Build Quality – 10
Simply put, I’ve never held a pair of headphones that I though were better built than the M-100’s. From their incredible rigidity in the frame, to the compactness, the braided cables (both on the fixed part of the headphones as well as the removable cables) – everything about the build quality on these headphones is simply amazing. In my video review I think I probably spent too much time going into the details of the build quality but I actually believe in the case of these headphones, the absolutely deserve that level of attention. When you look at the packaging that the M-100’s arrive in, you’ll quickly see that they were proud of what they accomplished…”Military grade testing”. That pretty much sums it up. If you want a set of headphones that you can expect to last for years, DECADES even, to come, then I can’t recommend the M-100’s enough in that regard.
Comfort – 9
Here again I feel that V-Moda really went out of their way to provide their customers with a set of headphones that they could wear for hours without the fatiguing factor generally associated with around the ear headphones. To that measure, they’ve absolutely succeeded again. The outside of the ear pads is a leather material that is extremely soft and nice to the touch while the inside of the ear pads are a memory foam that is also excellent for comfort. The ear pads being wrapped in leather do have a tendency to warm up a bit, but they weren’t nearly as bad as other leather/leatherette ear pads I’ve used in the past. The M-100’s aren’t the lightest set of headphones on the market but they are by no means neck breakers either. With the combination of the comfortable ear pads, the on par weight with most other around ear headphones I’ve tried, and the decently comfortable headband, I found that I could wear the M-100’s for hours without any noticeable fatigue. An excellent job in the comfort arena.
Miscellaneous – 10
V-Moda is proud of these headphones, and for good reason. When you start taking them out of the package, you’ll find some inserts with some information about how the M-100’s came to be. They went to audiophiles and headphone lovers to find out what they thought was important in a set of headphones and they built them up from there. The M-100’s are one of the most versatile set of headphones I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It comes with two cables (both braided) – one for listening on standard devices, and another with an inline microphone for using in conjunction with your smartphone or enhanced media player. They didn’t stop there…they also provide you the ability to daisy chain additional M-100’s (ideally – you can use other headphones, but unless impedance and sensitivity levels are roughly the same, you’ll have a hard time equalizing the volume) together! Additionally they provide a boom mic that you can use if you’re a gamer. Now you don’t have to go out and spend another $100+ on an additional set of headphones just to use for gaming. This really makes for an incredible package when you think about all you can do with these. That’s not even the end of it! If you’re someone who loves to customize your goodies, then the M-100’s will be right up your alley. Not only can you buy additional plates to update the look of your headphones, you can actually provide custom designs that V-Moda will put onto some custom plates for you and ship your way. Tired of having the same look as everyone else?! Well, now you have an answer to that problem.
Another thing I’d like to point out is how incredibly compact this particular set of headphones is. I’ve done a review of the V-Moda LP’s and I was expecting headphones that were about the same size. Generally speaking, it seems that as the price of headphones go up, so does the size. Not so with these. When I received them I was actually wondering if they sent the wrong ones! The packaging tried to assure me that I had received the correct cans but I was still suspicioius…I honestly held these things in my hand for a good long while just marveling at what a great job they did at making not only the headphones so compact, but their carrying case as well! Folded down, the M-100’s easily fit in the palm of my hand and were about the size of my hand. The case is just big enough to wrap them up snugly and keep them safe from scratches and transport damage. There’s absolutely no excuse not to put them in their case when they’re not in use as they take up as little room as possible.
Again, V-Moda really took the time to create a set of headphones that can be used in just about any situation. V-Moda deserves some kudos for talking to their users and finding out what they wanted and then delivering the goods.
Bass – 9
Anyone who’s listened to V-Moda headphones can tell you this – V-Moda loves bass, and likely so do their customers! The M-100’s deliver the goods in the bass. The notes are clean, well articulated and easily discernible from other bass notes. There’s no question the bass is boosted a couple of decibels but it’s consistent through the entire range so it makes for a fun listening experience. The only knock on the bass in the M-100’s from a technical aspect is it tends to be a bit loose. This is apparent when listening to a fast pluck bass or a drum hit and for critical listening, but the truth is most of the people who buy these probably aren’t buying them to pick apart their music. The bass in the M-100’s can be described as fun and that’s probably what most people will be going for. If you’re looking for crushing amounts of bass, the M-100’s can deliver, and if you’re looking for some more delicate bass, they can provide that as well. You’ll need to EQ the bass down a bit if you’re going for more neutral sound, but they are more than capable of delivering at pretty much any level you’d like to achieve.
Midrange – 8
The midrange on the M-100’s were a bit of a struggle for me. I tend to lean to the more neutral or in some cases slightly brighter tone in the midrange. These headphones definitely lean towards the darker / cooler sounding side of things. Part of this comes from the bass boost continuing on into the lower midrange and bringing that darker sound especially to vocals. Listening to both male and female vocalists on these headphones yields a relaxed, bassier sound than what I’m used to in most headphones. It’s by no means bad – a bad midrange to me is pretty much unlistenable and will have me discarding a set of headphones quicker than you can blink. No, these just have a different approach. With female vocalists like Adele who have a very strong presence and only brighter sounding headphones can be piercing and a bit overbearing, on the M-100’s she was extremely easy to listen to and you NEVER get that feeling like she’s inside your eyeballs. From a fatiguing standpoint this is very nice, but from a standpoint of feeling like you’re in the same room with the musician as a private audience, you tend to lose a bit of that personal, engaging experience. It’s not a neutral midrange but it’s not unpleasant by any means. One of the things I found interesting when switching to other sets of headphones for comparison sake was after listening to the M-100’s, other headphones would almost feel too light in the midrange simply because the M-100’s were so thick. But, when switching back, you’d immediately notice how dark and heavy sounding the M-100’s were in comparison.
Treble – 8
The treble on the M-100’s did a nice job of providing the detail from the music without ever becoming fatiguing. My only problem with the treble (and the upper midrange) was again, I felt like it just wasn’t as engaging as what I’d hoped. The presence of tracks from Lorena McKennitt just didn’t feel as alive as they should be. Again, the treble provided plenty of resolution and was musical and never analytical, but I felt it just missed a little something to draw you into the music a bit further.
Soundstage – 7
The soundstage on the M-100’s was above average – there is a sense of space when listening to music. Recordings such as Tubular Bells don’t feel like you have speakers strapped to your head, rather you do get a sensation that the music is occurring around you. The same went with jazz recordings where you could place a piano off in the distance with vocalists being closer to the action. Also, for video gaming, I definitely felt it was easier to pinpoint the direction of gunfire and you could hear people creeping up on you from various directions – definitely a nice set of cans for gaming.
Noise Leakage – 7
The M-100’s have a semi-closed type of setup to where there’s just very small ports on the ear-cups that tend to leak a bit of noise. If you’re listening at lower levels you’ll probably never bother anyone. However, if you want to bring these babies alive and really rock out, you’re likely going to be sharing your music with everyone around you! Because I enjoyed the sound of these at various levels, I never had a problem keeping them tamed down (for the most part), but just be aware that if you crank them up, the sound will fill the area!
Powering – 8
Honestly, if you aren’t running something like the Nexus 5 (which seems incapable of driving anything effectively), these headphones don’t really require a ton of power to get them to sing. Using an iPhone 4 or the Samsung Galaxy S3, these things will absolutely bring the music. Using an amplifier definitely doesn’t hurt their cause and can really bring some impact if that’s what you’re looking for, but in most cases it’s not really a requirement.
Conclusion – 8.5 (Not an average)
Wrapping up on the M-100’s. First, I can say these are a great fit for MOST people. Hardcore audiophiles will probably want to look elsewhere, but for a vast majority of people who listen to all the popular genres, these have a sound signature that is sure to please. That’s not to say that these don’t sound great with genres like classical, jazz, bluegrass, etc., it’s just that they are geared much more towards the pop, rock, hip-hop, r&b, trance, dubstep, etc. For the latter genres, the coolness in the midrange isn’t nearly as apparent, and the music really is a blast to listen to. The sounds that come from these headphones on those genres are the kind that get you dancing wherever you are. They really are fun to listen to. For pure vocalists and instrumentals however, there’s a slight feeling of disconnect that is too apparent not to point out.
I love these headphones for all that they do right, and better than just right in many regards. The build quality, the insane amount of features, the customization, the comfort, the sound. All summed up, they are a fantastic set of headphones. So why not a higher score?! Honestly, the darker/cooler sound just isn’t my favorite. While it is very easy to listen to for extended periods of time, it doesn’t bring me to that place where I feel like I’m sitting there with the performers. Many people love and prefer this type of sound because it is so easy to listen to and I completely understand that. So yeah, do I like these? Absolutely. If they bring out a warmer sounding version of the M-100’s, will I be in line? You’d better believe it!