V-MODA Crossfade2 Wireless (Codex Edition) Headphone Review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

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    Youtube review:

    Photo: http://dalethorn.com/Photos/iPhone7p/Headphone_Vmoda_Wireless2_Codex_01.jpg
    Photo: http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Vmoda_Wireless2_Codex.jpg

    Sources: iPhone7-plus, iPod Touch, iPad Pro Mini, Macbook 12-inch, AudioQuest DragonFly Red.

    The V-MODA Crossfade2 Wireless Codex Edition ('W2-Codex' hereafter) carries forward the superb sound of the previous editions, and to a large extent the sound of the M100, which I named the King of Headphones a few years ago. Getting straight to the sound, I decided to use 3 other headphones for my comparisons, although in an absolute sense the sound of the W2-Codex is fairly energetic on both ends, with no significant peaks or recesses in between. One of the things that makes the W2-Codex my preferred headphone is the detail, and a good way to hear that is in comparison to the Beats Studio3. Note that before Apple started manufacturing Beats, the quality wasn't up to the high standards that Apple applies to the headphones now. In spite of the high physical quality of the Studio3 (nearly as good as the W2-Codex and other V-MODA's), the bass detail doesn't compare to the W2-Codex.

    To make the comparison fair, I played around with bass EQ for both headphones, so I wasn't skewing my estimation of bass detail on the strength of each headphone's bass compared to the other. The Studio3 has more emphasis in the low-mids/upper-bass compared to the W2-Codex, which adds to the Studio3's boomier sound. The Studio3 has a bit of recess from ~3 to 5 khz, which makes the presence region softer or more mellow than the W2-Codex. The Studio3 has a slight peak around 8 khz that adds some sizzle, whereas the W2-Codex is more neutral there. Compared to the Bose QC35-2, the Bose in Active mode is more neutral in terms of frequency response, but that's because Bose equalizes** its sound electronically as part of the Bluetooth and ANC functions. That equalization results in a rougher (less smooth) sound, not to mention that in Passive mode, the unequalized sound isn't as good as Active mode. The W2-Codex's Active and Passive sound are the same.

    **I assume so, since the sound in the Active modes is much better than in the Passive mode.

    Compared to the V-MODA M100, the M100 has a slightly stronger bass, but the rest of the range is pretty much the same. I didn't perform any definitive tests on the deep bass of the W2-Codex in Wired (passive) versus Bluetooth modes, but as best I remember, you do get a better deep bass response in Wired mode, especially if you use a good DAC/amp rather than just a phone or iPod-type player. If you decide to use the cable to connect the W2-Codex to a headphone jack, do so with the power OFF and you'll conserve the W2-Codex's internal battery power. Some of the recent Bluetooth headphones like the Beats Studio3 will turn their electronics ON as soon as you plug the cable in. The W2-Codex's headband has an adjustment range of about one inch, where my average-size head fits in the middle of that range. The earpads fit my average-size (not small) ears perfectly - and very comfortably, but if your ears are much larger than average, you might have to get the larger earpads.

    The W2-Codex's isolation (tested 10 feet from a rumbly air conditioner) is very good, and would satisfy me on everything but a worst-case airplane ride. The leakage is fairly low, but if playing the W2-Codex in a library or a quiet office at very loud volume levels, persons adjacent to you may hear faint sounds coming from the headphone. Both the Bose QC35-2 and the Beats Studio3 (I own both) have an ANC (Active Noise Canceling) mode, so I didn't think that I should ignore that function in this review. The Studio3 ANC I haven't been able to use, because my time outdoors is mostly under a freeway bridge, and the Studio3 actually multiplies the heavy traffic rumble with its ANC ON.

    The QC35-2 has the great reputation for ANC, and while it's not nearly the problem the Studio3 has, it still hisses in quiet music parts, and the overall sound isn't up to that of the W2-Codex. The main problem seems to be the QC35-2's electronics, which I presume use equalization, and so when I re-equalize it to sound more like live acoustic music (or a high-priced flagship headphone), the EQ on top of EQ just isn't making it for me. If you like the QC35-2 tuning as-is, then you're home free with a good solution. Same deal with the Studio3, if you avoid areas that are a problem for its ANC. BTW, I have no problem EQ'ing the Studio3, since its DSP doesn't use EQ (Active and Passive sound are the same), and the build quality is good.

    The W2-Codex's control buttons are very easy to use, and here's what to do: For start/stop, find the bottom of the headband frame immediately above the right-side earcup, and in the center of the top of the earcup (which sticks up some), you'll feel that button. On the left and right of that button are the volume controls. I've found that it's best to always finger the center button first, then slide your finger left or right to access the volume controls. The power ON/OFF slider switch is also easy to find without looking - just above (1/4 inch to the right actually) near the bottom of the right earpad is the earcup shell, and just above that (3/8 inch to the right) is the switch. Move your finger toward the bottom of the switch until you feel the small gap, then move your finger upward and pull the switch down to the ON position.

    The classic V-MODA hard-shell carrycase is included for when you don't want to wear it around your neck. I don't use the case unless I'm traveling, because it's much more convenient to carry it around my neck when not listening.

    In previous reviews I've included music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the W2-Codex compares to other headphones with each track. Note that the W2-Codex was evaluated above and below without tone controls or equalization.

    Above & Beyond - We're All We Need (feat. Zoe Johnston): A very nice tight but impactful bass with crystal clear vocals - the W2-Codex plays this with great ambiance.

    Anamanaguchi - Planet: A complex mix of percussion sounds and hummed vocals. The bells and other high-frequency percussion are highly detailed, the bass line has good impact, and the bass detail is surprisingly good.

    Armin van Buuren - J'ai Envie de Toi (Orig Mix feat Gaia): Decent bass impacts, breathy vocals, lots of fun noise - the W2-Codex plays this perfectly.

    Avicii - Feeling Good: Classic female vocal in movie-theme style - the W2-Codex brings this to life like nothing else I've heard.

    Carl Kennedy-Tommy Trash ft Rosie Henshaw - Blackwater (Original Master): Nice strong tight bass impacts, female vocal, rendered delectably by the W2-Codex.

    Crystal Castles - Wrath of God: Atmospheric tune with vocal sound effects and strong bass line, plus some unique treble percussion sounds. The W2-Codex brings these unique sounds to life.

    Digitalism - Pogo: A driving beat with a detailed bass synth and great vocals ("There's something in the air...") - the W2-Codex makes this very enjoyable.

    Dino Lenny-Lino Di Meglio - We Will Make It: Atmospheric tune with mixed vocals - the female vocal is a special treat with the W2-Codex.

    DJ Shadow - Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt: High-pitched tones and strong deep piano chords with a hummed female vocal - ultra-cool with the W2-Codex.

    Fairmont - Poble Sec: Awesome detailed bass impacts with some nifty pingy guitar/synth effects. I discovered this tune at the time I purchased my 3rd M100 - the W2-Codex makes this even better.

    Giuseppe Ottaviani - Lost for Words (On Air Mix feat Amba Shepherd): Strong bass impacts behind a female voice - a large-scale sweeping sonic image reminiscent of epic adventures in an exotic land. The W2-Codex is playing on a whole new level here.

    Hecq - Enceladus (With Skyence): Prodigious deep bass and clean at that. This tune's melody is more abstract than most of the others here, but the W2-Codex makes it a real adventure.

    Katy B - Crying For No Reason (Tom Shorterz Remix): Oh myyyyy, I love Katy B. The vocal mix here is awesome and the bass is solid. This is the W2-Codex at its best.

    Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch: I first heard this in The September Issue film and soundtrack, as the backdrop for the opening catwalk (watch Andre grinning at 1:51 - all you need to know) - the W2-Codex plays this amazing tune perfectly.

    Lee and Malinda - Truth Will Set You Free (V-Moda Mix): Lee Kalt is the master, this is the masterpiece. The drum (or tom-tom) hits here have a very realistic skin-tone, the female vocal is seamlessly integrated into the driving beat, and the synth effects also blend well - the W2-Codex just owns this.

    Markus Schulz - Mainstage: The granddaddy of bass is in this track, and the W2-Codex plays it smooth and clean.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

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    In case it wasn't obvious from the review, the v-moda Codex edition does not have ANC. I mentioned a few things that explained why I haven't found it useful on existing brands, although it's possible that someone has an ANC that avoids all of the issues I noted.
     
  3. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

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    This new video shows off custom shields and addresses concerns about the sonics.

     
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