V-MODA Crossfade Wireless a Mixed Bag

This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

I know it's anathema to audio purists, but wireless headphones—in principle—are terrific. No, I'm not going to give up on wires for my reference level listening; heck, I don't even give it up when i'm traveling (Bose QC20,25) or mowing the back yard (Westone ES5, JH Audio JH13FP). But when I'm around the house needing to take part in a conference call or when I watch a movie on my iPad I much prefer life without the wire. When sound quality isn't critical for me (phone calls and video) the added convenience of wireless headphones wins the moment.

My personal favorite wireless headphone is the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless ($499). It's bloody expensive and the sound is somewhat hard and shouty, but the comfort and ergos are stellar, phone calls are clear on both ends, and the noise canceling is pretty darn good. But to my ears the MEE Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 (discontinued and now available as the Ausdom M05 for $51.28) sounds quite a bit better. Why don't I use it instead of the Momentum Wireless? Well, it just feels cheaper; the controls aren't quite as conveniently placed; the isolation isn't as good; and I just love the feel of the real leather cushions of the Sennheisers up agains my ears. Comfort, convenience, and pride of ownership can compete with sound quality when it come to wireless headphones, given the way I use them.

Enter the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless ($300); which pretty nicely splits the difference between the two headphones mentioned above. It doesn't have noise canceling like the Sennheiser, but it seals you away from outside sound better than the MEE. It doesn't have an apt-X Bluetooth codec, but it does have ACC+, ACC, MP3 codecs. (Which is arguably just as good or better.) It's got great battery life (~12 hours), and sounds virtually identical wired or wireless—so your experience is consistent regardless of battery charge. When I put it into the mix of wireless cans here around the house, I was perfectly happy to use it interchangeably with the Sennheiser and preferably over most others. That's the first thing you should take away from this review: The V-MODA Crossfade Wireless is very competent BT headset for use with portable devices at, what seems to me, a very fair price.

The second thing you should take away from this review is that the build quality of the Crossfade Wireless—like all V-MODA products—is simply first rate. I go back and forth on the styling—which many will like but they're not strongly appealing to me—but there's no question in my mind that V-MODA headphones are one of the best built headphone brands in the world. Everything from the bullet-proof and well-fitting headband, to the myriad cable and earpad options, to the custom shields tells me that this is a company that knows how to build headphones, and does it well enough that I consider them to be a leader in the field. Both the V-MODA M-100 and XS were reviewed very positively by me, and have found a place on InnerFidelity's Wall of Fame. To me, the only questionable decision V-MODA made in the build of this headphone is not including the CliqFold(TM) hinge found on the M-100 and XS.


Size when stored comparison of the Crossfade Wireless (left) and M-100 (right) with space saving CliqFold(TM) hinge.

The CliqFold(TM) hinge allows the headphones to very conveniently fold upwards into the space within the headband. This makes the stored size of the M-100 much smaller than the similarly sized Crossfade Wireless without CliqFold(TM) hinges. The thing is, it's quite likely that including these rather complex and expensive hinges might have driven the cost of the Crossfade Wireless above the $300 mark—which to my mind that would have made them a much more questionable purchase.

The third thing you should take away from this review is my evaluation of the sound quality of these headphones, and how it speaks against weighting the first two thing too heavily in your purchasing decision.

I'll tell you all about that on the next page.