Gadling Gear Review: V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones

Audiophiles are a tough group to please and traveling audiophiles even more so. They demand the absolute best sound out of their equipment and they seem to always be on a quest for better music quality. That’s a challenging enough prospect when they’re at home with a full-fledged stereo system at their disposal, but when on the road it can be nearly impossible. A good pair of headphones and a high-quality, portable music player can help, but unfortunately most headphones don’t provide the level of quality that an audiophile is looking for.

V-MODA, a company that specializes in high-end audio products, set out to rectify this situation with their Crossfade M-100 headphones. This is a product that was built from the ground up not just for audiophiles but by audiophiles. The engineers at V-MODA consulted with some of the most knowledgeable, not to mention picky, audiophiles they could find and it shows through in the final product. To call the sound quality from the M-100s amazing doesn’t fully convey just how fantastic these headphones sound. Music is clear and distinct in the low-, mid- and high-ranges, and vocals sounded stunningly pure, creating an experience that simply needs to be heard to be believed.

Personally, I’m no audiophile, but listening to my favorite tracks with a set of M-100s was a bit of revelation. Prior to testing the over-the-ear Crossfades, I’d never heard such pure sound from a set of headphones before. Every element of the music comes through in a very distinct and clean fashion, including the low-end bass, which can often sound distorted or muffled. It was an incredibly immersive and rich experience that gave me a glimpse of what an audiophile must hear all the time.But V-MODA designed the M-100s to provide more than just best-in-class sound. These headphones are also built to be incredibly tough, allowing them to survive the rigors of the road. Their sturdy construction means that you can take the Crossfades with you where ever you go without fear of them breaking. The same can’t be said for most other headphones on the market, many of which are highly susceptible to accidental breakage. Two metal shields on the outside of each ear cup add to the level of ruggedness, while giving these headphones a distinct look all their own. Those shields are also user replaceable and V-MODA offers a number of custom designs on their website allowing M-100 owners to further set their headphones apart from the crowd.

Military grade durability is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the level of detail that V-MODA has put into the design of this product. For example, the M-100s are also capable of folding in on themselves, reducing their footprint nicely. This allows them to take up much less room in a carry-on bag or nicely slip into the included hard case. That case provides yet another level of protection while traveling and also securely stows the headphones and cables as well.

Speaking of cables, the Crossfades ship with two audio cables that can plug into either the left or right ear cups. One of those cables features a microphone and an inline remote for pausing playback or picking up incoming phone calls on a smartphone or other mobile device. The second cable features a built-in audio jack that allows users to share their sound with a companion. This comes in handy when you want to watch a movie or television show with someone on a long flight. Both cables are thick, resist tangling and are very high in quality. In another nod to the audiophile crowd, V-MODA also includes a 1/4″ 24k gold pro adapter for use with home stereo systems as well.

In terms of comfort, I found the M-100s to be easy to wear, even over extended periods of time. While testing them, I often wore the Crossfades for several hours without much of an issue at all, sometimes even forgetting that I had them on. It did take a bit for the tension in the headband to loosen up, however, and until that happened, I occasionally had some discomfort due to the ear cups pressing against the arms of my glasses.

The M-100s do a great job of isolating outside noise, even though they don’t include an active noise-canceling system of any kind. While listening to great music with these headphones it is easy to become cutoff from the outside world, getting caught up in the rich sound that they deliver. It is nearly impossible to crank that music to a level that is too loud for the Crossfades to handle, but it can easily be loud enough that no outside sound can be heard at all. That is actually an excellent feature when you truly want to escape for a while.

All of this amazing sound and build quality comes at a price, however, and it is likely to be beyond what most consumers will want to pay. The Crossfade M-100s carry a price tag of $310, which is actually quite reasonable for a pair of headphones that offer audiophile levels of sound. That puts them in the same price range as the Bose QuietComfort series of headphones, which are also quite popular amongst travelers. While the Bose QC’s do offer active noise cancelation, however, they don’t perform nearly as well in terms of overall sound quality. Even to my non-audiophile ears, the M-100s simply sound much better. The build quality between the two headphones isn’t nearly the same either with V-MODA’s offering outclassing the Bose in every way. That is an important factor to consider when you’re shelling out $300+ for a pair of headphones for travel.

If you appreciate great sound and need a pair of headphones that can survive just about anything short of a nuclear blast, then the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 should be your top choice for music and audio on the go. Quite simply, these are the best headphones I’ve ever heard and well worth every penny.

[Photo Credit: V-MODA]

Gadling gear review: V-Moda Crossfade M-80 headphones

In the age of MP3 players, smartphones and iPads we now travel with more technology than ever before. Those gadgets can come in very handy when we’re trying to pass the time on a long flight or when spending hours waiting at the airport. But one piece of gear that is often an afterthought is the headphones we use. Many of us are content to simply use the stock earbuds that come with our devices, but for better sound quality and enjoyment of our music, videos and other media, it is often worth investing in a better set of headphones such as the Crossfade M-80 from V-Moda.

When purchasing a pair of headphones there are two things that are of the utmost importance to me – sound quality and comfort. In the case of the Crossfade M-80, you get both of those wrapped up in a very nice, durable package that is perfect for travel. In terms of comfort, these on-ear headphones are great for extended use, although I did have to adjust to the feel, which is very different from over-the-ear or in-ear models. The memory-foam cushioning is soft and molds itself well to our ears over multiple uses. Better yet, it is great at isolating outside noises, which comes in very handy when you want to listen to your music over the engine noise of a plane.

Similarly, the M-80 headphones offer excellent sound across a broad audio range. The two speakers are surprisingly small but still manage to pump out high quality sound that includes solid basses and great high and low end tones as well. In fact, these headphones were so good I was actually picking up new elements in music that I had listened to many times in the past. That same excellent sound also carried over to videos and games on my iPad, which confirmed the M-80’s usefulness across a range of different media types.Unlike most other headphones, V-Moda has built the Crossfade out of metal instead of plastic. The company claims that this gives them “military-level” durability and it is hard to argue with that assertion. Designers have put the M-80 through a series of tests to help ensure that they are rugged enough to take the rigors of travel and continue operating at the high level that we expect. As a result we get a product that is head and shoulders above the competition in terms of durability. Whether we’re using these headphones on our daily commute or a round-the-world adventure, that is something we can all appreciate.

V-Moda has included a few extras that help make an already high quality package even better. A specially molded hard case helps protect the headphones even further and two different, interchangeable, audio cables provide compatibility with a variety of devices. One of those cables is specifically designed for use with Apple’s iOS devices while the other is more universal and works with Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry devices. Both cables provide an inline remote and microphone as well. These additions, which some competitors would charge extra for, are impressive and maintain the same level of quality that you find in the headphones themselves.

These headphones are on the higher end of the consumer spectrum and so is their price tag. With an MSRP of $230 they certainly aren’t for everyone. But if you appreciate great sound quality and want a set of headphones that can withstand the rigors of travel then V-Moda has you covered. The Crossfade M-80’s provide all of that and more in one compact package that is sure to impress. The company even offers a full two-year warranty as well as a 50% lifetime replacement option that helps protect your investment for years to come.

If you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones, or you’re finally ready to upgrade from the cheap pack-in earbuds that came with your device, the V-Moda Crossfade M-80 may be just what you’re looking for. The sound quality is fantastic and the build quality is even better. For travelers looking to extend the enjoyment of their other gadgets, I can’t think of a better complimentary addition than a pair of these headphones.

Review – V-MODA Vibrato Remote noise isolating headphones

This morning, headphone maker V-MODA unveiled the newest product for their fall 2010 lineup. For the past week, I’ve been reviewing the new Vibrato Remote in-ear headphones, and if you hate reading long reviews, all you need to know is that these are the best in-ear headphones V-MODA has ever made.

Building upon their previous headphones (the Remix Remotes), V-MODA re-engineered the headphones to look better, and sound better. The biggest change is the use of a fabric and kevlar reinforced cable – fabric cables have the advantage of not tangling as easy as plastic.

The earbuds themselves also went though a redesign – and the final result really is pretty damn awesome. The buds feature a two-tone black/silver design, not unlike something you’d find on a watch. Another very welcome improvement is in the silicone earpieces – the Vibratos come with an assortment of sizes, and for the first time, they used dual-tone silicone for each one. The end result really does look pretty neat.

The various earpieces – in the package, you get three sizes of clear buds, and three in black.

The inline remote allows for volume and track control. Even though they are designed for use on the iPod, iPad and iPhone, I was able to control play/pause on my Android devices (Nexus One and T-Mobile G2). The Vibrato’s put the controls towards your left ear, so you won’t be able to look down to see the buttons, which means you’ll need to learn to control them blindly.

Included in the box are two Active Flex ear hooks. I’ll admit that I was initially uninterested in these -but for the test, I tried them out anyway. Thank goodness I did – because they took me completely by surprise. Not only do they make the headphones very comfortable (by reducing the weight hanging from your ears), they also reduce cord noise, a problem almost all in-ear noise isolating headphones suffer from.

Now of course on to the most important aspect of any pair of headphones – audio and noise isolation. Without any audiophile skills, all I can say is that these things sound awesome. I played limited quality MP3’s and a couple of FLAC files, and found the volume and bass reproduction to be great. Best of all, because the Vibrato offers good noise isolation, you won’t need to crank the volume too high to enjoy it, reducing distortion.

The Vibrato features an angled gold-plated headphone jack – this really is the perfect compromise – it suits people who prefer angled plugs, and people who like straight plugs. The whole thing feels well made, and sturdy.

Call quality through the in-line microphone was way above average – callers never complained about excess noise, even when I made calls from a noisy or windy environment. Also, because the headphones isolate so well, hearing the other side of your call is never an issue.

The V-MODA Vibrato headphones come with a stylish carrying case, a variety of earpieces and the two Active Flex earhooks. As usual, V-MODA delivers the headphones in an amazing box – but you’ll need about ten minutes to unpack them.

The new V-MODA Vibrato headphones are available today – and retail for $129.99. You’ll find them at your local Apple retail stores and at Yes – $130 for a pair of headphones may be hard to justify, but in this case, you get headphones that sound as good as they look – assuming they match your personal taste of course!

Bottom line is that the the Vibrato headphones are the best sounding, and best looking in-ear headphones V-MODA has ever made. Their noise isolation properties are perfect for travelers, the Active Flex hooks are ideal for active use, and the quality seems to easily justify the price tag. V-MODA provides a two year premier warranty on all their headphones, and will even offer a 50% discount on new ones if you damaged them beyond the regular warranty coverage.

V-MODA Remix Remote headphones – fantastic sound + remote control

It has been several years since we last reviewed a pair of V-MODA headphones, so when I came across the newest product from these audio specialists, I decided to take them for a spin (on a plane).

The Remix Remote headphones build upon the V-MODA concept that headphones need to look good and sound good. These headphones are no exception. On the Remix Remotes, you get plenty of chrome, an all metal casing with a pair of mini-drivers capable of producing some awesome bass.

As the name implies – the Remix Remotes add a wired remote control to the package, allowing for play/pause and track control on the iPhone 3GS, iPod Shuffle (3rd gen), iPod Touch (2nd gen), iPod Nano (4th gen), 120GB iPod Classic and even on the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Pro (2009 and newer models only). I was able to use them on my Nexus One as well – but only to play/pause music.

The inline remote also houses a very impressive microphone, and the people I spoke to on the other end of my calls told me that it sounded much better than the stock iPhone headphones.

The V-MODA Remix Remote headphones have a Kevlar reinforced cable (which should take care of cable issues V-MODA headphones sometimes suffered from in the past). The headphones come with a 2-year premier warranty and a lifetime replacement program.

Included in the box are the headphones, a carrying pouch and an assortment of silicone earpieces. If you plan to use the headphones at the gym, you can use the included ear hooks to prevent them falling out of your ears.

Because all ears are different, V-MODA include four pairs of black and clear fittings in XS, S, M and L. I found the best fit with a pair of M fittings – and experienced some very acceptable noise isolation on my flight. Now, they obviously won’t perform as well as a $300 pair of active noise canceling headphones, but the reduction in noise is enough to let you enjoy your music in peace.

Bottom line is that these are very good headphones with a good remote, excellent microphone and a decent price.

The new V-Moda Remix Remote headphones are now available directly from V-Moda for $99.99.

Product review – V-Moda Vibe Duo iPhone headphones

In today’s product review, I’ll give you a closer look at the V-Moda Vibe Duo headphones.

These stylish headphones are made primarily for the iPhone and iPod, and feature “V-MASQUE high-definition clarity and 3D soundstage with noise isolating BLISS technology”. Marketing speak aside, these premium headphones are quite attractive and feel very well made.

The earbuds are very light, and are made of metal with a grooved ring around them, making it quite easy to insert and remove the headphones. The version I tested is called “gunmetal rouge”, and as the name implies, the color is a combination of gunmetal and red.

Included in the package, you’ll find the headphones themselves, a leather carrying pouch and 2 packs of replacement silicone ear fittings, one black and one clear. Each pack of fittings comes in 3 different sizes so you’ll always be able to find the perfect fit.

The V-Moda Vibe Duo headphones are one of the first I’ve ever seen in this price range with a fabric covered cable. This fabric lined cabled means you won’t have as much risk of breaking the cable as with regular rubber cables.

Down one of the earpieces is the V-Moda call control button/microphone. The call control button functions just like the button on the original iPhone headphones, so you’ll be able to answer and hang up a call and pause your music. The microphone is quite good, and callers never complained about not being able to hear me.

It’s hard to judge the audio quality of these headphones, especially since sound is such a personal thing, but I can say that I was very impressed with them. They produce some of the richest bass I’ve ever heard in a pair of headphones, and even on a loud volume setting, I did not head any distortion. The plug on the V-Moda headphones fits the recessed jack of the iPhone, and they also work on the iPod and most other phones with a regular 3.5mm stereo jack (like on some Blackberry smartphones).

Because the headphones are “in-ear” and use a silicone sealing fitting, you’ll get a fairly decent noise isolation. It’s by no means as efficient as a pair of active noise canceling headphones, but it’s certainly enough to block out the background noise of fellow passengers chatting on their phones.

The V-Moda Vibe Duo headphones cost $99.95 (or as low as $86.49 on, so they are clearly not cheap. After testing them for several weeks, I can say that they really do feel they are worth the price. They are several times better than the headphones Apple includes with the iPhone, and if you listen to a lot of music on the device, you’ll learn to appreciate the increase in sound quality and bass.

My only minor complaint is the ease at which the silicone rubber fittings come off, in the first few days I had already lost one set of them. Even though V-Moda include replacement fittings, they are in 3 different sizes. Once you have used all the replacement fittings in your size, you’ll have to order a new pack from V-Moda for $7.99.

In conclusion, the V-Moda Vibe Duo headphones are a great replacement for the boring white headphones included with the iPhone. They are also the perfect size and quality for travelers or frequent fliers, as the basic noise isolation can help reduce background noise on your plane (just remember to put the iPhone in flight mode). The price may not be for everyone, but they are similarly priced to most other premium noise isolating headphones.