As a brand, V-Moda has not shied away from big swings — particularly in the design department — and now with the S-80 two-way headphones, they’re taking a rather unique swing. Available soon via the V-Moda site, the S-80 is a brand-new pair of wireless-only Bluetooth headphones that looks similar to much of V-Moda line but behaves quite differently.
Sporting the V-Moda signature hexagonal enclosure shape, the S-80 passes pretty convincingly as any other member of the line … if you squint. On closer inspection, a soft, contoured approach to the edges — alongside angled control buttons and an asymmetrical metallic headband connector on each earcup — makes the S-80 headphones visually unique. V-Moda is also selling magnetic plates (with pretty zany design options) that are interchangeable so you can customize the outer look to your taste.
More so than the design, V-Moda’s approach to this product is perhaps most surprising in that they are “two-way” headphones. That means that you can listen to them just as you would any other set of on-ear Bluetooth headphones, or you can drape them around your neck or toss them on a table with the drivers facing outward to act as a portable Bluetooth speaker. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a headphone-and-speaker combo, but it’s rare to see a brand like V-Moda take this approach that could, to some, seem like a gimmick.
The key to this combo is the V-Moda software. Available with customizable EQ using a custom mobile app, you can adjust the EQ curve to your taste. Thanks to some internal sensors, when you flip the headphone’s earpieces outward, the app should boost the volume and trigger some DSP to shape the sound to better suit a Bluetooth speaker experience.
As Bluetooth headphones, they should also be serviceable. There’s the aforementioned EQ customization, which is always nice to see. V-Moda is also layering in aptX HD codec support to provide a 24-bit Bluetooth experience, which is important because there’s no wired option on these headphones for plugging into a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). You can, however, expect very little noise isolation because the earcups sit on your ear, not over your ear, and there’s no active noise cancellation on board. Overall, the S-80 should lend itself to a very specific type of listener but will likely not be ideal for those who want the best possible Bluetooth headphone experience — especially when you consider the high price.
The S-80 is available to pre-order for an expensive MSRP of $400 (with the OV3 interchangeable magnet plates going for $25) at the V-Moda store now. Orders are expected to ship in July.