Review of V-Moda Crossfade M-100 headphones w/lots of pics!!!
This is a review of V-Moda Crossfade M-100 headphones. http://v-moda.com/crossfade-m-100/
For all of you who read my M-80 review you probably remember how much I was gushing about V-Moda headphones. Today, headphones are not just for listening but also to express yourself. As I mentioned in a recent review of another pair of headphones, Beats paved the way with a style, although lacking in sound, and now a lot of companies trying to catch up. In case of V-Moda, they are actually leading the way with their own unique style and sound signature. I was very excited for an opportunity to review sample of V-Moda M-100 and to see where it stands in comparison to M-80. Here is what I found.
Introduced about a year ago, M-100 is obviously not a brand new model, and I have seen pictures and videos with reviews in the past. Also, keep in mind I'm intimately familiar with M-80 after my last review. So I wasn't expecting too much surprises, but was I wrong! Similarly to M-80, you are greeted with a hex shaped box and it's luxurious details of leather studded handle and buckle along with one of the most informative product prints around the box cover I have ever seen. Knowing M-100 is bigger than M-80 (full size over-ear 50mm drivers vs on-ear 40mm drivers, perhaps where 100 vs 80 labeling comes from?), you would expect a much bigger hard shell case. Turned out the exoskeleton hard case was actually smaller and more compact. This case with a carabiner clip is a thing of a beauty on its own with a molded v-shapes, covered zipper, and red v-moda stitched logo. Opening it up reveals a folded M-100 design which can easily fit in the palm of your hand. As I was trying to figure out how is it possible to have such a compact fold and comparing it to my other headphones, I realized the secret is in the hinge. Referred to as "cliqfold" hinge, it's a brilliant design - something you would expect from German engineering. Unfolded, you have a full size headphones that built like a tank, not to mention they can be run over by one without too much damage. Designed to meet very strict military standards, these have both a style and a durability. The steelflex headband is strong and flexible and can withstand multiple flat bends. Wrapped outside in leather and stamped with a stealth V-Moda black logo, inner side has a soft foam covered by a breathable material to keep top of your head cool. The y-fork earcup holders are also made out of steel, and so does interchangeable aircraft grade steel shields which can be customized for a small fee with a different laser etched designs. My review sample came in Matte metal black finish, but there is also a glossy shadow finish (the same as my reviewed M-80) and the pearly white finish. Every finish has its own distinct inner color of hard case and distinct color of one of the included cables with in-line remote control.
My Matte version came with an orange braided fabric finish covering kevlar re-enforced cable which according to V-Moda can withstand over 1 million bends! This cable also comes with in-line single button remote and a separate in-line mic. This is truly one of a kind setup where the mic is placed closer to your head/mouth while remote is further down the cable where its easier to access it. As expected, remote multi-function button works perfect with Android phone to play/pause/call, double-click to skip, and long press to start Google Now. Call quality was excellent as well. The cable is detachable with a straight 3.5mm connector going into one of the earpieces and 45-degree connector going to your audio source. The nature of 45-degree connector allows it to rate a lot easier once plugged into 3.5mm audio port of your source. The second longer cable, referred to as SharePlay audio cable, was all black and didn't include in-line remote, but it had a cable splitter with 3.5mm connector next to it's 45-degree plug. Excellent idea if you want to share your audio source by plugging in another pair of headphones. And if you think this is innovative, wait till you find out how a similar function is implemented with earpieces. Both of the earpieces have 3.5mm port, so you can have audio cable connected to either one. The unused connection is terminated with a removable v-cork plug, or can be used to daisy chain another pair of headphones. I never seen anything like this, and btw it came very handy when I was a/b comparing M-100 to other headphones where both were connected to the same source. Earpieces itself have a very comfortable removable memory foam pads, and with over-ear design these snugly wrap around your ears. After a few stretches and 5-10 minutes of wearing these, the clamping force was hardly even noticeable. Because of all the steel material, you do feel some weight, but the comfort and ergonomics of the design makes it disappear after a short period of time. The headphones are easily adjustable where you can extended the headband with a precise click action. In addition, it also comes with 1/4" adapter with a very unique spring loaded inner mechanism.
There is no doubt, these headphones look ridiculously awesome and durable enough to survive anything, but how does it sound? As you start listening to M-100, you realize really quickly that it's not a next gen of M-80 but rather a totally different sound direction. In your face Beats - the NEW basshead king is in town!!! M-100 takes this to a brand new level with a fun V-shaped sound signature. Let me get this right out of the way, if you are looking for an audiophile flat response headphones or mostly listening to classical music - skip to another review, these will not be your cup of tea. But if you are fan of EDM, hip-hop/r'n'b, and pop/rock - you gonna love these!!! The emphasis is definitely on bass, no doubt about it. It comes in your face strong and punchy, while still maintaining clarity. To further enhance the quantity of the bass, mids do get recessed to create about 8-9dB difference, but make no mistake - they still maintain their clarity and space between lows and highs. V-shaped sound is very tricky and I always worry how it affects vocals, both male and female. Dance music tends to be driven by strong drums and bass and high frequency instruments, not as much attention to vocals where they usually make sacrifices in favor of bigger transition with lows. I was pleased to find this is not the case with M-100. To be honest, vocals will not be in your face, but they are there for sure. Highs are very detailed as well, without being too harsh on your ears. Definitely great for longer listening to prevent ear fatigue. The soundstage is not as wide, but very appropriate for the type of music M-100 is intended for where every instrument is clearly paced in its space and can be easy located in 3D space. I tested M-100 using my Note 2, straight out of the audio jack and also with E18 dac/amp, and then from my laptop - in every case it was very easy to drive these cans and you don't need any dedicated amp for it. Also, they are very forgiven when it comes to low quality compressed audio, I didn't even realize one of the files in my mix was low bit rate mp3 which sounded surprisingly good.
I do want to say a few words about M-100 vs M-80. These two headphones don't really overlap but rather compliment each other. M-100 is more comfortable to wear due to over-ear versus on-ear design, it's more compact when you are traveling due to folding mechanism, it offers daisy chain feature, and of course a much better bass. But M-80 has a more balanced sound where mids are not as recessed and more upfront which makes it more appropriate for all-around sound either if its a classical music or edm or anything in-between. M-100 was a pleasure to listen to with music genres which benefit from enhanced bass, but it wasn't as enjoyable when I listened to more instrumental music or streamed a movie on my phone where bass really got in a way of dialog. Now, I don't want you to get a wrong idea about M-100 having an earth shattering bass - they don't. What you get is a noticeable quantity of the bass at the expense of hovering over mids.
Overall, if you enjoy some extra bass in your music without sacrificing clarity of the rest of the sound - this is exactly what the doctor ordered!!! And I wouldn't be surprised if the Dr himself prefers V-Moda M-100 over Beats lol!!!!! In all seriousness, if you are even remotely thinking about buying Beats studio or if every time you listen to the music you reach out to tweak EQ for low end enhancement - these are the BEST choice, currently offered for $287 on Amazon. Beside a fun sound signature, they also offer a great passive noise isolation without any active noise hiss or requirements to charge or replace batteries. Also, the style and the ability to personalize your headphones instead of wearing some else's stamped logo - raises their value above competition. I definitely recommend these!!!
Here are the pictures.
Comparison with M-80