Link: V-MODA – Price: $230/€182/£146 at the V-MODA Store
DJ headphones have traditionally all walked the same line of dependable functionality. But some have dared to veer from the path of safety and make cans that not only tick the DJ boxes, but also dare to look good too. Such is the case with V-MODA and their Crossfade M-80s.
I took a look at the more lifestyle-ish V-MODA Crossfades 18 months ago. Thinking I’d be writing an ego crushing review, I was amazed at how well they performed. And having the pleasure of spending a solid chunk of time with Val Kolton, owner of V-MODA at NAMM, it’s easy to see where V-MODA comes from. This is not just some funky coloured lifestyle brand – the man is a non-stop fast talking ball of energy and passion, which is expressed through his products.
So I was very happy to try out the M-80s at NAMM and finally receive a pair a few months later. But beyond the obvious wow factor of the presentation, are the M-80s actually any good for DJs?
In The Box: Once I’d got past my in-built and hard-earned prejudices against wasteful packaging, I was once again wowed by what was inside. Everyone else gives you a pouch, sometimes a bag. V-MODA gives you an alienesque exoskeleton case, designed perfectly to take the headphones, cables and clips that come with it. One again, like the Crossfades, I’m deeply impressed.
Once inside, you’re treated to a highly organised presentation that’s almost identical to the Crossfades – 2 cables, one with iPod controls and a mic, the other with just a mic control, a lapel clip and a carabina, the purpose of which I’m still unsure about. But without a doubt, V-MODA present their headphones way better than anyone else.
Looks: This time, there’s an even stronger feeling of slickness. It’s a mixture of materials, but on the whole, this particular pair is all black with just a few accents of Red. The last pair I reviewed came with a fair amount of chrome, but this all Black styling combined with the smaller cups lends itself to a stealthier package. That said, V-MODA are experts are offering colour variants and different covers. You’re bound to find something that suits your tastes.
Build Quality: I haven’t got much to add to this beyond what I said in the last review. But headphones can feel weak and creaky, especially when made of plastic. But the lack of plastic though does elevate the feel enormously. There are still the allen bolts (not as many though) holding things in place, and still the plastic clips fitting into the cups, but it would seem that they’re holding up just fine or they would have been changed. Val’s like that.
I’ll give special mention to the cables again. They’re like string, but are in fact Kevlar cored. And no matter how hard you might try, they just don’t tangle. And because of the material, they just don’t stretch out of shape either. DJs seem to love heavy coiled cables, but to me they’re a pain in the neck. I like this straight lightweight tangle free approach much more.
The longevity of these V-MODAs is not in any doubt – the near absence of hinges, the lack of plastic, and the unyielding flexibility of the headband despite much almost horizontal bending fills me full of warm feelings that these will last a long time, especially if kept in the case.
Sound Quality: I’ve worn a lot of different headphones in my time, most of which have been 50mm drivers. That said, the recognised industry standard Senheissers only have 40mm drivers and sound amazing.
As seasoned readers know, I have little time for numbers, specifications or flowery audiophile language. I put them on, bounce iPod and vinyl through them and write words. What I found was a different sound to the Crossfade LPs. These have a much fuller sound – not linear exactly, but loud and punchy across the whole range. These aren’t bass heavy like other DJ headphones, but are quite at home being used for the task. These M-80s offer good detail and separation, and work better at the top end.
Sound is as ever subjective, and open to interpretation depending on the listener and the condition of their hearing. But as a DJ and also as a listener of music, I was very happy.
Isolation: Given the smaller cup size, this was an area I was especially interested in. I’m used to stellar isolation from Senheisser HD25s and Pioneer HDJ-2000s. It must be something to do with the shape of my slightly plug like ears, but I always get better isolation from on-ears cans, and these M-80 headphones don’t disappoint. They’re much better at keeping noise out than in though, so while you’re absolutely safe in the booth, on the bus you may annoy people if you’re one of those who crank it loud.
Comfort and Stability: Being on-ear and having more metal than plastic means that these do move around if you’re a vigorous headbobbing type of DJ. But in normal use, they’re clamped to your head. And very comfortable they are too. The pads have memory foam so semi-mould to your ears, and the headband has enough padding to remain on your head for extended periods.
With 20mm of adjustment per side, these don’t offer the widest range of fit, and are quite a big fit from the start. These are also the only pair of headphones I’ve ever used that only fit one way – left and right means just that.
Compactness: Due to the construction, they are the size that they are. But the case keeps them safe and is pretty compact in your kit bag. The M-80s has the snuggest fitting case ever, and unless run over by a bus will most likely stay in one piece for a very long time.
Value for money: There’s no doubt about the high spec of the overall package, as well as the feeling of contentment when you open the box and put them on. They do come with a pretty solid 2 year warranty, as well as the 50% off a new pair if your current pair fail, and a 60 day test drive money back guarantee. These are a lot more than your average funky headphones, and the price and quality definitely feel in line with each other.
It looks like another winner here from V-MODA. I’d put these into the category of jack of all trade cans – ones that you can use on the street and in the club. The quality is top notch, and the attention to detail is really high. Depending on your ear and head shape however, the fit might be a little awkward. It’s really up to you as to whether you like the look of the headphones though. The package is right, with all the key headphones selling point in place, but are they to your possibly more conservative DJ tastes? I certainly like them.
Hype: Image, quality, overall feel good package.
Gripe: Minor sound and stability concerns.