Pros: Well controlled bass, lush mids and design/build quality
Cons: Source dependent, bright highs in some cases
The V-Moda M-80 is seen as one of V-Moda's all time great headphones; the great style, portability, comfort and sound made it a big hit for the audiophile who wanted great sound on the move. In this review I will look at build quality, comfort, sound and then finally conclude.
The build of these headphones is fantastic, V-Moda have not gone cheap at all with any part of this headphone. Using a metal flexible headband, with metal braces holding the ears cups to the headband, then metal shields on the sides of the ear cups which can be customised for a small fee of $25. The only part that is plastic is the ear cup housing but even there the plastic is not cheap plastic. Overall the build quality here is fantastic, couple that with the included carry case then these headphones will last many years.
Now this is the part where I am going to be slightly negative because even though I like the comfort of these headphones, once you pass the 1 hour listening period mark these headphones can start to apply a lot of pressure and can cause quite a bit of discomfort. Apart from this the comfort of these headphones is average.
Finally to the main event and here I am not going to be splitting this into song descriptions as I really want to touch on a serious point, which is these are SOURCE DEPENDENT. Meaning that if you play a bad source with these they will sound bad but if you feed it with a good source they sound great.
So firstly let's start with the iPod Classic 6th gen and 5.5th gen. Now both of these iPod's have a 5 ohm output impedance, this means the iPod will start to alter the frequency response of these headphones which can be noticed. On both iPod's the bass tends to be quite shy and the mids recessed with the highs being flat. But on the iPod Classic 6th gen we find the sound to be noisy, which a very opaque background with quite a bit of background noise, the bass is muddy which leaks into the mids and the highs are very flat. Now on the iPod 5.5th gen the mids start to come forward and the highs become a bit more bright. The bass though is still a bit shy here, if not more but the soundstage is a lot better on the 5.5th gen than the 6th gen due to the Wolfson DAC found in the iPod 5.5th gen.
Now we move onto the Asus Xonar Essence STX, here we have an output impedance of 10 ohms which means we get a massively changed frequency response. To the point where the bass seems really recessed but the mids and highs are a lot better through this sound card plus the soundstage is even more open but it's that bass.
Finally the iBasso DX50, which has an output impedance of <0.5 ohms which is pretty much perfect and you can hear the results. The bass is amazing which great sub bass with no leaks into the mid, the mid is really forward bringing out vocals and the highs are bright but even here the highs can be a bit too bright. So even though this is a pretty much perfect pairing there is still a slight issues with the bright highs
Overall I would recommend these to anybody looking for a pair of portable headphones that sound and look great. But I would persuade people to pair with a decent source otherwise the sound is going to distorted and overall it will not sound as it should.