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V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones and BoomPro Microphone - Review

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  • V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Headphones and BoomPro Microphone - Review

    A solid headset, in more ways than one.
    I play games and report on those games for a living. Most of my workday is spent sitting in front of a computer. Usually, I have headphones on during that time, watching trailers, playing games, streaming games, or recording gameplay for YouTube videos. Hell, even after I'm done working I still have those headphones on while I listen to Twitch streams, listen to music, play games for fun, or even just for use in Teamspeak.

    Audio quality is obviously very important to me. However, two things are just slightly more important than audio quality in my book. Those are comfort and reliability. While I wouldn't buy the cheapest headphones I could find, I wouldn't exactly splurge on them either. I don't think I've ever owned any single pair of headphones that exceeded $100. I still read reviews on headphones that fit my criteria and would eventually select the ones I felt would last me the longest and were comfortable to wear. A system that worked for me for many years now. I never really experienced any one pair of headphones that sounded much better or worse than the previous ones.

    That is until I was given the opportunity to review the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 headphones. They are, honestly, not what I usually look for when I purchase headphones. That simply is because they are easily three times what I would ever consider spending on audio equipment. Yes, these are $300 headphones here. The high price may immediately raise a few eyebrows, while others may question if the high price actually translates into high quality.


    The short of it, at least in my humble opinion, is that yes, the quality does match up nicely with the price. You're looking at large, 50mm drivers in each ear. These are built inside a durable and stylish metal and steel casing and connected to a flexible steel headband. The quality on the M-100s is, simply put, outstanding. I experienced no noticeable distortion on the lows, highs, or anything in between. Even cranking the volume up on the FLAC versions of the Crypt of the Necrodancer soundtracks, it all sounded wonderful. This was made even more apparent when I switched to listening to the same tracks with other, much cheaper audio devices I have around here. Unlike another popular brand of headphones that are on the market, the M-100s do not oversaturate your ears with unnaturally strong bass.

    While I do enjoy some good quality audio, I won't even pretend to know if the M-100s artificially sculpt their sound to appeal to larger audiences or to audio purists. Do the M-100s put a slight emphasis on certain ranges to give audio that "rich" sound that people tend to prefer over a "pure" experience? Maybe. Am I one of those people that probably prefer audio that has been slightly tweaked to give me a bit more bass, or a bit more emphasis on the vocals, or a bit more emphasis on the highs? Probably! All I know for sure is that what I listened to sounded fantastic. The music I listened to was all exceptionally clear. The videos I watched sounded amazing. The games I played were incredible. In fact, while playing golf in GTA Online, I found that the audio might be a bit too

    Right out of the gate, you may notice that the cord can be detached from the headphones themselves. This is a handy little design feature that I actually found to be far more useful than I ever thought it would be. The cord can be connected to either the left cup or the right one. This is already quite handy for those that have their audio device sitting off to one particular side. Let's face it, nobody likes to have their headset cord crossing under his or her chin and across his or her body. My computer sits off to the left side of my body, so I painlessly connected the cord to the left side of the headphones. The unused port on the right side was closed off with an included plastic plug. Secondly, this handy feature also means that you can swap different cords in that have different functionality.

    Included with my M-100s were two cords. The first cord features a 1-button "SpeakEasy" mic. These are similar to the cords you would see attached to the free earbuds that usually come with cellphones. The recording quality on these was quite poor. After all, you're working with a microphone the size of a small dot. To expect the clarity of a boom mic out of that little thing is foolish at best. However, when compared to the offerings supplied by phone manufacturers, the quality differences were non-existent. That is to say, if you are out using the M-100s on your mobile phones, you can take a call with the confidence that those on the other end of the line will be able to hear and understand you just as well as if you were using the phones' included, cheap earbuds with the in-line mic. I, however, am not one to go out in public wearing big, expensive headphones.

    The second included cord is the "SharePlay" audio cable. This one offers up the first bit of unique functionality that I have not seen anywhere else. There is a 3.5mm port near the bottom of the cord that will allow a friend to plug their headphones in and listen to what you hear. You know how you used to give your friend your headphones or one of your earbuds so that they could listen to the song you were enjoying? Think of it as the modern version of that. All they have to do is plug their headphones into your cord and bam; you can both listen to the same thing at the same time without any issues. It works just as it was advertised and I have absolutely no qualms with it. When not in use, the port snaps snuggly to the rest of the cord and stays neatly out of the way.

    There is a third cord included in my review here. It's not one that is included with the M-100s normally. In fact, it is a separate accessory that you can purchase called the BoomPro Microphone. It's billed as a "professional-grade boom mic for gaming, Skype, broadcasts, and podcasts." At least, that's what the box tells me. As with the SpeakEasy mic, the BoomPro connects quite effortlessly to any piece of audio equipment. Included with the BoomPro is an adapter that will convert the single 3.5mm connection into two separate connectors, one for the mic and one for the speakers. This allows the BoomPro to be compatible with a huge number of devices, so long as the device utilizes 3.5mm ports.


    I decided to do some testing with the various microphones I have at my disposal. I will offer up untouched audio samples from the SpeakEasy mic, the BoomPro mic, a recording from a Corsair Vengeance 1500 headset, and a recording from my ATR-2500 USB mic that I have used extensively for videos and streaming for many months now. Each sample below was recorded at 75% mic volume with no cleanup or any other changes made. I have also included samples that have had the volume increased by 12 decibels in Soundbooth.

    ATR2500-USB (Unedited, No Added Gain)
    [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shawn-zipay/atr2500-usb-unedited-no-gain[/soundcloud]

    BoomPro (Unedited, No Added Gain)
    [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shawn-zipay/boompro-m100-unedited-no-gain[/soundcloud]

    SpeakEasy (Unedited, No Added Gain)
    [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shawn-zipay/speakeasy-m100-unedited-no-gain[/soundcloud]

    Vengeance 1500 (Unedited, No Added Gain)
    [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shawn-zipay/corsair-vengeance-1500-unedited-no-gain[/soundcloud]

    BoomPro (+12dB)
    [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shawn-zipay/boompro-m100-12db[/soundcloud]

    SpeakEasy (+12dB)
    [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shawn-zipay/speakeasy-m100-12db[/soundcloud]

    Vengeance 1500 (+12dB)
    [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/shawn-zipay/corsair-vengeance-1500-12db[/soundcloud]

    As you can probably tell from the samples above, none of the non-dedicated microphone solutions can match the quality and clarity of the ATR2500. The differences in quality between the BoomPro and Vengeance 1500 is next to impossible to tell, with the exception of the differences in volume. The SpeakEasy mic is obviously the underperformer in all tests. However, after adding 12 decibels to the BoomPro, Vengeance 1500, and SpeakEasy samples, the differences in quality become a bit easier to hear. The Vengeance 1500 mic has a constant high-pitched whine that is clearly heard under the main audio. The BoomPro mic on the other hand, has a large amount of hiss that takes away from the quality when the volume is increased to adequate levels.

    In general, I found that in order to achieve a decent recording volume on the BoomPro accessory I had to raise the recording volume up to 100% and apply a +10dB boost within the general Windows settings. While this did help to make my voice louder and thus easier to hear, it also increased the amount of background hiss. It is honestly difficult for me to choose between the Vengeance 1500 mic and the BoomPro mic as both have obvious negatives. Both would require quite a bit of work in Soundbooth or another audio program to produce audio that I would personally feel is clean enough to be used in my productions.

    Under ideal conditions, I can certainly see the appeal in picking up the BoomPro mic as it is reasonably priced at $30. You certainly won't be able to record any professional grade audio samples with this but if you are an aspiring streamer just getting started or a hopeful YouTube personality, these aren't a bad purchase if you already have a compatible headset that you already use. Speaking of which, the BoomPro accessory is compatible with more than just the $300 Crossfade M-100s. They are compatible with just about any pair of headphones that accepts a 3.5mm input port. These include the V-MODA LP, LP2, XS, M-80, and V-80 devices. This also includes Skullcandy Aviator and various Beats headsets. On top of that, you can also use this microphone perfectly fine out of the box with a PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita. Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 owners will need an additional adapter to work properly.

    Thankfully, the BoomPro works perfectly well on the PS4. As such, and because it's so easy to switch cords, I have the BoomPro cord set near my PS4 when needed while the SharePlay cable remains a permanent fixture in my PC. All I do is unplug the M-100s from the SharePlay cord and bring it on over to where I play on the PS4. In the rare times where I won't use the M-100s for an extended period, they fold up quite nicely. I haven't had the need to do so yet, but once folded up, I can place them inside the included hard shell carrying case. The case can easily tote around the headphones along with a variety of cords and even some spare memory cushions.


    Speaking of cushions, I was also sent some "XL memory cushions" from V-MODA. Removing the default cushions was a simple process. There are small grooves that allow the cushions to snap into place securely. Upon trying to fit the XL cushions on, I ran into a small issue. The plastic on the back of the cushions, the part that snaps the cushion into the headset, did not seem to be cut properly. As such, no matter how much I tried, I simply could not get the XL cushions to snap completely into place. It isn't a huge issue as most of the cushion is securely fastened, but it is noticeable when looking at the headset from certain angles. Please note that I will not factor this issue into the final score as the review, as I understood it, was only for the M-100s and the BoomPro mic, not the bonus cushions that were also sent to me. I will say that the XL cushions are comfortable and do provide a bit more padding on the ears compared to the standard cushions. They are, by no means, a necessary purchase as the normal cushions are still very thick and very comfortable. Speaking of comfort, the headset took just a few days of "breaking in" before it felt comfortable on my head. I have a bit of a wide head, so the break in period for you might be slightly less than it was for me.

    I'm going to offer up two separate scores here today. The first is for the Crossfade M-100s. It is without a doubt, one of the most solid pair of headphones I ever used. The build quality feels rock solid and the audio clarity is the best I have ever personally experienced. I don't know what a "perfect" headset would be to you or to hardcore audiophiles out there. I don't know what perfect audio clarity would sound like and frankly, that's not really my job to know those things. My gut tells me that the M-100s sound amazing and are very comfortable, and you best believe that I'm going with what my gut tells me. The only thing that will probably turn some away is the relatively high price of admission. Of course, if you are in the market for a pair of headphones in this price range, you should maybe put these ahead of something like the Beats line. At this price level, I would much rather put my money towards quality than just a name.

    The second review score is specifically for the BoomPro Microphone. For its price, it's a decent option if you already have the headset to go with it. However, if you plan to do more professional grade work, you are going to want to look elsewhere. It's a great option for gaming or casually chatting with friends online, but it left me feeling fairly underwhelmed. I honestly expected a bit more mic quality from the company that managed to deliver on almost all fronts with the headphones.

    V-MODA Crossfade M-100


    ------------------------------------------------------------

    BoomPro Microphone

    Click for new scoring system explanation

    Positives
    + Feels durable (though I do worry a slight bit about the connectors between the headband component and the ear cups.
    + A short "break in" period, after which the headphones are very comfortable to wear.
    + Audio quality is the best I've ever personally experienced in a couple decades of using headphones, earbuds, and headsets.
    + Can fold up into compact design and is easily transported thanks to the included hard shell travel case.
    + The design is simple and modern with just a splash of color. I much prefer the look of these over something like the overly vibrant Beats line.
    + The modular style cords allow for enhanced functionality depending on which cord you decide to use. It's also really nice for those of you who want to quickly move your headphones from the PC to your game console.
    + Customization and functionality: Accessories include a variety of detachable cables and the ability to customize the outer metal "Shield" with a variety of colors and designs.
    + BoomPro is a great option for those wanting a quick, reliable, and inexpensive solution to voice chatting in games.
    + BoomPro can be used in a wide variety of headphones and are not just limited to those sold by V-MODA.
    Negatives
    - The high price may deter some, especially for headphones that have been out for roughly two years now.
    - BoomPro, while fine for in-game chat on your platform of choice, probably shouldn't be used in cases where audio clarity is vital.
    Related Information
    Product: V-MODA CrossFade M-100 (Shadow; Also comes in Matte Black and White Silver)
    Website: http://v-moda.com/crossfade-m-100
    Price: $310.00 (via M-MODA website as of June 6, 2015)

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Product: V-MODA BoomPro Microphone
    Website: http://v-moda.com/boompro-microphone/
    Price: $30.00 (USD) (via M-MODA website as of June 6, 2015)

    Bonus Gallery:

    Please note as a matter of full disclosure: The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 headphones, the BoomPro Microphone, and the XL ErgoSoft Memory Foam Cushions were all provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.
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