A Basshead's Delight: The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Page 2

Sound Quality
These headphones rock! I don't think I've been impelled to bob my head or sing out loud as strongly with any other headphone. I can nitpick at them (and I will in a minute), their measurements certainly weren't all that great, but at the end of the day what matters is headphones that make your juices flow, and the M-100 does that in spades...if you want a fun headphone for contemporary music.

This is a great basshead headphone. Tight, punchy, driving. The low notes hit like a sledgehammer, while the highs sparkle without harshness, and the mids don't go terribly missing or become oddly colored like with most basshead cans. Now, the big bass can get in the way at times. It's weird having Linda Ronstadt and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra up on stage and the bass player sitting in your lap. And I've got some orchestral tracks where the concert hall's air conditioning rumble is downright distracting. But let's face it, that's not what these cans are for. Put on some Shukar Collective, Gipsy.cz, or Prago Union and prepare for a Balkan head-banging par excellence. (Links are to MOG.com, a really great way to scrounge for new music.) If you're an audiophile, though, looking for transparency and color-free reproduction, these are not a headphone for you. I suggest the Sennheiser Momentum for a few dollars more, or the Logitech UE 6000 at $100 less.

The V-Moda M-100 has dramatically emphasized bass, nominally up about 8-9dB over the mid-range. That's a lot of bass, and it starts to kick in from 400Hz to 200Hz. I would have preferred the bass boost to happen about 100Hz lower. For acoustic music and smooth Jazz like Foreplay or Dave Grusin, this upper bass/low mids accentuation is a bit too thick.

I'd call the treble "sparkly." It's nice and present, without being strident or harsh. It's a bit unnatural though, and lacks extension in the highest octave. The thing is, it works with pop and streaming sources where loudness wars and compressions of all kinds can conspire to make a mess of the treble. The M-100 is wonderfully forgiving here. Assuming you're looking for a fun, bass-rich headphone, I think you'll be quite happy with the treble here. Again, if you're looking for air and transparency, look elsewhere.

Between the big bass and sparkly treble is a mid-range that feels a bit left out. Audiophiles will note this fairly quickly and hear the mids as a bit withdrawn and veiled. But if you're going to boost the bass and put some pizzazz up top, something's gonna get left out somewhere. The thing is, I've been searching for a great basshead can, and everything before the M-100 was so colored that I really couldn't enjoy what I tried for long (e.g., Sony XB-500, ATH-WS55, Skullcandy Hesh 2). The M-100 is different, the coloring is done tastefully. Fun "V" shaped frequency response curves are called fun for a reason and, for me, the M-100 nails the "fun" curve.

The M-100's imaging is a little above average. While the slightly artificial treble gets in the way of really good imaging, the sparkle does a good job of keeping things separated and lively. Again, given the intended use for these cans with contemporary, driving tunes--tunes that don't have a lot of "real" imaging information--the M-100 does fine. The dynamics though, are stellar. Plenty of snap, plenty of slam.

The M-100 makes for a great portable headphone. The "fun" frequency response curve is great for delivering bass and intelligibility in noisy environments. It's a fairly efficient headphone as well, so you will get plenty of volume from portable players and smartphones. Lastly, and this is important kids, these headphones sound great without having to turn them up too loud. The M-100 has slam and punch to spare, so spare your ears and enjoy these cans at moderate levels. The small size when folded is a big plus here as well, the M-100 will leave plenty of room left over in your backpack for other stuff.

The isolation is about average for a full-sized sealed can, plenty good to stop your tunes from bleeding out and bugging roommates, and good enough for urban warriors braving noisy streets. They won't shut out the loudest noises like IEMs would, but the accentuated bass and good intelligibility will cut through the din quite well.

Summary
For just about anyone I know under the age of 35, these will be on the top of my recommendation list. The thump and drive and sparkle are irresistible with any form of contemporary popular music. Whether from an iPhone, computer, or high-end amp, as long as I was playing youthfully exuberant music, the V-Moda M-100 flat out rocked. They're a basshead's delight.

Audiophiles looking for faithful reproduction should look elsewhere for a full-sized sealed headphone (e.g., Sennheiser Momentum, Logitech UE6000), the M-100 simply are not transparent enough. But there are plenty of audiophiles, both young and old, who want something fun for popular music, and these cans will scratch that itch. I know I'll definitely be keeping the M-100 in heavy use for a slammin' good time when the mood strikes. In fact, they'll be my go-to headphones against which all basshead wanna-bes will be compared, and as such are going on the "Wall of Fame" as the best basshead headphone.

Add to the good time fun sound of the M-100 the fact that you're getting great styling, superb build quality, good isolation, and uniquely useful accessories in an amazingly small package, and you've got yourself a candidate for the headphones with the broadest possible appeal in today's young market. This headphone is a winner, and one where you don't have to say "sorry about your wallet," because these cans easily deliver $310 in user value for the right listener.

Resources
V-Moda's home page and Crossfade M-100 product page.
Humungous thread on Head-Fi here, one for non-fanboi advice, and member reviews here.

COMPANY INFO
V-MODA
support@v-moda.com
1.888.VMODA.LA
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COMMENTS
miceblue's picture

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.  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

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

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

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

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 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

$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

poleepkwa's picture

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

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

Beagle's picture

Unless that was an attempt at humour?

JIGF's picture

props on the HD!

Tyll Hertsens's picture

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

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

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

...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

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

...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

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

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

hey....

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

thanks Tyll

Audioaddict's picture

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

Artmonkey's picture

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

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 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

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

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

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

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