The V-Moda VAMP: An audiophile iPhone accessory fit for James Bond?


If James Bond was an audiophile (and who says he isn’t?) we probably wouldn’t know it, anyway. Arguably the world’s most famous fictitious spy, 007 is best known for roughing up his enemies, wiggling his way out of impossibly tight situations, wooing exceptionally hot women and, of course, sporting the slickest gadgets. And while we aren’t likely to see Bond lounging in a private jet listening to high-end headphones while sipping martinis (that just wouldn’t make for an engaging movie sequence — not even for product placement) we’re pretty certain that if we did, we wouldn’t see him faffing about with multiple pieces of audiophile gear aimed at making his smartphone sound…well…Bond-worthy.

While 007’s audiophile credentials will probably remain in question forever, we’ve had a bit of fun imagining what kind of kit Q would hook James up with for some sweet sounds to enjoy while jet-setting to a drug cartel smack-down. Apparently, we aren’t the only ones. Last month, V-Moda introduced the VAMP, an all-in-one headphone amp, DAC and battery pack designed to attach to the iPhone 4/4S which the company enjoys imagining is just the sort of thing a spy would be into.

The VAMP attaches directly to the iPhone and its 30-pin connector. This way, it can not only recharge the phone, but tap its digital audio stream for processing and amplification. The VAMP essentially bypasses all of the iPhone’s mediocre-sounding innards by routing the digital audio to its  built-in DAC, which converts the digital bits into analog sound. From there, the signal is amplified by the device’s dual 150mW high-fidelity headphone amps. The result is meant to be vastly superior sound quality. 

We think V-Moda is really on to something here, but we’ve got one rather big concern: the VAMP’s price. At $650, this is a seriously expensive solution, even if it is a tight little all-in-wonder that proposes to do the same job many audiophiles purchase multiple pieces of equipment for. The NuForce iDO, for instance, performs roughly the same job for $250, but then again, the iDO isn’t battery-powered and could hardly be considered portable.

Regardless, this is a first-generation product and the concept is pretty solid. While the VAMP may be making a rather pricy debut, it may end up justifying its price, provided it delivers where it counts. We have a review sample on the way and will be sure to tender our opinion in an in-depth review.

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