Review: V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones

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Product: V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones
Release Date: November 21, 2012
Manufacturer: V-MODA
Original MSRP: $310.00
This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 426 of the podcast.

I’ll be honest, when I got the email from V-MODA asking if we’d like to review their new M-100’s, I’d never heard of the company before. In the last few years, when I’ve looked at headphones or earbuds, gaming was always my primary concern so I’d always stuck to those brands that most in the hobby know.

I’ve gone through offerings from Turtle Beach, Astrogaming, Skullcandy, Sony, and SteelSeries among others, but now that you can plug a pair of headphones directly into the DualShock 4 I was excited to see if something like this was a viable option. Instead of needing to plug a USB dongle in, or needing to hook a wireless dock up to the the console, headphones like this simply plug into the DS4.

They even come with an inline microphone on one of the two included kevlar shielded cables. The other cable is a nice addition as well, as it allows someone else to plug their headphones in to listen to the same thing as you, something you can also do by plugging-into the second jack in the M-100’s. Yeah, it has two jacks, both of which work the same so you’re not fumbling around trying to find out which jack you need to plug into.

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How the Crossfade M-100 Headphones are relevant to gamers though is in two distinct areas: use with portables such as the PS Vita, and plugging directly into your DualShock 4 controller and the Xbox One controller with the necessary $30 adaptor on earlier versions. The included microphone, right on the cable like the PS4’s included earbud mic, and the available $30 BoomPro Microphone both work directly with these consoles, and both sound very good.

… the bass is crystal clear …
I’ve actually used these with both the Vita and PS4 extensively and I can’t complain at all. Even cooler, I was livestreaming using a capture device and I was actually able to use both microphones at the same time since the headphones have two ports. One microphone plugged into my laptop for voice directly over the stream and the other was plugged into my DS4 for voice chat. For streamers, this flexibility is rare and quite welcome.

The included microphone sounds better than the ones on the connection cable that I’ve used in the past, and the BoomPro Microphone, by all accounts in using voice chat and in PS4 parties, is excellent. I received many comments about how good I sounded over the mic and I even plan to use it when we record Episode 426 of the podcast. But even using the mic that’s on the cable has been a great experience and mute controls are right on the mic for easy access.

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As I said though, these actually weren’t designed to be specifically for gaming. They’re designed for audiophiles and even Club DJ’s, and they excel in those areas. The headphones have dual 50mm dual diaphragm drivers so that the Bass can be separated from the high and mid-range audio being produced and the difference from the other headphones I’ve used in this category, Beats and Monster DNA specifically, is vast.

No longer are you simply getting loads of bass with the rest of the audio sounding tinny. Instead, the bass is crystal clear, even with the volume cranked way up. At the same time though, the high’s and mid’s experienced are very distinct and clean.

I would say though that the mid’s do get lost a bit at high volume but it’s nowhere near a deal breaker. I tested these with a few other higher-end headphones that I have, all with the same content and volume settings, and the M-100’s blew the competition away. I couldn’t believe the difference, especially offering a wider range than any others that I own, some of which are in the same price category.

… earcup cushions can also be replaced …
Also, unlike a lot of the gaming headphones I currently own, most of which are wireless, the M-100’s don’t offer support for the Dolby Headphone surround profile or any surround tech at all. It doesn’t matter though because their performance in every game that I played was pretty fantastic and at no time were they anything but that.

Instead of saying that these are “noise-cancelling”, V-MODA instead has labelled these “sound isolating”, and with the included over-the-ear cushioned earcups, I can attest that they do a great job. The earcup cushions can also be replaced with those that are deeper and offer a larger sound field for $20 – http://v-moda.com/memory-cushions. The difference between the cushions that are originally included with the headphones and with the “upgrades” is noticeable, especially when you’re listening to complex source material. I’m not convinced that it’s a “need” though because the defaults do a great job and are incredibly soft and comfortable.

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Also, as a more extreme test I mowed my lawn while listening to music using the M-100 Headphones plugged into my phone. Now, I usually wear earplugs since my riding mower can be pretty loud so this was sort-of a dual test. The entire process usually lasts around ninety minutes and not once did I worry about the fact that I wasn’t wearing earplugs. The music was never drowned-out by the noisy engine.

I was pretty impressed actually because these were the first headphones I’d ever used while mowing that I didn’t have trouble hearing what I was trying to listen to. In fact, I will probably use these from now on when I mow the lawn and since I travel so much, the compact design makes it a breeze to bring them wherever I go.

… these things are rugged …
Included in the relatively small box are the headphones, two separate connection cables, and a small clamshell carrying case. When you look at it when you pull it out of the box, you immediately wonder how all of this stuff will fit into this small case and then you find out that the headphones are hinged, and the build quality is superb all around.

It’s been said by V-MODA that the M-100’s were “over-engineered” to withstand any punishment they can be subjected to, and even though I usually baby my equipment like this, you can definitely tell that these things are rugged. The ear cups are made to be able to fold up into the headband, making them incredibly compact for easy transport and the headband itself is made of metal with a comfortable rubber coating. They did feel a bit tight on my head, but after a couple of pulls they feel great now and at no time have they felt that they’re going to degrade over time.

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The case is simple, but offers a small spot in each half that can hold a headphone cable and/or the included 3.5mm to ¼” adaptor and they work very well. The only thing that I couldn’t use those spots for was the BoomPro Mic, which I instead just place in the open space where the headphones are placed. I also appreciate that a pretty rugged clip is attached to the case, which makes it very convenient to clip to my backpack. The case itself is at the same time flexible and tough, and at no time do I feel like it won’t do a great job at protecting the headphones.

… at the highest volumes everything remains clear and distinct …
I don’t want to leave a pretty important item out concerning the impressive warranty that V-Moda offers. I’ll simply copy and paste what they have on the website, but I have to say, the peace of mind their warranty offers is refreshing when compared to other manufacturers:

Two-Year Warranty – Immortal Life Program – 60-Day Test Drive Guarantee: Each M-100 purchased from a Verified Reseller is backed by a 2-Year V-MODA Premier Warranty, more than double the industry average. In the unlikely event you run over your headphones with a tank, with the V-MODA Immortal Life Program, you get 50% off a replacement for a lifetime. V-MODA is so confident the M-100 is a superior headphone, it even offers an unrivaled 60-day test drive guarantee.

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One other thing I haven’t mentioned because I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, is that they offer you an opportunity to create custom shields on the outside of the ear cups at a cost of $25 for a pair. The process seems to require you to have some image skills, but I do plan to try this out after E3 since I have to have the PS Nation logo on everything you know…

Conclusion:
Even though I didn’t know what to expect, the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones instantly became my go-to’s when I needed to play games and in other uses as well, including when we record the podcast and when I mow my lawn. They’re not only comfortable but they’re very easy to bring along to wherever I go. The sound though, is the real star here. You don’t have any additional processors messing with the audio and even at the highest volumes everything remains clear and distinct.

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I can really only list a couple of negatives with them. First, I do wish that the earcups could spin 90-degrees so they’re easier to rest against your shoulders when you have them around your neck. I’ve been spoiled with this feature with headphones I have from Astrogaming and SteelSeries, so it’s weird not having that with these. Also, probably the biggest thing that will decide your purchase is obviously the price. The MSRP is $310 at the time of this review, but they can be found at “certified retailers” for a bit less.

The biggest difference with these headphones when compared to most others is obviously that these are geared toward audiophiles and for non-gaming uses. The bonus is that they’re fantastic for use with portables and with the newer consoles from Microsoft and Sony. I never tried them with the Wii U, especially since I wouldn’t even know how to test if the microphone works or not.

Yes, they are cost-prohibitive, and maybe you’d rather have a more traditional wireless headphone set that supports the Dolby Virtual Surround codecs and I can definitely understand that. But again, since I’ve been on the road so much, not only have the M-100’s been convenient and easy to use, but they quality of the audio has been truly astounding.

I totally agree with what some of you are saying, that these are definitely not for everyone. But after using headphones from Beats and Monster DNA, I can confirm 100% that these are your best choice not only for listening to music, but that they’re also an incredible choice for gaming uses. Simply put, I love these headphones and I can’t wait to use them on my flight to E3 this year and whenever else I have a chance.

Score:
9.0

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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