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Almost perfect

A Review On: V-MODA Crossfade M-80

V-MODA Crossfade M-80

Rated # 2 in On-Ear
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Price paid: $200.00
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Pros: superb build quality, very portable, well balanced sound

Cons: not very comfortable for people with big heads, style could be less tacky-flashy, wind noise!

Got these babies as a present for my birthday half a year ago.

I was looking to get audiophile-quality closed-back versatile headphones for everyday use.

Please note: I tend to desribe deficiencies to further extent than the pros. Factor this in when reading the review below.


My use cases:


Listening to wide variety of music - mostly FLAC and 256-320kbps MP3. Sources: Laptop Realtek HD soundcard, workstation Asus Essence STI soundcard, Nokia n900 mobile, Samsung S3 mobile.


Amateur film production - on-set use for recording, mixing and monitoring. Use as reference editing monitors for final-cut sound mixing and editing. My other "studio" speakers are 3-way self-built monitors made of top-line Morel components circa 2006.


DJing - small private parties, usually with amateur/semi-pro grade rented gear.


Pre-buy Considerations:

Design is what made me overlook these several times... Sorry, vampires are not my cup of tea.

I was considering the usual suspects in this category - Senheisers HD25, Audio Technica ATH-ESW9, Bayerdynamics....

Eventually what got me considering these are the great Head-Fi reviews of the sound quality and the evident durability. I hate it when I buy products for everyday use that require such delicate handling that i constantly have to worry about them (i.e. Galaxy S3). Also, I always look for value, so 200$ price tag was a pleasant surprise for me! In this case bang-for-buck is probably the best in category.


What you get -

First impression, at least kit-wise, are great! You don't just get headphones, you get a "Head Phone System" complete with magnificent carying case, extra cable, shakle for hanging the case of your backpack and even cable clip to reduce noise from cable brushing on your clothes while you walk!

Not many manufacturers invest so much attention to detail as V-moda when it comes to kit and that is too bad!


Sound -

To tell you the truth, I was very disappointed with the sound the first time I listened. I frantically tried to find a music genre that would sound right and I failed. The sound was very intense, unnatural and synthetic. Bass and mid-bass were great out of the box but everything else felt "compressed" and tiring.... Well, break-in it is then. 48 hrs of white-noise at medium-high volume.... still same ****ty sound. Highs got a bit clearer and less tedious, but overall balance was still pretty annoying to my ear. I was frustrated but didn't give up and boy am I happy about that!


About 5 months later I have what I consider the best sounding closed-back headphones of my life (so far). With this build quality I will probably inherit them to my future son in a decade or so ;) Tonal balance is great. Mids stick out a bit resulting in amazingly clear vocals, highs "muffled out" a bit allowing for much less tiring sound, bass stayed awesome, maybe a tad less hollowish-punchy than what it was. Tonal separation and sound stage improved considerably. I must admit that the fact that after 5 months I found the sound better balanced is probably due to both: me getting used to the peculiarities of M-80 and them having a long period to burn in.


The sound stage is clearly defined, "sticking out" about 10-15 cm out from each cup. I find it very spatious for closed headphones. Closing my eyes while listening to well mastered music it's very easy to locate every instrument and the source of vocals. Sometimes I find myself pleasantly surprised when some rarely played instrument located at the far edges of the stage is played and I discover that the stage is much wider than first thought.


Comfortability -

Probably the weakest point of these headphones.


I confess, I have a pretty big head and above average sized ears. Plus I wear glasses. At first, listening to M-80s anything above 45min would result in pain without fail. The "grip" on the head is very tight. That's great if you need to sprint for a departing bus or for getting punched in the face, but not very comfortable otherwise. So I used moderate force to bend the arc and left the headphones to strech out several nights on a maneken head I happen to have. This helped, but still, listening to these in hot climate and for extended periods of time is hard for me. 2-3hrs is not a problem at all. Longer than that - I feel the need to take a break. Glasses definitely don't help with this. Maybe it will be less of an issue for people with moderately sized heads :)


Another point that might be important if you wear these outside, is the wind noise. M-80s have small "ports" on the cups. These ports capture wind when it's windy or even when you are walking fast. The noise is very audible and somewhat annoying, but nothing I can't live with.


All in all - your ONLY reasons not to buy these are: the newly released M-100s and if you have couple more hundred bucks to shell out for something better ;)


Highly recommended!


EDIT: added disclaimer, added clarification regarding burn-in, added a paragraph describing the sound stage, added comfortability section and reference to wind noise issues


Nice review, how is the soundstage ?
Wait so you had 5 months of "burn-in" plus the initial 48 hours? I don't believe in burn-in, but 5 months of burn-in seems like a lot...much longer than the 200 hours I've read for Ultrasone's headphones, which by itself seems pretty ridiculous, IMO.
Would these suit a frequent flyer? Considering these over a noise control headphone partly because of the build quality... I've broken 3 sets of headphones (in the 80-100 euro price range) over the past 3 years. Sick of cheap and weak plastic design.
Thanks for your comments, I've edited the review to answer most of your questions.
jimmy79 - you won't be able to break these by mistake. They can handle a lot of abuse.
But do read the newly added paragraph on comfortability...
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