V-MODA Crossfade LPs: Review
When I first laid my eyes on V-MODA’s Crossfade LPs (for all intensive purposes, Crossfades), I knew that I would have to get my hands (and ears) on a set of my own—I’d never seen a pair of headphones that looked quite like ‘em.
A day or two later, the Press Release arrived in my inbox—an excerpt, which has been reproduced below, piqued my interest even more.
The Crossfades were developed over a lengthy process of collaboration with professional musicians, producers and DJs. V-MODA set out to create an over the ear style headphone that not only sounded great but looked equally so.
Then, I was really excited; I of course proceeded to contact V-MODA. A few days later, I heard back from them: per our request, they were going to send a review unit our way!
For the past month or two, I’ve been testing them out… and I like them! But, do these headphones sacrifice style for sound? Or, did V-MODA manage to create perfect combination of both audio quality and handsomeness? Keep reading beyond the break to find out the answers to these questions and many more in this TechTrackr.com Review!
Allow me to premise this review with this: the Crossfades are V-MODA’s first foray into the over-the-ear headphone market. So, with that being said, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The rather unique Crossfade experience started with its unconventional packaging. Right off the bat, V-MODA had my attention.
Looking at the box, you’ll find that it’s held closed with a red ribbon—in order to access the package’s contents, you’ll have to slice it open. Another interesting touch was the croc-skin tab that lays atop the box.
On the back, V-MODA provides the “tech specs.” I was intrigued by the patent pending 50 mm Dual-Diaphragm high-definition driver. According to the folks at V-MODA, this technology allows them to deliver, “deep vibrant bass, organic mid-range and crystal clear clarity on portable devices without the need for any batteries. “ Essentially, the drivers allow the headphones to deliver multiple driver sound with “efficiency of a single driver.” I also learned that the device weighs 280 g (roughly six-tenths of a pound).
Once I mustered up enough courage to actually open the casing, I found a seriously intimidating carrying case waiting for me inside. The so-called “exoskeleton” case features yet another eccentric design that only V-MODA would be bold enough to ship.
Since the Crossfades aren’t collapsible (more on that later), the case is a little larger than those for other comparable headphones. Regardless, it held up well when I brought my Crossfades on a few trips. There’s also a spot on the bottom where the included carabineer can snap on.
Opening the hard-shell case revealed a few treats—of course, the headphones but also a carrying clip (essentially a carabineer), two cables, as well as a ¼ inch adapter.
With regards to the cables, I’m definitely a fan. First of all, they’re really light—the fact that there’s no added weight is definitely a plus. Next, they’ve been coated with fabric; this makes rather challenging to tangle (kudos, V-MODA). Finally, both connectors on each side of the cable have been reinforced with Kevlar (a super-strong material) and feature a twenty-four karat gold-plated plug.
Again, the set comes with two separate audio cables. One cable has a three-button remote with an inline remote control and microphone (it’s compatible with the iPod/iPhone line but more on that soon). You should note that the remote itself is a mere six inches away from the end of the headphone plug which made it kind-of difficult to know which button I was actually hitting. It’s also definitely worth mentioning that it was quite awkward to have the remote so close to my face the entire time. Oh, and the microphone isn’t the greatest either —I’d say it’s just average. The other cable is just for standard audio meaning it will work with any device that has a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
A final note about the cables—they’re detachable. So, if you want, you could leave one cable in your backpack or overnight bag, and leave your other at home. You get the point: they’re portable.
The ¼ inch adapter that’s included enables you to use the Crossfades with DJ equipment. If you’ve never heard of such an adapter, chances are you won’t be using yours.
AESTHITCS & STYLE
When the Crossfades launched a few weeks ago, they were only available in three distinct color schemes: White Pearl, Gunmetal Black, and Phantom Chrome. Note that the pictures scattered throughout this review are of the Phantom Chrome flavor.
Since that launch however, V-MODA has added to other variations: the Rogue and the Nero. They both include crocodile etchings on the metal ear cups as well as somewhat unusual color accents on the headband. V-MODA says:
The Crossfade LP Rouge features red accents on the headband, a red and black audio cable, as well as an all black three-button remote cable. The Crossfade LP Nero displays royal purple headband accents and comes with a black and purple audio cable, and an all black three-button remote cable.
Moving on to the true style segment… it was really the Crossfades’ industrial, modern appearance that grabbed my attention in the first place.
As you can see, each side of the headphones sports metal accents—with the Phantom Chrome model, it’s obviously accented with chrome.
Intelligently, V-MODA designed the metal plate that covers the ear cushion in the shape of a “V” (for V-MODA, of course).
As I mentioned earlier, the headphones are rather hefty at 6/10ths of a pound. I guess we can attribute this to the metal-build.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever used a pair of headphones as comfortable as the Crossfades… which is why ‘Comfort’ gets its own category.
The headband portion of the headphones is padded—it feels great wrapped around my head. During the review period, I tested the Crossfades for extended periods of time (including two or three longish plane rides), and I never felt any signs of discomfort. The thick, almost plush, ear cushions are equally, if not more, comfortable.
Both the headband and the ear cushions are lined with memory foam. This serves a dual-purpose. Of course, the foam allows the headphones to adjust to the contours of your head which makes them that much more comfortable… but the memory foam also helps to reduce background audio interference. Keep in mind that the Crossfades are noise-isolating, not noise-cancelling (not battery powered) so this neat design trick helps. The headband also extends to help you find the perfect fit.
Again, the headphones are extremely, extremely comfortable.
The Crossfades won me over where it really counts… sound quality, because as nice as it is to have a striking and comfy set of headphones, they’re not worth a damn if they don’t sound great too. Thankfully, the Crossfades do sound great.
In testing the Crossfades, I ultimately used a slew of different devices: my iPhone 4, my iPad, my iPod Touch, my BlackBerry, as well as my Dell laptop. Across all of the mediums, the sound was rich and clean perhaps especially during the high and mid-ranges. With that being said, the bass was a little overpowering at times(I’ll discuss this factor in a sec).
One of the Crossfades’ flaws is that they’re slightly flimsy (more on that in the portion below)—definitely scares me a little. However, V-MODA includes a one year “premier warranty” with each pair of Crossfades… in case you ever rock out a little too hard. Like with most expensive purchases, it’s nice to have a warranty, but it doesn’t really impress me that V-MODA has included one. However, what does impress me is the company’s unique Replay Replacement Program. Enrollment fee? Zero dollars. The premise is this: if your headphones break any time after the one-year warranty expires, you’ll automatically eligible to purchase a brand spankin’ new pair for 50% off the cost of a new set… forever. Since V-MODA’s actually counting on you to use these babies heavily, they’re prepared for long-term wear and tear.
So, as much as I like the Crossfades, they’re not perfect—three sizeable flaws ultimately prevent it from being the elusive “perfect set of headphones”.
First, they put out a ton of bass. When I listened to today’s “Hot Jamz,” the bass was thumpin’. But, when I sampled some mellower tones, genres like Classic Rock and Blues, the bass was just too much to handle; I found myself yearning for the bass-reducer setting on my equalizer.
Another fault is that the 3-button remote doesn’t support all devices. While it does support the entire iPod gang (Touch, Shuffle, Nano, Classic), as well as the entire Apple computer line, you may find that your MP3 player of choice isn’t completely compatible. Sadly, there are some instances where only the play and stop button works. So, before buying these, you may want to check V-MODA’s website to see if your favorite music gizmo is fully compatible.
Finally, the headphones are a little flimsy which is actually a bit surprising since they’re not collapsible (read: portable).
- Crossfade LPs are the most comfortable pair of headphones I’ve ever used
- Sleek, hip design
- Carrying case is stylish too
- iPhone talk and control functions (remote and inline microphone)
- Excellent sound quality
- “Bassy music” (Techno, Hip-Hop, etc.) sounds superb
- Cloth-covered, Kevlar re-enforced cables
- Replay Replacement Program
THE AVERAGE/ “SO-SO”
- Maybe a little too “bassy” at times (Rock, Alternative, etc.)—use Equalizer to adjust settings
- Not collapsible or foldable
- Somewhat flimsy build quality
- Not compatible with all music devices
V-MODA’s Crossfade LPs are an interesting set of headphones indeed.
For one, I don’t think there’s a better looking set on the market—they really will make you look like a total bad ass. And, if you listen to “bassy music,” you’ll probably be in heaven.
But, as I said, they’re not perfect. If you’re an iPod guy or gal who listens to exclusively bassy-music (and doesn’t mind the slight flimsiness), well then they may in fact be perfect. But, for everyone else, you may have to do a little tweaking (the equalizer may be your new best friend).
Here’s the bottom-line: if you’re looking to spend $250 on a pair of headphones, you should seriously consider the Crossfade LPs. Extras like coated cables, cleaning cloths, and an exoskeleton protective case sweeten the deal even more. According to V-MODA, they’ve taken four years to research and develop these headphones—and, it feels that way (maybe more like one or two years though).
But, if you’ve got an extra $100, you might, just might, want to consider a slightly more expensive pair of headphones instead (I’ve always been a big fan of the Bose QuietComfort line).
Like most premium products, whether or not you like these headphones is a matter of personal preference—it truly depends on your budget, style, and your music preferences.
My two cents? Head to your local Apple Store, rummage the store to find the iPod or iPhone with the Crossfades in the headphone jack, and jam out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
From the sounds of our review, would you drop $250 on these bad boys? If so, is it because you already been impressed by another pair of V-MODA headphones? Or, is it because you’re unwilling to drop an additional $50-$100 on some of the Crossfade’s competitors?
Or, do you already own a pair of hi-fidelity headphones like Beats by Dr. Dre or QuietComforts by Bose? Maybe you already purchased the Crossfades and returned them?
Regardless, be sure to let us know your thoughts on our review, the site, or even your favorite pair of headphones in the comments below.