I’d say I’ve been reviewing tech to some degree even before I started doing it professionally, you know? Anyone is a reviewer, truly, when you think about it, because we’re all critical of the things that could possibly make our lives better, richer, more entertaining, or possibly easier. The only thing that really separates me from anyone else when it comes to reviewing tech or games is that I’ve done it almost pathologically for years upon years.
This means I’ve seen a lot of headsets, earbuds, stereo equipment, speakers, and all sorts of enhancements that claimed to be the next big thing in audio for a litany of now-everyday uses. As a PC gamer, as a podcaster, and as someone who utilizes a number of VoIP programs, I’m pretty critical of headsets that claim to do a bit of it all. I’m truly careful after having purchased ones that were detailed as being top of the line to find that their shelf lives are short and their sound quality isn’t even remotely what it’s supposed to be.
Recently, I reached out to friends and readers and asked them what they were hearing in regards to multi-purpose audio equipment out here. I wanted to know what people were talking about and then get my hands on it, give it a good rough-and-tumble, and then detail just how I felt about it. Originally, I thought this meant a few days of stringent testing, but then I realized that was just not going to do for how tough they’re making tech nowadays, you know? I spent about four weeks with each of the items you’re going to be seeing in my little audio set of reviews; I traveled with them, I took them on the road, I tried them every which way that they could be utilized, and I tested them with people who weren’t extremely savvy because I felt it was important for the out-of-the-box experience to be a good one for everyone, not just in-the-know professionals. Man, I’m using a ton of hyphens here!
So let’s get to the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones and let me start by stating that I had never heard of V-MODA before this headset. Offering a line of headsets of all kinds, earbuds (V-MODA’s ReVamp Earbuds are the portable equivalent to the Crossfade M-100 Headphones in style and sound), and audio mixing equipment, I didn’t expect that they were going to be able to handle the kind of things I was going to throw at them because they seemed to be based in music with a secondary-function microphone for recording. I was nervous about how this would work with online gaming and VoIP, especially with the fact that the Crossfade M-100 Headphones are not USB whatsoever, and that’s what I had come to know as being the best you can have with PC use. Not to mention that the microphone is not integrated, but plugged into the headset, I got more and more nervous, I tell you.
Unboxing the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones
The box the Crossfade M-100 Headphones come in is so small that it’s almost beyond belief that you’d find a full headset in there, to be honest. Then you carefully pull out an armored clamshell case that unzips to show you the hinged metal and foam that comprises this compact beauty. Taking it out and clicking the headset into place shows the engineering is absolutely incredible and meant to take a beating. This isn’t just plastic molded together and thrown in a box, folks: V-MODA wants these headphones to last you. This isn’t a “look, we spent 15 dollars putting this together and we’re charging you 90; deal with it; it’s blue” situation and you can feel it when you slide Crossfade M-100 Headphones onto your head. With a Kevlar-wrapped cord, steel-reinforced hinges and cup plates, and a steelflex headband, the things want you to feel like they’re yours. Just yours. The exoskeleton hard case comes with a one-button SpeakEasy in-line microphone cable that you can hook up for mild VoIP use and a SharePlay audio cable so that you and someone else can listen to the same music at once. Also, the company included adapters for other types of plugs with which you might want to use the Crossfade M-100 Headphones, which reminds you again that V-MODA took its job seriously to provide you with a headset that can take whatever you may want to throw at it.
Recording and VoIP with the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones
Now, out of the box, this headset is meant for audio from anywhere you can get music, and it includes that in-line mic, presumably, for your phones. Since the headset is so streamlined and non-bulky, you could easily walk around with it on — even out in public — and nobody would bat a lash, truly. If you wanted to use it for more recording and online interaction, you’d need to purchase the Boom Pro microphone attachment that plugs in and easily attaches underneath whatever you choose to fit with it. I was a bit hesitant to accept that a tiny microphone attachment would’ve been worth its $30 price tag until I heard it. Again, this isn’t USB and all of this comes plugged into a 3.5mm port. Could it sound good?
Yes, it could and it did. With some idle futzing with my sound card and making sure that it was utilized the way it needed to be, the microphone picked up bass and treble with absolutely no hum and would silence the entire headset the second it didn’t pick me up. Even a whisper, a breath, was quieted quickly. Often enough, people would say “Hello?” and I’d have to remind them I was there because the sound would go so silent that they thought I had vanished and the call had dropped, never to be heard from again.
I have to admit, that alone surprised me. That was the first thing I had tested with the Crossfade M-100 Headphones, and next was the music.
Music and Movies with the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones
Let me be clear when I say this:
I don’t think I had heard music the way you were meant to hear music until I wore the Crossfade M-100 Headphones. With 3D BLISS noise isolation and the perfect way the cups clung gently to my ears, I heard every note and subtle sound in perfect warmth and that was a shocking thing to get myself used to when I was coming off of something absolutely subpar. I must have spent an entire week just listening to everything in my music collection and then rushing out to take the headset off and let someone else have a listen. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t sigh with a heavenly look washing across their face as the realization that had touched on me hit them. This was how you were supposed to enjoy music, you know? This was how the people who wrote those lyrics and produced those beats intended to have their music heard. Beautiful thing. Watching movies became a thousand times more enjoyable as I was able to tune everything out and yet still hear what needed to be heard without sacrificing the quality so carefully designed by discerning sound engineers. Everything was how it needed to be.
PC and Console Gaming with V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones
Now what about gaming? What was I going to do about that? PC gaming was a fascinating and beautiful experience with games like Gone Home, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Dust: An Elysian Tail, and others surrounding me at all times in beautiful sound. How was that going to work with my consoles? Well, truth is, it’s a different experience, but not one that’s impossible to fine tune. Again, this headset plugs in with a 3.5mm cord and obviously you can’t use voice and/or audio with that kind of input. However, most newer televisions and some not-so-new will have a headphone jack input. My ridiculously big backlit LED television managed to have one of these and, with the help of the secondary length of cord for my headset, I was able to plug it in and play some Tomb Raider on my PlayStation 3.
That… well, I could only handle it for about an hour before I became too immersed in the sound. There is something about putting your headset on when you’re playing a game like that, one that blocks out all outside sound and does such an incredible job with filling in all the empty spots with warm, rich sound, that can be scary and somewhat exciting. I found myself picking up games from my shelf and, even if I had beaten them, I wanted to try them with the Crossfade M-100 Headphones just to see how they would change the way I gamed. Would I be more nervous? Anticipatory? Again, I had to ask myself, is this how we’re meant to game? How we’re meant to hear things? What have I been doing all this time?
So I could give you a thousand details and specs for the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones that true audiophiles might appreciate, but true audiophiles know how to find that information without my help. I prefer to give you a day-to-day account from my perspective. On the card that V-MODA sent with my review unit, it says: “Burn-In = The Fit is the Sound: Like new shoes, your headphones will sound their best after the ear cushions, headband, and drivers naturally adjust.” And that made so much sense. The more I wore them, the more I didn’t want to take them off, and everything else took a natural backseat to my usual headset technology — especially when watching movies, listening to music, and playing games with them as opposed to not. The more I used them, the more I became attached to the sound — and nothing else came close to it.
Isn’t that what you want in something that’s meant to enhance your life?
Images, video, and review unit courtesy of V-MODA and Rukes.com