The headphone game is changing, and dozens of companies are building what they think is the next generation of top-tier headphones. Many of them are turning to crowd-funding, and it makes sense — not all ideas are born inside a major company. The latest of these is Modular, which recently launched the Modular Mod-1 headphones.
The headphones are still being funded on Indiegogo, and considering they’ve been fully funded already, we assume they’ll be available on other channels soon too. But should you invest on Indiegogo? Or buy them elsewhere if and when they’re available? We put them to the test to find out.
The first thing to notice about the Modular Mod-1 headphones is their design, and it’s a little lackluster. We were first struck by how light the headphones are, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but in some situations, including in this case, that seems to translate into a slightly lower build-quality.
Now, don’t take to mean that these headphones will break easily. They won’t. But the hinges feel a little flimsy, the plastic a little weak, and the headphones overall could be more solid.
On the left ear cup, you’ll find a power switch (which also changes mode between Bluetooth and FM radio as well), microUSB port for charging, and an aux port, as well as a slightly hidden microSD card slot. On the right ear cup you’ll get on-ear controls, like volume controls, phone controls, and play/pause.
The controls take a few minutes to get used to, but once you do they’re pretty easy to use. We wish the controls were touch-sensitive rather than actual buttons embedded in the ear cup — pressing them is a little awkward and pushes the entire ear cup into the side of your head, but it’s definitely not a deal-breaker.
The biggest issue here was that the controls didn’t seem to work the way they should. When the slider was in the “off” position, the headphones switched on and connected to my computer, causing the computer to stop playing audio back through my speakers and redirect it to the headphones. Not only was that annoying, but it just shouldn’t happen — and it highlights the poor build-quality under the hood.
In the box, you’ll get the headphones themselves, along with a microUSB cable for charging and an aux cable. We would have liked a carry bag or case of some kind, but alas one was not included.
In general, the overall design of the headphones needs a little work. The headphones don’t feel premium or strong, which was a little frustrating to see.
The Modular Mod-1 headphones regain some points in the comfort department, but they could still use a little work. The headband and ear cups both feature plenty of padding, which is good to see, and while the lightness of the headphones could be attributed to a somewhat poor build-quality, it does help in making the headphones reasonably comfortable.
The worst thing about the comfort here is that the headphones are slightly too small. The padding on the headphones doesn’t fully go around your ears, especially if you have larger ears, and that pressure can get a little annoying.
In the end, a great sound quality can make or break a pair of headphones, and while the design and comfort-level of these headphones leaves a little to be desired, thankfully they sound pretty good.
Now, these headphones aren’t built to sound overly natural. The bass here is quite obviously boosted, and kick drums on songs like Katy Perry’s California Gurls is heavy and pounding. That’s a good thing for some — those that like some extra bass will be more than happy with the bass on offer here.
The mid-range is a little scooped, which was expected. The low-mids aren’t overly warm or heavy, but they are there, and while the high-mids are present enough to give vocals and guitars a nice presence.
Speaking of presence, the highs on the Modular Mod-1 headphones are pretty pronounced, which is a good thing. That’s not something you always find on cheaper headphones. It helped make things like cymbals and percussion really shine. Perhaps the only downside here is that the high-end can get a little much on songs that already have a lot of highs.
There’s one thing we need to address from the Modular Mod-1 Indiegogo campaign. According to the campaign page, the ear pads offer good noise isolation, and that’s simply not true. Outside noise is easily hearable through the ear cups, and there’s little to no noise isolation whatsoever. That’s not to say it’s a huge deal — it’s not. But claiming they offer good isolation is simply incorrect.
Still, apart from that the sound quality on these headphones was pretty good. Sure, it’s not amazing, and it’s certainly not natural, but as far as decent-sounding headphones go, these do alright.
Another claim on the Indiegogo page is that the headphones offer a “long-lasting battery life.” They don’t. According to the included manual the headphones last from 3.5-7 hours, while the Indiegogo campaign says they typically last 8 hours. It doesn’t really matter which is correct here — that battery life is too short. Sure, the company does highlight you can use them while they’re charging, but that’s kind of beside the point.
We didn’t really have many issues with connectivity, which is good. The headphones will connect to your listening device through Bluetooth 4.2, and they’ll get a range of up to 10 meters, or 33 feet.
So, should you buy the Modular Mod-1 headphones? The short answer is no, you shouldn’t. Between a sub-par design and build-quality, issues with comfort, and the pretty terrible battery life, these headphones simply are not worth the time.
When the Indiegogo sale is over, the retail cost of the headphones will be $150, and we can think of plenty of headphones that are better for the price. The JBL E55BT headphones, for example, offer a pretty nice design and build quality, and a decent sound.
At the $50 Indiegogo campaign price, these headphones are perhaps a little better, so if you can snag them before the campaign ends, then you might like what they have to offer. When, however, the Indiegogo campaign does end, if you can’t get them for less than $75, we recommend steering clear altogether.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||40mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
||Unknown||Battery life||~7 hours|
|Maximum input power
||Unknwon||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
||Bluetooth 4.2||Cable length||1.2m (4ft)|
|Weight||Unknown||Colors||Gunmetal, rose gold, black|