For many of us, listening to music is a religious experience. The right music puts you in touch with divinity, lifts your soul to dizzying heights...and drowns out the asshole snoring next to you in seat 14D. But a transcendent musical experience requires exceptional equipment. Last week, I set out to find out if V-MODA's new Crossfade LPs fit the bill.
These premium headphones have a style all their own. The headband is cushioned underneath and wrapped in a nice leather (or faux leather) sheath. The headphones themselves are thick, and plated in sturdy stainless steel and hard black plastic. The earpieces adjust up or down by way of a durable all-metal slider. Every aspect of the construction is top-notch, if showy, but I'm an especially big fan of the cord. It's woven from kevlar, which makes it unlikely to tangle and even less likely to tear.
The Crossfade LP box includes two different detachable cords. One contains a microphone with a play/pause button and volume controls. Also included in the box is an excellent hard case. It won't protect your headset from being run over by a car, but it makes them invulnerable to the worst a backpack can manage. And it makes it super easy to keep your whole 'sound kit' tidy.
The practical little details are what set these headphones apart from the pack. That little box has two velcro inserts designed to hold a coiled up headphone cable. The cables unplug directly from the headphone, which means you can keep your iPad or iPod inside a backpack and just plug and unplug the headphones when you need tunes. It's incredibly convenient for going to and from class, and the cord-mounted controls mean you don't ever need to look at your media player to use it.
Sound quality is superb. I compared them favorably against my old Sennheiser airport headphones and a (rather battered) pair of Sony CD3000s. These are DJ headphones, and they sound best with some rumbly bass or a whole lot of percussion. If you're into hip-hop, trance, ska, the Crossfades are already dialed in to your preference. Streetlight Manifesto's chaotic horns were sharp and clear, while the warbling tones and esoteric instruments of Cocorosie rolled out with sharp definition.
If you're a Tom Waits fan- or someone who loves complex vocal harmony, you'll want to dial the base back a bit in your rqualizer settings. If that isn't an option with your PMP of choice, and you're a stickler for such things, these may not be the headphones for you.
The only other irritation I have with the Crossfades is the fact that the little cord-mounted controls don't support any non-Apple products. If you (like me) have an Android phone, one of this headset's nicest features doesn't function.
I can firmly recommend these headphones for the bus or an airplane cabin. The Crossfade's do an exceptional job of blotting out the world around you. With my volume at about 2/3rds, I was unable to hear anything coming out of my friend Magenta's mouth. And she was only standing a foot or two away. I've used these headphones on the train and in crowded cafeterias and had no issue canceling out the world around me. Which is why I wouldn't recommend them for jogging.
They're great for a bounce around the block, though.
- +Excellent build quality, distinctive style
- +The detachable cords are a revelation in comfort
- +They sound great
- +Decent noise-canceling headphones, in a pinch
- -The controller only works with Apple products
- -May be too flashy for some
- -The Price
V-Moda sells these things for $199.99. Which means they're going directly against Monster's BEATS line and other "audiophile grade" headphones. I'd tend to consider the Crossfades to be more practical than most products in this category. You can take these on vacation- or to and from work- without worrying that their fragile nature will see them undone. That said, if you're truly picky about sound fidelity you may not consider the Crossfades to be worth the cost. But for the average ear, the V-Moda Crossfade LPs are about as good as it gets.
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