Most headphones are relatively straightforward. They're usually built around a simple metal or plastic frame, have leather or pleather ear pads, and if you're lucky, are comfortable. Hopefully they sound good, too. What they aren't, usually, is bendable or droppable. Nor do they have Kevlar-coated cables, steel frames, or military-level testing.

That's exactly what makes the M-80's so unique. That military testing certainly means they're durable, but with a $230 price tag, you would hope they sound great, too.

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Specs:

  • On-ear noise isolating headphones
  • 40mm dual-diaphragm drivers
  • Two detachable Kevlar-wrapped headphone cables - a 3-button and a 1-button, both with 24k gold 45° plugs
  • Flexible steel headband, brushed aluminum cans
  • Microfiber suede covering the headband, memory foam on the headphones
  • Hard rubberized carrying case

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The Good

  • They sound absolutely fantastic. Bass is strong enough that you can feel it, but not violently overrepresented as has become the norm these days. Mids and highs are excellent as well. Distinction is fantastic, and clarity is amazing.
  • When offered the M-80s, I joked "military-grade durability? Challenge accepted!" And indeed, when I took them out of the case, the first thing I did was make a loop with the headband. I committed every act of violence a pair of headphones might encounter when owned by the careless: twisted, bent, sat on,  pulled and pushed beyond intended limits. You'd never know it when looking at the M-80s, and they perform every bit as outstandingly as they did from the start.
  • As I've complained about before, headphones are increasingly becoming an ever-gaudier fashion statement. It's for that reason that I absolutely love the M80s. They're all black (including the steel frame and brushed metal plates) with red trim, and the tiny screws are exposed. It's refreshingly understated, yet beautiful. Plus, the shields on the side of the ear cans are swappable, so you can make them as colorful or simple as you want.
  • They're also well-designed and V-MODA ships them with some thoughtful inclusions. The hard carrying case is trimmed in soft fabric and adorned with two velcro-laden pads for strapping in the cords. The kevlar-covered cables are virtually indestructible and detachable - an awfully nice feature to have, especially for portable on-ear headphones.
  • The sound isolation is the best I've experienced from on-ear headphones. That's likely in part due to the memory foam pads, but I'm not really sure. Whatever the reason, it works very well - better, even, than most over-ear cans.
  • As somebody on a tight budget, I can't believe I'm saying this, but.... at $230, the M80s are an absolute steal. The sound alone is phenomenal, and they're damn-near bulletproof. Each of those traits alone is costly for manufacturers; to have both in one pair of headphones for $230 is astonishing.

The Bad

  • Though not uncomfortable, they're not comfortable either. Specifically, they're JUST tight enough on the ears to be noticeable. For $230, they should be a joy to wear, and after about an hour of use there's some very slight discomfort.
  • I understand why they included two different cables - one cable is 1-button, and one is 3-button, in case a device isn't compatible with one cable or the other. And I understand why they're both short (because they're designed to be used on the move). A longer cable would be nice, though that's admittedly becoming increasingly rare in our Bluetooth-equipped world.
  • Only one button on the cables works properly, which is kind of annoying. Android outsells iOS by a wide margin - why is the 3-button cable only compatible with iOS?

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Conclusion

The M80's are an amazing choice for anyone looking for headphones that pump out great sound and will last forever, even in tough conditions. In fact, the only real flaw is an exceptionally minor one in that they get slightly uncomfortable after extended use. If you can afford the $230 cost of entry, you'll be well-rewarded for your troubles.