V-Moda M-200 ANC review: $500 headphones can’t be this unpolished

Apple’s AirPods Max simply may need ushered in a brand new norm of $500-plus wi-fi headphones. My argument in assist of this? V-Moda’s new M-200 ANC headphones, which promote for $499.99 and, because the title makes apparent, are the corporate’s first headphones to incorporate lively noise cancellation. V-Moda is an organization that’s well-known within the DJ world, and prior headphones like the unique M100s and have earned it some followers within the audiophile crowd. With the M-200 ANCs, V-Moda is making an attempt to compete in the next value bracket than ever earlier than — however the outcomes are just a little uneven.

If there’s one factor that V-Moda has by no means wavered on, it’s sturdiness. Like previous fashions, the M-200 ANC headphones really feel phenomenally robust and reassuring regardless of how harshly you deal with them. These items are constructed like tanks. My previous pair of M100s should be a minimum of seven or eight years previous at this level, however the folding joints and different core {hardware} have by no means given out — even lengthy after the headscarf materials has began to put on and present its age. I nonetheless use ‘em as a gaming headset with V-Moda’s add-on growth mic.

I believe it’s truthful to query whether or not this is similar V-Moda that it used to be; earlier than the corporate was bought to Roland, I’d usually sit down with founder Val Kolton, who appeared to carry the model to an obsessive degree of high quality assurance. However thus far, I don’t see any purpose to query the robustness of those new headphones.

The M-200 ANCs stick to the same old V-Moda aesthetic: it’s largely a mixture of metallic and synthetic leather-based. Additionally they nonetheless fold down into the corporate’s signature carrying case. Nevertheless, the dimensions of the defend plates on every ear cup has modified. So in case you’ve acquired previous, personalized plates, these will not match. The ear pads (full of reminiscence foam) now connect magnetically and really feel good and cushiony. It used to be that you simply had to purchase V-Moda’s aftermarket “XL” earpads for the very best prolonged consolation, however not so this time round. I’m additionally glad they’re really easy to interchange. Magnets!

There are buttons on the prime of the precise ear cup for play / pause and quantity controls, and this is the place the M-200 ANCs begin to betray their asking value. The buttons are mushy, which I can perceive since meaning they don’t click on loudly as you’re listening to music. It may well nonetheless really feel a bit low cost. Apart from this, their location thus far on the prime could make them awkward to succeed in while you’re truly carrying the headphones. Possibly it’s simply my monumental head, however I struggled at occasions. The buttons on the backside for energy and noise cancellation are a lot less complicated to succeed in (and for some purpose, they’re clickier, too).

Out of the field with EQ settings left untouched, the M-200 ANCs have an extraordinarily impartial sound profile. I don’t know that I’d name them reference studio screens, however they’re very flat. This may make for a jarring change in case you’re switching over from different headphones just like the AirPods Max or Sennheiser’s Momentum Wi-fi cans, which attempt to present you the whole lot they’re sonically price proper off the bat with none changes. In this case, you’ll wish to instantly discover the EQ presets (V-Moda’s app permits you to take full guide management) to search out one thing that sounds the very best to you. Even in case you crank the low-frequency sliders, the M-200 ANCs gained’t rattle your mind. However you may get them to some extent the place EDM and hip-hop don’t underwhelm, which they’ll in case you stick to the default, balanced EQ.

Once you do take the time to nail the EQ, the M-200 ANCs sound superb. V-Moda downsized to 40-millimeter drivers (from 50mm within the authentic M-200), however these headphones do a terrific job of preserving the mids by means of all kinds of EQ changes. “$500 noise-canceling headphones with impartial sound” strikes me as an odd zone to be taking part in in, however V-Moda can actually paint itself as a standout right here. They assist aptX HD, aptX, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs, in order that they’re well-rounded for wi-fi audio. I additionally examined them wired with my Apple Lossless information and streaming Amazon Music HD, and the M-200 ANCs proved splendidly layered and wealthy. (They don’t appear to move audio over USB-C, sadly, in order that port is only for charging.)

I’ve observed that V-Moda’s app can be buggy; generally it’ll show a spinning loading indicator that by no means goes wherever. The M-200 ANCs have additionally given me “iPhone can not connect with this machine” errors, which required me to pair the headphones another time. Roland must put extra work into its software program. Most irritating of all is that the M-200 ANCs can solely retailer two paired units in reminiscence. If you happen to add a 3rd, the primary one will be overwritten. Need to swap between a telephone, pill, and PC with out a lot fuss? Sorry.

These headphones don’t have a devoted transparency mode that you could toggle on for listening to exterior noise. However V-Moda did blatantly steal a trick from Sony: you possibly can maintain a hand on the left ear cup, the music will drop in quantity, and ambient noise will be piped in utilizing the built-in microphones. When you take away your hand, your music quantity and ANC return to regular. That’s a helpful characteristic for fast interactions or listening to an announcement at an airport or on a practice, however at $500, I’d’ve appreciated to see a way of preserving transparency mode enabled for so long as desired — no arm-lifting required.

The M-200 ANCs lack sensors for detecting once they’ve been eliminated out of your ears, in order that they gained’t pause audio mechanically like different premium noise-canceling headphones. Once more, for $500, these additional comfort methods ought to be a part of the expertise. One other would be multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which these headphones don’t offer you both. Battery life is rated at 20 hours, which is on par with Bose and Apple however in need of Sony.

V-Moda is new to noise cancellation, and it exhibits. The M-200 ANCs can’t rise to the extent of the AirPods Max and even lower-priced choices like Sony’s 1000XM4s or the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700. They’ll minimize out plenty of lower-frequency noise, however the general impact isn’t fairly on the extent of rivals. The V-Moda app permits you to select between 10 ranges of noise cancellation, however even absolutely dialed up, I by no means fairly felt like I used to be in that non-public bubble of silence that the very best ANC headphones present. On the constructive aspect, V-Moda’s noise cancellation didn’t lead to any discomfort, nor did it noticeably alter the sound, which might occur with some headphones.

Together with the headphones and case, V-Moda features a 3.5-millimeter cable, USB-C charging cable, and an airplane adapter. I actually want the corporate had bundled its BoomPro microphone — bought individually for $35 — proper within the field with the M-200 ANCs. It seems like a missed alternative, because the BoomPro is really an ideal accent for gaming and Zoom calls. Take into account that Apple didn’t even embrace a headphone cable with the AirPods Max, so I can’t knock V-Moda too laborious, however this would’ve been a first-rate second to present clients that bonus. It additionally would’ve helped enhance the M-200 ANCs at voice name efficiency. As is, the built-in microphones are nothing particular, and callers would possibly discover it tough to listen to you in loud or windy environments.

I genuinely surprise if V-Moda would have priced this stuff at $500 in a world with out the AirPods Max. With Apple’s cans put aside, you’d be taking a look at an higher echelon of Bluetooth headphones with choices just like the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 and Sennheiser Momentum 3 that tops out round $400. (No, I haven’t forgotten about , however come on.) The M-200 ANCs are a stable pair of wi-fi headphones, and so they keep V-Moda’s unbelievable construct high quality. But it surely’s inconceivable to miss what’s lacking when an organization is asking for this a lot money. The balanced sound signature will be a particular win for people who find themselves explicitly in search of that. However these actually wanted to have a real transparency mode and higher ANC to maintain up with the pack and to warrant the numerous funding.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge
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