V-MODA Crossfade M-80 and V-80 True Blood Headphones Page 2

The goodness doesn't stop with the headphones either. The "exoskeleton" carry case is very nice! This is a clamshell case with zipper closure. The case "exoskeleton" is a fairly rigid synthetic material, pressure-molded to perfectly fit the headphones within. A red velour-like material is molded to the inside of the case, which provides some cushion for the headphones. Two pads are attached to the inside of the case with hook-and-loop, and provide elastic straps to hold down the headphone cables and accessories you might want to carry. Kolton says DJs will often strap their SD cards in there and remark how they used to put their headphones in their record crate, now they put their records in their headphone case. While the headphones don't fold and the case is a little larger than average, I absolutely loved the look, fit, and finish of the headphones and the carry case. A really sweet package.

Attention to Detail
Other then the B&W P5, there's no other headphone I can think of where the manufacturers attention to detail is so apparent. The V-MODA V-80 True Blood and Crossfade M-80 simply radiate style, quality, and performance. They do so not because the manufacturer put on a show of quality, but rather because V-MODA actually built quality into the product. A variety of telling claims can be found on their website:

  • Proprietary "Dual Driver" has two parts: a center dome, and surrounding flexure. Kolton claims the center dome is responsibe for clearer mids and highs, while the surrounding flexure improves bass response.
  • Meets MIL-STD-810G (military quality specification) for: high and low temperatures, humidity, salt spray and UV exposure.
  • Delivers variances across the spectrum of less than 2dB from unit to unit.
  • Survives 70+ drops on concrete from 6 feet.
  • Kevlar reinforced detachable cables and 45-degree plug strain relief can each bend over 1 million times.
Additionally, it's quite evident from talking with Kolton that V-MODA goes to great lengths to get feedback from artists, recording professionals, and headphone enthusiasts. He says he's spent many sessions with artists and a 31-band equalizer asking professionals to try to improve the product's equalization. Recently he sent numerous samples of the Crossfade M-80 to Head-Fi headphone enthusiasts for them to review from an audiophile's perspective. V-MODA now has two categories of full-size headphones: the "LP" versions for "Live Play", which fundamentally means they have enhanced bass response; and the newer "M" model, which stands for Modern Audiophile or Modiophile.

I don't know how V-MODA does it, but their maniacal dedication to bringing style, durability, and sound quality to headphones pays off in spades. These headphones simply radiate headphone goodness.

"Endorse Yourself!"
I've decided to cover these headphones amongst the other celebrity cans not so much because of the "True Blood" endorsement, but because they can be customized with your own logo. Kolton nails it when he enables folks to "Endorse Yourself!" You don't have to be stuck with Dr. Dre, Ludacris, or 50 Cent, you can put any celebrity you want on your headphones ... including yourself. The anodized aluminum shields are available in three colors currently and more colors are planned for early next year. For a $45 fee you can send your art into V-MODA and have it engraved on the headphone shields using a laser system.

I had Val put the InnerFidelity logo on the cans he sent up for review. It looks very good on the red and green shields (of the Crossfade LP2), but really pops on the black. Here's the important thing: I can't help but think of these headphones as special to me personally. Why? Because they are ... they have my logo on them. I think celebrating your own personality on your headphones is a great idea. It will bring a type of pride and joy to your gear that would be hard to duplicate otherwise. Personal audio, indeed.

Sound Quality
The V-MODA Crossfade M-80/V-80 is the first of the "Modiophile" headphones from V-MODA. (They are expecting to add a full-size, sealed, around-the-ear M-100 in the near future.) Kolton was looking to expand his audience beyond the DJ crowd and realized he would have to create a more neutral sounding headphone than the Crossfade LP and LP2. By golly, he did it. The V-MODA Crossfade M-80/V-80 is a truly excellent sounding headphone. Different, but certainly comparable and competitive with the likes of the Beyerdynamic DT1350 and Sennheiser HD 25-1 II.

The bass is very well extended for a headphone of this size, but slightly bloomy. The DT1350 had better extension and punch, but both bested the lows of the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II. I'm splitting hairs here in a lot of ways, all three are great sounding headphones.

(Here's the big surprise: the Marley Exodus were keeping with all three of these as well!)

The midrange has good balance with the bass and treble, and over-all there is a slightly warm tilt. Though a tad uneven, they provide a very natural and organically correct sound. The treble is well proportioned to the whole and delivers good snap without being harsh. The top octave is slightly reduced, and coupled with the warmish tilt give the headphones a very slightly muffled sound.

While the overall balance of the headphones is quite good, they --- like most headphones of this type --- are slightly confused or congested sounding. Compared them directly to a Sennheiser HD 800 and you would hear it clearly. This slight congestion prevents the kind of performance needed for good imaging, but did not prevent the headphones from delivering a very nice punch and dynamics.

A very good sounding headphone.

Measurements

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Raw frequency response measurements (lower traces in FR) show moderate variability in bass level as the headphones are moved from position to position. I'd say this is a moderately better than average result for this type of headphone.

Averaged and compensated frequency response shows a wide, gentle hump between 10Hz and 700Hz. Though not as flat as the Beyer DT1350, this indicates better bass extension than the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II.

Above 700Hz, the frequency response is a bit uneven, but does not show the large a treble spike at 10kHz often seen on similar headphones, again indicating the naturalness of timbre heard in listening. The top octave above 10kHz is about 3dB below ideal, in my opinion.

30Hz square wave show a fairly flat waveform top indicating the good bass extension seen in the FR, but fairly high levels of distortion on the THD+noise graph below 200Hz may be indicative of the "looseness" of the bass heard in listening. Above 200Hz, THD+noise performance is quite good.

Transitional edges of the 300Hz square wave shows little overshoot of leading edge, but fairly significant ring to follow, which may contribute to poor imaging heard.

Isolation plot and measured value of broadband noise attenuation at -10dBSPL indicate a headphone with moderate ability to shut out environmental noise. These will work fine for general purpose uses, but will not isolate well enough for extremely loud environments like airplanes and trains.

Fairly even impedance plot at about 33 Ohms and an efficiency of 39mVrms for 90 dBSPL at the ear means these headphones will get fairly loud and be driven well from a portable player.

Summary
Hard core DJs dancing around on stage might prefer the firm grip on the head of the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II or Beyerdynamic DT1350; and the B&W P5 might be preferred by the suit-and-tie, cosmopolitan gentleman, but for the other 99% of us the V-MODA Crossfade M-80/V-80 is probably the way to go.

I simply can't think of another headphone that does so much, so right. They look like a million bucks, they're built like a tank, the accessories are super tasty, the sound is among the best in class, and the ability to have custom graphics emblazoned on the shields puts the V-MODA Crossfade M-80/V-80 right over the top. I simply can't recommend them highly enough. I love these headphones.

Highly Recommended!

Resources
A really great thread compiling the Head-Fi Crossfade M-80 reviews.
V-MODA customgraphics information page.
Video of Val Kolton throwing Crossfade LP.

COMPANY INFO
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COMMENTS
LFF's picture

Within the category of on-ear headphones, the M-80's are second to none. The build quality, sound and style are top notch and are vastly superior to the Beats or Soul.

I have had my pair for a while, endorsing my initials, and it has received compliments and admirers every single time I have gone out in public with them.

These are by and large my favorite on-ear portable headphones. I wish I could try out the LP2's.

The Monkey's picture
Why are the True Blood phones less expensive?
dalethorn's picture

That's the question of the year. I normally assume the more stylized version of anything would cost more, so it may have to do with sales quantities. I can't vouch for the M-80, taking everyone's word that the V-80 is the same. And I can vouch for the V-80. As a portable, no issues, no complaints.

But there is one thing in the video review that tipped me off to something I didn't know how to fix. I also needed to slant the earcups forward but was afraid if I twisted the headband, it would go all wrong as everything else I've tried to fix thusly. So seeing the video, I immediately grabbed the headband, gave it the appropriate twist, and it set the cups right the first time. Maybe I was just lucky. It's very surprising what you get for ~200 USD, a real bargain I think.

Edit: Here's something I forgot about. I bought the V80 early on and paid $229 USD, then $20 more to Vmoda for the 3-button cable. So that's $249 total.

epidoc's picture

The only difference that I noticed on V-Moda's website is:

Crossfade M-80: "M-80 comes with 2 microphone-enabled cables for universal compatibility with all modern mobile and audio devices. The 3-Button remote microphone cable is designed for the latest Apple devices, including iPhone®,iPad®, iPod®, and Macbook series. The 1-Button microphone cable works perfectly on Android®, Windows 7, BlackberryTM, tablets, notebook, MP3 and audio devices."

True Blood V-80: "Included are 2 detachable cables, a 1-Button microphone and long audio-only cable."

The 3-button remote microphone cable is available for an additional $10. So, I am still not sure about the remaining difference of about $20.

John Grandberg's picture
Mine have skulls on them (NOT to be confused with Skullcandy), and they look great. Like Tyll, I am very impressed with them! some text
ItsMeLeoYi's picture

Would you recommend these over the crossfade LP's?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
The Crossfade LP and LP2 have a boosted bass eq. Of the two, I like the LP2 better, but I prefer the more neutral sound of the M-80. My understanding is that V-Moda will be producing an M-100 in the larger, around-the-ear size early 2012. That one may be worth the wait.
The Boss's picture

Thanks for the wonderful review of the M-80. I had this in mind for some time now, but now I'm getting one for sure. I will be using it primarily with my iPod for portable use.

You said that one of the flaws of the cable was that the microphone makes a lot of noise. What do you exactly mean by this? I have an iPod classic, not an iPod touch or iPhone, which I'm planning to use purely as a portable music player and not anything else. Thus I have no need for a microphone - but according to what you say, does it mean that the cable can still produce noise when I'm just listening to music on the iPod?

What I also have in mind is a portable amp. I'm sure the M-80 will sound great when driven right out of my iPod, but wouldn't there be significant improvements when if I were to use an amp between them? I have used several desktop amps to drive full-size headphones at home, I've never had any experience with portable DAC or amp gears for use ith portable headphones. Are there substantial benefits of amps with M-80, or do you think it's largely unnecessary?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
The noise with the cable is mostly regarding the mike. A good amp will make an improvement, but I'd check it out first without and see what you think.
helluvapixel's picture

I bought the Crossfade LP as an attempt to try something different and I was disappointed. I don't listen to hip-hop or the like and so for the rest I found the LPs more foggy and veiled. For TV and movies they are good, but for clarity and full sound they fail.

In front of the computer I may have them on out of convenience but I'm sure to grab my Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro or Sennheiser HD598 for some real music listening.

If one was to say the M-80 opposes the LP to be more neutral and clear in the highs and less artificially boosted bass, I might be tempted.

The only thing I want to point out with the V-Moda, is that they tend to feel heavy on the head. I think this is due to the stronger clamp force and the choice of leather.

Currawong's picture

I've had the privilege of meeting Val too and I agree entirely about the design and sound. One comment from him that struck me as important is that DJs listen loud. Since the listening volume makes a considerable difference to one's perception, listening louder than usual the FR makes more sense. Despite that, I do find the M80s are enjoyable even with older, uncompressed music. They are quite smooth-sounding.

The LPs and LP2s were intended to be a clubhouse on your head, so the boombox-like performance is less of a surprise. They started to make sense once I broke out the Crystal Method and other DJ/club music but I still liked the M80's presentation of even that.

The case is pure win. It has "stuff me in your bag with all your other crap and don't worry about it" written all over it.

NoPerfectHeadphone's picture

The M80 is nearly perfect, except that it's not that comfortable for long-time use since it's on-ear headphone. I have been reading rumors about the future-new model M100, which was stating to be a "over-the-ear M80." I'm now just wondering whether it's really real or just people's wishes?
I have been crazed in looking for a best headphone for myself this entire month. I really wanna know if it's worth the wait. Thanks!!!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
It's coming. I don't know when, but I do know it's being worked on.
NoPerfectHeadphone's picture

Thanks for ur reply, Tyll!
Also, regardless of the bass, do you think there're some big differences between the LP and the LP2?

Mkubota1's picture

I can't imagine another headphone that does so well in so many areas. And Val is a really nice guy too!

gorboman's picture

So glad I picked the M-80 over the Bose OE. Suits my types of music better (except for some, i.e. Phoenix). But no matter, I still love the 'phones and the fact they have a free music streaming app for my android device.

helluvapixel's picture

I bought the M-80 and silly me I didn't read that they were on-ear cans. I made the stupid assumption they were like a neutral replacement of the Crossfade LP which in my view were an abysmal purchase for me as I'm not a big club/dance/DJ music person. I felt they were heavily veiled.

So, when I opened the package and found out they were 'on-ear', my excitement dropped, I'll admit. I grabbed my iPhone plugged in the M-80s and hit play. Wow... I was shocked. What a difference in comparison to the Crossfade LP and just in general.

Short of it is I like them a lot. In fact, I'll use these more when I'm out and about over my HD25-1 MKII. I think while slightly differenct in signature the M-80 are on par with the infamous HD25 and $100-$200 cheaper depending on your locale. The HD25 I find are exceptionally tight.. compressed type sound where the M-80 is still tight, punchy bass and clear highs but has more air to them.

aaaaaahh's picture

I just brought the ATH pro700mk2anv, in my opinion it is alright. I want to ask was the V Moda M80 a better choice?

Metal112524's picture

Can you help me decide between getting the Creative Aurvana live + Fostex t50rp, the Senn hd25-1II or the Vmoda m80. I would like to have the best sounding phone but would like a full size, but if the Senn or Vmoda are that much better as far as sq goes then id take them. I'd love to hear the fostex and seeing as the Aurvana was once a 200 dollar phone (d1001) and getting it on sale now and the fostex sounds like a deal to me. But I also want something that just sounds great right out the box and doesnt need too much modding or an amp to sound great (even though i have a MilletSS). Source will be a sansa, possibly rockboxed.

torressalvador's picture

Hi tyll!! what headphone have the best audio quality to listen electronic music ?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I'd take the M-80.
ssoedi's picture

Hi Tyll. I wonder if you have had the chance to test the V-Moda M-100 and  the V-Moda Vibrato (In-Ear) headphones. If you have, how would you compare them to M-80? Which one would you personally get? Thank you.

Tenormech's picture

Hi Tyll,

What are your thoughts on SQ difference between these and the ATH-M50? I have a pair of the Audio Technicas right now, but your review on the V-Modas is intriguing.

I love the site, btw. Thanks for all your insights.

TheSpyglassGamer's picture

Great review Tyll!! By the way, how would these compare to other high end headphones of this type? Namely the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear, the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II/Amperior, and the Onkyo ES-FC300?

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