I’ve always had a strange fascination with V-Moda. They are an audio company that lean towards professional application, as the DJ’s headphone of choice, but their products are served with undertones of consumer fashion sense. As such, they’ve always existed in a limbo for the audio community; offering far more quality than your regular retail store headphone while lacking that last iota of focus possessed by enthusiast models. But that’s just common perception, in my experience, V-Moda are a company that deserves your attention whether you’re a regular consumer or a hardened audiophile.
Some may turn their noses up to the company’s talk of fashion and customizability, but a strong tuning methodology permeates beneath their sharp aesthetic styling. The Crossfade 2 Wireless absolutely exemplifies this as a headphone that is both exceptionally solid and surprisingly innovative. With a highly engaging sound, rock solid build quality and the liberation of Bluetooth connectivity, the Crossfade 2 presents a very strong offering within the portable headphone scene. And, at a $330-350 USD asking price (depending on configuration), V-Moda undercut the premium competition priced closer to $400. Let’s see what V-Moda’s latest cans are all about.
I would like to thank V-Moda very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the Crossafed 2 Wireless for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the headphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The Crossfade 2 Wireless ships within very distinct packaging that draws parallels to V-Moda’s hallmark angular styling. Unclasping a leather strap enables the carry case containing the headphones and accessories to be removed. The first thing buyers will notice is that the case is absolutely minuscule; especially considering that they contain a wireless over-ear headphone, 3.5mm audio cable and micro-usb charging cable.
It really drives home how portable the Crossfade 2 Wireless is, and the headphone’s hexagonal design permits space to store the cables inside the case for access at all times. The case has two vents that can be opened to allow the headphones to breathe, presumably after a workout, or vigorous gaming or DJing session. And, where most wireless headphones include an audio cable that is almost an afterthought in quality, the included cable here is better than those on most wired headphones. It’s a fully featured V-Moda Speakeasy cable with remote/mic, 45-degree plug and durable braided cord. I separately purchase these cables for use with other headphones, they’re terrifically well constructed.
The Crossfade 2 Wireless embodies a delightful mix of portability, durability and usability. It’s distinct, angular styling harkens back to the M100 and original Crossfade; all distinct and stylish headphones. However, the Crossfade 2 is perhaps V-Moda’s most feature-rich headphone yet, retaining the folding design of the M100 while compounding on the innovations of the original Crossfade. The result is one of the most practical daily driver headphones I’ve had the pleasure of using, and I’ve personally owned almost every portable headphone on the market.
At a glance, the Crossfade 2 Wireless is a very low profile over-ear headphone with a mostly metal construction. The earcups are clad in V-Moda’s signature faceplates customizable with an array of materials, colours, textures and even user specified designs; I opted to etch in my website’s logo. The bulk of the earcups are constructed from a well-finished matte plastic that feels as solid as they come; if not quite as opulent as designs from Bowers and Wilkins or Bang and Olufsen. The Crossfade 2 Wireless achieves especially impressive solidity through a one-piece metal frame that also serves to keep the whole package looking coherent.
As aforementioned, the headphones fold for transport via hinges on the metal frame. The hinge is steel with a solid locking mechanism. Furthermore, when folded, they are easily the most compact I’ve handled, occupying minimal bag space. The headband adjustment slider is also incredibly sturdy, adjusting with defined clicks. I would have liked some numbered markings, but they did hold their position perfectly well during testing.
Comfort will vary between users as V-Moda headphones have always had shallower more unorthodox hexagonal earpads. That said, the Crossfade 2 has V-Moda’s plushest pads yet and even more spacious XL pads are available for $20 on their website. The stock pads were a little snug for me, but they’re made from a soft pleather with compliant memory foam innards. Combined with the headphone’s soft fabric headband and relatively lightweight, I found the Crossfade 2 to be comfortable for hours of listening.
I did experience some mild discomfort on the outsides of my ears and the pads don’t breathe well, getting a little hot over time, but these are easily one of the more comfortable portable headphone’s I’ve used. The headphone’s closed design and strong seal produce low sound leakage and great noise isolation that is easily sufficient for public transport. That said, fit stability isn’t excellent due to their looser clamp force. Resultantly, they don’t compress the head during longer listening sessions but they will shift with the wearer’s head position.
The Crossfade 2 is quite typical for a wireless headphone with no snazzy touch-sensitive panels or flashy LED effects; this is a refined and straightforward setup. The right earcup houses the main interfaces with a 3.5mm audio input, sliding power button and 3-button media controls at the top. The control buttons are relatively easy to distinguish but have terrible tactile feedback with shallow travel and little click. The left cup is featureless besides a micro-usb charging port at the bottom.
When it comes to wireless performance, it should be noted that not all Crossfade 2’s are identical. The rose gold version being reviewed is $20 more expensive and supports Apt-X whereas the standard version does not. From a source with Apt-X support, this codec does deliver tangible benefits to sound quality and certain implementations feature lower latency ideal for films and videos. And, in testing, my rose gold unit offered one of the most agreeable wireless implementations I’ve experienced.
Pairing is simple, activated by holding the sliding power button for a few seconds and signified by the flashing status LED. Once paired, the headphones automatically attempt to reconnect with the last paired device and can be connected to two devices simultaneously. During my testing, connection was stable and latency was noticeable but not obtrusive; both videos and movies were practically in sync. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Crossfade 2 is its wireless range; they stubbornly hold onto a signal like few other wireless headphones. I was able to traverse the entire first floor of my double brick house with just a few hiccups at its extremities. In close proximity, connection is rock solid.
Battery life is rated at 14+hours which is very respectable amongst wireless headphones. Better yet, the headphones easily met that claim, lasting ~16hrs around low-medium volume over 6months of testing. When the battery becomes depleted, connecting the audio cable disables all electronics, enabling them to function identically to a wired headset. Moreover, background hiss was barely noticeable during wireless listening and volume was easily sufficient. The headphones also introduce no additional sound processing over a wireless connection in the pursuit of fidelity and lower latency; something that can bother on other wireless headphones.
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