V-Moda is a well-known name in the audio enthusiast community. Though they generally don’t aim for a neutral frequency response, many love the fun, bass-rich sound of the Crossfade and M100 over-ears. V-Moda’s newest headphone, the Forza Metallo Wireless ($170) is a Bluetooth in-ear headphone with a neckband form factor that takes the company in a slightly different direction. While still not neutral, they have an engaging sound that we found only slightly marred by some ergonomic issues.
The Forza Metallo Wireless has an air of thoughtfulness in its design, and will be very comfortable for most users. Its electronics and battery are bundled in a pod that rests in the back of the neck, while the flexible neckband arms are contoured to hug the user’s trapezius muscles. The neckband lays flat, and is small enough that users might be able to hide it under a shirt collar (though not small enough to share that space with a necktie). Its driver housings are tiny and light, which should make them an easy fit for most users. Despite all this good design, we think the Forza Metallo Wireless’ cables are far too long — although V-Moda says that they are designed to make it easy to rotate your head without pulling the neckband, but they’re long enough that some users may risk having them snagged on objects in the world around them.
V-Moda wants users to customize their Forza Metallo Wireless, and provides most of what they need to do so in the box. Along with a travel pouch and charging cable, V-Moda includes four sizes of ear tips (two sets of each) and with three sizes of silicone wings for an extra secure fit. Users can further customize these headphones with 3D-printed caps that attach to the outside of the Forza Metallo Wirless’ tiny driver housings. While an interesting idea, V-Moda only offers three shapes at present (a lion’s head, a V-Moda logo, and a steampunk design) that can be ordered in a variety of materials, including precious metals — platinum, for example, raises the price to $4,500. We were not provided with any samples of the caps to review, so we can’t comment on their durability. Even so, we think we prefer the tiny minimalism of the naked driver housings.
Inside the Forza Metallo Wireless’ tiny driver housings are even smaller 5.8mm dynamic drivers. While the small size of this driver keeps the headphone light and facilitates customization, we worry that it makes the Forza Metallo Wireless too picky about how they’re positioned in the ear. We initially tried the “medium” tips — which work for us with most IEMs — but the sound was very underwhelming, with virtually no low-end to be heard. It was not until we went up a size or two — sacrificing some comfort — that we heard the full range that this headphone was capable of. The Forza Metallo Wireless has a very listenable, very engaging, but still very warm sound signature. It’s closer to neutral than some other V-Moda headphones we’ve heard, but still V-shaped with very forward bass and sparkly-but-not-sibilant treble.
The Forza Metallo Wireless played nicely with our iPhone, with track, volume, and call functions working as expected. Controls are located on the ends of the neckband; its buttons are clicky and easy to discern without looking. We were surprised (literally) to find that the neckband vibrates when calls are received. It charged from zero to 100% in about 2 hours, and provided around 10 hours of playback. We think the Forza Metallo Wireless is suitable for workouts, as it survived a week of our sweaty indoor cycling sessions without a problem. One negative, however, is that we did not find this headphone’s wireless range to be excellent — dropouts started at about 20 feet, which is lackluster in 2017 and may not be ideal for those who want to be able to walk around a gym without carrying their phone.
V-Moda has never been the type of company to produce boring headphones. They have certainly left a hexagon-shaped mark on the audiophile world, and that personality is undoubtedly infused into the Forza Metallo Wireless. Though its form factor is not for everyone and we did experience some mild ergonomic frustrations, we enjoyed our time with this headphone. If you are looking for a very portable headphone and you don’t mind the neckband style, we think the Forza Metallo Wireless is worth a listen.
Company and Price
Model: Forza Metallo Wireless