In the past, I’ve owned the Crossfade M100 and now, the award-winning earphones are back with an added feature: wireless connectivity. I’ve been using the Crossfade Wireless for the past week or so, and they’re rather fantastic…
If you’ve used V-MODA M100 Crossfade earphones before, the Crossfade Wireless will be immediately recognizable. They feature the same overall design; the tough polycarbonate hexagonal cans, with the removable decorative shield on the outside, the same bendable and unbreakable steel headband which sits really close to your head when worn, even the same vegan leather covering and padding. But there are a couple of differences.
Firstly, although extendable, the forks which hold the earphones in place are no longer foldable, so you can’t collapse the earphones. The newly design exoskeleton case design makes that clear. Instead of being relatively small and portable, the new case is pretty big and will take up a lot of space in most bags. There are also four buttons placed on the right earphone. One is for switching on/off the Bluetooth, there are two volume buttons near the top of the right can, and a button in the middle which is used to play, pause or skip tracks. Which action it performs depends on how many times, or for how long, you press it.
Overall build quality — as you’d expect from the Italian company — is superb. Everything, from the cable and steel headband to the earphones themselves is built to last. And they look really classy too. I chose the Gunmetal base color, which subtly combines black and metallic gray to great effect. Other choices include ‘Rouge’ which is black and red, ‘Phantom Chrome’ which is white chrome and black or the ‘White Silver’ version.
Which ever base color you choose, you can change the look by ordering custom shields to decorate them with. There are a number of 3D printed materials and colors you can choose from. They range from the cheap, brightly colored plastics, through $150 3D printed metals to $9000 precious metals. You can add monograms, V-Moda designed patterns or upload your own design to customize the shields further.
As you’d assume from the name, the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless use a Bluetooth connection to connect to your smartphone, tablet or computer. But if you’d rather stick with the trusty, long-lasting 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable instead, you can do. Either way, you’ll get fantastic sound.
Audio-wise, it’s one of those sets of headphones where you hear little elements within a track you maybe didn’t notice before. It could be a subtle shake of a tambourine in the background, or actually hearing a bassists fingers brushing over the strings as he plays. Even at high volumes they don’t tend to distort much, and they can get pretty loud. But even then, audio is clear albeit slightly bass-heavy. Even with the loud bass, none of the other frequencies tend to get muddied over. Middles and highs are still really clear and distinct.
Wearing them is a joy too. The earphones are really well padded, so they’re comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and they don’t leak out noise for other people to hear (and hate you for). They’re relatively lightweight, and the steel headband fits so snugly that there’s no rattling, or shaking. They hold incredibly well to my head, regardless of whether I’m sitting still, spinning in my office chair or walking. Going wireless adds to that feeling of security and freedom. I’m not worried that a sudden movement is going to pull a cable from my ear, or cause the earphones to fall off my head.
The one downside is one you’ll experience with pretty much any over-ear headphone: Your ears get pretty warm after 20-30 mins of constant listening. V-Moda claims you can get 12 hours of music playback, which you probably can if you use it at low-ish volume. I listened to music through them for a solid 3-5 hours throughout this week, and they’re still going strong. I just wish there was a more accurate way to check battery life that didn’t leave me needing to rely on one single light warning me of low battery when it’s already too late. Still, even if the battery did run out, I could plug in the audio cable and get unlimited use until I reached a charger.
Charging is done the usual way: A Micro USB cable. While a necessary addition, it does mean that only the right can has a 3.5mm jack. It doesn’t have one in each side like the M100.
As an overall package the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless ticks all the boxes for me. It’s a durable and attractive pair of headphones that delivers great audio quality, and does so without wires. Exactly the reason they made it on to my list of great gift ideas for this holiday season.
You can pick up all four standard color combinations with Prime delivery on Amazon for $299 or — if you want to customize them before ordering — through V-MODA’s online store, delivery will take a little longer with custom shields and coloring. If you happen to own an existing pair of V-Moda headphones, you can trade them in for up to 50% off the Crossfade Wireless through V-MODA’s Immortal Life Program.