June 21, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Technology

Audeze MM-100 Review: Simply Stunning

Audeze is primarily known for its high-end flat headphones, and while the brand has dabbled in gaming-focused headphones that sell for under $500, it doesn’t have any entry-level products. That’s changing with the introduction of the MM-100; As the MM-500These headphones are made in collaboration with Manny Marroquin and are designed to be used primarily as reference headphones.

The biggest difference is that the MM-100 costs just $399, making it the most affordable Audeze headphone you can buy right now. By contrast, the MM-500 sells for $1,699, more than four times as much. Having used the MM-100 alongside the MM-500 for the better part of two weeks, it’s clear that the latter has a more refined sound, but the MM-100 comes close, and that’s no small feat.

While Audeze uses some plastic parts in the chassis, the MM-100 has a similar design and the same excellent build quality as the MM-500, and there are absolutely no problems in this area. Basically, the MM-100 takes the best features of the MM-500 and brings it to a much more affordable price.

If you’ve been waiting for an affordable pair of Audeze headphones, your wait is over. The MM-100 is not only one of the best Audeze headphones, but it’s easily among the best overall options you’ll find in the under $500 category.

Audeze MM-100: pricing and availability

Audeze MM-100 Review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Audeze introduced the MM-100 in April 2023 and the headphones will go on sale in August. It’s now available globally through audio retailers and Audeze distributors, and in North America, you can get the MM-100 for $399.

Considering the affordability of these headphones, wait times are longer than usual. That is if you buy directly from Audeze; you can also get the MM-100 via Amazon, where it sells for the same $399. While most Audeze products come with a standard three-year warranty, the MM-100 comes with a one-year warranty.

Audeze MM-100: Design and comfort

Audeze MM-100 Review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Aside from the headband, there isn’t much difference between the MM-100 and the MM-500. Audeze kept the same style and design aesthetic, and you get a gunmetal gray color scheme that looks elegant. Audeze uses plastic in the construction of the headphones, but the yoke and grilles are made of a magnesium alloy and the headband is made of steel.

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The build quality is as exquisite as more expensive Audeze headphones like the LCD-X and MM-500, and the best part is that the MM-100 is considerably lighter than other Audeze products I’ve used so far. Weighing 475g, it’s 20g lighter than the MM-500, and that difference is noticeable. Do not misunderstand; the MM-100 is still heavier, but it’s significantly lighter than most Audeze designs: the LCD-X weighs 612g.Audeze MM-100 Review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

As is the case with the brand’s other products, the grille has Audeze’s distinctive stylized A logo on each side, with the Audeze brand on the right and Manny Marroquin on the left. While the design is largely identical to the MM-500, Audeze changed its standard mini-XLR connectors to 3.5mm, and that makes the MM-100 much more versatile. The interesting thing is that you need to connect only one side of the cable, giving you the flexibility of connecting the headphones through the left or right connectors.

The included braided cable is of good quality, but is unsheathed and terminates in a 6.35mm jack, like most other Audeze headphones. I would have liked a 3.5mm plug considering the category in which the MM-100 debuts, because as it stands, the choice of plug limits its usability with portable sources.

Audeze went with a floating headband design with the MM-100 and it does a good job of distributing the weight of the headphones evenly. The only issue I have in this area is that the adjustability of the headband is limited; You can’t move the stem up or down and instead, you’ll have to adjust the leather band between three notches. While this is an inelegant system, you won’t have to adjust the band too many times.

Audeze MM-100 Review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The MM-100 is the most comfortable Audeze headset I’ve used to date, and that includes the lighter LCD-GX gaming headset. Much of that has to do with clamping force; It is not as tall as the MM-500 and, combined with its lighter design, the MM-100 is ideal for extended use.Audeze MM-100 Review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The ear pads have a faux leather finish and are extremely comfortable even after prolonged use. They do not have a vented design, but due to the inherent open-back nature of the MM-100, you get good ventilation. Overall, Audeze delivered on the design of the MM-100, and the headphones have a sturdy build quality and are light enough that you can wear them for hours on end.

Audeze MM-100: Sound quality

With a sensitivity of 98 dB/1 mW and an impedance of 18 Ω, the MM-100 is easy to drive, but like all Audeze products, you can get the most out of the planar drivers by pairing them with a decent source. On that note, the MM-100 uses the same 90mm planar magnetic drivers as the MM-500 and has Audeze’s Fluxor magnet array.

I used the MM-100 with the Fiio K19 DAC most of the time, switching to Q7 Bluetooth DAC for use with a phone. Any source that is capable of delivering more than 250 mW of power should be adequate to drive the MM-100 well.

Sound-wise, Audeze kept a similar tonality to the MM-500. The MM-100 has good bass extension and although the bass is neutral, you get a good rumble that is enjoyable along with fast transients. The mids are where the MM-100 really shines; It has a midrange boost that adds warmth and clarity to vocals, and it sounds fantastic.

The treble is clean and detailed and while there is some brightness, it doesn’t sound harsh nor is there any sibilance. There’s good dynamics and instrument separation, as you’d imagine in a headphone intended for studio use, and the front-mid presentation means the MM-100 is an excellent choice as a reference headphone.

Audeze MM-100: The competition

Audeze MM-100 Review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

HiFiMan’s Sundara remains a stalwart in this segment and at $299, it’s also great value for money. It has a similar bass presentation to the MM-100 and you get slightly more treble lift. That said, the MM-100 has a clear advantage in the mids and I like the design a little better.

Sennheiser’s HD660S2 is also a good alternative if you need a reference headphone. It’s more expensive than the MM-100 at $499, but you get a neutral sound that’s ideal for studio use as well as casual listening sessions.

Audeze MM-100: Should you buy it?

Audeze MM-100 Review

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

You should buy this if:

  • You need an affordable pair of Audeze headphones
  • You want headphones with exquisite sound
  • You need reference headphones under $500

You should not buy this if:

  • You need light headphones

The MM-100 is one of Audeze’s most important products to date. It has the same great design and build quality as the MM-500, and sounds remarkably similar. Yes, Audeze made some design tweaks to bring the cost of the headphones down to $399, but the MM-100 doesn’t look or feel like a budget product.

Like the MM-500, the MM-100 excels in its technical presentation and has good bass extension that allows mainstream music to shine. The energetic mids may not be to everyone’s taste, but they give the headphones a lot of character and have good treble presence.

Ultimately, it’s value that gives the MM-100 a clear advantage. It is designed as a studio headphone, but is just as comfortable for everyday listening sessions and the sound quality it offers makes it one of the best contenders in this category.

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