I think I have a new favorite over-ear headphones. I recently had the chance to review the Crossfade M-100 headphones from V-MODA. They are a roughly $300 set of over-ear, noise isolating metal headphones, available in either black or white silver [Amazon]. These things produce an amazingly clear sound and will be loved by the audiophile in you. In fact, over 200 audiophiles, professionals, and music legends helped crowdsource the development, and it shows.
From their specs, the headphones offer an immersive 3D Soundstage with Clean Deep Bass and Ultra Wide Clarity with Vivid Midrange. The explosive sound is created by a patent pending 50mm Dual-Diaphragm Driver, Master Crafted Material, Modern Audiophile Tuning, Analog Noise Isolation, No Batteries or Artificial Processing, Minimal Sound Leakage, and Consistent Driver Quality.
Enough of the marketing speak. Even owning a decent pair of Bluetooth headphones, I still prefer being wired. There are no extra conversions that need to be done to hear the music. While I certainly think the sound is superior to other headphones I've tried, more so, though, sound quality is determined by the bit rate and sampling rate of the music being played. So, if you're a premium Spotify user, be sure to enable High Quality Streaming when editing Preferences. Otherwise, no matter what you are listening to, the sound quality will suffer if the bit/sampling rates are too low. Besides sampling, the other thing to keep in mind when picking headphones is background noise. Some might be more appropriate for home use with minimal background noise vs. a road warrior, at the airport or just on the go. Without amping up, these worked well in both environments, favoring perhaps the road warrior if I had to pick one over the other.
My favorite song to try new speakers or headphones with is Radioactive from Imagine Dragons. There is some serious bass in this song and it really seems to stress the abilities of some of the lower end headphones. I played this through Google Music, with an explicit bit rate set to 320 kbits/s and you could really get a good feel for the quality of the headphones. There is little to no leakage so those around me could barely hear the music, until I turned up the volume during the strong bass moments. I wouldn't try to wear them in church, but unless you're playing them loud, you should be able to get away with playing them at university without bothering people around you trying to study.
The only time I had an issue with the sound quality was when Spotify sucked up half the system memory. There was a slight buzz in the output briefly. Restarting Spotify cleared up the memory issue and returned the sound quality to its usual, superior output.
Besides the headphones, you get two sets of cables to use. One is a 1-button SpeakEasy mic cable and the other is a SharePlay audio cable. The SharePlay cable has a second audio connector so you and a friend can listen together, provided they have their own headsets. If I wanted to speak when using the headphones, I preferred the optional ($30) BoomPro microphone. This is great for gaming or Skype calls. Very clear. There is even an optional ($30) 12 foot CoilPro cable. The CoilPro cables helped them be ranked the #1 headphones in its class TWO YEARS in a row by CNET and DJ Mag. I suspect all these accessories came out of the design crowdsourcing endeavors. Little things like Kevlar covered cables help them survive long term. Surely an idea from crowdsourcing if I had to guess.
The other thing you get with the headphones and cables is an exoskeleton hard case. These keep the foldable headphones safe when in transport and include little pockets for the cables. There is a carabiner at the top for clipping on your belt or backpack. The case is about 6" x 5 1/2" x 4" at the widest spots.
The headband itself is quite comfortable. It comes cabled for a right handed person with the jack under the left ear. However, you can take a little cover off under the right ear and swap the jack around without just flipping the headphones. You can also treat this as dual inputs for mixing. The ear covers are wide enough for most but an optional ($20) XL memory cushions offers increases in diameter and depth. And, if you don't like the plain black shields on the ears, you can always pay $25 to get custom shields created.
In the end, the headphones are well worth the $300 price tag. You'll enjoy the smooth sound in this quality product that won't disappoint. I just love them and I'm no true audiophile, even if I like to think so. Great present for Father's Day or that recent grad.
Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions stated are my own and may differ from yours. See my disclosure policy for more information.