V-Moda is known for making practically indestructible headphones that sound great and look nice to boot. What the company isn't known for is external speakers. And yet I'm writing this review while listening to The Beatles on the V-Moda Remix, the company's first Bluetooth speaker. But, and this is important, I'm listening to John Lennon croon over my headphones. Because V-Moda's first bluetooth speaker is also a headphone amp, and it's not the gimmick I expected it to be.
At $US300 (no word on an Australian price as yet), the V-Moda Remix isn't the cheapest Bluetooth speaker on the market, but it the Remix has a special trick up its sleeve: It can act as a standalone, portable headphone amp. Audiophiles appreciate a good headphone amp because it can help power your cans that might otherwise sound too soft when listening to them.
I plugged my Sennheiser HD 598 headphones into the speaker's VAMP port and then ran a line-out to my MacBook Pro. Instantly, my listening experience improved. Listening to FLAC audio files (they're higher quality than the MP3s you get from the iTunes store) from Bon Iver, Radiohead, Rihanna, and The Beatles I could feel the music in a way I'm unaccustomed to sans amp. Highs and mids came in crisp, and there were layers in the instrumentation I wasn't used to hearing. As an amp, the V-Moda Remix is excellent.
V-Moda says that the amp included is the equivalent of $US150-$US200 amp, but I'm not sure how to quantify that. My usual headphone amp/DAC is just $US75 and to be honest, I can't really tell a difference between using that and using the Remix. Like I said, it sounds great, but I don't know how to quantify $US75 versus $US200, especially with the sub-$US400 headphones I own.
As for the Bluetooth speaker itself, sound is good and not at all overpowering. The speaker was designed to maintain details, even at lower volumes, which makes this ideal for using it in a bedroom or small space. Turn it up all the way, however, and the Remix gets LOUD, totally filling a mid-sized room without issue. The Remix charges via USB-C (charger included) and V-Moda promises 10 hours of battery life.
It includes rubber bands! So you can strap on 3D-printed faceplates.
But the Remix is fairly weighty (do not throw this at your spouse, it will hurt them and maybe get you arrested) and has a metal frame. It comes in black or silver and as ordered, looks nice, if nondescript. The "remix" part of the Remix name is a play on the 3D-printed customisations V-Moda is offering on its website. The idea is that users can customise side pieces or front grills to make the speaker more "personal." I, personally, don't have the need for that, but V-Moda claims's the customised plates for its headphones are very popular. So maybe there is an audience here for this, maybe not.
And maybe there will be an audience for the Remix, it's definitely a solid first Bluetooth speaker offering from V-Moda. Still, I can't help but wish this product was just a little bit less expensive. To my ears, I still think the UE Boom 2 sounds better -- and it costs $US100 less. Adding a portable amp is definitely a nice value add, but I'm not sure how many regular consumers are in the market for an amp/Bluetooth speaker combo. If you are, the V-Moda Remix definitely gets the job done.
- As a Bluetooth speaker, it doesn't sound any better than a UE Boom 2 (which is waterproof and has an active driver for more booming bass)
- That isn't to say sound quality is bad, it's not, I just don't know if it's $US300 worth of sound quality.
- Using the Remix as an amp is a cool party trick and works quite well, but if you really want an amp, you should probably just buy an amp.
- I saw some of the 3D printed accessories you can get for the Remix, they look rad, if you're into that kind of thing.
- USB-C charging is a nice, forward-thinking touch.
- You can connect multiple Remix speakers together in a daisy-chain effect for even more sound.
- Two different audio devices can be paired with the Remix at the same time. Whichever one is active will take over the speaker.