Under the Radar

Review: V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Headphones

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The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 over-ear headphones are an unvarnished throwback to the '80s high-tech aesthetic. They might look like a prop from Blade Runner or Total Recall, but they also sound pretty great.

Val Kolton is the founder and CEO of V-Moda and the company's products reflect his design sense. He works with designers in Italy to give his products their distinct angles-and-metal look. It's all fast sports cars and that guy in the Maxell cassette tape ads getting his face blown back by all that amazing sound.

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The screws are exposed, the foldable metal support struts are just a little bit sharp and dangerous. The side shields are removable and can be customized with different colors and engravings. They come with a couple of different cables (one with an iOS-friendly controller) and a 1/4" adapter for use with your home stereo system. You can plug the cable into either the left or right side and there's a plug to cover up the side you're not using.

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V-Moda made a big deal of soliciting a lot of input from professional DJs, journalists and audio enthusiasts when designing the M-100, going so far as to trumpet their "crowd-sourced" design. What you get is some extra emphasis on both the high and low ends. These sound best in situations where you're dealing with some background noise and need a little something extra for your music to cut through. You don't get so much extra bass that you get a lot of ear fatigue, but these aren't a product designed for anyone who insists on absolutely neutral sound reproduction.

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They're remarkably sturdy. Those metal hinges (a/k/a the patented "Cliqfold') aren't nearly as fragile as they look in the photographs and the M-100s come with a great clamshell case with a carabiner that's going to protect your headphones during travel.

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These cans aren't cheap: you're looking at $300 online. They've definitely been conversation starters when I've used them on the road over the last few weeks, prompting a lot of questions from strangers every time I've pulled them out of my bag. If you're attracted by the design, the build quality is great and the sound compares well to other headphones in their price range. Definitely worth a look.

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