Hardware: for once some comfortable on-earsThe Crossfade LPs proved comfortable and so are the M80s. Very similar in many ways, on the new model the headphones are smaller and no longer fit around the ear but rather sit on them. The arch has also been lightened but remains comfortable.
Overall, on the head, there isn't much change in terms of comfort and it’s even astonishing to feel so much at ease with a par of on-ears. Only Bose manages to do better with its ultra flexible padding.
The accessories that come with the M80s are the same as those for the LPs. The still semi-rigid case has been reworked for the new size but is otherwise the same with the same wires (standard and hands-free), still covered in Kevlar.
You get a full box with the M80s then, which is fine except for one detail, already mentioned with the LPs: you can’t fold the headphones up to tuck them away in your bag. They’re solid but take up more room than they could.
Audio: audible differencesWe might have expected the M80s to give a downsized version of the sound on the LPs, but the reality is different.
While the two curves are quite similar visually, the difference between the low and high end isn’t as pronounced as on the LPs and this gives a much nicer listening experience: the M80s still have the punch we found on the LPs but are also less unbalanced.
Curiously, this gives even better results on the music for which the LPs were most at ease. On some electro, the M80s give the impression of being amazingly regular. The sound almost seems a bit dull at times but you quickly get used to it.
The feeling of reverb that we experienced on the LPs has also disappeared almost totally which is a loss on some pieces but a gain on others.
The curve resembles the LP curve visually but the gap between the sounds lower and higher than 2 kHz has fallen, which is where the feeling of neutrality comes from. It’s a shame that there’s no return at the high-end around 5kHz as this would have made the sound more airy.
THD+N in %
The distortion readings aren’t as good at the lower end as on the LPs, which is no doubt due to the loss in power. It’s still a bit high at 2% but is likely to become audible towards 200 Hz, just before returning to normal.
Square wave at 50 Hz
Cleaner overall, the square waves confirm the improved balance you get on this model, even if the low end is still disappointing. The 500 Hz curve shows pretty good quality for headphones designed to be used on the move.
Smaller but with more balanced sound than the LPs, the M80s resolve many of the earlier problems the LPs had and are a very attractive choice for listening on the move.