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Every once in a while, a product comes along that does that thing all distinctive products do: redefine standards. v-moda, with their formidable Crossfade M-100 over-ear headphones is one such.
Sitting at the top of their lineup of Over-ear/On-ear cans, here is a product that pushes the limits; be it in construction, packaging or acoustic ability. Out of the box, it imparts the sense that you’re about to behold something special–even the built-in ‘handle’ on top of the box and the press-button fastener are soft leather bits. Inside the box, the first thing you see is a tough carry case that houses these headphones–which goes a long way in upping the confidence in being able to transport these Rs 24,990 headphones without breaking a sweat for fear they may get busted on the road.
Unzip this carry case and you’ll see the headphones foetal-folded with the compact space. Elastic bands hold down the detachable headphone cables at one end. Lift the headphones out of their tough little womb and you’re immediately aware of the reassuring heft that only metal construction can impart. At 280 gms these headphones aren’t featherweight. Thankfully, they are very nicely balanced and never for a moment feel like they’re weighing down on your cranium.
Holding up these headphones and eyeballing them more closely, I immediately appreciated the fastidious level of care that has gone into its construction: these things are built like a WWII bunker. And I’m not saying that lightly; they actually do pass military-grade specifications for durability (specifically MIL-STD-810G, if you’re interested). Which is easy to believe, considering they copiously use steel (in the earphones casings and headband) and even Kevlar (to reinforce the audio cable).
So what do you get for your money? For starters, personalized laser engraving–simply send in a graphic and they’ll have it etched onto your set of headphones before delivery. On the specifications front, it has a frequency response of 5Hz to 30KHz, which well surpasses what even a gifted human can audibly perceive. The drivers are 50mm dual-diaphragm, which means they’re able to push around larger quantities of air making for punchier listening experience, while better separating the bass from the mid and high frequencies.
The question is: how does all of this translate? I donned them and plugged in its gold-plated connector into a Fiio E07K DAC/Amp, which enabled auditioning at the highest audio quality levels possible. First up, these things have power–plenty of it. Music sounded enthusiastic, controlled and that bass was other-worldly. Across genres, from acapella gospel to acid jazz to club, these headphones shine. And they like to be driven–with their 32 ohm impedance, they’d do well plugged into an audio system compared to an MP3 player which may not be able to deliver the juice needed to fully realise their potential. But with the right player and the right music files, these headphones will reset your perception of what good music should sound like. They admittedly do tend to be bass-heavy (which is great if that’s what gets you going), but you may want to dial this down for genres where that low-end punch would get in the way (jazz vocals for example).
Rounding up this stellar personal audio system, you also get the ability to share your music with another set of headphones with the Shareplay audio cable. The headphone cable can also has a 1-button mic, enabling it to be used with your phone. The only real quibble I had was the fact that the foam surrounds create such a good seal that one’s ears do tend to perspire during long listening sessions.
If you’re looking for a tough-as-nuts, yet stellar-sounding pair of headphones, the v-moda M-100 belongs to that rarified rank that warrants being truly labeled ‘audiophile-grade’.
Frequency response: 5Hz – 30KHz
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Primary construction: Steel, Kevlar, memory foam, foldable for storage