The headphone industry may have been a simpler affair a long time ago, but the 2014 acquisition of Beats Electronics by Apple has had a huge impact on the way headphones are bought and sold today. Beats’ resounding success and effective marketing has proven that headphones have big-money potential, and positioning personal audio products as lifestyle products rather than focusing on function and performance makes for good business.
Brands have tried to ape Beats’ success, either through design or desirability. One such brand is V-MODA, which was founded in 2004 by Val Kolton, a DJ and music producer. Although now owned and controlled by Japanese company Roland, the brand retains its distinct identity, producing fashionable headphones that appeal to electronic music listeners. With unique industrial design and a bass-friendly sonic signature, V-MODA is known for being an excellent alternative to Beats headphones.
However, it’s also an expensive alternative, and today we’re reviewing the Rs 28,990 V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless headphones. With wireless connectivity, AptX capability on the premium version and plenty of style to go around, the Crossfade 2 Wireless comes with a lot of promise. But can it justify its high price? We find out in our review.
V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Design and Specifications
I’ve used the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless headphones that are the predecessor to this pair, and indeed there’s very little to differentiate when it comes to styling and looks. That isn’t a bad thing at all, as the Crossfade Wireless design is contemporary, beautiful and solid in all ways. With a strong metal frame, tough plastic casing with metal plates and memory foam cushioning on the earcups, there’s very little to complain about. Thanks to folding hinges on both sides, the headphones are more compact for storage. For an additional charge of Rs 2,490, you can also get an additional set of customizable metal plates for the headphones, to add a bit of style to the package.
The sales package includes the headphones, an auxiliary stereo cable with a one-button remote and microphone, a USB to micro-USB cable for charging, a 6.3mm adapter for the 3.5mm pin on the cable, and a plastic carry case for the headphones. When using the headphones wired, frequency ranges from 5-40,000Hz with 100dB sensitivity. The headset is wireless and connects to source devices via Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, with up to 14 hours of battery life on a single charge.
A key difference between the Crossfade 2 Wireless and its predecessor is 50mm improved drivers. Additionally the Rs 29,990 Rose Gold variant of the Crossfade 2 Wireless also features AptX support, which provides for better wireless audio transmission and encoding when using a compatible source device. The headphones are over-ear, and therefore fit comfortably around your ears thanks to memory foam cushioning. Although the headset is a bit heavy, it remains comfortable over long hours of use. You may need to occasionally give your ears a breather, though.
The controls and ports on the headphone are simple, but effective. The left casing has the micro-USB port for charging at the bottom, while the right casing has the 3.5mm jack for wired connectivity. The right side also has power switch, which doubles up as the pairing switch, along with the three physical control buttons. The two volume buttons flank the multi-function button, which can be pressed once to play or pause audio, twice for the next track and thrice for the previous track.
It isn’t quite as fancy as the similarly priced Sony MDR-1000X headphones which use gestures to control the device, nor does it have the active noise-cancellation that can be bought at headphones in this price range, but you do get distinct styling and a very party-friendly sonic signature, which I’ll describe ahead.
V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Performance
V-MODA is known for its electronica-favoring sonic signature and influences, so I did most of our listening in the genre. Our focus tracks included Mark Knight’s Your Love, Skrillex’s Breaking a Sweat, and Gorillaz’ Empire Ants (Miami Horror Mix). I used the OnePlus 5 as my source device, and since we had been given the Rose Gold variant of the Crossfade 2 Wireless, we were able to exploit the AptX encoding on both the headphones and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-powered OnePlus 5.
As is expected, the sonic signature is firmly V-shaped, with distinct sensitivity spikes in the lows and highs. The mid-range is noticeably suppressed, but not significantly enough to ruin the sonic signature. The drivers are additionally tuned to offer calculated, tight bass, with enough subtle reverb and punch to keep you excited. Listening to Your Love and Breaking a Sweat was an absolute pleasure, thanks to the strong low-end. This is particularly audible in the strong bass beats of the dubstep track, and what makes it so good is the drive and calculation to it all that never feels too excessive or overbearing.
Listening to the remix of Empire Ants on the V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless is interesting for a number of reasons, including the clean nature of the sound, despite the very distinct sonic skew. Minute details are audible despite the punchy nature of the bass and strong reverb with percussion-based sound. Sound imaging is also clean and well-defined, with the headphones boasting of sonic separation that matches that of the Bose QC35, widely considered the best wireless headphones you can buy today.
Speaking of which, there’s very little practical difference between sound performance using the wire or listening wirelessly, thanks to the quality of the DAC in the headphones and the AptX codec. Sound transmission is free of the typical disturbances you can expect from Bluetooth audio, and remains clean and defined even with low-resolution audio tracks. Indeed, the only thing missing here is active noise-cancellation, barring which the V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless is an excellent performer when it comes to modern music.
The V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless is an excellent pair of headphones when it comes to looks, build and performance. With its electronica-influenced sonic signature and industrial design, it’s as much a status symbol as a device to listen to music on, and certainly has enough appeal as a lifestyle product. However, the high price and lack of active noise-cancellation makes competing products such as the Sony MDR-1000X and Bose QC35 a bit more appealing in some ways.
However, if you’re looking for the style and attacking sound that only V-MODA can give you, the Crossfade 2 Wireless is perhaps your best option. Available at Rs 28,990 (Rs 29,990 for the Rose Gold AptX-capable variant), the V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless is a viable wireless alternative to Beats headphones.