I tend to like my headphone designs much like my audio quality: neutral. But if you prefer something a little more visually interesting, you will often find yourself being forced to choose between audio quality and looks. That’s a problem V-Moda set out to solve with its Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition headphones …
We’ll get into the audio quality shortly – for now I’ll just say that the brand is much favored by DJs, and while the tuning isn’t absolutely to my taste, they deliver a solid performance.
But we’ll start with the unique selling point of this particular model: customization.
When you order your headphones, you’ll be asked to make plenty of decisions about their look …
V-Moda offers a choice of four categories of materials for the ‘shields’ on the side panels:
- 3D printed ‘precious metals’ (more on these in a moment)
- 3D printed steel
- 3D printed fiber
- Laser-engraved aluminum
Within each of these, you’re offered a choice of colors. The widest choice is offered within aluminum, where you get no fewer than 22 colors and finishes.
Within the ‘precious metal’ category, you can choose between brass, bronze, 14K gold (plated or solid), 14K rose gold (ditto), 14K white gold, silver, rhodium or platinum.
You can even customize your choice of screws!
Pricing, of course, varies with your selection. A pair with plain 3D printed fiber costs $350. But opt for the precious metals, and things get expensive – from $750 for brass or bronze through $1000 for gold plate through to an eye-watering $27,000 for solid platinum.
Some of the materials also offer you a range of personlization options, from simple initials through a range of V-Moda designs to an ‘upload your own design’ option.
Some options are extra cost, some are included – it all depends on your choice of materials and design. The customizer webpage will calculate it for you, bottom-right on the screen, so you can play around.
Look & feel
I normally open reviews with a ‘look & feel’ section, but you’ll understand why I couldn’t do so this time! But the options aside, let’s discuss the rest. I tested a plain black fiber pair.
The headband is lined with a soft cotton-like material on the inside. The metal arms give it a high-quality feel, and the ratchet adjustment has small, precise steps for the perfect fit.
The over-ear cups are soft leather over memory foam, and feel as good as my favorite B&Ws. Really comfy, and with excellent sound isolation – though no active noise-cancellation.
The headphones are foldable, the cups folding inside the headband to reduce the bulk by around half. This makes them very practical to slip into a bag.
You also get a nice accessory pack with them: a carrying case, designed to carry them in the folded position, a 3.5mm audio cable with microphone and switch – so you can use them as wired headphones – and a MicroUSB charging cable. The case looks very swish, and offers good protection.
The controls are very basic. There are three buttons with the usual combined functions: play/pause/answer/hangup, volume up/next track, volume down/previous track.
Then there’s a 3-way on/off/pair switch.
I say basic because they are plain black plastic, and this was the one area where I felt that the design was slightly lacking. The controls don’t fall as readily to hand as I’d like, though you do get used to them, and feel a little cheap in their action.
But this is a relatively small complaint. Once I was used to their positions, I was able to use them readily.
With the Codex Edition, V-Moda has added support for aptX, for higher quality audio connections to Macs, and AAX, for better quality audio with iPhones.
Musicians seem to like boosted bass and treble at the expense of mid-range. That’s the tuning you find on Marshall equipment, for example, which I found was a lot of fun with rock tracks despite my normal preference for neutral sound.
V-Moda takes the same core approach, but has a rather more subtle implementation. You do definitely hear the bass being somewhat over-emphasised, but not to Marshall levels. The high notes, too, get a distinct boost. That said, the mid-range doesn’t feel lacking, and the overall feeling is a mildly punchy sound – bit not intrusively so.
The headphones sound good across a range of genres, with no harshness or distortion at either end. I still prefer completely neutral reproduction over a tuned one, but these are headphones I could happily listen through. If you prefer a bit more bass but still broadly realistic reproduction, these are probably the headphones for you.
V-Moda recognizes that some people might feel annoyed at having bought the previous-generation Crossfade 2 Wireless headphones and wish they’d known the Codex Edition was on the way. For them, the company offers the ability to upgrade to the new model for just $100. You can also upgrade from the Crossfade 1 for $150.
This is a nice touch, and a good way to reward loyalty.
Price and conclusions
If it’s just the sound quality you want, then the base pair can be yours for $350. Given the sound quality and comfort, I’d say that represents excellent value for money – and the looks are perfectly acceptable.
If you like the sound of them but want to spend less, you can pick up the first-gen Crossfade from around $150.
But if you’re into customization, and have the money to spend, you can go as crazy as you like. All the way up to $27k …
V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition headphones can be ordered and customized at the company’s website.