Modular is a catchy phrase in mobile these days. Many of the latest smartphones claim some kind of modularity, like that found on the Moto Z and Essential phones. This is slowly making its way to other devices, and one such device is the Mod-1 headphones by Modular. These new over the ear cans have been on Indiegogo for some time and just recently met their funding. Modular was kind enough to send us a unit for review and overall we came away impressed, but stay tuned for our full thoughts.
At first glance, the Mod-1s come away as just another set of can-style headphones. Fundamentally, that’s still what they are. The design is pretty standard for the headphone type and the build quality is good. On the right earphone, you find the controls on the outside frame for all your basic functions: play/pause, forward/volume up, previous/volume down, and a dedicated phone call button. The Mod-1 is available in three colors: black, gunmetal, and rose gold.
On the outside of the left side, you’ll find a dedicated slider button for turning the headphones on and off as well as pairing to a new Bluetooth device by sliding the button all the way up and holding it for a few seconds. NFC is also present here for a faster pairing session and functions accordingly with my Pixel 2 XL auto-pairing with Bluetooth. The left side is busy with port duty as well. You’ll find microUSB for charging, 3.5mm input for wired audio, and even a hidden microSD card slot just inside the hinge on the top of the earpiece.
So where does the modular aspect come into play with the Mod-1? Well, it’s pretty limited and basically only means you can change the foam around the cans for better comfort. Other than that, the modularity is simply there for a marketing catch in my opinion. Does this make them bad headphones? No, but I do question using almost a marketing gimmick as the main selling point and differentiation.
What I do like about the Mod-1 headphones are that they are extremely comfortable. They feel robust without feeling heavy when you use them for long periods of time. They fit well over my ears and the foam has a nice give to them. They don’t quite completely cover my ears, however this is subjective to each user, but the comfort of the earpiece really didn’t make this an issue.
I’ll preface this section with my usual “I’m not an audiophile” disclaimer. With that out of the way, I enjoy the sound from the Mod-1s. It has nice highs and mids and I never felt like they were getting distorted at high volume levels. There’s also a good amount of bass to be found without flooding the sound so bad that you can’t make out the rest of the audio.
There’s also mention of “noise canceling” with the Mod-1, but this is completely passive. There’s no real tech amplifying this feature. It’s simply the headphones physically covering your ears from the outside world. I don’t find this a deal-breaker, but others may take this into consideration while comparison shopping.
I did have a few glitches with the volume with the built-in controls on the side of the right can. There were two things that I found annoying. Turning it up with my connected Pixel would not turn the volume all the way up. It would only get you like a third of the way. After that, you then had to continue turning up the volume with the hardware button on the headphone.
And that’s where I came into my other gripe. Sometimes turning the volume up with the headphone key would stop play altogether and disconnect from my Pixel 2 XL. I’m not sure if this is an issue with the Mod-1 or the Pixel, but I have not had this issue with other Bluetooth devices. The issue didn’t happen every time I used the button, but it was enough to mention in my review.
Despite my issues, I think the Mod-1 headphones are a great first entry for Modular. While they don’t really stand out amongst the competition, they at least offer some customization with the interchangeable earpieces. I still find it a little gimmicky, but it’s also a nice touch to offer the options like you see in different sized tips for earbud-style headphones. What they do well is offer a solidly built pair of headphones for $150 that you’re sure to enjoy. While the Indiegogo campaign has hit their goals, you can still get some early bird discounts at the $150 retail price.Get the Mod-1 Headphones on Indiegogo