Pros: Fantastic build, engaging sound, great accessories, super cool carrying case, very responsive to EQ, customizable, portable
Cons: White case is prone to stains, not great worn around the neck, bass is slightly overpowering with some genres, audio cable frays
I was one of the lucky few who received the M-100 back in September as part of a Head-Fi.org promotion, so I've had ample time listening, wandering, traveling, subwaying and airplaning these heaphones. I've also had some time to compare the M-100 to my other pair of V-MODA headphones, the V-80, as well as to other headphones I've managed to play with at various retailers in New York City such as the Apple Store and B&H Photo.
My video review is located at the bottom of this text.
Form and Function:
The photos of the M-100, especially the one gracing the front of its box, are misleading. It is indeed as aesthetically pleasing in person as the pictures suggest (and possibly more so) but is surprisingly much smaller than it appears. On my head, which is medium/large, it is form fitting and doesn't protrude out on the sides unlike other headphones I've tried, such as the V-MODA V-80, or the ubiquitous Beats by Dre Studio. Folded up it is about the size of a grapefruit.
Also included is an amazingly well thought out case that is as beautiful as it is utilitarian. Besides protecting your headphones in snug, rubberized shell, the case also contains straps to hold your audio cables, a 1/4-inch headphone adapter, a memory stick and even a pair of V-MODA Faders(earplugs).
The M-100, like the V-80, is mostly made of metal and feels solid. Solid enough to break you out of a rickety building should that situation arise. There are many plastic based headphones out there, Bose, Beats, Skullcandy, Sony, that feel as though an accidental meeting with one's posterior would result in a snapped headband. Not so with these. I have sat on them, dropped them onto hard tile, walked through the rain and had my audio cable snag and get ripped out of the port. All is in working order with nary a scratch to show for it.
The hinge is a patented V-MODA design and it has a satisfying "click" upon opening and closing and I have yet to see any wear and tear on the joints.
My one complaint about build quality is the audio cables which tend to kink or get twisted when wandering about. They're also prone to fraying. I use mine nearly everyday on the streets of New York City and the cables are starting to resemble the fingertips on wool gloves. They also cause some unavoidable microphonics which was a problem I didn't notice as much with the red, one-button cable that came with my V-80s. The red V-80 cable also didn't fray as much.
Weather the Weather: 4.5/5
First off, I must mention that I wear glasses and that these do pinch my earhooks slightly. It's not bothersome, but it's noticeable and requires adjustments every now and then. The earcups fit around my entire ear and the soft pleather pads feel plush against my head without putting too much pressure on any one area. The same goes for the headband. I've been able to wear these for 3-hour stretches before feeling the need to take them off. When worn around-the-neck, either for bling-ability or during a performance of the National Anthem or whatever, the earcups are a little too big and end up limiting head movement. Since it's wintertime they double as fantastic earmuffs, but I think summertime use will be a sweaty, steamy affair.
Cranial Embrace: 4.25/5
Heat Retention: 4/5
I have used these on flights and they block out the ambient noise pretty well, although not as well in in-ear monitors or noise-cancelling headphones. I also use these daily on the subway and they are fine in most situations. Random events, such as breakdancers, crazy preachers, panhandlers, and just plain obnoxious people still manage to seep into your sound space, but I find it beneficial to be aware of these people for safety concerns. At really high volumes these do leak a good amount of sound, although you shouldn't be listening to it that loudly. At normal listening volumes, leakage isn't a problem.
"Excuse me? Can you hear me? Hello?": 4/5
"CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!": 3/5
"While I like 'Mambo No.5' I'm trying to study here.": 3.5/5
The most prominent frequency of the M-100 is its punchy, deep, and sometimes rumbling bass. Val Kolton, V-MODA's CEO calls this deep rumble "purring." On certain songs, if you turn up the music loud enough and hold the M-100 with both the earcups aligned and touching each other, you can feel the entire headphone vibrate in your hand. The sub-bass on the M-100 is among the best I've heard(felt) and shows up in songs where lesser headphones often fail. For those of you who are into dubstep, EDM, and hip hop these will give you all the bass punch you need to groove to your music. But none of this lower-end oomph is at the expense of the other frequencies. The bass is there when it's called for, but backs off when the song doesn't require it.
Vocals on the M-100 are intimate, clear and lively. They are a small step behind the V-80 in terms of mid-range presence. The V-80 provides a more forward mid-range, but the M-100 provides more clarity and detail retrieval than its smaller sibling despite its more laid-back nature. A better way to illustrate what I'm saying is that the M-100 sounds like you're sitting near the stage at a concert while the V-80 is more like sitting on stage directly in front of the singer.
Part of Val Kolton's sound philosophy involves the reduction and prevention of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the fastest growing problems among young people in this post-iPod era and, because of the low isolation and low sound quality of pack-in earbuds, most people listen to their music at dangerously loud volumes. Out of all the sound frequencies treble is the most damaging especially when you're exposed to it at high volumes for prolonged periods of time. Therefore, the treble on the M-100, while greatly improved over the V-80 in terms of extension and sparkle, is still slightly rolled off. For treble heads, this may not provide enough sparkle or crunch, especially if you have experience with Sennheiser or Grado headphones. However, the benefit of the M-100's treble is that there is little to no sibilance and the sound signature is less fatiguing during marathon listening sessions.
The soundstage has both good depth and width, though not quite on par with open headphones, and you genuinely get a 3D effect of being in a club with speakers pumping sound all around you. Action movies also sound very immersive especially during actions scenes involving shoot outs and explosions. They are relatively easy to drive and can provide plenty of volume straight out of a laptop or a cell phone/MP3 player, and they respond extremely well to eq'ing. Although an amp isn't necessary, they do benefit from amping and, when paired with my cMoyBB v.2.03 with bass boost turned on, can provide face melting levels of thump.
Instrument Separation: 4.25
Music I used to compare include:
Adele - Rolling in the Deep, Set Fire to the Rain
Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow
Girls' Generation - Genie (Tell Me Your Wish), Gee, Run Devil Run
George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
Fun - Some Nights
Shinee - Lucifer, Juliette
Maroon 5 - This Love, Misery, Payphone
Skrillex - Bangarang
Bassnectar - Ping Pong