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The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master headphones are the first V-Moda headphones that Roland engineers have tuned since Roland acquired a majority stake in V-Moda in 2016. The end result? These are the finest sounding pair of headphones V-Moda has ever produced.
If you’re an audiophile or recording engineer who has admired V-Moda’s build quality and customization options, but you’ve been lukewarm about their sound, the M-100 Master will change your mind. Read on why I loved these headphones and think you will too.
A worthy successor
The Crossfade M-100 Master are the successors to the original Crossfade M-100 headphones. The original Crossfade M-100 headphone roared onto the headphone scene, after a unique crowdsourced development process in which hundreds of audiophiles, journalists, produces, and DJs collaborated.
Fast forward and you’ll find that the M-100 Master are more than worthy successor, with several upgrades under the hood, including 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers that have been upgraded with a Japanese made CCAW (copper-clad aluminum wire) coil. A CCAW coil was also used in V-Moda’s Crossfade 2 Wireless headphones, which I praised two years ago. V-Moda says the re-engineered driver cover enhances driver stability, providing the increased structural integrity needed to manage a vast tonal range.
The M-100 Master are traditional wired headphones, and I had no problem driving them with either my iPhone XS or an Astell&Kern high-resolution digital audio player. In fact, with sensitivity of 107dB @ 1kHz and 1mW and 32 ohms of impedance, I found them easy to drive with any device.
The M-100 Master are rated to deliver a frequency response of 5Hz to 40kHz and have thus been certified by the Japan Audio Society for Hi-Res Audio. You can check out the requirements for certification here. I should note, however, that Hi-Res Audio certification is not without its critics.
Legendary build quality
Unpacking the V-Moda M-100 Master, you literally see and feel V-Moda’s legendary build quality. When holding them in my hands, the headphones had a certain density that let me know I was dealing with a high quality pair of cans.
The click-adjustable arms, for example, are all metal. The underside of the headband and the earpads are wrapped in soft leather. The leather on the earpads is wrapped over soft memory foam. The assembly and fit and finish are first rate.
That quality translates to comfortable listening experiences, these headphones fit my head perfectly. There was nothing flimsy or cheap anywhere.
I was able to wear the M-100 Master for long listening sessions without significant fatigue. The headphones are superbly balanced, with an adjustable headband and earpads. I didn’t really feel their 283-gram (9.9-ounce) weight on my head.
I also noted how well the V-Moda’s passive noise isolation blocked out the outside world. Active noise cancellation can do even more, of course, but a tight seal over your ears will block outside noise without introducing anything artificial into the music streaming into your head.
Typically, an over-the-ear headphone design like this renders the cans difficult to travel with. That’s not the case here. The Crossfade M-100 Master feature an ingenious hinge that allows them to fold into a ridiculously compact package. Just take a look at the picture below.
I’ll caution you that the proper way to fold the M-100 Master is pad against pad. It’s possible to fold them shield to shield, but that could result in scratches on one or both earpieces.
V-Moda has long been known for giving the consumer a complete package, and that’s certainly the case here. You’ll get two high-quality cables; a gold-plated 1/4-inch adapter, a carabiner clip; and a tough, rubberized exoskeleton carrying case.
The SpeakEasy 1-Button cable features a one‑button remote and an inline microphone, which enables you to control the play/pause functions on a smart device and converse on your smartphone (provided it has a 3.5mm analog audio outputs). You can purchase an optional three-button cable that includes fast-forward and reverse for $30 on V-Moda’s website. If you’re a gamer, vlogger, or conference-call warrior, check out V-Moda’s superb BoomPro microphone cable (also $30).
I used the M-100 Master on several phone calls and the sound quality was outstanding. Every call—even in noisy or windy environments went flawlessly. Individuals on the other end could hear me clearly and I, in turn, could hear them perfectly. The V-Moda gave me a rock solid, bullet-proof experience. I certainly can’t say that with all headphones.
The second black-and-red SharePlay cable allows you to plug in a second pair of headphones for mixing or listening with a friend or colleague. Both cables are wrapped in a high-quality, tangle-resistant nylon braid. Folks using newer iOS devices might want to pick up V-Moda’s optional DAC/AMP Lightning Cable ($101). V-Moda offers a host of other accessories—many aimed at DJs and musicians working in recording studios—on its website.
I love V-Moda’s hard-shell case, which is identical to the one provided with its Crossfade II Wireless headphones, except the interior fabric is orange instead of black. The fabric-lined interior is perfect for using the velcro wraps to attach your cables in a pinch. The laced bands on either side of the case give you infinite flexibility to tuck cables, adapters, or just about anything else into the case.
Customize your cans
V-Moda headphones are among the most customizable on the market. The “shields” on the earcups are customizable at the time of order, or you can swap out the stock shields with customized versions at any time later. You can choose from an array of colors, 3D-printed plates, a variety of materials—including precious metals and laser-engraved aluminum. Using one of V-Moda’s Adobe Illustrator templates, you can upload your own custom artwork to be printed on your custom shields. Some customizations are available at no additional cost; others—such as the gold and platinum options—command a premium.
V-Moda wanted to show off the custom printing options by sending my review pair with custom metallic blue shields with printed designs, which I found to be beautiful.
Left or right? It doesn’t matter
Many headphones have their cable input on either the right or left earcup. V-Moda gives you the option of using either. Look under the right-hand earcup and you’ll find a removable plug. Remove it, unplug the cable from the left-hand earcup, and you can put the 3.5mm cable end into the other side.
Remove the plug and bingo! You’ve exposed a fully functional 3.5mm input. You can therefore plug in a cable into either the right or left ear cup. You don’t need to put the plug back in either.
Now to answer the million-dollar question: How do the V-Moda M-100 Master sound? In a word, awesome! Gone is the midbass-dominant, boomy low end. Gone is the syrupy midrange. Gone is the un-airy top end. The voicing on the Crossfade M-100 Master is beautiful.
I use the Crossfade II Wireless with some regularity. When I put on the M-100 Master, I couldn’t believe my ears. Back and forth I went. The M-100 Master are superior in pretty much every area across the frequency spectrum. Bass is detailed and controlled without significant artificial boost. Bass lines on songs like Lorde’s “Royals,” Imagine Dragons “Believer,” or Khalid’s “Young Dumb & Broke” were cases in point.
The midrange is where these headphones really shine. There’s depth, detail, and a spacious presentation of music and vocals. Elaine Paige’s iconic rendition of “Memory,” from the musical Cats, made the hairs on my arms stand on end. There was a wonderful sensation of sound stage depth and solid instrument placement.
A rich-sounding masterpiece
They say two heads are better than one. In this case, two companies are better than one. The collaboration of V-Moda and Roland has produced a beautifully built, rich-sounding masterpiece in the Crossfade M-100 Master. And make no mistake, “Master” clearly hints at the fact that these cans are targeting the audio engineer mastering in the recording studio.
For $250, the Crossfade M-100 Master now rank among my favorite headphones in both build quality and sound at this price point. If you’ve never warmed up to the sound of previous generation of V-Moda headphones, you need to give these a listen. And if you’re looking at headphones at the $300 price point, put the Crossfade M-100 Master on your very short list to audition. They are fantastic.