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First listen: V-Moda Crossfade M-100 headphones

The Audiophiliac met with V-Moda's Val Kolton to preview the sound of his new over-the-ear M-100 headphones.

Val Kolton at the NYC CNET office Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Val Kolton has a lot of ideas. I know him first as the man who runs V-Moda, but he's also a hotshot DJ. I met with him in NYC last week for a sneak preview of his brand-new Crossfade M-100 over-the-ear headphones. Kolton had just received the first production batch and hadn't actually listened to the completed headphones yet. I had the honor of listening first, even before the V-Man, and the M-100s totally knocked me out. It has a closed-back 'phone design, but the sound was remarkably open and spacious, a rare feat for a closed design. Bass was deep, but not overdone, and midrange and treble presence were quite good. Comfort levels are high, and the M-100 does a good job blocking environmental noise. This headphone was designed to sound great in noisy places, so it might sound too bass heavy at home. That's fine; since most people do most of their listening on the go, that design strategy makes perfect sense to me.

Volton is thrilled that a lot of the biggest-name DJs and producers like Avicii, Funkagenda, Morgan Page, Erick Morillo, and Nervo use his headphones. Kolton doesn't compete in what he calls the YACH (Yet Another Celebrity Headphone) sweepstakes that started with the Beats by Dre. That's a good move; paid endorsements don't do a thing for the sound, and worse yet, the fees have to negatively affect the headphones' build quality. DJs use V-Modas because they like the sound; there's no money changing hands, Kolton said.

The M-100, inside and out Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Kolton must be doing something right; he's selling 1,000,000 sets of headphones a year. The man is equally obsessed with sound quality and durability; as a DJ he knows most of his customers won't baby their headphones. That's why he held off making a fold-up, collapsible headphone till now; hinges are prone to failing. He worked long and hard to develop a proprietary all-metal hinge, and the M-100s really do seem unusually rugged. Time will tell, but the M-100 is backed by a two-year warranty.

Kolton promised a M-100 for review in a few weeks when they go on sale for $299; I'll provide a more in-depth sonic appraisal sometime in October.