V-MODA are back with the Crossfade 2 Wireless headphones, following on the success of original design. The new model is an over-ear, noise-isolating headphone designed with premium audio and stylish looks in mind. The Crossfade 2 will set you back $330, but you get a whole lot of headphone for your money. Today we’ll also look at the Boom Pro mic ($30), which is designed for use with the Crossfade 2. On a budget? The Hyper X cloud II review touches upon similar features you can get for a much lower price.
Wired and wireless headphone operation
The Crossfade 2 offers both wired and wireless operation and an integrated microphone. While the mic works well, you can also get the Boom Pro add-on if you’re a gamer or anyone who wants the best mic set-up possible. The headphone provides strong passive noise isolation, but no active cancellation. It’s suited to gaming, work, commuting and listening at home or out. Additionally, V-MODA have paid a lot of attention to appearance. The design is classy and distinct. There’s three colours available (black, white and rose gold) and you can also order customised earpiece shields.
Punchy audio performance
V-MODA have cooked up a punchy, modern-sounding headphone here. The wired frequency response is a very broad 5 – 40,000Hz. The bass and treble are pushed forward, while the mids are recessed. The low end is warm and fat, and is the most prominent aspect of the Crossfade 2’s profile. It’s a sound that’s naturally at home for hip hop, EDM and pop. Guitar-based music only really shines when you run the headphone in wired mode, which tightens up the mids and provides greater clarity.
With the difference between the wireless and wired sounds, it’s almost like having two different headphones. As a wannabe producer I prefer the more balanced wired sound, but I imagine some people would prefer the pushed bass sound you get when running it wirelessly. V-MODA have packed 14 hours of wireless performance on each charge and unlimited wired listening time.
Comfort and design
V-MODA’s Crossfade 2 is a comfy wear thanks to the memory foam earcups. A lot of over-ear headphones squash your head but the Crossfade doesn’t have this problem. The drivers are a little close to the ear for my liking, but if you want to create more space, extra-large earcups can be ordered as an accessory.
The control scheme is simple and easy to operate. On the right earpiece there’s an off/on button and three buttons controlling volume and pause/play/call operation. The latter function can also be controlled by the single-button remote on the cable. The scheme is based around physical buttons, as opposed to touch controls. The headphone can fold in on itself for storage – just make sure you invert one of the earpieces first as the shield plates can scratch one other when back-to-back.
Pros and cons of passive isolation
V-MODA have gone down the passive isolation route for the Crossfade 2. Therefore it won’t offer the big reduction in ambient noise that active cancellation can. The passive isolation is pretty strong though – it definitely cuts a fair chunk of ambient noise. There are also some other advantages to the passive approach. If they had to add noise cancellation tech, the Crossfade would likely cost $430+ rather than $330. Also, noise cancellation hasn’t been perfected yet. Even the best designs still leave a slight sensation of pressure on the eardrums when active, which for some people can be very off-putting.
Crossfade 2 Wireless accessories
V-MODA have included everything you need to get up and running with the Crossfade 2. This includes: 1.4m cable, 1.1m charging cable, 1/4″ jack converter and a hardshell case. It’s great to see a hardcase included, as it’s surprisingly common to see high-end headphones ship with flimsy cases that don’t provide any real protection. The audio cable is made of fabric and features an angled jack and a straight jack (for the headphone end). The flat charging cable is USB to Micro-USB (on the headphone end). Both cables are tangle-free and are made of tough materials.
Boom Pro mic features
The integrated Crossfade 2 mic works fine, but if you want more options in mic performance you can pick up the Boom Pro accessory. It’s designed for gamers, VOIP/calls and podcasting. The advantages are: Mute and volume buttons integrated into the cable, higher quality audio and a Steelflex arm for easy mic positioning. You also get an integrated cable clip and Y-adaptor for computers that require separate mic and headphone inputs
The mic is run via a 2m cable which replaces the standard 1.4m audio cable you get with the Crossfade 2. The Steelflex arm makes positioning the mic very easy. V-MODA state the mic is compatible with “all iOS devices, Android devices, and most computers/PCs.”
Boom Pro applications
The Boom Pro mic has clear, crisp audio and is easy to set-up and use. It certainly works well for gaming and calls. It’s also a convenient option for podcasting, but I’d only recommend it for amateurs. No $30 mic will get you professional-level results for voice work. If you’re getting seriously stuck into podcasting you’d be better off getting a dedicated USB mic.
The Crossfade 2 verdict
V-MODA have been in the game for quite a while now and the Crossfade 2 is another success for the Californians. You can tell they’ve thought hard about exactly what is needed in a good wireless headphone (and what isn’t) and delivered the goods accordingly. It’s a great gaming headphone, performs well in the audio department and is an all-around versatile design. It’s not cheap but the price-tag is justified by the features and performance. The only downside for me is that the bass is very prominent in wireless mode, but then again, this could be a plus for some listeners.