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Old 03-13-2012, 01:01 PM
Jörgemeister's Avatar
Jörgemeister Jörgemeister is offline
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Thumbs up Review: V-Moda M80 (on ear portable headphone)

V-Moda M80 (on ear portable headphone)


A very good looking headphone from a company that seems to care a lot about fashion on their designs. but who said good looking headphones cant sound good?


V-moda M80 and Eva Unit 001

First things first: If you just want the straight-to-the-point review and no blabbering, read only the blue bits and the picts


Accesories:
3 cables, an excellent hard carrying case known as exoskeleton, a clip to hel carry the bag, 3 cables and ¼ to 1/8 inches adapter. All this in a fancy hard cardboard box.


The good: exoskeleton case is so very awesome and useful and good looking. More cables than you’d need.
The nitpicks: none.
The bad: none. V-moda does not fool around giving you accessories.


Cables and plugs.

Build quality:
Two things come to my mind, tough and flexible. Headband flexes like few, I’ve manage to set it flat or twist it to the other side and cross the cups far from what seems normal.




The hinges that holds the cup is metal. And its hold with four screws per cup, the cup shell is plastic with a metal back plate.
The headband is some sort of fiber with a soft felt in the part where it touches the head. It looks very durable, but only time will tell.
The cables look well built, I have 3 cables in my package, one audio only (grey, 2 meters) , one with volume +/- and play/pause keys (black, 1.5 meters), and the other with mic (red, 1.5 meters), the audio only one soft and docile, the others two tend to become stiffy specially when twisted. The plug housing in all cables are minimalist, stylish, rubbery and flexible.

Physically, the attention to details by V-moda is remarkable. and I can throw this around with trust that it wont break, it can take the abuse, even more if you store it in the case, but I've been just trowing it inside my backpack, no case, no cover, Commando style!.

The good: flexibility in the headband, solid build, replaceable back plates. Detachable cord and you can use almost any cable extension (slightly jack only the massive plugs wont fit). It can take a lot of abuse.
The nitpicks: the cable from the cups to the headband could be held to the hinge to avoid it to pop up (the sony V6 prevent this with a clamp in the hinge holding the cable). 2 of the 3 the cables gets stiff and even more when twisted.
The bad: none.


Look:
Definitely stylish, not your standard rugged plain black headphone, but it doesn’t go as far as being pretentious either.
Body is mainly black (glossy or matte) with red bits here and there.




Bonus: V-Moda sells laser engraved custom plates for your M80, I send them this design (guess where is it from and win a cookie)


Comfort:
The headband is well padded and the clamping force is low, additionally the earpads are soft. All this sums up to have a very comfortable headphone. I can wear this for long listening sessions without a single problem.
After a while I forget the headphones are on, which is hard to achieve with an on ear headphone.

The good: top notch comfort. (your mileage may vary)
The nitpicks: none.
The bad: none.



Isolation:
Not the best, fair less than the Sennheiser HD25. I believe it might be due to the shape of the cups, oval shaped (hexagon) and the fact that they have vents in the back. It manage to block the high frequencies but creates some sort of tunnel like sound with the lower frequencies. I wouldn’t use it in a noisy environment, tried it at a football stadium and got distracted by the exterior’s noise every now and then.

It confuses me how V-moda advertises this in their website as “Noise isolating” and at the same time advertize the V-port technology.



Where sound/air goes out, sound/air comes in. right?

Edit: From V-Moda's owner himself I got the fact that this are semi-closed headphones, and it was made to gain some soundstage and bass, and it really works in that matter, covering the vents will end up in a different sound. at the end it was a good choice, at expenses of some isolation, you lose some you win some.

The good: block some noise.
The bad: Isolation could be better, not on par with HD25 and DT1350, but fairly more than open back headphones.



Sound:
Is you are expecting the M80 to sound the typical bass heavy fashion headphone, you’re in for a surprise, the midrange was the first thing that caught my attention.
I used this headphone right out of my Zune120, Cowon J3, ipod classic and clip+, also used iBasso D3 and Mini3 as amps but felt that the M80s doesn need the amplifier, it does well from the headphone out alone. but it does

Bass:
Not prominent, it isn’t as tight and detailed as other headphones like the DT1350 either, but enough as to know that the M80’s does not lack bass.
Extension is good enough as to perceive subbass when the track demands it.
They have punch, don’t hit as hard as the HD25, but definitely more punch and kick then the DT1350. you get the "bass is there" feeling but it doesnt dominates the sound.

Mids:
This is my favorite of the three. Very articulated, clear, fairly detailed and liquid. They make the HD25 mids sound recessed.
I’ve also being using the M80s to watch movies and listening poscasts, something I wouldn’t do with a headphone without articulated mids. These are responsible to make the M80 sound slightly bright, even at the lack of sparkling highs, maybe because the bump in the mid-high section of the FR graph.
The mids are perfect for vocals, specially female vocalist, piano and violins. like this:
Highs:
From the three ranges this is the one in the third place. See it this way, if you were to categorize the clearness, detail and how loud each range is, the highs would be in the background. I can safely say the highs feels tamed and lacks sparkle, without sounding dark.
This could be seen as an advantage considering that piercing and sibilance are out of the equation.

Sound signature:
I would say it’s a fun signature but not V shaped (oddly enough since V-moda seems to like to put a V in everything they made ) bass is not the priority, but you certain have decent amount of bass. Bassheads, you’ve been warned. The liquid, open and clear mids makes this headphone what it is, a pleasant non fatiguing portable headphone, specially good for vocal oriented music.


Soundstage:
The M80 offer more soundstage than one would expect from an ‘on ear portable’ as a Grado fanboy I have very little acknowledge about soundstage . I often get amazed at soundstage and how my beloved Grados lacks it. The M80 space doesn’t feel so cramped as the Sennheiser HD25, for my listening sessions, I’d compare the soundstage with the Beyerdynamic DT1350, or even a bit larger.

Separation and Details:
I find it to be very good, channel separation is very noticeable, which gives out a larger soundstage feeling, instrumental separation with heavy, faster and technical music (progressive metal) was good enough as not to feel cramped and neither lacking details.

Sound summary:
With the mids in the front row, the bass in the second and the highs behind them, the M80 offers a very different option from the two better known competitors, Sennheiser HD25 and Beyerdynamic DT1350.
I really enjoy the M80s, I like the fun yet different sound it makes, most fun headphones tend to be bassy and sparkly or recessed mids, the M80 defies that and the results are quite exciting. It was a pleasant surprise and I plan to use them a lot from now on, at expenses of the beyer DT1350, which was already getting little use next to the senn HD25.
A very welcome new option for those of us who believes that portable-fi should be about fun and comfort, after all I don’t want a clinical signature to analyze the music in a 30 minute trip or a 15 minute relax in between classes, I want to have fun and enjoy the music. The M80 does that for me, and plenty more, I’ve used this at the office for 2.5 hours straight without feeling tired at the sound or my ears hurt.


The good: Clear, liquid and articulated mids. Over average level of details, good soundstage, not overpowering bass. does not require amplification.
The nitpicks: None.
The bad: lack of sparkle, lack of extension in the upper levels.


Value:
I got this for free (on a give away, I'm lucky )and perhaps that and the fact that I like it makes me put a higher value rate.
But thinking as a potential customer, the actual MSPR from V-moda is $230, do I think its worth it? not really, but rarely a headphone worth its list price, none that I remember actually, audio stuff is just plain overpriced in general. And that is why street price exists. The actual price in amazon right now is 170$, I say it is very fair. .
Here’s the thing, it is a whole package, class A+ buld quality, very good sound, and the accessories, including the excellent exoskeleton case, it all sums up for a great portable.


Technical specs (from V-Moda's website):
Type: Supraaural (on-ear)
Speaker Drivers: 40mm.
Impedance: 28.5 Ohms
Frequency Response: 5 - 30,000 Hz
Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB
Weight: 180g (headphone only)

Size comparison:
The cups are hexagonal shaped, smaller than the HD25 and slightly bigger than the DT1350's.


Cup size comparison with the beyerdynamic DT1350


V-Moda M80 with clip+ and Zo2


Beyer DT1350, Senn HD25 and V-Moda M80

A few more pictures here

Pros: Many: Clear, articulated and fun sound, does not require amplification, superb build quality, great accessories, good looking, customisable, detachable cable.
Cons: Isolation could be better.


Hope this is useful to some one and hopefully I put enough picts to make it up for the lack of words .
__________________
Zune120, Teclast T51, Cowon J3, Clip+(rockboxed) | DAPs
Sennheiser HD25-1-II, V-Moda M80, Beyerdynamic DT1350 | On-ears
UE TF10, Sony EX600, MMDT, Ety MC5 | IEMs

Last edited by Jörgemeister; 03-13-2012 at 03:25 PM.
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