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Published on August 1st, 2012 | by Greg


Moshi: Amazing Audio And Accessories

Not long ago, we had some vis­i­tors drop by our of­fices. We had heard from this com­pa­ny in the past, learned about their gear at CES, but hadn’t re­al­ly got­ten a chance to go hands-on. The name might call to mind a squishy Japanese ani­me char­ac­ter, but Moshi is se­ri­ous about their busi­ness, and they pro­duce a wide line of best-sell­ing mo­bile ac­ces­sories and pe­riph­er­als. We’ve been en­joy­ing some of their iPad screen pro­tec­tion, like their award-win­ning Air­Foil Film Pro­tec­tor, and to­mor­row will be tak­ing a look at some of their line­up for the new Mac­Book Air 11″.

But to­day we’ve got two sets of their head­phones, of­fer­ing dis­tinc­tive styles and sol­id au­dio per­for­mance, and sur­pris­ing us in a few pos­i­tive ways. We’ll start with the Moshi Vor­tex Pro, which might at first glance be mis­tak­en for a fair­ly reg­u­lar pair of ear­buds, though a sharp­er and shinier than most- we’d even use the word sexy. But pick them up and you’ll im­me­di­ate­ly no­tice a dif­fer­ence- they are hefty and dense, of­fer­ing a so­lid­i­ty that’s shock­ing com­pared with most oth­ers that you might have tried (like the stock ones in­clud­ed with your phone or MP3 play­er). Weight can be a tricky thing- in au­dio gear, it’s crit­i­cal, since good drivers are nec­es­sar­i­ly a bit heavy. But you don’t want them too be un­com­fort­able or fall out- and hap­pi­ly, the Vor­tex Pros held up to tugs and runs and ev­ery­thing but se­ri­ous pulls once prop­er­ly fit­ted. Billed as “au­dio­phile grade ear­phones”, our stan­dards are in fact pret­ty high- we’ve used many of the best avail­able. Some of­fer du­al-drivers (see be­low), some of­fer heavy bass at the cost of oth­er fre­quen­cies, but we haven’t seen any oth­ers with the unique tri­an­gu­lar shape and steel al­loy con­struc­tion. Ca­bles are good (braid­ed, well-made), and the in­clud­ed re­mote/mic was pret­ty nor­mal.

The most ob­vi­ous oth­er change was the car­ry­ing case, al­so un­usu­al in it’s heft and tri­an­gle shape- but we weren’t big fans, since it’s pret­ty large, heavy, and takes some get­ting used to. Both mem­o­ry foam and sil­i­cone tips in a few sizes are hand­i­ly in­clud­ed as well. But it’s au­dio per­for­mance that shines here- all of the in­ter­est­ing tweaks and changes in the world wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t sound good. But they do, re­li­ably, against just about any mu­sic that we tried. There was a slight, bare­ly no­tice­able back­ground hiss at times, but oth­er than that mi­nor note which on­ly two of our staff could hear, ev­ery­thing else was pret­ty gold­en. Try lis­ten­ing to tracks like Yeasay­er’s “Am­bling Alp” which fea­tures a lot of very sub­tle and lay­ered sounds, and very dis­tinct sep­a­ra­tion, and you’ll be shocked at the dif­fer­ence. Au­dio from The Black Keys was equal­ly im­pres­sive, deep and rich, warm and au­then­tic, on­ly weak­en­ing a bit and of­fer­ing some dis­tor­tion on hard­er hip-hop and bass-heavy songs from Sb­trkt. Some ear­buds tend to sound a bit clin­i­cal or flat; we didn’t no­tice that at all. Ex­cel­lent per­for­mance, great styling, and a de­cent price- these ear­buds take high marks, es­pe­cial­ly for those who lis­ten to a lot of mu­sic at high­er fre­quen­cies, where these clear­ly ex­cel. Avail­able now for $150.

The Moshi Clarus Head­phones are a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent an­i­mal. They look straight out of a sci-fi movie set, and we got looks near­ly ev­ery­where we went while lis­ten­ing to these. The Clarus (Clarii?) are ba­si­cal­ly ear­buds, but with a sig­nif­i­cant twist- you’ll need to use the an­gu­lar, ear-wrap-around loops, like you might with a Blue­tooth ear­piece. This al­lows them to sit on the edges of your ear canals in­stead of fit­ting tight­ly in­side- which means that noise iso­la­tion is min­i­mal, but it os­ten­si­bly helps re­duce lis­ten­ing fa­tigue. In a vac­u­um- a qui­et room, for in­stance- that would be a great thing, when we might want to lis­ten for a lengthy ses­sion. But out and about, where most of our writ­ers are most like­ly to pop on some mu­sic, iso­la­tion can be key. Thus, these are a weird twist, and we couldn’t quite fig­ure out their place in our lis­ten­ing world.

There’s no doubt that they sound great though- in­cred­i­bly well-bal­anced for fair­ly lightweight on-ear head­phones. Du­al-drivers no doubt help the ex­pe­ri­ence, thanks to a ded­i­cat­ed woofer that helps over­come the need to be tight­ly fit­ted. A sep­a­rate ded­i­cat­ed high­er fre­quen­cy driv­er han­dles the rest, and they def­i­nite­ly met the claim of an “im­mer­sive lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with en­hanced trans­paren­cy and ac­cu­rate sound imag­ing.” Best on jazz­i­er tracks where a broad spec­trum of in­stru­men­ta­tion and vo­cals hap­pen at the same time and tend to end up mud­died in low­er-end au­dio gear, they lost a bit of clar­i­ty on pop­pi­er tracks, which tend­ed to sound a lit­tle flat, even when us­ing high-qual­i­ty en­cod­ings. Words like “in­tense” and “en­er­get­ic” were tossed about, and on oc­ca­sion, “harsh” as well- there was plen­ty of dis­tinc­tive­ness, even af­ter burn in, which meant you could iden­ti­fy flaws eas­i­ly, with no cov­er­ing blan­ket over bad pro­duc­tion or low bit-rate files.

Folks who wear glass­es, though, might find the ear­loops a bit of an ob­sta­cle. Al­so, there’s the $200 pri­ce­point- not bad for au­dio­phile gear, by any means, but at the lev­el where Et­y­mot­ic, Bow­ers and Wilkins, Sennheis­er, beye­dy­nam­ic, and Gra­do amongst oth­ers pro­duce some amaz­ing gear. The tech­nol­o­gy is great, and the styling is in­ter­est­ing- and some may find these com­fort­able and per­fect for an of­fice or oth­er ‘all-day’ lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Avail­able now, and with the same de­cent mic/con­trols and ca­bling as the Vor­tex Pro.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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