15
Nov
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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.

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • gambit

    i just bought a pair 2 days ago. They sound absolutely amazing! as you said the sound quality (especially the bass and the mids) is excellent, build quality is second to none and the kevlar-coated wire looks very durable.

    As for comfort, if you read the other reviews, they all say that you need to break them in for a few days before they start to 'feel right'. I must admit the first day i wore them they were extremely uncomfortable. I could not wear them for more than 30 mins at a stretch. But after watching a video review on youtube i realised that they can be moulded to fit my head size. After doing that they have become much more comfortable to wear. In fact with every passing day i think they are becoming more and more comfortable.

    As for price, because of the release of the m-100 (over-ear rather than on-ear like the M80s), amazon is offering them at a discounted price (roughly 30%) so they are an absolute steal.

    Having said that I think people should realise that no one headphone is going to be perfect. They all have their little flaws. Just decide whether they are big enough to warrant you not buying one. For me the slight flaws in the M-80s (not overly comfortable at first, semi-closed nature which allows a it of sound to bleed, etc) were not major concerns. Its a hgihly recommended device!

  • http://twitter.com/chrisfl1963 Chris Taylor

    I have these and they are very warm when you wear them for a long time, and tend to make your ears sore. But the sound is great!

  • http://profiles.google.com/jonbethea Jonathan Bethea

    ive owned the True Blood edition for 2 months now and i can say i agree with 100% of this review, spot on

  • Jimmy Li

    I have the OG V-Moda Crossfades LPs. And are my fav over the ear to date. I have heard the M-80's are a joy to the bass, but I didn't need another on the ear headphones where I already own Sol Republic Ultra's. But that's another review all together.

    But with the release of the M-100's by first quarter next year (that's not too far away), I intend to upgrade to those puppys! But back to these bad boys...I do love the smaller form and the case, my god the case is amazing. I have used it on a 10 hour flight to Hawaii and then used it on a flight to NY. Very durable to say the least. For retail, you can't go wrong with the M80's, they are well worth the pennies, every one of them. But like others have said, you can find them a bit cheaper on Amazon, because of the pending release of the new headsets.

    • Sean Lumly

      I'm eye-balling the M-100's myself. They seem to have garnered unanimously positive reviews, and are quite sharp looking as well.

    • Justin W

      I have the LP2's. They are fantastic-sounding, and I don't regret my purchase. They aren't the most comfortable, though. After about an hour to an hour and a half, my ears feel like they are being squashed together, but it's nothing about 5 minute breaks from music can't fix.

  • http://twitter.com/SvenDaWhoop Sky Sailor

    What about reviewing some cheaper ones? :o

  • GazaIan

    "why is the 3-button cable only compatible with iOS?"

    No unified headphone controls across applications and manufacturer overlays. Certain buttons only work with certain apps, certain ROMs, certain phones, and it's really inconsistent. That's the only true reason we don't have better headphone controls. it seems the only given is the Play/Pause/Answer/Hang up buttons, which usually works with everything. ON top of that, if you have two apps that use headphone buttons, sometimes both applications may activate from the single button press. WinAmp has an option to override headphone button presses sent to other apps, but (at least for me) this stopped me from answering a call with the headphones, and also takes a small toll on battery life.

    This is one of the things I really wish Google would brush up on.

  • Jaymoon

    Currently these sell for $151 on Amazon. ...and Prime eligible too!

    http://www.amazon.com/V-MODA-Crossfade-On-Ear-Noise-Isolating-Headphone/dp/B005HSDLCO

  • Steve Green

    Why in 2012 would anyone want corded headphones?
    Ever hear of bluetooth, grandpa?

    • http://twitter.com/PCSievers P.C. Sievers

      Because wires are still the best way to transfer audio without losing quality.

      • LeDerp

        Sound quality ^^^
        Battery squabbles (for the headphone and the device emitting the sounds)
        Increase in pricing for more technology in the headphone

    • Sootie

      What all those guys said, even the top of the range wireless senheisers dont sound as nice as the wired ones (usually 280's)

  • Jonathan

    How do these compare to Sennheiser HD 595/598s with respect to sound quality?

  • Chris

    I read somewhere, i believe on xda that the three button setup doesn't work with android due to some patent issues held by apple. could be wrong but too lazy to go do more research. anyone interested? :p

  • BigKenW

    Thanks for this review. I have been looking for a really good set and haven't found anything. I don't like that the headset doesn't feel comfortable so decided to go with the LP2 Special Edition. Just have to convince the wife now. :-)

  • jdomann

    I definitely loved the quality of these headphones.....when I had them. Unfortunately, the first negative point about the fitting was my return-worthy downside :( Even after fully extended, the M-80 did not fit over my ears on my large head. The sound was amazing, the build quality was excellent, I just couldn't justify the cost with the fit it gave me.

  • Faust

    I actually have spoken to the CEO of V-Moda quite a few times during the popularity of the M-80 and during the creation of the M-100! (Yes I am a head-fi user). As for cable options go there is an audio only cable they sell seperately on their site for pretty cheap, the audio only cable is much longer than the other cables but of course misses the buttons found on the other cables.

    As for why iOS works only for the 3 switch cable its because at the time of creation (the M-80's are not at all new on the market, they have been out since last summer) iOS was the priority when it came to mobile devices. While it may seem a bit biased you have to remember the man is simply hitting where the main source of popularity within the current market of the time was. He even made a specially designed AMP for iPhone/Pod which fits around it like a case making it very portable. I will be the first to say that I am no iUser. I own android and hell my PMP is a ZUNE of all things. But the man was simply trying to monopolize on an existing popular market at the time. Now he is working outside of all of that and simply is trying to offer the best audio on the market while at the same time will be nigh-indestructible.

    If you ever have any questions about V-Moda or want to talk to the CEO himself which he posts frequently, we will be sure to help you at the head-fi forums! Now its time for me to stop sounding like some sort of ad and get back to doing my own thing.

    • Octavio

      Do u know where can i find this headphones? I've been looking for them and i can't find them.

  • Octavio

    Do you know where can i find a pair of M-80?