Let’s face it, the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 is one of the coolest looking headphones that I’ve ever come across. But then I love uncluttered industrial designs. This is a pair of cans that’s all metal and faux leather, and the matte black version Headphone Zone provided for this review is drop dead gorgeous.
V-Moda was started by DJ Val Kolton – a fact that could potentially turn off some audiophiles because DJs dig bass – but the firm has sold more than 4 million cans since 2004, so it must be getting some things right.
The Crossfade M-100 is the top of the over-ear model offered by V-Moda in India and a lot has gone into its design.
Military-grade durability seems to have been a priority for its designers – V-Moda says the M-100’s Kevlar cables can survive a million bends and the headband can retain its shape even after being bent flat more than 10 times. The headphones can survive more than 70 drops on concrete from a height of six feet and exposure to extreme temperatures and salt spray, meaning you can take them to the beach.
For sound, the M-100 depends on 50mm dual diaphragm drivers with separate inner and outer rings that prevent the bass from bleeding into the mids and highs.
And the special Cliqfold hinge developed specially by V-Moda for the M-100 allow the headphones to be folded up to fit into a handball-size zippered clamshell case that also holds a three-foot cable with mic and one-button controller for use with smartphones, a second 6.5-foot cable and 6.4mm gold-plated adapter for using the cans with amplifiers.
There are other design touches that make these cans stand out – the cables terminate in 45-degree angle 3.5mm plugs that provide better strain relief when used with smartphones or portable audio players and the cables can be connected to either the left or right ear cups.
But how does the M-100 sound? Straight up, these headphones have what is known as a “V-shaped” sound – oodles of tight bass and nice airy highs. Playing 320 kbps MP3s through Poweramp on my Sony Experia smartphone, the sound was nimble and sure-footed without any of the flabby bass that mars so many over-ears. With everything from Bob Dylan to Queen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the sound was punchy and fun.
Things got even better when the M-100 was paired up with my rig at home, which has FLAC files playing on my laptop through a Geek Out DAC to a classic Denon amplifier. The sound quality went up a notch and everything sounded much better.
But the sound signature of the M-100 is so V-shaped that the mids do suffer – whether used with my smartphone or the home rig, the mids sounded recessed and veiled, making the overall soundstage seem smaller than that of several other over ears.
Another quibble is the price of the M-100 -- at almost Rs. 25,000, it isn’t exactly cheap, especially when several other over-ears with similar or better specs can be had for much less.
If you have the cash to spare, like the design and a pure V-shaped sound signature, it’d be hard to ignore the M-100.