I’m not a fully-fledged audiophile. But I know good sound when I hear it, and comfort when I feel it. When I’m on planes, there’s nothing better than plugging in my Bose QC15s and letting the sounds of my iPad drown out the sound of a thousand screaming babies and jet engines. I’ve been looking all over for a great headset of comparable quality and comfort to use with my PC and Laptop, and one that doesn’t require a battery while still offering up some form of noise dampening. I was lucky enough to have V-Moda offer to send me a pair of the M-100s with the optional accessory of a plug-in boom mic to use for gaming, calls, and other nerdy PC things. The BoomPro mic is an additional $30 with the PC/VOIP split plug, so altogether the cost of the cans they sent me to review is a hefty $330 (the headphones alone retail for about $299). But the sound quality, durability, portability and comfort might just make them worth the price tag.
Here’s what comes in the base package (without the added mic and connector for PC):
- Pair of Crossfade M-100 headphones
- Exoskeleton carry case with carabiner
- Two audio cables, with 24k gold-plated 3.5-mm audio jack set at 45 degrees
- A pair of V-Cork protectors for unused audio ports
- 6.4-mm gold-plated audio adapter
The bits and baubles are a nice touch, but most of us are only really going to care about the case and the headphones. But don’t be so hasty, because both cables are high quality, and one comes equipped and ready for your iPhone or Android with a hands-free mic and pause/play button built in. The carrying case is superb as well, as it’s very compact, thanks to the fact that the headphones themselves fold up into a neat little bundle for porting around in your bag, or on it with the clip that allows you to attach it to just about anything.
The basic appearance of the M-100s hasn’t changed much from last year’s M-80s (which I managed to snag for my wife on sale during the holidays, score). The plates on the outside of the cups are changeable, and if you really feel like it you can order customized ones from the V-Moda site. Either ear can be used to jack the headphones in, and the set comes with cork protectors to close up any unused audio ports too. There’s also an EasyShare cable that allows you to plug another set of headphones into the same sound source. Both you and your spouse on a plane together and want to watch the same movie? Problem solved.
The feel of the phones is top notch, and they seem like they could take a really nice beating. One thing that V-Moda prides itself on is just how much abuse their gear can take, and the box and press materials assure us that they’ve gone through and survived military grade MIL-STD-810G testing. These suckers are built to withstand just about anything, so tossing them around, carrying them in your bag, and accidentally plopping down on them after a bio-break shouldn’t be an issue. All the while, they look quite sleek too, especially when compared to the size of most modern gaming headphones that make you look like Leia’s special cousin.
Sound-wise, the M-100s are a dream. V-Moda’s 50mm Dual-Diaphragm Driver (Patent-Pending) does an excellent job of keeping the bass from bleeding into the mid and high levels of music, and these things sound superb when you’re using them with an aurally heavy game like Planetside 2, or even something just plain noisy like Guild Wars 2. While not quite as immersive as what you’d get from 5.1 or 7.1 headsets, the sound crispness and quality is second to none. And without the use of a battery for additional processing, the actual soundstage is completely unaltered, giving you the true sound that really shines on high quality recordings and well-done in-game music.
Overall, I really don’t think you can go wrong with the M-100s. The sticking point for many will wind up being the price, but if you’re the sort of person who travels a lot with a laptop, or even if you just want something to bring back and forth to the office, the M-100s are superb. They’ve quickly replaced my Logitech Gamecon headset as the only phones I use at home, work, and on travel. I can admit that if I’d had to pony up the cash, I probably wouldn’t have pulled the trigger, but hey... maybe they’ll go on sale this Christmas like my wife’s did.