VAIN STHLM Commute review: Excellent on-ear wireless headphones

Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Reviews
VAIN STHLM Commute

Many headphones approach design with a monkey see monkey do attitude, but not VAIN STHLM.

TA-ratings-94Last year we were introduced to VAIN STHLM a new audio company out of Sweden. The VAIN STHLM originals were an excellent pair of earbuds and delivered rich, vibrant sound. Now the company is back with the VAIN STHLM Commute. These are the company’s first wireless on-ear headphones. Let’s see how they fare in our full VAIN STHLM Commute review and find out why they’re a Techaeris Top Pick for 2017.

Specifications

The VAIN STHLM Commute have the following features and specifications:

  • Bluetooth 4.1 + aptX
  • Built-in Microphone with DSP Wind Noise Reduction & Echo Cancellation
  • 40 mm Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Sensitivity 108 dB SPL
  • Talk & Music playback 12 hours
  • Standby 26 days
  • Charging 2 hours
  • Li-ion polymer battery 220mAH
  • Wireless range 10m (free space)

What’s In The Box

  • VAIN STHLM Commute headphones
  • Micro USB Charging Cable
  • Audio cable with 3,5 plug
  • User Manual and Warranty Card
VAIN STHLM Commute

Rose gold aluminum.

Design

Many headphones approach design with a monkey see monkey do attitude, but not VAIN STHLM. The VAIN STHLM Commute headphones are a combination of luxury and 70’s retro design. The company called in designer Lisa Minogue to craft these headphones and that was a great call.

Lisa Minogue has an Industrial Design MFA degree from Konstfack, University College of Arts, Craft and design. She is currently working at the branding agency Identity Works with both industrial and graphic design. Lisa is a daring designer, always trying to push the limits and has the energy to take her concepts all the way. That, her eye for the detail and her constant aim to create more than yet another product is what we fell for at VAIN STHLM. ~From the VAIN STHLM website~

Our VAIN STHLM Commute headphones came in the Slate Blue color. Two other colors are available, Misty Grey and Rail Grey. The colors are very muted and they allow the rose gold colored aluminum on the headphones to pop. The color combos here are very retro feeling but at the same time very classy and premium looking. The 70’s vibe doesn’t stop with the colors, the shape and even the logos are all very 70’s retro.

VAIN STHLM Commute

Retro yet classy look.

The materials used are all very high-quality. The headband is plush and comfortable, as are the ear cushions. VAIN STHLM says the ear cushions are made of protein leather, which is basically artificial leather. The other parts of these headphones incorporate rose gold aluminum which looks really slick. The headphones aren’t very heavy at all, they’re super light and feel just as light on your head.

As for controls, the VAIN STHLM Commute headphones have all of the controls on the right earcup. These are also made of rose gold aluminum which is a nice touch and accents the other rose gold pieces nicely. The controls are as follows:

  • Arrow up: Previous track/Volume up
  • Round circle: Play/Pause/Answer calls/Power On-Off/Bluetooth pairing
  • Arrow down: Track forward/Volume down

There is an LED indicator located just below the controls as well as the MicroUSB port and headphone jack. Overall the VAIN STHLM Commute headphones have a very wonderfully different design. It’s definitely not for everyone, as it is a bit out of the box thinking.

Ease of Use

These are as simple as any other Bluetooth headphones to use. Just push the round button and hold for a few seconds to enter pairing mode. Once in pairing mode, you can pair them with your device in Bluetooth settings. Once they’re paired they’ll re-pair with the device anytime you power them on. Overall, very simple and easy to use.

VAIN STHLM Commute

Controls on right ear cup.

Sound

The sound here is rich and vibrant with some extra special attention paid to the bass. While they aren’t super heavy on bass, the bump in the bass is noticeable over other more balanced headphones. I tend to prefer a balanced soundstage but I am fond of headphones that do tune slightly heavier in the bass frequencies.

The sound is full and actually very impressive for on-ear headphones. I did not experience any outside noise like many on-ear headphones have. The seal on my ear seemed to work nicely to isolate noise. The spatial dynamics were also very spot-on, allowing for a great musical experience. I could hear and feel things in tracks that tend to get lost in less capable headphones.

Overall, the VAIN STHLM Commute headphones sound so amazing that even bass lovers might get into these.

Reception/Call Quality

Bluetooth reception is excellent and pretty typical of Bluetooth connections. If you’ve used Bluetooth headphones in the past, you’ll be familiar with the limitations. The call quality was good but nothing great, just pretty standard.

Battery Life

VAIN STHLM claims 12-hours of battery life for the VAIN STHLM Commute headphones. I found this to be pretty spot on as I got consistent battery life in that range. I tested this with volume at 60% and the source device right next to the headphones. Your battery life will vary and is dependent on how the headphones will be used.

Price/Value

The VAIN STHLM Commute headphones are priced at $139USD which is competitive for premium on-ear headphones. The rich, full, vibrant soundstage of these headphones combined with the unique appealing design give them a lot of value.

Wrap Up

VAIN STHLM’s sound is really nice. They’ve managed to really tune these headphones with vibrancy and a full sound. The design may not be for everyone but I found it refreshing. This second effort from VAIN STHLM is better than the first, and I can’t wait for a pair of over-ear headphones next.

*We were sent a sample of the VAIN STHLM Commute headphones for the purposes of this review.

VAIN STHLM Commute

$139USD
VAIN STHLM Commute
9.4

Design

10/10

    Ease of Use

    10/10

      Sound

      10/10

        Reception/Call Quality

        9/10

          Battery Life

          9/10

            Price/Value

            10/10

              Nailed it

              • Beautiful design
              • Well made
              • Quality materials
              • Awesome sound
              • Great battery life

              Needs work

              • Design not for everyone
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