The V-Moda S-80 are a beautiful pair of headphones with a customisable design and a built-in speaker mode. However, its tough to justify their price and the speaker mode is disappointing.
- Sleek and customisable design
- Long battery life
- Plenty of bass
- The speaker mode feels a bit gimmicky
- UKRRP: £335
- USARRP: $400
- 2-in-1 designThese headphones can also be used as a speaker
- CustomisableMagnetic shields snap onto the ear cups
- Battery life20 hours from one charge
- Mobile appWith custom EQ and presets
The V-Moda S-80 are a premium pair of headphones designed to go beyond your everyday pair of on-ears by doubling as a personal speaker system activated by rotating the earcups.
V-Moda aren’t the first company to advertise this 2-in-1 design, but then this isn’t the S-80’s only interesting feature. Like V-Moda’s other headphones, this pair also features interchangeable magnetic “shields” that can be customised to fit your style with personalised designs and engraving options.
But are they worth the $400 price tag?
- Look and feel expensive
- Magnetic shields can be customised
- Don’t come with a carry case or bag
Its tough to argue with the style of the S-80. From the cool metal sliding arms to the soft faux leather band and plush foam ear cups, the headphones look every bit as high-end as they cost. There’s also a good amount of weight to them, which contributes to their expensive feel.
One of the more unique features here are the interchangeable magnetic shields. These arrive unattached to the headphones, letting you put them together yourself with a satisfying snap. The pair I tested arrived with plain black shields, but V-Moda encourages its customers to pick up custom shields to match their headphones with their outfit or give them a more personal touch. The brand offers shields in six colour variations, colour printing and a laser engraving service with prices starting at $24.99.
I did encounter a couple of issues with design. The biggest was the weight of the headphones, which I found caused the headphones to slip off my head when I turned too suddenly or bent down to pick something up.
The headband also felt quite tight and heavy across the top of my head, making me wish V-Moda had provided more padding for a more plush feel.
The S-80 also don’t come with a case, which feels like a big oversight considering how much these headphones cost. While I didn’t encounter any scratches during my time with them, I’d be afraid of them getting scuffed in my bag.
- The speaker mode lacks power
- There’s custom EQ in the V-Moda app
- The battery life long outlasts the brand’s 20 hour claim
The headline feature here is the S-80’s versatile 2-in-1 headphone and speaker design. All you need to do to activate the speaker mode is swivel the earcups until they’re flat.
While I appreciated how the headphones were able to detect when I rotated the ear cups, I didn’t find the speaker mode to be particularly powerful, losing out on much of the bass that comes through when being worn. The speaker also isn’t very loud, with the volume matching what I could already achieve with my phone.
These headphones also lack any noise cancellation or transparency mode. This isn’t a bad thing but something to consider if you’re shopping in this price range, as similarly priced efforts such as the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the B&W Px7 S2 do offer the tech. If you want V-Moda noise cancellers, you’ll need to shell out an additional $100 for the M-200 ANC.
Additional features, such as custom EQ controls and a number of presets like Rock, Pop, Hip-Hop and Jazz, can be found in the V-Moda app. I didn’t notice a monumental difference between the four genres when moving through them, but the manual mode allows for a good amount of personalisation. Other features include Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and support for the aptX HD, AAC and SBC codecs.
Battery life is one of the most impressive aspects of the S-80 as I found the playtime extended far beyond V-Moda’s claim. The company claims you can get 20 hours of listening out of the S-80 as a pair of headphones, or 10 hours as a speaker. I played music at a medium to high volume in the headphone setting and found they lasted as long as 28 hours – that’s 8 hours beyond the promised battery life. There is no support for fast charging or wireless charging.
- The S-80 include a 40mm driver
- The headphones lean toward the low end
- They miss out on some detail
The S-80 are powered by a 40mm driver that V-Moda says delivers a big, tight and aggressive sound. I actually found the audio to be slightly reserved for my taste in its default settings, but the custom EQ help with this by allowing you to personalise the sound.
The headphones produce a large amount of bass which gives the sound a full, warm quality. This causes the tonal balance to skew toward the low end, though the mids still have some power to them. The vocals in J-Hope’s Future sit just under the bass but still comes across exciting and energetic.
I do feel like the headphones miss out on some of the dynamism that comes with the high-end, with the backing singers in this song coming across a little suppressed, and the track doesn’t sound as crisp and detailed as it has through other headphones, such as the Beoplay EX true wireless I had on hand.
Moving on to a jazz number, Paul Desmond’s Easy Living paints a vivid stereo image with the saxophone moving in from the right. There’s still a lot of bass thrumming below the track, but the song is less busy, giving the other instruments more space to breathe in the wide soundstage.
Rotate the ear cups and turn the headphones into a speaker and the bass definitely loses some of its body. It doesn’t sound awful, but I’d struggle to envision many situations where I’d actually use the speaker function as it is quite quiet and a drain on the battery.
Should you buy it?
You want a truly unique pair of headphones: One of the most interesting design aspects here are the custom printed and engraved shields. For this reason, I can see these headphones making a fantastic birthday gift.
You want the best value for your money: The S-80 look great and offer a good amount of bass, but they’re light on features. You can get more for this price by looking elsewhere.
The S-80 are a pair of headphones that feel like they’ve been designed to show off, from the personalisable magnetic shields to the slightly gimmicky-feeling speaker mode. I can actually see them making a really nice gift for someone who likes to stand out as the headphones have a sleek design and an excellent battery life.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend these headphones to anyone looking to get the best value for their money. The audio leans a little too heavily toward the bass and lacks some detail and they lack many of the features found on other $400 wireless headphones.
In fact, all of our best headphones cost less than this, making the S-80’s price feel too ambitious for what it offers
How we test
We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used the headphones for a week
Listened to music streaming services
Drained the battery to determine how long it would last
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The V-Moda S-80 can be used as a speaker with the ear cups flipped up, or worn and used as a traditional pair of headphones.
You can personalise the look of these headphones by buying custom magnetic shields, or adjust the sound using the EQ controls in the smartphone app.
The S-80 have an advertised battery life of 20 hours, but we found the headphones lasted as long as 28 hours on one charge.
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