Posted in: Featured, Hands-on, Headphones, Mobile Accessories

V-Moda VAMP VERZA and METALLO case review

The V-Moda VAMP VERZA belongs to a small group of mobile accessories, made for only the most committed audiophiles. The gadget combines a universal headphone amplifier, digital to analog converter, and a backup battery pack in a compact, sleek-looking package.

Headphone amplifiers are designed to bring out the best of high-end, usually over-ear headphones, as the built-in audio chips in today’s smartphones cannot bring out their full potential. Mobile headphones amps vary greatly in price and capabilities, with the V-Moda VAMP VERZA being a decidedly high-end offering.

V-Moda VAMP VERZA Key features

• Two dedicated DACs (digital to audio converters); Burr Brown & AKM components found in high-end audio players
• USB amplifier 150mW x 2; 130mW x 2 iPhone amplifier (>32 Ohms)
• Six-layer anti-interference PCB
• Rotary volume knob; Hi/Lo Gain switch; Bass/3D button
• Optical out; USB audio out
• 2,200mAh battery with over-charge protection circuit; backup charging capability

Retail Package

Like V-Moda’s headphones the VAMP VERZA comes in nicely-looking, well-appointed package. Inside the box, you will find the amp, a microUSB cable, a Lightning cable, as well as 30-pin cable for older iOS devices.


The retail package of the amp * the Lightning port cable

Two rubber bands are also bundled with the VAMP, in case you want to attach it to your device in an old-school way. In short, the retail package has you fully covered – hardly a surprise considering the device’s price tag.

Design and build quality

V-Moda proudly boasts that the VAMP VERZA is designed in Italy and made in Japan. There is hardly a better combination of design and craftsmanship philosophies for an electronic device than the aforementioned one.

Starting with the looks, the VAMP VERZA sports an analogue look in a digital world. The rotary volume knob and the flip switches which double as light indicators are a great nod to high-end stereo systems both in terms of functionality and tactile feel.


V-Moda VAMP VERZA live photos

The build quality of the amplifier is exceptional. The V-Moda VAMP VERZA is made from machined metal with matte finish. Overall, it is well-equipped to handle the rigors of daily use without breaking a sweat.

Ergonomics & battery life

Using the V-Moda VAMP VERZA is easy. The amplifier comes with a handy graphic user guide which explains its different functions in detail. Depending on the device which it is plugged into, the amp requires a different combination of switch inputs.


A graphic user guide comes with the device

All buttons and switches of the device are easy to access, except for the low/high gain switch. The latter is depressed, though it is hardly one you will toggle often.

The weight of the V-Moda VAMP VERZA is 190 grams, while its physical footprint is slightly larger an iPhone’s. The setup is far from pocket friendly, though in line with similarly equipped rivals.

V-Moda claims that the VAMP VERZA offers about seven hours of playback at lo-gain setting. In my experience, the real-time usage came in line with the manufacturer’s number.

A button on the side of the amp activates an LED battery indicator to show the remaining juice. The function to charge your device is activated by one of the flip switches.

METALLO case

The METALLO case for the iPhone 5s features a sliding mechanism which neatly integrates the VAMP VERZA with the smartphone. The clever setup makes V-Moda’s amp easier to carry around than any of its rivals.




V-Moda METALLO case for iPhone 5s in the flesh

On its own, the METALLO case looks boxy yet stylish. It is lightweight and does a good job of protecting the iPhone 5s by covering all its edges. The device’s screen is also covered by a bundled protector.

Sound

In order to judge the sound credentials of the VAMP VERZA properly, we put the mobile amp through the same audio test as a regular smartphone. We clocked the gadget twice – at low gain and at high gain setting. At low gain the output of the device is 80mW, while at high it is 130mW.

Both times, the volume of the VAMP was set at about 75% because at full volume, the test equipment had a hard time measuring its performance (its output is too much to deal with). We did not perform a test with headphones, as the result will vary depending on the headset’s own specs.

At low gain, the V-Moda VAMP VERZA exhibited spot-on frequency response for the most part, but cut-off extreme trebles. The signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range were excellent and there was no detectable stereo crosstalk. Total harmonic distortion is non-existent too. However the biggest problem here is the very high intermodulation distortion which is detectable with the naked ear.

At high gain, the VAMP VERZA delivered excellent scores all over the place, coupled with super high volume levels (once again, note that the test was performed at 75% volume on the device). Overall, the device is the loudest we have tested and among the cleanest too. Had it been a mobile phone, the amplifier would have been one of the best ever to visit our lab.

To sample the music capabilities of the VAMP VERZA in the flesh, I paired it with V-Moda’s top of the range M-100 over-ear headset. When plugged into the amp after being hooked to an iPhone 5s, the already superb headphones exhibited additional layers of sonic experience which Apple’s smartphone simply cannot deliver.

Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
V-Moda VAMP VERZA (low gain) +0.16, -1.11 -89.8 89.7 0.0090 1.740 -89.5
V-Moda VAMP VERZA (high gain) +0.23, -0.00 -91.1 91.7 0.012 0.097 -91.0


There is a dedicated button for enhancing the bass which the amp delivers during playback. Unsurprisingly, it eats into the sound quality, though I personally found listening to music more enjoyable with the setting on.

There is also a 3D virtual sound button which is optimized for home and car audio. There is no need for it when you use the device with headphones.

Final word

The V-Moda VAMP VERZA feels wonderfully analogue in an all-digital world. The mobile amplifier is superbly designed with nods to days past, and skillfully crafted and equipped to handle the future.

Most importantly, the amplifier fulfills its purpose by delivering sound quality which smartphones and tablets are simply not capable of producing on their own. It allows users to enjoy their high-end headphones the way they are truly meant to.

With the slightly eye-watering price tag of $ 598 (the METALLO case for the iPhone 5s costs additional $101), the V-Moda VAMP VERZA is anything but a mass-market device. I recommend it to anyone who has shelled out more than $200 for headphones and has the means to pick it up. Paired with a high-end handset, the amplifier makes listening to music an occasion every single time you power it up.

The V-Moda VAMP VERZA is available to purchase directly from the manufacturer’s online store. V-Moda is so confident in the quality of its creation that it gives users sixty days to try it out risk-free.

Share:

Comments

Rules for posting