We love V-Moda’s headphones. Comfort, stellar build quality, customizability, and superb sound (though with a bit of extra bass emphasis) stand as hallmarks of V-Moda’s Crossfade headphones. These characteristics have also made V-Moda the most popular DJ headphone brand in use today.
V-Moda is taking their brand to a new market with the introduction of their new Forza in-ear-headphones. V-Moda sent us one of the first review copies of the new Forza in-ear-monitors back in September. We’ve been using these IEMs around town and across the country for several months and one thing is clear. While these are marketed as sports monitors, they are among the most comfortable IEMs we’ve ever tested and their sound brings audiophile-grade bliss in a portable package that slips easily into your wallet or stands up to the demands of any rigorus workout.
Italian Design and Build Quality
Before we get to all that, however, let’s talk about the V-Moda Forza’s build and design. The V-Moda Forza is Hi-Res Audio certified (though you can see our discussion on the definition of hi-res audio and the criticisms of the hi-res audio definition). 5.8mm micro drivers have a frequency range that extends beyond 40kHz. As with other V-moda models, the Forza are engineered and tested beyond Military-Level Quality MIL-STD-105 test standards.
What really sets the Forza apart, however, is its level of customized fit. You can wear the Forza as a traditional IEM and use one of the four different BLISS (Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone) fittings. V-Moda isn’t loading up a bunch of marketing lingo here. The silicone tips included with the Forza are nothing short of superb. I’ve derided other headphone manufacturers for using cheap silicone tips so here I’m heaping the biggest praise on V-Moda. These things stayed in my ear and created near perfect isolation for a tight seal every single time.
But V-Moda didn’t stop there. You also get two additional customizable add-ons so that the Forza can fit your preference and lifestyle perfectly. Rubber ActiveFlex Sports Fins fit on top of the IEM barrel and sit comfortably in your ear for an additional layer of comfort and stability. The Sport Fins come in three different sizes (S, M, and L) to give you a perfect fit and feel. But don’t be confused, ActiveFlex Sports Fins aren’t like those awful plastic ones you’ve seen in other headphones. They are so comfortable you don’t even realize they are sitting in your ear. I tested the Sports Fins on jogs and during my every-day travels and I never ever had a problem with the Forzas becoming loose or falling out.
The second add-on you get is a soft Ear Hook that allows you to wear the V-Moda Forza as an around-ear IEM that is perfect for running or a rough workout and you want to make sure that you the Forzas don’t fall out. As with the Sports Fins, the Ear Hook is superbly designed and implemented and among the most comfortable you’ll find out there.
The inline remote is a typical three-button SpeakEasy remote and microphone. It will work on both iOS and Android devices. People had no problem hearing me during casual or formal calls. As with other V-Moda microphones, the sound is high quality and trouble-free.
Rounding out the accessories, or I should say to hold all your accessories you get a sleek 3perforated sports pouch made of a 3-D fabric that is very soft and supple to the touch. It will hold the headphones and any Forza accessories you want to carry with you. V-Moda says that the pouch (like the Forza in-ear-headphones) are designed in Italy in their Milano facility.
Made for Sports
The V-Moda Forza are designed as sports in-ear-headphones and they fit the bill. V-Moda says they are mechanically sealed to be sweat and weather resistant. Unlike other sports headphones that I’ve had in that boast similar claims, the V-Moda’s cable is lightyears better than all the others. Normally, spots headphones means a stiff cable. That’s not at all the case here. The Forza’s cable is indistinguishable from any other IEM’s cable. It’s flexible and doesn’t give you a hint of resistance.
If I had to lay a constructive observation to Val Kolton, V-Moda’s CEO and design inspiration, it would be that I’d like to see a reflective strip put on the Forza. JBL has such a feature with their Reflex Mini and it’s very cool for late night outings.
V-Moda’s headphones are known for their customizability. You can order custom printed shields, add precious metal detailing and more. The same carries over to the Forza. You can order relatively inexpensive 3D-printed acrylic caps or go all-out with custom caps made of precious metals including gold and platinum. If you want to go all out, you can accessorize these $100 headphones into the thousands of dollars with brass, silver, gold, a variety of gold tones, and platinum. The really cool thing about V-Moda headphones is that you always have this option whether you take advantage of it or not and V-Moda’s CEO, Val Kolton, has made it a point to make V-Moda accessories compatible across various model generations so your investment never gets wasted.
Superior Comfort and Sound
I used the V-Moda Forza for a solid two and a half months and paired them with a number of hi-res audio players though I did most of my listening with the Astell&Kern A70 and Pioneer XDP-100R hi-res audio players. My observations below relate to my experience with those two players.
Well, let me cut to the chase, the V-Moda Forza are among the most comfortable and best sounding in-ear-headphones at their price-point that I’ve tested. Sometimes you’ll get one or the other but rarely both together. They are the only IEMs that I’ll dare to say are as comfortable as B&W’s C5 in-ear-monitors with their superb loop. In fact, the V-Moda Foraza were so comfortable that I frequently forgot I was wearing them. They never loosened, never popped out on their own, and always felt natural in my ears.
What really blew me away, however was their sound. Put them in and the sound is all V-Moda with one very surprising thing: the elevated bass that’s a feature of the V-Moda Crossfade and Crossfade Wireless isn’t there. If you’ve shied away from V-Moda headphones because of that, then take heart, the V-Moda Forza sound incredibly balanced, natural and, well, audiophile-grade.
Piano notes roll off effortlessly and beautifully—something you can’t ordinarily way with an IEM and certainly not one at the $100 price-point! Firing up “Remedy” from Adele’s 25 was case in point. The opening piano notes were full-bodied and emotive. In fact, the V-Moda Forza threw an uncharacteristically large and deep soundstage. Adele’s vocals were simply lush.
When called to do so, the V-Moda could jam to just about any genre. The hi-res version of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memory burst forth with life and dynamics. Classical recordings were masterfully conducted and reproduced. The trumpets in Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” sang with beautiful timbral accuracy and the bass drums had impact but didn’t come across in an overly bombastic way. As I mentioned before, the voicing on the Forza is more akin to audiophile neutral tastes than bass-emphasized DJ sound.
V-Moda’s Forza in-ear-headphones are super-sounding and oh-so-comfortable. I absolutely loved them and they have gone from being a typical review pair to my favorite, general purpose IEM. For $100 the V-Moda Forza are a downright audiophile bargain. They really raise the bar in so many ways. So much so, in fact, that I plan on keeping and using the review pair. Very highly recommended and one of our picks for best IEM of 2016.