone jack has made finding a replacement a formidable task. Fortunately, V-Moda has recently introduced a stereo headset tailored specifically for the iPhone. I've spent the past month using the Vibe Duos on a daily basis, and I'm pleased to inform you your search for an iPhone headset could very well be over.

v-moda vibe duo

The Vibe Duos are exceptionally well designed. Much like the stock headset, they feature a small microphone that hangs a few inches below your chin and a plug slim enough to fit the iPhone's 3.5mm headphone jack. Despite their light weight, the Vibe Duos have a solid, chunky feeling- you can toss them in your bag sans case and not have to worry about tearing off a cord. They also look stunning, with a dark composite body and textured metal accents. Plus, they're not white, which means you won't be a walking billboard for a certain Cupertino-based tech company when you wear them in public.

The inline microphone stands out as an example of the Vibe Duo's excellent design. The svelte, barely noticeable microphone excels at filtering out background noise, even in crowded subways or on city streets. However, the stock iPhone headset already performs this task well, so users of the original headset will not consider the microphone's quality an upgrade.

Like all so-called canal earphones, the kind that fit snugly in your ear canal, the Vibe Duos have one inherent drawback. When walking or performing any kind of movement, the cord moves around and hits your body, sending subtle but noticeable "thudding" noises to your ears. This phenomenon, known as microphonics, can be greatly reduced by practicing a little bit of Zen cord management- running the cord inside of your shirt, for example. Still, it's something to keep in mind if you're planning on using these on the go or while exercising.

Sound quality is largely a matter of taste- people who listen to heavy metal will prefer different headphones than Mozart aficionados. That said, I tested the Vibe Duos with a wide variety of music and found their bass to be overwhelming. They provide a powerful experience when listening to rock artists like Metallica or Green Day, but the bass overpowers the more subtle treble tracks produced by, say, an acoustic guitar. For example, songs on The Shins's "Wincing the Night Away" came across as muddled and noticeably un-lively. If you're a video game addict, you'll be glad to hear the Vibe Duos deliver the goods in games like Crysis or Battlefield 2142- explosions and gunshots are delivered with power and emphasis. When their audio quality is put up against that of Shure's excellent (and equally priced) E2c headphones, the Vibe Duos pale in comparison. Don't forget, though, that they have two distinct advantages- a microphone, and iPhone compatibility.

At their retail price of $99, the Vibe Duos certainly are not for budget-minded users. However, the Vibe Duos offer an excellent introduction to the world of high-end earphones. There are certainly more expensive and better-sounding headsets out there, but the Vibe Duos sit at the sweet spot between audio quality and price.

In the box

• Vibe Duo earphones/headset with microphone
• Black leather pouch
• Six pairs (S,M,L) of clear and two pairs (S) of black silicone ear fittings


One-year premier replacement warranty.

Price: $99

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Frequency response: 12Hz-22kHz

Speaker driver: V-MASQUE dynamic technology, 9mm neodymium rare-earth magnet

Cable length: 32 in./81.3 cm plug to y-connector; 13.5 in./34.3 cm even-length earphone cables

Cable diameter: 0.09 in./2.2 mm (optimal for sport)

Plug: 24k gold-plated, 3.5mm (1/8”) dual standard stereo/iPhone compatible plug

Weight: 13 g


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