Just got my V-Moda M-100. This new flagship of V-Moda really made me curious first 1)what the fuss/hype is all about and 2)in between the mixed reviews at Head-Fi plus the positives & praises from almost all critic reviews (Tyll of Innerfidelity, CNet, CultOfMac, Gizmodo, etc), I thought this might be the circumaural fun-sounding, not-too-serious portable I've been looking for so I took the plunge. Will not go through much of the technicals and my impressions mostly will be of layman's understanding since I'm still not that proficient with the other terms. (warning: this is also going to be a bit lengthy)
This is not the preorder first batch version (VTF-100 with lots of extras & freebies) but already the retail one. The packaging, design and build quality is already a V-Moda trademark - it's awesome, tough, stylish, and there's nothing bad that's to be said. Upon opening the package and plugging it in, it definitely impresses... It's really made to 'Wow!' buyers upon first listen. It was so good at first that it made me think why some are disappointed with the M-100.
But after a long listening session with various genres, weaknesses started to glare. I'll be comparing it with another household circumaural portable, namely the ATH-M50, since most are already familiar with it to get an idea of how it sounds and apparently both share the most significant weakness - the recessed and subdued mids though both handle the recessed mids differently. As with my impressions way back, the M50 is lacking in vocals emphasis for my tastes but handles everything else just right. On the other hand, the M-100 handles vocals very well (albeit a bit colored) yet its weakness is its handling of guitar riffs and string instruments. Sad to say the M-100 is very selective of rock and metal tracks, some sounded good while most sounded off. This is NOT for rock & heavy metal-specific listeners, though it's still adequate for general listeners with rock tracks on their playlists. Other string instruments such as Sharon's violins on Corrs songs are noticeably laid back so sadly guitars & string heavy tracks are a no-no for audiophiles with this headphone.
After getting that out of the way, on to the positives. The M-100 is definitely a basshead's ecstacy and orgasm! This handles the lows very very well - deep, punchy, abundant, and never bloated or muddy in various genres. This is refined BASS at its best - and lots of it. The M-100 also excels in dance, club, electronica, and percussion-heavy tracks. I could go on as far to say that the M-100's sound with club tracks is UNMATCHED at its price range. Listening to PVD, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, ATB, etc and with our local DJ track mixes with these is an experience that instantly induces head-bobbing and feet-swaying motions. If only this features a 3D foldable cup then this would make a very standout DJ headphone. This takes dance/club/dubstep tracks to another level. Its treble is also good, handling highs with just the right sparkle without a hint of sibilance. Lastly, soundstage freaks have really something to crave about with these. Very wide considering it's a closed headphone. Presentation and instrument separation is also top-notch though detail and clarity needs a bit more work (might be affected because of the abundant bass).
Basically, the M-100 trumps the M50 in terms of bass and treble though the mids can be differentiated between your tastes. The M50 is the better all-rounder and the M-100 is genre-specific (excels above others with dance & electronica). The M-100 also shines with percussion-heavy tracks (drums definitely sounds like drums i.e. snares, high hats, etc and not like hitting empty cardboard boxes) though weak with string-heavy songs (some guitar riffs, strums, and violins are really laid back). Overall, the M-100 is NOT an audiophile/reference headphone wherein you can meticulously nitpick its flaws but if you're looking for a fun-sounding, a bit colored (but definitely in a right way) sound to listen on-the-go then this is for you. IMO, it is definitely better than the M50 if you factor in everything from aesthetics, build quality, and sound - though ultimately it's up to you if it's worth $300. I'd say it definitely is if you're more into the dance/club genre and is the budding DJ. Or even that consumer who doesn't nitpick and care much about sound flaws and just wants to listen to good music, have a headphone that looks that kill and that military-grade built to last years of abuse. Otherwise, I'd say this is well worth at $250 max or lower.
Edited by d m41n man - 3/5/13 at 4:48pm
I can understand why some are disappointed with the M-100... I also understand why some are fanboys of it (except those blind, overzealous hype-machine ones) and critics are praises all over it. It's because some were expecting an upgraded M-80 sound (audiophile-friendly mid-centric w/ better highs) and didn't get it (it was marketed as modern audiophile or 'modiophile' anyway). The ones who love it got a 'Wow!' consumer, not-too-serious sound (but still not too audiophile-offending) in the iconic V-Moda form factor. The M-100's better bass and highs does complete the V-Moda experience to the M-80s mid-centric, yet balanced lows and highs, nature. Ultimately, for me, it actually complements the M-80 and what it was lacking (especially since the M-80's mids can sometimes irritate and be grainy in some tracks). The M-80 is your supra-aural mid-centric audiophile all-rounder fix and the M-100 is your circumaural fun-sounding, consumer-friendly and friends-impressing can. These two are one of the best one-two portable combos you can own for a long while.
* Gear used: iPod Touch 5G unamped & iPod Video 5G w/ Fiio E7 + LOD for 320kbps MP3s and Rocoo P for FLACs. Still having trouble inserting images... Will update with images as soon as "There was a problem submitting this to the server. Please try again." goes away...