Val Kolton of V-Moda continues to release new headphones in the wake of his success with audiophiles from models starting as far back as his early M-series of over-ear and on-ear models. One of our first early reviews was of the M-80 from this time period. It stood out with its unique highly energetic sound that placed lot of fun on either end of the frequency spectrum.
In recent years the brand has matured even further, with a unique aesthetic design and Italian-inspired sensibilities that are a fresh departure from the silver, black and grey motifs that cover most of personal audio. V-Moda has been able to construct a fresh bridge between lifestyle and just good sound in general, which isn’t a territory that many tread in very often, or often enough. But times continue to change, and with the insurrection of a 3.5mm-absent iPhone looming over much of personal audio, and the time to refine wireless audio to new heights is upon us. Taking a heavy hint within all of this, V-Moda has recently released an update to its Crossfade Wireless over-ears.
The new “Crossfade 2 “Wireless ($330) sports an updated dual-diaphragm 50mm driver, a bigger battery, larger, deeper ear cushions, and the option for aptX (+$20). The outside look maintains much of the same hexagonal shape with 3d-printable faceplates, removable cord and low profile earcups. As with the original Crossfade, the earcup doesn’t hold the title for largest interior realestate for a headphone, but still provides enough room to give any ear enough space to fulfill its purpose with style. In a way the relatively smaller cup size (for an over-ear) is more manageable and presentable than a great deal of the audiophile cans that are simply enormous fixtures upon a head. The overall style is both solid in presentation and realistic for out-of-the-house wear. The Crossfade 2 is accompanied by a removable cable, should your headphones need the assistance. The headphone is actually foldable, though you might not know it given how stable the headphone feels when extended. The “Cliqfold” hinge appears as a solid pivot point with fully reinforced hardware to keep things moving along reliably. The carrying bag is one of the smallest, yet robust we have seen to date. The rubberized shell and compact form factor are a compelling included accessory, both the included analog cable and USB charging wire fit inside with even a little room to spare.
The wireless performance out of the box is as straightforward as any bluetooth device. A simple slide of the power switch turns it on, push it a little further and it changes into pairing mode. Since the battery is a little bit bigger this time around, rated listening duration has been increased to 14+ hours thanks to an internal 430mAh battery. Even with this increase the headphone is fairly light on the head as audiophile headphones go (309g). A simple three button operation is located along the top edge of the right earcup. Volume up and down worked well and were easy to reach during playback. The middle button starts and stops the music similar to the inline remote. Should you head out with the Crossfade 2 in wired mode, the included detachable cable with in-line controls is an good length for portable listening from pocket to head. In wireless mode, the distance was excellent (even without line of site) from an iPhone 7 and should be able to cover any 1k sq.ft apt without breaking a sweat. While connections were easy to install and maintain one of the foremost concerns with almost all wireless devices (as it pertains to audiophile listening) is the noise floor. The Crossfade 2 did have a very slight digital sounding floor that was present for most connections with the exception of wired. With a wired connection, no noise floor was detectable through any of the amps or sources tested with the headphones. The floor with a wireless connection was very low in most situations and was easily drowned out by the natural dynamics of the music, and in cases with older classic recordings – lower than the analog tape hiss present within many albums.