• Price: $199
  • Rating:

V-Moda XS On-Ear Headphones Review

Last updated 27 February, 2019

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The Lowdown

Small, practical, a joy of design, great sounding, and as home in the DJ booth as outside of it – what’s not to like? Our favourite headphone from V-Moda yet.

Video Review

First Impressions / Setting up

They’re tiny! The moulded clam-shell hard case they come in is the same high-quality design that V-Moda has always used, but it’s no wider than a CD. You can comfortably hold it in one hand. There is a clip for attaching to your belt or bag, an all-around zipper, and a smart embroidered orange V-Moda logo.

Upon opening the case, you’re greeted with an orange fabric lining, containing the folded-up headphones that fit snugly in with little space to spare. For those of you who’ve read our M100 review or seen that model, the best way to describe them is: Smaller.

Everything just seems to have been shrunk and it’s, even more, a marvel of engineering because of that. As well as the headphones themselves, there is an orange fabric-covered lead, which is set off nicely against the black fabric-covered leads that wire each individual earcup into the headband.

V-mOda
You get a smart clamshell case, detachable fabric smartphone lead with mic and control button, and a clip for attaching the case to your belt or bag.

The headphones are heavier than you might expect, due to the metal used in the folding horseshoe section that connects the headband to the earcups. The earcups are hexagonal rather than rounded, and the padding is relatively shallow. The headband is quite narrowly oval in shape and has a vinyl outer with a subtle V-Moda logo, and a fabric mesh inner.

There are two sockets for the lead to plug into, one on each earcup, although you only need to use one (there is a plastic protector plug in the other, with a spare plug provided, too, to keep it free from dust etc. when not in use). The second socket can be used for sharing the audio with another set of headphones.

The supplied lead is about 4 feet long, and has a mic and button on it for basic control of smartphones and so on; there is an Apple-specific lead available too as well as various other lead options, although this model isn’t compatible with the coiled cable available for some other models, of the type many DJs prefer. With a smaller set of headphones like this, a coiled cable would look a bit strange, in truth.

In Use

The first thing that strikes you about the headphones is how comfortable they are to wear. The earcups can be adjusted by pulling their metal mounts in or out of the headband to find a good fit, and when you do, you realise that due to that oval shape of the headband and the fact that the earcups fold back from the headband quite a bit once they’re on your ear, an awful lot of the design is in contact with your head, not just the very top of the headband and the earcups themselves.

Anyone who wears glasses will know that having a snug fit, with not too much pressure anywhere, is the best possible way to wear any head gear because it is more comfortable in the long run than having minimal points of contact. With headphones, you have the added advantage here of them looking more stylish, as they avoid the “big gap” syndrome you usually see with jumbo ‘phones that have a headband way away from your head.

Whether you prefer on ear or over ear headphones is something only you can decide, but the Sennheiser HD-25 range is a classic on-ear model that’s always found favour with DJs, so there’s no reason why you can’t DJ with such a headphone: The important thing for DJs is that they block out external sound, and these do that fine; they’re well padded and it’s really as much about the fit as anything when it comes to sound isolation.

XS i-phone
The size is definitely a selling point if you travel a lot and want to use them away from the DJ booth, and they’re a bit of an engineering marvel in this diminutive form factor.

So sound quality wise, as you may expect, they’re excellent. Balanced, not too bassy but clear and engaging, they are also plenty loud enough for DJ monitoring situations, having sensitive 40mm drivers. When I DJ and am using my headphones for cueing in the next track, I tend to hold an earcup up to my ear with one hand, and due to the size of these earcups, it’s actually easier to do that with these than with bigger, over-ear models.

The advantage of having a smaller design is also that when they are being worn around your neck (which let’s face it, is a lot of the time when you’re DJing), they stay out of the way better; there are few things worse than a rigid, oversized pair of headphones making you feel like you’re wearing neck brace all the way through a DJ set. Combined with the fact that the earcups pivot easily 90 degrees downwards, they naturally stay “out of the way” when around your neck.

Conclusion

I think I’ve found the perfect all-rounder headphone. Small enough to throw in the lightest of travel bags for trips away, with enough isolation and comfort for long DJ sets, and stylish enough to use in all situations, they are also a real head-turner.

Quality wise, their pedigree is proven by the preceding models; now, it’s all done in the smallest, most practical size yet, while retaining the design smarts of the bigger models and still delivering excellent sound quality. For me they have the added advantage of being the most comfortable model yet for long-term listening, again contributing to my opinion that these are pretty much a perfect all-rounder headphone.

They’re not cheap, but compared to some other premium brands, I think you’re getting an awful lot more quality and clever thinking for your money here, making them great value despite their relatively high price tag. I’m going to use these as my only headphones for the next few months so I’ll report back should my opinion change, but right now I think I’ve found a true “all-rounder”, both for the DJ booth and the rest of the modern music lover’s daily life.

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