A fashion accessory with substance
For those of you who are reading this and thinking "What the hell is V-MODA? A clothing store?", the answer is no. But it might surprise you that 'fashion' has an important role in what they do. The philosophy behind the V-MODA brand is to provide consumers with a good looking product that also delivers in the quality department, both in construction and sound. Their product range extends all the way from earplugs to circumaural (over-ear) headphones. They're a relatively new company founded by DJ Val Kolton, and a quick look at their Facebook page will tell you all you need to know about them. Electronic music, big parties, getting on the ears of as many world-famous DJs and celebrities as possible, fashion. The thing with headphones is, just because you can make them look good and have hundreds of pictures of celebrities with them on, doesn't mean they're good (See Beats by Dr. Dre, SMS by 50 Cent). However, anyone who's into the headphone scene knows V-MODA has been well received by critics and consumers for their excellent sound quality across their range of products.
Here we'll be reviewing the V-MODA Crossfade LP's. They're V-MODA's flagship circumaural headphones, and arguably their most famous ones. Seen on the likes of Skrillex, Avicii, Sander van Doorn, Funkagenda, NERVO, Val Kolton himself and even Paris Hilton, these cans aren't a bit short on their "celebreity cred". But do they come through where it counts? Let's find out...
The attention to detail is apparent from the moment you take the box in your hands and just look at it for a while. The box itself is of thick high quality cardboard and is accentuated with a faux leather strap, a neat little metal button and a small red ribbon you cut to gain access to what's inside. You get a sense these people tore a page right off Cupertino's book on how to package a "premium" product. Inside you'll find nice foam padding and and a hard shell case wrapped in plastic where everything is neatly stored.
The hard shell carrying case included in the box is extremely sturdy and well built, lined with red fabric inside, it has two detachable velcro pads that hold the cables and accessories. The Crossfades include an audio-only cable and another, shorter one, with a built in mic and volume/play-pause controls. There's also a 1/4 inch adapter and a carabiner to hook up the case on your backpack, gig bag, pants, et cetera. But back to the case (or Exoskeleton, as V-MODA calls it). It's an amazing little extra that looks great and will keep your headphones safe if they're dropped. You'd be hard pressed to find a case this good for your headphones for under $25 USD, and this one is custom molded to the shape of the Crossfades.
The Crossfade LP's construction can be summed up with the following words: "sturdy", "beefy" and "durable". The headphones themselves are made from metal an plastic. The headband is covered in fabric on the inside and faux leather on the outside. The ear pads are memory foam wrapped in leatherette as well. Both cables are Kevlar reinforced with gold plated connectors. V-MODA claims these headphones have "military grade" construction and have been extensively tested for durability. They'll withstand drops, cable flexing, extreme headband bends and still maintain structural integrity and their sound quality. While no (sane) user will try to test these claims, you can definitely tell from holding and wearing these cans that they're built to last and are well made. The only thing to note is the cables that poke out from the driver housings and into the headband. They're Kevlar reinforced as well, but being careful not to get them caught somewhere or strain them will keep things working nicely. They come with a 1-year warranty, and if you're the destructive type you'll be pleased to hear these are covered by V-MODA's "Immortal Life Program". Currently available only to U.S. customers, what this means is that if you damage your headphones for whatever reason, V-MODA will give you 50% off towards the purchase of a new product.
So by now you're probably thinking: "They're wrapped in a fancy package, they come with some neat accessories and are built like a tank... For the price it seems they put all the money towards frivolities and payed no attention to what matters, the sound." And that's where you'd be wrong. The Crossfade are LP's are a great set of headphones. To put it bluntly, BASS! These are definitely headphones angled toward's the casual listener's love for bass-biased cans and the sounds of rock, electronic, pop, hip-hop, and basically whatever you find on Top 40 charts these days. Crank the volume towards the high side of the scale and the headphones will literally tremble, along with your ears, which can get uncomfortable quickly. A great side-benefit of this however, is that it makes the headphones great for tracks that have prominent bass on other genres like classical, jazz, salsa and such. But alas, there is such a thing as too much bass. On some tracks the bass can be overpowering, awkwardly so. You'll be listening to the song and just noticing how the bass gets on top of everything. Though it should be noted that it is rare and possibly the result of recording or mastering rather than the headphones taking over. The other thing about this extreme bass is that at high levels it can get fatiguing after an extended period of listening. Which brings us to another problem that shows up with high volume, leakage. So called "leaking", in the case of headphones, is exactly what it sounds like. Sound "leaks" from the earpieces so that whatever you're listening to can be heard "outside". This doesn't happen with "closed" earphones, but achieving bass like what the Crossfade LP's provide in a closed headphone isn't easy. V-MODA put some small vents on the lower part of the driver housings and this is where the "leakage" comes from. At low and moderate listening levels there is none or very little of it, but once you crank up the volume it gets to the point where people standing next to you can listen to whatever you are pretty clearly.
Clamping force around the head is higher than average but not so much that it causes pain after extended listening periods. The upper edge of the ears can get sore after prolonged use because of the driver grills pressing against them, but a short break will get rid of any discomfort. This being such a subjective issue, it is quite pointless to spend much time on it. Different listeners will have different ears and will experience more or less comfort accordingly. To sum it up, the clamping force is on the strong side but not overwhelmingly so. The ear pads provide good fit and excellent padding thanks to the memory foam. Heat from the drivers is barely noticeable and a non-issue with these cans.
It's more than clear that it would be foolish to simply discard the Crossfade LP's as a fashion accessory with no regard towards sound and build quality as some would think. They're built to last and feel in every way a premium product. The sound quality, while not perfect for the most picky of audiophiles, is spot-on for the "casual" listener that wants great sound and are probably the best cans available to blast all kinds of electronic music through, at their price point. Leakage at higher volumes is a problem for those who don't want to disturb others in libraries, waiting rooms and such; and the bass heavy focus can drag down things for those with a wider range of music tastes. Nevertheless, the Crossfade LP's are great all-around headphones considering they can be found online brand new for under $100 USD. The extras like the superb case and multiple cables are just the cherry on top.
Those discouraged by the overwhelming bass might want to consider the "updated" Crossfade LP2's, which are priced the same as the LP at $199.00 USD. According to V-MODA, they have slightly less bass with more refined mids and highs. Another alternative would be waiting for the release of the much anticipated Crossfade M-100 headphones. They promise to bring the critically acclaimed sound from the on-ear V-MODA Crossfade M-80's to an over-ear form factor.
My own little V-MODA family.
Pros: Nice extras, excellent construction, great overall sound accentuated by booming bass
Cons: Bass can be overpowering in some tracks. Sound "leak" at higher volume levels.
Value: Full price ($199.00 USD): 3 / 5, Discounted ($100-$130 USD): 4 / 5
Build quality: 5 / 5
Comfort: 3 / 5
Sound: 3.5 / 5
Overall: 4 / 5
V-MODA Crossfade LP
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iPod Apple iPod Classic (5th gen.)
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Afrojack & Steve Aoki - No Beef (ft. Miss Palmer)
The Animals - House of the Rising Sun
Calle 13 - ¡Atrevete te, te!
David Lanz - Cristofori's Dream
deadmau5 - Some Chords
Doctor P - Sweet Shop
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Karl Böhm - Mozart: Requiem d-moll (KV 626) (Excerpts)
Kid Cudi - Soundtrack 2 My Life
LMFAO - Get Crazy
Maná - Como te deseo (En vivo)
The Mars Volta - L'Via L'Viaquez
Matisyahu - Chop 'em Down (Live)
Maurizio Pollini - Chopin: Étude Op. 10, No. 12
Norah Jones - Don't Know Why
Rammstein - Sonne
Rodrigo y Gabriela - Ixtapa
Tito Puente & Eddie Palmieri - Cielito lindo/La negra mariachi Medley