V-MODA Crossfade M-100 / Crossfade II Wireless
As far as headphones go, the V-MODA brand could be considered the new kid on the block. Ask the average person in the street and they’ll tell you that Bose or Sennheiser make the best high-quality headphones; maybe Beats might get a mention too. But, for a large number of professionals in the entertainment industry, V-MODA’s Crossfade M-100s have been the headphones of choice ever since they were introduced back in 2011. In fact, in a 2016 piece by EquipBoard, the Crossfade M-100s were found to be incredibly popular with DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs, beaten only by Sennheiser’s HD 25-1 II, Pioneer’s HDJ-2000 and Beats’ Mixr.
o, with plenty of hype surrounding V-MODA, let’s take a look at the original Crossfade M-100 and brand new Crossfade II Wireless headphones.
AESTHETIC & BUILD QUALITY
V-MODA Crossfade M-100
You can tell the headphones are going to be beautifully designed and well-built just by the feel of the packaging: sturdy and sleek, with an unusual shape. Inside, you find the hard-shell case, which has been designed to hold one set of folded M-100s as well as two tangle-free Kevlar cables (conveniently stored using black elastic bands).
At first touch, the M-100s feel unbelievably robust but not bulky. The steel headband and CliqFold hinges provide strength, while the black plastic ear-cups ensure a glossy finish and help keep the weight down to a nice 280g (9g less than a Pioneer DJ HDJ-2000 pair). If you want to jazz the headphones up a bit (my review pair came in all-black), the metallic ear-cup plates (known as 'Shields') can actually be replaced with custom 2D or 3D ones, designed and ordered online via V-MODA. So if you want, you can wear a set emblazoned with your name or the name of your DJ business!
V-MODA Crossfade II Wireless
The look of the V-MODA Crossfade II Wireless headphones isn’t drastically different to that of the M-100s; both are tastefully designed with a stylish finish. I was given the rose-gold ones for review (also available in matte white and matte black), so they immediately stood out compared to the black M-100s.
These headphones benefit from the same foldable steel hinges and flexible headband as the M-100, while the Shields can also be replaced with custom ones. The buttons – one slider for power and Bluetooth pairing; the others for volume and playback – felt well-made but a little tricky to locate with the headphones on! In terms of weight, the Crossfade II Wireless come in at 292g – not bad given the additional components needed to make them wireless.
Comfort is important for any headphone user, but perhaps even more so for DJs. Long sets and all-day events can literally turn into real headaches if your headphones are uncomfortable, tight or not breathable.
I guess comfort is subjective, but V-MODA have done the best they can to ensure that the M-100s are a comfortable wear: the SteelFlex headband is flexible and well-padded, and the ear-cups are fitted with Ergosoft memory-foam cushions that help with passive noise isolation.
I wore the M-100s for around six hours at a time, with occasional breaks, and didn’t feel any notable discomfort or overheating around the ears. The headphones are, however, a snug fit. But, if your ears do get sensitive over long periods of headphone use, you can invest in V-MODA ’s larger cushions for extra comfort.
Crossfade II Wireless
The main advantage the Crossfade II Wireless model has over the M-100s is its BLISS memory-foam cushions, which are larger than the cushions used on the M-100 and the original Crossfade Wireless models. They feel super-soft on the ears – ideal if you’re DJing all-day events or late into the night. Generally, I found the Crossfade II Wireless more comfortable to wear and move around with.
Powered by a 50mm dual-diaphragm driver and with a frequency response of 5-30kHz, the hype surrounding the V-MODA M-100s is that they’re ‘headphones for bass lovers’. So, I should say now that the bass sound reproduced by these headphones is exceptional. It’s punchy, deep, solid and clear – all the things you could hope for. At the high-end, meanwhile, we get detail, clarity and beautiful separation that makes the M-100s ideal for mixing and/or music production, especially if you’re working with dance and club music.
This punchy bass and clear high-end are possible thanks to the V-shaped frequency response, which basically takes from the mid-range frequencies and puts more into the high- and low-end. The result is an enjoyable listening experience that offers superb depth of sound. What’s more, even at high volume, that all-important bass doesn’t rattle the headphones or distort.
Crossfade II Wireless
The Crossfade II Wireless are also powered by a 50mm dual-diaphragm driver, but feature a high-res Japanese coil (active when wired) and a VAMP built-in micro-amp. I didn’t find a great deal of difference in the audio profile when compared to the M-100s, but the Crossfade II Wireless provide a slightly wider frequency response of 5-40kHz and offer a slightly better mid-range that results in a warmer, fuller sound. This made it a pleasure to listen to music across the genres, from bass-heavy dance and funk to the more-subtle tones of jazz and folk. If you’re after a more rounded sound, but still with plenty of bass, the Crossfade II Wireless seem to hit the spot! It’s also worth noting that the rose-gold model offers you CD-quality 44.1kHz audio thanks to the inclusion of the new aptX wireless CODEC.
For the M-100s, connection between device and headphones is via a choice of two 3.5mm jack cables (with a 1/4” jack adaptor also supplied). One cable features a play/pause button and mic for use with a phone, while the other boasts a unique ‘SharePlay’ output jack to allow another pair of headphones to be connected to the same source. What’s more, thanks to V-MODA’s inclusion of two jack inputs (one on each ear-cup), you can choose which side you plug into – a nice touch and the kind of small detail that some mobile DJs will be looking for.
Crossfade II Wireless
Going wireless means you no longer have to experience one of life’s biggest annoyances: having your headphones yanked off by a rogue door knob! On a more serious note, embracing wireless headphones does give you the freedom to move around while listening to music – but whether you think this justifies the price or not is a different story.
On one ear-cup you’ll find a mini-USB charging port and on the opposite side is a regular 3.5mm jack input that gives you the flexibility to go wired. You can fully charge the Crossfade II Wireless in 2-3 hours and enjoy up to 14 hours of use (though realistically this is more like 11-12), making these headphones a decent wireless solution with in-built controls that let you play/pause, skip tracks, adjust volume and even answer phone calls. When I used the headphones in wireless mode, I found the latency to be minimal/barely noticeable; it’s also worth noting that plugging the headphones in actually bypasses the wireless components completely for a zero-latency user experience. The range, meanwhile, is quoted by V-MODA as 10m, but obviously walls and other obstacles will affect this. There is however one minor niggle: there is no auto-off setting. This means you need to remember to manually turn off the headphones, otherwise you could return – as I did – to a dead set of cans!
From a DJ perspective, you’re unlikely to use the wireless feature when playing out. In fact I’m not quite sure how you’d go about setting up a Bluetooth connection to the headphone output of your mixer/controller. But if you’re looking for a quality pair of headphones that can operate wirelessly when you’re listening to music while traveling or at home, which also double up as a cabled pair of first-rate DJ cans, the Crossfade II Wireless model ticks all the right boxes.
Both products are robust, well-designed and comfortable, making them well-suited to the wear and tear of the mobile DJ life-style. Should anything go wrong, V-MODA does include a 1-year (Crossfade II Wireless) and 2-year (Crossfade M-100) warranty as well as its Immortal Life 50% guarantee, which lets you buy a new set for half-price after your warranty expires.
The differences between the Crossfade M-100 and Crossfade II Wireless really are few and far between. They offer similar audio quality, with the Crossfade II Wireless providing the most balanced sound overall. Out of the two, I kept returning to the Crossfade II Wireless – I’m going to miss them when they’re gone! – but the real deciding factor between the two models comes down to how much value you place on wireless listening.
No matter which you choose, these V-MODA headphones provide stunning audio, especially at the low-end; robust built-quality; a comfortable design; decent noise isolation; and plenty of handy extras. Could you do better for the same price? Probably. But there’s just something about V-MODA that oozes quality and makes music-listening such pleasure…
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 85, Pages 82 - 84.