It's been roughly three years since V-MODA was acquired by Roland, and since then, we haven't seen much output aside from a retuned Crossfade M-100 Master. The Master is an M-100 with some minor tweaks and Roland tuning updates to refine it a touch, but not all that exciting.
Finally, as we edge toward the holidays, V-Moda has dropped its first significant headphone release in years, the M-200 Professional Studio headphone tuned for producers, musicians, and audiophiles who like a flatter sound profile.
We got ahold of a pair before they hit the shelves later this month to give you a full rundown of this latest offering.
Let's start off with the build quality and comfort of the M-200. Out of the box, you will notice some immediate differences in the packaging and hard carrying case. The case has been updated a bit, removing some of that outdated "alien" exoskeleton look, which we like a lot. The exterior box has also been squared off and simplified, most likely for retailers and shelving purposes.
The build quality is top-notch and for the most part, keeps all of that V-MODA design DNA intact. There are some small tweaks like the magnetic memory foam ear cups that pop off with ease, and the clamping force is slightly more intense, which wasn't great but will probably ease up with wear. The side plate customization option also remains as part of this model as well, something a lot of people really like for branding purposes.
So out of the box, you get the headphones with removable (and easily replaceable memory foam cups), two cords, and a super high-quality carrying case. The M-200 features the new, single-sided balanced audio cable; the balanced cable reduces signal-to-noise ratio giving the M-200 a slightly cleaner sound and a wider soundstage for producers. The other aramid fiber-reinforced SpeakEasy 1-Button Cable is great to swap out for when you want to use the M-200 to make calls. Where they are still dropping the ball, especially since there is so much Apple DNA in this brand, is including a lightning cable. Why do we not have a cable for iPhones included at this price point? Anyone who purchases these headphones will put them into the full rotation for all types of use, from the studio, to travel to conference calls - that's the beauty of it.
The $110 SpeakEasy cable should be included with your high-end model, or just knock the price up a little more and give us the full experience.
The low impedance of the headphone (30 Ohms) allows it to be easily driven by an iPhone or similar mobile devices. Still, the SpeakEasy cable would dramatically improve the performance and is worth considering here if you are going for a full 360 headphone type of use.
The sound out of my iDevices (iPhone X, iPad Air 2) was solid, but you can definitely hear the tuned down differences between M-200 and M-100 right away. The M-200 at its core is a reference headphone, so it will not be all that exciting to the average listener, who might be drawn to this product because of V-Moda's long history in the consumer space.
Where these cans really shine is with high-quality audio out of an HD player using FLAC or even AAC files. I also tested the M-200s with my Astell&Kern AKJR HD media player with amazing results.
Genres like classical, jazz, acoustic, and electronic music were incredible with perfect balance and clarity, just what you want in this type of headphone.
As a reference headphone they also performed quite well, I plugged the M-200s into my Apollo 6 and ran them through some tracks we had in the works with excellent results. Things get "real" when you put these on, and you will hear all those subtle flaws you might not notice right out of your monitors.
The M-200s 50mm drivers feature neodymium magnets and CCAW voice coils to give you that extra juice to reproduce a wide range of frequencies up to 40kHz. These cans don't miss anything and will help you get your tracks to a state of pure harmony and tonal bliss.
Also, like their Crossfade 2 and Master siblings, they have achieved the Hi-Res Audio certification by the Japan Audio Society (JAS), which is very apparent with the HD media players. They sound absolutely superb!
If you are looking for a headphone that can genuinely handle a variety of tasks from making calls, mixing/producing, and just straight-up listening - these are one of the best offerings on the market. It's nice to have a swiss army knife type of headphone, especially if you are on a budget and on the move a lot.
If you are just looking for a headphone that will pump out high-quality tunes and sound big and bright, the Crossfade 2's are a much better bet for the average listener.
My only gripes are the clamping force, which was just too tight out of the box, and the lack of a lighting cable for iPhone users.
The M-200 is available for pre-order at V-MODA.com/M-200, and on Amazon.com ($350), shipping in late November, and will be available at authorized resellers worldwide.