Headphones have come a long way since I was a kid. I grew up in the age of Walkmans and Discmans (Walkmen? Discmen?) with wires that seemed deliberately designed to twist and tangle as much as possible, and awkward flat earphones that frequently slipped off or poked through their foam padding, jabbing you uncomfortably in the face as you struggled to keep them from falling off altogether. Even when earbuds were introduced, they weren’t much better, I found, in terms of staying in place, and they still had the tendency to tie themselves in knots when I wasn’t looking.
Recently, 3D printed headphones and earbuds have begun appearing in the market, promising better comfort and even near-perfect fit inside the ear as just a few of their advantages. (There are even 3D printed headphones designed for pets.) If you have some cash to spare, you can go beyond comfort into luxury with $40,000 customizable precious metal headphones, but if you need to be a bit more frugal, V-MODA, maker of said luxury headphones, has now introduced some new customizable in-ear headphones that are much less expensive but still cutting-edge.
The new Forza series includes three options: Forza, Forza Metallo and Forza Wireless. The Forza, the most affordable of the three at $100, is designed for working out. The sweat-resistant earbuds feature detachable over-the-ear hooks as well as patent-pending ActiveFlex Sport Fins, inside-the-ear attachments that secure the earbuds with more stability. A three-button “SpeakEasy” remote and mic is universally compatible with all iOS and Android devices for music control and clear calls. Forza Metallo, priced at $130, is the fancier version of the Forza, crafted from lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum and featuring a reinforced tangle-free cable that V-MODA states is 20 times stronger than the industry standard.
Then there’s the Forza Metallo Wireless, the $170 Bluetooth version. Technically, they do have wires, but only to keep the earphones firmly in place via a slim titanium neckband that fits around the back of your neck, forms to your body, and connects to the earbud wires, anchoring them securely but comfortably. The Metallo Wireless have a range of 10 meters (33 feet) and can be connected to two devices at one time. A lithium-ion battery ensures up to 10 hours of playback and fast charging, and dual microphones for clear calls and voice recognition.
“All other in-ear wireless headphones have a variety of form factors with show stopping compromises or useless gimmicks,” said Val Kolton, CEO of V-MODA. “They either look like unsightly massive ‘plastic space ring around the collars,’ Frankenstein bolts that will not stay in your ears or separate earbuds that are quickly lost, have reception issues and need a dongle or case. Our first in-ear Bluetooth headphone feature a minimal design that can hide under a shirt collar, maximum battery life, enhanced antenna and unrivaled all-day ergonomics. With Forza Metallo Wireless we are unleashing audiophiles with ultimate ergonomics via our unique TrapLock titanium cable refined from dozens of anatomical tests conducted over years.”
The three Forza varieties share several features, including:
- 5.8mm micro-driver that delivers hi-res audio and frequencies beyond 40 kHz
- Military-level durability surpassing Military-Level Quality MIL-STD-105 Test Standards
- BLISS (Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone) 3.0 fittings that come in four different sizes for tight fit and noise isolation
- Water- and sweat-resistant technology
- Detachable sport fins
“It took years of precise engineering to develop this 5.8mm miniature dynamic driver size without sacrificing V-MODA’s world-class sound and quality standards,” said Kolton. “To make the Forza lineup perfect for the active audiophile, it was critical to balance amazing sound with the ultimate ergonomics, fit and stability. The micro driver enables you to customize the product with your choice of new patent-pending ActiveFlex sport fins or spectacular 3D printed customization.”
Ah yes, that 3D printed customization. All three versions of Forza headphones can be customized with 3D printed caps in material options that include platinum, which will cost you as much as $7,500; 14k gold, which costs as much as $2,500; gold-plated, at $250 and down; and HD Acrylic, which costs $40 or $20 when purchased with the headphones. Available designs include a steampunk version, a lion head, or the V-MODA logo, with more designs to come. “Remix Rings” give you the option to customize your own design.
“In June 2015 we merged, for the first time in consumer electronics’ history, mass customization with jewel-grade 3D printing,” said Kolton. “Now we’re bringing additive manufacturing to in-ear headphones with our first collection of 3D printed custom caps. Not only can you remix your design, but you can optimize the design with an enhanced tailored fit.”
Forza earphones (available in black, white and orange) and Forza Metallo (available in gunmetal black and rose gold) are both available now, while Metallo Wireless (available in gunmetal black and white silver) will be released in December. All three are compatible with both iOS and Samsung/Android devices. Discuss in the Forza forum at 3DPB.com.[Images: V-MODA]