V-MODA Crossfade Wireless a Mixed Bag

I know it's anathema to audio purists, but wireless headphones—in principle—are terrific. No, I'm not going to give up on wires for my reference level listening; heck, I don't even give it up when i'm traveling (Bose QC20,25) or mowing the back yard (Westone ES5, JH Audio JH13FP). But when I'm around the house needing to take part in a conference call or when I watch a movie on my iPad I much prefer life without the wire. When sound quality isn't critical for me (phone calls and video) the added convenience of wireless headphones wins the moment.

My personal favorite wireless headphone is the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless ($499). It's bloody expensive and the sound is somewhat hard and shouty, but the comfort and ergos are stellar, phone calls are clear on both ends, and the noise canceling is pretty darn good. But to my ears the MEE Air-Fi Matrix2 AF62 (discontinued and now available as the Ausdom M05 for $51.28) sounds quite a bit better. Why don't I use it instead of the Momentum Wireless? Well, it just feels cheaper; the controls aren't quite as conveniently placed; the isolation isn't as good; and I just love the feel of the real leather cushions of the Sennheisers up agains my ears. Comfort, convenience, and pride of ownership can compete with sound quality when it come to wireless headphones, given the way I use them.

Enter the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless ($300); which pretty nicely splits the difference between the two headphones mentioned above. It doesn't have noise canceling like the Sennheiser, but it seals you away from outside sound better than the MEE. It doesn't have an apt-X Bluetooth codec, but it does have ACC+, ACC, MP3 codecs. (Which is arguably just as good or better.) It's got great battery life (~12 hours), and sounds virtually identical wired or wireless—so your experience is consistent regardless of battery charge. When I put it into the mix of wireless cans here around the house, I was perfectly happy to use it interchangeably with the Sennheiser and preferably over most others. That's the first thing you should take away from this review: The V-MODA Crossfade Wireless is very competent BT headset for use with portable devices at, what seems to me, a very fair price.

The second thing you should take away from this review is that the build quality of the Crossfade Wireless—like all V-MODA products—is simply first rate. I go back and forth on the styling—which many will like but they're not strongly appealing to me—but there's no question in my mind that V-MODA headphones are one of the best built headphone brands in the world. Everything from the bullet-proof and well-fitting headband, to the myriad cable and earpad options, to the custom shields tells me that this is a company that knows how to build headphones, and does it well enough that I consider them to be a leader in the field. Both the V-MODA M-100 and XS were reviewed very positively by me, and have found a place on InnerFidelity's Wall of Fame. To me, the only questionable decision V-MODA made in the build of this headphone is not including the CliqFold(TM) hinge found on the M-100 and XS.

VModa_CrossfadeWireless_Photo_CompareCases

Size when stored comparison of the Crossfade Wireless (left) and M-100 (right) with space saving CliqFold(TM) hinge.

The CliqFold(TM) hinge allows the headphones to very conveniently fold upwards into the space within the headband. This makes the stored size of the M-100 much smaller than the similarly sized Crossfade Wireless without CliqFold(TM) hinges. The thing is, it's quite likely that including these rather complex and expensive hinges might have driven the cost of the Crossfade Wireless above the $300 mark—which to my mind that would have made them a much more questionable purchase.

The third thing you should take away from this review is my evaluation of the sound quality of these headphones, and how it speaks against weighting the first two thing too heavily in your purchasing decision.

I'll tell you all about that on the next page.

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ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
david.parker83's picture

I believe it's AAC/AAC+ btw (will remove this message post-edit)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Actually, I clipped that claim directly from their site. Because of your comment I had a look at wiki's entry on AAC+ but also found this excellent post about the AAC codec family. I'll change the text to AAC+ but I think there's a lot to know about the exact implementation and how it interacts particularly with your device that makes the performance of wireless transmission pretty hard to predict. I will say it generally WAY better than it was 10 years ago, and the tuning of the headphones themselves is probably more relevant than the particular codecs used as long as they're fairly modern. No need to remove your post, and thanks for your comment on the writing. I think I do a decent job of getting ideas across efficiently, but the actual quality of the prose could be way better. I'd need a different brain to get there, however.
david.parker83's picture

Maybe the marketing team got their dirty little red pens on that text before it was published to the VMODA website. :-)

tony's picture

Something happened to the sound and perhaps video quality of your reporting.

I started listening with my RS120s and noticed the crappy sound. So I switched over to my Big System and the quality was even worse.

The Colors and Image quality also seems deteriorating.

Are you having to use a cheapie jiggle Cam?

I bought a gifting pair of V-Moda phones, the folks love em. ( not wireless ) I bought them because of your review! Thanks, nice work!

Tony in Michigan

Tyll Hertsens's picture
The very expensive Canon 7D I bought for photos a year or two ago has a known bug that adds noise to the audio. Today it seemed a bit worse...maybe some random additional RF interference from somewhere. The only fix is a completely new camera for video, or to add a separate audio recorder and add another step and the video production workflow. I've not done it yet because both options suck, but I've had it with the problem at this point. You may see one more with bad sound, but I'm gonna get it fixed.
detlev24's picture

You should have a look at www.magiclantern.fm - a must have on Canon, especially for video!

Best regards

meringo's picture

I'd refrain from using in camera audio, especially when your video quality is that of the 7D. Buy a cheap audio recorder and add that in afterwards. Just my two cents. A homemade clapboard and $50-100 recorder investment would go a long way.

barun432's picture

Appreciate the honest review both in the article and the video. Your videos help people like me, who want to make an informed decision before purchase, unlike the product announcement reviews published by various websites these days who love everything and find everything amazing!!!!

BTW are you going to review the HD 800 S this year?

Merck's picture

Audio Stream is pretty bad about that. Nearly everything they review gets added to the Greatest Bits, and to top it off, it's almost always really expensive stuff. There is certainly a following for that kind of stuff but I actually prefer reading about products that might actually be at a price I may be able to afford. To each his own.

tony's picture

The 7D does far better work.

Call Canon's 800 number and have them look at the Video!

I'll bet they'll send you a New replacement.

They simply can't have their stuff performing like this. I've never seen Color Quality that rough from anything they offer including their Elphs. Betcha you got a bad processor!

On top of all that, I couldn't hear any background sounds that are quite typical of your work on Big Sound.

Something failed, anyway, they'll fix it.

Tony in Michigan

maelob's picture

Tyll - I umderstand your comments about neutral sound but as you know there are a lot of closet "bass heads" in our hobby that actuallu prefer a more colored sound signature.Also i believe this type of headphone is more apt for potable use. I found that for portable use in a noisy enviroment the colored sound signature of the Vmodas is more to my liking than even the Oppo PM-3 which in noisy enviroments i found them boring. I guess something to consider as a future topic would be how sound preferences changes in different environments.

Feilong4's picture

Sorry if this is going off topic or if you've mentioned it already but are the Ausdom M05 and Mee Audio Air-Fi/Air-Fi matrix2 essentially the same headphone but just the Ausdom M05 at a lower price?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
MEE is discontinuing it, so the OEM---who has recognized it's popularity with enthusiasts---will continue to make the same product selling it through their branded channel (Ausdom.com) as the M05.
jcheadphone's picture

Nice review Tyll! Have you ever tried this product? http://thebtunes.com I use it with my Oppo PM-3s to add wireless functionality for my Apple TV and iPad movies etc. It works and sounds great and BTunes even makes a model for some of the Bose QC cans. .

Tagjazz's picture

Hi. I have been looking at the BTunes as an option and also have Oppo PM3. Does it have enough power to make the Oppo's loud enough? I heard that the BTunes lacks volume. Would appreciate your take on it. Cheers.

jcheadphone's picture

I use the BTunes with my PM-3s and Apple TV. Even though Btunes does not have its own volume control, I'm still able to obtain plenty of volume which a few clicks to spare.

Impulse's picture

The discontinued MW600 or it's current day equivalents in the SBH52/54. I've been using the former for years, mainly with my V-Moda XS (and the M-80 previously) but also occasionally at home (NAD HP50, X2, etc).

Yeah you do need to use a cable in between (it and the headphone), but no one says it has to be a long one. I think the cable + clip on the receiver looks more ergonomically versatile than something hanging right off the bottom of the headphone cup.

I tend to use my MW600 with very short 1-3' cables and I just clip it to my shirt collar or even to the headphone's headband if I'm at home. With larger headphones you could even get away with it in the go (having it directly on the headphone that is).

The screen, playback controls, and call functionality are all nice bonuses tho Sony has a smaller/cheaper model without all but the playback controls. The MW600 has a decent amp/DAC section, at least by phone standards.

zobel's picture

and found that they list 53 different on-ear or over-ear Bluetooth wireless headphones!!!!

There were even more in-ear headsets. This looks like an entirely new category for your reviews Tyll. Where to start?

I was mainly interested in the Noontec Bluetooth 4.0 Zoro II, with lossless transmission encoding. I really like the Noontec Zorro II HD, and thought that these might be a good choice for Bluetooth. It goes for $150.

NA Blur gave it a rave review at Head-Fi, so I ordered one to give as a gift. Are you thinking about starting a section of tests and reviews of your own on the latest and greatest Bluetooth cans?

zobel's picture

I wonder how many different headphones are on the market now. It must be a staggering number. Fifteen years ago there were only a fraction of models of headphones available. Even then I remember a little shop in Bozeman MT, on Peach Street, where the staff was swimming in cans. Trivia question; Who said "We handle headphones with pitchforks here." ?

zobel's picture

That was closer to 18 years ago...

ednaz's picture

I have a number of the headphones you mentioned, right down to wearing ES5 for lawn work... the MEE wireless, which continues to baffle me by how good it sounds at the price or forgetting about price, but how little environmental isolation they have. Over ear sealed... but they don't sound that way. I also have a set of V-Moda, and specifically to listen to some types of music that I think are compatible with them, but I've found each of the V-Moda to be also very poorly isolating compared to other sealed headphones. Almost an echo of environmental noise. I've also found that the V-Moda seem to sound better with my i-devices and terrible with the few high def players I've got, for the same reasons you identify here.

I've pretty much abandoned wireless other than for bluetooth talk - one ear. I love my music, and the wires are a minuscule price to pay for great sound. My wife's a books on tape enthusiast and loves her bluetooth earphones, which I find put my teeth on edge.

Mr.TAD91's picture

Your review was as accurate as a first-rate studio monitor.

Cheers!

Dawindyk's picture

I hope M05 changes a lot compared to OOB because otherwise I have no clue what You're writing about. Yes it's cheap and sound is kinda OK but kinda at best. Soundstage is practically nonexistent, bass is boomy and uncontrolled and highs are very muted. For me it's at least as bassy as VMODA but lacks nice sparkle, details and some soundstage that was present in VMODA

Paul Williams's picture

Tyll, based on your recommendation I've just bought the Ausdom M05. Initially I thought they had a great mid range, but seemed a bit bloated in the bass and dark in the treble - but after a week's listening I really like them. I find them non-fatiguing and fun. Any chance you could measure them? Also as I'm a vinyl fan I listen to them mostly wired rather than wireless. Would they measure differently wired v wireless. (Note: I bought the cheapest Audioquest cable I could find which made them sound even better.) Thanks

alex.wood518's picture

Tyll, can you review the Shure SRH940's? I wanna here your take on them