According to the specifications, the Bass Fréqs can go as low as 8Hz and deliver 20Hz frequencies at 122dB at 1mW, which explains the performance outlined above. This is easily low enough to cope with the range of sounds a CD or compressed audio file can pump out and a lot lower than the physical limits of most human ears. Just to have a little fun, I decided to give them a more intense workout using a tone generator to see how low they would go. And they certainly live up to their claims: I could clearly hear a sine wave tone at 20Hz and even a little below this.
In an effort to wrong foot them, I next loaded up Wynston Marsalis’ ”Root Groove”, which is littered with ear-splittingly high notes and loads of difficult, transients from the percussion. Sure enough, middle notes sounded a little muffled, while highs lacked the zing I’d associate with a really high quality pair of headphones. If you like to listen to a lot of classical or acoustic music, these headphones won’t be for you. In jazz, I found that the big bass sound tended to unbalance the rest of the music, favouring the double-bass and causing vocals to fade a little from the foreground. Shure’s E2C’s can still be had for around £50 if a flatter response is needed and a more natural sound, while its excellent SE210s can be had for not much more than this.
There’s no doubt that spending a little on a pair of after market headphones will realise a lot in terms of improved sound quality, and these headphones from v-moda prove that you don’t necessarily have to spend big bucks. They won’t suit anyone for whom balance and clarity is a priority and there are headphones for not much more that are better for classical and acoustic music.
But for electronic music and dance they knock anything I’ve heard into a cocked hat for the money. In terms of bass grunt and weight, there’s not much that can compete with the high-pressure lows that the Bass Fréqs can reproduce, and this bass is not as overbearing or ill-defined as you might expect.
Given that this is the area most bundled headphones are completely lacking in, and that it’s the area that iPods’ output tends to be light on, I think v-moda is onto a good thing here. They’re not perfect, but they are a very good deal indeed.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 7