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Wow, what an experience!

A Review On: V-MODA Crossfade M-100

V-MODA Crossfade M-100

Rated # 23 in Over-Ear
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $310.00
miceblue
Posted · 47004 Views · 17 Comments

Pros: Excellent mobile headphone, really great chest-hitting bass, fairly detailed, non-fatiguing treble, folding mechanism is sturdy, modular design

Cons: Shallow earpads, odd presentation of instruments/soundstage, too much bass, laid-back midrange, laid-back upper-treble, fragile zipper on case

Table of Contents

You can CTRL+F or Command+F the following to get to a certain point in my review, or just scroll through and look for the big, bold headings. If you want the gist of my review, sections V and VI are the most important parts.

 

Preamble (Introduction to the M-100)

I. VTF-100 and the Package Contents

II. Unboxing the M-100

III. My Initial Impressions of the M-100 Before Burn-In

IV. My Impressions of the M-100 After 144+ Hours of Pink Noise Burn-In

V. My Final Impressions of the M-100 (Section "V the People")

VI. Conclusions and Final Thoughts

VII. Customisation and Modularity

VIII. Thank You's

IX. Future Improvements for V-MODA

 


Preamble (Introduction to the M-100)

The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 has provided me with a headphone experience unlike any other headphone I have encountered.

 

If you've heard of the M-100 before, chances are you've come across the colossal thread at one point in time. Now, this thread can be thought of the M-100 developmental thread, a V-MODA fanboy thread, a bunch of random off-topic posts, or a super-thread including all of the above plus a lot of hype. I joined this thread in early July and have been pretty active in it since I joined. Originally I was intending to purchase a new headphone that would better suite my needs for mobile listening, mainly a warm-sounding, bass-boosted, durable, compact headphone.

 

The question is, does the M-100 live up to its hype? Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please take your seats and enjoy the ride.

popcorn.gif

 

 

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*Disclaimer: all of what I say in this review are purely my own observations. This review is not influenced by major Head-Fiers such as Jude or Tyll and are not influenced by "headphone measurements".

Furthermore, my thoughts of the M-100 have not changed significantly throughout my "journey".

 

Of course, just like any review, these are my own personal impressions and thoughts. People hear things differently, so what I say might not completely coincide with what you think of the product. Personal preferences as well as getting used to a headphone's sound signature both play a role in headphone reviews.

 

Before taking this review to heart, as with most products, it is best to try out the product yourself to see whether or not you like it. V-MODA offers a 60-day test trial guarantee, so if you don't like the M-100, and you purchased it from an authorized retailer, you can return your M-100 to V-MODA for a full refund within 60 days.*

 


I. VTF-100 and the Package Contents

Through this colossal M-100 thread, a secret code was revealed, "VTF-100", in early August. With this code, people were able to pre-pre-purchase a M-100 for $310 USD through V-MODA's official website by typing the code into the search box. A very limited amount of people were allowed to have this pre-pre-order opportunity as only ~300 of these units were to be sold. Some people have called these units the "pre-production units" (PPU), others have called it the VTF-100. Val Kolton (CEO and founder of V-MODA) himself stated that the "VTF-100 is actually the limited first production run of M-100." Because of this, I like to call these units the "First Edition" Crossfade M-100's.

 

What's in this pre-pre-order special?

  • The standard Crossfade M-100 package [includes 1 Crossfade M-100, 2-year limited warranty, 1 hard-shell "exoskeleton" carrying case, 1 carabiner, 1 SpeakEasy Cable (4 ft., 1 button, 1 microphone), 1 SharePlay Cable (6 ft., headphone splitter at the "MP3" player jack), 1 6.3 mm (1/4") gold-plated adaptor, and 2 VCORKs] - $300 MSRP
  • A second pair of shields of a colour and custom design of your choice - $45
  • A different earpad colour (as of right now, these have not been shipped to customers yet) - $15
  • Boom Pro Mic cable (6 ft., boom microphone (not noise-canceling), mute switch, volume dial) - $??
  • V-MODA Faders VIP tuned earplugs - $20 MSRP
  • A hand-written note from either Val Kolton himself, or V-MODA (although some people did not receive a note)

 

Total value of package: $370+ USD

 


II. Unboxing the M-100

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjDiISvmcI0

^ I just posted the link because having videos in a headphone review on Head-Fi is just weird...and it takes up a lot of screen-space in the review itself.

 

Don't forget the hidden box feature!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGE-Im3sT6g

 


III. My Initial Impressions of the M-100 Before Burn-In

Sound (using the Sansa Clip Zip)

Lows

  • Bass punch is decent, not the best, but it's there
  • To me the bass seems a bit too much, at least in a quiet home it seems that way
  • Bass guitars are really nicely textured, well-defined, and have much presence (such as in Fourplay's songs)

Mids

  • Mids seem a bit withdrawn/laid-back, but still very acceptable for me
  • Nice warmth in the mids
  • Upper mids sound pretty good to me

Highs

  • Less shimmer in the treble compared to the SRH940, but that might be a good thing for mobile listening
  • Treble seems to be laid back and seems a bit plastiky to me (testing using Cloudkicker - Amy, I Love YouFourplay - Bali Run, and 12 Girls Band - 莫高窟 (Mo Gao Ku))

Soundstage

  • Soundstage is decent, not as large as what I was expecting. It seems deeper than wide.

Other

  • I don't think the M-100's would be good for rock music if you like to "be the drummer" (pretend you're playing the drumset)
  • ^ I like to move my hands when playing a rock track as if I were playing the drum set, just a weird quirk I do. The bass pedal of the drum set has some good thump and authority in tracks that I've listened to. To me, the cymbals sound laid back; they're present and they have some sparkle, but I feel that they're somewhat veiled by the bass pedal, when I think the cymbals are inherently louder-sounding than the bass pedal. This happens on the multiple rock tracks that I've listened to. As a result of this, I find that it's harder for me to "be the drummer" since it's harder for me to hear the cymbals over the mids and lows.
  • List of tracks I've used for testing (Click to show)

    12 Girls Band - 莫高窟 (Mo Gao Ku)
    Battles - Futura
    Cloudkicker - Amy I Love You

    Fourplay - Bali Run
    HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR - Pain (I've seen them live)
    Illness Sickness - Anything But Postrock
    Malice Mizer - Le ciel

    Matt Mayfield - It's All About You

    Moi dix Mois - D+SECT (I've seen them live)

    Stereopony - ツキアカリのミチシルベ (Tsukiakari no Michishirube) (I've seen them live)

 

The Headphone Itself

  • Comfort doesn't seem to be an issue for me, but my ears are starting to warm up after 15 minutes of use.
  • Earcups are actually kind of shallow. The edges of my ears don't touch the earpads themselves, but they do touch the driver enclosure
  • The noise leakage is very minimal despite the semi-closed V-PORT design
  • No one has really mentioned it, but there is a felt patch on the M-100's V-PORT that might affect how it sounds (possible opportunity for modding?)

             400

  • The M-100 in-person is TINY when folded! I am still surprised at how small it is!

             400

               ^ For a size comparison, the headphone on the left is the Logitech UE6000, the Sansa Clip Zip is below it, and an iPad on the far left

  • The new CLIQFOLD hinge mechanism is pretty clever. I don't know why there are so many of the metal discs on the hinge, but the main mechanism is that there is a nub on one disc, and when you fold it, the nub goes into a little niche on another disc, which makes the *click* sound. Doing it in the reverse is the same process. I'm not sure how long this "nub" will last, but since it's made of metal, I'm assuming it will last a while.

             400

 

Accessories

  • The Boom Pro Mic cable's microphone has pretty good audio quality I think

             400

Boom Pro Mic audio quality test (Click to show)

Audio Test - Boom Pro Mic on Mac OS X

...compare to...
Audio Test - MacBook's built-in microphone

  • Microphonics seems to be an issue for me. For example, when I turn my head to the left (with the cable being in the left earcup), I can very clearly hear microphonics as the cable rubs against my shirt. The cable microphonics of the SRH940 (kind of a rubbery cable) are much less noticeable and seem very dampened in comparison (kind of a low-piched sound as opposed to the M-100's higher pitched sound)
  • Shield swapping seems to be pretty easy once you get the hang of it
  • Simultaneously SharePlay cable and dual-source listening seems to work just fine

             400

               ^ Post rock combined with shamisen sounds pretty wicked!

 

The Box

  • I don't have a smartphone to scan QR codes, but the M-100's box seems to have 4 such codes on the box and one for registration
  • The box's material is a very soft-feeling, thick, sturdy cardboard. None of your average, everyday thin cardboard boxes.
  • The "ribbon cutting ceremony tradition" is something unlike any product I have encountered in my entire life. I have honestly never felt more excited to open a package then with the M-100.
  • The handle of the M-100's box is made of the same material as the headphone's headband, which is still an unknown material to me
  • The boxception design of the M-100 box is very clever and is pretty neat in my opinion. This is definitely a box I'm going to keep!

 


IV. My Impressions of the M-100 After 144+ Hours of Pink Noise Burn-In

Thought I was kidding when I said 144+ hours of pink noise burn-in? After all, who wants to wait for their headphone to burn-in for nearly a whole week without using it? Apparently me + science does:

Big Boring Burn-In Log <- that's a tongue twister (Click to show)

Tracks used:

5-Minute Pink Noise (300 second, 0.8 amplitude pink noise generated by Audacity in Mac OS X, exported as WAV signed 16-bit PCM file, mono)
5-Minute Pink Noise (300 second, 0.8 amplitude pink noise generated by Audacity in Mac OS X, exported as WAV signed 16-bit PCM file, stereo)

Media player used:

iTunes 10.7 (21) on Mac OS X (maximum volume output)

DAC/amp used:

FiiO E7 USB DAC/amp (bass boost 0)

Cable used:

V-MODA SpeakEasy cable

Phase 1 - Left Earcup Mono Track Burn-In
Saturday October 13, 2012
Left earcup with cable, right earcup with V-MODA "cork"
Loud volume (E7 volume level 10) start: 00:35:57 (0 plays; start)
Medium volume (E7 volume level 05) start: 16:00:57 (~185 plays; ~15.41666667 hours later; ~15.41666667 hours from start)
Quiet volume (E7 volume level 01) start: 20:20:57 (~237 plays; ~4.93250003 hours later; ~19.77 hours from start)
No volume (disconnect headphone jacks and suspend in air) start: 00:36:25 (~288 plays; ~4.271666667 hours later; ~24.0077777778 hours from start)

23:55 of "resting time"; reset MacBook

 


Phase 2 - Right Earcup Stereo Track Burn-In
Sunday October 14, 2012
Right earcup with cable, left earcup with V-MODA "cork"
Loud volume (E7 volume level 10) start: 01:00:20 (0 plays; start)
Medium volume (E7 volume level 05) start: 16:31:42 (185 plays; 6:22 video break (paused iTunes and disconnected E7 from MacBook); ~15.41666667 hours later; ~15.52277778 hours from start)
Quiet volume (E7 volume level 01) start: 20:48:30 (~236 plays; ~4.28 hours later; ~19.80277778 hours from start)
No volume (disconnect headphone jacks and suspend in air) start: 1:48:30 (~296 plays; 5 hours later; ~24.8083333333 hours from start)

23:55 of "resting time"; reset MacBook

 


Phase 3 - Left Earcup Stereo Track Burn-In
Monday October 15, 2012
Left earcup with cable, right earcup with V-MODA "cork"
Medium-loud volume (E7 volume level 07) start: 02:12:25 (0 plays; start)
Quiet volume (E7 volume level 01) start: 22:12:25 (~240 plays; 20 hours later; 20 hours from start)
No volume (disconnect headphone jacks and suspend in air) start: 02:12:25 (~288 plays; 4 hours later; 24 hours from start)

34:20 of "resting time"; reset MacBook

 


Phase 4 - Right Earcup Mono Track Burn-In
Tuesday October 16, 2012
Right earcup with cable, left earcup with V-MODA "cork"
Medium-loud volume (E7 volume level 07) start: 02:46:45
Quiet volume (E7 volume level 01) start: 22:50:00 (~240 plays; 20.05416667 hours later; 20.05416667 hours from start)
No volume (disconnect headphone jacks and suspend in air) start: 02:46:45 (~288 plays; 3.945833333 hours later; 24 hours from start)

34:20 of "resting time"; reset MacBook

 


Phase 5 - Left, Dual-Entry Stereo Track Burn-In
Wednesday October 17, 2012
Left earcup with cable, right earcup with Shure SRH940
Medium-loud volume (E7 volume level 07) start: 03:21:05 (0 plays; start)
Quiet volume (E7 volume level 01) start: 23:21:05 (~240 plays; 20 hours later; 20 hours from start)
No volume (disconnect headphone jacks and suspend in air) start: 03:21:05 (~288 plays; 4 hours later; 24 hours from start)

34:22 of "resting time"; reset MacBook

 


Phase 6 - Right, Dual-Entry Stereo Track Burn-In
Thursday October 18, 2012
Right earcup with cable, left earcup with Shure SRH940
Medium-loud volume (E7 volume level 07) start: 03:55:27 (0 plays; start)
Quiet volume (E7 volume level 01) start: 23:55:27 (~240 plays; 20 hours later; 20 hours from start)
No volume (disconnect headphone jacks and suspend in air) start: 03:55:27 (~288 plays; 4 hours later; 24 hours from start)

34:22 of "resting time"; reset MacBook

 

Friday October 19, 2012
04:29:49 Listen and write impressions

Rest until 08:20

This concludes the pink noise "burn-in" period.

 

Sound (using the Sansa Clip Zip, and MacBook + FiiO E7 + Audirvana Plus)

Lows

  • The bass extension is really good
  • Drum pedals have a really nice kick/thump to them

Mids

  • They have a nice lush/organic-sound to them
  • Upper midrange seems to have a slight emphasis

Highs

  • There is a nice sparkle without having the feeling of fatigue

Other

  • The sound has barely changed (if at all) since pre burn-in
  • I still think the cymbals/upper-treble are laid back relative to the mids (initial cymbal and drum hits don't have the "bite" I think they're supposed to have)

 

The Headphone Itself

  • For people who wear glasses, the M-100's pads don't press on your glasses' arms too much and still retains a good seal

 


V. My Final Impressions of the M-100 (Section "V the People")

On October 26, 2012, I received the JDS Labs Objective2 and ObjectiveDAC. These devices are known to be pretty transparent and Tyll of Innerfidelity is actually using the Objective2 as his benchmark amplifier for measurements.

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In this point of the review, my impressions will be listed as follows:

  • Overall build quality and design
  • Noise isolation and noise leakage
  • Comfort
  • Unamped (home listening vs. mobile listening)
  • Amped (home listening vs mobile listening)
  • Applying a sound equalizer
  • Earpad modifications (yes, earpad modifications can drastically change the sound of the M-100)
  • Tracks and albums I've listened to

 

I uploaded a video review on my YouTube channel if you're interested in a different way of presenting my thoughts of the M-100. It's more geared towards the average consumer, as opposed to an audiophile, so the level of detail is less, and is more of a "soft" review. Read-on below for my full-on review and you'll see what I mean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UigeVu7gqs

 

 

Build Quality and Design

Overall the M-100 has a really good build quality and a good design

  • There are lots of metal pieces in important structures in the headphone
  • The STEELFLEX headband is able to be stretched in many directions without having to worry about it snapping

             400

  • The new CLIQFOLD hinge seems to have a very sturdy build-quality and I don't foresee any problems with it in the future. The hinge itself is secured in place with 4 hex scews (the same screws as the replaceable shields), two on each part of the folding hinge
  • The dual entry headphone ports is a really neat feature as I like to have the cable on the right earcup in certain situations, but the entry is so narrow and deep that many cables won't be able to fit in it
  • The SharePlay cable's headphone splitter is a nice option to have. I only know of one other headphone company that offers a headphone splitter cable
  • The V-PORT vents on the earcups allows air to flow through the drivers, which most likely decreases the noise isolation. This is good for me because I like to be aware of my surroundings while listening to music. It might be a problem to others though.
  • As a result of the V-PORTs, there is some sound leakage but it's very minimal. It shouldn't be a problem to people sitting next to you in a quiet library.
  • The M-100's can withstand heavy rain pretty well

             400

  • The hard-shell case it comes with is extremely handy for storing the M-100 and is very small in size too.

             400

 

There are some problems I have with the build and design though

  • The white silver model is more of a créme colour than pure white. I was expecting a pure white, but the créme colour doesn't look too bad.

             400

               ^ Those are the LP/LP2 pads installed on the M-100

  • The metal yokes are screwed into plastic pieces that act as the pivot point for the earcups. These plastic pieces are not held in place by anything in the earcup other than with a plastic peg. This peg can pop out of the earcup.
  • The plastic wing-plates that are at the adjustable headband are prone to cracking as a lot of stress is applied to the 3 screws holding it in place, especially when stretching the headband outward to place on one's head
  • The inner-headband is made of a fabric material. Whether or not that material absorbs sweat and consequently bacteria is unknown to me, but since it is fabric, I will say this is a design problem. For a headphone built for portability and active listening, this is probably not the ideal choice of material to use.
  • The earpads, although really soft, tend to compress too much for me when worn for more than 1.5 hours. As a result of this, the tips of my ears are hard-pressed against the driver enclosure of the earcups. The driver enclosure itself is dome-shaped, so you get less clearance in the earcup than one might think. This effect happens even sooner when exercising.

             400

             400

               ^ M-100 pads are on the left, LP/LP2 pads on the right; they are different in size and the LP/LP2 pads do affect the sound quality

  • The cables are made of fabric, so there tends to be some microphonics. Even more so for the SpeakEasy cable since that cable in particular is rather stiff and non-pliant.

             400

               ^ SpeakEasy on the right, SharePlay on the left

  • Also related to the fabric cables, they have a tendency to fray. I've used the SpeakEasy cable for about 3 weeks and it's already fraying near the microphone portion of the cable.

             400

  • The earpads are made of pleather, so they tend to warm up and while exercising, tend to get really moist/wet

             400

  • The white hard-shell case is prone to show signs of dirt/wear/tear

 

Noise isolation and sound leakage

For a full-sized, closed-back headphone the M-100 doesn't isolate a whole lot. They seem to isolate most of the higher frequencies, but much of the midrange frequencies still seem pretty audible, just lower in volume.

 

Despite the V-PORT "hole" in the M-100's earcups, they don't leak a lot of sound at all. They do leak a little, but by the time the leakage is audible, the volume has to be pretty high. The sound leakage should not be a problem for the majority of people.

 

Comfort

  • Generally speaking, the M-100 is pretty comfortable even if my ears touch the driver enclosure a little. While wearing glasses, the comfort of the M-100 seems to be fine as well.
  • When using the M-100 for more than 1.5 hours on the other hand, my ears do feel pained from the compressed earpads and I have to set the M-100's down and take a break.
  • This effect happens even faster when I exercise and I usually have to take them off my ears after 30 minutes.
  • The headband of the M-100 is fairly large, but flush against one's head. From my experience, the M-80's headband was extremely small and I had to adjust it to nearly the last "click". With the M-100, I only need to adjust the headband to "click" number 3 of 11.
  • The pleather eapads do tend to warm up pretty quickly, which may be an issue to some

Your mileage may vary as there have been plenty of people with no comfort issues.

 

The M-100's unamped

While listening at home, the M-100's are limited to the genres of music you listen to because

  • The bass presence is really the first thing that you notice for the M-100 and thus takes the main spotlight in a song
  • The lower-mids are thus slightly veiled from the bass and thus sound more distant than they should be from the listener
  • The upper-mids/lower-treble is slightly emphasised so that female vocals are more forward than male vocals, but also emphasise the hits of snare drums so it can get a bit fatiguing to listen to
  • The upper-treble is laid-back just like the lower-mids. As a result of this, cymbal crashes seem to occur behind the drummer with the snare drum rather than being in-line with the drummer
  • The soundstage seems pretty deep, but not too wide. This gives the effect that the music is being played in a long narrow hallway as opposed to a spacious room.
  • The instrument separation is pretty good overall. Instruments are pretty identifiable within a song but the lower mids kind of blend-in with the upper bass and the upper-treble is laid-back so some cymbal notes are hard to follow.

 

While mobile listening, the M-100's sound really fantastic to my ears

  • The bass presence is decreased due to external background noise, thus causing it to sound more balanced with the rest of the audio spectrum
  • The chest-thumping bass is still audible over the background noise in most cases
  • The midrange as a whole sounds more balanced with the bass and is not nearly as laid-back as it might be
  • The upper-mids/lower-treble is not as pronounced, so the snare drums sound less fatiguing
  • The upper-treble doesn't seem to be as laid-back as well, similar to the mids, so it presents a balanced sound with the mids and lows
  • The soundstage is more narrow than it might be, so the headphone sounds more "closed-in"
  • Instrument separation is still pretty good

 

The M-100's amped

When amped with either the FiiO E7 or the Objective2, the M-100 generally

  • Has more of that chest-thumping bass
  • The whole frequency spectrum just sounds a little cleaner to my ears
  • Instrumentation separation is improved and details are more apparent, which may be a cause for the previous point
  • The soundstage is larger, both in terms of width and depth (again, maybe it's due to more instrument separation)
  • The upper-treble is brought a tad bit more forward in the stage, but not drastically

I notice these differences both while home listening and during mobile listening (yes I brought the O2 with me to school/on the bus).

 

EDIT: I recently purchased a Retina MacBook Pro, so I will compare how it sounds to the 4-year old MacBook I originally used in this section.

 

4-year old MacBook

  • MacBook headphone-out: OK sound
  • FiiO E7 (line-in connection, bass boost 0) -> M-100 = better sound in my opinion (harder-hitting and cleaner bass, better L/R imaging and instrument separation, slightly more detailed, better upper-treble response)
  • JDS Labs O2 (line-in connection, fully-charged battery-powered) -> M-100 = better sound than E7 in my opinion (tighter bass that's less boomy but loses some of that chest-thump, midrange is more detailed and slightly less laid back, upper-treble response is smoother/less sharp than E7)

 

Retina MacBook Pro

  • MacBook Pro headphone-out: better sound than the setup above with the E7 in my opinion, I was genuinely surprised (lots of chest-thumping bass, very good L/R imaging and instrument separation, relatively speaking, good upper-treble response)
  • FiiO E7 (line-in connection, bass boost 0) -> M-100 = "meh", I can't tell if it's any better than without the E7 :/ The treble sounds a little grainier/artificial to me and the soundstage is more of that closed-hallway kind of sound (not as good L/R imaging). There is more clarity in the midrange and the bass is tightened up a bit. Strange indeed.
  • JDS Labs O2 (line-in connection, fully-charged battery-powered) -> M-100 = honestly, there's not a whole lot different from without any amps (bass is tighter and better-controlled, slightly better upper-treble response, a bit more detail with the midrange and it's slightly less laid back, slightly better L/R imaging, better instrument separation)

 

Would I recommend a more powerful amp for the M-100? Probably not. A portable amp is sufficient.

 

Conclusion: if you already have a good source and amp, amping won't help the M-100's a whole lot. On the other hand, if you have a "meh" amp (as was the case for the 4-year old MacBook), amping does provide some benefits. I wouldn't spend more than $100 on an amp though, personally, as the $144 JDS Lab Objective2 didn't sound substantially better over the E7 at half the price; in other words, you don't miss out on very much if you buy a "cheaper" amp.

 

Sound Equalizer

Generally speaking, a bass reducing, upper-treble increasing sound equalizer makes the M-100 sound more balanced for home-listening and brings out the mids a little with more definition and clarity, especially the lower-mids.

 

In iTunes, I applied an EQ for many different genres of music and I came up with this "average EQ" composed of 11 EQ's total:

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Of course EQ-ing is a subjective process so your mileage may vary. Using a sound equalizer with more bands, or better yet, a parametric EQ would probably be better, but the above EQ should suffice for most people.

 

Earpad Modifications

For the sake of keeping this strictly a review for the M-100 as it is, as it was meant to be, I will place all modifications in a spoiler tag. Readers may read through this spoiler at their own leisure.

Earpad Modifications (Click to show)

miceblue's earpad modification (Click to show)
Photos (Click to show)

 

 

 

 

 

How I did the mod

 

Paper towel info:

Brand: Up & Up (I think this is Target's house brand)

Size: 11 in (27.94 cm) X 10.4 in (26.416 cm)

Layering: 2-ply

  1. Take the paper towel and tear/cut it into fourths
  2. Using one of the fourths, tear/cut it in half
  3. Fold each of these so that you are left with 2 long strips (see second photo)
  4. Use one of these pieces in each earcup (I lined the right, bottom, and left sides of the earcup)
  5. Repeat steps 2-3
  6. Cut one of these pieces in half so you have 2 shorter pieces
  7. Use one of those pieces in each earcup so that each earcup has 1.5 long strips (I lined the upper right, top, and upper-left parts of the earcup). In the top photo, the smaller piece is the other half of a fourth that is leftover.

 

Sound

  • The bass is reduced in quantity, making it sound more balanced with the rest of the audio spectrum
  • The midrange is more forward and details are clearer to hear
  • The highs are much easier to hear (in particular the cymbals, which is the one main area of the unmodded M-100 that I think could have been improved; they are muuuuch better defined with the mod and they still remain not sibilant to my ears)
  • Surprisingly the soundstage seems to have gotten wider too. It sounds much more spacious with the mod. This soundstage can rival the SRH940 in my A/B comparison on my MacBook + Audirvana Plus + FiiO E7 setup (it's still not as wide, but it's much wider and deeper than the unmodded M-100)

 

Headphone:

  • As for fit, yes the pads are stiffer, but my ears no longer touch the driver enclosure as much, so it's more comfortable as a whole.

 

Test tracks:

Joanna Wang - Lost In Paradise (the vocals are brought more forward and sound a little clearer)

Battles - Futura (the bass pedal isn't emphasised as much, but the punch is still there, so the cymbals are easier to hear; drummer-mode is activated! :)) )

Cloudkicker - Amy I Love You (same result as ^)

Ottmar Liebert - Snakecharmer (the guitar seems more up-front)

Massive Attack - Teardrop (the bass isn't as prominent, but it sounds more balanced to me; the "ssss" vocals are still sharp as before probably due to the recording, but they are again not ear-grating like they were on the SRH940)

Fourplay - Chant

Raw notes/scribbles (Click to show)

Modded
good instrument separation
drum up front
drum pedal has punch, a little too much for me
bass guitar is very prominent, and has lots of authority
cymbals ts ts ts audible, more in background (quiet)
snare drum easily heard, back on stage
1:11 very good left/right imaging, lots of air between instruments
voices in background in front of snare drum a few steps
other drums have very forward sound
1:40 voices slightly in front of drums, front stage, bass guitar in front of drums (well defined notes)
piano is very clear, in front of drums and background vocals, front stage
2:50 guitar? now takes front stage, piano good distance away, bass next to piano, cymbals barely audible
cymbals clearly defined, nice authority
very good L/R imaging for drumset
5:50, cymbal ting ting ting ting audible, voices in front, bass guitar slightly behind voices

Unmodded
good instrument separation
drum up front, but more behind than modded, tonality seems off (sounds flatter in sound)
drum pedal has more punch
bass guitar is not as clear, (bu duuuuum ditto dooom, doom part is much quieter than modded), but louder than modded overall
cymbals ts ts ts ts is barely audible, still in background
1:11 ok left/right imaging (less wide)
snare drum easily heard, might cover "doom", seems farther back than modded
voices in background seem further back than before, but still in front of drums
decent left/right imaging, not as wide
1:40 main vocals seem quieter than bass guitar (doom doom doom doom doom bass), bass guitar in front stage, notes not well defined
piano is clearly defined again, not as forward, but in front of drumset and bass guitar, behind background voices (sound nasally)
2:50 guitar takes front stage, piano behind, bass guitar in front of piano (overshadows)
cymbals clearly defined, way behind vocals
good L/R imaging for drumset
5:34, cymbal ting ting ting ting audible, next to voices, bass guitar in front

Overall, modded sounds like a wider stage with better instrument separation, but not as deep (sounds like 1st row in a concert?), unmodded sounds like a deeper stage with less width and the bass guitar is more forward in the stage (sounds like 10th row in a concert? more reverb sound?).

 

 

Listening in a noisy environment

 

After trying the M-100 at school and on the bus, I concluded that:

Modded

  • It does have better noise isolation but not a whole lot more, as I mentioned. The bus's engine noise was drowned out a bit more, especially the higher frequencies.
  • Cymbal crashes and other higher frequency sounds were more apparent than unmodded

 

Unmodded

  • The U-shaped sound is more preferable, to me, while walking on campus/with extra background noises
  • The bass was more easily heard over the outside noise than the modded version, so it was actually really pleasant to hear the bass guitars in some tracks over people's conversations
  • Laid back lower midrange was harder to hear over outside noise, but the upper mids were nicely balanced with the bass (snare drum and cymbal hits can get a bit fatiguing though)
  • The quieter [upper?] treble was also more pleasant to my ear since it's not fatiguing (the modded version was a similar experience with my SRH940, too little bass and lower mids, too much upper mids and highs)

 

 

Isolation test

Raw notes/scribbles (Click to show)

Test track played on $20 desktop speakers: Quincy Jones Back on the Block

(M-100 is not connected to anything, cable is removed from earcup)

 

Modded

Isolation is pretty good

Most of the highs are blocked out

The mids/vocals are somewhat blocked out (I can still hear the singer's lyrics and the background "ooo waaai eee ooh")

Bass guitar is kind of audible

 

Unmodded

Isolation is still pretty good

More of the highs come through to me (the snare drum's hit is more audible), but they're still mostly blocked out

The mids/vocals, just like the highs are a tad bit louder to me (the lyrics are more distinguishable)

The bass guitar is is also more audible

Overall there is slightly more noise isolation when modded, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Both versions isolate a decent amount. With this mod, the higher and upper-midrange frequencies are blocked out more. They don't isolate as much as the SRH940, which I thought was good (Innerfidelity says it has a -14 dB isolation rating, which is about average for a full-sized headphone), but it's pretty close.

 

 

Soundstage test

 

Using this video as a test for the soundstage, it gave me a good sense of the M-100's soundstage.

Unmodded

  • I definitely sense more depth than width as I've mentioned before. The two sentries at the L/R locations at 1:48 in the video seem to be more diagonal L/R, giving a larger sense of depth. On the SRH940, the L/R locations are much more accurate from my quick listen, and the echo effects in the TF2 room makes the room much more realistic-sounding than the M-100 relatively speaking.

 

Modded

  • Wow OK this is kind of scaring me. With this mod, the soundstage IS in fact wider as I previously mentioned as well. The L/R imaging of the sentries is more accurate (L/R as opposed to diagonally behind L/R) and the echoes of the sentries in the room make the room sound much larger than it was in the unmodded version....this larger soundstage actually does rival the SRH940, also as mentioned before. blink.gif

 

 

 

I've been switching from modded to unmodded and the sound difference is very clear to me. The best thing about this mod is that it's completely reversible and is easy to do.

 

DigitalFreak's earpad modification (Click to show)

DigitalFreak suggested a different mod that uses smaller paper towel pieces.

 

Photos (Click to show)

 

 

Raw notes/scribbles (Click to show)

 

Setup: MacBook + Audirvana Plus (integer mode, exclusive access mode, use max I/O buffer size, best quality sample rate conversion) + FiiO E7 (volume level 05, bass boost 0)

Track used: Fourplay - Chant

 

DigitalFreak Modded
very good instrument separation
drum up front, mid-stage
lots of bass pedal punch
bass guitar in front of drums, very prominent, well-defined notes
cymbals ts ts ts ts audible
vocals up closer to front stage
good L/R imaging
bass guitar in front (dun dun dun dun dun sound), cymbals behind vocals
piano slightly in front of bass guitar, drumset behind
guitar takes front stage, bass guitar behind, piano behind bass guitar, drumset behind that
3:29 very clear cymbals and drums, vocals slightly in front, bass guitar behind vocals
5:50 cymbal ting ting ting ting present, next to bass guitar, vocals in front, piano slightly behind

Unmodded
ok instrument separation
drum further back
more bass pedal punch
bass guitar in front, VERY prominent (I can feel it rumbling my gut), slightly slurred notes
cymbals ts ts ts ts barely audible (bass guitar/pedal overshadows)
vocals next or slightly behind bass guitar
OK L/R imaging
bass guitar in very front (dun dun dun dun dun sound), cymbals next to vocals
piano in front of drums, behind bass, vocals slightly in front of piano
guitar takes front stage next to bass guitar, piano behind both, cymbals barely audible
3:29 cymbals sound lacking in higher ring, vocals next to or slightly behind drumset
5:50 cymbal ting ting ting ting back on stage, vocals slightly in front, piano next to vocals, bass guitar slightly behind vocals/piano

miceblue Modded
excellent good instrument separation (lots of air between instruments)
drum up front, mid-stage
least bass pedal punch, still good though
bass guitar slightly in front of drums, prominent, well-defined notes
cymbals ts ts ts ts is audible
vocals closer to front stage
very good L/R imaging
bass guitar in front (dun dun dun dun dun sound), vocals very slightly behind, drums slightly behind vocals
piano in front stage, bass guitar behind, vocals slightly in front of bass guitar
guitar in front stage, piano slightly behind, bass guitar behind in front of drumset
3:29 very clear cymbals and drums, vocals in front of drumset, bass guitar slightly in front of drumset
5:50 cymbal ting ting ting ting present very clear, vocals in front, piano slightly behind bass guitar next to drums

 

Overall impressions, DigitalFreak's mod is mid-way between miceblue's mod and not modded. miceblue's mod seems to have better instrument separation and stage width, but at the loss of some bass impact/presence, sounds more balanced overall. DigitalFreak's mod still retains the M-100's signature bass but is more clearly defined/cleaner and the midrange is brought more forward as well as having clearer treble.

 

Given the slight differences between mods, I could actually go for either! They both sounded good to me for that particular track.

I like DigitalFreak's mod a little more since 1) it retains the signature M-100 sound for the most part, and 2) it's easier to install. My mod, on the other hand, significantly changes the sound and it's much more cumbersome to install.

 

Tracks and Albums I've Listened To

Because this part can be quite boring to some, I'll place all of the tracks and albums I've listened to in a spoiler tag. I used all of these tracks and albums to help formulate my thoughts of the M-100's sound.

As you can see, I listen to a wide variety of music genres.

Tracks and Albums I've Listened To (Click to show)
Most of the albums are either in the form of a CD, accurately ripped EAC FLAC files, or FLAC files downloaded from Bandcamp. If I used an MP3 file, except where noted, it was likely encoded as a V0 LAME MP3 file.

Classical
László Szendrey-Karper - Hungarian Chamber Orchestra - Guitar Concertos & Sonatas - Antonio Vivaldi & Francesco Geminiani
Leo Ku - Strings Fever
Opus Two, Charles Bernard, Marin Mazzie - Leonard Bernstein: Violin Sonata, Piano Trio, New Transcriptions
Yo-Yo Ma - Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten: Sonata for Cello & Piano, Simply Baroque 2
Yury Boukoff, Mark Drobinsky, Rasma Lielmane - Richard Strauss: Les Trois Sonates

Classical Crossover
2CELLOS - 2CELLOS
Lindsey Stirling - Lindsey Stirling

ThePiano Guys - ThePianoGuys

Electronic
Ambidextrous & Morkva - A&M
Amon Tobin - Bricolage, Foley Room, ISAM, Out from Out Where
Basshunter - LOL <(^^,)>
Deadmau5 - 4x4=12, For Lack of a Better Name, Random Album Title
Fighter X - various unreleased tracks
Fila Brazillia - Luck Be A Weirdo Tonight
Ladytron - Best of 00-10 Deluxe Edition
Little People - Mickey Mouse Operation, Unreleased Bits & Pieces (Part 1), Unreleased Bits & Pieces (Part 2), We Are But Hunks Of Wood
Massive Attack - Mezzanine
Tiësto - Magikal Journey: The Hits Collection
Trash80 - Hologram EP, Icarus EP, Weeklybeats 2012, various singles
V2V Online - various music streams (available on SoundCloud)
Yosi Horikawa - Wandering EP

Flamenco
Ottmar Liebert - The Hours Between Night + Day, Up Close

Folk
12 Girls Band - Eastern Energy, Romantic Energy
Beth Orton - Comfort of Strangers, Daybreaker, Trailer Park
Chen Dacan Chinese Ensemble, Soloist Li He - Classical Chinese Folk Music, Featuring the Chinese Flute
Joanna Wang - Start From Here
Shan Di Orchestra - China-The Middle Kingdom
Various Artists - Pu'ukani: 'Sweet Music' of Hawai'i

Funk
Jon Cleary - Jon Cleary and the absolute monster gentlemen
Tower of Power - Bump City

Hip-Hop
M-Flo - Cosmicolor
Quincy Jones - Back on the Block

Jazz
98.9 Smooth Jazz KWJZ - Free CD Music Sampler
Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Deems - Deem's Greatest Hits
Fourplay - Between the Sheets, Fourplay
Mongo Santamaría - Montreux Heat!
Quincy Jones - From Q, with Love
Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas [Starbucks Exclusive]

Piano
Gabriela Montero - Baroque, En Concert à Montréal - Frédéric Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninov
Yuja Wang -

Pop
Adele - 21
By2 - Twins
Fahrenheit - 越來越愛, 雙面飛輪海
Fiona Sit - Funny Girl
Gigi Leung - 怕寂寞的貓
Jane Zhang - 我相信, 改变
Lady Gaga - Born This Way, The Fame, The Fame Monster
Magnetic North & Taiyo Na - Home- Word (Deluxe Edition)
Peggy Hsu - 奇幻精品店
Pet Shop Boys - Please, The Most Incredible Thing
Rainie Yang - 任意門
S.H.E - Play, SHERO, Super Star, 愛的地圖
Taylor Swift - Fearless, Speak Now, Taylor Swift
Vitas - Say You Love, Philosophy of Miracle
加藤ミリヤ - Ring

Reggae
Slightly Stoopid - Chronchitis, Everything You Need

Rock
1724 Records - Beijing Post-Rock
Battles - Gloss Drop
Boris - Heavy Rocks
Cloudkicker - Beacons
GACKT - Diabolos, Episode.0, Mizérable
HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR - Swamp Man
Linkin Park - Meteora
Matt Mayfield - A Dozen Doughnuts For Feeding Thirteen
Moi dix Mois - D+SECT, Diaxandu
Nightwish - Angels Fall First, Imaginaerum, Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places), Once, Over the Hills and Far Away, Wishmaker
Pink Floyd - The Wall
Stereopony - Over The Border
The National - Exile Vilify
Versailles - Noble

Soul
Isaac Hayes - Hot Buttered Soul
Seal - Seal, Seal 6: Commitment, Soul 2
Usher - Confessions

Soundtrack
Chiaki Ishikawa - Bokurano OP & ED
Daft Punk - Tron Legacy Original Soundtrack
Jun Maeda, Shinji Orito, Magome Togoshi, OdiakeS - various Key anime soundtracks (Air, Clannad, Clannad: After Story, Kanon, Kanon 2006)
Isaac Hayes - Shaft
Official Music Created for Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs - Sound Sketches of Ancient Egypt
The Track Team - The Legend of Korra Unreleased Music (16-bit, 48 kHz, 256 kbps)
TM Revolution - Ignited (128 kbps), Invoke (192 kpbs)
Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra - 涼宮ハルヒの弦奏
Two-Mix - Just Communication (128 kbps), White Reflection (128 kbps)
Various artists - Tron Legacy Reconfigured

Tsugaru-jamisen
Yoshida Brothers - Ibuki, Yoshida Brothers II, Prism

 


VI. Conclusions and Final Thoughts

So why did I give the value of the M-100 a 5/5 rating when everything else is a 3.5/5?

 

Let's step back for a second. As I posted in the first paragraph of the Preamble, I was looking for a headphone that "would better suite my needs for mobile listening, mainly a warm-sounding, bass-boosted, durable, compact headphone". Does the M-100 deliver that requirement? Absolutely yes! The M-100 passes those criteria with flying colours!!! Therefore to me the M-100 is totally worth the $310 I paid for it. From this criteria, I would give the M-100 a 4/5 for sound quality. The laid back midrange is really the only thing I would want fixed for mobile listening.

 

 

 

However, on the other hand, this is [SPARTA!!] Head-fi and wherever there is hype, people are expecting a high-fidelity product. In this sense, I do not think the M-100 excels very well here.

 

The M-100 is a very "fun-sounding" headphone that oddly presents instruments in the stage in my opinion. The more depth-based soundstage sounds weird to me since I'm used to hearing headphones with a very wide, more realistic "looking" soundstage. From my own personal experience, when music is played live, on-stage, the stage itself is fairly limited in depth and more spacious in width.

 

The bass presence of the M-100 is so present, that the lower midrange is veiled somewhat. Bass guitars and drum pedals are placed front and center in the stage, placing guitars and male vocals behind them. This presents the bulk of the midrange, essentially, at half-stage instead of the front.

 

The slightly emphasised upper-midrange/lower-treble is near "sibilant" to my ears, where "sibilant" is not the traditional sssss sibilant, but more about how bright those sounds sound. Snare drum hits can get fatiguing for example.

 

The upper-treble is laid back, just as the mids are, so the cymbal crashes seem to be further back on the stage than the snare drums. This odd presentation makes the whole drumset sound weird because the bass pedal is in the front stage, snare drums slightly behind that, and the cymbals way behind the snares.

 

 

Or in short:

Bass lower-midrange upper-midrange lower-treble upper-treble

^ hence, a U-shaped sound signature

 

The M-100's are well textured and detailed, but due to the laid back midrange and upper-treble, the resolution of detail isn't as good as what other headphones might offer (mainly headphones with a forward midrange and more treble presence) at the same volume level.

 

 

 

Wrapping up this whole experience, it has been one of the most, if not THE most, interesting experiences I have ever encountered on Head-Fi.

 

Does the M-100 live up to its hype? In my honest opinion, going from what Head-Fiers usually want from a super-hyped headphone, no. It doesn't seem to have the same sound signature of the M-80 from my experience and is more of a consumer-audiophile headphone as opposed to the M-80's more audiophile-consumer sound. Some people on Head-Fi looking for an upgrade from the M-80 might find themselves a bit disappointed with the large increase in bass, more "sibilant" treble, and still laid back midrange. Resulting from this is a very "iffy" headphone when it comes to different music genres. Electronic music excels with this kind of sound signature, but many do not benefit from this type of signature.

 

Does this mean the M-100 is a bad headphone? Not in a chance is it bad. The M-100 was developed for the purpose of fulfilling the needs of "Modern audiophiles", which I interpret to be "audiophiles" who listen to more modern genres. This is why I gave the M-100 a pretty positive review on my YouTube video as most viewers are likely going to be listening to modern music on their modern iPods. The M-100 excels for this purpose in my opinion, but at the same time may disappoint hard-core audiophiles expecting a more traditional audiophile output from the M-100.

 

For me and my purposes, the M-100's are the best portable, mobile headphone I have ever touched and so they have a high value to me. As a mobile "road warrior" listener, the M-100 provides a very balanced sound for nearly every genre of music I throw at it from my Clip Zip. Again, I must emphasise that the M-100 is by far the best-sounding mobile headphone I have touched. I've tried many different portable headphones and the M-100 is almost always on the top. The Crossfade M-100 really is the perfect headphone for my purposes as it easily, EASILY slayed the criteria I had prior to going through this "journey" and it goes way beyond what I had in store. In comparison, other headphones I've tried can only meet, but not exceed these criteria.

 

 

700

 

700

 

700

 

 

....OK it's 4:45 AM where I am. I might be missing a thing or two in my review, but I really, really, really need to get some sleep. >_<''

 


VII. Customisation and Modularity

As with V-MODA's previous headphones, the ability to customise your headphone is a really neat feature. V-MODA offers a level of customisability unlike any other headphone in the market, to-date, so if you're looking to purchase a M-100, I would highly recommend taking advantage of this feature.

 

The M-100 comes in 3 default colour schemes:

  • Matte-black - everything on the headphone is matte (non-glossy) black, even the branding; comes with matte-black shields, black earpads, a bright orange SpeakEasy cable, and a black SharePlay cable
  • Shadow - it has a suede-like headband with red stiching, a red "V" on the glossy wingplate, and the earcups are a glossy black; comes with brushed-aluminum shields, black earpads, a black SpeakEasy cable, and a red/black SharePlay cable
  • White silver (the one I purchased) - everything is a créme coloured white, with chrome accents on the earcups and "V" on the wingplate, the wingplate and earcups have matte-finish, the headband is made of a leatherette-like material and has visible "dots" on them; comes with matte-silver aluminum shields, grey earpads, a two-tone grey SpeakEasy and SharePlay cables

 

From these default schemes, different coloured shields can be purchased separately via their V-MODA's Custom Shield Kits. Each kit comes with 2 shields with an optional, laser-engraved, V-MODA-designed logo with text of your choice, extra hex scews, and a hex (AKA Allen) key. These kits sell for $25 each, except for the gold-coloured shields, which are $50 each.

 

For an additional $20 fee, you can have V-MODA engrave a custom logo of your choice. More information regarding this process can be found on V-MODA's custom shields webpage.

My custom design ended up looking like this (on the ocean blue colour):

700

 

 

Furthermore, you can add more customisation options to your headphone by having different coloured earpads. As of right now, V-MODA does not have extra earpads in stock, but in the future, they should have black, grey, and white earpads available to purchase for $15.

700

^ That's a white LP/LP2 earpad, not an M-100 one

 

And if that wasn't enough, there are the different colour options for cables. Right now V-MODA, again, doesn't have this as an option yet, but I'm assuming in the future, once they start shipping the M-100's to the public, different cable colour options will be available to purchase.

 

Relating to cables, there are a plethora of cables available for you to use.

  • Got an Android device? There's a cable for that (1-button SpeakEasy).
  • Got an Apple device? There's a cable for that (1 or 3-button SpeakEasy).
  • Are you a gamer? There's a cable for that (Boom Pro Mic). This cable has a built-in flexible boom microphone. This cable has a single TRRS jack at the end, so if you need a VoIP connection, a separate adaptor is needed.
  • Are you a DJ or a professional sound engineer who needs the flexibility of long cables? There's a cable for that (CoilPro Cable).
  • Are you a mobile listener who likes to share music with others? There's a cable for that (SharePlay).
  • Maybe you're just an audiophile who wants an audio-only cable. Well good news for you, there's a cable for that (Audio only).

 

The best thing about the cables with the M-100 is that you can plug-in your cable into either earcup. Sometimes I put my portable media player in my right pocket, so it's convenient to have the cable going to the right earcup; at other times it's in my left pocket, so having the cable going to the left earcup is more convenient.

 


VIII. Thank You's

Thank you V-MODA for allowing me to have this incredible pre-pre-order opportunity.

Thank you Val Kolton for dedicating so much time and energy with the Head-Fi community to create this first semi-open-source headphone. It is truly an honour to interact with the CEO and founder of a company. It has been quite a journey going through the M-100 develpmental thread and I appreciate all of the hard work you have done to:

  1. Cope with everyone's requests, complaints, questions, and burdens
  2. Manage to create a product that meets many of the requests

I think many people in that thread are going to be satisfied with what the M-100 offers as a direct result of your hard work in trying to put everyone's requests into one product.

 

Lastly, thank you readers for taking the time to read through this incredibly long review. I have spent a great deal of time compiling my experiences, photos, videos, and afterthoughts into this review and I hope you get a thing or two out of it.

 


IX. Future Improvements for V-MODA

This is mainly for Val and V-MODA to read, as I will offer some constructive criticism. Normal Head-Fiers or readers may disregard this section.

Dear Val and V-MODA, (Click to show)

In all honesty, think the Crossfade M-100 is a very successful product for mobile "road warriors" as well as "Modern audiophiles". The M-100 is by far the best portable, mobile headphone I have ever encountered and I wholeheartily think the M-100 is an absolute bargain for the $300 price tag if you need a headphone for those purposes.

 

You took the sound of the very successful M-80 and tweaked it to match the needs for "road warriors" and "Modern audiophiles" alike. Bumping up the bass as well as the lower-treble region to create a U-shaped sound signature is very ideal for such listening purposes. I think many people are going to love the sound of the M-100, and it has been very favourable so far as evident by tech blogs and major reviewers.

 

 

 

On the other hand, tweaking the M-80's sound to be more "fun" may disappoint die-hard audiophiles who were expecting a more audiophile-like output from the M-100. In this regards, I don't think the M-100 is very successful in creating this kind of sound. The bass presence is way too much for many genres of music, the laid-back upper-treble (cymbal crashes) isn't sparkly enough to satisfy many rockers out there, and the laid back midrange makes the M-100 an "iffy" headphone for mid-centric music genres, and especially those featuring vocals.

 

Because of this choice of tuning, the M-100 presents instruments in more of depth-based stage rather than a more realistic-sounding wide-stage. This is especially noticeable while listening to orchestra music as the cello is placed right up in the front stage (which is okay), but the violins and other strings are placed much farther back, and are limited in their left/right positioning. A full-staged orchestra is now compressed into a long, narrow hallway. A similar effect is noticed when playing rock music. I noted this effect the first time I posted my impressions on Head-Fi a few hours after unboxing the M-100.

 

Pianos have good timbre, but, again, because of the tuning, the presentation of the piano seems off and is more of a distant background instrument rather than the main spotlight in many of the tracks I've listened to. I feel like I am sitting in row M in a concert rather than in the front rows, the piano just seems so distant to me.

 

 

 

Enough with the examples, you're probably asking "where is the constructive criticism?"

 

For a future headphone, whether it's in the Revolver, or the Milano, I think Head-Fiers would really like a true-audiophile headphone produced from V-MODA.

 

The M-80 is a huge success in the audiophile community, and you'll soon find out how the M-100 will fare in the same community. I personally don't think the M-100 will receive too many good marks for pure, home-listening audio quality, but rather it will receive excellent marks for "road warrior"/"Modern audiophile"/casual-listening audio quality. They are two different kinds of sounds desired by two different audiences.

 

For a more pure, home-listening, traditional audiophile experience, I think the following can be improved:

  • Reduce the bass quanity - most true audiophile headphones have a slight bass boost, but the M-100 has too much of a bass boost. Something like the M-80 but with an ever-so-slightly boosted bass with the M-100's bass extension looks to be a desireable sound in the bass region.
  • Reduce the lower-midrange veiling - as many have noted with the M-100, myself included as evident by my immediate initial impressions, the M-100 has a laid-back midrange. Val has mentioned that the mids are "neutral", but neutral means presented without colouration. The mids, and especially the lower-mids are coloured by the accentuated bass, and give the impression that they are further back in the stage than where they should be. The mid and sub-bass seems to take the most authority in the M-100 so it overshadows, hence veiling, the lower midrange.
  • Bring the whole midrange more forward - as with the M-80, the M-100's midrange as a whole is fairly clear, but is held back. Bringing the midrange more forward would offer a more realistically-presented midrange. The singer and/or other midrange instruments such as violins or guitars would take the front stage as they should, being the main spotlight of the song, rather than the bass instruments.
  • If all of the above are done, lower the lower-treble a tad bit - snare drum hits would be more aligned with the rest of the sounds, so not a huge alteration should be made for this region of sound. At the moment, the M-100's lower-treble is slightly fatiguing for home listening as a result of the U-shaped tuning
  • Increase the upper-midrange - the M-100 has decent sparkle, much better than the M-80 from my experience, but is still lacking for home listening since it still seems relatively laid back compared to the upper-mids/lower-treble and the very forward, in-your-face bass
  • Increase the width of the soundstage - the M-100's depth-based soundstage is odd to hear. The different amounts of layering on the stage due to depth sounds rather unusual and un-realistic because, as previously mentioned, most headphones with a "large soundstage" have much more width in the stage than depth, as is the case for concert stages.

Resulting from all of the above, I think a more audiophile-like output can be achieved. Reducing the bass quantity, making the midrange more forward, and increasing the sparkle of the headphone will ultimately allow the listener to hear things more accurately and thus is able to pick up details in recordings much better.

 

Like I said, these are my thoughts for how the future headphones of V-MODA can be improved to create a more traditional, home-listening, audiophile-friendly headphone. In my mind, the M-100 is a huge success for its intended purposes, and is definitely my recommended headphone of choice for "road warriors" out there, but those looking for a more "audiophile M-80" will be slightly disappointed with the more "fun" sound signature.

 

Finally, not related to headphones, I think V-MODA in general has fantastic customer service. The "Six Star Service" experience has been a very positive one for me. However, throughout this M-100 journey, I noticed that there were several inconsistencies that occurred. To help improve the "Six Star Service":

  • The V-MODA support staff should be notified of changes that Val has mentioned - I can imagine this is extremely hard to do, but it was kind of frustrating to hear Val say one thing, V-MODA support to say another
  • Have "due dates" that are either accurate, or over-estimated - it was also frustrating to hear that the M-100 was going to be released X, and then it got "delayed" until Y, and then it got moved to Z, and then it finally shipped on V. It is also equally frustrating for some people to see the broad message of: "will ship within 60 days".

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I am really looking forward to seeing how future V-MODA headphones will turn out!

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

 

- Miceblue

 


Revision 1: November 12, 2012

  • Fixed a few typos
  • Changed the formatting for the photos
  • Added a Table of Contents before the Preamble section
  • Added a small disclaimer in the Preamble section regarding my observations
  • Added an equalizer , noise isolation and leakage , and "tracks and albums I've listened to" sections in section V
  • Update the comfort section in section V to include the headband size
  • Added some more details about why I like the M-100 in last sentence/paragaph of section VI
  • Added a seventh (VII) section regarding customisation options and modularity for the M-100

I have concluded that this "review editing window" is not very convenient

 

Revision 2: December 3, 2012

  • Fixed a few typos
  • Added more details in the The M-100's amped section

 

Revision 3: December 9, 2012

  • Changed the cons section at the top of the review to include shallow earpads and a fragile zipper on the case (I originally had "emphasised upper-mids/lower-treble" in the cons list but it's a minor complaint compared to the new ones I added)
  • Added "horizontal lines" to better indicate when a new major section appears in the review

17 Comments:

Good, complete review. Enjoy!! ;-)
You did a great job on this article. Congrats.
Nice review mate. Well done.
Thank you for the review. Looking forward to the M-100s
Im so jealous right now. I really cant wait for these to arrive at my doorstep.
Good review, very informative. Just wanted to point out that in Part VI of the review in the sentence with "this is [SPARTA!!]" I think there's a typo with "do no" rather than "do [not]" xD Lol not trying to be a picky grammar nazi, but I just happened to notice it so... :P
Oh yeah you're right, thanks for the correction! Again, it was around 3 AM when I wrote that part so I was pretty tired. XD
Congrats a very good review.
I received mine the other day. I agree completely with your review, I do find it sibilant, and that the imaging/soundstage chokes itself when things get very dynamic in a song. I also noted that the headphone has a retardedly fast speed with which it hits the notes (to a bad point, it doesn't allow the note to roll off smoothly, making it harsh.) The midrange annoys me, and does not do rock. I love the bass, although it can be too much.
AND FINALLY you have to try it with a VAMP, holy mother of god, it irons out a few issues (smoothes it a bit, better imaging control, better midrange), and improves it a fair bit overall, much much better then my E7. Definitely designed together, was nowhere near as bothered by the flaws. But I do still think this is a great portable, even if it needs a VAMP to make me take it out my cupboard and put down my Denon D7000. I will eventually do a full writeup. and this is causing me to revisit my K550 review, although this will score lower then it when I finish re-evaluating.
I would like to try out the VAMP some day, or maybe even the iPhone 5 VAMP, but unfortunately I don't own an iPhone at the moment so that option is pretty much ruled out for me. As it is a V-MODA DAC/amp, I would expect it to have terrific synergy with the M-100.
is there a way to prevent the fraying on the cables?
It might depend on what kind of clothing you're wearing. At school, I wear a nylon/cotton jacket, and the collar always rubbed against the cable.
On the other hand, I've been using the SharePlay cable for about a month now and I have absolutely no problems with the cable fraying, sticking out of my jacket oddly, or retaining kinks/bends (mostly wearing the same jacket). The SpeakEasy cable was the one that frayed a lot (see the photo above).
yes, I have an audio-only cable for my m80's and it's perfect without any fraying, it's the iDevice cable (and 1-button cable, for that matter) that tend more to fray and be al funky... I'm guessing the stiffness has something to do with the extra wiring required for the mic,buttons
HI Miceblue, your plate/shield things look awesome. What did you search in google to get it? lol
I posted the story/design of my shield in this thread post:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/616990/v-moda-shield-design-discussion/195#post_8831829
Basically I Googled "rod of asclepius", greatly modified one of the image results, and added my own text/heart to it.
Best review, ever, I'm amazed. Thank you.
Which have bigger ear cups, the M-100 or the Sennheiser HD439?
Hey Miceblue would you recommend I get the FiiO E7 along with my M100's? Would you say the difference is enough to justify the 100$ price tag?
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