Gaming can be an expensive habit. Between games, consoles and a high end gaming PC, it can be easy to sink a few paychecks into this pastime without even realizing it and that’s just to cover the basic necessities. Then we get into the market of accessories, which can vary in degree of how “needed” they might be. Gaming headsets are something I once lumped into the completely unnecessary category, thinking one only needs a pair of earbuds for taking a Game Boy on the bus or playing Diablo II at 2:00 am when people were sleeping. I can admit to being foolish in my younger days and am now well aware that there are varying degrees of quality across gaming headsets.
The latest headset that’s been acquired for evaluation is the V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless Headset. This item is impressive out of the packaging even before there is a chance to listen to it. The ergonomic steelflex headband feels incredibly sturdy but is padded enough to be comfortably worn. The large earcuffs are covered in memory foam to ensure comfort while also providing passive noise reduction even with no sound pumping through them. The hinge connecting the earcuffs to the headband allow easy adjustments to fit almost any cranium, and this headset easily collapses to fit into the included exoskeleton case. It is on the heavier side for these headsets, tipping the scale at 308 grams, but this heft didn’t cause any discomfort after wearing it for an hour.
Getting into the technical issues, the Crossfade 2 Wireless features 50 mm Dual-Diaphragm Drivers which basically provide inner and outer rings to separate the bass from mixing into the highs and mids. This is something that is immediately noticeable upon listening through this. A lot of mixes tend to bury the low frequencies, and the Crossfade 2 brings them back to the forefront. Basslines that blend into mix now stand out, and basslines that were already audible take on a greater presence, which was noticeable both while listening to my music collection and playing video games. Nights of Azure 2 in particular stood out in the gaming library, as it already had some cool bass parts in the soundtrack but these took on a new life with this headset. Because of the separate rings, the bass can become more prominent without overpowering the higher frequency melodies which tend to be what most people recognize, so this increases the richness of sound across the lows, mids and highs.
The Crossfade 2 is a hybrid of wireless and wired headsets. As a wireless headset it can get roughly 14 hours per charge and connect to virtually any Bluetooth device. It can be paired to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, so this headset can be used to listen to your computer and phone at the same time. Anytime the user wishes to switch to analog mode just plug the included 3.5mm cord into a jack and it will go into analog mode, preserving whatever remaining battery charge there is.
This is when some doubts about the Crossfade 2’s consistent sound quality started to arise. In personal experience, some very high quality headphones had quite a noticeable drop in quality when switching between wireless or USB mode to going straight to the passive 3.5mm jack. I play games on all platforms, but the console of choice (for this generation) happens to be the PlayStation 4, which is not the most Bluetooth friendly machine on the market. Much to my surprise, the sound quality in plugging the 3.5mm jack into the PlayStation 4 controller was virtually indistinguishable from the quality that was produced from the Xbox One and PC, and this statement is meant in the best way possible since everything was exponentially better through the Crossfade 2 than the PC or TV stock speakers. Whether it was playing a game, watching a movie or listening to music, every sound was crystal clear and booming from all directions. Sound effects from attacks and explosions had a much fuller presence. Low frequencies and background tracks that are usually buried in the mix were clearly heard. In many songs it was easy to distinguish the different instrument and vocal tracks no matter how blended they may have been, which greatly enhanced the listening experience.
Adjusting volume and turning the Bluetooth functionality on or off is done by discreet buttons on the outside of the right ear cuff, and there is a hidden mic within the headset to facilitate phone conversations or to spew forth derogatory comments that would make a sailor blush during Call of Duty sessions. There are optional accessories that can be paired with the Crossfade 2. The Boompro Mic does provide some enhanced clarity when speaking over the headset and the adjustable mic arm allows for optimal positioning depending on the environment and how loudly an individual speaks, plus it is compatible with current and last generation Sony and Microsoft consoles (including Vita) though some might require third party adapters to work. The Speakeasy Cable is similar to the cable that comes with the Crossfade 2 except it includes volume and mic controls on the cable, mainly intended for people who prefer that method of volume control compared to using the the actual headset buttons. Neither of these accessories are necessary to get the full value of this headset but for people who prefer the type of features they offer its nice to have the option.
The sound quality is phenomenal on the Crossfade 2 but it also excels in aesthetics as well. Granted, this is more of a subjective preference but most would agree the basic design of the headset is modern and tasteful. There are three color options available, matte black, matte white and rose gold with the last one basically being black with rose gold metallic highlights for the connecting hinges and V-Moda logo. To make each headset unique, the user has the option to get 3D printed shields of different colors or materials (extra charges may apply) or get a design of the buyer’s choosing laser engraved on the ear shields. This writer opted to get the logo for the rock band Silent Ire on the ear shields, shown on the picture below to give an idea of what the engraved product can look like.
The Crossfade 2 Wireless Headset is a versatile headset where one pair can cover all current consoles, PCs, smartphones and just about any device that supports Bluetooth connectivity or has a 3.5mm jack. The sound quality is amazing, making all different instrument tracks and frequencies audible and distinguishable with noticeable enhanced fidelity whether using the wired or wireless mode. The included exoskeleton is light and sturdy, which doesn’t take up a whole lot of space given that the Crossfade 2 can fold itself into a fairly compact size to fit inside. The headset is constructed of quality materials, ensuring it should be able to survive travel unscathed or surviving being thrown across the room in a fit of rage brought on by a humiliating defeat at the hands of a cheating game. The one downside is the sticker shock some consumers might experience, with the retail price being in the ballpark of $350. The upside is with the versatility the Crossfade 2 offers this is the only headset someone would need to buy to cover all their cross platform audio needs. For anyone that really appreciates sound quality, this is a strong recommendation.