V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II

V-Moda has a history of building exceptional-sounding headphones and the Crossfade Wireless II is no exception. While its styling (and lack of active noise cancelling) may not be for everyone, these are lovely sounding headphones. 

Like Apple’s Beats line of headphones, V-Moda manages to bring style and even better sound than what Apple offers. While Beats are no longer a mess of muddy bass, headphones like the Beats Solo3 Wireless still can’t stand up to V-Moda when it comes to sound quality. That said, if you’re looking for a Beats alternative, the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II should be at the top of your list: They’re built like a tank, sound great, and don’t take themselves too seriously. 

While you won’t find modern features like active noise cancellation (ANC), multipoint pairing or aptX codec support, the Crossfade Wireless II are still solid headphones that last long, look great, and offer fun sound.

So what’s the problem with them? Well, at $330 (£300, about AU$435) for the black and white models and $350 (£330, about AU$462) for the rose gold model, the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II aren’t the best value when the competition in the same price category offer longer battery life, better sound, and have features like ANC, multipoint pairing and much more.

Design

V-Moda’s styling has always been polarizing and, as you can see, that’s not something that changed with this generation of the Crossfade. The company’s signature hexagonal design returns, which means you’ll still be able to order custom 3D-printed “shields” to add a bit of personal flare to your headphones. 

Our tester version came in a black-on-black color scheme but you can get a matte white and rose gold on black version as well. Interestingly, the rose gold model costs slightly more and is the only color that gets Qualcomm’s aptX codec support, which gets you CD-quality audio. 

It’s frustrating that V-Moda didn’t just offer aptX support for every color as the codec makes a huge difference in sound quality.

While the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II look nearly identical to the original, they can be folded up to be even more compact during transport. To that end, V-Moda throws in a nice hard case to help protect the headphones when in your bag with dedicated tie-downs for your charging and 3.5mm wired cables. 

The headphone’s controls are integrated into the right earcup with volume and playback buttons are located on top. There’s also a power and pairing slider, which features a status LED to let you know when the headphones are on, in pairing mode, or need to be charged.

Performance

As we said earlier, the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II are fun sounding headphones with slightly elevated bass response and impact. This makes the headphone sound warm and punchy, which is great for modern music. 

Some bass-heavy headphones like the Sony MDR-XB950N1 compromise mids and highs with its ridiculously bass-heavy sound, and while the V-Moda likes its lows, it deftly avoids falling into this trap: Mids are still lush, making vocals a pleasure to listen to. Even highs are well represented, though they are slightly rolled off and lack the resolution of audiophile headphones. 

Soundstage is good, offering a wide sound for a headphone in this class. Instrument positioning is a bit vague and sound stage height isn’t the best but horizontal soundstage is quite good. The Crossfade Wireless II also have good attack speed (an attribute that describes how quickly the transducer starts and stops), which helps make music sound more exciting.

It’s disappointing that V-Moda didn’t include aptX support in the black and white models of the Crossfade Wireless II – it's only available in the rose gold model which costs slightly more. In an age where aptX is the norm and aptX HD is the next big wireless audio codec, the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II feel antiquated. 

They also don’t feature auto play/pause, ANC, multipoint Bluetooth or an app to control advanced digital signal processing and EQ like Sony’s flagship line of wireless headphones.

But it's not all bad, though. Battery life is good with a rated 14 hours of playback at moderate volume. Our testing found this rating to be spot on, getting us through two work days before needing a charge.

Verdict

The V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II are for people looking for fashionable headphones that sound great. These sound better than the Beats Solo3 and some may like its bold styling more than the ubiquitous look of the Beats. Build quality also beats (pun intended) Apple’s line of headphones by bathing listeners with leather and metal. 

While we loved the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II’s fun, punchy sound quality, style and build, we were disappointed by how antiquated the headphones felt against the competition in the same class. For the around the same money, you can get the best ANC money can buy with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, featuring the Google Assistant. You can also get Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM2 for slightly more money, which gets you better sound quality, battery life, ANC, and a slew of other features. 

But if all you’re looking for are a stylish pair of headphones that stand out from the crowd, but also have a fun sound signature, you’ll like the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II. 

Lewis Leong
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