I will be likley adding to these initial impressions of the V-80s, but to lead-off I like them quite a bit, but in a qualified way. First, these are my first designed to be portable (hence small) headphones in a number of years. As unfair as it is I am comparing these against my DT770s which while full sized headphones, I made them portable. There is no way that significantly smaller drivers will be able to present material in as defined and separated manner as larger drivers can, at least that has always been my experience. Plus, the M-80s I will assume were voiced to fit into the modern portable world where many of the sources (players and files aren't that audiophile oriented). let's face it, V-Moda wants to sell as many of their products as possible, and due to this they need to strike a balance between audiophiles, and the average audio consumer.
So with this in mind I find the M-80s quite good for electronica, and still good, but not as well suited for rock. Like Grado's I find a tilt toward the mids, but with the M-80s. it sounds like the tilt is toward the upper bass register and the lower thicker midrange register. In general I find the lows congested somewhat, but not very badly, and this is more obvious with rock. For instance when I played Tool 10, 000 Days and Lateralus, once the passages got busy and full of energy, the bass would blur and become less defined. That said, rock in general will do this once you push the volume and hence the drivers. Still, I found this to be much less of an issue with electronica. I played some Bluetech, some Phutureprimitive, Alone Architect and various other electronica artists and was overall quite happy with how the M-80s performed. I suspect with sampled sounds it is much easier to keep the various elements separated and distinct then when you are mixing aggressive rock music with crazy brick-wall limiting that just saturates the hell out of everything.
When loud I do not really like how the M-80s portray rock, the guitars and vocals became a little sharper and thin, and as mentioned the lower registers blur and become in distinct somewhat. However, backing off the volume down to what I guess would be a moderate loud level yielded a much better result. I think there is a limit to what you can expect of small drivers driven hard, regardless of design, there is a point at which they are asked to overdeliver. Rock would really show this up and electronica with its cleaner source samples less so. I really like the M-80, and I think that while it isn't very accurate (nor is it designed to be I suspect), it makes the music engaging and lively, bringing the elements forward. The vocals I found a little less prominent then I like, but with the bass signals being so strong that isn't a huge surprise. I will be trying the M-80s with different genres soon, but for now with electronica I give the M-80 a solid 8 out of 10 and rock fairs a little less well at about 6 - 6.5 out of 10. Yes these numbers are very subjective and don't reference a particular scorring criteria, but they communicate what I am trying to say a little bit more visually I hope.
Again, I don't want to at all seem like I don't like these cans, I think they are very interesting and quite capable, you just need to know what you want. I knew moving from the 770s would be an adjustment, and it is, but the gains in portability and yummy eye-candy are also there, plus the sound signature is very cool. Don't overdrive the M-80s and you will get their best. I was using a Blackberry Z10, a FiiO E11 with the Neutron Music Player and Apple M4A 320 files.
Edited by Sonic Defender - 5/3/13 at 3:22pm