V-MODA Wireless-2 Codex Headphone (White, Customized) followup review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,735
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review:

    Photos: http://dalethorn.com/Photos/iPhone7p/Headphone_Vmoda_Wireless2_Codex_02.jpg
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Vmoda_Wireless2_Codex.jpg

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

    I reviewed the V-MODA Wireless2 Codex (Matte Black) edition recently, and so this followup represents only the Codex version in White with Immortal Angel shields that I purchased this past week. Supposedly the black and white Codex versions are identical except for their color, but whatever the case, I'm testing this one (the white one) with a different set of music, to see what differences (if any) there are between the different samples I've purchased. A big part of why I get more than one of these ostensibly identical headphones is for the aesthetics - the combination of the basic color plus custom shields (3D metal or fabric, or laser-engraved aluminum) is quite the fashion statement for those who value such things. Note that "W2-Codex" is my shorthand for the Wireless2 Codex headphone.

    While the newer Bluetooth sound here is quite good, and excellent for portable uses away from home (where home can be dead quiet), you won't fully appreciate how good the sound can be until you connect the headphone cable and use a really good DAC/amp for music listening. Many headphones - even some that cost as much as this one or more - suffer degraded sound quality due to low quality drivers or lack of proper acoustic treatments in the earcups. Some headphones use equalization to compensate for a minimal build quality, but the W2-Codex's sound is a consequence of high quality parts and acoustic engineering. In some of my previous reviews, I've included these specific 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 the other reviews that list these same tracks, and see how the W2-Codex compares to those other headphones with each track.

    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has great detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The W2-Codex plays this very well.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled extremely well by the W2-Codex.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the W2-Codex.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The W2-Codex plays this music very smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the W2-Codex.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The W2-Codex plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are bright, crisp, and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The W2-Codex reproduces the space and detail extremely well.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the W2-Codex renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The W2-Codex plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are highly detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent and the tambourine sound is clearly identifiable.
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,735
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The W2-Codex reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The W2-Codex plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound that indicates a very effective deep-bass response. The W2-Codex plays this music superbly.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The W2-Codex plays this track extremely well.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce well with the W2-Codex. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The W2-Codex provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the W2-Codex plays those very well.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The W2-Codex plays this with enough weight and detail that you can hear/feel the 16 cycle per second "beats" of the fundamental tone.

    Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor** who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2018, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the W2-Codex is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

    **Mantovani developed the "Cascading Strings" sonic effect circa 1950, a famous "Wall of Sound" effect for mono hi-fi systems that predated Phil Spector's own famous Wall of Sound effect by 10 years or so.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is subtle but firm with the W2-Codex.

    Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the W2-Codex renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The W2-Codex's reproduction of the 'clop' sound is slightly lighter than ideal.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The W2-Codex conveys that drama quite well. The tympani also have good impact here.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the W2-Codex renders the tones and transients extremely well.

    Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The W2-Codex's reproduction is excellent, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The W2-Codex delivers the impacts with decent weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.
     
  3. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,735
    Location:
    Charleston South Carolina
    I've purchased several shield kits for v-moda headphones over the past 6 years, and some I've liked better than others. In this link, scroll down to the header "11+ Stage Handcrafted Process", where you see a depiction of the 3-D shields. I'm considering 3-D shields for my matte black headphone (it currently has the 'croc' aluminum shields), and I'm trying to decide between a gold color and bronze. The patterns for the 3-D series don't coincide with the patterns available in the laser-etched aluminum series. If you see my videos of this white edition and the black edition I reviewed previously, you can see the aluminum shields I have now. The only 3-D shields I've owned ($150 per set) were the spikes I bought for my matte black M100.

    https://v-moda.com/products/over-ear-custom-shield-kit
     
Loading...

Share This Page