Pros: Large Soundstage, Build Quality, Very Well Rounded, Plenty of Bass, Great Mids, Smooth Highs
Cons: While the Highs are very smooth, they lack detail, sparkle and any engaging qualities
I was lucky enough to be a part of the V-Moda M80 discussion group, I would like to thank V-Moda for allowing me to review this set of magnificent headphones and wish them great success in the future...
So nice to see an American brand produce a portable Titan worthy of going toe to toe with all of the best on ear portables out there. The M80 is truly worth every penny you'll end up paying for it. I don't think anyone will feel disappointed after listening to this set.
Build Quality and Accessories
The M80 comes packed with some really nice goodies that only sweeten the deal beyond its excellent sonic qualities. Inside the gorgeous box you are greeting with some paper work and a splendid zipper hard case. Inside, the M80 lay patiently, tucked snugly and neatly surrounded by a stunning red velvetish material. I was stunned V-Moda cared enough to offer THREE different cables, two shorter cables, roughly 4ft long with volume/mic controls in a darker Kevlar reinforced material ( not some typical rubber casing we often see ) and another longer cable absent the controls that is just a little longer than the others. The cable quality is excellent, however the only con in the Kevlar material choice that I foresee is knotting. All three cables are prone to getting stuck in small looped knots, it takes a bit of force to get it undone and the cable is noticeably harmed and twisted in that area from that point onward, forever maimed. Despite that, all the cables sound the same and have low microphonics, the M80 cables are really nice and leave all of its competitors in the dust. Thankfully, you have the option of using your own 3.5mm cable, pretty much anything should fit into it except the giant, super thick plugs out there. Detachable cables FOR THE WIN!
It also comes with a belt clip and in my case ( as well as all the Reviewers selected for this discussion group ) A sexy personalized set of outer shields. For a little extra, V-Moda allows you to customize your own name plates that replace the stock plates of the M80. Kind of awesome, if you ask me. There is no question now that this M80 is mine! All mine! Thankfully if there are problems or if I wish to customize more plates or perhaps re-install the stock blank plates I can do so easily with the included tools provided by V-Moda.
Sexy...I know, right?
As for the overall build quality, I would give it a solid 8.5/10. The headband is extremely flexible but very strong at the same time. The user should easily be able to bend and shape the band to needed specifications if need be, one can force clamping issues away ( or the lack there of ) very quickly with a gentle bending at the top and center of the band itself. You'll never have to worry about potential snapping.
The earcups are solid, not quiet as solid feeling as the Beyerdynamic DT 1350 IMO. I would rate the DT 1350 at only slightly better at a 9/10, I still have yet to see a truly rugged and supremely built portable set of headphones in this price tier that I am willing to say earns a 10/10 in build qualities. Despite that, I am deprived of any feelings that invoke poor build quality in any way. The set has just enough weight to it to make me feel comfortable saying it is a solid piece of work. Build Quality is still in the excellent range all around.
I am not too happy about the lack of padding on the earpads. The set is by no means uncomfortable, quite the opposite, actually. I think on ear sets should always have more padding than they do, having to rest on the sensitive parts of my ear for potentially hours every day? Well, I prefer more padding and the M80s earpads lack enough foam to rate them highly. I think they could have stuck more padding in there to make it a bit more comfy and less likely to squish all the way down to the flat area over the driver, becoming totally level with it. If you have a giant mutant head, odds are good you will experience this.
Well, where to begin? Lets start with the lows. Bass is strong, deep and satisfying. Pretty much everything I want in a portable set. I find it neither super special nor lacking in the slightest. It gets the job done, the M80 is very fun to listen to Dubstep or anything bass heavy. It has a ton more bass than the DT 1350 which left me sad every time I used it, always wanting more bass. Not at all the case with the M80, its very satisfying, well colored, large and on the boarder of thick sounding but never overly boomy. It can be boomy on some tracks with super high bass, it can also distort at these levels but then again everything in this price range would distort with really high levels of bass. I would really have preferred a cleaner bass experience, for my tastes it is on the thick side but I wouldnt go as far as saying its muddy. It makes for an immensely fun experience.
The mids are excellent. Vocals are immensely engaging, smooth and textured. I am absolutely stunned an on ear set of headphones like this can sound great with vocals from jazz artists or even big band. From Michael Buble' to Seth MacFarlanes new old school Sinatra-ish Album, right down to classic Rock vocals this set performs on an immensely satisfying level. Forward and broad, excellent placement. Impressive to say the least.
Highs are smooth and clean, the problem here is that they are not engaging at all. I am left with a bit of a lacking sense during classical tracks and especially so in Fusion/Metal Guitar. Highs are not sparkled and do not extend high, but guess what...thats how V-Moda designed it to be. They wanted it to be smooth and not make your ears bleed. Highs are still satisfying enough to use the set on a daily basis, I just wish they were a bit more engaging...wish they had a more bite to it...ya know?
The set is immensely well rounded, I cannot find any one genre that sounds bad on it. The Soundstage is for the lack of a better word....AMAZING ( for an on ear set ). It outshines the DT 1350 which itself has perhaps the largest sound stage in the on ear world that I am aware of. Height, Width and overall Depth are all very nice and odds are good the first time you listen to them your thoughts will be "WHAT!? I did not expect this set to sound this large" Truly impressive soundstage for an on ear set of headphones. Excellent in every way, not overly spacious but also not congested. It still sounds like a closed set of headphones, it does lack an airy sense to it. Despite that, the stage is well beyond satisfying. Hard to believe an on ear set can sound good with classical? Well, it does. It sounds every bit as good for classical and big band stuff as it does fusion and rock.
Isolation is a quality all the reviewers in this group had mixed feelings with. I found it to isolate nicely, others found it to not isolate well. V-Moda DID IN FACT DESIGN IT TO BE AN ISOLATING HEADPHONE...at least somewhat. Depending on the shape and size of your ears, it may or may not isolate well for you. If you are looking for good isolation, I would look elsewhere and avoid the possibility of being let down by the shield shaped pads and earcups vs something circular and known to isolate well like the HD 25 ii or the DT 1350.
Amping...or lack there of?
I find no need for amping at all with the M80 beyond just my Cowan J3 or Desktop PC. It is very efficient and sound excellent right out of a decent source. Just my opinion, you might want to check in with other reviews for their experiences with amplification and how it affected the sound of the M80. My pico slim does absolutely nothing for it beyond changing the coloration to something more metallic, made it worse in a lot of ways including sound stage qualities and overall kick factor. The set is not too punchy but has a fair amount of that snap to it without being at all harsh, just enough to consider it very engaging and fun. I am not at all sure the Tube sound will mesh well with the M80.
Overall, I am rating this set a solid 4/5. It is immensely well rounded, well built and fun to listen to. This is by no means a neutral set of headphones, this baby is geared to rock out with a nice forward presentation that is not overly warm but also no where near neutral. The M80 has more pros than cons, personally I want yet more clarity and a cleaner bass experience, maybe even some sparkled highs, but for what its worth the M80 is a winner. I think the future of V-Moda looks very bright.
I'm sold and I think most others will be, too. Great Job V-Moda, Val is a genius...nuff said