When you make one of the most best-sounding and best-looking headphones on the market, it'd be easy to simply keep churning out winners. Instead, V-Moda has set its sights on the Bluetooth speaker market, launching the Remix ($300 starting; $399 as reviewed).
The first speaker in the company's lineup, the Remix is also the first Bluetooth speaker to feature an integrated headphone amp. It can stream high-res audio, has some serious bass and is one of the few speakers you can outfit with precious metals. In short, it's a kickass Bluetooth speaker and an eye-catching showpiece in one customizable package.
The Remix might be the prettiest speaker I've seen in my career as a tech reviewer. Clad in lovely anodized aluminum in a removable, C-shaped unibody case called a C-Shell, the Remix is at once a conversation starter and a showpiece. And if glistening metal isn't your thing, you can get the base model of the speaker in lovely black vegan leather.
The sides of the device are made of black plastic, while the front is made of black 3D-printed fiber. The aluminum case has a slight groove along both sides, which house the two rectangular "Remix Rings" that help the optional sides fix properly on the speaker.
There's a large rectangular hole cut out in the top for the row of buttons (Power, Volume Down, Multifunction, Volume Up and Pair) made out of luxurious soft-touch material. My favorite accent is the stylized V emblem located below the buttons. The rear of the C-Shell reveals another rectangular hole, this one exposing the black metallic grille. There's a glistening V-Moda logo in the lower left corner with a USB Type-C port and jacks for the VAMP/Aux Out and Aux In.
Weighing 1.9 pounds and measuring 8.1 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches, the Remix is bigger and heavier than the Fugoo Style (1.1 pounds, 7.4 x 2.9 x 2.3 inches). The Fugoo has a IPX67 rating, meaning it's waterproof and dustproof, something the Remix can't boast.
It just wouldn't be a V-Moda if there wasn't some sort of customization. But the company has really pulled out the stops for Remix -- starting with the C-Shell. If you're not into vegan leather or aluminum, you can get a C-Shell made from 3D-printed fiber in black or white with two design choices for $150 each. In addition, the front grille can be customized with three designs and two material options: fiber ($40) and steel ($140).
You can also purchase a pair of custom sides available in three different patterns in several mediums, including fiber. However, similar to the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless and Crossfade 2 headphones, you can customize the speaker with premium materials such as steel, brass, sterling silver, rhodium,14k yellow, rose and white gold as well as platinum.
Keep in mind that all that finery doesn't come cheap -- the steel jacks the price up from $300 to a whopping $1,300, while the platinum option brings the price tag to a Robin-Leach-worthy $370,300. The sky (and your bank account) are the limit.
While not as extravagant as the Remix, the Fugoo Style offers a measure of customization in the form of three different jackets: Sport, Tough and Style. For $39 each, you can give the Fugoo a new look whenever you see fit. Fugoo also offers bike mounts ($19.99) in case you want to make the speaker even more portable.
MORE: Best Bluetooth Speakers
Not content to just make a pretty speaker, V-Moda added plenty of bells and whistles to the Remix portfolio. It's the first Bluetooth speaker to feature an integrated headphone amplifier using the company's VAMP technology. For the uninitiated, headphone amps are used with audiophile-grade high-impedance headphones (25 ohms or higher) to achieve better detail, clarity and dynamic range by providing more power with which to drive audio.
But headphone amps can improve the audio on most headphones whether they're high-end or bargain bin. All you have to do is plug your cans into the VAMP/Aux Out jack, and you're ready to rock. Considering that buying a headphone amp separately would cost at least $99, it's a nice value add.
V-Moda didn't stop the high-fidelity party with the VAMP. The Remix can also play high-resolution audio formats (FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WAV and DSD), so feel free to whip out the Pink Floyd, Kendrick Lamar or Anita Baker the way they were meant to be heard. It definitely let me get the most out of my Hi-Fi Tidal subscription.
Thanks to its rear-mounted bass reflex port, the speaker delivered deep lows without drowning out Kendrick Lamar's spirited exhortations on 'DNA.'
One Remix is nice, but I'm a firm believer in the more, the merrier -- and apparently, so does V-Moda. Similar to other competitors in the space, you can daisy-chain multiple Remix speakers to get even better audio. Unfortunately, daisy-chaining means the speakers will be tethered via an audio cable, which kills any hopes for a multiroom setup.
Audio Performance: So Much Bass
More bounce to the ounce, the low-end theory -- however you describe your bass, the Remix has it. Thanks to its rear-mounted bass reflex port, the speaker delivered deep lows without drowning out Lamar's spirited exhortations on "DNA."
The bass was so deep that I could feel the vibrations through the mattress when I placed the Remix on my bed. The Fugoo Style has a respectable amount of knock to it, but nowhere near the Remix. However, the Style did have a more spacious soundscape, which gave the individual parts of the track room to breathe.
Although I could hear the distinct strumming of the bass guitar on both speakers when playing Chris Stapleton's "Tennessee Whiskey", the Remix had the warmer audio. The two-part harmony sounded sweet as the strawberry wine Stapleton sings about. The same measure on the Style was a little distorted on the high end.
The Remix gets loud -- louder than a speaker this size has any right to.
Something else to keep in mind when you're listening to the Remix: it gets loud -- louder than a speaker this size has any right to. But what really caught me off guard is how balanced the audio is at maximum volume. Where the highs tend to get screechy and distorted on other speakers, the Remix keeps everything well in hand.
Speakerphone: Can You Hear Me Now?
When it wasn't filling my kitchen with surprisingly powerful bass, the Remix did a good job filling in as my speakerphone. If a call came in, the music immediately paused and was replaced by a pleasant ring. A quick press of the multifunction button, and I was chatting with my caller. Most calls delivered crystal-clear audio on both ends, but there was one instance where my mom complained of a slight echo.
Battery Life and Bluetooth
V-Moda claims the Remix's 3,400-mAH battery will last up to 10 hours on a charge. I put the speaker to the test while I spent the day deep-cleaning my apartment from top to bottom, with some laundry thrown in for good measure. Even though I tapped out after 6 hours and 48 minutes, the Remix was still pumping out the jams.
Similar to other Bluetooth devices, the Remix has a range of 33 feet. However, I was able to walk 50 feet down a hallway before the sound cut out. The audio cut back in as soon as I stepped back in range.
V-Moda never fails to impress. The Remix delivers loud, balanced audio worthy of a speaker twice its size. You get the added bonus of the headphone amp, which can greatly improve your private listening experience, or you can share the audiophile love and stream some high-res audio with your friends. And if you're really fancy, you can augment your speaker with some precious metal accents that look great.
For $89, you can get the Fugoo Style speaker, which delivers solid audio. It's also dust-, drop- and waterproof and has some customization, thanks to its $14.99 sleeves. Hell, you can even mount it on your bike if you want to take the show on the road. But if you're looking for a high-end audio experience, at a relatively affordable price, you'd be hard-pressed to beat the V-Moda Remix.
Photo credit: Jeremy Lips/Tom's Guide