The V-Moda name is new to us, but the US brand is a self-styled maker of high-end audiophile and DJ headphones, while maintaining more than a passing nod to kool fashion. Its latest Crossfade M-100, top of the brand's range, looked like a perfect crossover product with feet in both urban/dance/fashion and hi-fi camps, so we had to include a pair in this round-up. See all audio reviews.
While the main target audience really appears to be DJs and fashionistas, there's a goodly amount of worthy attention to detail that's patently gone into their construction. See also Group test: What are the best headphones?
The Crossfade M-100 is a classic closed-back design with fully swivelling earpieces so beloved of dance DJs. Over the head is a sprung steel band fully cushioned to the ears with extremely soft and compliant leatherette padding. You can fold the earpieces inside this band with a satisfying click, which then lets them fit into the unusually compact and semi-rigid zip case. Take a look at our review of the KEF M500 headphones too.
The nylon-braid cable, in survival-raft orange on our black sample, can be plugged into available 3.5mm stereo jack sockets on either left or right side to suit taste; moreover, you could daisy-chain a second pair of headphones from the spare port, although additional loading on the headphone amp may limit best peformance here.
Handily, the in-line remote and mic capsule have been separated, with a one-button controller fixed several inches below a chin-level mic.
Comfort level with these ‘phones was very high. They're small for a true circumaural but managed to entirely enclose our ears without any pinna pressure. Ultimately we found them a usefully lightweight and very snug fit. There's less crown padding apparent yet we didn't experience any discomfort even after hours of use.
Customisation options include your very own enscribed earpiece end caps, while the white silver colour makes them look less Alienware gamer-like. And if you are a gamer, just get the optional BoomPro mic.
V-Moda Crossfade M-100 review: Sound quality
The Crossfade M-100 didn't surprise us too much with their rather warm and bass-friendly voicing. After all, notwithstanding the maker's claims, these are high-end style headphones for discerning DJs. But they did confuse us by their fantastic musicality, in spite of the left-of-neutral tone.
So bass there is aplenty, yet unlike the real bandits in low-fidelity country, the M-100s showed they could keep those basslines tuneful. Dynamics are taken in their stride, making for a transducer that in some hi-fi circles would be said to ‘time' well.
Like the gently coloured but addictive sound of Naim Audio electronics, for example, we found ourselves thoroughly enjoying the can't-stop-the-foot-tap effect.
In tonal balance they may lean toward the bottom end, but keep the pace and phase firmly on the right side of enjoyable. Filigree detail and hall acoustic were typically filtered from the sound, attention now diverted on midband tunes. If you're ever tempted to join in with your favourite songs, bewarned: we found these all too compelling as singalong-a-headphones.
Stereo spread was good, locking images into a believable left-right spread. Outside sound isolation was excellent.
For DJs and high-level professional monitoring these must be gems, able to be played loudly without HF glare that would otherwise leave a jobbing disc jockey with threshold shift.