V-MODA Remix Hi-Fi Bluetooth Speaker

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by dalethorn, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Joined:
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    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review:

    Photos:
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/iPhone7p/Speaker_Vmoda_Remix_Silver_01.jpg
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/iPhone7p/Speaker_Vmoda_Remix_Silver_02.jpg

    Sources: iPhone7-plus, iPad Pro Mini, Macbook 12-inch computer.

    Getting right to the point, the V-MODA Remix sound quality is quite good for the relatively small size of this Bluetooth speaker. I won't comment on price at this point, because that will come down to sound, build quality, features, and customizability. I don't know of any Bluetooth speaker of this size or type that offers what I'm going to describe, so let's see how that goes. My Remix speaker is the silver version, and there is also an identical Remix available in black.

    I've had more than a few Bluetooth speakers - several of the Soundmatters models, large and small Jambox, Bose SoundLink Mini and SoundLink Color I and II, JBL Charge, Harman Esquire Mini, several of the UE's, several Altecs, etc. The Bose Bluetooth speakers put out quite a lot of bass that might work outdoors, but indoors I always had to turn the bass down on those because it was too muddy. It's the same deal with the UE's. The others didn't project much in the way of real bass - the kind you can feel a little bit as well as hear some undistorted bass tone. That last phrase describes the Remix bass, and that works without having to play against a wall or in a corner, which many such speakers depend on for reinforcement. The problem is, that reinforcement nearly always muddies up the bass.

    The Remix midrange depends a lot on placement and volume. It's certainly clear and clean with good fidelity, but for best balance in intimate listening, you should try moving it closer or further away at different volumes, until it sounds right to you. In a conference setting or a small get-together where the Remix (or multiple daisy-chained Remixes) are filling a larger area with sound, the balance will be determined by the room itself - whether it's highly reflective or absorbent, or completely open, with no reinforcement at all. The Remix's highs go way up the hi-fi scale - at least as high as most people can hear, but the treble balance is very dependent on whether you sit close, directly in front of the speaker, or further back where room reflection and absorption kick in. I know this sounds like big-speaker talk, but the same rules apply here, only you get more flexibility with the smaller speakers.

    Try "Katerine" by the Jim Ruiz Group or "Crying For No Reason" by Katy B, to get a sense of the typical bass impact and detail. These are not especially bassy recordings, but the Remix provides a visceral feel that belies its small size. To best appreciate the midrange, listen to "Bailando Entre Espuma" by Israel 'Cachao' Lopez for its sharp-edged horn sounds, or "Trains" by Porcupine Tree for the sheer amount of percussive energy it contains. Many of the "hi-fi" Bluetooth speakers will sound a little too rough or edgy with these tracks, but the Remix sails through them without harshness or significant colorations. Also check out "Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix)" by William Orbit or "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak, two high treble energy recordings that can be ear scorchers with other hi-fi Bluetooth speakers. The Remix plays these two tracks with silky smoothness.

    The Remix that I ordered is the silver-color version, which can be seen in the accompanying photos. I put the red 'RemixRings' on each end, and you can also see the black rings in the photo. When adding any 3D custom housings or grilles to the speaker, these RemixRings secure those custom attachments to the speaker. Besides Bluetooth operation, a V-MODA double-miniplug cable is included to connect to a music player's headphone jack. The flat-ribbon charging cable is USB-A to USB-C, which is a nice forward-looking touch - just like my Macbook 12-inch. There are no compatibility issues here, since the USB-C connector is for the speaker and the standard USB-A connector goes into whatever USB port you have available (computer, iPod charger, etc.)

    If you do order customizations for the Remix, or are just curious about its modularity, you can remove the 4 screws under the RemixRings and pull off the main aluminum housing, then remove the grille to see the driver units. I see a large-ish passive radiator on the front, but there is also one on the back. Whether both are contributing to the sound I don't know. The main drivers are close to 2 inches in diameter, which is nearly double that of most of the small Bluetooth speaker drivers, with more than triple their radiating surface area. The Remix also contains an audiophile-quality amplifier output ('VAMP') that can drive headphones or external powered speakers, and multiple Remixes can be daisy-chained in Bluetooth or wired configurations.

    In addition to the music tracks noted above, I'm including a few more examples below with comments about how the Remix sounds with each track, in case a reader wants to compare these comments to other reviews I've done to evaluate the differences.

    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The Remix plays this high-energy track brilliantly.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the Remix.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled perfectly by the Remix.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The Remix reproduces the space and detail extremely well.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some speakers, but the Remix renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The Remix plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine sound is clearly identifiable.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The Remix plays this track quite well.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some speakers. The Remix provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the Remix does those very well.

    Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the Remix renders this music as good as I've heard such an energetic pop-rock recording played with any small Bluetooth speaker.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The Remix reproduces the 'clop' portion of that sound with a lighter tonality than most larger speakers.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the Remix renders the tones and transients perfectly.

    Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The Remix's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.
     
  2. Oscar Stewart

    Oscar Stewart Administrator Staff Member

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    Great review dale, good to see more well performing bluetooth speakers out there
     
    dalethorn likes this.
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