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These new V-MODA S80 headphones have been billed as a unique hybrid model that can also transform into a portable speaker for sharing music with friends and family. The chic Italian brand, which belongs to the Roland family of companies, has won awards for its fashionable range of headphones.

The S80 are a completely new design of Bluetooth headphones featuring the sharp and stylish V-MODA look that the brand is renowned for. The build quality and design of these new headphones are superb. The weight of the headphones feels solid and well-made. Plump, soft ear pads and an upholstered headband contribute to the overall deluxe feel of the S80. The whole look is topped off with magnetic and removable decorative shields on each earcup which can be customized for a personal look.

Weighing in at 355g, the V-MODA S80 feel pretty heavy in the hand. The weight and a loose and comfortable fit mean the S80 don’t feel like the most secure headphones when exercising. I found they could easily fall off your when you least expect it. That said, the S80 feel very comfortable when worn, but maybe it’s best not to use them when working out at the gym.

The controls for skipping tracks, pausing music and taking phone calls are controlled by a cluster of buttons on the top of the left-hand earcup. There’s also a power switch for turning the headphones on and off. Unfortunately, what you don’t get with the V-MODA S80 is any kind of active noise cancelation, so if you want headphones for listening in noisy environments, this may not be the pair for you.

The two-way design is unique to the S80, which offers traditional on-ear listening and a second mode for listening to them like a wireless speaker. The idea is to make it easier to share music with friends. Switching from headphone to speaker mode involves simply twisting both earcups so the headphones can lay flat on a table or hang around the user’s neck. And with a battery life of up to 20 hours, there should be enough juice onboard for a late-night party.

When using them in headphone mode, the V-MODA S80 sound loud and fulsome but slightly bass heavy to my ears. That’s a deliberate tuning as these headphones are aimed at electronic music lovers who need a boost in the bass frequencies. The tone can be adjusted using the V-MODA smartphone app, so if you don’t like how these headphones sound straight out of the box, you can tweak their sound to suit your favorite genres of music. There are also some presets in the app to suit a range of musical genres.

The V-MODA S-80 include support for Qualcomm’s high-quality aptX HD audio codec and the AAC codec used by Apple for its iPhones and iPads. When the ear cups are twisted outwards, the headphones instantly transform into a personal wireless speaker. As soon as the earcups are flipped into a horizontal position, internal circuitry automatically adjusts the EQ of the driver units and pumps up the volume for the optimum sound presentation in speaker mode.

The S80 don’t sound all that loud when working in speaker mode and I don’t think they can compete with a purpose-built wireless speaker like one of JBL’s Charge of Flip models. I understand what V-MODA is trying to do with the S80, but I am not convinced it’s worked. I would happily use them as a pair of headphones for relaxed listening, but I think they fall a little short when it comes to speaker mode.

The V-MODA S80 headphones are available in a white finish with silver metal hardware, black with silver hardware, or black with rose gold hardware. There’s no question that these headphones are incredibly stylish and fabulous to look at when worn. In addition, the interchangeable magnetic shields in various colors add a personal touch to the headphones. There’s even a unique laser engraving and color printing service so you can create your custom shields with branding.

Verdict: The V-MODA S80 are superbly stylish headphones that feel beautifully made and look fashionable. They feel heavy at 355g, but the ear pads and headband padding makes them comfortable to wear. Straight out of the box, the sound is relatively thick and bass-heavy, but that can be tamed using the V-MODA smartphone app. The sound is punchy and solid, well suited to music with a strong rhythm. There’s plenty of volume on offer and the build quality is up to V-MODA’s usual high standards. Where these headphones disappoint is in speaker mode. They don’t sound all that loud and are more like a pair of headphones with the volume turned up. If the idea of a pair of headphones that can double as a Bluetooth speaker is something that excites you, then take a closer look, but test out the speaker function first to make sure it’s loud enough for you.

Pricing & Availability: The V-MODA S-80 wireless headphones with speaker mode are available now and cost $399.99 / £399.99 / €399.99. The custom OV3 magnetic shields are available for $24.99.

More info: V-MODA.com

Tech Specs:

  • Drivers: 40mm diaphragm.
  • Bluetooth version: 5.1.
  • Audio codecs: Qualcomm aptX HD, AAC, SBC.
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz.
  • Speaker sensitivity: 100±3dB @ 1kHz 1mW.
  • Impedance: 16Ω.
  • Weight: 355g.
  • Battery life: 20 hours playback.

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