V-MODA Crossfade M-80 and V-80 True Blood Headphones

V-MODA Crossfade M-80 ($229) and V-80 True Blood ($199)
Val Kolton, CEO of V-MODA, started the idea of fashion headphones with his company in 2004. I remember when his stuff first started showing up, and I remember thinking the whole fashion headphone schtick was pretty weird. (Well, I'm kind of a geek.) Now, some 8 years later, fashion and celebrity headphones are more the rule than the exception, and upon hearing and holding the new V-MODA Crossfade M-80 and V-80 True Blood headphones I no longer think the idea so weird. These headphones are flat-out AWESOME!!!

I love the styling of these headphones. It's as if a fancy Italian clothing designer ran the Pentagon, and these are the headphones designed for tank commanders. I stared at them for a long time trying to figure out how V-MODA managed to so successfully bring all the pieces together and make a headphone that's both stylish and apparently indestructible. Practice, I guess, I still can't figure it out. They just jell.

The M-80 and V-80 are sealed, on-ear headphones. They are structurally and acoustically identical --- the only differences are cosmetic. The V-80 has a red fabric panel on the inside of the headband; on the M-80 the panel is black. The V-80 has "True Blood" written on the plastic caps on the end of the headband; the M-80 has the V-MODA logo. Two of the screws that hold on the earpiece shields on the V-80 are red signifying the teethmarks of a Vampire bite. And the V-80 carry-case has a small simulated vial of blood as the zipper pull. Other than that, the headphones are identical.

The build quality of these headphones is simply extraordinary! The headband is padded and fabric covered throughout, with a bit of extra cushion under the mesh panel on the inside of the headband to cushion your noggin. The ends of the headband are nicely finished with a two-part plastic cap that is screwed together and into place. The headband main structural element is a sturdy spring-steel band that can be significantly bent and still return to its normal shape. It can also be bent past the elastic limits of the metal in order to shape the headband to conform exactly to the shape of your head. They fit me well out of the box, but a little fiddling with the headband and they fit perfectly now.

The headphone bails (the "Y"-shaped piece between the band and earpieces) are likewise very sturdy steel. Screwed to the ends of the arms are small plastic fittings that connect the bail to the earpiece, and allow it to swivel up and down. This construction, however, prevents the earpieces from swiveling front to back, which may cause the earpads to not quite fit properly. Fortunately again, simply bending the headband around will allow adjustments to the fit of the earpads. (See video.)

The main earpiece housing is gloss black plastic and has a shallow indent on the outside to allow the shields to be flush when mounted. The earpads are pleather covered, medium density memory foam, and are glued to a plastic frame, which is removed with a sharp tug. The earpad's seal and comfort against the ear is somewhat above average for a headphone of this type.

The ergonomics of these cans are squarely between very comfortable but not secure on your head (liker the B&W P5 or Blue Ant Embrace), and very secure but somewhat less comfortable (like the split headbands of the Beyerdynamic DT1350 and Sennheiser HD 25-1 II). In other words, ergonomically, these are an excellent compromise between comfort and secure fit.

The M-80/V-80 come with two cables. One cable has an iDevice compatible microphone and three-button remote, the other has a single-button remote for other smartphones. Cables are fabric covered, kevlar reinforced, and designed to withstand a million flex cycles. The cables are terminated with a straight 1/8" stereo mini-plug at the headphone end, and a 45 degree angle bent 1/8" mini-plug on the other. I think a narrow body, 45 degree angle connector is the way to go for portable devices. Straight connectors put too much strain on the jack, and 90 degree connectors sometimes won't go all the way into jack or bump into something and won't rotate fully when there is a protective case on the player. I'm not really a fan of fabric covered cables as they tend to tangle more easily and can create a lot of noise on the microphone --- which I did find with the Crossfade M-80/V-80. However, the look of the cables is sweet, and I understand the esthetic choice made. V-Mode says they are working on another cable with less noise for phone use.


LFF's picture

Within the category of on-ear headphones, the M-80's are second to none. The build quality, sound and style are top notch and are vastly superior to the Beats or Soul.

I have had my pair for a while, endorsing my initials, and it has received compliments and admirers every single time I have gone out in public with them.

These are by and large my favorite on-ear portable headphones. I wish I could try out the LP2's.

The Monkey's picture
Why are the True Blood phones less expensive?
dalethorn's picture

That's the question of the year. I normally assume the more stylized version of anything would cost more, so it may have to do with sales quantities. I can't vouch for the M-80, taking everyone's word that the V-80 is the same. And I can vouch for the V-80. As a portable, no issues, no complaints.

But there is one thing in the video review that tipped me off to something I didn't know how to fix. I also needed to slant the earcups forward but was afraid if I twisted the headband, it would go all wrong as everything else I've tried to fix thusly. So seeing the video, I immediately grabbed the headband, gave it the appropriate twist, and it set the cups right the first time. Maybe I was just lucky. It's very surprising what you get for ~200 USD, a real bargain I think.

Edit: Here's something I forgot about. I bought the V80 early on and paid $229 USD, then $20 more to Vmoda for the 3-button cable. So that's $249 total.

epidoc's picture

The only difference that I noticed on V-Moda's website is:

Crossfade M-80: "M-80 comes with 2 microphone-enabled cables for universal compatibility with all modern mobile and audio devices. The 3-Button remote microphone cable is designed for the latest Apple devices, including iPhone®,iPad®, iPod®, and Macbook series. The 1-Button microphone cable works perfectly on Android®, Windows 7, BlackberryTM, tablets, notebook, MP3 and audio devices."

True Blood V-80: "Included are 2 detachable cables, a 1-Button microphone and long audio-only cable."

The 3-button remote microphone cable is available for an additional $10. So, I am still not sure about the remaining difference of about $20.

John Grandberg's picture
Mine have skulls on them (NOT to be confused with Skullcandy), and they look great. Like Tyll, I am very impressed with them! some text
ItsMeLeoYi's picture

Would you recommend these over the crossfade LP's?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
The Crossfade LP and LP2 have a boosted bass eq. Of the two, I like the LP2 better, but I prefer the more neutral sound of the M-80. My understanding is that V-Moda will be producing an M-100 in the larger, around-the-ear size early 2012. That one may be worth the wait.
The Boss's picture

Thanks for the wonderful review of the M-80. I had this in mind for some time now, but now I'm getting one for sure. I will be using it primarily with my iPod for portable use.

You said that one of the flaws of the cable was that the microphone makes a lot of noise. What do you exactly mean by this? I have an iPod classic, not an iPod touch or iPhone, which I'm planning to use purely as a portable music player and not anything else. Thus I have no need for a microphone - but according to what you say, does it mean that the cable can still produce noise when I'm just listening to music on the iPod?

What I also have in mind is a portable amp. I'm sure the M-80 will sound great when driven right out of my iPod, but wouldn't there be significant improvements when if I were to use an amp between them? I have used several desktop amps to drive full-size headphones at home, I've never had any experience with portable DAC or amp gears for use ith portable headphones. Are there substantial benefits of amps with M-80, or do you think it's largely unnecessary?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
The noise with the cable is mostly regarding the mike. A good amp will make an improvement, but I'd check it out first without and see what you think.
helluvapixel's picture

I bought the Crossfade LP as an attempt to try something different and I was disappointed. I don't listen to hip-hop or the like and so for the rest I found the LPs more foggy and veiled. For TV and movies they are good, but for clarity and full sound they fail.

In front of the computer I may have them on out of convenience but I'm sure to grab my Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro or Sennheiser HD598 for some real music listening.

If one was to say the M-80 opposes the LP to be more neutral and clear in the highs and less artificially boosted bass, I might be tempted.

The only thing I want to point out with the V-Moda, is that they tend to feel heavy on the head. I think this is due to the stronger clamp force and the choice of leather.

Currawong's picture

I've had the privilege of meeting Val too and I agree entirely about the design and sound. One comment from him that struck me as important is that DJs listen loud. Since the listening volume makes a considerable difference to one's perception, listening louder than usual the FR makes more sense. Despite that, I do find the M80s are enjoyable even with older, uncompressed music. They are quite smooth-sounding.

The LPs and LP2s were intended to be a clubhouse on your head, so the boombox-like performance is less of a surprise. They started to make sense once I broke out the Crystal Method and other DJ/club music but I still liked the M80's presentation of even that.

The case is pure win. It has "stuff me in your bag with all your other crap and don't worry about it" written all over it.

NoPerfectHeadphone's picture

The M80 is nearly perfect, except that it's not that comfortable for long-time use since it's on-ear headphone. I have been reading rumors about the future-new model M100, which was stating to be a "over-the-ear M80." I'm now just wondering whether it's really real or just people's wishes?
I have been crazed in looking for a best headphone for myself this entire month. I really wanna know if it's worth the wait. Thanks!!!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
It's coming. I don't know when, but I do know it's being worked on.
NoPerfectHeadphone's picture

Thanks for ur reply, Tyll!
Also, regardless of the bass, do you think there're some big differences between the LP and the LP2?

Mkubota1's picture

I can't imagine another headphone that does so well in so many areas. And Val is a really nice guy too!

gorboman's picture

So glad I picked the M-80 over the Bose OE. Suits my types of music better (except for some, i.e. Phoenix). But no matter, I still love the 'phones and the fact they have a free music streaming app for my android device.

helluvapixel's picture

I bought the M-80 and silly me I didn't read that they were on-ear cans. I made the stupid assumption they were like a neutral replacement of the Crossfade LP which in my view were an abysmal purchase for me as I'm not a big club/dance/DJ music person. I felt they were heavily veiled.

So, when I opened the package and found out they were 'on-ear', my excitement dropped, I'll admit. I grabbed my iPhone plugged in the M-80s and hit play. Wow... I was shocked. What a difference in comparison to the Crossfade LP and just in general.

Short of it is I like them a lot. In fact, I'll use these more when I'm out and about over my HD25-1 MKII. I think while slightly differenct in signature the M-80 are on par with the infamous HD25 and $100-$200 cheaper depending on your locale. The HD25 I find are exceptionally tight.. compressed type sound where the M-80 is still tight, punchy bass and clear highs but has more air to them.

aaaaaahh's picture

I just brought the ATH pro700mk2anv, in my opinion it is alright. I want to ask was the V Moda M80 a better choice?

Metal112524's picture

Can you help me decide between getting the Creative Aurvana live + Fostex t50rp, the Senn hd25-1II or the Vmoda m80. I would like to have the best sounding phone but would like a full size, but if the Senn or Vmoda are that much better as far as sq goes then id take them. I'd love to hear the fostex and seeing as the Aurvana was once a 200 dollar phone (d1001) and getting it on sale now and the fostex sounds like a deal to me. But I also want something that just sounds great right out the box and doesnt need too much modding or an amp to sound great (even though i have a MilletSS). Source will be a sansa, possibly rockboxed.

torressalvador's picture

Hi tyll!! what headphone have the best audio quality to listen electronic music ?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I'd take the M-80.
ssoedi's picture

Hi Tyll. I wonder if you have had the chance to test the V-Moda M-100 and  the V-Moda Vibrato (In-Ear) headphones. If you have, how would you compare them to M-80? Which one would you personally get? Thank you.

Tenormech's picture

Hi Tyll,

What are your thoughts on SQ difference between these and the ATH-M50? I have a pair of the Audio Technicas right now, but your review on the V-Modas is intriguing.

I love the site, btw. Thanks for all your insights.

TheSpyglassGamer's picture

Great review Tyll!! By the way, how would these compare to other high end headphones of this type? Namely the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear, the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II/Amperior, and the Onkyo ES-FC300?

DJMAMBO's picture

hello, great review!. Which do you recommend for Djing V-moda m80 or Lp? Thanks

Downforce's picture

the V-80's are old news by now, but they are currently on sale via V-MODA's website for $79, like new via the private sale link. Free shipping and ordered mine with a red audio only cable (various colors are available).