Pros: Looks great, Portable, Excellent build quality, Very good SQ, Decent noise isolation, Easy to drive, EQ's easily
Cons: Microphonics at low volume, (Applies to bassheads): Not enough bass, Can get warm fast (for people with bigger ears)
Hey guys, here's my review of the m-80 from a consumer standpoint. I'm not an expert on sound description but hopefully this review could be helpful for someone like me (not an audiophile, but enjoys good sound quality).
I don't consider myself an audiophile by any means as I don't really do any critical listening. I usually listen to my music on the go (train, bus, walking), at work, at the gym and at home while doing other stuff.
My sources are my 2nd gen iPod Touch (out of a fiio e6, as the audio jack doesn't work anymore), Sansa clip+ (mostly for the gym and running), Sony Ericsson Xperia arc and out of my Dell laptop. Almost all of my files are 320kbps. I value looks, sound and durability. I mostly listen to EDM, a lot of NIN, some rock and some hip hop, plus the occasional movie/tv episodes on the laptop.
I just got into this hobby (since September of last year) and I've returned or sold the following headphones in the past 6 months or so:
- Sennheiser hd428: returned, first foray into "good quality" headphones, I didn't use an amp, so they sounded pretty weak out of my iPod. Plus the cable seemed pretty flimsy.
- Sennheiser HD-25 Adidas Originals: Returned, didn't like the plastic build and the look, the sound was pretty good though. Clamping force was a bit too strong for long session listening.
- Sony MDR-XB500: First basshead headphones, liked the comfort and bass, but hated the noise leak, lack of isolation, and the slow nature of the sound. Returned.
- V-Moda Crossfade LP: Second basshead headphones, liked the build quality, packaging and bass but had some problems with the fit (the shape of my ears made them akward to obtain a good seal and they got uncomfortable after 30 min-1h = sweat building up in the back of my ears), the weight (nice materials but i felt they were heavy on my head) and the sound signature didn't go well with some of my NIN. Sold.
- Skullcandy Mix Master: I based this purchase based on Tyll's review over at innerfidelity. Loved their sound (good bass, mostly a DJ oriented sound, sounded a bit closed in, good for electronic music but not as much for other genres) and design but didn't like the glossy plastic, the mostly plastic build and the skullcandy logos made them look cheap. For 340$ (that's with taxes), I didn't feel like they were worth it. Returned.
Here's what I currently have:
- Koss Portapro: great headphones, had them for 2 years, I just can't use them on the go as they're open headphones.
- Shure SE215: first iem, had them for 2 months. Great for the train commute, although i hate fiddling with them when putting them on. The fit isn't as secure in my ears (I tried all the tips included) and I have to push them back in now and then. I still use them for the great isolation though.
- Sennheiser PMX680: My sports headphones. I used them mainly for running but I recently stopped using them as I don't like the headband design (clamps too much). Decent SQ when running (the bass is what you'll hear most when running).
As you see, I'm pretty picky! I was looking for something portable, that sounded great unamped, closed but not completely noise isolating (need to hear my surroundings for safety reasons and at the office, if my phone rings or someone talks to me), that is well built and durable. Having owned a v-moda product before, I followed the progress of the m-80 closely in the past few months and they seemed to meet most of my needs so I ordered a pair last week. It took them 4 days to get to Canada. Very fast delivery time. Unfortunately, I had to pay full price as there were no coupons at the time, so they cost me 249$ with the 20$ shipping costs. They luckily included a 3rd audio cable (no mic, no buttons) which was the only one compatible with my cellphone. I listened to them for about 10 hours. No noticeable burn-in (my ears are perhaps not well trained to notice the difference).
Sound wise, these are fairly balanced and flat compared to some of the headphones I previously owned. I usually prefer a more "consumer friendly" V-shaped sound. The bass is punchy, tight, clean and doesn't bleed a lot into the midrange. They won't satisfy the bassheads out there though. The problem here might be that the bass is not boomy and isn't always present compared to basshead cans like the XB500 or the LP. These weren't marketed as basshead cans so I was expecting this. For long listening sessions, this is great as you won't get tired of being constantly punched in the face by bass. I still think they're good for EDM. They do respond easily to EQing but with my cheap fiio e6, all it really does is boost the volume. I usually prefer keeping the EQ flat. The mids are very good. Vocals on trance songs sound lush, smooth and quite inviting. The highs are on the warmer side which is a good thing as I plan on listening with these for long sessions and a bright can can get tiring. Tracks like "Not so pretty now" leave you wanting more in terms of the brightness of the hi-hats/cymbals but detail is quite good from such a small pair of headphones. Again, you can EQ them. Instrument separation is decent and soundstage is okay/good for a small closed can. This might be due to the v-port vents. They can cause sound leakage at high volume. Isolation is decent with music playing but at low volumes (at the office, for example) you can hear background noises such as people talking and phones ringing, and, disappointingly, there is some microphonics. The rubbing of the cable on my shirt collar is quite noticeable at low volumes. Finally, I used them for interval runs on the treadmill and they stay on quite well, although I'd recommend using earbuds for longer runs as your ears won't sweat as much.
EDIT (18/03/2012): I've since returned them because of comfort issues. My ears are a bit bigger than average and they got warm after 30 min, This can be attributed to the on-ear design. I've always had comfort issues with this type of design (same issue I had with the Hd-25 Originals). I still recommend them to anyone looking for a fun, close to audiophile sounding headphone. The 60 days test drive is plenty enough to decide whether to keep them or not.