“V-Moda’s first ever Bluetooth speaker sounds as good as it looks, offering power, pizazz, and a widely revealing soundstage.”
- Wide and revealing soundstage
- Nice sub-bass response
- Crisp high-end definition
- Extremely loud for size
- Built-In headphone amp
- Some low-end distortion at full volume
- No included wall charger
- 10 hour battery life could be better
Since its inception nearly 10 years ago, V-Moda has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of high-quality portable audio devices. But while the company has made some of our favorite headphones and portable headphone amplifiers in that time, the brand (now owned by Roland) had never released anything that could actually fill a room with sound — until now.
This week V-Moda let loose its latest audio feat in the Remix, the company’s first ever Bluetooth speaker. Small, feature-packed, and offering the same extremely dynamic soundstage we’ve come to know and love from the Chicago-born brand, the Remix is easily among the best small footprint speakers we have tested (though at $300, it’s priced accordingly).
Out of the box
The Remix comes in a long rectangular box with V-Moda’s signature Lamborghini-orange accents. The all-black speaker sits in a molded inlay, and a side section contains a small box of accessories. Those include some instruction materials, a flat USB Type-C to Type-A cable for charging, and a braided 3.5 mm audio cable for wired connection. Both cables show elements of the company’s sharp-edged Italian design signature, with cool angles custom molded onto the ends.
Curiously, V-Moda didn’t included a wall charger in the package, something we normally expect as a given even for much more affordable speakers.
Features and Design
Despite V-Moda’s penchant for flashy, modern design, the Remix’s style is relatively subtle on its own. The speaker is carved into a small black rectangle, coated in a material reminiscent of the durable black vinyl found on classic guitar amps. The speaker’s front and rear have simple hexagonal metal grilles to protect the drivers beneath. A silver logo at the grille’s bottom right side and some white labels on the controls are the only features not layered in black.
Those looking to add a bit of visual pizazz to their Remix will be happy to know that — like most V-Moda devices we’ve encountered — the speaker’s visual aesthetic is customizable via a series of add-on 3D accents, including printed cases and grilles. These add-ons range from basic $40 upgrades to lavish designs in 14k gold that cost thousands of dollars. But regardless of how you wrap your Remix, it will be secured via a pair of small screws and two thick, rectangular rubber bands on the left and right sides which also serve as feet.
While the massive volume is impressive, the vibrant and revealing soundstage is even more so.
While it’s nice to know customization is so simple, we’re inclined to leave the Remix in the standard black case, as it’s rare to find such a pleasantly unassuming Bluetooth speaker.
The speaker’s backside features a USB Type-C port for rapid charging, as well as a pair of 3.5 mm ports for both incoming and outgoing audio, labeled “In” and “Vamp,” short for V-Moda amplifier (more on that below). On top are rubberized buttons for power, volume, and pairing, and a multifunction button for play/pause, song skip, and Siri/Google Voice functionality, depending on the number of presses.
The multi-function button also lets you control whether or not audio is coming out of the speaker itself or being routed through the Vamp port. That’s because the Remix is hardwired with technology from V-Moda’s dedicated Vamp headphone amp. This will be a plus for those who don’t already own a dedicated headphone amp, as the analog circuitry offers higher quality audio than what you’ll get from your phone or PC alone. The Vamp port also allows multiple Remix speakers to be daisy chained together for a bigger overall sound system.
Another cool feature aboard the good ship Remix is that two paired Bluetooth devices (such as your phone and your computer) can be connected to the speaker at once, which does away with the pain of constant reconnection or cable changing for those who want to swap back and forth.
The Remix’s 3400 mAh battery is rated at over ten hours by V-Moda, which is about average, though we wish the speaker had a little more juice at this price. The speaker’s lone LED flashes when the battery is low, pulses when charging, and burns white at full charge. Tapping the power button with the speaker powered on allows for battery status, flashing between one (the lowest) and four times (max battery life).
Pairing with V-Moda’s Remix is simple and easy. Once the device is on, simply hold the pairing button for three seconds, at which point a loud tone will strobe on and off until you connect to it via your device’s Bluetooth settings window.
To use the Vamp amplifier, simply connect the audio cable from the Vamp input to the output of your source device, turn the speaker on, and tap the multifunction button once. Unfortunately, the speaker doesn’t include a digital connection so you can’t override your source device’s inferior DAC (digital-to analog converter), but it’s still a nice option.
One of the most important elements of any Bluetooth speaker is how loud it can get, and the Remix absolutely delivers on that front.
Despite its size, the Remix easily fills an average room and it’s well equipped to provide enough noise for any outdoor gathering save an actual dance party — an environment we sadly weren’t able to test in during a dreary Oregon winter. When compared to similarly sized competitors like the Riva S, the Remix was significantly louder overall, though at three times the price, it should be.
While the Remix’s massive volume level is impressive in its own right, it’s made even more so by a very vibrant and revealing soundstage characterized by deep sub-bass response and extremely vivid highs.
We found ourselves deeply enjoying the sounds of jazz like Joshua Redman’s groovy organ trio cut Jazz Crimes — a hard genre to pleasurably reproduce on a portable speaker at this size. Cymbals and hi-hat exhibit a bright and shimmery quality we typically only hear from larger, higher-end speakers, and we could hear the subtle reedy elements of Redman’s tenor saxophone clearly in the mix.
Layered pop music like songs from Beck’s Morning Phase come through with rich presence, and each element of the sound pops out as it should. Radiohead’s In Rainbows was equally impressive, delivered with a slight peak in the high-mid range that suited Thom York’s voice well.
Despite V-Moda’s penchant for flashy design, the Remix arrives in a beautifully subtle package.
The audio quality was even evident when listening to lo-fi hip-hop like MF Doom and Madlib’s Madvilliany. The Remix is able to separate all elements of the sound accurately, with even the deep bass kicks occupying a separate space. This is likely thanks to the passive radiator at the rear side, which allows for convincing sub-bass reproduction.
The only gripe we have is that bass-heavy music can begin to distort a bit at maximum volume. We noticed this particularly with the sub-bass laden songs from Canadian electronic producer Kaytranada’s album 99.9%. We also heard moderate distortion in other genres at top volume. Still, the distortion goes away when the speaker is dialed back by around 10 percent, and even at that reduced volume level the Remix is still very loud.
Vamp audio performance
We listened to the built-in headphone amp by wiring the included audio cable directly to our Moto X Pure Edition Android phone with a pair of Thinksound On2 headphones. Even without the inclusion of a dedicated DAC, we immediately noticed an increase in overall fidelity. The soundstage on albums like The Dirty Projectors’ Gun Has No Trigger opened up significantly, sounding wider and more elegant. The stereo-mixed female voices in particular occupied more individual space in the sound. Bass response was also rounder and more punchy, with tighter definition.
While we wish the speaker included a separate DAC (those found in most computers and phones are pretty lacking in audio fidelity), the ability to use the Remix as a headphone amp may be a real draw for those without one, and therefore helps justify its higher price tag.
With a wide and revealing sound signature, a large and unique feature set, and multiple ways to customize the design, V-Moda’s Remix speaker is an extremely high-quality portable Bluetooth option.
Is there a better alternative?
The Remix competes with several of our favorite portable speakers at its $300 price point. Riva’s excellent Turbo X and the Ultimate Ears’ Megaboom can be had for about $50 less, and Bowers and Wilkins’ incredible T7 runs about $50 more. While all of these are excellent choices, added features like the integrated headphone amp, as well as visual customization options still make the Remix a worthy adversary.
How long will it last?
Given V-Moda’s history of well-built products and the overall solid feel of the Remix speaker — plus the ability to replace the outer shell — we imagine that it will last through many years of use.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you’re looking for a great sounding, highly portable Bluetooth speaker with a few added bells and whistles — and you’ve got some extra cash to spend — the Remix is an excellent option.
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