Thankfully, they don’t sound half bad. V-MODA is known for having pretty bassy headphones, be it their IEMs, their Crossfade LP, or their M100. What’s a little less known is that their portables: the M80 (which I have not heard in ages so I can’t confidently use them as a sound reference) and now the XS, strive for a more neutral sound than its siblings. However, I still err on the side thinking that they are slightly bass boosted. There’s a good amount of thump, just enough to cancel the amount reduced by public transportation. However, my problem with the bass, or rather, the headphone’s general sound signature, is that the timbre is off. Drums sound like they’ve been hit not with drumsticks, but rubber bands. There’s an odd sense of hollowness despite their punch, which I attribute partially to the small housing not allowing for space for the bass to reverberate as much as it possibly could.

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The midrange is, in my opinion, better than the M100’s. While I struggle to say the M100’s midrange is recessed, the XS’ s more forward midrange allows more genre flexibility. I’m much more comfortable listening to bluegrass or vocalists with the XS than the comparatively veiled sounding M100. But I wouldn’t say it’s perfect. There’s a definite accentuation in the upper midrange a la AKG that occasionally sounds grating. I also have a tiny niggle with the slight bass bleed in the lower midrange, but it’s not necessarily noticeable if it’s not the center of attention.

The treble is surprisingly good for a portable. It’s not as nice as the Beyerdynamic T51p’s treble, but I never came across an issue with it. I find it to be smooth, but with a hint of grain. Thankfully, I never encountered any sibilance issues, which contributes to them being so great for long term listening. Their soundstage is about as expected for such a small closed headphone. There’s always a lingering feeling of closedness. They have decent depth, but width left much to be desired.

Click on next page for Final Thoughts…

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6 Responses

  1. dalethorn

    The XS (and M80/V80 before it) seems far more neutral to me than the Beyer Dt1350 or T51p. Both of those are quite weird sounding – the T51p having a huge emphasis around 5 khz, and the DT1350 (I’ve had 4 of them) with a very large emphasis right in the mids center, around 440-500 hz. That’s not to say that the XS’s colorations will be more pleasant than the 2 Beyer headphones’ colorations, but it sure is closer to neutral. Or at least the non-neutral colorations are spread out better.

    Reply
    • lumberjake

      Is the DT1350 really cheaper as it says here? I had always thought the driver in those were pricey. I thought they were the pricier of this stle headphone. Maybe I was wrong.

      Reply
      • dalethorn

        The DT1350 was $300 USD for several years, but about 1.5 years ago Beyer made the DT1350 their standard audiometry headphone, to replace the DT48a that was in service for 75 years. Beyer may still list the DT1350 for sale, but I suppose they are not making any more for regular sale. Most prices that I see now are in the area of $180 USD. It is a Tesla headphone, which adds to the price.

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