V-Moda is a company that prides itself on doing high-grade audio. So, it’s not surprising that they’ve been reluctant to get into wireless and exercise products — markets where some audio quality usually gets sacrificed. But, they did a pretty solid job on the wireless Crossfade over-ears, and while the limited edition Zn in-ear monitors still felt more like premium in-ears than anything suitable for running, they represented the company’s first attempt at active headphones. Commitments to both are getting more serious today, with V-Moda announcing the Forza line of in-ear headphones.
The Forza line includes the Forza Metallo Wireless, Forza Metallo, and Forza in-ear headphones. While all three differ in construction and features, they’re united in their size — V-Moda has been able to nail down their own 5.8 mm neodymium drivers, allowing them to make the housings very small and light. While they’ll still lack the power of larger drivers, they have secured Hi-Res Audio certification from the Japan Audio Society, so they’re going to at least sound great. That makes all three of the Forza headphones great for running, even if the Metallo ones still might be a little too fancy for their own good.
The casings on the Forza Metallo and Forza Metallo Wireless are made of aircraft-grade aluminum, making them really lightweight — usually, metal casings aren’t great for active use because they’re too heavy and prone to falling out while running, but that might not be the case with these. The build has allowed both to pass military-grade durability testing, and both also have a sweat- and weather-proof nanocoating. Both also come with flexible inner ear hooks to keep the earbuds stable, while the wired Forza Metallo come with over-ear hooks, too, if you prefer those. Those are all removable, so you can wear them however is most comfortable for you. The Forza Metallo get the same semi-reflective cable we saw on the Zn in-ears.
On the wireless version, V-Moda has used a Bluetooth chipset from Qualcomm, which they say ensures CD-quality audio — as long as you have CD-quality rips, of course. The Bluetooth module has a range of 33 feet. The in-cable remote has a dual-mic array that allows for calls and can cancel out background noise. The cable looks a bit longer than what we usually see on wireless in-ears, draping down far enough to rest on shoulders. Best of all, V-Moda is promising 10 hours of battery life and rapid charging.
But, the sleek, minimalist design of the housings is a little at odds with V-Moda’s usual style. Don’t worry about that — they’ve got some extras planned. They’re making custom, 3D printed caps that can be slid on to the housings, and if you want, they can be way more luxurious than any add-on to a pair of in-ear headphones has a right to be. The first few designs include a lion’s head, the V-Moda logo, and steampunk clockwork, and they all can be made from a variety of materials. We start reasonable, with acrylic caps that cost $20 if they’re bundled with the in-ears, but things quickly ramp up to 14-karat gold and platinum, with caps expensive as, incredibly, $7,500. We’ve heard of in-ear headphones trying to be pieces of jewelry before, but it seems like V-Moda took that idea really seriously.
This still all feels too high-end for exercise headphones. That’s where the Forza model comes in. These still have the same drivers, but are housed in a soft plastic shell. They still have the same military-grade durability and sweat- and weather-proofing, and they still come with outer and inner ear hooks, making them every bit as suitable for running as the more expensive models — you just won’t feel as weird running around with in-ear headphones that feel too premium for exercise.
The V-Moda Forza and Forza Metallo in-ear headphones are both available now directly from V-Moda and from some retail locations. The Metallo can be purchased in black or rose gold with Android or iOS in-line remotes for $130, while the Forza can be purchased in black, white, or orange with Android or iOS in-line remotes for $100. The Metallo Wireless will arrive in December in black or silver for $170. All models will come with four sizes of silicone ear tips, and you can check out their 3D printed cap options on their website.