V-Moda is a relative newcomer to the audio scene, but they’ve been making a huge splash. The V-Moda brand has been sported by many top name DJs, and not a single one has been paid for their endorsement. These are used because they are good; at least that is the line from the company…
Being an audio enthusiast myself, I decided to take a set of the V-Moda Crossfade Customs for a spin to see if they live up to all the hype and figure out if they are worth the lofty $249 MSRP. With Kevlar- wrapped detachable cables, steel headband, gold plated connectors and hard case, V-Moda has a good base to build up from.
The Custom means that you actually get to choose what your headphones look like. A quick trip to the V-Moda site and you are presented with multiple options for steel colors, headband leather color and ear cup color. You can then have a custom image/text laser etched into the side of the ear cups. I chose black on black with a dark blue shield color. Then I choose an abstract eagle design to finish off the look.
The first thing you notice about the Customs is the packaging. These things come in a huge heavy duty box with foil-print Veni. Vidi. Vici. across the back. The handle and clasp are made of leatherette and the entire box is hexagonal. Open the box and you are greeted with a hard shell casing holding the headphones. The case feels nearly bulletproof and is much stiffer than the case for our Klipsch Image One headphones. Open the zipper and inside you have the heavy-duty steel-banded Crossfade Customs staring at you with mass collection of accessories. You will find two different headphones cables, some gold plated adapters and (oddly) a carbineer clip.
The two cables are a huge step above the industry standard. The feature a unique 45-degreee plug angle that is supposed to reduce stress and in practice seems to work very well. The cables themselves are cloth braided and have a Kevlar core underneath to increase durability. These things feel monstrous. One cable is a shorter cable for PMP and phone use. It features a microphone with volume buttons and general use control button. The second cable is a much longer cable designed for home use. The case features banded straps inside to hold the cables when not in use.
The actual headphones themselves are built with this same type of over-engineering. The headband, outer ear caps and earpiece brackets are all made of steel. The ear cups and headband are over padded for long term comfort. V-Moda asks for 24 hours of wear to allow the headband to mold to your head, and then they say you can bend the band slightly to get a perfect fit. When was the last time you encountered headphones that needed a “break-in” period for the steel components to properly mold?
While all the insane attention to build detail is very impressive, a set of head cans is only as good as the sound they reproduce. At $200+ there is a lot of great competition vying for your dollar, and these Crossfade Customs are going to be fighting an uphill battle to win over users.
If I had to describe these headphones in one word it could be, Damn. I am very critical of DJ headphones and high-style brands. I feel they sacrifice quality for overpowering bass and celebrity endorsements (looking at you Beats®). The V-Modas take an entirely different approach and actually cut bass response. Realizing that most users will be listening to bass heavy music, the Crossfades attempt to create an equalized soundstage by decreasing the deep notes in favor of presenting a clearer overall sound. The listening experience is very akin to listening to a concert in an old theater or concert hall. There is a very crisp feel to the music with a mild echo on certain notes and frequencies.
I was very apprehensive about the sound at first, but given a little time, I have found I prefer that more natural sounding experience that the lightened bass and easy echo provide. It almost lends a hint of reverb to everything you listen. This effect is exaggerated on acoustic tracks, and gave bands like the Avett Brothers a dive-bar type feel that was incredible. Of course the best way to experience the Customs was with heavy bass tracks. Alex Claire, Wax Tailor and M83 became favorite listens when using the V-Modas, but certain tracks by acts like Florence+ the Machine also excelled. The only music that wasn’t great without some EQ tweaking was mainstream rock. Most of these tracks have a boosted mid as it is, and the cut bass response makes many of these tracks sound very muddy. Aside from the slight rock and roll hiccup, these headphones have moved above and beyond our expectations.
I must admit that I was fully prepared to hate the Crossfades, but I now fully endorse drinking the V-Moda Kool-Aid. With a great sound, bulletproof build quality and super customization options everyone needs to experience these.
Pros: Great sound quality, solid build, great accessories included
Cons: Pricey, design might be too flashy for some