Here I am again, with a pile of killer DJ headphones, having to make subjective decisions about sound quality. In among the pile of amazing deliverers of pristine audio to your ears are the focus of my testing — V-MODA M-100s. Having met V-MODA’s founder Val Kolton at NAMM, it’s clear that he knows A LOT about audio, knowledge that is filtered down into his products.
So it’s time for me to start making highly subjective audio decisions about the M-100s, and to some how articulate one of the 5 senses into words that mean something. Of course, I have my own feelings about such things, based on my own preferences and needs, and indeed the environment I find myself in. We must also factor in the human element, which dictates that we are all different, with different physiology and different ears. So you can see that there are many variable when testing headphones, which make it incredibly hard to come up with a conclusion that people will find realistic and acceptable.
This is made especially hard by the abject loyalty and hate that people exhibit towards certain brands. Even saying that Beats by Dre might actually be OK is enough to raise the hackles of some people, and no matter how objectively we might put across an opinion, there will always be those who simply won’t believe it. Equally, saying that Beats By Dre might be good is seen by some as a slight against their precious brand of choice.
Factor into this the black and white opinions expressed about how brand X sounds “shit”, and you can see why I say that this is the worst part of my job. Here’s the thing — each and every one of the DJ headphones in the picture sounds amazing. In fact, I’d go as far to say that there aren’t many in the market that sound “shit” at all. It all comes down to the things I outline above, and balancing all the features to offer a valid opinion that people will hopefully respect.
One more thing — DJs demand more from their headphones these days too. There was a time when DJs would use these headphones for just DJing. But with the dawn of the digital age, everyone wants to listen to music on the go, so the same headphones are used when out and about. And then you have to remember those who have started to make music too, thus these one-time single use headphones have to cover 3 diverse needs in one product.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that times have changed. The headphone market is more diverse than ever, with a number of brands that some might consider to be untouchable (either cool, uncool or fashionably hate-worthy for that matter) actually doing a bloody good job. For me, there is no longer a clear leader. And frankly, if pressed to decide between them, I’m not sure I could pick a pair out from the ones above. All sound great, feel great and do the job. Again, to underline this, there is no best.
But over to you. Some questions for you to chew over:
What are your favourite headphones and why?
What do you look for in headphones?
Do you exhibit brand loyalty? Brand hate? (be honest)
Are you swayed by looks more than sound?
How much are you prepared to pay for a pair?
Do you seem headphones as a long-term investment or as a throwaway tool?