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Whether you want the best headphones for kids or adults, we have you covered.
It’s no doubt that V-MODA makes some standout headphones. The company’s flagship Crossfade M-100 over-ears was a big hit, launching a strong fan base and momentum into greater heights. Following that, V-MODA questioned, “Why should over-ear headphones get all the fun?”
As a result, an equally awesome on-ear alternative was born – the V-MODA XS. The great thing is that the XS isn’t just a shadow of its bigger brother, it stands on its own through some great design choices. Continue onto our V-MODA XS On-Ear Review to find out if this is the headphone for you.
Although, for another great option you’ll want to read our Urbanears Zinken petrol headphone review.
Price: $154 on Amazon
Model: V-MODA XS
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Excellently engineered with durable construction, efficient design, and killer sound.
Summary: The V-MODA XS does just about everything right, from its compact and form-fitting design to quality acoustics. We also wish more manufacturers would have this high standard for durability. However, on-ear headphones don’t give great isolation, and the XS is no exception despite them making our list of best headphones.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
The V-MODA XS carries over most of the aesthetics established with the preceding Crossfade M-100, from the sleek metal stem supports to the V-shaped emblems that terminate the headband. It also has that slick CliqFold hinge that allows the earcups to snap in and out of place (with a firm and satisfying click).
Being that the earcups are drastically smaller than in the M-100, the collapsed size when you fold the XS is outstanding. In fact, we were quite surprised when we saw how small the packaging was. The XS comes folded up within its included carrying case, and at first sight, it’s unbelievable that an over-the-head headphone can fit in such a compact space.
Speaking of which, the case is as sturdy as we’ve ever felt. V-MODA is known to build its products like a tank, and that ideal isn’t just limited to the headphones. The smooth-touch but hard shell feels like it can withstand a beating and have no problem protecting its precious contents. Small headphones are meant to use on the go, so we’re glad that V-MODA considers the details.
Related: If you prefer something different, check out our Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphones review.
The XS packaging simply reveals the headphones and an audio cable. Also like the M-100, the cable is detachable and can be placed on either ear cup. And like everything else, it is also built tough, with a braided reinforcement which V-MODA says can withstand over 1 million bends. It’s terminated by a 45-degree, gold-plated 3.5mm jack.
The earcups on the XS look like a shrunken version of the M-100 earcups, even down to the customizable plates that cap the surfaces. That’s right, you can also give the XS your own personal touch. V-MODA offers a wide of styles and materials to garnish your XS the way you want (albeit, at a wide range of costs).
The options include laser engraved Aluminum (from a selection or your own drawing) or 3D printed textures on steel, precious metals, or fiber. Sadly, the primary earcup housing isn’t as premium (hard plastic), but V-MODA promises that it takes abuse nonetheless. Although, you’ll need to know how to fix broken headphones if you ever do abuse them too much.
The XS comes in two flavors: Matte Black (our model) or White Silver. Aside from the differences in color schemes, the earcup plate on the Matte Black is fiber (black by default) and Aluminum (silver by default) on the White Silver model.
Related: Also check out our Torque T103Z Headphones review.
Part of V-MODA’s campaign on the XS was what it proclaimed as Mind the Gap. This notion refers to the gap that typical circular-shaped headphones leave between the headband and the user’s head. Addressing that would make for more efficient wear and the excellent compact size that the XS is able to achieve. Therefore, the sides of the headband are flatter than you’d normally see…and we think it works great.
You’ll immediately notice that the XS is tighter-fitting on the head than other headphones, but that in no way impugns ergonomics. Actually, the fact that more of the headband makes contact with your head makes for a better distribution of the weight. The XS isn’t the lightest-weight on-ear out there (195g), but that ended up of little consequence. We didn’t observe any headaches even after hours of use, which makes them a pair of top headphones with a mic to use.
However, being that we’re talking about an on-ear headphone, you may get some ear aching after extended use. This isn’t to say that the ear cup padding is inadequate; V-MODA does a great job. The supple, leather-wrapped cushions are plump and comfy on the ear (and the balance between pressure and isolation is perfect in our opinion), but it’s just the nature that if you have something pressing against your ears, you’ll feel it after a while.
Speaking of isolation, it’s as good as it can be. On-ears are also known to not be the best noise-isolating headphones. In contrast, over-ears are able to put more material between the environment and your ears. That said, the XS fits over your ear openings nicely and the leather material helps in blocking sound leakage.
So the XS has an excellent design; what about sound? Fortunately, V-MODA never lets off the gas and aims for quality through and through. The M-100’s killer sound is what helped propel V-MODA’s name to be among today’s greats. That, however, doesn’t mean there weren’t improvements to be had. We’re glad to say that the XS matures the M-100’s sound.
Headlining the refinement is the mid-range. There was a consensus with the M-100 that the mids were a bit recessed in favor of richer bass and treble. The XS’ sound is clearly more balanced. If anything, the mids are now the star of the show. Instruments like guitars are full-bodied and lush. In turn, that makes the overall presentation more engaging, and the larger presence of vocals adds a level of intimacy.
The detail in the treble still comes through strongly, and we think that the clarity punches above the XS’ price point. But alas, folks who loved the M-100‘s mighty bass may not hear exactly what they like. The XS’s sound isn’t for bassheads, but in actuality, on-ears can’t typically match the bass output of over-ear headphones. This isn’t to say that the bass on the XS isn’t well-defined. It is bold and can reach deep (the specs say that its outputs are down to 5 Hz), but the delivery is more delicate than powerful.
We were thoroughly impressed with the XS On-Ear. It’s a great step forward for V-MODA and one of the best-designed on-ear headphones that we’ve seen. Couple that with a superbly durable build and V-MODA’s killer sound quality and we see a winner, which is why it’s the top pick in our list of 6 of the Best On-Ear Headphones. However, that isn’t to say it works magic in regard to isolation; this still is an on-ear headphone. So make sure to consider what matters most to you in a headphone.