It's a Headphones Thing

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REVIEW: V-MODA Crossfade M80


Prior to the review, I’d like to thank V-Moda for providing me with the review unit.

V-MODA is a Hollywood based headphones company, which was founded back in 2004 by Val Kolton, a DJ & a music producer, with some help from the designer Joseph Bucknall. The company put them self as a target to make good sounding headphones that are well designed too, a thing which was quite rare back at that time. About a year ago, the company has released the M80s, their first on-ear headphones, and also the first headphones from their “Modiophile” line, a line which is designated for the modern-audiophile. Since then, the M80s have been raved everywhere, and they were called by some “the best portable headphones”. I wanted to review these headphones for a long time, and now I finally have the chance to do so.

Here are the technical specifications of the V-MODA M80s:

  • Type: Supra-aural (on-ear)
  • Speaker Drivers: 40mm patented Dual-Diaphragm High-Fidelity Driver
  • Impedance: 28.5 Ohms
  • Frequency Response: 5 – 30,000 Hz
  • Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB
  • Plug: 45 degree, 24k gold-plated 3.5 mm (1/8″) stereo plug
  • Weight: 200g

the packaging’s front

the packaging’s back

Packaging: The M80s are packaged in a cardboard box that has a picture of the M80s on its front, a few explanations and specifications, while its back has a picture of a lady wearing the M80s and a couple of quotes from some reviews of it.

the “Hexoskeleton” case

the inside of the Hexoskeleton

Accessories: The M80s come with a very nice amount of accessories, all of a very impressive quality. First is their great “Exoskeleton” hard-case, which is molded exactly to the M80s’ shape, they fit in it perfectly. It gives the headphones and their accessories a great protection, while looking very good and stylish too. There’s a karabiner included too, so you could attach the case to your backpack or bag. Next, two detachable cables are included too, one of them red colored, which has a single button and a microphone, while the other one is black and has 3 buttons and a microphone. The red cable is supposed to work with both Android and iOS devices, while the black cable works only when connected to apple’s devices. A cable-clip is included too; it is recommended to use it by V-MODA, but I didn’t find it needed, as honestly, the included cables aren’t too noisy. I found the included accessories to be almost perfect; they’ll most probably satisfy almost every customer. The rating is 9.5/10.

the included cables

the headband is very flexible

Building Quality & Design: The M80s have a stunning design, they look amazing. They come in two color schemes, “Shadow” (black with red touches and features black brushed-aluminum plates, my set is a shadow one) & “White Pearl” (which is mainly white colored with some gray touches and features chrome plates), both are quite flashy and look great. The plates (aka shields) can be replaced with custom-designed shields, which can be purchased separately through V-MODA’s website. I love the fact that the company lets you to customize your headphones easily. The M80’s size surprised me when I first took them out of box; seeing their pictures on the internet, I thought that they were around the size of my AKG K518s or AiAiAi TMA-1s, but when comparing them, I realized that the M80s are a lot smaller than these two headphones. Moving on, I wasn’t only impressed by their design, but by their building quality too. The M80s are probably one of the best built and toughest headphones, rivaling against the mentioned-before TMA-1s; honestly, these are built like a tank. They can stand every kind of abusing that they’ll experience; from falling or strongly bending the headband to even sitting on them, it seems that nothing can overwhelm these. The hexagonal-shaped ear-cups are built from an integration of solid and sturdy plastic on their frame & tough metal, which the plates are made-of.

the plates are screwed to their place with 6 solid screws

Each one of the semi-open plates is screwed to its place by 6 solid looking screws, while the ear-cups themselves are strongly-fixed to a metal-axis’s with four screws per cup. The very flexible headband is a metal-made one, coated with microfiber-suede on its outer-side, while its inner side is coated with a softer material. It can easily bend to about every direction without showing any sign of breakage.

both included cables end with a solid 45 degrees plug

The two included fabric coated Kevlar-reinforced cables are very strong, quite flexible and do not really tangle. It’s also important to say that I didn’t find them stiff at all, as opposed to most of the fabric-coated cables. Both cables end with a nice and solid 45 degrees angled jack, gold plated of-course. The rating is 10/10.

     the headband’s back

Comfort & Fit: The M80s offer a quite good comfort. Their clamping force is pretty low, a lot lower than the K518s’ one, the headband is well padded with a layer of soft fabric and the small memory-foam pads sit nicely on the ears. The headband can be adjusted to be more or less clamping by bending the headband in or out, so even if you find the fit loose or uncomfortable at first, you can easily adjust it to your own preference. On the other hand, fitting the cups to your ears in order to get a good seal might be a bit tricky at first because of the small pads, but after getting used to it, you’ll be able to easily achieve a good seal. The weight of the headphones, about 200 grams is nicely divided, so it isn’t too felt. A thing you should note is that the headphones might be a bit uncomfortable straight out of the box, but after about 10 hours of use, the pads and the headbands “brake in”, and the headphones become very comfortable.  The rating is 9/10.

Isolation: The M80’s isolation is mediocre for a set of portable on-ear headphones, and it cannot compete with the AiAiAi TMA-1 and the AKG K518 in this section, due to 2 main factors, which differ it from both of these headphones: The ear-cups are semi-open, each one of them has three small V-shaped vents and in addition to it, their clamping force is fairly lower than the one found in the two headphones that were mentioned above. Overall, the M80s don’t isolate well enough in order to use them while riding the train & the bus, but they would be ok for walking in the street, for example. The rating is 7/10.

Sound Quality: Prior to the review, the M80s were given about 80 hours of burn-in, no noticeable changes were detected.

The 40mm sized dual-diaphragm which are utilized by the M80s produce a warm, smooth, fun and a quite spike-less sound-signature, which is both consumer-friendly and audiophile pleasing. None of the frequencies over-shadows each other, they’re all quite in-line.Achieving a good fit is very important in order to get these headphones to produce their best sound, as a bad fit would usually cause a bad seal that makes the lows sound weak and the whole sound muddy and un-detailed.

The Bass: It is quite impactful, powerful, has a great rumble and is there in a nice quantity. The M80s’ bass extends very low, a bit lower than the TMA-1s. It has a good clarity and resolution in most of its parts, apart from its lowest registers, which lack a bit resolution, clarity and cleanness. It’s very punchy and tight; it never feels bloated or inflated at all but it does lack a bit of texture. Its speed is decent, a bit more of it would’ve not hurt. The mid-bass is a bit more emphasized than the sub-bass, but both sound great. There’s no bass bleed to the mids at all, it’s very well controlled.

The Midrange: The quite forward mids of these headphones are just great, they do almost not lack in anything at all. The vocals are warm, smooth, airy, quite thick, very clean and clear. The midrange is pretty detailed, though, the instruments are better detailed than the vocals. Talking about the instruments, they sound great; the timbre is very good and they’re quite dynamic and energetic. Vocals on poorly recorded tracks sound quite bad; the M80s’ midrange isn’t a “forgiving” one.

The Treble: The highs are a bit more relaxed and laid-back than the other frequencies (treble-heads would probably not like the M80s), and they roll-off a bit too early, while their extension is good enough. As the midrange, also the treble is very smooth, but a bit less detailed.

Sound-Stage & Imaging: The M80s have a quite large & airy sound-stage for such a small on-ear set of headphones. Imaging and positioning are pretty good. Instruments separation is decent; it’s better than the TMA-1 in that section, but it cannot compete with the SoundMagic HP100.

The rating for the “Sound Quality” section is 8.5/10. It is given in ratio to the headphones’ price-tag at the time of writing this review.

Final Conclusions

The M80s are a huge “W” for V-MODA.  Not only they look good and they’re comfortable, but they’re very well built and good-sounding too. The M80s are headphones that are easy to like, and both the average-consumer and the audiophile that spends thousands of dollars on audio-gear would probably find it enjoyable. The isolation is their only real-weakness, and it’s not too bad either. Some might claim that the relaxed and laid-back treble is another weak point of these, but I find it good enough and not lacking. The M80s are a great better sounding (and in my opinion, better looking too) alternative to the notorious “Beats by Dre” headphones in the “designed-headphones market” and I hope to see more people doing the right move and choosing the M80s instead of them. The overall rating is 9/10.

the M80s accompanied by the included hexoskeleton case

Where to Buy? The M80’s MSRP is $230, but it can be found for around $170 when buying through various dealers such as Amazon, for example. It can also be purchased through V-MODA’s official web-store and their verified resellers, which a list of can be found here.


2 responses to “REVIEW: V-MODA Crossfade M80

  1. rude boy bass 07/09/2012 at 5:09

    I love these headphones – they’re obviously built with DJ’s needs in mind, right down to the hard carrying case (lifesaver!).. plus, the customization options are the shit.

  2. jk 30/09/2012 at 10:12

    Great review. I bought these recently after reading everything I could on portable headphones around $200 and think I picked the right ones for me. I have other balanced armature IEMs that have awesome detail but lack thump and are a little analytical and the M80s were just what I wanted. The Senn HD25ii were too bright and the TMA1 too dark. I’m curious, how does the bass of these compare to the TMA1? You mention they go a smidgen further down but how about impact and overall quantity on drum kicks etc.? Thanks.

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