Audeze has just released a more affordable alternative to their reference MM-500. The MM-100 places itself at a tempting price point, hoping to offer a super accurate mixing headphone that can compete with the most popular professional models on the market. How well does the MM-100 perform? More important, does it sound any fun, or are we in for a sooze fest?
What’s in the Box?
- Audeze MM-100 Headphones
- Cable with 1/4n inch termination
- Warranty Card
- User Guide Card
- Large Carrying Pouch
Look and Feel
The MM-100 sports a lightweight, yet very solid-looking chassis, featuring magnesium yokes and grilles, along with a spring-steel headband. It definitely looks like an Audeze headphone. But it’s Audeze lite.
The gel-filled (pleather) earpads gently cradled my ears with a snug, yet forgiving clamping force. And the adjustable suspension strap felt virtually weightless even during extended use. Certainly, when comparing the MM-100 to competing models (like a Beyerdynamic), the MM-100 stands out for its superior comfort.
The single-sided cable allows you to connect it to either side of the headphone, which is convenient when putzing around a studio or desktop setting. Finally, these cans are perfect for on-the-go use, as they fold flat for easy travel or storage. No complaints here.
The MM-100 comes equipped with Audeze’s freshly engineered planar magnetic drivers, intended to achieve more precise accuracy and minimal distortion. Crafted using the same approach as their flagship LCD-5, and incorporating patented waveguides, magnet arrays, and diaphragms, the MM-100 aims to set a new standard for sound quality within its category. We’ll see if it has succeeded.
These cans are pretty easy to drive, and your interface or portable player should give you plenty of juice with headroom to spare. For this review, I paired the MM-100 with the Astell & Kern SR35.
The MM-100 stands out for its meticulously holographic stage. In particular, the accuracy of the imaging makes for a colorful and deliciously nuanced play between elements across all dimensions, creating an almost tangible space. The stereo field, in particular, achieves an immersive scale, maintaining a realistic sense of space without sacrificing the overall sense of spaciousness. And in general, the sound sphere feels roomy, yet it retains a focused and centered quality that lends an authentic feel to the listening experience. Nothing is exaggerated or fanciful in its placements. Rather, the MM-100 relies on precision and an incredible level of separation to create its pristine, vibrant and capacious bubble of sound.
The super clean low-end leans towards a neutral tuning. While there is solid extension here, the sub-bass frequencies aren’t too colored and fall short of feeling visceral. Still, there was plenty of bass punch when called upon, and the low-end provides adequate warmth and substance to give legs to fuller mixes.
Transparency is top-notch in the low-end, delivering very natural and textured sounding acoustic instrument. Still, despite the incredibly life-like feel of string instruments, there is just a hint of color to the tone that adds a touch of majesty to the performance. So, despite MM-100 presenting an honest low-end, I never found it sterile or boring,
The mids are quite lively, delivering snares that smack and vocals that sit energetically and intimately forward. In some ways, I’m surprised by the tuning, which, at least to the ears, favors the upper-midrange; given the intended application of these cans, I was expecting a flatter profile in the mids. That said, there are uses to mixing with a forward upper-midrange, especially with respect to vocals. Still, this balance is not always the most forgiving, and if you’re particularly sensitive to lower-treble frequencies, you might be left wishing for a more relaxed midrange.
But in terms of skill, the MM-100 checks all the boxes; The MM-100 hits a nice balance between detail and smoothness, revealing ample timbral subtleties, while also allowing for fluid movement of notes. There’s not too much coloration or weight here, but just enough to remind you that this is an Audeze headphone. The speedy transient response also adds to the dynamic vibe of the MM-100, injecting tightness and energy to rhythm instruments, especially. Finally, the layering is pristine, allowing for a thoroughly comprehensive delivery in which no element is lost in the mix.
While there is a bit of air in the highs, the profile isn’t necessarily buoyant. There’s a little weight to the treble frequencies, even though the presentation isn’t overtly saturated. In fact, the delivery is quite neutral here, revealing perhaps a bit of sparkle, but never dazzling the ears with radiance or sizzle. So, don’t expect too much charisma in the highs. But do expect a transparent and honest performance that remains relatively easy on the ears throughout extended listening sessions.
One of the reasons I love Audeze is that they never make a boring headphone, even when its designed for reference use. And such is the case with the MM-100. The entertainingly holographic soundstage, along with the MM-100’s dynamic mids inject just the right amount of flavor into a sensibly balanced headphone. At the end of the day, the MM-100 is not only trustworthy, but also pretty damn fun.
|Upper-midrange not the most forgiving
|Very comfortable and lightweight
|Dual cable ports