V-Moda Remix Remote in-ear headphones review: Approved for form, function, and fidelity

The universal truth about earbuds is that a proper fit can make a big difference in comfort and sound. Whenever someone asks me how they can get better noise isolation out of their existing headphones, I always respond with a question about fit: what material are the ear fittings? Have you tried out the other sizes? Are you inserting them in your ear properly? While the build material for the ear fittings is supremely important to achieving great sound, an equally important and often overlooked detail is the angle at which the cables protrude out of the individual earpieces.

V-Moda accommodates a "universal fit" as best it can with a slightly obtuse bend that should extend just slightly away from your ears, in hopes that the absence of something rubbing against your ear will help you to wear them for longer periods without physical fatigue.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Remix Remotes come with a bounty of accessories that help to create an ideal fit. You get four pairs of clear silicone eartips as well as four pairs of black ones that range in size from extra-small to extra-large, all of them featuring a conical design to match the shape of your ear canal. The goal of a properly fitted pair of ear buds is a degree of passive noise isolation without a "canned" response.

In other words, the music shouldn't sound trapped between your ears. V-Moda also goes a little further and includes an extra pair of detachable ear hooks that act as guiding stabilizers while you're going hard at the gym. Though the Remix Remotes aren't exactly marketed as "sport" headphones, their lightweight portability and the added accessories mean they're just as comfortable on the treadmill as they are in an office cube.

Before I jump into a description of the Remix Remotes' sound design, there's one more detail to point out in terms of V-Moda's commitment to quality. One of the inherent flaws in earbud headphone architecture is the process of joining the components inside. Almost all headphones are put together by hand in factories overseas, and a less-publicized fact is that even a small drop of extra glue outside the normal recommended size can cause up to 30 decibels of sound variance, even between the left and right channels.

These oversights can easily cause hearing loss in higher frequencies, and it's the manufacturer's responsibility to vet these occurrences on behalf of the consumer. V-Moda's version of quality control comes in the form of its variance guarantee, which states that all V-Moda headphones graduate from its testing program carrying a variance of 2 decibels or less from unit to unit.

V-Moda designs its sound profile for every headphone using a 31-band equalizer in its test labs, and the Remix Remotes are simply your best option if you don't want to spend more than $100. With frequencies that reach from 5Hz to 24Hz, the 9mm drivers and V-Moda's custom tuning serve nearly any genre well. They're also excellent at blocking out external noise, so these are certainly headphones to consider if you're shopping for something to take you away from the ambient noise of a daily commute or the drone of a busy office environment.

My only complaint about these headphones is that the cord tends to transmit rubbing noises to the earbuds when I'm walking around, but this is easily fixed just by affixing the plastic spring-loaded clip to a shirt.

Sound quality is often given too much weight when deciding the metrics by which to judge the overall quality of headphones. The V-Moda Remix Remotes do sound incredible, with crystal-clear highs and resonant bass, but they get our Editors' Choice Award because of their excellence in all the important categories: built from tough materials designed to last, paired with a generous two-year warranty, and protected by the company's "Immortal Life" replacement guarantee. These details give shoppers confidence that no detail was left unscrutinized. The Remix Remotes are a top performer in the sub-$100 category on CNET and deserve your serious consideration if you're on the lookout for a new pair of earbuds.

Best Headphones for 2020

All best headphones