Review: V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Headphones

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Product: V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Headphones
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Manufacturer: v-moda.com
Original MSRP: $300.00
This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 454 of the podcast.

Let’s get this out of the way immediately. Yes, the Crossfade Wireless headphones cost $300, and that obviously means they’re not for everyone. But with this additional functionality, things can instantly become a lot more simple if they actually hold-up to the quality of the M-100 headphones these are based on.

The Crossfade M-100 Headphones are the pair that I keep with me all the time, and what I use at my job almost every day. Lately, the only time I really didn’t use them was on a flight. Being wireless just makes things so much easier, especially when someone needs to get by me while I’m in the aisle seat. For those instances I would use the Astrogaming A38 Bluetooth headphones, especially since they have active noise cancellation.

… my options have become a lot more plentiful …
The possibility of keeping the headphones count to one is quite appealing when I travel, because every ounce counts when you’re traveling with a ton of recording equipment. But even above that is the fact that I can use the same headphones with my PS4, phone, Vita, tablet, and my new Samsung Gear VR.

Essentially, the Crossfade Wireless fixes the one thing that I really dislike about the Astrogaming A38’s, the fact that they ONLY allowed connectivity via Bluetooth. Now that I can connect wirelessly or via the standard 3.5mm included cable, my options have become a lot more plentiful and that’s a good thing, especially when you’re paying $300.

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If you’ve read my review of the Crossfade M-100 headphones, I’ll make this part simple. These are essentially the same headphones with three key differences. First, since these now include Bluetooth connectivity, there are buttons on the right side and there’s a battery inside. Second, since there’s a battery that needs recharging, the second 3.5mm plug has now been replaced by a Micro-USB port. Third, and the most baffling change, the earcups no longer fold up and in for compact transport.

That’s essentially it, everything else is the same. That includes the sound quality, which is still excellent, the build quality, the comfort on your head, and the quality of the included microphone. Oh wait, there’s a fourth difference. Since these are Bluetooth, you can use them with a mobile device so they now have a built-in microphone as well.

When you’re plugged into a device like the DualShock 4 the battery isn’t in-play at all, so you still get that much-preferred analog sound from the source. Switching back and forth between these and the M-100’s, I honestly can’t hear a difference – which is a very good thing.

… Audio quality via Bluetooth is good …
One shortcoming still comes to light though and that is that there isn’t a volume control while in “analog mode”. I’d really like to be able to simply adjust the volume with something on the cable so I don’t have to dig my phone out of my pocket. If you use an iPhone or iPad, you can buy a 3-button cable from V-MODA if you choose, which will allow for volume adjustment right on the cable. But this only works with Apple products, so your experience with other devices will vary.

Syncing via Bluetooth is quite easy and you can even stay connected with two devices at once, meaning you can listen to your laptop but you can also answer a phone call if one comes in. In my time so far, the Bluetooth connectivity has been rock-solid and distance has been great as well – they report a range of 33 Feet/10 Meters.

Audio quality via Bluetooth is good, but as usual just a little less beefy than when you’re connected with a cable. This isn’t the fault of the headphones at all though, it’s simply an inherent feature of Bluetooth. The differences are minimal though, and most of the time, it’s pretty hard to notice.

One reason that these work a bit better via Bluetooth is because V-MODA has included AAC+, AAC, MP3, and SBC audio codecs right on the device. Even though I haven’t seen how so far, there’s also an upgradeable firmware as well. They’ve even tested connectivity with most of the Smart Watches available now, so if you’ve got music loaded to your watch for running etc, rest assured that these will work well.

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One test that I love to perform if I can is to use them during a flight or two, and luckily I was able to do just that. Bluetooth performance was stellar on both crowded flights, with no hiccups or interference. I even left my tablet in my bag up in the overhead compartment on one flight, resulting in no issues at all.

Even more extreme, I wore them while I walked up and down the aisle of the airplane, and I never had a problem with range. This does depend also on the device you’re connected to, which in this instance was a Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Even with the default earcup pads, unlike the larger ones I used on the M-100 Headphones, the sound isolation was fantastic on the noisy flight and sound quality never took a noticeable hit. I will say though that while traveling like this, I really did miss the ability to fold the headphones up like you can with the M-100’s, so these do take a bit more room in my bag than I’m used to.

With the Vita, these work as well as you could possibly expect, wired or wireless. Sound, as always, is crystal clear with a great amount of range from high to low. I was actually able to use these while also connected to my phone, and taking a call while I played worked great. It’s something that I don’t expect to do much, but it was cool to know that it works so well.

… having a 3.5mm connection brings so much to the table …
Let’s be honest, sometimes you may not even realize that you’re connected to one of those devices when you start using the other. As I mentioned above, now that Bluetooth is included in these headphones, buttons to control everything have been added and I like how they’re set up.

Everything is on the right side and everything is easy to navigate by touch. I also love that power and sync functions are handled with a toggle switch instead of holding a button for so many seconds. It’s much easier to know what’s happening without having to take them off to look at the button layout.

Battery life is excellent so far, as I’ve gotten between eleven and twelve hours out of a single charge with only about thirty minutes of charging needed to add another three hours of use. This brings me to my biggest complaint about the Astrogaming A38’s, the fact that when your battery dies there’s no way to use them until you can get a charge into them.

The simple option of also having a 3.5mm connection brings so much to the table in terms of options with the Crossfade Wireless, and that’s why these are now replacing the A38’s in my bag when I travel or when I need wireless connectivity wherever. No longer do I need to pack two separate pairs of headsets in those situations, because the Crossfade Wireless handle both functions with ease.

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So if you didn’t read the M-100 review, let me give you the quick rundown on the core features. First, they have some impressive 50mm dual-diaphragms which help overcome the usual bass-heaviness you get from the larger drivers. Instead, these definitely give you a wide range across the board with a great deal of detail in all three areas: Low, Mid, and High.

Build quality is insanely solid all around with a good amount of tension on the crossbar. The padding on the area that touches your head is actually improved over what they used on the M-100’s, and no matter where you check, nothing ever feels less than high-quality. But even with the rugged build quality, weight is never an issue, which is pretty shocking.

… the plates on the earcups can be upgraded and even personalized …
Also, and this can be an irritation to some since you’re spending $300 already, some upgrades are available for purchase. First, you can get oversized earcup pads for $20 that add additional depth and padding, which I have on my M-100’s. I haven’t swapped them over to the Crossfade Wireless though and so far I’m extremely happy with the padding that comes with the headphones.

One item that you may want to consider if you’re going to be using these for gaming or streaming though, is the BoomPro Microphone for $30. I’ve been extremely happy with its audio quality in every situation that I’ve used it in so far, including recording an entire podcast episode. Honestly, it’s the best microphone that I’ve used on a pair of 3.5mm-connected headphones.

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Last but not least, the plates on the earcups can be upgraded and even personalized if you so choose. The range of options is pretty deep, from pre-made designs to custom designs you upload to their web tool. At first blush it can seem pretty similar to what Astrogaming offers, but V-MODA takes things way past the point of simply printing a logo on a magnetic plate.

They offer fully 3D-Printed plates made from materials like Hardened Fiber, Aluminum, or even Bronze, Gold, or Platinum for around $9,000. V-MODA sent a pair of Red fiber shields so I could try them out, and instead of using magnets, these are connected using a decent number of screws. When your upgraded plates arrive, they even include a small screwdriver to help with installation.

It’s a cool option, and you definitely can’t say that they’re limiting your imagination. Swapping them out is pretty straightforward and only takes a few minutes. I also like that they actually offer 3D Printed options that really stand-out a lot more than a simple printout on a flat surface.

… It’s tough to find any fault with these headphones …
Conclusion:
Yes, they’re $300. It’s up to you if these are worth your money or not. But for headphones in this price range, you won’t find anything better as far as I’ve seen or heard. The inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity without taking anything away, except for the second 3.5mm jack, they’re simply full of win.

It’s tough to find any fault with these headphones, but if I have to, it’s got to be the dumbfounding choice to take away the fold-in option for transport. It’s not a huge deal I guess, but it’s a design choice that I loved with the M-100’s.

My headphone usage habits may differ from many, especially with the amount that I travel around. Even still, using these with the DualShock 4 and upgrading to the BoomPro Microphone for gaming applications, you’d have a tough time finding headphones with better quality or more connectivity options in most situations. Even better though is that I can use them via Bluetooth with my Vita, phone, and tablets, and having more options is just butter on the frosting.

Score:
9.5

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