Externally the M-100 is mostly a well thought out and fantastically built headphone. They come with a great case and a couple of cables. The dual sided attachment for the cable is pure genius. Comfort is generally up on the M-80 although it still adds pressure to the outer ears which can eventually get irritating. It makes a great pair of ear warmers for the cold weather in the UK at the moment, but summer might not be so friendly. Isolation is good, a bit better than the M-80, but sound leakage is about the same (average). Most of these little details are a case of ‘so near – yet so far’ – perfection wise, but this will be a rather personal thing. If you can live with these issues, and most are fairly small, then it’s really a great headphone in general use.
Sound wise I find the M-100 a very difficult one to recommend. The hype for this headphone has been ridiculous – if you live on head-fi.org anyway – and perhaps that effected my ultimate opinion, but I have sat on this review for a while now and my thoughts are not shifting. I really wanted to love the M-100, the M-80 is one of my favourite portable headphones ever! I expected at least the same adrenaline rush with the M-100, but I just can’t seem to enjoy much music with them. Perhaps this is nirvana for bass-heads, but even then I’m not so sure. The bass presentation seems rather strange – it’s very deep, which is great, but the emphasis is strongly biased towards the upper end. The effect isextreme and there is a muddy feeling in the mid tones, which make the sound recessed or coloured. Perhaps this is purely due to that upper bass thump, but EQ’ing it down doesn’t turn the M-100’s sound into anything that I would call great at this price. The upper ranges don’t fare much better either, there is a brightness in the upper mid-range that I don’t want to push much further and yet there just in’t much sparkle here at all.
The word audiophile has been thrown around a lot by people talking about the M-100 so far. Now I know some people hate the word ‘audiophile’, to be honest I am among them. I thought that it meant people who like a clean, airy sound that has transparency, perhaps neutrality and most definitely detail. If that’s what you were hoping for from the M-100 you could be extremely disappointed. I expected at least some of those qualities. I knew we would get some power in the bass, but unfortunately that’s all I am hearing – blistering thumps with someone singing in the next room.
Now I am being overly hard on the M-100 here, is it totally awful? No. I’m sure it can be enjoyable for casual listeners or bass-heads. It’s OK for movies and games, but not stellar there either I’m afraid. EQ makes it more acceptable, sometimes great but it’s not an answer, nor should it have to be. As a fashion headphone it’s still one of the best out there, but my big problem comes from it being described as ‘audiophile’ or ‘best mid-tier under $500’, it’s neither of these things. Nor is it a decent successor to the M-80, it’s a step in the wrong direction and there are just too many other headphones out there that do warm, smooth, hifi or audiophile presentations much more convincingly and for less money.
While I am sure this Headphone is not for everyone, I must say that some features really impressed me and some did not. If you enjoy a low that reaches immensely deep, but at the cost of quality all around then this Headphone is for you. Bass Heads rejoice. Your Holy Grail has arrived at long last. Sound Stage lovers, pay attention as well! The M-100 is the largest sounding closed back Headphone in it’s price tier. I do not consider this Headphone Audiophile Grade, however, I do consider it higher end Consumer Grade. The Average consumer won’t know any better and is getting a really fantastic deal in comparison to your pick of any of those dreadful Rapper Headphones. The M-100 shines above all of them. Hell, combine a few of those Rapper endorsed Headphones and you still won’t achieve the quality of the V-Moda M-100. I can’t say the Headphone is bad, it’s just notvery good. My sound preferences are polar opposite from what this Headphone has to offer. Overall, I can still recommend it to people looking for a specific signature but I cannot recommend it to everyone as a great all around Headphone. It is brighter than neutral all around, slightly washed out on the low end and not nearly solid or easy on the ears as some other great Mid-Tiers can be, harsh and a bit too bright for my tastes in the Upper regions and lastly very spacious sounding with excellent efficiency. If this type of sound makes you happy, you will thoroughly enjoy this Headphone. If not, the Philips L1 and M1 might be calling your name.
Samsung Galaxy Note II, Google Nexus 7, iPhone 4, Dell Vostro laptop, Fiio E17, Audinst HUD-Mini, Arcam rPAC, Yulong U100, Yulong D100 mkII, Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2D, Fostex HP-P1, Fostex HP-A3, Fostex HP-A8c, Audiolab M-DAC