A major gripe we’ve heard about over-ear headphones is their durability, or lack thereof. V-Moda’s headset is one of the toughest you can buy for $250, but for the same price, you can get a pair of Sony ANC headphones. Let’s dig in and see why you should get the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master over the competition.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on March 3, 2020, to address Bluetooth aptX alternatives to V-Moda’s wired headsets.
Who is the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master for?
- Gamers will benefit from the modularity of the headset. V-Moda has a slew of great microphone and cable offerings including its famed BoomPro microphone.
- DJs can mix multiple sources simultaneously thanks to the provided SharePlay audio cable, meaning you don’t have to shell out more money for an adapter. Although, if you want a longer, coiled cable, that will be an additional purchase.
- Travelers will appreciate just how compact these over-ear headphones are and how much more compact they may become due to the Cliqfold hinges. As the name suggests, the tactile “click” is satisfying and means they won’t sloppily become undone unless intended.
What’s it like to use the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master?
Just like the company’s Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex, the M-100 Master gives listeners the option to customize the headphones. This includes choosing the material and design of the metal plates all the way down to the color of the screws. V-Moda’s push for personalized products is a common thread running between its more recent releases, and self-endorsement is great for DJs and the like.
Build quality is superb, as with every V-Moda product. The headband can contort in any direction without snapping and properly spreads pressure along the head, avoiding hot spots. This extends beyond the headset itself as the aramid fiber-reinforced cable is sure to resist any undue fraying or damage. Its well thought out design includes two 3.5mm inputs. You can mix two sources simultaneously or share what you’re listening to with a friend.
The M-100 Master retains everything positive about its five-year-old elder. The updated model uses 50mm dynamic drivers, features the Cliqfold design, and includes the clamshell carrying case with a V-strap organization system. Said system consists of three v-shaped elastic bands that hold any of the included accessories (a 3.5mm cable with in-line mic and remote, 3.5mm splitter cable, ¼” adapter, and spare V-cork plug).
V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master vs. V-Moda Crossfade M-100
The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master is Hi-Res certified, an accolade the previous model lacked. This sounds well and good. Realistically, though, it doesn’t mean much when it comes to wired listening. You’ll be lucky if you can perceive the difference at all.
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The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master’s sensitivity is slightly greater than the original, 105dB to 103dB. Power requirements are the same: both have a 32Ω impedance, which any modern-day smartphone can handle. In other words, you don’t need an amp. Additionally, the upgrade is three grams heavier, likely due to the more plush cushions, which are responsible for any perceived audio quality improvements. V-Moda’s XL pads are included with the Master but were an extra $30 splurge with the original.
The biggest difference between the old and new models is price. The Master retails for $50 less than the original did.
Your decision boils down to value. There really isn’t a marked difference between the two models. Currently, the original is available for ~$225 while the Master will retail for $250. The included XL earpads alone, make the new model worth it. Plus, you still benefit from V-Moda’s impeccable customer service and benefit from its Immortal Life Program. This allows you to trade in old V-Moda headphones for a coupon, which may grant up to a 50% discount on your next V-Moda cans. Fun fact: if you’re a current V-Moda M-100 owner, you can trade it in for the M-100 Master or another pair of over-ears.
How do you connect them to your phone?
Connecting is straightforward. V-Moda provides two 3.5mm cables, one of which features an in-line mic and remote, while the other specifically for daisy-chaining the V-M100 to another headset. The former is the main cable and allows access to Google Assistant or Siri by holding the button for a few seconds. It’s a one-button remote; volume adjustments require you to reach for your phone.
Editor’s note: the “Bluetooth connectivity” score accounts for the headphones being analog only.
What does the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master sound like?
If I were to assume how the V-Moda M-100 Master sound based on their appearance, I’d confidently say they’re bass-heavy strictly on the basis of their tough exterior. As per usual, I’d be wrong. If anything, bass and sub-bass frequencies are subdued relative to most consumer headphones. The headset favors midrange frequencies, which means guitars, vocals, and pianos sound great. That said, the headset reproduces every genre of music well, but if you’re looking for bold treble notes, you’ll have to EQ the sound.
Isolation is great. In fact, while typing this review, a maintenance worker knocked multiple times, entered my apartment, and politely shouted for my attention before I noticed his presence. All this was done with the volume levels at 50%. Safe to say, these effectively filter out external noise. The biggest con to the excellent isolation is how quickly the ear pads heat up. The leatherette-wrapped memory foam acts as a proper buffer but makes the ears sweat.
Lows, mids, and highs
Ingrid Michaelson’s song Ribbons is a pleasure to listen to with the V-Moda M100 Master. The song opens with a simple picking pattern which alternates between F#-Bbm-B. The chords resonate clearly moments after their initial picking. Clarity is slightly attenuated once a percussive element synchronizes with the guitar at 0:07. However, it required me closing my eyes and fully concentrating on the song to perceive this.
At 0:21, a shaker is introduced, underscoring Michaelson’s voice as she sings, “Told me he’d hold me ‘til there was no more.” This is the most notable example of treble frequency masking. The shaker is audible when it’s just Michelson, the guitar, and the shaker. Once a light kickdrum accompanies the band, the shaker becomes difficult to hear, especially its subsequent reverberations.
That said, Michaelson’s voice sounds fantastic throughout the song’s entirety. This was a constant I thoroughly enjoyed female voices are often quickly overpowered by headphones with outrageous low-end emphasis. Listeners who are used to more generic frequency responses, those which amplify bass and treble frequencies, may get the impression that the V-Moda M100 Master lack clarity and detail. This couldn’t, however, be further from the truth. Since we’ve been conditioned to conflate auditory detail with exaggerated treble, it may seem the M-100 Master sound “dull,” when in reality they reproduce an accurate response with some favoring of midrange notes.
Is the mic good for phone calls?
Yes, the microphone is perfectly fine for phone calls, even extended conference calls. The person on the other line will be able to recognize your use of a headset, rather than a handset, microphone. However, voices are relayed audibly. Generally speaking, the microphone does a pretty good job with voices of any register and passably attenuates environmental noise. If you’re wearing a shirt with a collar, be aware that the placement makes the microphone susceptible to brushing against clothing.
V-Moda M-100 Master microphone demo:
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How do the V-Moda M-100 Master compare to other over-ear headphones?
The V-Moda M-100 Master headphones have yet to see any price reduction, making it difficult to justify getting them over feature-packed headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM3 or Jabra Elite 85h. The former headset has reigned king of noise cancelling since its release and the latter is boasts water-resistance, a rare feature for the likes of over-ear ANC headphones. As of January 9, 2020, Sony’s flagship headphones retail for $298, and Jabra’s retail for $272. Unless you absolutely require the toughness sanctioned by V-Moda’s MIL-STD-810G certification, noise cancellation will better serve you on a day-to-day basis even though it’s a bit more expensive.
Should you buy the V-Moda M-100 Master?
Yes, the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master includes a standout pair of headphones with a top-notch hardshell carrying case. While it would be overselling it to say they’re a revolutionary step up from the original, they stay true to V-Moda’s grade-A construction and sound quality. For anyone who’s rough on their gear, these will survive countless tosses into a bag. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones to last for years to come with little depreciation, the M-100 Master is a good investment. Alternatively, the V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex boasts a nearly identical build and supports both aptX and AAC for high-quality wireless streaming. It also retains the 3.5mm input, so you can still benefit from high-resolution FLAC files via sources like Amazon Music HD.
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