on February 21, 2013
These headphones sort of break my heart. On the one hand you have one of the finest built, best sounding on-ear headphones at this price point. On the other hand, though, they might also be some of the most uncomfortable headphones you will ever put on your head. Let me go into a bit more detail.
Let it be said that these are easily some of my favorite sounding on-ear headphones in this price bracket. They sound absolutely great and a lot more neutral than I assumed they would.
Highs are wonderfully detailed, but not overly bright (no Grado shrill, here). Don't get me wrong, cymbals and hi-hats will still ring accurately, but it's never going to sound harsh or over-pronounced. Just nice and clear and perfectly balanced.
Mids are where it's at with these headphones, as far as I'm concerned. It's got the clarity of much more expensive headphones, with a nice, smooth, buttery finish. Coupled with the clear highs, vocals in these headphones sound absolutely stellar.
Lows, in keeping with this sets more "neutral" leanings, are also very balanced, though if I had to find one fault with the sound it would be that at times they can be a smidge unrefined. I wouldn't go so far as to call it muddy, but it's not as tight and focused as the mids or highs. It's also not necessarily for bassheads, though I have to say that it adapts very well to a variety of different musical genres. If the bass is meant to stand out in a song, then it's going to stand out through these headphones. Basically, lows are about as prominent as the given source intends it to be, which for most people is absolutely great, but for bassheads, not so much.
Sound stage and imaging is about on par with other on-ear headphones in this price range. These being sealed, you're obviously not going to get that wide-open feeling you get from open-backs, but it does well enough for what it is.
Sound leakage is very minimal even at considerable volumes and isolation is about the best I have ever heard from on-ear headphones...if you can get a good seal on the ear (but more on that in a second).
This is another area in which this set shines. These things were built to last. The headband is made of a highly flexible, durable material that let's you bend the shape to fit your head. It's also ridiculously tough. You can bend it nearly flat with absolutely no harm done. Clothwork and stitching is also top-notch.
The cups themselves are high-quality molded plastic with metal accent plates affixed to the outside. These plates can be removed and replaced for a bit of personalization, but to tell the truth, the brushed-metal black plates that come stock already look pretty great. The pads are covered in a high-quality faux-leather that actually feels surprisingly convincing, and the pads themselves feel great (theoretically, I guess).
The two detachable cords included (a one-touch mic cord for used with android/general purpose devices, and a three-touch cord for use with iOS devices) are covered in a nice kevlar coat that, aside from keeping things very durable, actually does a nice job of preventing tangles as well. The only problem I had with the kevlar is that it can get a bit noisy rubbing up against things while you have the headphones on. Nothing too distracting, and nowhere near as annoying as the "stethoscope" effect you get from lower-end iem's, but still worth mentioning, I think.
Well, here it is. The one area that really breaks my heart with these things. Full disclosure here, I have a couple of buddies that own these headphones that have minimal to no problem with the fit of them, but as far as my (apparently mishapen) head is concerned, these are some of the most uncomfortable headphones I have felt outside of a stock set of Grado's.
The cups simply don't get a good seal on my head 90% of the time. I can never seem to get the angle just right when I'm beding them, and often times one ear would end up getting a much better seal than the other. What's worse is that, given the material of the headband, they tend to slowly bend back into their original shape over time, meaning not only does the headband start to put pressure on my head, but the cups slowly lose their seal and become increasingly uncomfortable. I get about thirty minutes of use out of them before I have to take a break to let my ears rest and readjust the band.
It's sad too, because the pads themselves feel great, almost like a mushy memory foam, but there's just something about these headphones that makes them completely incompatible with my head.
I don't want this review to scare people. I hope the content is more important to people than the score, because like I said, I have a couple of friends who are head over heels in love with these things. I would be too if it weren't for the comfort issues, because they're truly a great sounding pair of headphones for the price you pay...and it doesn't hurt that they'll probably last a couple of human lifetimes, so maybe your future children/grandchildren will love them too.
First, the good news. These are a very appealing design aesthetically, have impeccable build quality, and an excellent warranty. More significantly, this extremely slick and attractive product also sounds very good, and does not take the usual thumpity-thump extreme bass distortion that is so typical to mainstream consumer headphone designs, especially the ones targeted towards the young and hip. VModa has designed a credible product that stands out in crowded field of mediocre headphones that look good and sound ordinary or worse.
That said, there are a few issues buyers need to be aware of. The immensely positive reviews these phones have received on Amazon and places like Inner Fidelity and Head Fi seem to have ignored some key concerns which I will voice to fully inform potential buyers.
First, if your hat size is L, these will barely fit. If your hat size is XL, forget it, these will not fit at all. On headphones like the Sony V6 and Shure 440, my reasonably sized head needs 6 of 10 ratchets. On the M80s, 10 of 10 fits with a bit of struggle. Those with a bigger head than mine need not bother. Yes, you could bend the headband in hopes of getting them to fit your oversized noggin, but why would you want to do this? The Phiaton MS400 and Sennheiser HD 25 are roughly the same size and can accommodate heads of all sizes pretty handily. VModa for some odd reason assumes their users are all well on the average side of cranium size.
Second, the pad that goes on your ear is too small. Again, my ears are not that huge and the HD25 covers up the whole ear nicely, but the M80 needs to be precisely centered to sound good, and then sometimes it moves a bit and needs to be re-centered. Annoying, and unnecessary. If the cups were 10 or 15% bigger, there would be no issue here.
So any other issues for those who have heads and ears that the M80s fit well? Yes, a few. First, in the only truly bad design element seen in the phones, the plug that goes into the left headphone cup needs to be removed before you store the headphones in the hard case. The bottom of the headphone does not have enough clearance for the straight connector on the plug to fit in the case still attached. Otherwise you have to bend the cable at a really sharp angle that looks like it will lead to early cable failure. The cable is high quality and sturdy, but even an excellent stress relief bend is not meant to be kept at close to a 90 degree angle for the long periods of time when the phones are sitting in the case. So this means if you take these on the bus, you first will have to take them out of the case and then connect the cable to the phones before connecting them to your device. Minor, but irritating for a set of phones supposedly designed for mainly mobile use.
All minor issues so far. But now we come to the Big Three Problems.
Problem One: The sound profile - too much accent in the mids! Bass is excellent, well controlled yet resonant when needed, quick response. The equal of the HD25, which is tough to do. Excellent for rock and metal, decent bass extension for other genres. The treble is rolled off a bit, lacks some detail at the higher end, but no real problems as many find truly accurate treble to be fatiguing. The real problem (for some music) is that the mids are boosted too much. Listening to rock where you have a mix of quiet instrumentation and vocals (e.g. The National, Lost in the Trees) the singers sound artificially forward and overwhelm the music. Listening to "Fake Empire" from Boxer on the M80 and then comparing it to the HD25s makes the piece sound like 2 completely different songs, with the M80 version sounding unnatural and unpleasant.
For other types of music where vocals are equally mixed with loud instruments (e.g. Lamb of God) there is no problem and for non-vocal or non-amplified music (jazz and classical) this is also not an issue. Most modern popular music uses studio miking where everything is mixed as coming from the center while jazz and classical recording is more positional (e.g. the drums are on the right, the bass is on the left), so I think that may explain this. This may or may not be a problem for individual users. Metal and electronica sounds really fine (probably rap and pop too though I didn't test those types), classical and jazz are decent, but less energetic vocal oriented rock (alternative) may end up sounding weird. In any case, the boosted mids mean these phones are not very accurate, which may offend audiophiles.
Problem Two: Strong competition at the price point. For roughly half the price of the M80s, the AudioTechnica M50, Sony ZX700s. and Shure 440s will thoroughly trounce the M80s. Bass is as good or better, treble handling is more accurate, and the mids are more natural sounding yet also enjoyable. If you want good sound cheaply, any of those options are superior. They are all somewhat larger phones though, none of them are quite as portable as the VModas (though the M50 does at least fold up, something that the M80s rather surprisingly cannot do), none of them look as nice, and all of them are made mainly of plastic (though very durable and good quality plastic).
If you want something more portable, the Senn HD25s and Phiaton MS400s are in the same price range and size configuration as the M80 and so are more of a direct challenge to it. Both headphones sound as good or better than the M80s, especially the MS400s which have a bit of a mid-bass boost that M80 users will like, though without also having the weird artificial over boosted mids that the Vmodas have. The HD25, though being both accurate and fun in its sound, looks drab and cheap compared to the VModas, but the MS400 is just as sexy as the M80s, sounds better, is more portable because it folds, and fits more ears and heads. It sells for less than 10% more (at time of writing) but the main issue is that the build quality is less impressive (my MS400s are a few years old and still holding up well, but they seem delicate and have a few creaks when they are flexed). Phiaton's warranty is also only half of VModas (one year instead of two), and there is no lifetime 50% off replacement deal.
So big heads and ears need not apply. Getting the M80 unpacked from its travel case and set up takes an extra few seconds. Some music genres don't work out too well with the M80s. There are cheaper or comparably priced competitors that sound better, though none that offer the added aesthetics and build quality of the VModa. Still a contender? Sure, except for...
Problem Three: No Isolation. The M80s have a little port on the back of the driver encasement. This helps them to have a nice airy soundstage, much better than the HD25s or MS400. Well and good. This means others right next to you can hear what you're listening to, though not too much. But this also means you get a lot of sound leakage coming into your music from the environment. If you listen to anything but constantly loud music (metal, some electronic) the quieter moments in your music will let in far too much external noise, even with your Iphone at 75% volume. These phones are utterly hopeless on the NYC subways for most music. Even if you don't ride mass transit, the music in a Starbucks café was getting in the way of jazz and classical and could even be occasionally heard during a Muse album, which has pretty few quiet spots. The subway is a bit of a bridge too far for everything except canal phones, but Starbucks?
Basically if you listen to any music with peaks and dips in sound level, you can only listen to the M80s at home (assuming your place is nice and quiet - in my house, the air conditioning was overpowering the sound at some points!). What is the real point of small portable headphones with awful isolation? If portability is not an issue (i.e. you are at home) why not use full size headphones that are cheaper and sound better? I guess you could use these if you were hiking in a quiet natural setting, or were in the library. Or you could listen to metal all the time and leave the volume cranked, which may have other consequences for the long term... The HD25 isolates much much better, sounds better, and costs the same. It just doesn't look as nice.
So to conclude, I wanted to like these headphones more than I did. The aesthetics and build quality of the design are impressive, and its obvious VModa is trying to give Joe Public headphones that do sound decent. The boosted mids are defensible as they make some types of music sound really good, but the poor isolation in a purported portable headphone is the main issue for me.
Sound Quality is 3 and a half stars. Build Quality and Appearance are each 5 stars. Isolation is 2 stars. I'm rounding down to three stars because the isolation problem does not reconcile well with the VModas main raison d'etre which is portability. Because these are supposed to be portable, the cups are small, the frame is small, the cord needs to be removed when carried etc, all of which cause other issues for the user. Without good isolation, these deficiencies are all exacerbated. Three stars for me. If you like metal, add a star or two.
I hope VModa will go back to the design boards and produce the M80 Mk II; ideally, it would be somewhat larger, would have a slightly more naturally tuned driver, and would get rid of the sound ports and otherwise improve isolation. The M80 Mk I is great in many ways, and comes close to being top of its class.
Testing Methods: 20-30 hours of listening to Ipad and Touch Ipod, no amp used, including about 5 hours of A/B comparisons with other phones. Music Sampled: Rock - Muse, Lost in the Trees, The National // Metal - Lamb of God, Agalloch, Opeth // Electronic - Massive Attack (Mezzanine), Lamb, Portishead // Jazz - Kind Of Blue (Davis), Bill Evans Trio, Maiden Voyage (Hancock) // Classical - Bernstein's Mahler (DG), St Saens Organ Symphony, Brahms Symphonies.
I am fortunate enough to already own the V-MODA Crossfade LP Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone (Gunmetal Black) so it was great to have both headphones to compare sound, comfort and features.
There are some definite changes from this model to the LP Over-Ear model. The M-80 is about half the size. I've posted some pictures comparing the two sizes in the customer images.
This is a benefit but can also detract slightly from the sound quality and comfort.
The benefit is that they are lighter, smaller, and seemingly more comfortable. They are less intrusive and since they don't stick out as much, don't knock into things if you are walking around while using them.
The drawback is that they sit on top of your ear instead of encircling it so the depth of sound is slightly diminished because it seems to have less space to expand before hitting your eardrum. I know that's not technical jargon but it's the way I imagine it as I listen to it.
The sound is similar on both models, deep, detailed and rich. The bass is a little distorted on a real heavy bass song. Classical, jazz, rock, folk, all sound great and fill the inside of your head with quality sound.
The headphones come in a great zippered case with a deep red interior. There are two Kevlar reinforced cables with a reinforced plug.
A really nice set if you are aware of the differences. There is a great comparison chart in the product description that points out these differences nicely.
on December 22, 2011
There are a ton of new headphone manufacturers out right now and the majority of them are making some outlandish claims about how good their products sound. I'm often skeptical of the ones who spend an almost equal amount of time on pretty packaging and good looks. So, you can imagine that when the hype-train came rolling through with the V-MODA M-80s on board I wasn't sure what to expect. One of their models is co-branded by an HBO series called True Blood, they're packaging is nothing short of beautiful and they are nothing short of drop dead gorgeous looking. I immediately think, "this company really knows how to market to the masses, they look beautiful, but I'm not sure how they sound."
You see, there are times when a new product gets the attention of the headphone web forums and it turns into irrational exuberance. I'm convinced that many of the posters on these threads haven't even listened to the overly-hyped headphone in question, they just enjoy being a part of the "gang." The V-MODA M-80 is one such headphone that has been "hyped" a lot lately. I wasn't sure if I could believe all of the good press they were receiving. I've been deceived before by the hype-train. When I finally got a chance to listen to them, I can say that I was surprised.
So my advice with the M-80 is: Do believe the hype. They're really that good.
They are extremely accurate headphones which will please the ears. They isolate very well, which is hard to do with a supra-aural headphone. As such, with the right positioning on your ears the bass will deliver. The vocals come though crystal clear and do not seem to be overpowered by the other ends of the frequency spectrum. There is a slight amount of roll-off at the very top end of the spectrum, but that helps make for a non-fatiguing listening experience. They also have very good instrument separation, that will only improve with a really good source (or even better with an external amplifier). But, if you want to listen to them from an iPod, iPhone or other MP3 player they will not disappoint in the least.
I have owned many, many headphones in my audiophile career and these are "keepers" for sure.
Great work Val and the team at V-MODA, you've got a fan here!
"SoulSyde" on Head-Fi.org
on December 15, 2014
The M80s are around 60. cheaper than the overears LP2s depending on whether you can catch them on sale or not. . My issue with all over ear headphones is that they are hot. Yet in the smaller sized ones I felt either the build or the sound or both suffered with other manufacturers products. I purchased the V-Modas smaller more portable ones as they looked to have conquered issues most portable sets have. If you are having a tough time selecting between the overear vs. onear sets perhaps this review will help.
1. The LP2s have a better sound stage. When I close my eyes I can see where everyone was standing as if it was a live performance and I had center stage seats. The piano, triangle and bells in one song were clearly to the right of center. The drums that were being played by hand were too the left as was the base guitar. The main percussion, lead singer and other guitars were more to the middle. You could get this definition on the smaller ones but not as clearly.
2. The high sounds were crisper and more clearly defined on the larger LP2s. The overall sound was more round or full. All the sounds are a bit muddy on the smaller M80s. I am not an audiophile, the best way I can describe it was like when you had an old 8 track that had been playing so much that the tape was stretched and the sounds were blurred.
3. The LP2s have a great build as do the M80s. Just by virtue of the larger size the LP2s felt like they would handle a bit more abuse. Both have great hard cases, two separate cords, one of which has an in line microphone with the ability to pause, start, forward and reverse the track. I particularly like that they detach from the headphones and can be replaced as I have found this is the part I wreck on cheap ones first, they get loose after a while of pulling them out of the device. Or in my case cut apart while pruning the roses!
4. The LP2s are comfortable, but for heat after awhile if you are active while wearing. With them you can purchase memory foam pads for around 20.00 if you want, but memory foam pads are not made for the smaller on ear M80s. I have a big head. If you measure around my head at the top of my ears and over my eye brows, the circumference is 22.5 inches. I have had the smaller over ear set on for only a few hours straight so far and while they are maybe a bit tighter, they are still comfortable. The top of the headbands are roughly the same until you get close to where the earpieces attach. The on ear go in further but I would think they have to do so in order to stay on well. The smaller ones also got hot when walking my dogs briskly, but not as much as the over ear set. If you find your headphones are too tight I think measuring around your head on the eye brows and over the ears would be easier to understand if you do a review. I don't know my hat size so I couldn't get a comparison from the reviewers who provided that information. I expect ear sensitivity plays a part hear also.
5. The LP2s come with a set of extra shields and the M80s don't. Both have different colored shields available for purchase.
6. If you put your headphones around your neck when not in use, you have to be part swan to do that comfortably with the bigger ones. The smaller ones are still bigger than what most people would think are portable so I wouldn't want them around my neck all the time.
7. Both pairs have excellent 2 year warranties and the promise to give you 50 percent off a new set if you are the cause of the damage.
8. If sound is most important than the LP2s win, if portability is most important than the M80s are for you. I still don't know which set to pick and I really appreciate the manufacturer giving me 60 days to decide, although I expect to wait a week to compare. In truth I would like to keep both. I purchased the smaller on ear ones in white which will be way cooler to wear in the summer but l like the sound on the over ear ones better.
9. Neither set artificially emphasize the bass, thank heavens!
I will edit the review as I listen to both sets more.
10. If you are really using these while you exercise and you jerk your head the M80s will shift and may come off. At the minimum you will have to fiddle with them to get them in the best place on the ear. That didn't happen with the bigger ones (but than you have hotter ears to contend with). I am wondering if I can't make a terrycloth cover, something like a headband, to collect sweat while working out. With a few on hand, I could change them out when they get too damp just like I do with the headband. With some thin elastic and an old towel, I think it could be done cheaply.
11. I can tell no difference between the quality of sound when listening to audio books.
on May 21, 2014
the most comfortable headphones ever, very well made and durable,
the sound is amazing, perfect bass and highs, I often need to master some tracks on the airplane before the club and I trust these babies for in depth sound.
having the Y headphone cable works best to link another headphones and also on the right ear pad.
overall the I give this 5 STARS !
on November 5, 2014
These are amazing!! Best quality headphones I've ever had. The packaging extremely nice and the quality of the headphones is Top Notch! I've had them for a week now and super impressed with sound quality and comfort. Now with the Fitness/comfort - I extend them to the longest length and wear them with a baseball cap on with no fitment issues and very comfy. While at work I use them during day very comfortable for long use. Always use with my Android LG G3 phone and the one button wire works perfect also using for phone calls no issues at all. The case I use and comes in handy, I strapped it to my camera bag with no worries. Then I went to there website and notice you can get custom headphone plates that cover the earpiece, I ordered custom ones and maybe 2-3 days later they arrived and I could not be happier!! Oh the cable is covered with a cloth or threaded material not sure how to describe it but it is very strong and some may say a little stiff but I'd rather that then a thin plastic/rubber cable.
Did a lot of research on headphone and coming from skullcandy's I'm glad I tried V-Moda very surprised how good these are. Did not want Beats or Monsters seems like thats all anyone recommends or compares.
on December 17, 2014
Was skeptical of the sound quality at first but Amazon offered a pair for $80. At that price, I just had to get a pair for myself. After listening to these phones they've officially surpassed my ath m50s as my favorite pair. The m80 is by no means perfect (high frequency distortion on some songs) but for the price, they're an excellent value. Very few headphones can pull off good looks and still maintain excellent sound quality. The fact that vmoda was able to accomplish this on their m-80s make these phones one of a kind at this price range.
I've never written an Amazon review for any other product. The pure existence of this review speaks volumes about my satisfaction with this product. Bravo.
on December 4, 2012
After much research, I decided to purchase new headphones. I had been looking for good headphones for about 6 months, until I finally decided to purchase the V-Moda Crossfade M-80s. At first I was more inclined to in-ear headphones, particularly Klipsch S4s or Bose IE2. Then, I started law school and saw several classmates wearing Beats Solo and Beats Studios, apart from all the kids on the street. I started researching on which headphones I should get since I mostly listen to Rock and Jazz music. I was amazed about all the info I found. I started freaking out when I saw headphones on the 500$ area and I started to determine a budget. On or around $150.00 was the sweet spot. I was going to wait until Black Friday to see if I could get the Beats Solo, but after reading several reviews I started realizing what everyone was saying. Beats Solos are for bass enthusiasts, which is not bad, but I particularly wanted a rounder more sophisticated sound that didn't overwhelm the guitars on my rock tracks. I also wanted something that would make the mids sound good on my jazz tracks. I wanted something to help me study, not give me a headache.
I'm kind of new to the whole audiophile experience, so don't be quick to judge. I first came across V-Modas while window shopping at the mall. They were displayed at the Microsoft Store right next to the Beats. The price, of course, was the MSRP. So I went home and researched more to see what they were about. I logged into review sites like CNET, Engadget, etc. It wasn't until I reached Head-Fi.org that I was convinced.
The reviews there were very helpful, describing the aspects that I was particularly interested in. I also liked the comments posted by the CEO of V-Moda, Van Kolton. Finally, I decided to read the reviews here. I must say, I was debating between buying the Crossfade LPs, LP2 or the M-80. Black Friday weekend came around and the LPs dropped to an unbelievable 80$. However, I wasn't sure if I wanted so much bass in my headphones. After much debating and looking at my wallet and my needs, I decided to get the M-80s.
When I got them in the mail, first thing I did was open them and plug 'em to my phone (Samsung Galaxy S2). I have a couple of songs in there, especially a couple of albums on FLAC. I am amazed. My 30$ Skullcandy headphones are worth nothing to me right now. I am hearing things I've never heard before with these headphones. The sound is more sophisticated. A rounder bass that doesn't overpowers the rest of the instruments. But sound isn't everything. These things are very well made. They look much stronger than my dad's Bose QC3, and I paid half of that here in Amazon. The headphones are also a visual wonder. They loko very stylish. The case is very sturdy too. You can toss it around and put stuff on top of it (books), without having to worry that the heaphones could get squished. One thing that particularly called my attention was the warranty that V-Moda is offering on these babies.
I also recommend that you buy them directly from Amazon or V-Moda and not a reseller/ebay. Apparently there are a lot of fakes out there and V-Moda won't honor the warranty. You should check out V-Moda's website for more details about this. If you have any questions, drop me a reply so I can elaborate on the matter. I must confess I still haven't burnt them in. Hopefully I'll get more out of them in a couple of days.
Edit: Can anyone point me in the direction of a decent portable AMP? Something in the $50-$100 area?
on December 18, 2014
I picked these up on special for eighty bucks during the "Deal of the Day" a couple of days ago. Great headphones for the price. My first 'on ear' pair of headphones. Have had them on for a couple of hours, they are pretty comfortable. They seem to want to slip off though if I bend over, they may take some adjusting to get them to sit just right. These things are built like a tank; extremely durable all around, even the cord is kevlar coated! Unless I accidentally run them over with my car, I just don't see these things breaking down.