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Four full-size headphones for affordable audiophile luxury

R. Matthew Ward | Aug. 14, 2013
Your ears deserve better than the cheap cans you've been using all these years. Luckily, $300 or so can buy world-class quality.

The M-100 continues V-Moda's streak of well-built and cleverly designed headphones. Two stout hinges let you fold the earpieces into the headband for travel. The M-100's cable can plug into either earpiece, so you can choose which side of your head the cable (and consequently the microphone and remote) hangs down; you place one of the aforementioned V-Cork plugs into the unused socket to prevent the cavity from affecting the earpiece's acoustics. (Yes, this produces a measurable difference in sound quality.) The headband adjusts in discrete but unmarked steps.

My review sample came in a matte-black design that possesses a Batman level of cool; glossy-black and white-and-silver versions are also available. The most succinct term for them is bad-ass. And though "built like a tank" sounds like a cliché, it aptly describes the M-100's sturdiness. Twist the headband 180 degrees, and the M-100 metaphorically shrugs and returns to its original shape. The cables are Kevlar-reinforced, and everything feels remarkably strong and solid. I can't imagine much, short of intentional violence with something from a toolbox, that would damage the M-100. (Should you manage this feat, V-Moda offers a two-year warranty against manufacturing defects, along with a 50-percent replacement discount in the event of user-inflicted damage or out-of-warranty failure.)

Like the M-80, the M-100 sports interchangeable "shield" faceplates on the earpieces, and you can order shields with optional text or logos (including custom logos). If you purchase the M-100 directly from V-Moda, you'll get an additional pair of shields, including customization, for free; or you can purchase shields later for $25 a set. Also available are a $30 boom mic, a $30 coiled cable, and a three-button remote/microphone cable (the last available only via V-Moda's customer service department).

I have only two minor complaints about these fantastically well-designed headphones. First, if you have a big head, the M-100's emphasis on portability makes it nearly an on-ear design--the earpieces are smaller than those on many full-size headphones. Second, like the M-80 (and most of the models covered here), the M-100 could use more headband padding. As a big-headed person, I found that the M-100 got a bit uncomfortable over long listening sessions, though listeners who are less cranially endowed will probably be fine.

Does the M-100's sonic performance match its outstanding design? Mostly. The M-100 sounds very good overall, with a low-end emphasis that doesn't overpower the midrange and treble, and with good detail in each region. (This is what V-Moda means by "modern audiophile": sound that's generally balanced and accurate, but has a bit of a controlled boost on the low end.) The M-100 delivers welcome, though incremental, improvements in clarity and detail over the M-80--but for the price I'd like to see further enhancements. The M-100 also adds a bit more bass boost than I consider ideal.

 

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