VFM = value for money. The holy grail of any purchase, no matter if it’s $100 or $10000, people dig the sensation that they scored a high return on their dollars down. A high performance/price quotient sparks brand connection. V-Moda had me at hello.
The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 that I carefully picked out in Tokyo last year have since remained my default choice of headphone when heading out and about town. I dig their metal-framed strength – you’re not gonna break a pair easily – and the snug-fitting, clamshell carry case is a real boon. Moreover, they sound more than acceptable with smartphones. When at the gym or on the bus, I don’t yearn for an appending Cypher Labs or CEntrance brick (or V-Moda’s own VAMP Verza) to bring them on par with what I hear at home when listening via Resonessence Labs Herus DAC/headphone amplifier (CA$350 – with which they REALLY shine: more detail, more refinement).
Even in stock form, the M-100 set the budget-portable-audio-quality bar exceptionally high. There’s little else to rival their almost unique sonic signature at the price point: BIG comfort, even BIGGER sound. Gregarious and ostentatious without losing sight of tone and texture. An impressive feat given their sub $400 sticker. Perhaps their closest rival is the Sennheiser Momentum.
It might be naive to describe them as a fun-sounding headphone but fun they are. These V-Modas reflect the Sennheiser Momentum sound as starchier in the collar and more uptight. I feel the German ‘phones are better suited to painting beauty into the corners of simpler, less complex music. The M-100 are more bombastic with electronic music and they kick the ass out of rock n roll. Bass is big, but rarely does it sound artificially bloated. Coloured? Yes. Engaging? You cannot ignore ’em.
I prefer to think of it this way: the Sennheiser Momentum are a waddle in chinos pulled up too high. The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 are a swagger in leather pants. Yes, you can quote me on that.
V-Moda VFM is very high.
Going large. Pimping the M-100 ride I’ve since added a custom shields (US$25) and a pair of XL Memory Cushions (US$20). The shields bring purely a cosmetic change; V-Moda’s laser engraving process puts your logo/design on either side of the ‘phones. Installation took time and patience. The six Allen/Hex-keyed screws that secure each plate are small and fiddly. Even though I fumbled with the screws for a while, I reckon customisation tricks like this deepen one’s emotional connection to a brand/product.
By contrast, the XL Memory Cushions are a snap to swap over – click off the stock cushions, snap on the XL. Job done. There’s a video here that shows the process (such that it is) in more detail.
The memory cushions don’t only play to the crowd of comfort. By putting more space between the listener’s ear and the driver they open the sound right up. Most noticable was a tightening below the waist and less of a ‘smile’-leaning frequency response curve that I noted with the stock pads. However, the biggest game change from the XL Memory Cushion upgrade was a more open midrange. Vocals, guitars, melody lines – they all step out of the shadows and into the light. Wonderful stuff.
The improvements are so significant that I don’t know why V-Moda don’t fit the XL Memory Cushions as standard. Wait! Yes, I do. A $20 upgrade is exciting, a more effective way of connoting more of that precious VFM and (again) deepening the hooks of brand loyalty. If you’ve already snaffled a pair of M-100s, know that a high-yielding additional $20 will take their sound to another level. The XL Memory Cushions are ESSENTIAL.
I’M SHOUTING BECAUSE I’M ENTHUSED.