V-Moda Crossfade M-80 / V-80 Review

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Brief: Re-tuned supraaural follow-up to the original Crossfade LP

MSRP: $200 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $200 from amazon.com

Build Quality (10/10): In terms of design, the M-80 is a miniaturized version of the older Crossfade LP and more current LP2 models. As with the LP, the metal and plastic structure has an air of heft and solidity, and yet the M-80 is not heavy enough to be damaged by its own weight if dropped. In addition, unlike the high-end supraaural headphones from Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, Audio-Technica, and others, there are very few moving parts to the M-80 so there is very little to go wrong. The included protective carrying case is a nice touch as well, as are the sturdy detachable cables that interface via a standard recessed 3.5mm jack. The only downside of the cloth-covered cords is a bit of microphonics when they rub against a shirt or jacket collar. I also find it a bit strange that a standard stereo cable is not included in addition to the smartphone-compatible mic/remote cords.

Comfort (7.5/10): The M-80 is a small supraaural set, and as such it sacrifices some comfort compared to the full-size Crossfade LP. While it isn’t particularly heavy or viselike, the M-80 lacks the adjustability of the Sennheiser HD25-1 and Beyerdynamic DT1350. The cups have a small range of motion – almost none at all around the vertical axis – and the metal frame is fairly rigid. As a result, the comfort of the M-80 rests almost entirely on the softness of the pads, and while the soft material does an excellent job of coping, this still makes itself known after a few hours. Those with an aversion to supraaurals can consider this fair warning.

Isolation (7.5/10): Partly due to the vented earcups and partly because the rigid structure can prevent the pads from sealing perfectly, the isolation of the M-80 is mediocre compared to some of the competition. It’s sufficient for light commuting but wouldn’t be recommended for subway or airplane use.

Sound (9/10): There are many ways to tune for consumer-friendly sound. One is to offer tons of bass and bother with little else; example: Klipsch Image One. Another is to limit the dynamic range and flatten the soundstage for an illusion of detail retrieval and loudness; example: Beats by Dre Solo. A third is to exaggerate the presentation to create faux 3D space; example: Bose AE1. There are, however, ways of appealing to consumer without offending the audiophile, and V-Moda is clearly well on the way to one such signature with the M-80. The oh-so-important low frequencies are emphasized but not overblown. The bass has good depth and plenty of power, with fairly mild mid-bass emphasis. It loses a bit of resolution at the very bottom but impact is plentiful and there is no lack of body. The presentation is smooth, even a bit soft of note. It is not the snappiest low end among high end portables – the HD25, DT1350, and ES10 are all a bit quicker – but the M-80 provides full, controlled bass without being overly aggressive. In comparison, the Sennheiser HD25-1 gives up a bit of depth for more mid-bass punch, though it still manages to stay free of bass bleed. Other mid-level portables, such as Phiaton’s MS300 and AKG’s Q460, give up even more bass depth to the M-80, and yield to the V-Modas in note thickness and power as well.

Despite the impactful low end, midrange presence is excellent – it is balanced well with the bass and never sounds overshadowed or crowded out, as is the trend with other consumer-friendly headphones. There is a hint of bass bleed and mild warmth imparted by the full low end but nothing distracting. The mids are very smooth and quite level on the whole. Note presentation is soft, without much bite, and while the M-80 loses out to the HD25-1 in resolution and isn’t the best at portraying grit, its mids are wonderfully intelligible and never edgy. Certain female vocals, for example, sound much better on the thicker, smoother, more forward M-80 than they do on the crisper HD25-1. There is an open feel to the midrange, too, and while the M-80 doesn’t perform quite as well with busy tracks as the HD25-1 does, it doesn’t get as congested as the old Crossfade LP or competitors such as the Klipsch Image One and Phiaton MS300.

Moving up into the treble, the M-80 becomes more laid-back while maintaining its smoothness. The top end is not notably recessed but it lacks the sparkle and energy of sets like the HD25-1, ATH-ES10, and AKG Q460. Cymbals lack shimmer and the sound comes across a bit less crisp overall. The general tone, too, is a touch less neutral compared to the HD25-1, and the detail and resolution are slightly lower. That said, the treble is not relaxed enough for the M-80 to be labeled dark and top-end extension is good, just as it was with the Crossfade LP. The result of all this mellowness is that the M-80 is completely non-fatiguing and extremely forgiving, but for the lower listening volumes I’m used to, I would still want more presence at the top. In most ways, the top end of the M-80 is opposite that of the HD25-1, which tends to be hot and somewhat splashy and results in some questionable timbre characteristics. All in all, I feel that the treble region is the weak point of both headphones, though for completely different reasons.

Where the M-80 is easier to split from the competition is in the presentation – for a small supraaural headphone it is very capable. Sound comes across nicely layered but not distant. The sonic space is larger than that of the Sennheiser HD25-1 and very well-rounded. The Sennheisers do separate a little better but on the whole I’d rather have the more well-rounded, more spacious soundstage of the V-Modas. Comparing the M-80 to the Klipsch Image One and Phiaton MS300 really makes the competition sound flat and congested. Even the AKG Q460, which can keep up with the M-80 as far as detail and separation go, loses out easily when it comes to soundstage depth. Of course the competent presentation of the M-80 is part of a bigger picture, one that involves good natural clarity (as opposed to clarity achieved via specific treble emphasis) and good dynamics, among other factors. And yet despite all this, the M-80 is very efficient, very easy to drive. It performs well enough without external amplification to go head to head with the HD25-1, and that’s saying something.

Value (9/10): Put simply, the V-Moda M-80 is a very good portable headphone. Comfort and isolation are held back slightly by the lack of flex in the structure and semi-open design but with its ruggedized construction and few moving parts, the M-80 is compact and very sturdy. Additional features such as the (optional) customizable face plates and smartphone functionality go hand in hand with the high efficiency of the drivers and consumer-friendly sound signature. Most impressive is that the smooth, non-fatiguing sound retains a high degree of technical ability; in the IEM world, the M-80’s soul mate would be the dual-driver Fischer Audio Tandem. Clearly, this is a step in a welcome direction for V-Moda – I may miss the comfort of the circumaural Crossfade LP but I don’t miss the sound one bit. For portrayal of the midrange frequencies and soundstaging especially, the M-80 is right up there with the best of them.

Manufacturer Specs:
Frequency Response: 5-30,000 Hz
Impedance: 28.5 Ω
Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3 ft (.9m), single-sided, detachable; Angled Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

15 Comments

  1. . on

    How does the M-100 compare to this?

  2. Anthonyyu on

    Good Day.
    Moving from D1100 and V moda M80, now want another step forward.
    After these two and I think now I am looking for a more airy, wide stage and good amount and quality of bass.
    Overear is the type i want. Glad to have your suggestion.

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried anything like that but I’m pretty out of the loop when it comes to over-ear portable cans. I’m sure it’s out there, my knowledge is just outdated.

  3. lonesome on

    how would u compare DUNU TITAN 1 & vsonic GR07 bass edition? can’t decide between these two. I like clear, crisp sound with good details and punchy bass (not boomy)

    • ljokerl on

      They both fit that description very well and you can’t go wrong with either for the price you’re paying if what you’re after is pretty accurate – but not flat – sound. The main difference between them, besides the design/form factor/fit, is the midrange positioning. The Titan 1 has forward mids and tends to push midrange elements to the foreground. The GR07 BE does the opposite – it has a mildly v-shaped signature with a slightly laid-back midrange.

  4. lonesome on

    +1 more thing, what’s ur recommendation regarding iem under $150? I saw on amazon, a few people complaining about the durability of vsonic GR07 bass edition, as their phones stopped working a few months later. although I was motivated to buy them based on ur review 🙁

  5. lonesome on

    thanks for ur reply. btw, which on ear headphones would you recommend under $150? my preference is clarity, comfort and durability. ( in a nutshell, best value for money)

    • ljokerl on

      I haven’t tried any lately that have impressed me. If it was my money I’d probably try to pick up a user Sennheiser HD25-1 II or Amperior (they can also sometimes be had around $150 new on sale),

      Also, there are likely plenty of other viable options on the market that I just haven’t tried.

  6. lonesome on

    Hi, how r these cans compared with V moda crossfade lp regarding clear mids & highs as well as comfort?

    • ljokerl on

      The Crossfade LP is overwhelmingly bassy. The M-80 is more balanced with better overall clarity, but not as comfortable as V-Moda’s over-ear models.

  7. Wayne on

    Hi, how would you compare this to sennheiser momentum on ear? Im also wondering if there’s a difference between “sennheiser momentum” and “sennheiser momentum”, are they different set of cans?

    I could get each one of them at about $120, is that a good deal, or could i have a better deal somewhere else? Thanks!

    • ljokerl on

      Sorry, I don’t have sufficient experience with the Momentum On-Ear to compare it to another headphones. I just tried them (and the Momentum Over-Ears) briefly. I thought both were good but the Over-Ears sounded more natural to me.

  8. Azam98 on

    hey joker. you mentioned consumer sound in this review. do you think these headphones would be better then the dunu 1000 or the dt 1350 in this respect. any other earbuds or headphones that stand out would be very helpful if you included in the reply

    • ljokerl on

      As I said in reply to your question here http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone-review/beyerdynamic-dt1350/#comment-57093, I don’t recommend comparing headphones to IEMs because of basic sound presentation differences. The Dunu is tuned for a more v-shaped response with emphasis on the bass and treble. The M-80 and DT1350 have warmer, smoother sound. The M-80 is a little less accurate and maybe more consumer-friendly than the DT1350 overall with its more full-bodied midrange and thicker note presentation.

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