V-Moda collaborated with HBO to design the $99 Revamp earbuds, but you don't have to be a die-hard "True Blood" fan to appreciate the subtle vampiric touches and V-Moda's unique sound design. The company also understands the importance of durability in an accessory that goes everywhere you do, and V-Moda tests its Revamps under rigorous military standards to ensure their longevity. The Kevlar-reinforced cable, rubberized end plug, and aluminum-metal housing are all built to last, and V-Moda covers it all under its generous two-year warranty. And although most Truebies probably don't need further convincing, we recommend the V-Moda Revamp headphones to vampires, telepaths, shape-shifters, and anyone else shopping for new earbuds with durability as a first priority.
Design and features
The Revamp earbuds' housings are crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum and achieve a near-universal fit thanks to two design features unique to V-Moda: first, the conical shape of the metal housing is only slightly larger than the silicone fittings, and this allows the earpieces to rest comfortably just before the deeper crevice of your ear canal.
Keep in mind that you aren't supposed to jam these headphones all the way into your ear canal like the Etymotic ER-4PT MicroPro earphones, but you should still be able to create a tight seal (crucial to getting the best sound) using one of the four sizes of silicone fittings: XS, S, M, and L.
V-Moda uses its own design for the silicone fittings, which it calls BLISS 2.0, or Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone, and the oval silhouette conforms better to the natural shape of your ear than the circular Monster Turbines. Of course, keep in mind that earbud fit is a subjective issue, and your ears may agree or disagree with those of this reviewer.
Second, the cable exits the earbud housing at an obtuse angle in such a way that the cable itself doesn't touch your ears; the position really helps to keep them secure. V-Moda also provides two detachable rubber sport hooks that wrap around your ears and prevent the whole system from shifting around no matter how much sweat you throw at it--we briefly tested the ear hooks while running and cycling, and found that we didn't even need them in place most of the time. Still, it's generous of V-Moda to include them in the box, along with the four black silicone tips and a black-and-red "True Blood"-themed carrying case.
I personally don't watch the show, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Revamps to someone in the same position: the light V-Moda branding, red Chinese characters on either side of the 'buds, and the "True Blood" logo on the remote are practically unnoticeable in motion. As pop-culture collaborative headphones go, the V-Moda Revamps are a classier adaptation than some of the gaudier products we've seen.
After meeting with V-Moda CEO and founder Val Kolton, we're satisfied that the company gives appropriate attention to structural details like the 4-foot, tangle-resistant, Kevlar-reinforced cable that terminates in an angled plug with strain-relief rubber to withstand the turns and movement of your media player in a pocket. Each pair of headphones that ships from V-Moda's warehouse undergoes strict military testing (MIL-STD-810G) to gauge the flex of the plugs and the bend of the cables, and the company tells us the cable is built to withstand more than 60,000 bends.
The Revamps are universally compatible with all devices that have a 3.5mm headset port. That also includes iOS and Android smartphones, and you'll find a remote control/microphone built into the upper portion of the wire that lets you control play, pause, and track navigation using the double and triple clicks that have become the standard. Unfortunately, the remote only has a single button for all those controls, instead of the three-button style that adds two volume buttons. Also, although the Revamps adequately block outside noise during phone calls, it's very easy to pick up the sound of the wire rubbing against clothing, creating audible feedback that can be distracting during a conversation.
V-Moda is quick to make distinctions between two types of music-lovers: "classic audiophiles" and "modern music audiophiles." If you fall into the classic audiophile category and insist on a completely neutral music signature with no imbalanced dips, the Revamps probably won't satisfy your need for reference imaging. The majority of V-Moda headphones are developed by modern music producers and DJs (Kolton is a DJ himself), so the sound adjustments like a flat impedance curve over the mid-to-high ranges reflect those powerful, bass-charged club environments.
The Revamps fared well with all the bass-heavy genres like rock, hip-hop, house, and dub, but failed to project the level of clarity and attention to vocals that jazz music demands. That said, the bass extension is so apparent that any music you pump through them carries a forceful bass extension, so keep your musical tastes in mind when considering these headphones.
V-Moda also endeavors to tell as many folks as possible about the company's TrueHz "revelation"--that competitive headphones often have as much as 30 decibels of variation from unit to unit, so each set can potentially sound different despite being the same make and model. Output can even differ between the left and right channels, so V-Moda makes it a point to show off its driver-testing program that it says ensures consistency across every model that makes its way out of the warehouse.
Although the V-Moda Revamp in-ear headphones feature "True Blood" stamps on the earbud housing and microphone, these headphones are suitable for "modern music" fans who will enjoy V-Moda's signature low-end thrust.