A Basshead's Delight: The V-Moda Crossfade M-100

Tyll Hertsens's picture

V-Moda M-100 ($310)
Please forgive me. I try to be even-keeled and objective when I write headphone reviews. I try to draw a careful balance in describing the beauty and the warts of a particular headphone. But in this case I might not be able to be quite so objective. In this case I might not quite be able to keep my shit together. Because in this case, I'm in love. The V-Moda M-100 is the coolest, sexiest, grooviest headphone I've had the pleasure of reviewing...as long as you're okay with listening just for the fun of it.

VModa_M100_Photo_ValV-Moda's CEO Val Kolton is an unapologetic fashionista. That's usually a big red flag for me, as I typically find products made by such people more style over substance. I don't like that at all.

But Val's not like that...not one bit. He's totally true to himself and to his products. He digs style for sure, but he loves music, and he loves his gear to play music well. My benchmark for headphones is, "Do they do honor to the music?" I can honestly say that Val gets it, at least for youthful, exuberant electronic music. Moreover, he's insanely driven to put products into the hands of people that work well in every possible way. His operation, it seems to me, is built upon the rock of truly delivering incredible value for money...and deliver he does.

While I feel some of his earlier offerings were sub-par in terms of sound quality, I've got to say his latest efforts have nailed it. The build quality and styling are simply out-freaking-standing! While I'm just about exactly opposite from Val when it comes to style (a Hawaiian shirt is dressed up for me, you'll usually find me in t-shirts and sweats), we're like brothers from other mothers when it comes to our passion for headphones, great sound, and the worthiness of music. I'm honored to review these cans.

Styling
Pure sex. Of course, matters of taste are various, but I think these are great looking cans. The thought occurs to me that, say, Apple products have very broad appeal due to their minimalist design. The M-100 is far from a minimalist design, it's flashy, and sexy, and hip (if you can even use that word anymore), but it's done very tastefully. The M-100 is available in three basic color schemes: Gloss black, matte black, and pearly white, and in each of these schemes the M-100 looks badass.

VModa_M100_Photo_Colors

The gloss black version is flashy like a Lamborghini. High-gloss black plastic capsules have brushed aluminum "shields" covering the outside. Headband endcaps are gloss black with a bright red "V" accent. The matte black version has matte plastic capsules covered by a bead-blasted black anodized shield; headband endcaps are likewise matte black with a back glossy "V" accent. The pearly white M-100 has very sensual off-white color on the plastics, and clear anodizing on the aluminum with satin finishes throughout, with a few chrome features tastefully highlighting the look. Yes, the design is bold and tight, these are great looking cans.

VModa_M80V80_photo_shields

Another very cool aspect of the styling is the ability to customize the shields of these headphones. For a small up-charge (~$25) you can have custom artwork etched onto the shields of your cans. This is a laser engraving process, and your art needs to be one color only. The laser etching system then "writes" the image onto the shield by bleaching the anodizing to near white. So the best images will be against the darker color background colors. Full instructions can be found here.

Build Quality
VModa_M100_Photo_TankThe M-100, like all V-Moda cans, are built like a tank. At a recent trade show I had a great conversation with Val about his cable stress testing systems...he has two! (See video here.)Val is obsessed with durability and the M-100 will easily survive willful abuse with ease. He claims the cable will survive a million bends, the headphones can be dropped 70+ times on concrete from 6 feet, and the headband can be bent flat 10 times without fatigue. I'd bet a six-pack those are conservative claims. If he made these cans in olive drab he'd get a military contract.

Comfort
The M-100 hugs your head with a firm, secure fit. Earpads are cozy, but comfortable. If you have large ears though, they may be a tight fit. Headband padding is about right and the curvature distributes the weight nicely across the top of my slightly large noggin. While these headphones are a tad on the heavy side, I felt the comfort was good. The compromise here is always between a sense of security and the sense of weightlessness. The Sennheiser Momentum I'll be reviewing shortly were certainly more comfortable for long listening sessions, but don't feel nearly as secure on my head. I suspect the fit and comfort of the M-100 is spot on for their youthful and energetic target audience. Feel free to throw your pinky and index finger high in the air as you violently bob your head, the M-100 will remain nicely positioned as the tunes modulate your brain.

Features and Accessories
In the photos of the styling section above you can see how these headphones fold up into the span of the headband to make a small package for storage and transport. I've seen numerous headphones that articulate in this manner, but almost always they use large plastic hinges that give the headbands a bulbous look. Not so with the M-100.

VModa_M100_Photo_Hinge

I spent about a half hour searching the web for this dandy little detent elbow hinge without success. I had a chat with Val, and the reason I couldn't find this part is that V-Moda engineers designed and built it specifically for the M-100. One side of the hinge provides the end stops, and the other side is a really cool spring loaded detent assembly where, it seems, the spring effort is provided three pairs of domed washers. The hinges are securely affixed to the headband and bail with Allen head cap screws, and appear to be lubricated with a tiny dab of silicon grease.

VModa_M100_Photo_CaseNow if all this talk about the hinge seems silly, you have to understand it's because these cans fold up into a more compact form than any full-size headphone I've experienced, and that's important. As a motorcyclist, I'm extremely appreciative of tight packing. When Val gave me these cans for review I told him I was on my bike and wouldn't have room. Then he showed me the case.

You'll really have to look at the video at the end of this review to get a sense of how small it is, it looks deceptively large in the pictures. Not only is this case small, it's very sturdy. I could break a bowling ball in a padded room, but I felt perfectly fine packing this dandy case in my side-bags. Very, very nice.

VModa_M100_Photo_PlugThe cables provided with these headphones are simply bullet proof. Two cables are provided: one 4.5 foot long with one-button Android remote, and a 6.5 foot headphone listening cable. (Apple three-button remote cable optionally available for $20 here.) Both cables have unique features. Both cables are fabric covered with Kevlar inner casing to provide significant strength and durability. Both cables are terminated with a straight 1/8' mini-plug to insert into either the left or right ear capsule, and a 45 degree angle 1/8" mini-plug on the end inserted into your player. I really like 45-degree angle plugs as they provide better strain relief for the jack of your player than either a straight or 90-degree angle plug.

VModa_M100_Photo_MicRemote

One of the problems I consistently find with the mic/remote pod on headset cables is that if the pod is located too far enough away from the headphones to be easily accessible for handy finger control, the pod will rub against collars and zippers creating noise for the listening parties. If the pod is high on the cable it gets more difficult to reach. V-Moda has solved this problem by having separate pods for the mic and buttons. Fabric covered cables are more prone to cable noise, and I did experience some excess mic noise with my M-80. This cable seemed to work much better, though some cable-born noise was heard by the listeners of my phone calls.

VModa_M100_Photo_SharePlayAnd then there's the "SharePlay" cable. It's got a built-in splitter on the 45 degree plug of the cable that allows you to share music with a friend. The body of the jack has a groove in it that snaps to the cable when not in use. A new idea to me, and very nicely executed. Using the SharePlay cable and the connector on the other ear capsule you can hook-up two other people for shared listening, making this headphone an audio distribution center for an entire three seat row on an airplane. May get a bit tangled up trying to go to the bathroom though.

VModa_M100_Photo_VCorkLastly, this little innovation is pretty cool. Called the "V-Cork", this little gadget acts to seal the jack on the unused earpiece and prevent the acoustics of one side from being different from the side with the cable plugged in. I've had inklings this might be a problem in the past with headphone having jacks on both earpieces but never really looked into it. So I decided to take a couple of measurements. Here's the frequency response plots with and without the V-Cork in the right ear. It makes about 3dB difference at 500Hz. Pretty cool, it works.

VModa_M100_Graph_VCorkWithAndWithout

Also available are a coiled cable for DJs, and a Boom Pro Mic cable with a boom microphone that looks really cool. Unfortunately they were unavailable for review at this time.

'Nuffa that, let's get on with how they sound.

Company Info
V-MODA
support@v-moda.com
1.888.VMODA.LA
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Comments
miceblue's picture
Nice review overall

I mentioned in my Head-Fi review that people expecting a more audiophile-grade M-80 will be disappointed with the M-100's more "fun" sound signature, myself included. On the other hand, I think the M-100 really excels as a "fun" portable headphone.

HeadphoneAddict's picture
Great review Tyll

  Great review Tyll.  I think we hear similar things with these with similar impressions.  I titled my review "A fun and dynamic sounding closed headphone".  And thanks for adding the link to our reviews on head-fi.org as well.  

  I did feel that I got maybe 2-3 dB bass boost with amps having >1 ohm output impedance, like with the 10-15 ohm output impedance of my DACmini and DAC-100.  I thought the bass was a more balanced but still quite strong from my other amps with <1 ohm output impedance, like my Woo WA6 and Eddie Current ZDT and all of my portable gear.

  I really enjoy how much fun these are to play with, and they are my favorite portable headphone at the moment.  They will go with me on all my trips from this point forward, but I'm also using them a lot with my laptop rig at home.

neo's picture
Momentum

Great review.The Momentum review should also be interesting..seems like Tyll prefers their sound to that of the M-100s(or not?). For the looks though, I find the Momemtum sexier.Also waiting for the HD600/650 review..bring.it.onyes

Marcello's picture
very tempting

I really love the M-80 and can't wait until the M-100 finally make their way to Switzerland. In the meantime, I found another 'big bass' headphone that I really like, the Fidelio X1 - not very portable, though...

lubczyk's picture
For $300?

Do you think it's worth $300 for a bassy headphone? I mean, you can get great bass and forgiving of source headphones on a budget (WS55, Hesh 2). For $300, I'd expect some specialized clarity or a good all-rounder.

For a commuter phone, $300 seems excessive. I'd hate for it to get lost or stolen. You can get the HD-25 for around $125 as well as many similiarly priced phones.

I just don't know how to feel about this. It's not even fully sealed. Most good headphones you can EQ the bass up or down.

Draygonn's picture
Bass Cans

I'll have to give these a listen.  I've been wanting a pair of fun basshead cans ever since sending back the Thunderpants.  I like the looks as well.  Nice review Tyll.

MacedonianHero's picture
Great review Tyll. A buddy of

Great review Tyll. A buddy of mine has been asking me for a good pair of $300 headphones "with good bass". I'll recommend these for his consideration. BTW, the %THD distortion looked really, really good too.

tdockweiler's picture
580

$300..ugh..somehow this suddenly made me become interested in the DT-770 Pro 80 again. Less portable, but a hundred dollars cheaper. Build quality just as good I imagine.

Why is everyone and their brother now making $300 basshead phones? I wonder if V-moda makes a headphone with very slightly emphasized bass. I imagine not.

At least the build quality looks better than average.

Looking forward to the HD-580 review. I hope you give it a fair chance against the 600/650. I actually think it sounds better than both in some areas.

ScaryFatKidGT's picture
M80's

M80's

poleepkwa's picture
Shootout!

Is there a shootout coming with these "premium" portable headphones? Could be interesting with the Focal Spirit One and the new Senn Momentum...

Big Werm's picture
No contest!

This is not even worth a shootout.  The Momentum absolutely destroys the Spirit One!

Beagle's picture
Uh.....no

Unless that was an attempt at humour?

JIGF's picture
HD!

props on the HD!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks!

My personal DSLR (Canon 10D) gave up the ghost, and since things are going well with InnerFidelity the Mother Ship approved the purchace of a nice new camera (Canon 7D).  It does video and has external mic inputs.  WOOOOOT! 

Big Werm's picture
Very cool but....

I gave these a nice long listen today.  Really love the build quality and style.  The bass is punchy and highs are nice and clean.  Sounds great right out of the iPhone.  However I definitely heard that mid range almost "honkiness" going on.  Sometimes it was really distracting, other times not so much.  The sound stage and imaging was a bit lacking as well.  For $299 these are pretty bad ass, but I still think the ol' Denon D2000 still reigns supreme over this contender in sound quality.  But I would not hesitate to grab these for a portable can. 

poleepkwa's picture
About the shooutout.

I guess it does destroy the Spirit one, but then again it is also 100€ more.I do enjoy my Focals though:)

Actually I should have been more clear about what I meant. I was meaning a comparison for premuim portable headphones  like Tyll has done for the "celebrities" phones and ljokerl has done on head-fi for portable headphones. This could be a good reference for others to see how these phones compare.

Dinny FitzPatrick's picture
I had made up my mind to NOT like these phones...

...because I figured they'd be silly headphones, with plasticky build quality.  But Tyll told me to check them out at CanJam and am I glad he did because I was WRONG.  These headphones rock.  And the build quality is excellent.  And they're just fun to listen to and use.  When you get past some of the gimmicks, and you hear these phones, you realize they sound great.  Yes, Val takes the styling very seriously, but he also is very serious (and confident) about sound quality.  It shows with the M-100.

A poster above mentioned the price and the DT 770.  I think it's a fair point.  A basshead portable for $300.  That's not cheap.  But having heard both (though working from a bit of temporal distance with respect to the DT 770), I can say with confidence that the M-100 is a much better headphone in every way, except for maybe build quality where it is difficult to beat the DT 770 because it is, simply put, a tank.  But the M-100 is like a faster, better handling, more fun tank. 

Is it worth the $100 price difference over the DT 770?  To me, yes.  But it's a good question and I agree that we should continue to challenge manufacturers on price because the entry level is starting to creep up.  It would not be good for the hobby to see a marked increase to its own barriers to entry.  I don't think we're close to that yet, but it's on us as consumers to help make sure we don't get there.

ElectroHead's picture
Versus

Anyone who could help me I will totally appericate it!

          About two weeks ago I've purchased the Sennheiser Amperior headphones that Tyll loves so much. I listen to mostly what the V-MODA's are made for, contempoary electronic music (electro house, progressie, trance). I love the sound of the Sennheiser amperiors headphones but have two gripes. I wish they can go louder on my iPAD! Urgh, it pains me that I can handle max volume easily. The other is comfort, I find myself only listening to the Sennheisers for two hours max. I have the ability to exchange the Sennheiser Amperiors, but is it worth it to get the V-Moda Crossfade M-100's? I think it is from the reviews I'm seeing. Are these V-moda's better for the genres I listen to. Can you Tyll, or anyone here think of a Full-sized, Over-ear, sealed, portable headphone that sounds fanstastic staright off an iPad, with the genres mentioned above. If I return the Amperiors, it will be around 300$. THANKS IN ADVANCE.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Well...

...the M-100 will go much louder. The Amperior is a crisper headphone than the M-100, you might miss the treble of the Amperior if you like it.

The M-100 is the better basshead can IMO, and they're more comfortable.

Dinny FitzPatrick's picture
Volume Limiter?

Just a note to be careful of your ears.  Also, have you checked your iPad to be sure that the volume limiter is not set accidentally?

I think Tyll's advice is spot on but do also remember to go easy on your ears with the volume.

Gman1234's picture
UE 6000

Hi, I am very interested in buying the ue 6000's but this review has me thinking about the M-100's. I was wondering what you would recomend for very long listining sessions. I listen to mainly hip-hop and rap, but i also listen to everything from Stevie Wonder to Dean Martin. It would help me a great deal if you gave me a recommendation. Thank you!

adrianstephen's picture
Bass VS Sony MDR-XB500

hey....

how about BASS on v-moda m-100 compared with sony mdr-xb500 ?

thanks Tyll

Audioaddict's picture
xb 500

Tyll states how he likes the M-100 better then the XB 500 . Back when I had that can I remember how the bass was there but I wished it hit harder. It was kind of a wooly bass too, with little high presence and the mids were undetailed. I feel like the M-100 would be a worthy upgrade over the XB 500 in sound and build and style. 

adrianstephen's picture
thanks

thanks

Artmonkey's picture
Bass is not pleasant!

I own the M-100 and I really don't like it. The bass is huge, it's not too much, it's just not that good imo. The big problem is the rest if the frequencies though and Tyll's measurements show pretty much spot in how bad it sounds. Someone mentioned the DT770 earlier, I found this to be infinitely superior in every way and really can't see how anyone could see otherwise. I would advise anyone thinking about the M-100 to try it first and ignor the hype. I can see many people finding it very bad and/or boring compared to many other headphones at this price. The Momentum wipes the floor with it imo too.

neo's picture
m100?

You mean the vtf100? m100 are not yet on sale and only available on pre-order.

Dinny FitzPatrick's picture
I disagree re the DT770 as

I disagree re the DT770 as noted above, but to each their own.  Curious as to how you got the m-100 so early, as they are not yet generally available.  Also, did you use an amp with the m-100?  I listened both amped and unamped and preferred them with an amp.

Artmonkey's picture
vtf-100

What I have is the vtf pre-order but the headphone is the M-100. It's what was promised to be the exact same thing as the final production M-100 and is not labelled as VTF-100 on the box or anywhere.

I tried the M-100 on its own (phones, tablets, laptops etc), but also on amps ranging from $200-2000. I didn't think that the M-100 was improved on good amplification as much as most other headphones. Apart from the build and design I was pretty disappointed all round.

It's not just the DT770 that I found better, most well thought of headphones over $150 sound more exciting so I find the M-100 pretty poor value unless you specifically want the bass to be bloated beyond belief and to overpower everything else.

paul's picture
Headbanging and Things to Boggle the Mind

A pair of bass heavy headphones have always been on my short list. I had thought a pair of Grados would placate the Rock Gods.

greenrolaids's picture
Tyll

i own the m80's 

 

pre purchased the m100's

burned in the m100's ...

 

Knowing you gave the he-400's a respectfully negativate review... based on the over colorfullness... 

 

But you seem to give the laid back mids, and over emphasised bass head m100's a spot on your wall of fame....

 

makes me think that you endorsed the m100's with gritted teeth.

 

Dont get me wrong.. i like the m100's but the lack of presents in the midrange and the flattening of the 20khz to save our hearing really turned this headphone off for me.

Listening to harry connick jr, flac'ed .. and it sounds a little discombobulated.

 

i listened to the amperiors last week and found that they were a classic sennheisser.. focusing on the mids and highs and disregarded the rest.....

 

forgot where i was going ...now im saving up for the he-500's  and there my headphone quest wlll hopefully end... lol