Disclamer: These headphones were a Christmas gift and I'm doing this review a little on the fly. Lack of free time lately. I am not associated with any company for that matter, including any links in the review. This review is my personal unbiased opinion and keep in mind that these headphones have over 50hrs burn in. I want to thank Head-Fi, for giving the forum to learn and express. Enjoy.
P.S. I will add another comparison to this review once my Bose qc35 get delivered.
So around the holidays, Nov. and Dec., my close family stops buying things for ourselves (only essentials) and create our Christmas wish list. I had been using some Plantronic Backbeat SE for the past 2 yrs and was in the market for a new bluetooth headset. I decided to go with these without being sure if they were going to fit my specific use or my sound preferences but I am very happy with the choice. My bluetooth music listening is done with my HTC 10 ( aptX ), and wired was done mainly with Cayin N5ii. Most of the phone communications were done with an Iphone 7 via bluetooth, which is why I needed AAC, and the V-Moda Crossfade2 Codex checks all those marks.
Most of the full sized headphones I have used/owned were bluetooth with wired functionality just in case the battery died. The Codex, to me, are wired headphones with the addition of bluetooth functionality. (This was later verified on the interview between Jude and Val Kolton) Not that the BT is subpar in any way, but the first focus was to make good speakers and headphones. Some other brands focus first on bluetooth connectivity and skimp on the actual speakers. In that case the sound quality is made by adjustments in the built-in amp.
Packaging and Accessories:
The unboxing is quite nice. Outside is a six sided box, keeping the same shape as the headphones themselves. There is plenty of information on the sides as you can see from the photos. Forgive me for the quality, as I mentioned it's been a busy month.
There is ample carved form to protect the headset. Included is the warrenty card, instructions, little advertisement about the replaceable shields, the carrying case and 3.5mm SE cable with mic. The case is very sturdy and with a nice smooth feel. Looking at it reminds me of Batman's costume. I feel like it could take a couple small caliber bullets. Don't try it though.
The mic/cable that is included has a nice thickness and not too weighty. It is covered in a cloth which doesn't work too good with velcro wraps, but it feels nice. I especially like the seperated mic and button on the cable. The mic is located closer to the hp/mouth, and the button is in the bicep area. This makes the call quality good while still being easy to pause/mute/etcetera.
A few notes, one is that these fit over ear for me, but I can see some people wearing these on-ear, because the size, in which case the comfort would be completely different. The cushions are on the soft side and the clamping force is moderate. After a few hours the cushions compress a little and the tips of my ears barely touch the inside of the hp. I will probably opt for the larger pads they offer later on. Even when the cushions compress the hp is still comfy. Not too much heat is generated, headband doesn't put much pressure on your head. Over all the weight is not felt much either.
Lastly, for me, when I tilt my head a certain way there is a little gap that allows outside noise in. This doesn't happen often but I noticed it.
Sound and Build:
Unfortunately I don't have experience with the previous V-Moda models, but the csfw2 have been said to be more evenly tuned. In my opinion the overall sound signature is fairly even with a little warmth and some bass increase around the 69-80hz range. Upper bass and lower mids are nicely detailed and not to forward or recessed. Texture on standing bass being bowed is nice to hear.
Treble extension is very nice. I see no sharpness in the upper mids or treble and a little recessed, but non-fatiguing. Radiohead National Anthem sounds like the drummer is facing away from you. With the drums being a little more forward than the cymbals, but equally detailed. Vocals are nicely staged, a little more forward than the drummer, but not too much. Definitely not in you face vocals.
Sound stage is more forward than rear, and has average width/height for a closed over-ear. The notes/instruments have a nice combination of body and separation. They can fairly easy to distinguish in the soundstage, and not thin or airy. There is virtually no sound leakage. In order hear something on the outside you have to put your ear up to the vented cup.
What I like the most is through out the entire freq range the cfw2 are fairly revealing. Smaller background notes and singers seem to be brought out of the shadow.
VS. Plantronics Backbeat SE (abreviated BBSE)
First off the plantronics are not audiophile hp, but I am putting them hear for 2 reasons. This was my previous go to at work, and for anyone searching to step into the audiophile segment.
Downsides are actually very feature rich, and due to the on-ear/more open design give more rear stage. I couldn't count how many times I turned around from my desk because I hear something behind me. Hint...I am the only one in the room. They have automatic pause when you take them off, and ambient listen. So you can hear your surroundings. BT also has a stronger connection. In a direct line of sight(only glass wall) I measured 8ft more.
Positives are firstly wired connection quality. The wired connection on the BBSE is pretty bad. You lose extension on both bass and treble. Where as the CFW2 is slightly better wired than wireless imo. While we're on the topic, both bt and wired sound is more revealing/detailed with the CFW2. Next the sound isolation on the CFW2 is better. It blocks out more wind noise and rumble despite leaving the vocal range audible. Battery life for both are on par, but the CFW2 supports AAC which the BBSE did not. Lastly is comfort. Being over ear they are much better for longer uses. Even if it warms your ears a little.
VS. Bose QC35 II
Downsides: Mainly ANC. When you put the bose on with anc it's like you were taken out of the room. And this is constant 70-90db background noise. ANC on high does give some pressure on my ears, but low is tolerable for a full day of work.
As for comfort, it may depend on the ear and head shape. For me both cushions cover my ears so there is minimal differences. I feel the Bose have less clamping force, but slightly stiffer cushions and a slightly bigger diameter. I wear the Bose a little higher on my head so the cushions don't land on my jaw. The Bose have a little more ear clearance because of the angled drivers. The Bose weigh a little less but I can't feel the difference in the weight. Despite that I feel the Bose generate more heat and I prefer feel of the CFW2.
Positives: Firstly, Build. The Bose are mainly plastic which is what makes them weigh less, but at the same time they don't feel sturdy or as high end quality. Next is passive noise isolation. This is a toss up, because i feel the CFW2 blocks more low end frequency, and the Bose blocks more high freq. As far as the connection goes, CFW2 for the win, because it stays connected another 6ft farther. With the Bose I have issues on the opposite side of my work room, where as the CFW2 i can walk the whole room with no problem.
Lastly is again sound quality. The CFW2 sound more like being at a concert or club. Bose sound less amplified, possibly better for acoustic tracks. This is not a bad thing, just different signatures. The CFW2 have a slightly more elevated bass with more texture. The bose have a slightly elevated upper mids. Using Hotel California, P.Y.T. and "Ain't Nobody" from Chaka Khan as some examples. The drums sound fuller and more elevated on the CFW2, you can hear the rasp of snares more and the fading of guitars better. On the Bose the guitar sound sharper with more elevation and quicker drop off. The Bose seems to have a slightly better positioning and more air in between instruments.
Of course styling is different, but that's a matter of taste.
Since getting these I have been using them 6+hrs a day at work. No sound leakage is good if the boss walks in on you. Decent sound isolation for background noise at my job, good battery life, and very good sound quality. I would like to see more texture on the buttons to make it easier to locate. Also automatic pausing when removed would be greatly appreciated on bt usage. One gripe I have is the volume defaults to a preset when BT is connected. So every time I connect I have to lower the volume before playing anything.