V-Moda Crossfade Wireless review: A Beats competitor built to last

Performance

We listen to a lot of premium Bluetooth headphones at CNET, and invariably they don't sound as good as premium wired headphones. And while I don't think the Crossfade Wireless in wireless mode sounds quite as good as the wired M-100, it does sound quite good for a Bluetooth headphone.

The headphone's bass and treble are little hyped but not overly so, and we thought the midrange (vocals) sounded pretty natural. On the Arctic Monkey's "Do I Wanna Know?" when the chorus kicks in with some headphones the vocals, verging on distortion, develop a harsh edge. But with the Crossfade Wireless, the vocals managed to come across without that harshness.

The tambourines on Spoon's "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" were a touch forward but didn't overwhelm the rest of the instruments, which can be the case with headphones that push the treble too hard. The bass also had some nice bite and plumpness to it, a V-Moda trademark. Detail was also good for a Bluetooth headphone and I thought they sounded fairly open for a closed-back headphone.

You can notice a difference when alternating between wired and wireless modes. With certain tracks, the difference is very slight, but with other tracks it's more noticeable. Calvin Harris' "C.U.B.A" is a tough track for a lot of Bluetooth headphones to resolve. It's a little grating to begin with in spots and Bluetooth can make it sound even more so. When I plugged a wire into the headphone, the track had more depth and clarity and sounded tighter overall.

V-Moda also touts the Crossfade Wireless' sound quality as a wired headphone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As for comparing the Crossfade Wireless in wired mode to the M-100, I had Steve Guttenberg, who writes CNET's Audiophiliac column and reviewed the M-100, to listen to the two headphones. He came away preferring the M-100. He thought the Crossfade Wireless had slightly more bass and less clarity.

"The Crossfade Wireless is worse for overall clarity but better if you want more bass," he reported, and I tend to agree with his assessment, though I listen to more electronic dance music (EDM) than Steve, so there are times when I appreciate a little extra bass.

To be clear, we're talking about the wired mode. Steve avoids reviewing or listening to Bluetooth headphones.

Conclusion

Typically, when a company adds wireless to an existing model, it tacks on $75-$100. But V-Moda made a conscious decision to keep the price of the Crossfade Wireless at $300 or £250 -- the original price of the Crossfade M-100. (It's not yet available in Australia but the UK price converts to around AU$535.) That's about $80 less than the list price of the Beats Studio Wireless , one of our current favorite wireless headphones and a highly popular product with consumers despite its high price, though it's now down to about $275 online.

I can't say that as a wireless headphone the Crossfade Wireless is a better sounding headphone than the Beats Studio Wireless or the Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II. Some may prefer its sound to those models' sound, some may not.

Nor can I say it's more comfortable. It does seem better built, however, and V-Moda does offer great customer service if something goes wrong. I also like that you can customize the look of the V-Modas with a huge selection of shield options -- you can even submit your own design.

The long and short of it is I'm not going to tell you to run out and buy the Crossfade Wireless because it's the best wireless headphone ever made for the money. But it's certainly one of the good ones and should be on your short list if you're looking for a premium Bluetooth headphone.