Speaker Image

The Vibe Duo's ear bud and nozzle.

Back Image

The back of the ear bud.

The cord is cased with a fiber weave, and runs down from each ear bud in a traditional 'Y' style. partially down the right ear bud is a microphone dongle with a small black button to activate it. The plug is very thin, metal, and has a unique curvature to its shape.

Additional Features 1 Image

The microphone dongle: Button side above, mic side below

HATS-Front Image

Front(ish) view of the Vibe Duo headphones, as worn by HATS.

HATS-Side Image

Side view of the Vibe Duo headphones, as worn by HATS.

In the Vibe Duo's slightly scandalous packaging, you'll find the headphones, sleeves (small, medium, and large in both black and translucent white), a shirt clip, and a leather pouch.

In the Box Image

Lip gloss or headphones -- you decide.

The Vibe Duo headphones seem pretty durable, but they do have one durability issue. First of all, while the woven cord covering definitely scores them bonus durability points, these headphones don't feature much of a cord guard. This means the cord can bend very sharply at both the plug, the bud, and the microphone dongle. This could expedite wear and tear on the cable's wiring. Other than this area, there really isn't much

Durability Image

This woven fiber encases the cord, which is good.

Durability Image

This woven fiber encases the cord, which is good.

Other than the lack of cord guards, however, the Vibe Duo seems pretty sturdy. There typically aren't many areas for in-ear headphones to house weak points.

V-MODA, as a company, seems to be very focused on fashion. It should come as no surprise, then, that these headphones certainly look well-designed. They have far more aesthetic flair than many in-ear headphones on the market today, which is tough to do, given how tiny the canvas is. Our review unit's coloration was called 'Gunmetal Rouge,' which is fashion-speak for 'red'. Really, if you're looking for an in-ear set that looks nice and separates you from the iPod In-ear Headphones crowd, the Vibe Duo headphones are a good choice.

Well, if you like bass, the Vibe Duo headphones are more than willing to oblige. You'll notice that the bass frequencies are actually emphasized right off our chart -- the line extends up to the 105 decibel range for 100 Hz. Once the frequencies settle down a bit, there are two spikes that barely peek above the top limit. This area might sound a bit strange, as that range might sound a bit inconsistently emphasized. Also, towards the end of the limits, the response plummets below 60 decibels quickly. The sharp drop means two sounds that are relatively similar in pitch might be emphasized differently. This can lead to instruments sounding like they're dashing toward and away from you, which is plain unnatural. In this particular instance, spoken sibilance or cymbals might be affected.

To summarize, the bass is off the charts, there are few sharp slopes, and high-pitched sounds might seem a bit muted. For the most part, however, the Vibe Duo headphones performed well.

Frequency Response Graph

Below we have a chart comparing the Vibe Duo's frequency response performance to five other sets of headphones. In this case, the comparison headphones are all focused on portability as well, and with the exception of the iGrados, they're all also in-ears.

In terms of a round score, the Vibe Duo was about average. They had the most absurd bass result by far, with the Denon AH-C351 headphones, which come in a distant second for loudest bass. The middle and high frequencies were similar to the Apple In-ear Headphones, since both featured a few minor peaks and valleys before the decibel level gradually tapered off.

The Vibe Duo headphones showed a small amount of distortion throughout the lower and middle frequencies: distortion hovered at the 1% level consistently. Typically 3% is noticeable and annoying. If you listen to music on the Vibe Duo, then listen on a pair with close to 0% distortion, you could probably tell the difference between the two. While we've had worse distortion scores, the Vibe Duo really didn't perform all that well. If you're a non-audiophile who's listening to MP3s on an iPod, however, don't let this score scare you: they'll play back your music just fine.

Distortion Graph

As you can see from the scores alone, the Vibe Duo had a problem with distortion: it's on par with the $30 Apple In-ear Headphones. The higher scores all hover around zero, then maybe spike up slightly at a few parts to about 1%, while the Vibe Duo operates pretty consistently at the 1% mark.

For the most part, the Vibe Duo had mediocre tracking. It starts out a little right-heavy, then moves to slightly left-heavy. Towards the high end of the middle frequencies, however, it starts to become a bit erratic. Towards the high end, it's typical to have tracking go a little haywire, but the Vibe Duo starts to oscillate at a lower frequency than we typically see.

The main area of concern is the first sharp, downward slope and the following peak. If you're listening to an instrument that straddles this frequency range, it might sound as though the musician is pacing back and forth while playing. The total decibel difference, from the lowest point of that valley to the top of the subsequent peak, is about 11 decibels. While this won't make for a stark shift, it will be perceptible.

Tracking Graph

Even though the Vibe Duo's performance wasn't bad, it performed the worst out of all the comparison headphones. Many of the other headphones have a relatively flat frequency response for quite a while, then get slightly erratic towards the high end. Though the Vibe Duo's tracking graph contains less sharp lines, it also spends less time at an even keel than other headphones. Again, while this performance isn't bad, isn't nothing audiophile-worthy.

The Vibe Duo was capable of outputting 115.16 dBSPL (decibels of sound pressure level). This is a good level of output. Anything above 120 and you're pushing hearing loss, so 115.16 is a good level if you want to stay away from hearing loss.

Out of all the comparison headphones, the Vibe Duo mustered the least decibel output. Again, while some users will definitely appreciate the louder outputs, once you get above 120 decibels you're in the danger zone. If you're looking for loud, however, the Denon AH-C351 and the Shure SE210 are on the stronger side -- just don't come crawling back with complaints of tinnitus.

The trend on the Vibe Duo headphones' isolation test results is typical: the higher the frequency, the more sound is blocked out. The Vibe Duo doesn't block out much bass, which means it might not be the best option for an airplane. In an office environment with buzzing fluorescence and high-pitched electrical whines, the Vibe Duo should shine.

Isolation Graph

The Vibe Duo was able to block out an above-average amount of noise for in-ear headphones. Typically in-ear headphones receive good isolation scores since they're basically ear plugs. The only headphones below that didn't receive a good isolation score were the iGrados, which were on-ear headphones with open backs.

Since the curves on all the in-ear headphones are similar, it's easy to compare exactly why the Vibe Duo is better or worse than any of the comparison headphone. The Duo was able to block out more higher-pitched sounds than the AH-C351 and the Apple set, but blocked out slightly less bass. The SE210s and the 6isolators blocked out a bit more of everything.

The Vibe Duo headphones, relative to other in-ear headphones, are downright terrible. Though the Duo's score is slightly above average, all our other in-ear headphones have received perfect 10s on this test. While no one on the bus would be able to hear your music, you should keep your Vibe Duo playback out of a library or other quiet location.

Standard comfort warning: our ears, head, and opinion on comfort are probably not identical to yours. We highly recommend trying out any headphones before you buy them, if you have such an option. In the case of in-ear headphones, however, most of the time you aren't allowed to crack open the box and shove merchandise into your ears. Such is the world we live in.

We test this section by customizing the headphones until we find the apex of comfort, then wear them for an hour. We found the V-MODA Vibe Duo headphones were as comfortable as the Denon AH-C351 headphones; both were comfortable, but we were always aware we had headphones in our ears. The Vibe Duo's ear buds squeeze right inside your ear canal. Typical in-ear headphones don't protrude all the way into the ear canal, so if you're not used to the sensation it might feel a bit uncomfortable. Also, this quality might makes the Vibe Duo a bad choice for children, or adults that don't know when to stop pushing foreign objects into their ear drums.

Overall, the Vibe Duo headphones are very comfortable for a set of in-ear headphones. The sleeves shouldn't put too much pressure on your ears, both because they're very soft and malleable to begin with, but also because there's three different sizes to choose from.

Over the course of six hours, we found the headphones held up really well. Somewhere around the three hour mark you might begin to feel some slight discomfort if the sleeves were too big, so downshift to a smaller size if that's an option. Again, the Vibe Duo headphones provide a comfortable wear experience.

The Vibe Duo's cord is about 46 and 1/8 inch from plug to ear bud. For those without calculators, this is just a bit over 3 feet, 10 inches. From neck split on down, the cord is just 13.5 inches. This is a typical length for a portable set of in-ear headphones, meaning they'll stretch from your ears to front pocket, but not much further.

A word to the savvy consumer: the plug on the Vibe Duo is not your standard 1/8-inch affair. Since this is a headset, the plug actually has three connectors on it: left channel, right channel, and microphone. While you won't notice a thing on iPods, iPhones, and many newer media players, there are a few that might not support this connection entirely -- especially older media players. This means your moldy old 8GB Creative Zen Microphoto will have weird-sounding playback: we noticed that some bass, ambient sounds, and the main vocals (not the harmony). The plug is a standard 1/8 inch affair, albeit a bit more stylized than the average plug. In any case, it's slender enough to fit into anything with a recessed headphone port, such as your old, dusty, original iPhones.

In-ear headphones have it easy when it comes to customization, since they can just include a plethora of unique sleeves (the rubbery/foam parts that protect the ear buds from your gross ear canal). In this case, you get three different sizes (small, medium, large) in two different colors (black, translucent white). Though we would've liked to see more options, six different pairs of sleeves isn't bad. The Denon AH-C351 headphones only have one set, in three sizes, but cost $50 less. The Etymotic Research ER6is come with three different sleeve options, two of which have multiple sizes, and are $40 pricier.

Customizability Image

Pictured above are the translucent white sleeves against a black background. They kind of look like jellyfish.

As a minor epilogue to the Vibe Duo's customizability, there is also a shirt clip included. It isn't the most crazy invention in customization, but, should you choose to implement it, your microphone dongle will always be on a short leash.

Portability is typically the name of the game when it comes to in-ear headphones, and the Vibe Duo headphones are no different. With a short, slender cord and barely visible ear buds, the Vibe Duo isn't a lot to lug around.

Further, you'll find a decent pouch included in your Vibe Duo box. The mouth of the pouch has two magnets in it, so it'll keep your sleeves and headphones secure. There weren't any devices for cord management, however, so you'll be responsible for keeping your cord neat and contained.

Portability Image

This pouch has magnets keeping it shut.

Unfortunately, the Vibe Duos and their slick aesthetics are difficult to maintain. The backs of the ear buds have a very thin, circular trough in them. Once something gets inside there, it'll be very visible, but also very difficult to get out.

Maintenance Image

Grime can easily hide in the circular trench on the back of the ear bud.

Further, like most in-ear headphones, the Vibe Duos don't have a lot you can disassemble. In fact, the only parts you can swap out are the sleeves. To facilitate that end, V-MODA provides a spare for each sleeve size. Granted, if you prefer the black sleeves, and lose them, most would probably just opt for a different size of black rather than the translucent equivalent.

Battery

These headphones require no sort of auxiliary battery power, which is a nice feature these days.

Remote & Mic

The microphone dongle is on the right ear bud's cord, before the neck split. The microphone itself consists of three slits in the top half of the dongle, while the button is on the opposite side of the lower half. The button is a bit small, but it's easy enough to find without looking down. The button does provide good tactile feedback, meaning you'll definitely feel when you've pressed the button.

Typically fashionable gadgets put a huge price on their aesthetic value. In this case, however, V-MODA really doesn't. At $100, the Vibe Duo headphones are attractive, yet still priced appropriately for what they offer. The only thing to keep in mind is that they're also a headset. If you plan on using this feature, awesome, but if you're not it could potentially screw you up: older media players won't play back music correctly through microphone-equipped headsets. Also, no one wants a useless microphone dongle weighing them down.

If you're checking out in-ear headphones and aren't a stickler for audio quality, the Vibe Duo headphones should definitely wind up on your list of potentials.

The Vibe Duo headphones are a solid pair of mid-range headphones. They're priced well, based on what they offer, and they have some interesting aesthetics as well. Like many in-ear headphones, the Vibe Duo is aimed at the portable media player market. The generic iPod-toting consumer won't care all that much about audio quality, since their music is overly compressed to begin with. Audiophiles typically won't bother with in-ear headphones anyway, since their compact form makes creating a soundscape a near impossible feat.

In any case, if you fit into this audience, the Vibe Duo will provide everything you're looking for. They're portable, have that mediocre audio quality that'll get you by (and a ton of bass -- do you like bass?), and they're also quite handsome as well. If you're looking for to replace your iPhone headset with something less ubiquitous than the iPhone headset, consider the Vibe Duo.

Meet the tester

Mark Brezinski

Mark Brezinski

Senior Writer

@markbrezinski

Mark Brezinski is a senior writer with seven years of experience reviewing consumer tech and home appliances.

See all of Mark Brezinski's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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