(Pocket-lint) - Say hello to the Codex Edition V-Moda Crossfade Wireless II headphones. Quite the mouthful, eh? Thankfully, these over-ear cans deliver quite the earful too.
However, it's only been a minute since the original Crossfade Wireless 2 launched, so what's new? Well, that cheeky 'Codex' namesake hints at the addition of a new Bluetooth codec: Qualcomm's aptX.
Otherwise, these are the same industrial-style, bass-booming cans as before. Which also happens to mean these are superb over-ears well worthy of your consideration. If you can factor in a couple of compromises...
- Enfolding design, included hard carry-case
- Industrial aesthetic with comfortable sponge earcups
- Black, steel, gold, polished/matte bronze finishes as standard
- Customisable metals and artwork printing available (at additional cost via V-Moda site only)
That soft finish of the V-Moda's earcups is juxtaposed wonderfully by an industrial-like metal design aesthetic. Exposed external screws, cut-away "v" shapes in the metal plates which flank the outer side of the earcups, and a foldable metal arms to hold everything together in distinctive fashion. These very well-made headphones indeed, as is the included hard carrycase.
The more adventurous may wish to choose stainless steel, polished or matte bronze instead. Or, if you're really plucky (read that as rich) then a bespoke sterling silver, 14K gold/rose gold/white gold, or platinum finish can be arranged to order, including three-dimensional commissioned works of art to protrude from the metal. We opted for the simple, standard black model - which we think looks just fine!
Oh, and these are tough headphones. Twist them any which way and they'll remain unfazed.
Having worn the Codex Edition for many days, there's a familiar issue: the fit is a little 'pinchier' than some other headphones we've tested, which doesn't make for a supremely comfortable fit. Take these cans off and slump them around your neck (we do this on flights a lot) and the resulting neck-grab feel isn't great. We prefer the looser fit of the BeoPlay H9i.
Just like the original Crossfade 2 Wireless, the Codex Edition features a Micro-USB charging port to the base of the left earcup. Why it's not USB-C for this update is beyond us, as that'd be better fitting with current Android smartphones and other tech. On the other earcup there's a 3.5mm headphones jack - which, if you want to use these cans wirelessly, is accented with an orange non-tangle cable (which, again, is industrial strength).
Indeed, that's the biggest issue with the Codex Edition's design: adding aptX for Bluetooth is great and all, as it's higher quality, but that's all V-Moda has done. There's no aptX HD, there's no noise-cancelling tech, there's no design tweaks (that massive 'V-Moda' logo is still atop the headband too, which we wish wasn't the case). It's therefore a soft upgrade and, in some instances, a missed opportunity.
- Bluetooth with aptX
- 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers
- 5-40,000Hz frequency response
- Bluetooth wireless / passive wired use
- No active noise-cancellation technology
Even if V-Moda hasn't changed much compared to the earlier Crossfade Wireless 2, the sound quality is still rather special. Plus there's the addition of aptX, which delivers CD quality (16-bit, 44.1kHz) over the air. Shame there's no aptX HD, which would seem logical for Hi-Res Bluetooth.
Figures and numbers aside, one thing is clear: the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless 2 Codex Edition sound sensational. Just like before, bassheads will be pleased (no surprise given the achievable 5Hz figure), but there's plenty more reach than just a low-end-loving audience. The mids and high-end feel free across the wide soundstage delivery, making these suitable for plenty of musical genres.
The sound quality isn't quite as sharp or adept as, say, the Beoplay H9i, especially in the top end, but the V-Moda asking price is a whole £120 less.
If Bluetooth isn't your bag then the wired connection is supports Hi-Res Audio (as approved by the Japan Audio Society (JAS)), meaning ultra-high frequencies above 40kHz are also catered for. We can't help but think these cans aren't aimed at audiophiles, though, given the design and low-end listen.
As before there's still active noise-cancellation, which feels like a missed trick when the Sony M1000X M3 is available around the same price tag. V-Moda has a clear opportunity that's been left off the checklist for the Codex Edition.
Battery life has delivered close to its promise of 14-hours of listening, with us logging around 12 hours. Probably because we crank the volume (which, by the way, is epic when hard-wired - only a bit quieter when using Bluetooth).
As we said of the original model: V-Moda has knocked it out of the park. The Codex Edition makes little difference compared to the Crossfade Wireless 2 cans, bar the addition of aptX Bluetooth.
That's the thing with the Codex Edition: it's like a 'Mark 2.1' version, missing the opportunity to add better still aptX HD or active noise-cancellation tech, swerving the use of USB-C with faster recharging, and not taking the time out to tweak the design for greater comfort when resting around the neck.
Still, if you like big bass, are on board with the industrial design (customised or not), then these V-Moda over-ears are formidable indeed.
Sony WH-1000X Mark 3
The noise-cancelling kings have arrived for 2018. The softer design approach and greater comfort - plus loads more codec compatibility - see these as some of the best and most feature-packed over-ears on the market.
Pricier, but the supremely comfortable fit and suble active noise-cancelling, plus a more detailed listen (without ditching the bass) make these over-ears among our favourites.