Here at MajorHiFi, we test a lot of high-end equipment designed for the discerning audiophile. However, once in a while I get my mitts on a solid yet affordable piece of technology. At $60, the Moshi Vortex 2 sports good build quality at an accessible price. And it sounds decent to boot. But is it the right earphone for you?
Economical Earphones for the Everyman – Moshi Vortex 2 Review
The Moshi Vortex 2 comes in a cardboard retail package with a silicon carrying case, 4 pairs of eartips, and a user manual.
At first glance, the Vortex 2 shows off an impressive build with stainless steel housings for the drivers. This gives the earphones an air of resilience, further emphasized by the nylon-sheathed cable. Measuring a standard 4 ft (1.2 m), the cable terminates in straight 3.5 mm plug. A single-button remote and in-line mic sit below the Y-connection on the cable.
Once placed in my ears, the supplied tips provide a secure fit with a good seal and acceptable comfort. This is the first earphone I’ve seen shipping with color-coded tips for left and right earphones to help better distinguish them at a quick glance. (If you’re interested in this kind of eartip, definitely check out those sold by Final Audio.)
Frequency Range: 10-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 16 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 103 dB
As evidenced by these specs, the Vortex 2 offers an almost run-of-the-mill frequency range with a little extra attention dedicated to the low end. At just 16 ohms, the impedance of this headphone recommends it for use with phones, computers, and other low-output devices. Sound pressure is a near-standard 103 dB, so volume shouldn’t be an issue.
Subtle and subdued, the lows on the Vortex 2 feature a good level of detail. Overall, fidelity remains adequate, without too much compression or bleed. A strong, emotive, punchy bass compliments this part of the frequency range, leading to a competent, crisp low end that suits anything I throw at it.
The midrange strikes me as contrasting and articulate. During my first listening session, I noticed some minor compression hiding in the mids, but this only seemed truly apparent on two test tracks – on most of my test songs, the mids behaved fairly well (especially when considering the price). Indeed, the sound here sports a certain level of accuracy unexpected in such a cheap earphone. When paired with the subtle lows, these mids give way to a full, resolving sound that works well for any genre of music.
In the midst of my first listening session, I was galled by a slight sibilance in the high end. However, during my second listening session (about 24 hours later), I had a doozy of a time trying to find it again. That being said, I would caution prospective buyers that these earphones may sound better after a period of burn-in. However, once broken in, this high end offers a somewhat bright but precise listening experience. Instruments and vocals retain a certain edge or contrast, yet never appear too intense or uncomfortable.
To my elation, the Vortex 2 actually offers some depth and space to the sound. Not a knock-you-down, drown-your-ears-in-realism kind of soundstage, but a decent sense of headroom nonetheless. Instruments do seem to occupy finite spaces around you, and there’s little jumbling or confusion from overlapping frequencies.
During both of my listening sessions, I was surprised at how comfortable the earpieces feel. Usually I am hesitant to try earphones with a triangular, “ergonomic” fit, but these Moshi earphones work very well in this regard.
Isolation, too, isn’t bad. Despite not fitting too deeply in your ears, the steel bulk of the housings provide quite the hurdle for outside noise. And, due to that ergonomic shape, these can be fitted a little tighter in the ear if you do need top-notch isolation.
If you need tons of low and tons of highs, I would recommend the Final Audio E3000 over the Moshi Vortex 2. However, the E3000 lacks the superb mids of the Vortex 2. For rock, hip hop, and some electronica, my bid would go to Final. But if classical or acoustic or overall accuracy is your primary goal, you’re going to have a tough time beating this little earphone.
That’s really the reason I’d be recommending the Moshi Vortex 2 to so many casual consumers, too. If you want to hear things as clearly and accurately as possible, without crazy lows or insane highs, the Vortex 2 is where it’s at. This earphone, despite its consumer appearance and packaging, packs a near-professional sound with good balance and decent detail.
An impressive earphone with good sound and excellent build quality, the Moshi Vortex 2 definitely hits above its $60 price point. For a well-rounded, accurate sound with good mids, there really is no alternative at this price.
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