V-Moda is a newer name in the audio business than other established brands like Bose, Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, and Sony, but what it lacks in age it makes up for in moxy, premium materials, and style. Whether you like the way they look or not, there is no denying that V-Moda makes headphones that stand out from the crowd.
A few weeks back V-Moda reached out to see if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their newest products, the V-Moda Crossfade wireless headphones, and I couldn't resist the offer. I've read a lot of good things about their products and have wanted to try out a set of their cans for a long time. I've had them with me daily for the last few weeks testing them to see if they live up to the praise they have online. Are they as good as advertised? Read on and find out.
What's in the box
- Crossfade wireless headphones: Steel reinforced headband, plastic ear cups, and memory foam ear pads clad in vegan leather.
- Exoskeleton carry case: Semi-rigid synthetic leather exterior with a felt lining. A removable Velcro-backed cord organizer fits under the headband.
- Aux cable with microphone and multi-function button: Kevlar reinforced with a straight plug for connecting to the cans and an angled plug for the audio source.
- MicroUSB charging cable: For charging the headphones, thank goodness it's not proprietary.
- Multipoint device pairing: Two devices can be paired to the Crossfades at the same time.
- Custom shields: A pretty sweet way to customize your cans to fit your style.
- 50mm drivers: These beefy drivers create powerful and detailed sound with plenty of bass.
- Average battery life: The box says they will last 12 hours, and, in my experience, that seems about right. That's a fair bit less than some competitors, but I still only had to charge them about once a week with daily use. Not bad.
These are some of the best built headphones I have tested to date. The Crossfades are constructed from top-shelf components with a steel frame, quality plastics, and memory foam ear pads and headband covered in premium-feeling synthetic leather. $300 is not an insignificant amount of money to pay for a set of cans, but V-Moda's headset at least looks and feels expensive. These bad boys are solid. Bend them, twist them, adjust them, they don't creak or rattle at all.
The styling of the Crossfades is very bold, which makes them a little divisive, you will either love the way they look, or, well, you won't. I admit, when I first saw pictures of the Crossfades, I didn't particularly care for the way they looked; I prefer more subtle, less attention drawing, design when it comes to speaker embedded head .
However, now that I have them in hand, I am actually quite smitten with these cans. They aren't quite as conspicuous looking in person as they are in the marketing photos, and for me, that's a good thing. The chrome and high-gloss black plastics are still a little loud for my tastes, but there are other, more subtle, color combinations available if you find the chrome embellishments to be a bit garish like I do.
The most interesting feature of the V-Moda Crossfades is the ability to swap out the shields that cover both ear cups. The standard shields that came with the headphones I was sent for review are a high gloss chrome. With my preference for understated design, it wasn't my favorite look (they also are fingerprint magnets of the worst kind). Lucky for me, V-Moda volunteered to send out some custom shields to try. Here's how they look.
The shield on the far left top is the standard chrome, the orange and blue shields are made of 3D printed polycarbonate, and the red one is stained aluminum with a custom Android Police logo. The gunmetal grey shield with my initials on the top right is made from 3D printed stainless steel. I really dig the way all the custom shields look, in particular the 3D printed stainless steel shields with my initials. There is a subtle wood grain to the printed metal that looks and feels amazing in person.
The price for these custom shields ranges from the affordable 3D printed polycarbonate or laser etched shields ($25) to absurdly expensive precious metal shields ($350 for bronze to $27,000 for solid platinum). The 3D printed stainless shields pictured above are $150, or half the cost of the headphones themselves.
Are they worth it? That's up to you. I don't think many people are going to spring for 24K gold shields that cost more than a jet ski, but $25 for a custom set of aluminum shields in the color of your choosing with a personalized monogram or logo isn't a high price to pay to make your headphones truly unique. Whenever I show the cans to friends and co-workers, the shields are the first thing they notice. You can check out all the different materials, monogram, and color combinations here.
Controls and ports
The control setup on the Crossfades is fairly simple. All the controls are on the face of the right ear-cup. On the bottom rear edge is a sliding button that doubles as both a power toggle and Bluetooth pairing initiator. Just above the shield sits a row of three buttons. The outer buttons control the volume and the middle one is a multi-function button. A single press of this button will play or pause media, a double press will skip forward, a triple press will skip backward. This button also will answer a call with a single press and end or ignore a call with a double press.
I generally don't like multi-function buttons. They are typically a pain to use since the wrong cadence or number of presses can easily lead to an undesired outcome. The Crossfades are no exception in this regard, and in my experience, I found that the multi-function button often misinterpreted my presses. Making matters worse, the buttons on these cans are mushy, have very little travel, and weak response, making it even harder to know if a press was registered or not. You can do better than this, V-Moda.
There are two different ports on the Crossfades with one located at the base of each ear cup. An 3.5mm Aux port sits at the bottom of the right cup and MicroUSB charging on the left. A single microphone is also tucked behind a small slit in the right ear cup.
Fit and comfort
The fit of the Crossfades took a little getting used to for me. They have a moderate to strong amount of clamp strength, making for a tight, yet still comfortable, fit. I was concerned that the stronger than average clamp strength would lead to headaches or fatigue, but it hasn't been an issue at all, even with extended listening sessions.
The ear-cups are soft and malleable with a memory foam core covered by soft and flexible synthetic leather which feels remarkably close to the real stuff. It really is an impressive fake, if I hadn't read in the product description that they were synthetic I would have sworn they were calf skin. The elongated hexagon shape of the ear chamber doesn't resemble the anatomy of any human ear I have ever seen, but my moderately sized ears fit just fine in them, though without much room to spare. If you have ears the size of Dumbo's, be warned, they may not fit inside these cups comfortably. Fortunately, you can buy larger ear cushions if the included ones are too small, but you'll need to shell out an extra $20 for them.
Users of all different head sizes should be able to use the Crossfades without issue. The headband's length can be adjusted by almost a full inch on each side allowing a wide sizing range. The size adjustment mechanism is hidden within the headband which should reduce the likelihood of getting your hair pulled out. The headband has enough padding to be comfortable, but not so much that it makes my head hot and uncomfortable when wearing them on a warm day.
One potential negative I'd like to point out is that the Crossfades do not fold down in any way. Now, that means there are fewer moving parts that can break, but it also means that they are a little bulkier to carry around. This is mitigated in part by the semi-rigid case that is included with the headphones. It is molded to fit the headset exactly and has a durable, leather-like exterior that does a very apt job of protecting them while only adding a bit more bulk. Anyways, if you need your cans to fold flat to fit them in a small pocket of your satchel or backpack, these may not be a good option.
Overall, I am very pleased with the sound quality of the Crossfade Wireless headphones. They exhibit great tonal control from low to high volume with tight, measured bass and crisp highs. Mids are just a touch recessed which can lead to bass drowning out vocals on certain tracks. With that in mind, they cater more to those who crave low-end oomph than those who prefer a balanced sound profile. I like my bass a touch heavy, so that's fine with me.
Sound isolation is outstanding with these cans, likely due to their tight fit and solid construction. There is no sound leak whatsoever until they are pushed to above 80 percent volume, and even then it is minimal. That means they are more or less leak-proof, because unless you have damaged hearing, or would like to damage your hearing, listening above 80 percent volume is not something you are going to be doing. These things can get LOUD.
If you do want to listen to the headphones at peak volume, you won't be disappointed. Audio remains clear, controlled, and distortion-free all the way to the top. They also sound good when the volume is at 50 percent or below, although there is a significant drop-off in bass at lower volumes.
I'm a bit disappointed that the Crossfades are not noise cancelling, particularly when competitors at this price point, like the Bose QuiteComfort 35, are. That being said, the same tight fit that keeps noise from leaking out from the ear cups also does a decent job of blocking outside noise, though not to the degree of a set of premium headphones with active noise cancellation.
A Kevlar reinforced 3.5mm cable is included with the Crossfades for wired listening. With the headphones in wired mode I found the sound to be both a little louder and clearer, though not so much improved that I would forgo the convenience of using the headphones in wireless mode. I do appreciate that I'm able to connect the cord when the battery dies and continue using them.
Distinctive styling, powerful sound, and a really cool way to customize this set of cans make the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless headphones a product I can recommend without reservation. Besides my minor complaint about the mushy buttons, the Crossfades are nearly flawless. They are expensive, but no more so than products from competitors Sony, Bose, and Beats. If you are going to drop three bills on a headset, it better be well-built and great sounding, and Crossfades fit the bill.
If you like what you've read and want to try a pair for yourself, you can pick them up at Amazon or on V-Moda's own site. They cost the same on both sites ($300) and ship free, but if you order directly through V-Moda, you can get a custom set of 3D printed fiber or aluminum laser engraved shields included at no extra charge (normally $25).
The headphones are available in the four different color combinations pictured above. I like the gunmetal grey set the best, but the blingin' chrome set I was sent for review has grown on me as well. Have questions about anything I didn't mention in the review? Let me know in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them.