Apple’s AirPods Max Could Have Introduced a New Over $ 500 Wireless Headphone Stand My argument for this? V-Moda’s new M-200 ANC headphones, which retail for $ 499.99 and, as the name implies, are the company’s first headphones with active noise cancellation. V-Moda is a well-known company in the DJ world and previous headphones like the original M100 and Crossfade 2 Wireless have won it a number of fans among the audiophile audience. With the ANC M-200s, V-Moda tries to compete in a higher price range than ever, but the results are a bit uneven.
If there’s one thing V-Moda has never questioned, it’s durability. Like previous models, the M-200 ANC headphones feel incredibly loud and reassuring no matter how hard you handle them. These things are built like tanks. My old pair of M100s must be at least seven or eight years old now, but the folding joints and other base components never broke, even long after the headband material started to wear down and show its age. I still use them as gaming headsets with V-Moda’s additional boom mic.
I think it is fair to ask if this is the same V-Fashion as it used to be; Before the company was sold to Roland, I sat with founder Val Kolton, who seemed to hold the brand to an obsessive level of quality assurance. But so far I see no reason to question the robustness of these new headphones.
The ANC M-200s adhere to the usual V-Moda aesthetic: it is primarily a mix of metal and leatherette. They also still fold into the company’s exclusive tote bag. However, the size of the protectors on each earphone has changed. So if you have custom antique plates, they no longer fit. The ear pads (filled with memory foam) are now magnetically attached and feel snug and comfortable. In the past you had to buy the aftermarket “XL” brake pads from V-Moda to get the best comprehensive comfort, but not this time. I am also happy that they are so easy to replace. Magnets!
There are buttons on the top of the right earcup for play / pause and volume control, and this is where the ANC M-200s start to give away their asking price. The buttons are soft, which I understand because that means they don’t click loudly while listening to music. It may still seem a bit cheap. Apart from this, their location so far at the top can make it difficult to reach them when wearing the headphones. Maybe it’s just my huge head, but sometimes I struggled. The buttons on the bottom for power and noise canceling are much easier to get to (and for some reason they click more too).
If you take the time to approve the EQ, the M-200’s ANCs sound great. V-Moda dropped down to 40mm drivers (from 50mm on the original M-200), but these headphones do a great job of preserving midrange through all kinds of EQ settings. “$ 500 Neutral Noise Canceling Headphones” seems like an odd area to play in, but V-Moda could certainly be a highlight here. They are compatible with aptX HD, aptX, AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs, making them complete for wireless audio. I also tested them on my Apple Lossless files and Amazon Music HD streaming, and the ANC M-200s turned out to be wonderfully layered and rich. (Unfortunately, they don’t seem to pass audio through USB-C, so that port is for charging only.)
I have noticed that the V-Moda application can be buggy; sometimes it shows a rotating charging indicator going nowhere. The M-200 ANCs also gave me “iPhone can no longer connect to this device” errors, forcing me to pair the headphones again. Roland needs more work on its software. Most frustrating of all, the M-200 ANCs can only store two paired devices in memory. If you add a third, the first will be overwritten. Switch without much effort between phone, tablet and PC? Sorry.
The M-200 ANCs lack sensors for detecting when they’ve been removed from your ears, so they won’t pause audio automatically like other premium noise-canceling headphones. Again, for $500, those extra convenience tricks should be part of the experience. Another would be multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which these headphones don’t give you either. Battery life is rated at 20 hours, which is on par with Bose and Apple but short of Sony.
Along with the headphones and case, V-Moda includes a 3.5mm cable, a USB-C charging cable and an airplane adapter. I really wish the company had included their BoomPro microphone, which retails for $ 35 separately, right out of the box with the M-200 ANCs. It feels like a missed opportunity as the BoomPro is a really great accessory for Zoom games and calls. Note that Apple didn’t even include a headphone cable with the AirPods Max, so I can’t really criticize V-Moda too much, but this would have been an excellent time to give customers that bonus. It would also have helped improve the M-200 ANCs in voice call performance. As it is, the built-in microphones are nothing special, and callers may have a hard time hearing you in noisy or windy environments.
I really wonder if V-Moda would have priced these things for $ 500 in a world without the AirPods Max. With reserved cans from Apple, I’d be looking for a higher echelon of Bluetooth headphones with options like the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 and Sennheiser Momentum 3 costing over $ 400. (No, I didn’t forget those $ 800 Beoplay H95s, but come on.). The M-200 ANC are solid wireless headphones and retain the fantastic build quality of V-Moda. But it’s impossible to overlook what’s missing when a company is charging that much money. The balanced sound signature will be a definite win for those explicitly looking for it. But these really had to have a true transparency mode and a better ANC to keep up and ensure a significant investment.