V-Moda XS Headphone

Build Quality
PRICE $199

Wowie-zowie style
Nearly indestructible
High-impact sound
Over-40 crowd might feel awkward wearing something as hip as the XS

With the XS, V-Moda somehow made a bassy headphone even an audiophile could love.

Val Kolton started V-Moda ten years ago, but I didn’t meet the man until 2011. I thought he was their sales guy; he definitely didn’t look like an owner of an audio company, at least not like any I’ve met before. He’s a young, skinny, rock-star type, decked out in black leather and long, jet-black hair. Get him started, and Kolton will talk a mile a minute about music and headphones, but then again, so do I.

Beats followed V-Moda’s lead with high-style headphones, or as Kolton dubs it “fashion-forward wearable technology.” Folks buy V-Moda because they look and sound great, and Kolton knew they had to be durable. He’s a goal-oriented guy, and he didn’t rest until V-Moda’s ’phones excelled in looks, sound, and build quality.


V-Moda’s ’phones are all sleek, but the XS pushes sleek to the next level. This headphone doesn’t leave a gap between the headband and your noggin. Its form-follows-function aesthetic stands in sharp contrast to all of the bigger and bulkier ’phones on the market. The hinged design folds the XS into such a tiny bundle, the headphone might squeeze into your pocket. And it’s tough enough to withstand rough handling that would surely trash most high-end headphones. In fact, V-Moda claims the XS can survive repeated 5-foot drops onto concrete! To be on the safe side, V-Moda includes a compact “exoskeleton” carry case with the XS. The two-year warranty is twice as long as most, and if the XS breaks after that, V-Moda will sell you a new one for half the current retail price.

The XS has dual-diaphragm 40mm drivers, and an Apple-, Android-, Windows-, and Blackberry-compatible one-button microphone/remote cable (an optional three-button cable is in the works). The cable can plug into the left or right ear cup. A boom mike for Skype calls or gamers is also available. The phones come in two finishes, Matte Black or White Silver.

The XS may look like V-Moda’s older, soon-to-be-discontinued M-80 model, but the XS is a much more open-sounding headphone. Isolation from external noise is improved on the XS. Vocals are more fleshed out, the treble is sweeter, but resolution of fine detail is still quite good. Add it up, and the XS is a more listenable and comfortable headphone; I found the M-80 a challenge to wear for more than a few hours.


V-Moda’s full-size, over-the-ear Crossfade M-100 sounds bigger, with more and fuller bass. The M-100 can project a more spacious soundstage, while the XS sounds like a smaller headphone. I can’t blame it for that; most competently designed over-the-ear headphones sound bigger than the best on-ears—that’s just the way it goes. But bear in mind that the M-100 is bigger and less convenient to carry around than the XS.

To finish up my auditions, I compared the XS with one of the best-sounding mid-priced on-ear models on the market, the Bowers & Wilkins P5. That headphone has a more neutral tonal balance than the XS, but the XS’s bass has more low-end punch. It’s a difference you can feel. Both headphones produce wide-open soundstages, but the XS’s imaging focus is clearer than the P5’s.

The XS goes for $199 on most sites and $212 on the V-Moda site. Why the difference? V-Moda includes custom-engraved hexagonal “shields” that cover the ear cups. Upload your own design or a logo to have it engraved on the metal shields, and the company’s artists in Los Angeles and Milan will edit and optimize your design to look its best.

The head-hugging V-Moda XS looks and sounds like a winner to me.

jh20001's picture

I am a bit of a fan of the V-Modas. They don’t sound that bad at all as long as you don’t need a lot of bass in your ears. I first came across them in my RSS app on my phone. Poc Network has a review and I killed some time by looking up a few others. The results were pretty good as they seemed to like them and everyone bragged about how tough they are built. I stepped (don’t judge) on my Sonys and busted them so that was something that stood out (haha). They are really bright on the ears making vocal and dialogue very up front. Not the best for action flicks since they are like having a pair of Kickers on your head, but they sound good. I am happy with mine. (source: pocinc.net/blog/product-reviews/review-v-moda-xs-on-ear-headphones/)

mrAlucard's picture

I wonder if i can use it to play fps game ( mostly play league of legend)? i love listen to music/movie.