(Pocket-lint) - V-Moda has won accolades and superlatives from all sectors for its big on-ear and over-ear headphones. The in-ears have been around a little while, but somehow have been a little outshone by the bigger sibling. And with the V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless, we may just have found one of the best pairs of neckband style earphones available.
V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless review: Design
- Sweat/weather resistant
- 3 pairs of sports fins
- 8 pairs of tips - XS, S, M, L
- 22.5 grams
V-Moda earphones are instantly recognisable for their stylish, eye-catching design. Specifically, on their big over-ear headphones, the chunky hexagonal cans are easy to distinguish from their competition. This same design appears on the in-ear Forza Metallo too, except the earbuds are naturally much smaller. Indeed, they're impressively tiny.
If the basic design hasn't got quite the level of flair you desire, you can also buy 3D printed caps to slip over the top.
Unlike most members of the recently developed "neckbud" family - which features the likes of the Bose QC30 and Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless - the Forza Metallo's neckband doesn't extend all the way around your neck.
Rather than have a relatively thick collar made of plastic covering resting around your shoulders, the V-Moda has a single elongated hexagonal plastic housing that sits on the back of your neck. The idea is that you can hide it under a shirt collar if you want to. As a bonus feature, there's a vibrate motor inside which vibrates when powering up and down, or when you're receiving a call.
The rest of the Forza Metallo's neckband is made up of what is essentially some thick and fairly rigid cabling, which still offers some flex. It sits almost unnoticeably on the shoulders. More importantly, it's a durable design that makes it very hard to break and - while it's easy to bend and flex - it always keeps goes back to its original shape. V-Moda calls this Titanium Traplock Ergonomics.
Of the neckband style headphones we've tested so far, these are by far the least obtrusive and most comfortable to wear. You still get the freedom of movement, thanks to the slack in the earbud cable, but you don't get the full collar made of chunky plastic.
Right at the end of this neckband on both sides are inline controls, each shaped like elongated hexagons to keep with the brand image. The left control has the power button, which also doubles as the pairing button. On the right are the three buttons with the usual set of functions.
The middle button plays and pauses music, as well as accepting and ending calls. You can also skip forwards by double-pressing it, and skip backwards by triple pressing. Top and bottom buttons, as you'd expect, adjust the volume. Despite these button being close together, we found it easy to tell them apart by touch alone, thanks to their placement and texture.
One other minor thing with the buttons we enjoyed - probably more than we should - is that the power button powers the earphones on and off with a single press. No pressing-and-holding for a few seconds and waiting to see an LED light. Click and it's on. Click again and it's off. Easy.
While they might not look like sports headphones, V-Moda has built the Forza Metallo Wireless to outlast even your sweatiest workouts. As well as being finished with a protective nano-coating against sweat and rain, they come with different sized "sports fins". These hold onto the inside of your ear to keep them fitted securely. In our testing, they worked well, and because the material used is quite flexible, they don't feel uncomfortable at all. Not once did they feel like they would slip out.
As well as the sports fins, the Forza Metallo come with eight pairs of eartips. There are two each of the usual small, medium and large sizes, but there's also the very tiny extra-small tips which just about cover the ends of the drivers.
When in the ear, they close you off from outside world very effectively. That does mean quite a snug in-ear fit that might be uncomfortable for some. There's definitely that sense of the "need to pop my ears" when the air is squeezed in. Despite this, we were able to wear them for a few hours at a time without experiencing any real discomfort.
V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless review: Performance and Battery
- 10 metre range
- 10+ hours battery
- Fully charged in 90 minutes
- Pair two devices
Like its big brother, the Crossfade II Wireless, the Forza Metallo is equipped with Qualcomm's aptX connectivity technology. That means you get high quality audio - sadly not Hi-Res - and a rock solid, reliable Bluetooth connection. In our testing it didn't drop its connection once. And, as a kicker, it's capable of being paired to two devices simultaneously.
Similarly, the battery life is pretty impressive too. V-Moda claims 10 hours or more of playback from a full charge, which puts the Forza firmly in the same territory as the Powerbeats. Sadly there's no app to give you an accurate view on the battery level, but you do get a little indicator in the iPhone status bar. Even after between four and five hours of listening to music through Spotify, the battery indicator still showed it was more than half full, so we've found the 10 hours playback claim to ring true.
Real life battery usage will vary depending on what you listen to, and at what volume, but our testing suggests you should be able to get through your daily commutes for a full week without needing to plug them into a power outlet. When you do plug them in, they use "quick-charge" to give you a full top up in 90 minutes, or two hours worth of juice in just 15 minutes.
V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless review: Sound
- Qualcomm aptX
- 5.8mm micro hi-res driver
- 10Hz - 22,000Hz frequency response
V-Moda hasn't ever been a company seeking to offer a flat, audiophile grade sound from its earphones. But it does, somehow, create an addictive signature that's a very good listen.
What impressed us is how these small 5.8mm micro hi-res drivers handle bass. With a frequency response of 10Hz-22,000Hz they can get down into the really low frequencies, and when there is some really deep bass in a track, these earphones cope well. It's loud and full, and doesn't buckle under the pressure.
For some, the overall sound might be a little too bass-heavy, but despite its bassy nature, the middle and high frequencies are well catered for too. The balance seems just as suited to guitar solos, vocals and backing instruments as it is to bass. You can hear all the little details in the audio, which almost makes you forget that they're not Hi-Res certified. "CD Quality" here sounds plenty good.
Unlike more expensive earphones, the V-Moda in-ears don't feature any electronic-based noise cancelling. With that said, we found that the earbuds fit tightly enough to all but kill any ambient noise. We would recommend trying all the different ear tips because this snug fit and seal is essential for the sound quality and noise isolation.
Of all the neckband earphones we've tried so far, the Forza Metallo are the pair with the fewest compromises. The design is subtle and attractive, with a well designed neckband that can be easily hidden. The sound is fab, too, enveloping you in the music with enough bass to keep even the most enthusiastic dubstep fans happy.
With the solid wireless performance, battery life and sensible approach to inline controls, it's hard to find a negative point to say about the Forza Metallo Wireless. The only gripe we think many will have is that "sealed in" sensation when you push them into your ears - but it's not extreme enough to dissuade our recommendation.
Indeed, we'd go one better than recommending as these in-ears sound simply ace. And all for less than $200. That's a bass-banging bargain.
Alternatives to consider
Sennheiser Momentum in-ear wireless
One of the major benefits of the Sennheiser neckbuds is the CapTune app which lets you fine tune the audio to suit your preferences. They're a similar price to the V-Moda earphones, and have a collar covered in soft, sheepskin leather. The eartips are a little less invasive, the battery life is the same and the default sound isn't as bassy heavy as V-Moda's.
Read the full article1: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless review
Bose QuietControl 30
Bose's high-end QC30 earphones also use the now-popular neckband design and feature an impressive active noise cancelling system. Bose's app also makes it easy to fine-tune how much ambient noise you want to let through. Sound quality is great to, and the wide cone-shaped tips are very easy to wear. These will cost you £100 more than V-moda's pair though, and are noticebly chunkier.
Read the full article: Bose QuietControl 30 review