If you were a fan of the highly recommended, and heavily awarded over-ear V-MODA Crossfade M-100, then the V-MODA M-Class Series – XS, is ready to collect accolades for being one of the best on-ear headphones on the market. Similar in design to the M-100, the XS stays true to the classic V-MODA design aesthetic and its military grade build quality. The XS has also incorporated the much beloved CliqFold Hinge. Let’s put it this way, this a much smaller version of the M-100 – minus a few subtle details.
One of the biggest design pushes V-MODA is emphasizing with the XS is this concept of “mind the gap.” V-MODA is attempting to market these headphones not to only audiophiles, but fashion-forward women who want to wear a pair of sleek, form-fitting headphones that don’t look massive on their head. The XS manages to do this by achieving a tight form factor on your head which minimizes the gap that often happens between your head and the headband of the headphones.
Of course the results differ from head to head. While the ladies did experience a tighter fit, the men that we tested the headphones with, experienced a wider gap. Also, hairstyles play a role in how much or little of a gap is visible. Gap or no gap, the headband along with the ear cups, are extremely comfortable to wear for hours on end. That said, those with bigger ears may find the ear cups too small for them, but then there is always the over-ear option.
The Exoskeleton carrying case has shrunken immensely too and it is almost half the size of what it once was. This is a welcome design change since it makes it much more portable for pocketbooks and the like. A Kevlar-reinforced universal SpeakEasy microphone cable for Apple iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows devices is included. This differs from the M-100 where both a remote mic is included and a non-remote cable. On the other hand, sharing M-100 qualities include the dual Inputs and SharePlay with V-CORK seals.
Performance wise, the XS manages to sound delicious across a variety of genres. While the soundstage isn’t as wide and large sounding as on the M-100, the 40mm Dual-Diaphragm Drivers in the XS are balanced and rich regardless of the size of the ear cups. Jazz lovers will really appreciate the crispness and full-body sensation of the mids and lows. Furthermore, classic rock anthems such as Stairway to Heaven never sounded so intoxicating. The right and left ear cups alternate throughout the entire song and it is so real sounding, as if Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were sitting in the same room with you. Even at unhealthy volumes, the sound stayed crisp and clean without distortion.
V-MODA has accomplished no small feat by deciding to revamp their M-100 on-ear headphones into a smaller package. And as to be expected from V-MODA, the design and materials of the headphones are top-notch. And while the form-fitting design may be one selling point, the overall quality of the craftsmanship, and audio experience is really beyond the beyond in this saturated marketplace. It’s hard for a consumer headphone company to claim individuality, but V-MODA has managed to carve out a niche for themselves that other’s have dared to touch yet.
The XS is available for $212 in Matte Black Metal and White Silver from V-MODA directly and that price includes customization. Amazon, Brookstone, Microsoft, Collette, and other retailers will also offer the XS for $199 without customization options.
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The Good: Terrific build quality with a form-fitting design that lessens the bulk around your head. Rich, balanced sound. CliqFold Hinge is still one of the best hinges we have ever seen on a pair of headphones. Customization options. Priced very fairly for what you get.
The Bad: Ear cups may be too small for those with bigger ears.