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Review: V-MODA CROSSFADE M-80 On-ear Headphones for iPhone and iPad

I’ve reviewed a number of V-MODA products over the years, but all of them have been of the in-ear headphones variety. I loved the warm, bass-heavy sound of the Vibes, Vibe IIs, the Remix Remote, and the Vibratos. I also appreciated how good the kevlar cables (absent on the Remix) and the metal-accented in-line controls looked while in use. The V-MODA CROSSFADE M–80 is similar to the other models I’ve tried when it comes to the metal build and kevlar cables and warm sound, but this pair of headphones go right onto the ears, not into them.

Metal!

One of the aspects that has always drawn me to V-MODA products has been the inclusion of metal in the design. This could easily be a cheesy bullet point feature, but it makes a discernible difference in how V-MODA headphones feel. The steel that holds the M–80’s drivers in place is rock solid, and I’ve thrown these headphones into my messenger bag without worrying about how they’ll fare. This is the kind of build quality that inspires confidence in your purchase – the M–80 was clearly made to last.

Sound

My audiophile friends tell me that the M–80 feature a v-shaped sound signature, with an emphasis on bass and highs. There’s still a good amount of clarity for mids, but the trait I’ve noticed most is the warm, punchy bass. Even at 25% of my iPhone’s maximum volume, there’s a real thump to the M–80 that can be satisfying when you’re in the mood to be moved by your music, but that same punch can also make the earphones a little more tiring to listen to. On early mornings or late evenings, I’ll often retreat to the iPod equalizer and set it to “Bass Reducer” or “Rock” to tame the rumbling against my ears.

Isolation

I’ve worn the M–80 at home, on the bus, and on the subway during rush hour and have never had to crank the volume past 45% of the maximum. The on-ear design, combined with the memory foam and v-shaped grills along the metal shields lets me hear my music without sacrificing too much of my awareness. That isolation also goes both ways, so it’s easy to listen to my music at an audible volume without bugging anyone else around me.

The seal that enables this isolation is also aided by the excellent memory foam around the drivers and the adjustable, ratcheting headband. I’ve been able to wear the M–80 for hours upon hours before feeling any discomfort, and I haven’t had any problems with them bumping up against the frames of my eyeglasses.

 

Back Pocket

Most in-ear headphones have cables long enough to reach the front pocket on a pair of pants without much extra slack. On-ear headphones like the M–80, on the other hand, tend to feature longer cables that are better suited to a back pocket. The durable kevlar cable on the M–80 glides along fabric (so it won’t snag on clothing), but it will get caught on most everything else around you if you don’t wear it the right way.

Before I learned my lesson, I kept the iPhone in my front-right pants pocket. The cable is long enough that it could get caught under my knee as I bent to tie my shoelaces, resulting in a very unpleasant tug as I got up. I was even in danger of snagging the cable with my knee as I climbed stairs, so I knew I had to find a different way of managing all of the extra wire. Keeping my iPhone in my (right) back pocket has yielded much better results. There’s still quite a lot of slack as I walk, but it’s manageable, and the cable is no longer constantly in my way. I would have loved to see a shorter cable included with the package, though.

Carrying Case

The M–80 has a stylish moulded case for carrying it around. There are slots inside for the two types of cables (one features a one-button remote and mic, the other a three-button remote and mic with volume controls), a carabiner clip, and a groove for the M–80. The whole thing seals with a zipper and ensures that you can throw your $230 headphones into a backpack full of stuff without worrying about crushing them. The carabiner clip can even attach to the case so that you can tether it to your bag for quicker access.

Gorgeous

Aside from the sound and build quality, the other major selling point of the M–80 is its gorgeous profile. The white pearl headband contrasts beautifully with the metal elements of the design, making the whole package simultaneously chic and hi-tech (especially if you’ve got a white iPhone). The designers at V-MODA were also very conservative with the amount of chrome on these headphones, so the M–80 are in no danger of being blindingly shiny (a trait of the earlier V-MODA Vibe II).

Conclusion

The M–80 is a stunning piece of kit. It’s definitely heavier on bass (similar to the popular beats by Dr. Dre), though I rather like the warm sound it produces. However, what really sets this pair of headphones apart is the quality of the design, which makes it equal parts fashion and audio accessory. The V-MODA CROSSFADE M–80 isn’t a steal at $230, but it’s not supposed to be. Instead, the M–80 is a premium product that’s backed up by quality that you can see, feel, and hear.

The V-MODA M–80 was provided by the Max Borges Agency for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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