V-MODA Wireless 2 Bluetooth (aptX) Stereo Headphone review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

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    Photo: http://dalethorn.com/Photos/iPhone7p/Headphone_Vmoda_Wireless2_01.jpg

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

    Review note: All comments below apply to the Rose Gold edition with the aptX codec as well as the matte white edition, unless otherwise noted.

    The V-MODA Crossfade II Wireless ('Wireless2' hereafter) inherits its sound from the M100 and Wireless1, as well as much of its physical design. I'll get right to the sound: The bass is not as strong as the M100 or Wireless1, but it's definitely stronger than the bass on so-called "neutral" headphones like the Sennheiser HD600 or HD800. I read quite a few reviews of the Wireless2, and those reviews have the bass as anywhere from near-neutral to "about the same" as the Wireless1, or M100. My estimate after doing some comparisons is that the difference is about 3 db, but keep in mind that the shape of the bass response and the quality and detail are different from the Wireless1/M100. I estimated that the bass emphasis on those was centered around 110 hz, whereas with the Wireless2 it's lower, perhaps 90 hz. Since the emphasis (to whatever extent) is centered lower and slightly less strong above that, you will notice the greater impact and detail. And it's mighty good.

    A note about bass response and listening environments: When I walk outdoors and wear these headphones, I appreciate a strong bass, because it doesn't actually sound that strong, no doubt because of traffic and other low-frequency noise in the city. Back at the house I might turn it down a little, but that depends on the music I'm listening to. Again, the change in impact and detail from the prior Wireless1/M100 headphones is all on the plus side, and I expect that most users will love it if they get the chance to experience it. The midrange isn't something I can say much if anything about, because it's uncolored and clean. There is a small difference there, or in the treble as well, between the Rose Gold edition of the Wireless2 and the other editions, since the Rose Gold edition has the "Qualcomm aptX" Bluetooth codec, while the others are standard Bluetooth (whatever that entails).

    About that difference, as it relates to the actual sound: What I've found is that the aptX codec is a little smoother with slightly more spaciousness. Most people would pick that up only on a direct comparison, but my feeling is if you have any music tracks that are just barely making it for minor irritations in the sound, the difference in codecs could push the acceptability one way or the other. That's a critical listening evaluation however, and wouldn't really apply in portable/outdoor listening, most coffee shops etc., where the noise floor is greater than those differences. The Wireless2's isolation is moderate - useful for music listening in most outdoor situations, but in very noisy places you might find that fine details in the music would be obscured by the ambient background noise. The leakage is very low, and people sitting close by won't hear anything unless the environment is dead quiet (library, quiet office) and you're playing music at audiophile volume levels.

    My impression of the Wireless2's treble is that it's fairly polite - even a tad shy in some cases, but that depends on how and where you play it. As I alluded to above, outdoors there is enough bass absorption that the treble seems very well balanced, but indoors where it's quiet the bass will be more prominent and the treble will seem softer, although not recessed as is the case with quite a few pricy headphones. I'm being as picky as possible here, but judging from the huge popularity of the M100, the Wireless2 is going to get even more love than the M100 and Wireless1.

    To check out the wireless (Bluetooth) capability, I paired it with my iPhone 7-plus, and placed the phone at one end of my apartment. I walked into several other rooms including laundry and bath rooms, closets, A/C enclosures etc., up to 35 feet from the phone, and the signal was always clean and perfect. I've used a few other wireless headphones, and most were 100 percent in that regard, so I wouldn't expect any surprises with the Wireless2. I haven't found that where I am with the headphone makes any difference, unless such a difference (interference etc.) were caused by my cellphone attempting to something that I'm unaware of. I don't hear a significant difference in the sound between wireless and wired modes, but if getting the very best sound is important, wired use with a good DAC and headphone amp would be the way to go. I use the DragonFly Red for those occasions. Bottom line on the sound: The king of headphones just got a lot better.

    My Wireless2's have the standard shields (earcup side-plates) on them, but I added 3D metal shields to my M100, and that customization is also available for the Wireless2. The mil-spec build of the M100 plus its 'Cliqfold' hinges are standard for the Wireless2. Other differences are: There's one input for wired use on the bottom of the right earcup, and one input for charging on the bottom of the left earcup. There's an on/off switch toward the bottom of the right earcup, and volume and start/stop buttons at the top of the right earcup. These controls are easy to manipulate, but they blend in so well that they don't distract from the overall aesthetics. The earpads are slightly different from the M100's standard earpads, but not a significant difference for me. They are very soft and squishy, and are a snug fit around my average-size ears. Reviewers have had very different opinions on the fit and comfort, but I don't feel much difference from the M100 other than a softer fit.

    A zippered 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. The headband's range of adjustment is slightly more than 1/2 inch larger and 1/2 inch smaller on each side compared to where I use it on my average-size head. 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 Wireless2 compares to other headphones with each track. Note that the Wireless2 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 Wireless2 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 Wireless2 plays this perfectly.

    Avicii - Feeling Good: Classic female vocal in movie-theme style - the Wireless2 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 Wireless2.

    Crystal Castles - Wrath of God: Atmospheric tune with vocal sound effects and strong bass line, plus some unique treble percussion sounds. The Wireless2 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 Wireless2 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 Wireless2.

    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 Wireless2.

    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 Wireless2 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 Wireless2 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 Wireless2 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 Wireless2 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 Wireless2 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 Wireless2 just owns this.

    Markus Schulz - Mainstage: The granddaddy of bass is in this track, and the Wireless2 plays it smooth and clean.
     
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